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John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto)

Maritime explorer+
Either Castiglione Chiavarese+, Republic of Genoa+
or Gaeta+, Kingdom of Naples+
c.1498 or 1500 (?) (aged c.50)
Giovanni Caboto, Zuan Chabotto, Giovanni Chabotte, Juan Caboto, Jean Caboto
Roman Catholic+
Ludovico, Sebastian+, and Sancto
first European since the Vikings+ to explore the mainland of North America
'''John Cabot''' (; c. 1450 – c. 1500) was an Italian+ navigator+ and explorer+ whose 1497 discovery of parts of North America under the commission of Henry VII of England+ is commonly held to have been the first European exploration of the mainland of North America since the Norse Vikings+' visits to Vinland+ in the eleventh century. To mark the Canadian celebration of the 500th anniversary of Cabot's expedition, the Canadian and British governments have both accepted a widely held conclusion that the landing site was at Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland+. However, alternative theories have also been proposed.

Giovanni Caboto was born in Italy, the son of Giulio Caboto and his wife; he had a brother Piero. He is known today as ''Giovanni Caboto'' in Italy (as Zuan Chabotto in Venetian+), in English as John Cabot, in French as ''Jean Cabot'', and in Spanish as ''Juan Caboto.'' The non-Italian forms are derived from how his name was recorded in related 15th-century documents. In Venice he signed his names as "Zuan Chabotto", "Zuan" being a form of "John+" typical to Venice+. He continued to use this form in England, at least among Italians. He was referred to by his Italian banker in London as 'Giovanni Chabbote', in the only known contemporary document to use this version of his first name.

Gaeta+ (in the Province of Latina+) and Castiglione Chiavarese+ (in the Province of Genoa+) have both been proposed as birthplaces. The main evidence for Gaeta are records of a Caboto family residing there until the mid-15th century, but ceasing to be traceable after 1443. Pedro de Ayala+, the Spanish envoy and Cabot's contemporary in London, described him in a letter to the Spanish Crown in 1498 as "another Genoese like Columbus". John Cabot's son, Sebastian+, said his father originally came from Genoa+. In 1476 Cabot was made a citizen of the Republic of Venice, which required a minimum of fifteen years' residency in the city; thus he had lived in Venice since at least 1461.

In 1471 Caboto was accepted into the religious confraternity+ of St John the Evangelist+. Since this was one of the city's prestigious confraternities, this suggests that he was already a respected member of the community. He may have been born slightly earlier than 1450, which is the approximate date most commonly given for his birth.

Following his gaining full Venetian citizenship in 1476 (after having lived there for 15 years), Caboto would have been eligible to engage in maritime trade, including the trade to the eastern Mediterranean that was the source of much of Venice's wealth. He presumably entered this trade shortly thereafter. A 1483 document refers to his selling a slave in Crete+ whom he had acquired while in the territories of the Sultan of Egypt, which then comprised most of what is now Palestine+, Syria+ and Lebanon+. This is not sufficient to prove Cabot's later assertion that he had visited Mecca+, which he said in 1497 to the Milanese ambassador in London., ''The Smugglers' City'', HIstory Dept., University of Bristol In this Mediterranean trade, he may have acquired better knowledge of the origins of the oriental (West Asian) merchandise he would have been dealing in (such as spices and silks) than most Europeans at that time.

"Zuan Cabotto" (i.e. John Cabot) is mentioned in a variety of Venetian records of the 1480s. These indicate that by 1484 he was married to Mattea and already had at least two sons.Williamson, ''The Cabot Voyages'', pp. 93, 192–95 Cabot's sons are Ludovico, Sebastian+, and Sancto. The Venetian sources contain references to Cabot's being involved in house building in the city. He may have relied on this experience when seeking work later in Spain as a civil engineer.

Cabot appears to have gotten into financial trouble in the late 1480s and left Venice as an insolvent debtor by 5 November 1488. He moved to Valencia+, Spain, where his creditors attempted to have him arrested by sending a ''lettera di raccomandazione a giustizia'' ("a letter of recommendation to justice") to the authorities. While in Valencia, "John Cabot Montecalunya" (as he is referred to in local documents) proposed plans for improvements to the harbour. These proposals were rejected, however. Early in 1494 he moved on to Seville+, where he proposed, was contracted to build and, for five months, worked on the construction of a stone bridge over the Guadalquivir+ river. This project was abandoned following a decision of the City Council on 24 December 1494. After this Cabot appears to have sought support from the Iberian crowns of Seville and Lisbon+ for an Atlantic expedition, before moving to London to seek funding and political support. He likely reached England around the middle of 1495.

