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JOHN CABOT



THE DISCOVERER OF NORTH-AMERICA



SEBASTIAN HIS SON



JOHN CABOT

THE DISCOVERER OF NORTH-AMERICA

AND SEBASTIAN HIS SON

A CHAPTER OF THE MARITIME HISTORY OF

ENGLAND UNDER THE TUDORS

1496-1557

BY HENRY HARRISSE



LONDON : 4 TRAFALGAR SQUARE, CHARING CROSS

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN STEVENS

1896



TO



THE REV. JOHN JOHNSON, D.D., LL.D.

OF CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

THIS WORK IS DEDICATED BY HIS OLDEST
AND MOST FAITHFUL FRIEND

HENRY HARRISSE



102235



INTRODUCTION.



On ne doit aux marts que la vdritt.

IN the year 1497, a Venetian citizen, called Giovanni
Caboto, having obtained letters-patent from Henry
VII. the year previous for a voyage of discovery,
crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and, under the British
Hag, discovered the continent of North America.

In 1498, he fitted out in Bristol a new expedition,
and again sailed westward ; but scarcely anything
further is known of that enterprise.

Caboto had a son named Sebastian, born in Venice,
who lived in England not less than sixteen years,
and then removed to Spain, where in 1518 Charles
V. appointed him Pilot-Major. This office he held
for thirty years.

In 1526, Sebastian was authorized to take com
mand of a Spanish expedition intended for " Tharsis
and Ophir," but which, instead, went to La Plata,
and proved disastrous.

After his return to Seville, he was invited, in 1 547,
by the counsellors of Edward VI. to England, and
again settled in that country. Seven years after
wards, he prepared the expeditions of Willoughby



viii INTROD UCTION.

and Chancelor, and of Stephen Bu trough, in search
of a North- East Passage to Cathay.

He finally died in London, after 1557, at a very
advanced age, in complete obscurity. He is now
held by many to have been one of the greatest
navigators and cosmographers that ever lived, nay,
4i the author of the maritime strength of England,
who opened the way to those improvements which
have rendered the English so great, so eminent, so
flourishing a people."

To set forth a true history of these two men,
based exclusively upon authentic documents, is the
object of the following pages.



PARIS, November 1895.



CONTENTS.



PART I.

CHAP. PAGE

I. JOHN CAKOT NOT A VENETIAN BY BIRTH, . I

II. WAS JOHN CABOT A GENOESE? . . Io

III. JOHN CABOT CA1.T.ED A GENOESE, ! 4

IV. SEBASTIAN CABOT S AGE AND NATIONALITY. NOT AN

ENGLISHMAN, ...... 27

V. JOHN CABOT S LIFE IN ENGLAND, . .36

VI. JOHN CABOT S FIRST EFFORTS, .... 42

VII. THE DOCUMENTARY PROOFS FOR JOHN CABOT S EXPEDITION, 48

VIII. JOHN CABOT S FIRST EXPEDITION, ... 50

IX. THE YEAR OF JOHN CABOT S FIRST EXPEDITION, . . 56

X. JUNE NOT THE MONTH OF THE LANDFALL, . . 63

XI. JOHN CABOT S ALLEGED LANDFALL, . . 69

XII. A FRENCH MAP COPIED BY SEBASTIAN CABOT, . . 85

XIII. SEBASTIAN CABOT S SAN JUAN ISLAND IMAGINARY, . qf>

XIV. IS THE CABOTIAN MAP GENUINE? . . 109

XV. THE CHARACTER OF SEBASTIAN CABOT, . 115

XVI. JOHN CABOT S SECOND EXPEDITION, . . 126

XVII. ALLEGED THIRD VOYAGE OF SEBASTIAN CABOT, . 142

PART II.

I. SEBASTIAN CABOT SETTLES IN SPAIN, . . . .149

II. SEBASTIAN CABOT S ALLEGED VOYAGE OF 1517, . 157

HI. PROTEST OF THE LIVERIES OF LONDON AGAINST EMPLOYING

SEBASTIAN CABOT, ... . l68



x CONTENTS.

CHAP. PAGE

IV. SEBASTIAN CABOT S TREACHEROUS INTRIGUES WITH VENICE, 174

V. THE EXPEDITION TO THE MOLUCCAS, .... 185

VI. THE VOYAGE TO LA PLATA, . . . 2OI

VII. SEBASTIAN CABOT AS COMMANDER AND SEAMAN, . . 22~J

VIII. SEBASTIAN CABOT RETURNS TO SPAIN, . 256

IX. SEBASTIAN CABOT IS ARRESTED AND PROSECUTED. . 264

X. SEBASTIAN CABOT RESUMES OFFICE, . . . 270

XI. THE SCIENTIFIC CLAIMS OF SEBASTIAN CABOT. (A) HIS

CARTOGRAPHICAL WORKS, . . 28 1

XII. THE SCIENTIFIC CLAIMS OF SEBASTIAN CABOT. (R) HIS

ALLEGED DISCOVERIES IN MAGNETICS, . . 289

XIII. THE SCIENTIFIC CLAIMS OF SEBASTIAN CABOT. (c) HIS FIRST

METHOD FOR FINDING THE LONGITUDE AT SEA, . . 296

XIV. THE SCIENTIFIC CLAIMS OF SEBASTIAN CABOT. (n) HIS

SECOND METHOD FOR TAKING THE LONGITUDE, . . 30!

