Who was John Cabot?
John Cabot is the English version of Giovanni Caboto, his Italian name. He was working as a Venetian merchant when he developed the bold idea of going west by sailing. He was trying to get to the affluent markets everyone knew there were in Asia.
Until the last years of the 1490s, he had been living in England, and he gained an amount of money from the king, who was then, no one other than Henry VII, to fund his expedition to Asia, sailing across the Atlantic. He started sailing from Bristol back in May 1497, and he found land in the late days of June.
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In 1496, the king granted him the money to go on the expedition he long wanted to make. This expedition was, in fact, a voyage of discovery and he must have returned to England with the goods he bought. After the first expedition attempt was aborted, he sailed out of Bristol on the ship named Matthew in May 1497, along with 18 men who formed his crew.
This expedition made landfall on 24th June in North America, and the exact location is still disputed. Some think it was southern Labrador, or Newfoundland, and the last suggestion was Cape Breton Island. He reported that he saw habitation signs, but no people. He then took possession of this land in the name of King Henry, but he hoisted two flags: English and Venetian.
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Giovanni Caboto was an Italian man who was born around 1450 in Genoa, Italy, and he moved to the city of Venice somewhere around the year 1461. He succeeded in getting Venetian citizenship in the year 1476.
He had been studying navigation for a long time. He even learned map-making in the same period. He soon became interested in something new; the dream of reaching the markets of Asia from another angle. It was thought they were the wealthiest markets in the world, and everyone wanted to buy right from there, and resell items in Europe at a much higher price. He started thinking about sailing in the western direction.
His expedition to the west got him on the North America continent in 1497, the first visitor since the Norsemen lead by Leif Eriksson explored the American area, reaching Vinland.
Some think he spent several years in Valencia and Seville, Spain, and Columbus passed through these cities. By the late months of 1495, he had reached Bristol, England from where he started his future expeditions on the North Atlantic.
Here, he tried to convince the British crown that the English could not stand still while the Spanish claimed the New World. He assured them he could try a new route to reach Asia on a northern way, even further than the one Columbus had tried.