On this day the 17th of April 1492, a contract was signed in the intention to find the Indies. The signers were a one Christopher Columbus, King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castille.
The contract detailed what Columbus was to do: discover new sea routes on behalf of Spain, and his reward for doing so: 10% of all plundered riches and governance of the lands he finds.
When Columbus first proposed the idea, it was rejected. Isabella's court of sailors and astrologers found Columbus' calculations of distance and travel time somewhat troublesome, but were convinced that they would lose little if Columbus failed, but would gain much if he succeeded.
It turns out that Columbus somehow failed and succeeded at the same time. While he didn't find a new route to the Indies, he did find new lands, that he, with great hubris, called the West Indies.
This seemed enough. Columbus explored the archipelago for a time, then went back to Spain with good news. He made four trips in total, mostly to the West Indies and later to South and Central America. North America would be found during this period of discovery by Amerigo Vespucci, slightly one-upping Columbus with that one.