Like other Italian explorers, including Christopher Columbus+, Cabot led an expedition on commission to another European nation, in his case, England. Cabot planned to depart to the west from a northerly latitude where the longitudes are much closer together, and where, as a result, the voyage would be much shorter. He still had an expectation of finding a route to China.

Historians had thought that, on arrival in England, Cabot went to Bristol, a major maritime center, to seek financial backers. This was the only English city to have had a prior history of undertaking exploratory expeditions into the Atlantic. Cabot's royal patent (issued by the Crown in 1496) stated that all expeditions should be undertaken from Bristol, so his primary financial supporters likely were based in that city.

In the late 20th century, British historian Alwyn Ruddock+ claimed to have found documentation that Cabot went first to London, where he received some financial backing from its Italian community. She suggested one patron was Fr. Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis+, an Augustinian friar+ who was also the deputy to Adriano Castellesi+, the papal tax collector. Dr Ruddock suggested that Carbonariis accompanied Cabot's 1498 expedition. She also suggested that the friar, on good terms with the King, introduced the explorer to King Henry VII+. Beyond this, Ruddock claimed that Cabot received a loan from an Italian banking house in London. As Ruddock ordered the destruction of all her research notes on her death in 2005, scholars have had to duplicate her research and rediscover documents. was formed at the University of Bristol in 2009 to research Cabot and the Bristol expeditions. Dr Francesco Guidi Bruscoli (University of Florence+) found documentation that Cabot received money in March 1496 from the Bardi family+ banking firm of Florence.[], Francesco Guidi Bruscoli, 'John Cabot and his Italian Financiers', ''Historical Research'' (Published online, April 2012). The bankers located in London provided fifty ''nobles'' (£16 13s. 4d.) to support Cabot's expedition to "go and find the new land". This payment from the Florentine merchants would have represented a substantial contribution, although it was not enough to completely finance the expedition.

On 5 March 1496 Henry VII gave Cabot and his three sons letters patent+ with the following charge for exploration:
Those who received such patents had the right to assign them to third parties for execution. His sons are believed to have still been minors.

Cabot went to Bristol+ to arrange preparations for his voyage. Bristol was the second-largest seaport in England+. From 1480 onwards it had supplied several expeditions to look for Hy-Brazil+. According to Celtic+ legend, this island lay somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. There was widespread belief among merchants in the port that Bristol men had discovered the island at earlier date but then lost track of it. Note: Ruddock had contended in a private 1988 letter to a colleague, Quinn, that she had found evidence in Italian archives that Bristol men had discovered North America pre-1470. As the island was believed to be a source of brazilwood+ (from which a valuable red dye could be obtained), merchants had economic incentive to find it.

Cabot's first voyage was little recorded. A winter 1497/98 letter from John Day (a Bristol merchant) to an addressee believed to be Christopher Columbus+ refers briefly to it, but writes mostly about the second, 1497 voyage. He notes, "Since your Lordship wants information relating to the first voyage, here is what happened: he went with one ship, his crew confused him, he was short of supplies and ran into bad weather, and he decided to turn back.", ''The Smugglers' City'', Dept. of History, University of Bristol Since Cabot received his royal patent in March 1496, it is believed that he made his first voyage that summer.

Information about the 1497 voyage comes mostly from four short letters and an entry in a 1565 chronicle+ of the city of Bristol.
"This year, on St. John the Baptist's Day [24 June 1497], the land of America was found by the Merchants of Bristow in a shippe of Bristowe, called the Mathew; the which said the ship departed from the port of Bristowe, the second day of May, and came home again the 6th of August next following." -
G.E. Weare, ''Cabot's Discovery of North America,'' (London, 1897), p. 116

What is known as the "John Day letter" provides considerable information about Cabot's second voyage. It was written during the winter of 1497/8 by Bristol merchant John Day (alias Hugh Say of London) to a man who is likely Christopher Columbus+. Day is believed to have been familiar with the key figures of the expedition and thus able to report on it. If the lands Cabot had discovered lay west of the meridian laid down in the Treaty of Tordesillas+, or if he intended to sail further west, Columbus would likely have believed that these voyages challenged his monopoly rights for westward exploration.

