The discovery of a new continent
He was born into one of the most cultured families in all of Florence (Italy). Amerigo Vespucci was chosen to manage all the financial affairs of the Pier Francesco House of Medici. This job gave him a great deal of excess money of his own.
Early in 1493, he became a sailor and explorer who made several journeys across the Atlantic and claimed to have been the first to have seen South America in 1497.
The name "America" is said to have been based on his first name. Some people have suggested other origins.
Amerigo Vespucci heard sailors telling stories about
"the most famous voyage ever taken place", the voyage
of the Portuguese Bartolomeu
Dias to the Cape of Good Hope in 1488. He
also heard occasional mention of the Italian
Columbus who had been granted ships in order
to find a western route to India.
|Doc. 1. Amerigo Vespucci|
He had persuaded King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to pay for his attempt to find a new route to Asia by crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
When he arrived at one of the Caribbean islands, he thought he had landed in Asia and he continued to believe it for the rest of his life. He named the local people Indians (which was a mistake since he had landed in America and not in India).
He made three more
journeys to America but they were not
commercially successful and he
lost favour. He died in poverty in 1506.
|Doc. 2. Christopher Colombus|
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