John Cabot – Italian explorer
John Cabot was an Italian and French sailor and a merchant who explored the coast of Canada. He was once thought to have been the first to bear the English flag across the Atlantic.
Giovanni Caboto was born in 1450. It is an approximate date of his birth. Although it is possible that he was born a little bit earlier. He was probably born in Genoa.
In 1496 Cabot’s contemporary, the Spanish diplomat Pedro de Ayala, mentioned him in one of his letters to Ferdinand and Isabella as a “Genoese Columbus“.
It is known that in 1476 Cabot became the citizen of Venice. To get Venetian citizenship he had to live there for 15 years. This means that he and his family moved to Venice in 1461 or earlier.
In the middle of 1495 Cabot and his family moved to England. Upon arrival in England, Cabot immediately went to Bristol to find support. All his expeditions started in this port.
Charter given to Cabot by Henry VII (on March 5, 1496) allowed Cabot and his sons to sail “in all parts, regions and the coast of East, West and North Seas, under the British banner and flags, with five ships of any quality and load, as well as any the number of seamen and any people they want to take with them …”
His preparation for the trip took place in Bristol. Bristol merchants gave money for new western expedition, when they received news about the discoveries of Columbus. Bristol was the main seaport of the West of England and the center of the English fisheries in the North Atlantic. In 1497 Cabot sailed from Bristol in the little Matthew with 18 men. He reached the North American coast on June 24. His landing led England to claim what is now Canada.
In May 1498 Cabot sailed from Bristol again in command of five ships. Several of the vessels returned but the one in which Cabot traveled did not.
John Cabot died in 1499.
Later Cabot’s son Sebastian made at least one voyage – in 1508 – to North America in search of the Northwest Passage. Sebastian was invited to Spain as chief cartographer. In 1526-1530 he headed a large Spanish expedition to the shores of South America. Then he moved to Britain and was appointed chief superintendent of the Navy Department. He was one of the founders of the British Navy. He organized expedition led by Chancellor which reached the mouth of the Northern Dvina River in the area of present Arkhangelsk. Richard Chancellor visited Moscow in 1554, during the reign of Ivan the Terrible!