Antoniotto Usodimare

Antoniotto Usodimare (* 1415 in Genoa; † ca 1461 or according to other sources * 1425, † 1494) was an Italian navigator who explored with Alvise Cadamosto the Gambia River in the service of Portugal.


As a merchant and member of an ancient Genoese patrician family Antoniotto Usodimare left his hometown probably for financial reasons and came across Seville to Lisbon, where his work is occupied from 1453. In some sources he is identified as Antonio da Noli, of how he came from Liguria and stood in the service of Prince Henry the Navigator. However, this identification is controversial among experts; the majority of sources assumes that there are two different navigators: Usodimare has thus discovered 1455-1456, together with the Venetian Alvise Cadamosto in two expeditions to the West African coast and along the Gambia the Eastern Cape Verde Islands and the Bissagos Islands while Antonio da Noli which then took place, systematic development of the Cape Verde Islands is attributed to 1458-1462.

The most important source for evidence of Usodimares person and name is the 1507 Fracanzano because Montalboddo published travelogue Cadamostos, which confirms the Venetian sailors to have met on his journey to the south Usodimare and disputed with him two exploratory trips along the Gambia. In the background of these targeted expeditions was Portugal's interest to tap new sources of gold in this region to gain more raw materials such as ivory and crops, expanding the slave trade and to build Christian bases for suppression of the dominant throughout West Africa Islam. During the first exploration along the Gambia Cadamosto and Usodimare 1455 lost mainly due to the resistance of the locals most of their crews. 1456 they stood on behalf of Henry the Navigator to a second, more successful expedition to the lake. On the way to Gambia they verschlug a storm on two of the Eastern Cape Verde Islands (Boa Vista and Santiago ), where they obtained supplies after a brief exploration thanks to a rich fish and bird occurrence with food and then sailed to their real goal. They succeeded in the Gambia 97 kilometers (60 miles) to go upriver and a profitable contact with Batti Mansa, to make them friendly to the king of Baddibu. A letter Usodimares to its clients by December 12, 1455 thereby confirmed the purchase of gold dust, ivory, slaves, parrots and musk. The severe climatic conditions as well as a renewed loss of many sailors because of illness forced Cadamosto Usodimare and finally after two weeks of departure.

Before returning to Portugal before they sailed south along the coast of Guinea- Bissau to a little south of the Cape Mesurados ( in present-day Liberia). They discovered the Bissagos islands and the mouths of some rivers (Rio Santa Anna, Rio San Domingo, Rio Geba and Rio Grande).

To commemorate Usodimare the Italian Navy in World War II christened a destroyer in the name Antoniotto Usodimare. This was accidentally sunk on 8 June 1942 by the Italian submarine Alagi.