John Cabot was a Genoese navigator and explorer. His 1497 discovery of a portion of North America under the commission of Henry VII of England is generally believed to be his initial European expedition to the continent of North America since the Norse Vikings made their visits to Vinland in the 11th century.
It was also one of the final moments, prior to the reign of Queen Elizabeth was born, that England would make its first foray into this New World. Explore amazing Facts about John Cabot here!
Facts about John Cabot: Early Life
- It is possible that he was born earlier than 1450 and that’s the date that is most often stated for his birth.
- In 1471, Caboto was admitted to the religious confraternity St. John the Evangelist. Because it was one of the most prestigious confraternities in the city, the fact that he was accepted suggests that the confraternity was already respected as a member of the community.
- After he was granted full Venetian citizenship in 1476 Caboto was legally able to engage in maritime commerce, including the trade with the eastern Mediterranean, which was the basis of a large portion of Venice’s wealth.
- A 1483-related document mentions his sale of a slave from Crete which he acquired while living in the territory under the Sultan of Egypt. Sultan of Egypt that then comprised much of what is now Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.
- Cabot appears in numerous Venetian documents from the 1480s. These records indicate that in 1484, he had been wed to Mattea and had at least two sons.
- The sons of Cabot include Ludovico, Sebastian, and Sancto. The Venetian sources include references to Cabot’s involvement in the construction of houses throughout the city. Cabot may have benefited from this knowledge when he sought employment afterward in Spain as an engineer in civil engineering.
- Cabot seems to have fallen into financial troubles at the end of 1480 and then left Venice as a bankrupt debtor before November 5 1488.
- He relocated from Valencia, Spain, where his creditors tried to have him detained. In Valencia, John Cabot proposed plans to improve the harbor. The plans were rejected.
- Then, in 1494, he moved to Seville in Spain, where he proposed the construction of a bridge and for five months was working on the building of a stone bridge across the Guadalquivir river. The project was canceled after a decision by Seville’s City Council on December 24 1494.
- Following this, Cabot seems to have sought the support of those who held the Iberian crowns Seville and Lisbon to embark on an Atlantic expedition, and then moved to London to find the necessary funding and political support. Cabot probably arrived in England around mid-1495.
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John Cabot Facts: England and Expeditions
- Similar to other Italian explorers, like Christopher Columbus, Cabot conducted an expedition in assignment to another European nation, in this instance, England.
- Cabot had planned to head towards the west from northerly latitudes in which the longitudes are closer, and consequently, the trip would be shorter. Cabot was still hopeful of finding an alternate way to China.
- On March 5 1496, Henry VII gave Cabot and his three sons patents with the following charges for exploration:
…free authority, authority, and power to sail every part, region, and coastlines of the eastern and western seas as well as the northern under our flags, banners and ensigns. We have five vessels or ships in any kind and size they might be and with as many mariners and sailors that they would like to bring aboard the vessels and at their own cost and expenses to search for, find and explore any islands and countries, regions, that are heathen provinces, or people of the infidels in any part of the globe prior to this time, that was not known to all Christians.
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- The patent holders were entitled to transfer them to third parties to execution. The sons of his are believed to be under their 18th birthday.
- Cabot visited Bristol to make preparations for his journey. Bristol was the second-largest port in England. Since 1480, it has provided numerous expeditions to search for Hy-Brazil. In accordance with Celtic legend, the island was within the Atlantic Ocean. There was a widespread belief among merchants of this port Bristol people were the first to discover the island at an earlier time, but had lost sight of it.
- The first voyage of Cabot was barely documented. A letter written in winter 1497/98 from John Day (a Bristol merchant) to an addressee who is believed to have been Christopher Columbus refers briefly to it, but mostly writes about his second 1497 trip. He states, “Since your Lordship wants information regarding the first voyage, here’s what happened: he sailed with one vessel, but his crew was confused and he ran out of supplies, and he encountered bad weather, so the captain decided to return.” The date Cabot was granted the royal brevet in the month of March 1496 It is believed the first time he sailed during the summer of 1497.
