Podcast – First Use of the Name America


First Use of the Name America

First Use of the Name America

 

From the Book:
The New World Discoverers
Transcript:
Greetings
Today I will talk about German geographers Martin Waldseemuller and Matthias Ringmann, who published a book and map in 1507 that used the name “America,” in reference to the region of South America in 1507. Since then the name has included both North and South America.
The story follows.

April 25, 1507 – Geographer Martin Waldseemuller and Matthias Ringmann First Used the Name America
German geographers Martin Waldseemuller and Matthias Ringmann published a book and map. This map was the first to depict Columbus’ new discoveries as part of a new world, not Asia. Most people at the time still believed that the land Christopher Columbus discovered in 1492 to be a part of Asia. Waldseemuller and Ringman based their theory on the voyages of Americus Vespucci whose voyages to this new world they studied.
Martin Waldseemüller (1470–1521)
Born in Wolfenweiler, Germany his family moved to Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. After studying at the University of Freiburg, he became a geographer. Then he became involved with the Gymnasium Vosagense at Saint Diey, now in France.
Matthias Ringmann (1482–1511)
Born in Eichhoffen (Alsace), Ringman was a German cartographer and humanist poet. He visited Italy around 1503 where he learned about the new discoveries to the west. He first heard about the voyages of Amerigo Vespucci and for a time thought that it was Vespucci that made the discoveries. After concluding his visit, he went to Saint-Dié-des-Vosges in Lorraine. Here he and his friend Martin Waldseemüller collaborated on a new Latin edition of Ptolemy’s treatise on geography.
A New World
Ringman and Waldseemuller joined the Gymnasium Vosagense at Saint Diey. The Gymnasium initiated an ambitious project to update the world’s geographic knowledge. The map they produced they titled the Universalis Cosmographia. It shows the new lands with the name “America” on them. In the accompanying book, the Cosmographiae Introductio, they detail the reasons for their choice. The men had studied Amerigo Vespucci’s notes and journals about his explorations. They compared them to what they knew about Asia. They decided that the accounts of Asia and the accounts of Columbus and Vespucci did not match the descriptions of Asia. They concluded that this must be a new land.
The Map
The map consisted of twelve panels. It depicted this new world as consising of two portions with a north and a south sector. The south portion they named “America” using the feminized version of Americus Vespucii’s name. They initially published 1000 copies, of which only one is known to be in existence. German Chancellor Angela Merkle bestowed this copy upon the Library of Congress in 2007. She did this in gratitude for the United States’ contributions to modern day Germany. The Library of Congress currently displays this map in Washington, DC.

This story is exerpted from my book, The New World Discoverers. Listeners can find the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and other online retailers. You can also buy the book direct from me on my website, http://www.mossyfeetbooks.com. You can contact me an mossyfeetbooks@gmail.com

Thank you for listening.

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