Why We’re Not Called Columbia
In the end, Columbus was cheated even of the honor of having his major discovery named for him. The Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) claimed to have made four Atlantic voyages between 1497 and 1504, although only two have been absolutely confirmed: one in 1499, commissioned by Spain and resulting in the discovery, of Brazil and Venezuela, and another in 1501, to Brazil on behalf of Portugal. Following the 1501 voyage, Vespucci coined the phrase Mundus Novus—New World-to describe the region. The name stuck. Then, in 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller published an account of Vespucci’s voyages, along with a map and Cosmographiae introductio (Introduction to Cosmography), a treatise on mapmaking. It was Waldseemuller who used a Latinized form of Vespucci’s first name to label the region Amerigo Vespucci had explored.