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John Cabot

Picture of John Cabot

Picture of John Cabot

Facts about the John Cabot Ship - the Matthew

Short Biography of the life of John Cabot - Explorer and Navigator
The following biography information provides basic facts about the life John Cabot:

  • Nationality - Italian-born English explorer

  • Lifespan - 1450 - 1499
  • Family - He had three sons, Ludovico, Sebastiano, and Sancto
  • Biography and Timeline of his son Sebastian Cabot
  • Career - Explorer and Navigator
  • Famous for : Exploring the coastline of Canada the subsequent colonization of Canada. Cabot was the second European to find North America (after Christopher Columbus)

Facts & History about the Early life of John Cabot - Explorer and Navigator
The following are facts and dates in a timeline format telling the story about the early life and history of John Cabot:

  • 1450: John Cabot ( Giovanni Caboto ) was born in the Italian port of Genoa
  • John Cabot was the son of a spice merchant Guilo Caboto
  • The  Italian word ‘Caboto’ means “a coastal seaman” which was quite a common name given to sailors and navigators
  • 1461: John Cabot moved to the bustling city of Venice with his family when he was eleven years old
  • His father continued to trade as a spice merchant and John Cabot helped with the family business
  • John Cabot learnt about trading in the spices obtained from the East from Guilo Caboto. This, together with access to Italian seamen and ships who had sailed to the East, provided John Cabot with the ambition to 'cut out the middle man' and travel the spice trade routes himself and then sell the spices on his return
    • Italy had obtained many lucrative monopolies on the spice trade
    • Map making was an important skill acquired by the Italians - older brother of Henry the Navigator was known to have purchased "world" maps in Venice in the 1420's
    • Some of the best early mapmakers were in Italy. The Italian city-states were leading centers of trade and had great interest in anything that might affect their commerce, especially exploration and map making
  • Venice was therefore an excellent place to learn cartography - John Cabot would have learnt about cartography, navigation, astronomy, mathematics and seamanship in his early life
  • John Cabot and his spice trading merchant family would have also made many connections in Europe - a knowledge of languages would have also been a requirement of the skills acquired by John Cabot
  • 1474: John Cabot married a girl called Mattea
  • 1476: After living in Venice for fifteen years, gaining experience in trading voyages to the East and seamanship, he obtained Venetian citizenship and was naturalized on 28 March, 1476
  • John and Mattea Cabot had three sons called Ludovico, Sebastiano, and Sancto

Timeline, Facts & History about the 1497 and 1498 voyages of John Cabot to the New World

  • Two major events in the Age of Exploration must have inspired and fired the ambitions of John Cabot
  • 1490's: John Cabot and his family moved to Bristol in England - a perfect position to launch an expedition to the North West and find a sea trade route to the Indies and China via a North West passage
    • Bristol was an important European port and city
    • Bristol faced West and had a history of ship building with many experienced sailors living in the area
  • John Cabot had the reputation of an an experienced seaman, navigator and spice merchant
  • Following the success of fellow Italian Christopher Columbus and his expeditions, John Cabot sought the patronage of the English Tudor King Henry VII so he could do for England what Columbus had done for Spain
  • 1496 March 5: King Henry VII granted Cabot the right to 'seek islands and countries of the heathen towards the west, east, and north' sailing under the English flag
  • 1497 May 2: John Cabot embarked on his ship, the Matthew, to explore the lands across the Atlantic, hoping to find a sea route, a north west passage to the Indies and China
  • John Cabot and the crew of the Matthew sailed for fifty days
  • 1497 June 9: John Cabot reached the New World
    • The landing spot is disputed as either being Cape Breton Island or Labrador
  • 26 June Cabot began his return voyage
  • 1497 August - John Cabot and his crew of the Matthew landed the ship in Bristol, England to great acclaim
  • 1497 August 6: John Cabot achieved fame and glory. He was given a gift of £10 for having "found the new isle."
  • King Henry VII also granted John Cabot a pension of £20 a year
  • 1498 February 3: John Cabot was granted another patent to undertake a second expedition. Cabot was empowered to "take at his pleasure VI englisshe shippes and theym convey and lede to the londe and iles of late founde by the seid John."
  • John Cabot assembled a small fleet of 5 ships and 300 men
  • 1498 July 25: The fleet headed north then sailed along the east coast of America past Newfoundland, which Cabot named Bacallaos
  • One of the ships had to go to an Irish port because of damage
  • The remaining four ships of the John Cabot fleet continued their journey across the Atlantic
  • Cabot reached the east coast of Greenland which he named Labrador's Land
  • 1498 June 11: The weather had become increasingly cold and the journey was made difficult by icebergs. The crews mutinied and refused to proceed farther North
  • John Cabot had no alternative but to turn South along the coast of Greenland
  • John Cabot crossed the Davis Strait on to Baffin Land on to Newfoundland
  • He then followed the coast Nova Scotia and New England
  • At this point the John Cabot ships sailed for England
  • The death of John Cabot. There is no accurate record of the date or reason for the death of John Cabot, however, the pension which had been granted to John Cabot by King Henry VII continued to be paid unti1 1499. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that John Cabot reached England with his returning fleet
The Age of Exploration
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