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The Italian Explorer Giovanni Caboto

Giovanni Caboto

Giovanni Caboto is the Italian explorer who set sail from England in 1497 to find a faster route to Asia for trade purposes but landed on the shores of what is now Canada. Giovanni Caboto sailed back to England and told them about his "new found land" (Newfoundland, Canada). Two new countries were born, Canada and America and claimed in the name of the British Empire. Colonization did not take long afterwards and the exploration of North America began.

Giovanni Caboto is more commonly known by the name of John Cabot, which is an english interpretation of his name. There is also documentation with his name as Zaun Chabotto and others, but it is with a Italian banker's note that identifies him as "Giovanni Chabotte". In Italy he is known as Giovanni Caboto.

Documents indicate that he was born slightly earlier than year 1450 in the city of Gaeta or Castiglione Chiavarese, Italy. He later moved to Venice, most likely in his twenties and was established as a maritime merchant and a respected member of the community.

He was documented as traveling to the eastern Mediterranean areas and trading with spices and silks, very valueable in his time. He was an experienced map maker which was a very sought after profession for those who traveled and traded by ships.

He married a woman named Mattea (he named his ship after her, although history called it "Mathew" in english translation). They had 3 sons Ludovico, Sebastion and Sancto.

He later moved to Seville, Spain. He was contracted to build a bridge over the Guadalquivir river and worked on it for 5 months before the city government stopped funding and the project was abandoned.

Giovanni Caboto longed for the sea and the exploration of it. He left Spain and went to Bristol, England, and immedietely looked for sponsorship and funding for his desire to set sail and look for new lands.

At this time Christpher Columbus had just discovered "The Indies" (Asia as they called it back then) for Spain. Giovanni Caboto convinced his sponsorships and government officials that he could find a faster route to Asia and claim any new lands for the Crown of England before Spain had them all. At this point and time in the world, importing goods from other countries was given a top priority in the world of business and the discovery of new lands meant unclaimed resources to collect and make riches from.

On March 5 1496, King Henry VII agreed to Caboto's plan and gave him a ship and a crew of around 15 men to set sail across the Atlantic into the unknown. He left Bristol, England, in the summer of 1496 on his ship called the Mathew, to find new lands. During his voyage, Giovanni Caboto experience extremely bad weather in turbulant seas and his supplies had gotten very low having sailed for much longer than expected, he had to turn back.


He quite possibly re-evaluated his maps and made better plans the following year for he didn't set sail again until the spring of 1497.
It is suspected that he didn't see land until the summer of that year when he approached the shore of what is now Cape Breton Island, Canada.

A Re-inactment of Giovanni Caboto's Discovery of North America

Giovanni Caboto sailed back to England and went straight to King Henry VII and told him of the good news of the new found lands he had discovered. Giovanni Caboto was hailed as a hero and received much praise and riches for his discovery.

It wasn't long after his return that he set sail for these new lands again, it's estimated around the year 1498-1499, but this time with 5 ships. One ship had been damaged in a storm and had to be repaired in Ireland. The other 4 ships sailed on.

No one ever saw Giovanni Caboto again. It is guessed that he kept exploring the new lands which he discovered and died doing so.

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