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Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer who played a prominent role in exploring the New World. It was Vespucci who determined that the newly discovered lands were not part of Asia but instead a separate continent. The continents of North and South America are named after him.
See the fact file below for more information on Amerigo Vespucci or alternatively, you can download our 27-page Amerigo Vespucci worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Amerigo Vespucci was born on March 9, 1454, in Florence, Italy.
- He was the third son of Nastagio Vespucci and Lisabetta Mini. Vespucci’s father worked as a notary in Florence. Their family was friends with the powerful Medicis.
- As a boy, Amerigo Vespucci was educated by his uncle, Giorgio Antonio Vespucci. He became fluent in several languages and showed much interest in cartography, astronomy and navigation techniques.
- When he’d finished his education, Vespucci worked as a clerk in Seville, Spain, for the Medicis in 1492, where he formed a partnership with another man from Florence, named Giannetto Berardi.
- The business allowed Vespucci to see the great explorers’ ships being prepared and encouraged Vespucci’s interest in travel and discovery.
- Berardi was an investor in Columbus’ journey. They helped Columbus by getting him ships and food supplies for his voyage. Vespucci had the opportunity to meet Columbus in Seville.
- Later, he became the supervisor of their ship-outfitting business when Berardi died in December 1495. He was left in charge of his business for obtaining supplies for the Spanish ships.
- Amerigo decided to become an explorer and left on his first voyage.
- A letter addressed to Piero Soderini, known as “Lettera al Soderini”, was published claiming four voyages to the Americas made by Vespucci between 1497 and 1504.
- A Latin version was published by the German Martin Waldseemüller in 1507 called “Four Voyages of Amerigo Vespucci”. Some modern scholars doubt that this voyage took place, and consider this letter a forgery.
- First Voyage
- According to the controversial letter dated May 10th, 1497, Amerigo Vespucci set sail on his first expedition, departing from Cadiz with a fleet of Spanish ships.
- Vespucci’s fleet reached South America in five weeks. This would mean that Vespucci discovered Venezuela a year before Christopher Columbus did. Vespucci and his fleet arrived back in Spain in October of 1498.
- Second Voyage
- During his second expedition to South America (many believe was really his first), which began on May 18, 1499, he discovered Cape St. Augustine and the Amazon River.
- Alonso Ojeda was the captain of the expedition, and Juan de la Cosa was a pilot. They recorded the plants, wildlife and natives they saw.
- Third Voyage
- On May 14th, 1501, Amerigo Vespucci left on his third voyage to the Americas led by Gonzalo Coelho in service to King Manuel I of Portugal. Vespucci’s ships sailed along the coast of South America from Cape São Roque to Patagonia.
- It was on this trip that he discovered Rio de Janeiro and Rio de la Plata. His fleet headed back and took a route past Sierra Leone and the Azores.
- Vespucci charted the stars and constellations of the southern hemisphere. He noticed that they were different from the constellations usually visible in Europe.
- Amerigo Vespucci named a few constellations on a voyage back from the New World in 1502. He named the Southern Cross, among others.
- The voyage of 1501–1502 is of fundamental importance in the history of geographic discovery. Vespucci returned to Lisbon, Portugal in September 1502.
- He wrote a letter to Lorenzo Medici that the land they discovered was not an island but a continent. He called it Mundus Novus – Latin for “New World”. It was considered his most successful voyage.
- Fourth Voyage
- In 1503, Vespucci set sail again under captain Gonzalo Coelho with the Portuguese flag. Along the way, they saw a variety of wildlife and met some more native people but no new discoveries were made. He returned to Portugal in 1504. This was Amerigo Vespucci’s final voyage.
- Some people believe that Amerigo Vespucci’s fourth trip was his last but some believe that he made a fifth voyage in 1505 and sixth voyage in 1507, with Juan de la Cosa.
- In 1507, a German cartographer named Martin Waldseemüller proposed the name America as a gesture to honor Amerigo Vespucci’s contribution to discovering Brazil. He produced a world map on which he named the new continent “America”.
- In 1538, another mapmaker named Gerardus Mercator expanded the name America to include both the northern and southern portions of the continents.
- Currently, there is a dispute between historians on when Vespucci visited the mainland for the first time. Some historians, like Germán Arciniegas and Gabriel Camargo Pérez, think that his first voyage was made in June 1497 with the Spanish pilot Juan de la Cosa.
- Although born in Italy, Vespucci became a naturalized citizen of Spain in 1505. Three years later, on March 22, 1508, he was made the pilot-major of Spain by King Ferdinand II of Aragon in honor of his discoveries. The position was created for Vespucci with the responsibility of planning navigation for voyages to the Indies.
- Vespucci also ran a school for navigators in order to standardize and modernize navigation techniques.
- Vespucci held the position for the remainder of his life. He became ill with malaria and died on February 22, 1512, at his home in Seville, Spain, at the age of 58.
- His widow, Maria Cerezo, was granted a pension in recognition of her husband’s great service.
Amerigo Vespucci Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Amerigo Vespucci across 27 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Amerigo Vespucci worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Amerigo Vespucci who was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer who played a prominent role in exploring the New World. It was Vespucci who determined that the newly discovered lands were not part of Asia but instead a separate continent. The continents of North and South America are named after him.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Amerigo Vespucci Facts
- Vespucci Story
- Explore the Truth
- The Expeditions
- The Best Navigator
- Amerigo’s Legacy
- Fill in the Gap
- Crossword Adventure
- Sail Away
- Popular Figure
- The Lost Words
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