The first man to discover the shores of the United States, according to Icelandic records, was an Icelander, Leif Erickson, who sailed in the year 1000, and spent the winter somewhere on the New England coast. Christopher Columbus, a Genoese in the Spanish service, discovered San Salvador, one of the Bahama Islands, on October 12, 1492. He thought that he had found the western route to the Indies, and, therefore, called his discovery the West Indies. In 1507, the new continent received its name from that of Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine who had crossed the ocean under the Spanish and Portuguese flags. The middle ages were Closing; the great nations of Europe were putting forth their energies, material and immaterial; and the discovery of America came just in season to help and be helped by the men of these stirring years.