Amerigo Vespucci

Amerigo Vespucci

Amerigo Vespucci was born on March 9, 1454 in Florence. He was the third son of a local notary, Ser Nastagio Vespucci. Amerigo got the name after his grandfather. He received education from his uncle Fra Giorgio Antonio Vespucci which was a Dominican. His older brother decided on a university career and was sent to the University of Pisa. In the meantime, Amerigo preferred to become a trader. He was employed at the Medici home as a clerk. The future traveler has earned the sympathy of new boss – Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de ‘Medici, who took over the office after Lorenzo de’ Medici, who died in 1492. In March 1492, Medici sent 38-year-old Vespucci and Donato Niccolini as secret controllers to one of the Medici house branches in Spanish Cadiz.

Amerigo works as a supplier

Such actions were motivated by the alleged frauds directing that branch. Three years later, the intrigues of Cardinal Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca led the Kingdom of Castile-León to take away the monopoly of Christopher Columbus to trade with the newly discovered areas and began offering it to other navigators. It happened that during this period, Amerigo Vespucci was the executor of the recently deceased Giannotto Berardi in Seville. Vespucci completed Berardi’s contract with the Castile kingdom to provide 12 ships for India. When they were delivered, Vespucci became a supply contractor for Indian expeditions and secured beef supplies for two Columbus expeditions.

Amerigo Vespucci's reports from first voyage

At the invitation of King Manuel I the Happy, Vespucci took part as an observer in several expeditions to the eastern coast of South America, which took place in the years 1499-1502. It is claimed that the traveler found himself aboard a ship that discovered that areas of Latin America stretched further than it was supposed at the time. Amerigo expeditions were made famous in Europe due to the publication of reports on expeditions assigned to Amerigo Vespucci in the years 1502-1503, details of which went to the public. In 1507, Martin Waldseemüller drew a map of the world on which he named the new American continent of Latin, a female version of the Amerigo - Americus name.

A year later, the traveler was named piloto mayor de Indias, the Supreme Navigator of Spain. He was to look after planning a trip to India. On March 22, 1508, King Ferdinand appointed him to this office for enormous pay and commissioned him to set up a school for navigators in order to improve the skills of sailors. Vespucci invented a fairly precise, though primitive, method for calculating longitude.

Vespucci’s biographers are uncertain about his participation in the first and fourth journeys attributed to him. The second and third were for sure. Nevertheless, let’s start from the beginning. Very little is known about the first expedition of the traveler. It is possible that Amerigo Vespucci left Spain in May 1497 and returned in October 1498. The purpose of the expedition was America. The expedition is known from a letter published in 1504. The letter includes an observation on the habits of the natives, including the use of hammocks. However, there is a high probability that the letter was faked.

Second expedition of Amerigo Vespucci

The second expedition took place around 1499-1500. Amerigo Vespucci joined the expedition Alonso de Ojeda, who was the commander of the fleet. The purpose of the expedition was to circumnavigate the southern end of Africa and affect the waters of the Indian Ocean. After reaching the land, the fleet was divided into areas of modern Guyana. Vespucci sailed south, exploring the Amazon estuary. Then he turned back and arrived in Trinidad and the Orinoco River and began his return to Spain by hitting on the way to Haiti.

Third expedition to South America

Vespucci’s third voyage took place in 1501-1502 and was commanded by Gonçalo Coelho under the Portuguese flag. They left Lisbon and sailed to the Cape Verde Islands, where they met two ships Pedro Álvares Cabral, which were coming back from India. In a letter from the Cape Verde Islands, Vespucci revealed that he dreamed of a visit to the same lands discovered by Cabral. It was a kind of declaration of willingness to sail east to Asia. Arriving at the coast of Brazil, they sailed along the coast of South America towards the Gulf of Guanabara. If you believe Amerigo Vespucci’s proprietary reports, he reached the latitude of Patagonia before he turned his way back, but this is not a fact but a supposition.

Fourth trip and conclusion about New World

In the end, the Portuguese maps drawn up after the Vespucci and Coelho expeditions do not include any areas further south than the Brazilian Cananéia. Hence the conclusion that 25 ° South latitude is the most distant point of the local expedition. In the middle of the expedition, Amerigo Vespucci has mapped Alpha and Beta Centauri, the constellation of the South Cross and the Carbon Bag nebula. On the way back to Seville, Vespucci wrote a letter from Seville to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de ‘Medici, in which he reported that the land masses discovered by them are much larger than expected and completely different from the Asian ones described by Claudius Ptolemy or Marco Polo, and what it has to be the New World, the fourth continent.

The fourth trip was the last one in Vespucci’s life. He took her in the service of the Portuguese crown along the east coast of Brazil. He set off in May 1503, but returned 13 months later. One source of knowledge about this trip was a letter to Soderini, but as in the case of the first trip, scholars argue over whether Amerigo Vespucci was the author of the letter. However, Portuguese documents confirm that such a dispatch took place. Gonçalo Coelho’s participation is confirmed, but it is possible that Vespucci was then on board. However, this is still the subject of disputes. Soon after returning to Spain, Vespucci obtained citizenship there. As mentioned before, on March 22, 1508, Vespucci was appointed by Ferdinand II of Aragon Piloto mayor. It was a kind of nod to the achievements of a traveler from Florence. He died on February 22, 1512 at his home in Seville.


Map of the world 1720

Age of exploration

Great Age of exploration starts with improved sailing techniques and progressive development of trade in the Mediterranean Sea and open waters in 15th century. This story shows geographical discoveries and causes and effects on different cultures.

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