With marvellous aplomb, the Treaty of Tordesillas (1492) divided the whole world, for colonization purposes, between Portugal and Castile. Pedro Cabral, en route to India, came upon the coastline of Brazil, claiming it for Portugal. Far to the north, the Corte-Real brothers would retrace the steps of earlier Norse explorers to Greenland, Labrador and Newfoundland, before both disappearing without trace. Amerigo Vespucci was a Florentine pickle merchant, who insinuated himself into trans-Atlantic exploration as a Medici agent. In successive voyages, first as observer, then navigator, and finally commander, he explored the Caribbean and the South American coast as far as Patagonia. Through the breadth of his ventures, he became the first explorer to realize that Columbus had happened upon a continental landmass, terming it the ‘New World’. Vespucci began to record his achievements, convinced he would ‘leave some fame behind me when I die’. And eponymously, in America, he would.
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