Eastbourne Ashridge Circle|Founded 1947

Lecture Date: January 27, 2025

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS: FRIEND OR FIEND?

Speaker: KEITH PRITCHARD - Illustrated

The leading figure in the greatest adventure of the 15th and 16th centuries. But is the legacy of this brave Genoese sailor entirely positive?

History rarely tells the truth because it is usually written by the winners rather than the vanquished. So how does the vision of our hero Christopher Columbus reflect the reality of the situation he experienced in his day?

Pioneering spirit, natural curiosity, a search for quick and easy wealth and escape from a hard life of drudgery, all played their part in beginning the greatest adventure of the 15th and 16th centuries.

The impact of the discovery of the New World was wide and far-reaching, ranging through slavery, navigational advance, chemistry, population growth on an unprecedented scale and, ultimately, hyper-inflation in Spain. Religious fervour added to the heady mix, ‘civilising’ the uninformed in these distant lands and giving them the opportunity of ultimate salvation.

We stand in judgement but have to decide whether to judge in absolute terms or in values moderated by the mores of the time. So was Columbus friend or fiend?

Keith Pritchard graduated from the Universities of Wales, Oxford and Southampton before working with young people in educational settings. He was also a Scientific Intelligence Officer during the ‘Cold War.’ His specialism in science, with an emphasis on psychology, has given him a lifelong interest in human behaviour. He now travels the world as a cruise ship speaker on such themes.