John Cabot is an explorer that is in all of our history textbooks. He is famous for being the first European to land on the mainland North America. Christopher Columbus was the first to discover the New World, but he landed on an island, not the mainland North America. So do you want to know more facts about John Cabot? Then, continue reading this article.
Interesting Facts about John Cabot
1. There are many holes in his life.
There is no complete biography of John Cabot’s life. There are years and even decades missing that historians do not know about. Also, exact details are not known. You will see that as you continue reading this article.
2. He was born in Italy around 1450.
The exact date of his birth is not known. The funny fact is that John Cabot did not live in Italy very long although he was born in Italy. As you will learn later on, he moved to different places around the earth!
3. He was a citizen of Venice.
In 1476, he became a Venetian citizen. According to the laws of Venice, you have to live in the city for 15 years to become a citizen, so he must have moved here in 1461 or earlier. That means that he lived in Italy for 11 years or fewer.
4. In Venice, he became a merchant.
The wealth of Venice was based on the trade with the Far East, which is mainly China and Japan. The spices and silk from the Far East were very popular among Europeans. To make money, John Cabot became a merchant and traveled as far as Mecca, where goods from the East and the West were traded. Here, he learned crucial skills such as navigation, sailing skills, and map reading, and he also discovered the wealth that could be made by sailing to the Far East.
5. Somehow, he became a debtor and fled to cities such as Seville and Valencia.
The exact details are not known, but he could not pay his debts. So, he fled to various cities, while his creditors tried to arrest him.
5. He ended up in Bristol.
After years of moving from place to place, he finally settled in Bristol, England. He wanted to sail west, and Bristol was the place where many expeditions have been started. So, it made sense for him to look for sponsors in Bristol. This was when the news that Columbus has discovered the New World by sailing west was spreading in Europe. They thought that Columbus has discovered the northern part of Asia, not a completely new continent. John Cabot did his best to tell the king that England can reach Asia too, and he suggested a northern route to make the journey faster than Columbus’ journey.
6. His first voyage was a failure.
He set sail with one ship, and the trip was not planned well. John Cabot faced a shortage of water, rebellious attitude of sailors, and bad weather, so he went back to England.
7. His second voyage is the only voyage to make it to North America.
Shortly after the first failed attempt, John Cabot sailed again with a ship called Matthew. The voyage lasted little more than a month, and he landed in North America. The exact location is not known, and there are several places that vie for this honor. Why? Since they can attract tourism to their place. Historians suggest that Newfoundland or Labrador.
8. His third voyage was a failure.
After he returned from North America, he received recognition from the King, who gave him large sums of money. Later, he set out to go to North America again with five ships and 200 men. He never returned, and only one ship returned with a heavy damage. It is assumed that he was caught in a terrible storm and died.
9. An interesting John Cabot fact is that he sailed for a country completely foreign to him.
He was born in Italy, and he was a citizen of Venice. However, he made England better by discovering new land for them. One of the major reasons that he sailed for England is that both Venice and Italy did not care about sailing westward. Instead, they were only interested in sailing east to find the path to Asia.
10. Another interesting fact about John Cabot is that he thought he landed in Asia, not a completely new continent.
All that John Cabot wanted to do was to sail west to reach the Far East, where there were spices and silk. When he had landed in Noth America, he thought that he had reached Asia. The fact that North America was a new continent was not discovered until Amerigo Vespucci.
11. He had several names that he went by.
Because he lived in several different countries, he has different names. In Italian, he is known as Giovanni Caboto, and in Venetian, he is known as Zuan Chabotto. In English, his name is John Cabot.
If you liked this article, interesting facts about John Cabot, I highly recommend reading about other figures in historical people page.