- The “John Day letter” provides significant details about Cabot’s second journey. It was composed during winter 1497/2008 written by Bristol merchant John Day to a man who was likely Christopher Columbus. Day could have been acquainted with the major people of the expedition and therefore able to write on the expedition.
- If the land Cabot discovered lay just west of the meridian that was that was outlined within the Treaty of Tordesillas, or in the event that he planned to explore further to the west, Columbus would likely have believed that his voyages would have challenged his rights to monopoly westward exploration.
- When they left Bristol at the end of the day, the expedition set sail through Ireland and then across the Atlantic and finally landed near the shores of North America on 24 June 1497. The exact place of the landfall has been disputed as different communities vie to claim the honor for some time.
- Cabot was reported to have only landed once during the expedition, and did not move “beyond the range of the crossbow”. Pasqualigo as well as Day both claim that the expedition did not make contact with any indigenous people The crew discovered the remains of a burning fire as well as a human trail as well as nets and a wood tool. The expedition appears to have stayed on the land to drink in freshwater for a short time. They also carried flags, including the Venetian and Papal banners, declaring the land as the royal property of England and recognizing the spiritual power of the Roman Catholic Church. After landfall, Cabot spent some weeks “discovering the coast” with the majority “discovered when he returned.”
- When he returned back to Bristol, Cabot rode to London to make a report to the King.
- On August 10 1497, he received an award of PS10 which is equivalent to two years’ salary for a common laborer or craftsman. The explorer was feted. Soncino wrote on August 23 that Cabot “is often referred to as the Great Admiral and immense respect is bestowed to him. He’s dressed in silk and the English chase him with a ferocious”.
- This adulation lasted only a few days as over some months, the King’s attention was focused on the Second Cornish Uprising of 1497 that was which Perkin Warbeck led.
- When Henry’s throne was secured secure, he began to give more thought to Cabot. On September 26, two days after the end of the rebellion and the King announced a payment in the amount of PS2 for Cabot. In the month of December 1497, the exploration was granted a salary of PS20 per year. Then in February 1498, he was granted a patent to assist in planning for a subsequent expedition.
- In March and April the King also arranged various credit for Lancelot Thirkill of London, Thomas Bradley, and John Cair who were scheduled to join Cabot’s expedition.
- Cabot left with five vessels from Bristol in the middle of May 1498. One of which was prepared by King Edward VII. Certain of the vessels were reported to have been carrying goods such as caps, cloth and lace points, as well as various “trifles.” This indicates that Cabot was planning to enter into trading during the expedition. The Spanish ambassador in London told the press on July 1 that one ship was hit by the storm and was forced to dock in Ireland, but Cabot and the other four ships continued to sail.
- In the past, no documents were discovered (or at the very least published) related to the expedition. It was believed for a long time it was the fact that Cabot and his fleet were lost at sea. However, at the very least one of the crew members who were scheduled to join on the voyage, Lancelot Thirkill, a native of London, is listed as a resident in London in the year 1501.
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John Cabot Facts: Historical thoughts
- A historian named Alwyn Ruddock worked on Cabot and his time for over 35 years. She believed Cabot and his team might have successfully returned to England at the beginning of the year 1500. She said that their return resulted from an epic two-year journey along the eastern shores of North America, south into the Chesapeake Bay area, and perhaps all the way to Spanish territories of the Caribbean. Ruddock said Fr. Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis and the other friars that accompanied the 1498 expedition had been in Newfoundland and established a new mission. If Carbonariis established an establishment within North America, it would be an early Christian settlement in the continent. It might have had one church, which is the sole medieval church to be built in the region.
- The Cabot Project at the University of Bristol was organized in 2009 to find the evidence that Ruddock’s assertions are based and to conduct similar studies on Cabot and his various expeditions. The primary researchers in Cabot Project, Evan Jones, and Margaret Condon, claim to have discovered additional evidence that can support certain claims of Ruddock, specifically in connection with an expedition that was successful in returning back to Bristol. They have found documents suggesting John Cabot in London by May 1500 but have yet to publicize their findings.