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Read the text carefully and then choose the best answer from the options on the opposite sheet.

Columbus reports.

Answer Sheet

A letter from Christopher Columbus to the King and Queen of Spain, written in the 1490s.

"In obedience to your Highnesses' commands, and with submission to superior judgement, I will say whatever occurs to me in connection with colonization and commerce on the Island of Espanola, and the other islands, both those already discovered and those that may be discovered hereafter. The number of colonists who desire to go to that place amounts to two thousand, owing to the land being safer and better for farming and trading, and because it will serve as a place to which they can return and from which they can carry on trade with the neighbouring islands. therefore I suggest that:

1. That on the said island there shall be founded three or four towns, situated in the most convenient places, and that the settlers who are there be assigned to the these places and towns.

2. That for the better and more speedy colonization of the said island, no one shall have liberty to collect gold except those who have taken out colonists' papers, and have built houses in the town in which they live, that they may live united and in greater safety.

3. That there shall he a church, and parish priests or friars to administer the sacraments, to perform divine worship, and that these shall also work for the conversion of the Indians.

4. That none of the colonists shall seek gold without a license from the governor or mayor of the town where he lives.

5. That all the gold thus brought in shall be smelted immediately, and stamped with some mark that shall distinguish each town; and that the portion which belongs to your Highnesses shall be weighed, and given and consigned to each mayor in his own town, and registered by one of the priests of that town, so that it shall not pass through the hands of only one person, and there shall he no opportunity to conceal the truth.

6. That one per cent of all the gold that may be found shall be set aside for building churches and adorning the same, and for the support of the priests or friars belonging to them.

7. As regards the division of the gold, and the share that ought to be reserved for your Highnesses, this, in my opinion, must be left to the aforesaid governor and treasurer, because it will have to be greater or less according to the quantity of gold that may be found. Or, should it seem preferable, your Highnesses might, for the space of one year, take one half, and the collector the other.

8. As, in the eagerness to get gold, every one will wish, naturally, to engage in its search in preference to any other employment, it seems to me that the privilege of going to look for gold ought to be withheld during some portion of each year, that there may be opportunity to have the other business necessary for the functioning of the island to be performed.

9. I will now give my opinion about ships going to the Island of Espanola, and the order that should be maintained. These ships should only be allowed to unload in one or two ports designated for the purpose, and they should register whatever cargo they bring or unload that nothing may be concealed.

I beg your Highnesses to hold me in your protection; and I remain, praying our Lord God for your Highnesses' lives and the increase of much greater States."

From the US Historical Documents Archive

1. Going by the letter, which of the following best describes Christopher Columbus?
a He was very religious
b He was very loyal to the Spanish monarchy
c He had a low opinion of his fellow men
d He thought the state should control everything.

2. Why did Columbus want licences to be given to people who wanted to look for gold?
a Because otherwise everybody would do it
b To make sure the authorities could get a share
c To finance the settlement of towns
d He thought the state should control everything.

3.What does "it" in the first paragraph refer to?
a The island of Espanola
b The number of colonists
c The proposal of Christopher Columbus
d The superior judgement of the Spanish monarchy.

4. What function is not explicitly mentioned for the towns on the island?
a Secure bases for the colonists
b Centres of religious administration
c Ports
d Community centres.

5. How would you describe the tone of this letter?
a Emphatic.
b Submissive.
c Greedy.
d Technical.


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