Amerigo Vespucci (1454
) was described in Maxim magazine
as a low-ranking sailor
who scammed his name onto the map
s and wrote pornography
about the native
s of the lands he'd explored. This is a continuation of legends that have grown up about Vespucci, spread by those who thought Columbus deserved to have the new continent
s named after him instead, but the stories about Vespucci are not really true.
Vespucci was not a low-ranking sailor; he was a navigator of three expeditions bankrolled by the King of Spain and later that of Portugal as follow-ups to previous voyages such as the earlier ones of Christopher Columbus. He also did not scam his way onto the maps; he had nothing to do with the fact that a cartographer, the German Martin Waldseemüller, who'd read his accounts of his voyages, chose to label the lands on his map that Vespucci had written about with a Latinized version of Vespucci's name. (Apparently Waldseemüller later changed his mind about the name, but by then all the other maps were using it and the name stuck.) However, the charge that Vespucci's work went into great detail about sexual and marriage customs of the natives is true. Unsurprisingly, his descriptions of the New World sold rather better than those of Columbus.
Sources: Years of reading, and
weekly/aa050498.htm to confirm my recollections.