What were the names of the ships that Amerigo Vespucci used during his exploratory cruises?

He was Italian; the American continent was named after him.


1 Answer 1


We don't know

Very little is known about Vespucci's deeds in the continent that was going to be named after him. The only sources of information we have is a series of letters, some of them highly suspected to be forgeries, and the other ones seem to have been written as self-glorifying pamphlets which mix reality and fiction. All in all, Amerigo Vespucci remains the most elusive character in the early Spanish conquest of America.

Vespucci visited the New World in at least two different voyages (although some sources speculate he could have made as many as six trips), one for the Spanish crown and one for the Portuguese crown. He was a trader and a merchant who worked for the "Casa de la Contratación de las Indias" of Seville, and had some knowledge as an astronomer and cartographer. He used his position to buy passage into some of the earliest expeditions to the new continent - he's supposed to have arranged two of the ships Alonso de Ojeda sailed with. All in all, he would had been a sidenote in the story of the Age of Discoveries had it not been for the massive popularity of some letters attributed to him, who did not actually wrote them, and got half of the Old World referring to the new lands discovered to the Europeans as "Americo's land" or later just "America".

The Spanish expedition was probably the first expedition to Venezuela by Alonso de Ojeda, the first of the "Andalusian" or "minor" voyages. I've found contradictory information on how many ships Ojeda sailed with, anywhere from just single ship to a fleet of four, and only one source dared to name the (two, in its version) ships as "Capitana" y "Nueva"; and in any case we don't know in which one Vespucci was in. In his letters, Vespucci says he departed from Palos with two caravels, heavily implying he was in command of them, which we know wasn't the case. He never mentions the name of the captain of the ship he was in - he didn't even mention Ojeda, who was the commander of the expedition - in an attempt to portray himself as something else than a passenger and adviser. There are also no accounts of the name of the ships of his Portuguese expedition, as far as I know.

  • 1
    Probably should be noted that even some of his contemporary's considered his tales fraudulent, and there are still historians of that opinion today.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 18:42
  • Please make ir clear that Vespucci didn't even lead some of these expeditions.
    – Spencer
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 22:02
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    @Spencer I've edited my answer to make clear that Vespucci wasn't that much an important figure in the discovery and conquest of America by the europeans, and the continent being named after him is a rather odd incident of History.
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 10:07

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