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18 May 1497 - The beginning of Cabot expedition to America

On 18th of May, 1497 18 people on board the ship "Matthew", under the command of John Cabot got out to the west from Bristol. On June 24 sailors reached the northern part of the Newfoundland island, landed ashore, and Cabot announced a new land the ownership of the English king, and called it in Italian Terra Prima Vista. Later the name was translated into English and got New Found Land.

On the bank travelers saw a harsh landscape: rocky shores, dense impenetrable forest covered with snow. This place did not look like a hot India. Cabot was absolutely convinced that he had discovered the western route to China. He was the first person to set foot on the American continent (two years before Vespucci was in Brazil), without knowing it. Like Christopher Columbus, who in 1498 reached the South American continent.

Among the main achievements of Cabot one should mention the map of North America that embraced the territory from Newfoundland till New Scotland.

The travelers continued their voyage along the coast and noticed large flocks of cod and herring, it was a discovery of a huge shoal in the Atlantic - the Grand Banks. This was one of the richest fishing areas in the world, which extends for a distance of approximately 300,000 square meters. Back in Bristol, Cabot announced that the British had no need to go out fishing in Iceland, as before. On 20th of July sailors took the opposite course. In Bristol sailors had brought various gifts: a whale jaw, a needle, through which the natives did a drifter to catch fish, and snares used to catch animals. It is known that Cabot made a map of his voyage, but it was not saved.

Giovanni Caboto – an Italian navigator, the first ever explored the coast of Canada. He was born in 1450 in Genoa, in the same place as Columbus. When Giovanni was 11 years old, his family moved to Venice. Growing up, Giovanni Cabot joined the trading company and visited the Middle East, where he was sent for the spices and was able to get to the holy Mecca, which was closed to Christians. Cabot did not risked for the sake of adventure, and tried to find out from the Arab merchants, where they take the spices. As you know, spices were in great demand in the Middle Ages, and profit from its trade reached 400%. From the explanations of the Arab travelers he realized that the herbs were growing in countries located far to the north-east of India. Since Cabot knew that the Earth is round, he concluded that far from India's north-east, may be close to Italy's north-west, just enough to swim in the opposite direction.

In 1477 Italian navigator went to England on business and stayed in Bristol, where he received the English style name - John Cabot. He accepted customs and traditions of his new homeland, so now he is considered the English traveler.

Cabot did not leave the idea of finding the shortest sea route to China. March 5, 1496 Cabot received a royal charter, signed by Henry VII that allowed sailing with the aim of finding new lands for the English crown. Furthermore, Cabot received from the king prudently written permission to an exclusive trade with the newly discovered countries. In 1497 merchants of Bristol fitted out an expedition in the same ship "Matthew". Map of North America, which Cabot made during the trip, was transferred to the Royal Council and was kept in secret. Spanish ambassador, Don Pedro de Ayala was able to look at the North America map, and then concluded that the sailors traveled the distance less than 2400km. Subsequently, the map of North America was missed.

The second expedition, consisting of five ships under the command of Cabot launched on May 1498. But John Cabot died on the way, and the captain became his eldest son, Sebastian.

This Day in History 18-05-2012