AMERIGO VESPUCCI 1454 -
xxxxxThe Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci claimed to have made four voyages to the American mainland and, furthermore, that on his first expedition (1497-
xxxxxThus the German map-
xxxxxMartin Waldseemüller's world map of 1507 (illustrated above), the first to have the name America on it (shown by an arrow and detail on right), and the first to show the Americas as a distinct continent, was so immense -
xxxxxIt is almost certain that before starting his career as an explorer Vespucci would have known Columbus. From 1491 he worked for a merchant in Seville who fitted out ships sailing to the West Indies. He would have seen him return from his voyages and consulted with him concerning supplies for his next expedition. After his seafaring days were over, Vespucci was again employed in the service of Spain. He was appointed the country's master navigator, and helped to prepare men and ships for new expeditions.
xxxxxThe first known terrestrial globe to survive was made at Nurnberg by the Portuguese navigator and geographer Martin Behaim (1459-
xxxxxOne of the most informative maps of this period was that by the Spanish cartographer Juan de la Cosa (c1460-
xxxxxJuan de la Cosa led an adventurous life. He accompanied Columbus on his first and second voyages, and in 1499 he took part in Vespucci's voyage to explore the north coast of South America, led by the Spanish soldier Alonso de Ojeda. It was after this voyage that he produced his world map. In 1510 he again went on an expedition led by Ojeda, this time to explore another part of the northern coast of South America. The enterprise ended in disaster. They landed safely in modern Colombia, but were attacked by hostile Indians, and the entire party was massacred save for Ojeda and one other man.
xxxxxThere is some doubt about the number of voyages made by the Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci, but it is generally accepted that he explored the north coast of South America in 1499 and that in 1501, during a second voyage to this area, he became convinced that the coastline he was tracing was that of a new continent. It was the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller who, in his planisphere of 1516, put the explorer's name across the new continent and gave it its name.
Martin Behaim and
Juan de la Cosa
Vespucci: probable portrait by the Italian painter Titian (c1488-