John Cabot (1450-1498) was an Italian explorer who was the first European person to discover accidentally when he was an attempt to find a direct route to Asia. He became the reason to start the transatlantic trade between America and England.
Cabot traveled West from Bristol in 1497 in a hope to find a shorter route to Asia, which was believed to be a land filled with gold, riches, spices, and luxuries.
When was John Cabot Born?
John Cabot is the English name of Giovanni Cabot. He was born in 1450 in Genoa, Italy.
How was the Early Life of John Cabot?
John Cabot’s father was a spice merchant named Giulio Cabot. At a very small age of 11, Cabot and his family moved to Venice from Genoa. He later his signed name ‘Zuan Cabotto’ holds a unique tone typical to the Venetian style. Residing in Venice, John learned the skills of sailing and navigation from local Italian merchants and Seamen.
He officially became the citizen of Venice in 1476 and started the trading in the Eastern Mediterranean. At his young age, he was highly inspired by the discoveries of Christopher Columbus and Bartolomeu Dias.
What was Cabot’s Life Before His Discoveries?
Cabot traveled well across the Mediterranean and is recorded to have claimed that he had even visited Mecca besides Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon. It seems Cabot got into financial trouble and moved from Venice to Seville.
However, his whereabouts from the mid-1480s to 1490s is still doubtful but it is said that Cabot with his family then moved to Bristol England by the end of 1495. He became an English explorer and navigator. Like Christopher Columbus, Cabot was also sponsored by another country.
John Cabot’s Wife and Kids
John Cabot married in 1474 to a young woman called Mattea. They bore three sons together namely Ludovico, Sancto, and Sebastiano. His Son Sebastiano later followed his father footstep in exploring the world.
John Cabot Expedition With The Help of King Henry VII
King Henry VII of England began to look for a route to the Americas around Africa and the Iberian peninsula and began attracting Italian and particularly Venetian talent. King Henry VII Knew that if the Cabot’s predictions were true to find the shortest route then he would be the one to gain profits by taking share. If Cabot is lucky enough to find Asia, England would be the greatest trading center in the World for the trading of goods from the east.
King Henry VII issued letter patents to Cabot and his sons giving them the authority to sail in search of the unknown lands and then to return their goods and merchandise by the port of Bristol.
Cabot headed for Bristol to prepare for his sail. Bristol was then the second-largest port of England. In 1496 Cabot made his voyage from Bristol along with few men and a ship. But due to lack of food, unfavorable weather, and disputes with his crew, he was forced to return back
The 1497 Voyage of Cabot
Henry VII asked Cabot to sail to Canada and the latter did so in 1497, in command of a small ship called Matthew along with 18 men. Cabot and his men first proceeded towards Ireland and from there sailing West and north, reaching land on June 24.
In summer of 1497, Cabot crossed the Atlantic Ocean and they touched shore near Labrador. There they discovered Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island on the Northern American Coast in the month of June of that very year. He was accompanied by one of his three sons, the explorer Sebastian Cabot. The pair claimed the land for England.
However, on reaching the shore, they noticed a sign that indicated that the area was inhabited but there were no signs of people. They took the land under their possession for the English King and they unfurled both the English Flag and the Venetian flag.
Then John Cabot explored the Canadian islands and capes and of naming them as well like St. John, St. George’s Cape, England’s Cape and the Trinity Islands. The letters describe a huge variety of fish and marine plants on that island.
He along with his sailors were able to catch the huge number of cod very effortlessly just by dipping the baskets into the water. Later Cabot has rewarded a Sum of $10 from the king for discovering the new island off the coast.
The aim of the voyage was to find and locate a Northwest passage across North America to Asia. On the way back home, Cabot mistakenly thought that he had reached north-eastern Asia but he was actually unsuccessful.
What Happened to Cabot Afterwards?
In 1498 John Cabot undertook a second and a larger expedition and King Henry aided him largely in this. A huge loan to support the expedition and a fleet of five ships were granted to Cabot by His Majesty. The aim was to discover Japan. Cabot then set out for a sail with his 300 men and 5 ships that carried the supplies for a year.
It is recorded that one of the ships was caught in a storm and was harbored in Ireland while the others carried on, but nothing came to be known about them. It is presumed that they were lost at sea. Whether they ever reached America or not on these trips, is an uncertain matter.
England owes Cabot and his expeditions its first claims on Canada. Though John Cabot was born in Italy, he served and died in England. Later his son Sebastian followed his footsteps and explored various parts of the world for Spain and England.