Learn from the greatest discoverers
HOW DID COLUMBUS MISS OUT ON NAMING RIGHTS?
Before he hit today’s Cancel Culture, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He brought wonders back to Europe, tobacco, turkeys and pineapples. What more could Spain want from a New World? Why don’t we call the continents North and South Columbia?
Why did map maker Amerigo Vespucci take home the honors? And make no mistake, the naming of not one, but two new continents and having your own name attached there to- that honor hardly ever happens!
How could anyone have assumed that kind of naming power? Turns out German map maker, book writer Martin Waldseemüller in the year 1507 selected Amerigo’s maps for his publication. Martin is the guy who made Amerigo’s name stick. He printed up some of Amerigo’s drawings, published a book and puff: The Americas were named. Vespucci won the game while poor old Columbus sat around in jail, ignored at first and later cancelled. Yes Amerigo gets points for saying the “New World” was a continent, while Columbus continued his rant that Caribbean islands were an Asian archipelago. In the end, it was Waldseemüller’s publication that made the difference. It’s not the only time a bona fide world hero’s lost out for lack of a flack.
Who circumnavigated the globe for the first time?
Technically it was Enrico, a Portuguese slave sold in Malacca to sea captain Fernando Magellan. Neither one of them made it back to Portugal but both had spent time in the Philippines and so both circled the world. Why did Fernando get all the headlines? Because he, not Enrico, had his own public relations guy Antonio Pigafetta, who wrote and published “First Trip Around the World”.
You can see a pattern here
Even before Christopher and Fernando, there was Marco. How did Marco Polo get credit for introducing China to the European World? Marco may have been number 5,000th out of all the Europeans who did the overland expedition to Asia. Nobody knows the actual number of Silk Roaders, but men and women had been making the trip for more than a thousand years before Polo (so I’m guessing at least 5 made it every year). Each of those thousands must have had adventure stories worthy of a book. Do none of them deserve any credit? Not even a mention in the press?
Fortunately for Marco, he was incarcerated for more than a year with a writer in the big house of Genoa. This stroke of good fortune provided Polo with his own flack and the story became history. The author in the slammer was Rustichello da Pisa, whose book “Marvels of the World”, in English commonly called “The Travels of Marco Polo”, reached the Best Seller List of 1295 and made Marco a house hold name.
The lesson we should take from Columbus, Magellan and Marco: Do your own thing, but before taking your first step, get yourself a P.R. guy.