State Library of NSW

Letter to Giuliano de Medici, c.1516


Andrea Corsalii

Under the Southern Cross

Letter to Giuliano de Medici, c.1516In 1516, the Florentine, Andrea Corsali, became the first European to draw what became known as the Southern Cross, and to describe these five stars pointing towards the South Pole as exhibiting a cruciform pattern.

Corsali observed the Southern Cross in 1515 while on a Portuguese expedition to Cochin (Kochi), India, and immediately sent his observations in a letter from Cochin to his patron, Giuliano de Medici, in Florence. Corsali may have been representing the banking interests of the Medici, an expertise needed by the Portuguese if they were to exploit any new discoveries.

This copy of the letter was made about 1516 by a Venetian scribe for Andrea Gritti, Procurator and later Doge of Venice, whether secretly or by arrangement is unknown. Espionage cannot be ruled out as Florence and Venice were historic rivals and information about the Portuguese voyages was both closely guarded and of great interest to a maritime trading power such as Venice.
Display item Letter to Giuliano de Medici, c.1516


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