If you were having a party, you had to invite him. If you were having a social event, he had to be there. He was the most famous explorer and sailor of his day, and he was in demand everywhere. The parties, the balls, the masquerades -- if you could get him to attend, your event was made.

It was the late 1490s, and he was famous for his latest discovery. He set out from the East Coast of Spain and spent months at sea. Several times, he faced a near mutiny by his men. But he did what he said he would do and returned to a hero’s welcome.

The queen rewarded him for his find, and he became possibly the most famous man of the time. The invitations poured in from all over his country, and the rest of Europe. Mapmakers wanted to see his records and find out everything he experienced to update their maps of the world. Royal chefs wanted to know what exotic food items he tried. Clothes designers wanted to know what he had seen, what people there were wearing.

He had done the thing that everyone was talking about in the late 1400s. Christopher Columbus, the man who found the new world? No. Vasco da Gama of Portugal. Both Columbus and da Gama set out to find the long sought-after trade route to India, but it was da Gama who actually found it in 1498.

Columbus failed in what he set out to do. He never did find a route to India. But he found something else, and it wasn’t until almost a century later that people began to realize what Columbus did find – the American continent. By that time, he was gone and never knew how big an impact his discovery would turn out to be.