Amerigo Vespucci, the Florentine banker who was so filled with enthusiasm for the expeditions he financed that in the second half of his life he started studying cosmography and astronomy, played an important role as outsider and amateur in the history of early discoveries. He was one of the first scientifically interested Europeans to leave the safety of their studies to investigate and describe new and exotic realities at risk of life and limb. Thanks to his rich intellectual background and his position between the culture of Florentine humanism and the experiences of Iberian seafarers he was to become the authentic voice of a new age and a “New World”. Amerigo Vespucci’s “Mundus Novus”, first published in 1502, thus marks a turning-point in the history of Europe. This short Latin text not only communicated the idea of a “New World” but also put an end to the authority of ancient humanistic book-knowledge by launching the empirical method of discoveries. In addition Vespucci’s text represents the archetype of modern adventure and travel stories. The present edition comprises the Latin text, a German translation and a detailed commentary. Two essays throw new light on the cultural importance of both text and author. New linguistic investigations definitively confirm the hitherto contested authenticity of the text.
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