Wednesday, May 22, 2024

John Cabot claimed the Atlantic coast of Canada on behalf of England in 1497

- Advertisement -
This article focuses on John Cabots discovery of Newfoundland in 1497

This article focuses on John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland in 1497, a new land he claimed for England. Although he probably never set foot on the North American mainland, Cabot found Newfoundland when he embarked on a mission to find a route to Asia. He later returned to England and reported his success to then-king Henry VII and investors, hoping to fund a second voyage designed to trade with the peoples of Asia. The full second voyage is unknown, Cabot departed from Bristol in 1498 and was never seen again. For about twenty-five years prior to Cabot’s voyage of 1497, only cod fishermen are known to have visited the Newfoundland area.

John Cabot’s ship, the Matthew, sailed from Bristol, England in 1497 with a crew of 18. After a month’s voyage he landed ashore on a coastline, claiming the territory in the name of King Henry VII. Cabot reached Cape Brenton, the northern tip of Newfoundland. His voyages to North America in 1497 and 1498 helped lay the foundation for Britain’s later claims to Canada.

- Advertisement -

From 1497 John Cabot established England’s first overseas colony and the beginnings of a fishing settlement in Newfoundland. It was also the beginning of Britain’s overseas empire, which would later dominate the largest empire in history.

Like most navigators of the time, Cabot believed that by crossing the North Atlantic he could best find what later became known as the North-West passage to Asia.

Cabot set sail from Bristol in a single ship on May 2, 1497, naming the ship Matthew after his wife Matea. Cabot later sailed further north, making landfall after about four weeks in the upper Atlantic current.

Cabot’s most successful expedition, June 24 discovery of the land or sea coast of North America; Although the exact location is somewhat disputed, it is believed to be southern Labrador, Newfoundland Island or Cape Breton Island.

John Cabot, best known among the world’s first sea explorers, landed in Canada and laid British claims to the territory. Although he initially mistook it for Asia, during his 1497 voyage aboard the Matthew, John Cabot was inspired by the discoveries of Bartholomew Dias and Christopher Columbus.

Cabot led three voyages from England to North America, but his first voyage in 1496 failed and Cabot had to return to England before reaching North America.

Newfoundland and Labrador has been inhabited since about 9000 years ago by the Maritime Archaic people. But they were gradually displaced by people of the Dorset culture. John Cabot had no contact with Native Americans at the time.

He did not meet Native Americans during this voyage, which influenced subsequent voyages of discovery. Other explorers used John Cabot as an example and felt that they too could travel to new lands and possess the land and resources there.

Cabot’s ship was a navicula, meaning a relatively small ship, capable of carrying only 50 tons of cargo.

John Cabot (1450–1498) aka Giovanni Caboto, was actually an Italian explorer who made the first notable visit to the east coast of Canada; Sponsored by King Henry VII of England to explore a sea route to Asia, Cabot’s expedition discovered what the Italians called ‘New Founde Launde’ (New Foundland). Cabot was probably, then, the first European since the Vikings to land and explore North America. Cabot probably died on his second voyage, unable to find his way from that continent to Asia, but where and how remains unclear, a mystery and confusion to this day.

Cabot was convinced that he had discovered nothing more important than a few small islands during the voyages of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506). The existence of a vast continent between Europe and Asia was not yet known. Cabot believed that the best sea route to Asia was much further north than Columbus had explored, and so he sailed there.

Cabot first set sail on May 2, 1496, but severe storms disrupted his course and his ship eventually returned to Bristol due to arrangements.

Undeterred, however, Cabot set sail again on 20 May 1497 in his single ship Matthew, a 24 m (78 ft) long, three-masted caravel. The 50-ton Matthew was not intended for expeditionary purposes and had previously served in the maritime trade. The caravel class of ships were light, fast maneuverable and an ideal choice for exploring unfamiliar waterways, and did not require large crews.

Crossing the Atlantic over the next five weeks, he probably reached Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia on 24 June. Cabot then sailed north, exploring the coastline he called ‘Newfoundland’, present-day Newfoundland off the coast of eastern Canada. However, the explorer’s exact first landing, next stop and precise coastal route are not fully known and are much debated among historians.

Cabot himself thought he had reached the east coast of Asia, possibly Japan, then known as Sipango. He also thought he was the first European in North America after the Vikings. He landed on terra firma and set up a cross to mark the event. He then flew the royal banner of Henry VII and the banner of the Pope and St. Mark of Venice. There was clear evidence of aboriginal habitation in these parts, such as old fire pits, simple tools, and wood carvings, but he noticed no presence of the people themselves.

Cabot noticed an abundance of cod in the waters off the coast, a discovery that was soon to be exploited by French and English fleets (but already known to Portuguese fishermen). The explorers then quickly travel back in time; Thanks to favorable winds, he returned to Bristol on August 6. Cod’s important news was first announced when returning sailors boasted to their colleagues on the docks that “they would bring so many fish from there that they wouldn’t need Iceland any more”. Cabot had already reported to Henry VII that he had discovered a coast and found a short passage to that continent, with which a very good trade might be carried on. The English king was careful with his funds, but he rewarded Cabot financially. Foreign ambassadors were alarmed by the news that England was going to claim a new land in North America, Henry later paid Cabot an annual pension of £20 (a large sum of money at the time).

Second journey to America
Cabot was then able to demonstrate the potential of his discovery to investors and so he organized a second voyage. It was much more of a commercial venture with a consortium of English merchants assembling a fleet of five ships and loading them with trade goods. The king also got involved again and provided a ship. This time several Italian friends came to work as missionaries, one of whom was Giovanni de Carbonaris. Cabot left Bristol again in 1498, probably stopping in Greenland, and once more reached Newfoundland. Then perhaps explore as far south as Maryland and Virginia, the United States, or even the Caribbean.

Cabot died on this second voyage, but the exact circumstances of his death are unknown, only that he disappeared from history. Some modern researchers, notably one of John Cabot’s leading experts, Alwin Ruddock, have suggested that Cabot returned to England in the 1500s but disappeared from the historical record because his second voyage was a commercial failure and/or his incursion into the Spanish-controlled Caribbean was a There were embarrassing matters which the English authorities wanted to keep quiet. Records indicate that Cabot’s pension was paid in 1498 and 1499, but, of course, it was paid to his widow. Cabot’s fate, then, remains a mystery. All his unpublished research was destroyed after his death.

Small-scale private enterprise out of Bristol did not succeed in imitating Cabot, and so English foreign aggression followed a long hiatus during the reigns of Henry VII’s three successors. English claims to the American territories established by Cabot were not pursued until the reign of Elizabeth I of England (1558–1603), specifically until the 1570s. However, the trail of exploration that Cabot left behind eventually lured many new English explorers into the Elizabethan era and beyond. Cabot’s voyages especially stimulated greater interest in trying to find the Northwest Passage; Especially noteworthy here are the three expeditions of Martin Frobisher (1535-1594) between 1576 and 1578.

A full-size replica of John Cabot’s Matthew was erected in 1996 to mark the 500th anniversary of the explorer’s maiden voyage to England. The ship is permanently docked at the port of Bristol but occasionally moves to other ports. Finally, as mentioned above, the University of Bristol’s Cabot Project continues to research the life and voyages of John Cabot, as well as other famous sailors who sailed from Bristol in the 15th and 16th centuries.

- Advertisement -

Stay in Touch

Subscribe to us if you would like to read weekly articles on the joys, sorrows, successes, thoughts, art and literature of the Ethnocultural and Indigenous community living in Canada.

Related Articles