Who was America named after?

I was always taught that America was named after Amerigo Vespucci, who landed in South America.
I was watching a programme on BBC1 last night, however, (What the Tudors did for us) and they mentioned that evidence had come to light that this was not so.
The first European to land in North America came back and it was named after his friend the customs officer who was the first person he spoke to when he returned. This guy’s name was Mr Americ. His coat of arms had stars and stripes on it too.

Anyone know any more about this?

Hmm. I always learned a German cartographer named the New World America after Amerigo Vespucci. I’m interested in learning about this new information…

I can’t answer the question but the origin of America’s name was discussed in these threads:

America NOT named after Amerigo Vespucci!
america - named after amerigo v. or a mountain?

It also occurred to me while watching the programme, that the family coat of arms of George Washington had stars and stripes on it, and that’s the standard explanation for the design of the flag. Good coincidence though.

Here’s a link to the BBC’s own commentary. The guy’s name was spelt Amerike.

The explanation Cecil gives seems a lot more reasonable to me. Did the Beeb give any evidence for their theory?
A lot of things in history took place for reasons I don’t get, but still, I feel obliged to say I can’t imagine why on Earth Signor Vespucci would name the continent after some guy. The similarity between Vespucci’s given name and this guy’s surname strike me as a little suspicious.

As for the first thread to which you linked, everton, all I can add is whatever you do, don’t listen to Faentur.

His whole post, capped by:

Strikes me as nonsense. Isn’t it well-known that we don’t know who exactly is represented in the Mona Lisa. No “theories” please, as a theory is only that. I would require evidence in the form of a cite from the records of the artist himself.

Now, this forms an interesting parallel. Even with all of the theories, it seems that no one today really knows after whom America was named. One of the theories is obviously more popular than the others. I think that going back through papers and finding that so-and-so had a banker or a friend or a banker’s friend, or a customs officer, or a dog, or whatever, named Americ, Amerike, Amerik. All of this seems a little of a, um, stretch.

It reeks of urban legend.

What is known is that the first published use of “America” was on Waldseemuller’s map. Since that’s the first use, you need to show that Amerike was the person Waldseemuller had in mind.

Since Waldseemuller also published an account of Vespucci’s voyages at the same time he was publishing the map, it’s clear he knew of Vespucci (not to mention the fact that he specifically mentioned Vespucci in an introductory essay about to the map).

The convention of calling the continent “America” derives from Waldseemuller’s use of it. Unless you can prove a connection between Amerike and Waldseemuller, there’s no evidence it comes from anything other than Vespucci – and there is a clear connection linking the two.

Richard Amerike did exist, so there’s no need to be suspicious about the similarity between his surname and Vespucci’s forename.

Click the link I posted for more about the show and Peter Macdonald (the man who made the claims in it). The programme showed the stars and stripes on Amerike’s coat of arms but didn’t document any formal request he may have made that Cabot name his discoveries after his sponsor. Perhaps you have to read Macdonald’s book to get any more evidence?

Perhaps I ought to add that the BBC’s programme is part of an infotainment series not a serious documentary. I’ve seen plenty of other episodes that contained claims of, er, dubious veracity but were entertaining nevertheless. The keynote of it is that x could have happened not this is definitely true.

Troub, do you see the “theory” in the form of a flatly stated fact set forth by Vasari 25 years after Leonardo’s death (that it is fellow Florentine Lisa di Antonio Maria Gherardini, wife of Francesco di Giocondo) as equivilant to modern-day psychoanalytic claims (can’t remember who this was, nor do I have any interest in finding out) that the portrait is Leonardo self-portraiting his inner feminine id, for instance? Much of what is said about the most famous paintings is the art historical equivilant of ‘research’ on the pyramids, and some theories are better than other.

Ok, capybara, I do think that some theories are better than other, obviously. But the truth is, we don’t know. From the Louvre’s own website:

So yes some theories are better than others, but without “final proof” there is no way to be sure.

Please also note that this type of theory is different from a scientific theory. Just to cut off anybody who might bring up various things like evolution, relativity, gravity, or whatever.

Hijack: Faentur is half-remembering historical fact, but is 100% wrong on the details.

Amerigo’s cousin (or, as some sources list, sister) is Simonetta Vespucci. She was a Renaissance-era supermodel and (in my estimation) is way hotter than Mona Lisa. She was painted by several Renaissance painters (though not by Mona Lisa painter Da Vinci as far as I know). She is most associated with Sandro Botticelli who used her in several of his paintings, most enduring of which is “Birth of Venus.”

Anyone who uses Adobe Illustrator is familiar with her face: it is the main graphic of the icon, splash-screen and packaging.

You can also see “Birth of Venus” re-imagined in the movie “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” by Terry Gilliam, with a then-unknown Uma Thurman standing-in for Simontta as Venus. Be still my beating heart.

Simonetta Vespucci, in addition, looks nothing like the Mona Lisa. If you know who both were, it’s pretty hard to confuse them.

America’s Birth Certificate http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2001/01-093.html

This is my **favorite ** Cecil column of all. :smiley:

I once read a history of Hungary by a Hungarian author. He claimed that the Hungarian name Imre was the source of the Germanic name Emerick, which became Americus in Latin, Amerigo in Italian. So America actually has a Hungarian name.

So we now have the cover for Straight Dope #6 – The inimitable Signorino depiction of Cecil standing on a Scallop shell, one hand modestly shielding his privates and the other extended, pointing to a map of the Americas on which Chicago radiates his wisdom to the world. :slight_smile: