Though born in the Republic of Florence (Italy), like many others from the trading city-states on the Mediterranean, Vespucci (1451–1512) became a mariner and explorer for another country. While in the employ of the Medici family of bankers, he was sent to work in the family’s bank in Spain. While there he came to the attention of King Manuel I of Portugal, who hired him to be an observer on several voyages to explore the portion of the Americas acquired through the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas. Several published accounts of these voyages attributed to Vespucci led cartographer Martin Waldseemüller to name the continents of the New World after him.

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