In addition to these letters, Dr Alwyn Ruddock+ claimed to have found another, written on 10 August 1497 by the London-based bankers of Fr. Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis+. This letter has yet to be found. From various written comments made by Ruddock, the letter did not appear to contain a detailed account of the voyage.. Note: Based on Ruddock's letter to Quinn on 1 May 1992, she thought that the bank was Venetian; Condon and Jones found documentation in August 2010 suggesting this conclusion was incorrect and that it was Florentine. Ruddock said the letter contained "new evidence supporting the claim that seamen of Bristol had already discovered land across the ocean before John Cabot's arrival in England."Evan T. Jones, , ''Historical Research'', 2007, pp. 237–40. She contended that Bristol seamen had reached North America two decades before Cabot's expedition., extended July 2010 version of article by same name published in ''Canada's History'', April 2010, accessed 24 April 2015

The known sources do not agree with each other on all aspects of the events, and none can be assumed to be entirely reliable. Cabot was described as having one "little ship", of 50 tons burden, called the ''Matthew+ of Bristol'' (according to the 1565 chronicle). It was said to be laden with sufficient supplies for "seven or eight months". The ship departed in May with a crew of 18 to 20 men. They included an unnamed Burgundian and a Genoese barber, who presumably accompanied the expedition as the ship's surgeon.

It is likely that two ranking Bristol merchants were part of the expedition. One was probably William Weston+, who had not been identified as part of Cabot's expedition before the find of a new document in the late 20th century. His participation was confirmed by a document found in the early 21st century noting his reward from the King in January 1498 after the ship returned. More importantly, in 2009 historian Evan Jones confirmed that Weston had undertaken an independent voyage to the New Found Land in 1499, probably under Cabot's patent, as the first Englishman to lead an expedition to North America.

Leaving Bristol, the expedition sailed past Ireland and across the Atlantic, making landfall somewhere on the coast of North America on 24 June 1497. The exact location of the landfall has long been disputed, with different communities vying for the honor. Historians have proposed Cape Bonavista+ and St. John's+ in Newfoundland+; Cape Breton Island+, Nova Scotia; and Labrador+ in Canada; and Maine+ in the United States as possibilities. For the 500th-anniversary celebrations, the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom designated Cape Bonavista+ in Newfoundland as the "official" landing place. Here in 1997 Queen Elizabeth II, along with members of the Italian and Canadian governments, greeted the replica ''Matthew'' of Bristol, following its celebratory crossing of the Atlantic. Cabot's expedition is believed to be the first by Europeans to mainland North America since the Vikings+ five hundred years before.

Cabot is reported to have landed only once during the expedition and did not advance "beyond the shooting distance of a crossbow". Pasqualigo and Day both state that the expedition made no contact with any native people; crew found the remains of a fire, a human trail, nets and a wooden tool. The crew appeared to have remained on land just long enough to take on fresh water; they also raised the Venetian and Papal banners, claiming the land for the King of England and recognising the religious authority of the Roman Catholic Church. After this landing, Cabot spent some weeks "discovering the coast," with most "discovered after turning back."

On return to Bristol, Cabot rode to London to report to the King. On 10 August 1497, he was given a reward of £10 – equivalent to about two years' pay for an ordinary labourer or craftsman. The explorer was feted; Soncino wrote on 23 August that Cabot "is called the Great Admiral [note: as Christopher Columbus had been] and vast honour is paid to him and he goes dressed in silk, and these English run after him like mad". Such adulation was short-lived, for over the next few months the King's attention was occupied by the Second Cornish Uprising of 1497+, led by Perkin Warbeck+. Once Henry's throne was secure, he gave more thought to Cabot. On 26 September, just a few days after the collapse of the revolt, the King made an award of £2 to Cabot. In December 1497 the explorer was awarded a pension of £20 per year, and in February 1498 he was given a patent to help him prepare a second expedition. In March and April, the King also advanced a number of loans to Lancelot Thirkill of London, Thomas Bradley and John Cair, who were to accompany Cabot's new expedition.

The ''Great Chronicle of London+'' (1189-1512) reports that Cabot departed with a fleet of five ships from Bristol at the beginning of May 1498, one of which had been prepared by the King. Some of the ships were said to be carrying merchandise, including cloth, caps, lace points and other "trifles". This suggests that Cabot intended to engage in trade on this expedition. The Spanish envoy in London reported in July that one of the ships had been caught in a storm and been forced to land in Ireland, but that Cabot and the other four ships had continued on.

