On facebook, one of my friends posted this essay on Christopher Columbus from the late Dr. Warren Carroll, whose short book on the French Revolution, The Guillotine and the Cross, I enjoyed reading this past summer. (You may not know it, since most employers no longer honor the holiday, but today is Columbus Day.) Here are a few ‘grafs:

Let us begin, therefore, by defining the word “discovery” in the context of history. A discovery is made when an individual or a nation finds something or someone or some people or some places of special importance, not previously known to them. When any previously unknown people is first found by another people, that people may be said to have been discovered. People as well as places can be discovered. The fact that people live in places unknown to another people does not mean that they, and the places where they live, cannot be discovered.

No people from any other part of the world ever discovered Europe; but Europeans discovered all other parts of the world.

In all of history, only the Europeans and the Polynesians of the south Pacific have been true discoverers, sailing for the explicit purpose of finding new lands, trading with their people, and colonizing them. And of all discoverers Christopher Columbus was the greatest, because he accomplished the most against the highest odds.

Before Columbus’ time all European voyages had followed coastlines, or crossed open seas to lands previously known or at least sighted by storm-driven ships. Only Columbus set off directly across a broad, unknown sea with no specific knowledge of how far it extended or what lay on the other side. To be sure, Columbus was convinced that he could reach Asia from Europe within the time during which the provisions he carried in his three ships would sustain his men. But he was wrong about that. If America had not existed—had not been in the way—Columbus would have had to turn back long before reaching his goal, or he and every man on his ships would have died.1

And last week marked the anniversary of Charles Martel’s repelling of Moslem invaders from Gaul in the 732 Battle of Tours, saving our embryonic civilization and laying the foundation for Christendom. NRO runs a great essay on the battle from author Raymond Ibrahim.