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Giovanni Caboto

– John Cabot Essay, Research Paper Giovanni Caboto, or John Cabot as he is known in English, was born most likely around 1451 in Genoa, Italy. In 1461 he relocated to Venice and eventually became a

– John Cabot Essay, Research Paper

Giovanni Caboto, or John Cabot as he is known in English, was born most likely

around 1451 in Genoa, Italy. In 1461 he relocated to Venice and eventually became a

Venetian citizen on March 28, 1476 after fulfilling the fifteen year residency requirement.

As an employee of a mercantile firm, Caboto frequently traveled to the shores of the

Mediterranean and Mecca which was a great trading post at the time. As an experienced

seamen, Caboto envisioned a great voyage of discovery for himself. In 1484 Caboto

moved to England with his three sons, Ludovico, Sebastian, and Sancto.

In 1492, came the word of Columbus’ success. With the discovery of what was

though to be India, the great exploration race began. Not to be outdone by Spain who

backed Columbus, King Henry VII of England issued grants for Cabot and all of his sons

to seek islands and countries in the west, east, and north in hopes of a British monopoly

on trade that could possibly be established.

Caboto returned quickly to Bristol to prepare for his voyage. Caboto, on the basis

that the world was much bigger than Columbus claimed, created a plan to instead of

having a start point at a more southerly latitude he would start a northerly latitude where

the longitudes are much closer together, making his voyage shorter and giving easier

access to his goal of reaching “Cipango,” or current day Japan. On his maiden voyage in

1496, Caboto experienced trouble in the forms of food shortage, inclement weather, and

disputes within his crew and was forced to turn around and return to Bristol. However,

Caboto was determined to make the trip and in May 1947, he set sail once again from

Bristol on the small ship Matthew with a crew of 18 men, one of which may have been his

son Sebastian.

Caboto made the voyage in safe and amiable conditions up to three days prior to

sighting land. Records show that on June 24, 1947, after fifty days of sailing from

England, he reached the American mainland before Columbus by proceeding around

Ireland and then north and west. However, the exact location of Caboto’s successful

landing is still under scrutiny. The charts of Sebastian Caboto seem to put the point

around Cape Breton Island. Some historians however, feel this is a falsification on

Sebastian part to support the English claim to possession. Exploration of the land

discovered signs of civilization but no inhabitants could be found. In the name of England,

Caboto placed the British flag and his Venetian flag on the site of his arrival. Conducting

explorations from his ship along the coastline, Caboto began naming various landmarks

and features. Caboto probably saw what is presently known as Cape North, St. Paul

Island, Cape Ray, St. Pierre and Miquelon, and Cape Race, which all lie in the area of

Cabot Strait. Due to the fact that Caboto believed he had reached the northeast coast of

Asia, was running low on provisions, and the attitude of his crew, Caboto returned to

Bristol around the first week of August.

With such efficient results for the British, Caboto was once again given grant for

another exploration on February 3, 1948. This expedition however, was to be of a greater

magnitude. Composed of five ships and three hundred men, Caboto once again set sail

some time before July 25, 1958. It is know that after sailing north, one ship was damaged,

most likely by ice, and attempted to anchor in Ireland. After this they sailed along the

east coast of the America past Newfoundland, which received the name of Bacallaos, as

far as the latitude of Cape Hatteras. One source has shown that Caboto and his crew were

lost at sea, while others say he did once again reach America, but no British records have

details on this one great explorer after he left for the third time.

While he may have not seemed to be the greatest or most accomplished explorer,

Caboto did indeed impact the new world. Caboto was the first European to land on the

American shores since the viking Leif Erikson. Brining back knowledge of the great

amount of fish located in the waters off present day Canada and Newfoundland, he gave

England and other counties an alternative means of obtaining, an export of which Iceland

had a monopoly. With these two products of exploration under his belt, Caboto can be

credited for the eventual colonization of the Grand Banks area of Canada. With this, he

also established the British presence in these times of exploration and discovery, and he

created the means for England’s later claims to North America.

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