Cabot, John


Cabot, John
orig. Giovanni Caboto

born с 1450, Genoa?
died с 1499

Italian navigator and explorer.

In the 1470s he became a skilled navigator in travels to the eastern Mediterranean for a Venetian mercantile firm. In the 1490s he moved to Bristol, Eng., and, with support from city merchants, he led an expedition in 1497 to find trade routes to Asia. After landing somewhere in North America, possibly southern Labrador or Cape Breton Island, he took possession of the land for Henry VII and conducted explorations along the coastline. On a second expedition in 1498, he may have reached America but probably was lost at sea. His two voyages for England helped lay the groundwork for the later British claim to Canada. Sebastian Cabot was his son.

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▪ Italian explorer
Italian  Giovanni Caboto  
born c. 1450, Genoa? [Italy]
died c. 1499
 navigator and explorer who by his voyages in 1497 and 1498 helped lay the groundwork for the later British claim to Canada. The exact details of his life and of his voyages are still subjects of controversy among historians and cartographers.

      Cabot moved to Venice in 1461, or possibly earlier, and became a citizen of that city in 1476. While employed by a Venetian mercantile firm, he traveled to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and visited Mecca, a great trading centre where Oriental and Western goods were exchanged. He became skilled in navigational techniques and seems to have envisaged, independently of Christopher Columbus (Columbus, Christopher), the possibility of reaching Asia by sailing westward.

      Cabot's whereabouts and activities from the mid-1480s to the mid-1490s are in doubt, but it is believed that he moved with his family to England and had taken up residence in Bristol by the end of 1495. On March 5, 1496, King Henry VII of England issued letters patent to Cabot and his sons, authorizing them to voyage in search of unknown lands, to return their merchandise by the port of Bristol, and to enjoy a monopoly of any trade they might establish there. The news of Columbus' recent discoveries on behalf of Spain was a spur to English action and secured some support for Cabot from Bristol merchants.

      In 1496 Cabot made a voyage from Bristol with one ship, but he was forced to turn back because of a shortage of food, inclement weather, and disputes with his crew. In May 1497, however, he set sail from Bristol in the small ship Matthew, with a crew of 18 men. He proceeded around Ireland and then north and west, making landfall on the morning of June 24. The exact landing place has never been definitely established: it has been variously believed to be in southern Labrador, Newfoundland, or Cape Breton Island. On going ashore, he noticed signs indicating that the area was inhabited but saw no people. Taking possession of the land for the English king, he unfurled both the English and Venetian flags. He conducted explorations from the ship along the coastline, naming various features Cape Discovery, Island of St. John, St. George's Cape, the Trinity Islands, and England's Cape. These may be, respectively, the present Cape North, St. Paul Island, Cape Ray, St. Pierre and Miquelon, and Cape Race, all in the area of Cabot Strait.

      In the mistaken belief that he had reached the northeast coast of Asia, Cabot returned to Bristol on Aug. 6, 1497. He reported that the land was excellent, the climate temperate, and the sea covered with enough fish to end England's dependence on Iceland's fish. In the midst of an enthusiastic welcome, he announced his plans to return to his landing place and from there sail westward until he came to Japan, the reputed source of spices and gems. On Feb. 3, 1498, he received new letters patent for a second expedition. Cabot's second expedition probably consisted of five ships and about 200 men. Soon after setting out in 1498, one ship was damaged and sought anchorage in Ireland, suggesting that the fleet had been hit by a severe storm. By 1499 Cabot had been given up for dead.

      The effect of Cabot's efforts was to demonstrate the viability of a short route across the North Atlantic. This would later prove important in the establishment of British colonies in North America.

Additional Reading
Cabot's voyages are treated specifically in James A. Williamson, The Voyages of the Cabots and the English Discovery of North America (1929, reprinted 1971), and The Cabot Voyages and Bristol Discovery Under Henry VII (1962, reprinted 1986); while David B. Quinn, England and the Discovery of America, 1481–1620 (1973); and Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America, vol. 1 (1971, reissued 1993), place the voyages in the broader historical context.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cabot, John —    Probably a native of Genoa. Became a citizen of Venice, March 28, 1476, and at that time had been a resident of the city for fifteen years. Went to England, and in 1497, under the direct authority of Henry VII, sailed to the westward on a… …   The makers of Canada

  • Cabot,John — Cab·ot (kăbʹət), John. Originally Giovanni Caboto. 1450? 1498?. Italian born explorer who commanded the English expedition that discovered the North American mainland (1497). * * * …   Universalium

  • Cabot, John & Sebastian — • Navigators and explorers Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Cabot, John & Sebastian     John & Sebastian Cabot     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • John and Sebastian Cabot —     John & Sebastian Cabot     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► John & Sebastian Cabot     John Cabot     (Giovanni Cabota of Gabota.)     A celebrated navigator and the discoverer of the American mainland, born in the first half of the fifteenth… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • John Cabot — Caboto Giovanni Caboto (englisch John Cabot, venezanisch Zuan Caboto) (* um 1450 in Genua, Gaeta oder Chioggia; † 1498 auf See) war ein italienischer Seefahrer. Er gilt als erster moderner europäischer Entdecker, der das nordamerikanische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cabot — /kab euht/, n. 1. John (Giovanni Caboto), c1450 98?, Italian navigator in the service of England: discoverer of North American mainland 1497. 2. Richard Clarke, 1868 1939, U.S. physician and writer on medical ethics. 3. Sebastian, 1474? 1557,… …   Universalium

  • John Cabot — noun Italian explorer who led the English expedition in 1497 that discovered the mainland of North America and explored the coast from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland (ca. 1450 1498) • Syn: ↑Cabot, ↑Giovanni Cabato • Instance Hypernyms: ↑navigator *… …   Useful english dictionary

  • john — /jon/, n. Slang. 1. a toilet or bathroom. 2. (sometimes cap.) a fellow; guy. 3. (sometimes cap.) a prostitute s customer. [generic use of the proper name] * * * I known as John Lackland born Dec. 24, 1167, Oxford, Eng. died Oct. 18/19, 1216,… …   Universalium

  • John — /jon/, n. 1. the apostle John, believed to be the author of the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and the book of Revelation. 2. See John the Baptist. 3. (John Lackland) 1167? 1216, king of England 1199 1216; signer of the Magna Carta 1215 (son of… …   Universalium

  • Cabot Tower (Newfoundland) — Cabot Tower was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot s discovery of Newfoundland, and Queen Victoria s Diamond Jubilee. It is located on top of Signal Hill overlooking the city of St. John s, Newfoundland and Labrador …   Wikipedia


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