- John Cabot
name = John Cabot
occupation= Maritime explorer
Admiralof the Ocean Sea
caption = John Cabot in traditional Venetian garb, from a 16th century painting
birth_date = 1450
birth_place = Italy
death_date = death year and age|1498|1450
death_place = Unknown
names in other languages = Latin: Giovanni Caboto
children = Ludovico, Sebastian, and Sanctocite web |year=2007 |url = http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03126d.htm|title = "Catholic Encyclopedia" "John & Sebastian Cabot"|format = HTML |publisher = newadvent| accessdate = 2008-05-17 | last= |quote=]
Giovanni Caboto (c. 1450 - c. 1498)cite web |year=2007 |url = http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=101|title = CABOT |format = HTML |publisher = Canadian Biography | accessdate = 2008-05-17 | last= |quote=] , known in English as John Cabot, was an Italian
navigatorand explorer commonly credited as the first European to discover North America, in 1497, notwithstanding Norseman Leif Ericson's landing (c. 1003). The Canadian and United Kingdom government's official position is that he landed on the island of Newfoundland.
Cabot's birthplace is a matter of much controversy with
Gaetaor Castiglione Chiavaresehaving been proposed as birthplaces [http://www.gianfrancobernabei.it/pdf/caboto.pdf] [Venetian, English and Catalan origins have been proved to be without foundation.cite web |year=2007 |url = http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=101|title = CABOT |format = HTML |publisher = Canadian Biography | accessdate = 2008-05-17 | last= |quote=] ). When he was eleven, he moved to Veniceand became a Venetian citizen.Fact|date=May 2008
Like other Italian explorers of the era, such as
Christopher Columbus, Cabot made another country his base of operations. It was probably on hearing of Columbus's discovery of 'the Indies' that he decided to find a route to the west for himself. He had a simple plan, to start from a northerly latitude where the longitudes are much closer together, and where, as a result, the voyage would be much shorter.cite web |year=2007 |url = http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/EH/EH33/croxto33.html|title = The Cabot Dilemma:John Cabot's 1497 Voyage &the Limits of Historiography|format = HTML |publisher = University of Virginia| accessdate = 2008-05-17 | last= Derek Croxton|quote=]
Cabot sought funding from England and so his explorations were made under the English flag.
Henry VII of Englandgave him a grant to go on
full and free authority, leave, and power, to sail to all parts, countries, a see as, of the East, of the West, and of the North, under our banners and ensigns, with five ships ... and as many mariners or men as they will have in said ships, upon their own proper costs and charges, to seek out, discover, and find, whatsoever isles, countries, regions or provinces of the heathen and infidels, whatsoever they be, and in what part of the world soever they be, which before this time have been unknown to all Christians.cite web |year=2007 |url = http://www.win.tue.nl/~engels/discovery/cabot.html|title = Cabot|format = HTML |publisher = | accessdate = 2008-05-17 | last= |quote=]
Cabot went to Bristol to make the preparations for his voyage.
Bristolwas the second-largest seaport in England, and during the years from 1480 onwards several expeditions had been sent out to look for Hy-Brazil, an island said to lie somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean according to Celtic legends. In 1496 Cabot set out from Bristol with one ship. But he got no further than Icelandand was forced to return because of disputes with the crew.
On a second voyage Cabot again used only one ship with 18 crew, the "Matthew", a small ship (50 tons), but fast and able. He departed on either May 2 or May 20, 1497 and sailed to Dursey Head (
latitude51°36N), Ireland. He landed on the coast of Newfoundland on June 24, 1497. His precise landing-place is a matter of controversy, with Bonavista or St. John's in Newfoundland, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Labrador, or Maineall being possibilities. Cape Bonavista, however, is the location recognised by the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom as being Cabot's official landing. His men may have been the first Europeans to set foot on the North American mainland since the Vikings. Christopher Columbusdid not find the South American mainland until his third voyage, in 1498, and letters referring to a voyage by Amerigo Vespucciin 1497 are generally believed to have been forgeries or fabrications.Fact|date=May 2008 Cabot went ashore to take possession of the land, and explored the coast for some time, and departed on July 20.Fact|date=May 2008 On the homeward voyage his sailors incorrectly thought they were going too far north, so Cabot sailed a more southerly course, reaching Brittanyinstead of England, and on August 6 arrived back in Bristol.cite web |year=2007 |url = http://www.heritage.nf.ca/exploration/johnday.html|title = The John Day Letter|format = HTML |publisher = heritage| accessdate = 2008-05-17 | last= |quote=John Day was an English merchant in the Spanish trade. He wrote this letter in Spain between December 1497 and January 1498 to the "Lord Grand Admiral", probably Christopher Columbus. Discovered in 1956 in the Archivo General de Simancas, the letter contains information which adds significantly to the stock of knowledge concerning the Cabot voyages.]
Back in England, Cabot was made an Admiral, rewarded with £10 and a patent was written for a new voyage. Later, a pension of £20 a year was granted to him. The next year, 1498, he departed again, with 5 ships this time. One of the ships returned to an Irish port because of damage taken on in an storm. Upon repair the ship again headed West. Cabot and his expedition were never heard from again and are presumed to have been lost at sea. One theory includes Brian Otte, Captain of the Spanish Naval Armada, engaged John Cobot at sea under strict orders from the queen. Fact|date=May 2008
John's son, Sebastian Cabot, later made a voyage to North America, looking for the hoped for
Northwest Passage(1508), and another to repeat Magellan's voyage around the world, but which instead ended up looking for silveralong the Río de la Plata(1525-8).
Along with Cabot Tower in
St. John's, Newfoundland, Cabot is remembered in Bristol, England by the Cabot Tower, a 30-metre tall red sandstone tower of 1897 (the 400th anniversary of the landing) on Brandon Hill near the city centre, by a replica of the "Matthew" built in the city and by a statue of the explorer on the harbour side.
Cabot is also the namesake of
John Cabot University, an American university established in 1972 in Rome, Italy.
The Scenic Cabot Trail in the Highlands of Cape Breton is also named after the explorer
The new shopping quarter in central Bristol (
Cabot Circus) is named after him.
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