The Log of Columbus


We don't have the orginal log kept by Columbus on his first voyage (or any other voyage, for that matter). We do have an abstract of Columbus's log, written by Bartólome de las Casas sometime in the 16th century. The abstract is mostly written in third person, but there are a number of large direct quotes from the log written in Columbus's own first person.

When Columbus returned to Spain in 1493, he gave his original log to Queen Isabela, who ordered the log copied, with the copy returned to Columbus. This is the so-called Barcelona Copy, and Columbus owned it until his death in 1506. The Barcelona Copy then passed to his son Fernando, who used it when he wrote a biography of Columbus in 1538. At some point, Las Casas also got ahold of it (or perhaps a copy of it) which he used in writing his own history of the Spanish conquest of the New World. The copy we have may have been used by Las Casas in writing his history.

For the entire Las Casas abstract of log -- quite long! -- here is John Thacher's translation.
For a navigational summary of the transatlantic portions only, here is my own reconstruction.


Click here to return to The Columbus Navigation Homepage.