John Cabot was one of the earlier explorers that helped to discover the New World during the European colonialist era. He is recognized as being the man who discovered the eastern coast of Canada. This happened in the 15th century and many people believe that he died in Canada. There is some evidence, however, that Cabot was able to return to England and live out the rest of his life after the year 1500. Here are some more interesting facts about this Explorer.
1. An Anonymous Boy
Not much is actually known about Cabot and he was born. We do know he was born around the year 1450 and that he was probably born in Italy. In 1476, there are records that show he became a citizen of Venice and would eventually get married and have three sons. When he was in his 40s, it is believed that he decided to move to Spain and then England because he was unable to pay his bills back home.
2. A Shorter Route Perhaps
Four years after the first voyages of Christopher Columbus found new lands, Cabot decided that a northern route would be more beneficial because it would be a shorter overall voyage. The idea gained support in Bristol, which at the time was second largest seaport in England, so Cabot decided to settle there in order to begin making preparations to prove that his northern theories could become profitable theories.
3. It Really Wasn’t Asia
Cabot didn’t find any evidence of land on his first journey across the ocean. Even on his second journey, he was about to give up after 52 days at sea when land was finally spotted. Cabot believed that he had found the eastern shores of Asia. His next goal was to find a Northwest passage that could take ships to the established trading routes in a faster period of time. As we know today, there isn’t a true Northwest passage that stretches between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, so Cabot was ultimately unsuccessful.
4. Some Fresh Canadian Silk
As soon as Cabot returned home from the second journey, he became a national hero. Going before the king, he promised that the land he had discovered were filled with honey and silk and that they were very close to the nation of Japan. Either blinded by greed or completely gullible, Cabot got a third journey funded by the king and was in command of 300 men on two different ships. They sailed to the north, but could only find icebergs that grew larger and larger. Then they tried to find a path to the south without success as well.
5. It’s a Mystery
It’s always been assumed that Cabot either died in Canada because of the mutiny that happened or that he was able to return home and died shortly after. His death date is usually given in the year 1498, but new evidence shows that he may have been alive two years later and even planning another trip to the New World.
John Cabot helped to explore the New World for Europe and although he never found a better trade route, he did find new lands that would become the foundation of Canadian and American society centuries later.
6 Origin of His Name
The Italian word of ‘Caboto’ translates to a coastal seaman. This was quite commonly granted to sailors and navigators of the time. During his lifetime, Cabot studied and learned cartography, navigation, astronomy, mathematics, and seamanship early on.