Américo Vespucio (in Italian , Amerigo Vespucci to [ / ameriɡo vesputtʃi / ]) ( Florence ; 9 as March as 1454 – Sevilla , 22 as February as 1512 ) was a merchant and cosmógrafo Florentine , naturalized Castilian in 1505, who participated in at least two trips of exploration to the New World , continent that today is called America in his honor.
He held important positions in the contracting house of Seville, of which he was appointedsenior pilot in 1508; but its universal fame is due to two works published under its name between 1503 and 1505: the Mundus Novus and the Letter to Soderini , which attribute a leading role in the Discovery of America and its identification as a new continent. For this reason the cartographer Martin Waldseemüller on his Universalis Cosmographia map of 1507 coined the name “America” in his honor as a designation for the New World. The often fanciful and contradictory account of his travels have placed him as one of the most controversial figures of the era of discoveries .
Headstone on the grave of the homonymous grandfather of Amerigo Vespucci, who died in 1468, with the shield of the family Vespucci or Vespucio . Church of Ognissanti , Florence.
He was the third son of Nastagio Vespucci , a Florentine notary specializing in currency exchange , and Lisa di Giovanni Mini . They named him his grandfather, who died in 1468. The eldest of the brothers, Antonio , studied law and the second, Girolamo , became a priest. Americo also had a little brother, Bernardo , and several others who died shortly after birth. His paternal uncle was the illustrated Dominican friar Giorgio Antonio Vespucci , friend of Lorenzo de Médici”the Magnificent”, by the occultist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and the geographer Toscanelli ; and was in charge of the young man’s education.
Giorgio had donated his important collection of books to the city in 1450 and by the same time he had opened a school for the children of the Florentine aristocrats in his convent in San Marcos. There he trained Amérigo and other young people in the teachings of Aristotle , Ptolemy and Strabo on astronomy , cosmography and geography ; in the reading of the classics and particularly in the domain of the learned language, Latin (in the Riccardiana Library of Florence there is a small codex of its authorship, entitled Dettati da mettere in Latin, written in that language). Américo acquired a predilection for Virgilio , Dante and Petrarca , and probably read Marco Polo’s travel books .
Amerigo Vespucci is remembered mainly because the American continent today bears his name, due to the travel stories collected in the Letter to Soderini , which today are considered imaginary for the most part. There is only consensus on his participation in the fifth European expedition that landed on the coasts of Brazil and on the Ojeda trip of 1499-1500 that visited the current Venezuela , whose name has historically been attributed to him. According to that theory in what is now known as the Gulf of Venezuela, the crew of Ojeda observed the aboriginal dwellings built on wooden pillars that jutted out of the water built by the indigenous Añú.. These houses, which were called palafitos , would have reminded Vespucci of the city of Venice in Italy (“Venezia”, in Italian), which inspired him to give the name Venezziola or Venezuela ( Little Venice ) to the region.