Amerigo Vespucci

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Amerigo Vespucci
BirthplaceFlorence, Republic of Florence, in present-day Italy
NationalityItalian, Florentine
Merchant, Explorer, Cartographer
Known for Demonstrating that the New World was not Asia but a previously-unknown fourth continent.[a]

Vespucci, Amerigo

(ämārē`gō vāspo͞ot`chē), 1454–1512, Italian navigator in whose honor America was named, b. Florence. He entered the commercial service of the Medici and in 1492 moved to Seville. He accompanied Alonso de OjedaOjeda, Alonso de
, c.1466–1515?, Spanish conquistador. He joined Columbus on his second voyage and in 1499—at first accompanied by Vespucci—explored the northeastern coast of South America. In 1508 he was made governor of territories of N South America.
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 in 1499, but by agreement the two separated shortly before land was sighted in the West Indies, and Vespucci alone explored the mouths of the Amazon. Subsequently he sailed along the northern shore of South America and among the islands. He returned to Spain in 1500, and in 1501 he entered Portuguese service to explore the southern coast of South America. Vespucci found the mouth of the Río de la Plata and probably went as far as lat. 50°S. He explored c.6,000 mi (9,700 km) of coastline, but it is in the scientific application of his discoveries that his achievements are remarkable. He evolved a system for computing nearly exact longitude (previously determined by dead reckoning); he arrived at a figure for the earth's equatorial circumference only 50 mi (80 km) short of the correct measurement. Vespucci accepted South America as a new continent, not part of Asia. Consequently cosmography was radically altered, and in 1507, with the publication of Martin Waldseemüller's Cosmographiae introductio, the name America first appeared as applied to the continent. His voyage completed in 1502, Vespucci returned to Spain, where in 1508 he was made pilot major, a high and prestigious position. He died of malaria contracted on his voyages. Vespucci's achievements were long belittled by scholars, but the conclusions of Alberto Magnaghi in the 1920s and 30s are now widely accepted, and the pilot major is given his due. An edition of Vespucci's letters and other documents appeared in English in 1894.


See biographies by G. Arciniegas (tr. 1955), F. J. Pohl (1966), and F. Fernández-Armesto (2007); J. B. Thacher, The Continent of America (1971).

Vespucci, Amerigo


Born between 1451 and 1454 in Florence, Italy. Died Feb. 22, 1512, in Seville. A navigator.

For many years Vespucci was a petty clerk in the banking house of Medici and an agent of that firm in Seville. From May 1499 to September 1500 he was in the Spanish naval service and from the spring of 1501 to June 1504, in the Portuguese. Then he returned to Spain and from 1508 to 1512 held the post of pilot major in Castile. Between 1499 and 1504, Vespucci took part in several expeditions to the coasts of the New World. Vespucci’s letters about these travels became renowned and were republished several times between 1505 and 1510. The Lotharingian cartographer M. Waldseemüller ascribed the discovery of “one-fourth of the world,” made by Columbus, to Vespucci and proposed that the continent be named America in honor of Amerigo Vespucci. This name was soon generally accepted for South America, and on Mercator’s map of 1538 it was first applied to North America as well.


Magnaghi, A. Amerigo Vespucci. Rome, 1926.
Arciniegas, G. Amerigo y el Nuevo Mundo. Mexico City [1955].

Vespucci, Amerigo

(1454–1512) Italian navigator-explorer from whose name America is derived. [Am. Hist.: EB, X: 410]
See: America
References in periodicals archive ?
De esa manera, sin haberlo pretendido y con solo su claridad perceptiva, Amerigo Vespucci ganaria una fama imperecedera: la de ser el heraldo del nuevo conocimiento geografico de la humanidad.
Other historical background: Online biographies of Amerigo Vespucci, www.
9) As we learn from Vasari, Piero di Cosimo painted his storie baccanarie, stories involving Bacchus, for Giovanni Vespucci, or more likely for the latter's father, Guidantonio, a former ambassador to the court of Louis XI, King of France, and a prominent politician who had spent two years in Paris with a distant relative, his young protege Amerigo Vespucci.
A map by Martin Waldseemuller depicting the New World in 1513 named it after the first Spanish pilot-major, Amerigo Vespucci, under the mistaken impression that he had been the discoverer.
could exist today if a German mapmaker had named the New World after Christopher Columbus instead of rival Amerigo Vespucci.
La historia de este nombre esta ligada ciertamente a la vida y los dichos del florentino Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512), quien primero se traslado a Sevilla como representante de los Medici, desde 1491, y luego, a partir de 1504, fue funcionario de la Corona espanola en la Casa de Contratacion.
Also mentioned are the achievements of Vasco da Gama, Amerigo Vespucci and Samuel de Champlain, to name a few.
Thomas Jefferson & Winston Churchill, Amerigo Vespucci & Sir Edmund Hillary, Marie Curie & Thomas Edison, and Aristotle & Leonardo da Vinci.
Columbus was born in Genoa, while Amerigo Vespucci, after whom the newly discovered continents of the West were ultimately named, was a Florentine.
After all, it was still an Italian, Amerigo Vespucci, a few years later, who did.
I was struck by a remarkable similarity between these comments and comments that I had read in two historical sources: Amerigo Vespucci and Fernandez de Oviedo, both early historians of the Americas.
If we'd call it Amerigo Vespucci Day, Leif Ericson Day, or Native American Day, I might take the day off," Sheila said with a huff.