For centuries no other records were found (or at least published) that relate to this expedition; it was long believed that Cabot and his fleet was lost at sea. But at least one of the men scheduled to accompany the expedition, Lancelot Thirkill of London, is recorded as living in London in 1501.

The historian Alwyn Ruddock+ worked on Cabot and his era for 35 years. She had suggested that Cabot and his expedition successfully returned to England in the Spring of 1500. She claimed their return followed an epic two-year exploration of the east coast of North America, south into the Chesapeake Bay area and perhaps as far as the Spanish territories in the Caribbean. Ruddock suggested Fr. Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis+ and the other friars who accompanied the 1498 expedition had stayed in Newfoundland and founded a mission. If Carbonariis founded a settlement in North America, it would have been the first Christian settlement on the continent, and may have included a church, the only medieval church to have been built there.Evan T. Jones (2008), , first published online 5 April 2007, ''Historical Research,'' Volume 81, Issue 212, May 2008, pp. 242–9.

The Cabot Project at the University of Bristol+ was organized in 2009 to search for the evidence on which Ruddock's claims rest, as well as to undertake related studies of Cabot and his expeditions. The lead researchers on the project, and Margaret Condon, claim to have found further evidence to support aspects of Ruddock's case, particularly in relation to the successful return of the 1498 expedition to Bristol. They have located documents that appear to place John Cabot in London by May 1500 but have yet to publish their documentation.

The Project is collaborating on an archaeological excavation at the community of Carbonear+, Newfoundland, located at Conception Bay and believed the likely location for Carbonariis' mission settlement. The Archaeology of Historic Carbonear Project, carried out by Memorial University of Newfoundland+, has conducted summer fieldwork each season since 2011. So far, it has found evidence of planter habitation since the late 17th century and of trade with Spain through Bilbao+, including a Spanish coin minted in Peru+., ''Provincial Archaeology Office 2013 Archaeology Review,'' Vol. 12-2013, accessed 24 April 2015

Ruddock claimed that William Weston+ of Bristol, a supporter of Cabot, undertook an independent expedition to North America in 1499, sailing north from Newfoundland up to the Hudson Strait+. If correct, this was probably the first North West Passage+ expedition. In 2009, Jones confirmed that William Weston (who was not previously known to have been involved) led an expedition from Bristol [with royal support] to the "new found land+" in 1499 or 1500, making him the first Englishman to lead exploration of North America. This find has changed the understanding of English roles in exploration of that continent.Evan T. Jones, , ''Historical Research'', 27 August 2009

King Henry VII continued to support exploration from Bristol. The king granted Hugh Eliot, Robert Thorne and his son a bounty of ₤20 in January 1502 for purchasing the ''Gabriel'', a ship for an expedition voyage that summer. Later in 1502 or early 1503 he paid Eliot a reward of ₤100 for a voyage, or voyages, in "2 ships to the Isle of new finding," as Newfoundland was called. This amount was larger than any previously accounted for in royal support of the explorations.

Sebastian Cabot+, one of John's sons, also became an explorer, later making at least one voyage to North America. In 1508 he was searching for the Northwest Passage+. Nearly two decades later, he sailed to South America for Spain to repeat Ferdinand Magellan+'s voyage around the world. He became diverted by searching for silver along the Río de la Plata+ (1525–8) in Argentina.

* ''Giovanni Caboto'' (1762), painting at Ducal Palace, Venice.
* Cabot Tower+ (1897) in St. John's, Newfoundland+, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Cabot's voyage.
* Cabot Tower+, in Bristol+, England. A 30-metre tall red sandstone tower begun in 1897 to mark the 400th anniversary.
* Denis William Eden painting: ''John Cabot and his sons receive the charter from Henry VII to sail in search of new lands'' (1910), at Houses of Parliament
* Giovanni Caboto Club (est. 1925), an Italian club located in Windsor, Ontario.
* A 1952 statue of the explorer is at Bristol's Council House+.
* John Cabot University+ is a United States-affiliated university established in 1972 in Rome, Italy.
* A replica of the ''Matthew'' of Bristol+ built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the 1497 voyage, docked in Bristol.
* A second replica of the ''Matthew''+ is located at Cape Bonavista+
* The scenic Cabot Trail+ in the Cape Breton Highlands+ is named after the explorer.
* John Cabot Academy+ is an independent school in Bristol.
* Cabot Links – a golf course in Inverness, Nova Scotia
* Cabot Ward+ is an electoral district in Bristol, indirectly named for the explorer and directly after the local Cabot Tower+
* Cabot Square+s in London and Montreal+.
* Cabot Circus+, a 2008 shopping mall in Bristol, named as a result of a city-wide poll
* John Cabot Road in north Phoenix, Arizona+.
* Cabot Street in St. John's, Newfoundland+.
* A bronze statue of the explorer stands at the Confederation Building+, St. John's.
* A bronze statue of the explorer is located at Cape Bonavista+, Newfoundland. Plaques in English, French and Italian commemorate the historic voyage.
* John Cabot Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga, Canada is named after the explorer.

