AskDefine | Define vespucci

Dictionary Definition

Vespucci n : Florentine navigator who explored the coast of South America; America was named in his honor (1454-1512) [syn: Amerigo Vespucci, Americus Vespucius]

Extensive Definition

The explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci (March 9, 1454 - February 22, 1512) was the first person to demonstrate that the New World discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 was not the eastern appendage of Asia, but rather a previously-unknown "fourth" continent. The continents of North and South America (and, by extension, the United States of America) derive their name from the feminized Latin version of his first name.
He played a senior role in two voyages which explored the east coast of South America between 1499 and 1502. On the first of these voyages he discovered that South America extended much further south than believed by other European explorers crossing the Atlantic, who thought they were reaching Asia (the Indies). Vespucci's voyages became widely known in Europe after two accounts attributed to him were published America after Vespucci's first name, Amerigo. In an accompanying book, Waldseemüller published one of the Vespucci accounts, which led to criticism that Vespucci was trying to usurp Christopher Columbus' glory. However, the rediscovery in the 18th century of other letters by Vespucci, primarily the Soderini Letter, has led to the view that the early published accounts were fabrications, not by Vespucci, but by others.


Amerigo Vespucci was born in 1454 in Florence, Italy. Amerigo Vespucci worked for Lorenzo de' Medici and his brother, Giovanni. In 1492 they sent him to work at their agency in Seville, Spain. In 1508, after only two voyages to the Americas, the position of chief of navigation of Spain (piloto mayor de Indias) was created for Vespucci, with the responsibility of planning navigation for ocean voyages. He died of malaria on February 22, 1512 in Seville, Spain.
Two letters attributed to Vespucci were published during his lifetime. Mundus Novus (New World) was a Latin translation of a lost Italian letter sent from Lisbon to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici. It describes a voyage to South America in 1501-1502. Mundus Novus was published in late 1502 or early 1503 and soon reprinted and distributed in numerous European countries. Lettera di Amerigo Vespucci delle isole nuovamente trovate in quattro suoi viaggi (Letter of Amerigo Vespucci concerning the isles newly discovered on his four voyages), known as Lettera al Soderini or just Lettera, was a letter in Italian addressed to Piero Soderini. Printed in 1504 or 1505, it claimed to be an account of four voyages to the Americas made by Vespucci between 1497 and 1504. A Latin translation was published by the German Martin Waldseemüller in 1507 in Cosmographiae Introductio, a book on cosmography and geography, as Quattuor Americi Vespuccij navigationes (Four Voyages of Amerigo Vespucci). After hitting land at the coast of what is now Guyana, the two seem to have separated. Vespucci sailed southward, discovering the mouth of the Amazon River and reaching 6°S, before turning around and seeing Trinidad and the Orinoco River and returning to Spain by way of Hispaniola. The letter, to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici, claims that Vespucci determined his longitude celestially
on August 23, 1499, while on this voyage. However, that claim may be fraudulent,
On his return to Lisbon, Vespucci wrote in a letter to de' Medici that the land masses they explored were much larger than anticipated and different from the Asia described by earlier Europeans and, therefore, must be a New World, that is, a previously unknown fourth continent, after Europe, Asia, and Africa.


Europeans had long conceptualized the Afro-Eurasian landmass as divided into the same three continents we know today: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Once cosmographers was realized that the New World was not connected to the Old (but before its true geography was fully mapped), they considered the Americas to be a single, fourth continent.


  • Amerigo: the Man Who Gave His Name to America by Fernández-Armesto, Felipe; Weidenfeld & Nicolson [2006] (hardcover, ISBN 0-297-84802-X).
  • Amerigo and the New World by Arciniegas, German; Alfred A. Knopf [1955]
  • Heroes of American History: Amerigo Vespucci by Ober, Frederick A.; Harper & Brothers [1907]
  • Amerigo Vespucci: Pilot Major by Pohl, Frederick J.; Columbia University Press [1944]
  • Norbert Schulz: Amerigo Vespucci, Mundus Novus (mit Zweittexten). M.M.O. VERLAG ZUR FÖRDERUNG DES MITTEL- UND NEULATEINISCHEN, Butjadingen 2007. (Neulateinische Texte für den altsprachlichen Unterricht (Vivarium (Series neolatina, Band II))) ISBN 978-3-9811144-2-3

External links

vespucci in Arabic: أميريغو فسبوتشي
vespucci in Asturian: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Bosnian: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Bulgarian: Америго Веспучи
vespucci in Catalan: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Czech: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Danish: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in German: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Estonian: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Modern Greek (1453-): Αμέριγκο Βεσπούκι
vespucci in Spanish: Américo Vespucio
vespucci in Esperanto: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Persian: آمریگو وسپوچی
vespucci in French: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Hindi: आमेरिगो वेस्पूची
vespucci in Croatian: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Indonesian: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Italian: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Hebrew: אמריגו וספוצ'י
vespucci in Kannada: ಅಮೇರಿಗೊ ವೆಸ್ಪುಚಿ
vespucci in Georgian: ამერიგო ვესპუჩი
vespucci in Swahili (macrolanguage): Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Latin: Americus Vespucius
vespucci in Lithuanian: Amerigas Vespučis
vespucci in Hungarian: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Dutch: Amerigo Vespucci (persoon)
vespucci in Japanese: アメリゴ・ヴェスプッチ
vespucci in Norwegian: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Low German: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Polish: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Portuguese: Américo Vespúcio
vespucci in Romanian: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Russian: Веспуччи, Америго
vespucci in Simple English: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Slovak: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Slovenian: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Serbian: Америго Веспучи
vespucci in Finnish: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Swedish: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Thai: อเมริโก เวสปุชชี
vespucci in Vietnamese: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Turkish: Amerigo Vespucci
vespucci in Ukrainian: Веспуччі Амеріго
vespucci in Chinese: 阿美利哥·维斯普西
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