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The early life and role of amerigo vespucci in the discovery of the new world

See Article History Amerigo Vespucci, born 1454? The name for the Americas is derived from his given name. Early life Vespucci was the son of Nastagio, a notary.

Amerigo Vespucci

As a boy Vespucci was given a humanistic education by his uncle Giorgio Antonio. In 1479 he accompanied another relation, sent by the famous Italian Medici family to be their spokesman to the king of France. At the end of 1491 their agent, Giannotto Berardi, appears to have been engaged partly in fitting out ships; and Vespucci was probably present when Christopher Columbus returned from his first expedition, which Berardi had assisted.

When Berardi died, either at the end of 1495 or at the beginning of 1496, Vespucci became manager of the Sevilla agency.

Two series of documents on his voyages are extant. In the first series of documents, four voyages by Vespucci are mentioned; in the second, only two. Until the 1930s the documents of the first series were considered from the point of view of the order of the four voyages.

According to a theory of Alberto Magnaghi, on the contrary, these documents are to be regarded as the result of skillful manipulations, and the sole authentic papers would be the private letters, so that the verified voyages would be reduced to two. The voyage completed by Vespucci between May 1499 and June 1500 as navigator of an expedition of four ships sent from Spain under the command of Alonso de Ojeda is certainly authentic.

This is the second expedition of the traditional series. Since Vespucci took part as navigator, he certainly cannot have been inexperienced; but it does not seem possible that he had made a previous voyage 1497—98 in this area i. In the voyage of 1499—1500 Vespucci would seem to have left Ojeda after reaching the coast of what is now Guyana. Turning south, he is believed to have discovered the mouth of the Amazon River and to have gone as far as Cape St.

On the way back he reached Trinidad, sighted the mouth of the Orinoco Riverand then made for Haiti. Vespucci thought he had sailed along the coast of the extreme easterly peninsula of Asiawhere Ptolemythe geographer, believed the market of Cattigara to be; so he looked for the tip of this peninsula, calling it Cape Cattigara.

He supposed that the ships, once past this point, emerged into the seas of southern Asia. As soon as he was back in Spain, he equipped a fresh expedition with the aim of reaching the Indian Oceanthe Gulf of the Ganges modern Bay of Bengaland the island of Taprobane or Ceylon now Sri Lanka.

But the Spanish government did not welcome his proposals, and at the end of 1500 Vespucci went into the service of Portugal. Under Portuguese auspices Vespucci completed a second expedition, which set off from Lisbon on May 13, 1501.

After a halt at the Cape Verde Islands, the expedition traveled southwestward and reached the coast of Brazil toward Cape St. The ships may have journeyed still farther south, along the coast of Patagonia in present-day southern Argentina. The return route is unknown. The suggestion caught on; the extension of the name to North Americahowever, came later.

On the upper part of the mapwith the hemisphere comprising the Old World, appears the picture of Ptolemy; on the part of the map with the New World hemisphere is the picture of Vespucci. It is uncertain whether Vespucci took part in yet another expedition 1503—04 for the Portuguese government it is said that he may have been with one under Gonzalo Coelho. In any case, this expedition contributed no fresh knowledge.

  • In 1508, the position of pilot major chief of navigation of Spain was created for Vespucci, with the responsibility of training pilots for ocean voyages;
  • While in Spain, Vespucci was drawn to the excitement surrounding the growing interest in exploration.

Although Vespucci subsequently helped to prepare other expeditions, he never again joined one in person. He also had to prepare the official map of newly discovered lands and of the routes to them for the royal surveyinterpreting and coordinating all data that the captains were obliged to furnish. Vespucci, who had obtained Spanish citizenship, held this position until his death.

Some scholars have held Vespucci to be a usurper of the merits of others. Yet, despite the possibly deceptive claims made by him or advanced on his behalf, he was a genuine pioneer of Atlantic exploration and a vivid contributor to the early travel literature of the New World.