Martin Behaim (October 6, 1459 - July 29, 1507) was a German textile merchant, traveler and cartographer. He was sufficiently convincing to have become an advisor to John II of Portugal on matters of navigation, and today he is best known for having produced, in 1492, the world's oldest surviving globe. He was born in Nuremberg to the elder Martin Behaim, also a merchant and a senator of the city, and Agnes Schopper. His education is not known, despite his own (unsupported) contention that he was a student of the mathematician and astronomer Regiomontanus. In 1474 at the age of fifteen he was sent to Flanders to apprentice as a textile merchant. Five years later, he moved to Antwerp to be closer to the center of that trade, also relying on Nuremberg contacts in that city to become established. In 1484, however, he made a move to Lisbon. His specific motives are unknown. But if he wished to benefit from the new trade opening to Africa in spices, slaves, and gold he could scarcely have made a better choice. He thrived, becoming a counselor in the court of King John II. It is supposed that he advised the court on navigation and astronomy, but we have no evidence that he had any such expertise to offer, or that he made any such contributions. It is deeply unlikely that he could have taught the Portuguese anything that they were not already expert in. The seventeenth-century historian Johann Christoph Wagenseil made the claim in 1682 that Behaim had discovered America before Columbus, and others suggested that he at least gave Columbus the idea of sailing west. These claims are not supported by evidence; as early as 1778 these claims were being vigorously refuted by the scholar Christoph Gottlieb von Murr. Claims that Behaim accompanied Diogo Cão on a voyage of discovery, and Pigafetta’s claim that Magellan had knowledge from Behaim of a strait to the Pacific are also suspect. It is more likely that he became a supplier of scientific and astronomic instruments, for which his hometown of Nuremberg was renowned. Whatever his contributions to the Portuguese court actually were, they were appreciated: on February 28, 1485 Behaim was knighted by John II. It is supposed that later that year he took part in a voyage to West Africa, probably on a trade voyage led by João Afonso de Aveiro. He married in Portugal in 1486, and settled on Portuguese island of Faial in the Azores, where his father-in-law, Josse van Huerter, was Captain-donatário and leader of the Flemish community. The necessity of settling a will brought him back to Nuremberg In 1490, where he would remain for three years. It is during this time that he encouraged the production of the globe – the ‘Erdapfel’ - for which he is now famous. 1493 saw his return to the Azores, where he would remain. An unfortunate business trip to Lisbon in 1507 found him in the hospice of Saint Bartholomew, where he died.

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