Amerigo Vespucci

From ArticleWorld

Amerigo Vespucci was born in Florence, Italy on March 9, 1454. He was a merchant and cartographer who led explorations along the South America coastline. Other explorers, namely Christopher Columbus, at that time believed this was East Asia, but Vespucci claimed he had discovered a new continent.

A German geographer and cartographer, Martin Waldseemüller, named the new continent America on his world map in 1507. He took this name from the Latin form of Vespucci’s name, Americus Vespucius.

Although they were not as remembered as his journeys to the America’s, Vespucci also went on many other expeditions. In 1400, he sailed under captain Alonso de Ojeda and traveled to what is now Guyana, then south to discover the mouth of the Amazon River. Here he turned around and sailed to Trinidad and the Orinoco River, then returned to Spain. In 1501-1502 Vespucci sailed for Portugal to what is now Rio de Janeiro and then further south along the coast of South America. There are not many records of his last voyage in 1503-1504 and the events of this trip are very unclear. Vespucci died from malaria on February 22, 1512.

There was great controversy over the many letters written by Amerigo Vespucci while on his expeditions. He left two sets of writings: one set describes only two journeys to the New World, while the othr claims he took four tips there. They were thought to be either highly exaggerated or forgeries written by other explorers. Even though this writings were questioned and debated, Vespucci was named the Pilot Major for Spain. This is a very prestigous honor and shows Vespucci was highly regarded by his peers.

While Vespucci’s writings and discoveries were debated throughout the world, it was through these letters that Europe first learned about America.