Born in 1454, Amerigo Vespucci entered as a young man into the court of Lorenzo de Medici and his cousin Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco, who was one of the most educated men of the time (Fun Fact: Lorenzo is the mysterious Mercury on the left side of the "Primavera" by Botticelli). In the circle of extraordinary scholars, Amerigo was able to learn about geographical and cosmographic matters, central themes of the Florentine culture at the time. The geographic interest evolved around how to get to China and Japan, as China had fallen to Mongol rulers and Persia had converted to the Islam.
A connoisseur of navigation and of the seas, Amerigo Vespucci left Florence in 1491 to move to Seville as commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco. Here he meets Christopher Columbus. In 1499 Vespucci sails west to further explore the coast south of the land discovered by Columbus. Amerigo Vespucci was among the first to grasp that Columbus had not discovered a route to reach China, but a new continent. In his letters to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco Medici, Vespucci describes these lands as the "new world".
"I arrived at the land of the Antipodes, and recognized it as the fourth part of the Earth. I discovered a continent inhabited by a multitude of people and animals, more than in Europe, Asia or Africa itself '
The fame of these letters spread throughout Europe and reached the German cartographer and humanist Martin Waldseemüller who, in his work "Cosmographiae Introductio” in 1507, suggested the name America for the new continent, naming it after Amerigo Vespucci.