* Evan T. Jones, , ''Historical Research'' Vol 81, Issue 212 (2008), pp. 224–254. Provides updated information on new discoveries of documents related to Cabot and his voyage, and claims made in the late 20th century by Alwyn Ruddock.
* Evan T. Jones, , ''Historical Research'', 27 Aug 2009, relates primarily to newly discovered documents related to William Weston's 1499 voyage.
* Francesco Guidi-Bruscoli, , ''Historical Research'' (Published online, April 2012).
* J.A. Williamson, ''The Cabot Voyages and Bristol Discovery Under Henry VII'' (Hakluyt Society, Second Series, No. 120, CUP, 1962). Considered the essential source-book for Cabot and his voyages. Numerous documents have been discovered in the Italian, Spanish and English archives that provide new insights into these events and era.
* R. A. Skelton, , ''Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online'' (1966/updated 2014). A short introduction; it has been updated based on material published related to The Cabot Project at the University of Bristol.
* H.P. Biggar (ed.), ''The Precursors of Jacques Cartier, 1497–1534: A Collection of Documents Relating to the Early History of the Dominion of Canada'' (Ottawa, 1911). Contains transcriptions of many of the original documents in their original languages – i.e. Latin, Spanish and Italian.
* P. D'Epiro, M.D. Pinkowish, ''Sprezzatura: 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World,'' 1st Anchor Book Edition, 2001, pp. 179–180.

* (New York: Macmillan, 2011). He uses findings from The Cabot Project of the University of Bristol as part of his research. This is described by archeologist Peter Pope as "the first substantial book on Cabot since the batch that observed the quincentennial of 1997 and the most detailed comparison to date of the careers of Columbus and Cabot."

* , National Film Board of Canada
*, Historica Canada
* , research project at University of Bristol+, led by .
* , ''The Catholic Encyclopedia'' (New Advent, 1908). ''Very'' dated.

*, ''The Smugglers' City'', History Dept., University of Bristol
*, ''The Smugglers' City'', History Dept., University of Bristol
*, ''The Smugglers' City'', History Dept., University of Bristol
*, ''The Smugglers' City'', History Dept., University of Bristol
*, ''The Smugglers' City'', Dept. of History, University of Bristol, briefly notes Cabot's voyage

Authority control:

John Cabot+ John Cabot (Italian: Giovanni Caboto, Venetian: Zuan Chabotto; c. 1450 – c. 1500) was an Italian navigator and explorer whose 1497 discovery of parts of North America under the commission of Henry VII of England is commonly held to have been the first European exploration of the mainland of North America since the Norse Vikings' visits to Vinland in the eleventh century.
 John Cabot Academy+ John Cabot Academy formerly John Cabot CTC, is one of 15 City Technology Colleges that first opened for students in the 1993/1994 academic year.
John Cabot University+ John Cabot University is a small American liberal arts university in Trastevere, in Rome, Italy. It was established in 1972 as a split-off from the American University of Rome, and until about 1991 was known as John Cabot International College.:461 It is named for the Venetian explorer Giovanni Caboto.
John Cabot House+ The John Cabot House is a historic house located in Beverly, Massachusetts. It is owned by the Beverly Historical Society and open to the public five days a week.
 John Cabot Catholic Secondary School+ John Cabot Catholic Secondary School is located in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. It is a Catholic high school in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.
John C. Lodge+ John Christian Lodge (August 12, 1862 – February 6, 1950) was an influential politician from Detroit, Michigan, serving as mayor from 1922 to 1923, in 1924, and from 1927 to 1929, and spending over 30 years on the Detroit City Council.