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Amerigo Vespucci Biography – A Renowned Explorer

Although credited with the name “America,” Amerigo Vespucci actually contributed to the discovery of the continent with his publicized letters rather than his voyages. The Italian explorer’s expeditions included those in the service of Spain and Portugal, eventually leading to the discovery of the New World.

Amerigo Vespucci BiographyPHOTO BY PUBLIC DOMAIN

Amerigo Vespucci Biography - First Voyage

The third child of money changer notary Nastagio Vespucci, Amerigo was born on March 9, 1454, in Florence, Italy, and raised by his uncle, Giorgio Antonio. The Amerigo Vespucci biography would not be complete without the mention of the Medici brothers Lorenzo and Giovanni, who belonged to the family that ruled Florence at the time. Vespucci worked for the brothers and was sent to their bank in Seville, Spain in 1492. Giannotto Berardi, the Medicis’ agent and assistant to Christopher Columbus in his first expedition, died while a manager of the Seville agency. Vespucci was left to take over the office, and years later became the director of a company of ship suppliers. This paved the way for the first voyage in the Amerigo Vespucci biography, organized by King Ferdinand of Spain in 1497. They reached what is now known as South America, arriving first at the shores of either Colombia or Nicaragua.

Amerigo Vespucci Discoveries - Other Voyages

Vespucci’s second expedition was also in the service of Spain, joining fleet commander Alonso de Ojeda around 1499 to 1500. Vespucci’s ship, one of four in the fleet, was reportedly separated after reaching the coast of then unknown Guyana. This led to one of the Amerigo Vespucci discoveries, the mouth of the present Amazon River. He also officially named Cape Cattigara, which was theoretically pinpointed by Ptolemy. His third voyage was commissioned by Portugal, in which he sailed to the coast of Brazil. This expedition reached Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro and Rio de la Plata, marking new Amerigo Vespucci discoveries.

Amerigo Vespucci Facts - Letters

In his letters to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici, Vespucci describes his four travels to South America in 1501 to 1502. This was followed by a series of letters from which most Amerigo Vespucci facts are based. Among the unpublished “familiar” letters that were rediscovered in the eighteenth century, he writes about his second and third expeditions before crossing the Atlantic. Although their credibility was questioned by some modern scholars, Vespucci’s letters enabled the European public to learn about the newly discovered parts of the Americas years after publication. Vespucci spent his last days in Seville, Spain, passing away on February 22, 1512.

Written by Melanie Gray

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