John Cabot Personal History Essay

In 1496, King Henry VII issued letters patent to Cabot and his son, which authorized them to make a voyage of discovery and to return with goods for sale on the English market. After a first, aborted attempt, Cabot sailed out of Bristol on the small ship Matthew in May 1497, with a crew of 18 men. The expedition made landfall in North America on June 24; the exact location is disputed, but may have been southern Labrador, the island of Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island. When Cabot went ashore, he reportedly saw signs of habitation but no people. He took possession of the land for King Henry, but hoisted both the English and Venetian flags.

Cabot explored the area and named various features of the region, including Cape Discovery, Island of St. John, St. George’s Cape, Trinity Islands and England’s Cape. These may correspond to modern-day places located around what became known as Cabot Strait, the 60-mile-wide channel running between southwestern Newfoundland and northern Cape Breton Island. Like Columbus, Cabot believed that he had reached Asia’s northeast coast, and returned to Bristol in August 1497 with extremely favorable reports of the exploration.

For Kids

John Cabot was Italian. When Italy would not fund his explorations, he moved his family to England. The King of England did agree to fund him. In 1497, about five years after Columbus "discovered" America, John Cabot sailed away from England, looking for a back door to China, just as Columbus had done. Some historians believe he landed in what would become Newfoundland or possibly Nova Scotia in Canada. Like Columbus, Cabot thought he had found China. But he was not as stubborn as Columbus. He soon realized his mistake.

John Cabot was disappointed, but he did claim what would become Canada for England. It was the first of many claims of Canada for England. Cabot explored the Canadian coastline, and named many of the harbors he found. He made a second voyage to North America, still looking for a back door to China. Each time he returned to England, the king rewarded him for the land he claimed for England. Cabot became quite rich. Instead of enjoying his fame and family, Cabot set sail again with 5 ships, headed west from England. No one knows what happened to John Cabot after that. Some historians believe John Cabot, his men, and his ships were lost at sea. Others believe he may have returned to England. The date of his death is usually stated as 1499, because that's when he disappeared.

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