getting sponsorship from Queen Isabella
and King Ferdinand of Spain in 1492. He was therefore
voyaging with the stated aim of finding a route to the
Far East, not of finding new lands.
Whether he knew he had discovered a new
continent (or more accurately rediscovered) is again a
matter of opinion. My opinion is that he had gone out
on a limb with promises to find the westerly route to
China, but knew full well there was a continent in the
way. Many factors provide evidence of this. He was a brilliant
navigator. His brother owned a map shop where Christopher
Columbus had formerly worked. He kept two logs on his
first voyage, his publicly stated travelling distance
to China corresponding well with the actual distance to
landfall in America. When he arrived on each voyage, he
had a preference for heading south, as if trying to find
his way around the bottom of the "newly discovered"
continent. Could Columbus have had a Viking map of Vinland
(America)? As the Vikings had settled to the North of
the American Continent, it is likely their mapping of
the southernmost extent of America would have been guesswork.
So could Columbus have been looking for the way past where
he assumed the southern coast to be? An inaccurate assumption
as the map he was using would have been wrong in this
Whatever Columbus' reasons were, he went
to his death bed claiming he had landed in Asia, and never
attempted to take credit for finding a new continent.
To allow any hint he had deceived the Spanish royalty,
by understating the westerly direction to China to them,
would have further weakened his case for the spoils of
his adventures belonging to him and his sons.
When Vespucci went along as part of an
expedition in 1505, unlike Columbus, he had no reason
to stay quiet about "discovering" a new continent.
On his return, he made sure everyone knew of his journey
to the "New World," as he called it, in a series
Germans Martin Waldseemuller, a noted
geographer, and Mathias Ringmann, a schoolmaster, read
these letters. They were working on a reproduction of
Ptolemy's treatise on geography, and incorporated their
claim that Vespucci had discovered the New World. This
was published in 1507, just one year after the death of
Columbus. Here is found the first publication of the name,
They chose the feminine version of the
name Amerigo, as the other continents already had feminine
names - Asia, Africa and Europa (though I would argue
there's no such continent as Europe, its part of Asia.
But therein lies another can of worms!).
get rich, rich, rich together!