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o Vespucc


The period during which Vespucci made his voyages falls between the years 1497 and 1504. Two series of documents on his voyages are extant. The first series consists of a letter written in Italian under the name of Vespucci dated from Lisbon, Portugal, September 4, 1504. It was printed in Florence in 1505. Two Latin translations of this letter, printed under the titles of Quattuor Americi navigationes (The Four Voyages of Amerigo) and Mundus Novus (The New World) also exist. The second series consists of three private letters addressed to the Medici. In the first series of documents, four voyages by Vespucci are mentioned; in the second, only two. According to a theory of Alberto Magnaghi, the second series of documents are to be regarded as the result of skillful manipulations, and the sole authentic papers would be the private letters. As a result, the number of verified voyages would be reduced to two. The question of validity makes attempts to reconcile the two series of documents, and thus the actual number of Vespucci’s voyages, generally unsuccessful.

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Vespucci’s Four Voyages

1 2

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4 3

Verified as real Unverified


First Voyage

May 1497–October 1498 (Spain) Vespucci embarked from Cádiz in a Spanish fleet on May 10, 1497. Serious doubts have been raised about the letter documenting this voyage because it does not fit with other authenticated events chronologically. If the letter is taken literally, the ships passed through the West Indies, sighting no islands, and in 37 days reached the mainland at some Central American point. Following the coast, the ships continued along the Gulf of Mexico, rounded the tip of Florida, and went northward to Cape Hatteras or Chesapeake Bay. The expedition reached Cádiz in October 1498.

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Cรกdiz, Spain

West Indies Central America

Gulf of Mexico Florida

Cape Hatteras


Second Voyage

May 1499–June 1500 (Spain) In 1499, Vespucci joined the expedition of Alonso de Ojeda, a veteran of Columbus’ second voyage, as a pilot. The expedition explored much of the northeastern coast of South America, including stops in Trinidad and Guyana. They also visited a tranquil bay and named it Venezuela, or Little Venice. Ojeda and Vespucci divided forces in the Atlantic after the stop in Cape Verde. Vespucci landed at Cape St. Augustine, at the shoulder of Brazil, after which he coasted westward past the Maracaibo Gulf until he turned to Hispañola. Vespucci probably discovered the mouth of the Amazon River while on this voyage.

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Cรกdiz, Spain

Cape Verde Islands Guyana

Amazon River

Cape St. Augustine


Orinoco River Hispa単ola


Third Voyage

May 1501–July 1502 (Portugal) The last certain voyage of Vespucci was led by Gonçalo Coelho. Departing from Lisbon, the fleet sailed first to Cape St. Augustine. On reaching the coast of Brazil, they sailed south along the coast of South America to Rio de Janeiro’s bay. If his own account is true, he reached the latitude of Patagonia before turning back. On his return to Lisbon, Vespucci wrote in a letter to the Medici that the land masses they explored were much larger than anticipated and different from the Asia described by Ptolemy or Marco Polo and therefore, must be a New World, that is, a previously unknown fourth continent, after Europe, Asia, and Africa.

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Lisbon, Portugal

Cape Verde Islands Coast of Brazil

Guanabara Bay RĂ­o de la Plata


His third voyage of 1501–02 is of fundamental importance in the history of geographic discovery in that Vespucci himself become convinced that the

New W newly discovered lands were not part of Asia but a



Fourth Voyage

May 1503–June 1504 (Portugal) Very little is known about Vespucci’s last voyage in 1503–1504 or even whether it actually took place. There are some clues that in 1503 he may have sailed under Portuguese service again to Brazil, but if true, this expedition failed to make new discoveries. The fleet broke up, the Portuguese commander’s ship disappeared, and Vespucci could proceed only a little past Bahia before returning to Lisbon in 1504. He did not sail again, and as there seemed to be no more work for him in Portugal, he returned to Seville where he settled permanently, and where he had earlier married.

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“Amerigo Vespucci.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. “Columbia or America: 500 Years of Controversy.” Cornell University Library. Cornell University, 22 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.


This book was made by Zach Thomas in the Fall of 2013 for Visual Information at Washington University in St. Louis. It includes text sourced from articles on the Internet and maps from that were manipulated. The book was printed on 70lb Canson Drawing Paper using a Xerox WorkCentre 7830 printer and bound in an accordion format with a wrap-around cover. Typefaces used include various weights of Sentinel and Akzidenz-Grotesk Medium.


A small, modernist book highlighting the four voyages of Amerigo Vespucci and his exploration of the New World.