From 1493 by Charles C. Mann (2011):

The king and queen of Spain, Fernando (Ferdinand) II and Isabel I, backed [Christopher Columbus’s] first voyage grudgingly. Transoceanic travel in those days was heart-stoppingly expensive and risky—the equivalent, perhaps, of space-shuttle flights today.

From The Great Explorers by Samuel Eliot Morison (1978):

There is no basis of comparison between the astronauts who first landed on the moon on 20 July 1969, and discoverers like Columbus, Cabot, Verrazzano, and Cartier. These four were men with an idea, grudgingly and meanly supported by their sovereigns. The three young heroes of the moon landing did not supply the idea; they bravely and intelligently executed a vast enterprise employing some 400,000 men and costing billions of dollars; whilst Columbus’s first voyage cost his sovereigns less than a court ball; and Cabot’s, which gave half the New World to England, cost Henry VII just fifty pounds. The astronauts’ epochal voyage into space, a triumph of the human spirit, was long prepared, rehearsed, and conducted with precision to an accurately plotted heavenly body. Their feat might be slightly comparable to Cabot’s if the moon were always dark and they knew not exactly where to find it—and if they had hit the wrong planet.

IMAGE: Columbus’ Ships—The Santa Maria, Nina, and Pinta by Dennis Melling


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