Born – 9th March 1451
Died – 22nd February 1512
Father – Nastagio Vespucci (d. 1482)
Mother – Lisa di Giovanni Mini
Spouse – Maria Cerezo
Children – None
1451 (9th March)
Amerigo Vespucci was born to Nastagio Vespucci and Lisa di Giovanni Mini in Florence. He was the couple’s third son. His brothers Antonio and Girolamo were born earlier. The Vespucci family were a notable family of Florence and on good terms with the Medici family.
Amerigo was tutored by his uncle, Giorgio Antonio Vespucci who was a Dominican friar. He studied a range of subjects including astronomy, literature, philosophy and Latin.
Amerigo accompanied his cousin Guido to Paris on a diplomatic mission to gain French support for Florence.
The diplomatic mission to Paris had failed and Amerigo and his cousin returned to Florence.
Amerigo’s father died.
Vespucci gained employment as house manager for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici, a banker and relative of the ruling Medici family.
Amerigo Vespucci travelled to Seville to oversea the replacement of one of Lorenzo’s business agents. The new business agent, Gianotto Berardi was involved in the slave trade and shipping business.
Vespucci was living in Seville. He was increasingly involved with Gianotto Berardi who had invested in the first voyage of Christopher Columbus.
1492 (3rd August)
Christopher Columbus embarked on his first voyage.
1492 (12th October)
Christopher Columbus reached land which he named San Salvador (the Bahamas).
Amerigo Vespucci married Maria Cerezo.
1493 (15th March)
Columbus, returned to Spain claiming he had found Asia.
1493 (after March)
Berardi secured a contract to supply provisions for Columbus’s second voyage.
1493 (24th September)
Christopher Columbus embarked on his second voyage.
Christopher Columbus retured to Spain. He brought with him a number of natives from the lands he had discovered.
Gianotto Berardi secured a contract to send 12 ships with supplies to the new World.
Gianotto Berardi died. He had named Amerigo Vespucci as executor of his will. Vespucci fulfilled the contract to send supply ships to the lands discovered by Columbus.
1497 (10th May)
Amerigo Vespucci may have embarked on his first voyage to the New World returning in October 1498. Evidence for this first voyage is a single letter dated 1504, published in 1505, which many historians believe to be a forgery or a revamped copy of an original letter.
1499 (18th May)
Amerigo Vespucci sailed with Alonso de Ojeda on his voyage to explore the southern land that Columbus had sighted on his third voyage the previous year. Vespucci had financed two of the four ships that made the expedition.
Having reached land, near to Suriname, the expedition split. Ojeda and two ships sailed north while the other two sailed south. Vespucci was with the party that travelled south. After voyaging south along the coast for some distance, Vespucci turned back and headed north-west sailing along the coast of South America to Venezuela.
Vespucci returned to Spain.
King Manuel I of Portugal commissioned an expedition to sail to a large landmass (Brazil) spotted by Cabral. Goncalo Coelho was chosen to lead the expedition and Amerigo Vespucci was recruited as a pilot.
Coelho and Vespucci set sail from Lisbon.
1501 (17th August)
Coelho and Vespucci reached Brazil. They began to sail south along the coast. Matching constellation patterns to those described as being viewed from Asia, Vespucci realised that the land they were exploring was not Asia but another continent.
1502 (1st January)
Coelho and Vespucci had reached a large bay. They named it Rio de Janeiro (River of January).
Vespucci began the journey home to Spain.
Mundus Novus (New World) was published. This letter, written to Vespucci’s former employer Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici, describes Vespucci’s journey to Brazil 1501 – 1502. The publication was very popular and helped secure Vespucci’s reputation as an explorer.
Amerigo Vespucci may have made a second voyage to South America for the Portuguese crown. As with his alleged first voyage in 1497, evidence for this journey rests with a letter to Piero Soderini, published in 1505, which many historians believe to be a forgery or re-working of the original.
A letter written by Vespucci to Piero Soderini, leader of Florence, was published. This letter details four voyages made by Vespucci and it led to the name Amerigo being used to name America. It is now believed that this letter may have been a forgery or a re-working of the original.
Vespucci was resident in Seville and had been given Spanish citizenship. He was contracted by King Ferdinand to provide supply ships for expeditions.
1507 (25th April)
The name America was first used on a German-made map as the name for South America.
Amerigo Vespucci was appointed Chief Pilot, a role which made him responsible for the training and licensing of pilots for ships.
1512 (22nd February)
Amerigo Vespucci died in Seville after contracting malaria.
Published Feb 11, 2022 @ 12:38 pm – Updated –
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2022). Amerigo Vespucci 1451 – 1512.