XV. THE SCIENTIFIC CLAIMS OF SEBASTIAN CABOT. (E) HIS

NAUTICAL THEORIES AND SAILING DIRECTIONS. . . 309

XVI. SEBASTIAN CABOT AGAIN SETTLES IN ENGLAND, . . 318

XVII. SEBASTIAN CABOT S EMPLOYMENT IN ENGLAND, . 328

XVIII. ENGLISH EXPEDITIONS TO CATHAY, . . 336

XIX. ENGLISH EXPEDITIONS TO CATHAY BY THE NORTH-EAST, . 342

XX. SEBASTIAN CABOT S ALLEGED INFLUENCE, . . 360

XXI. LAST YEARS OF SEBASTIAN CABOT S LIFE, . . 364

XXII. THE END OF CABOT S CAREER, . . 372

(A) HIS PORTRAIT, ... . 374

(B) HIS* ALLEGED KNIGHTHOOD, . . 376

(C) HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN, 378

(D) HIS BROTHERS, . . . 380

(E) HIS ALLEGED DESCENDANTS, . 381



CONTENTS. xi



PART III.

PAGES

SYLLABUS OF THE ORIGINAL CONTEMPORARY DOCUMENTS, FROM
1476 TO 1557, WHICH REFER TO THE CABOTS, TO THEIR
LIVES, AND TO THEIR VOYAGES, .... 385-469

ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ISLARIO OF SANTA CRUZ, . . 409-4! I

RECORDS OF THE CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS AGAINST SEBASTIAN

CABOT, ... . . . 415-427

CABOT S PLANISPHERES OF 1544 AND 1549, . . . 432-448

SPANISH TEXT OF CABOT S TREATISES ON MAGNETICS AND

NAVIGATION, ... . 454-4^6

INDEX, ..... 471



MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.

SECTION OF CABOT S PLANISPHERE OF 1544 (A), . . 94-95
PART OF THE FRENCH PORTOLANO COPIED BY SEBASTIAN CABOT

FOR HIS ALLEGED NORTH-WEST DISCOVERIES (B), . . 94~95

FIRST VOYAGE OF JOHN CABOT, 1497, .... IIO-III

THE NORTH-EAST COAST IN THE MAP OF LA COSA, . . 136-137

SECOND VOYAGE OF JOHN CABOT (1498-99 ?), . . . 140-141

RIBEIRO S MAP SHOWING THE COAST RANGED BY SEBASTIAN

CABOT IN HIS VOYAGE TO LA PLATA, JUNE I526-MARCH 1527, 2O2-2O3

CABOT S BASIN OF THE LA PLATA (A), .... 262-263

THE REAL BASIN OF THE LA PLATA (B), .... 262-263

NEWFOUNDLAND ACCORDING TO SEBASTIAN CABOT (A), . . 286-287

NEWFOUNDLAND IN MODERN MAPS (B), .... 286-287

FACSIMILE OF AUTOGRAPH LETTER OF SEBASTIAN CABOT, . 428-429




PART FIRST.



CHAPTER I.

JOHN CABOT NOT A VENETIAN BY BIRTH.

IT is still a mooted question with certain writers
whether John Cabot, the discoverer of the
American Continent, was by birth a Venetian or a
Genoese.

Henry VII. calls him in 1496 and 1498 " Civis
Venetiarum : Venetian citizen," and "Venetian."
In the same years, when speaking of him, Lorenzo
Pasqualigo, a native of Venice, uses the expression :
" Nostro Venetiano : Our Venetian [countryman] " ;
and Raimondo di Soncino, the Milanese ambassador,
that of " uno populare Venetiano : a Venetian
plebeian." Finally, he calls himself, in a petition
addressed to the King of England, March 5th, 1496,
" John Kabotto, citezen of Venes." 1

In the 1 5th century, the term " Venetian citizen"
applied to three descriptions of individuals, viz. : (a)
a native of the city of Venice ; (6) one born within
the limits of the " Duchy," or Dogado, that is, the
original territory of the Republic ; and (c) a foreigner

1 For those various designations, see 99 ; Annuario scientifico for 1865,

RYMER, Fcedera, 1745, vol. v, part Milano, 1866, p. 100 ; Cornelio

iv, p. 89 ; BIDDLE, A Memoir of DESIMONI, Intorno a Giovani Caboto,

Sebastian Cabot, Philadelphia, 1831, Geneva, 1881, 8vo, p. 47. In the

8vo, p. 76 ; RAWDON BROWN, Rag- course of the present work, when

guagli Sulla vita e opere di Marin quoting, we shall spell the name strictly

Sanuto t Venet, 1837, 8vo, vol. i, p. as it is in the document cited.

A



2 JOHN CABOT

by birth who had been naturalized. John Cabot
belonged to the latter class.

Here is the text of the decree by which the Senate
of Venice, by a unanimous vote, on the 28th of March
1476, conferred on him the full naturalization, in con
sequence of a (constant) residence of fifteen years in
that city ; dating, therefore, from 1461.

" 1476, die 28 Martii. Quod fiat privilegium civilitatis de intus
et extra loani Caboto per habitationem annorum XV, iuxta
consuetum.

De parte, 149

De non, o

Non sinceri, o.

1476, 28th day of March. That a privilege of citizenship within
and without be entered in favour of John Caboto, as usual, in con
sequence of a residence of fifteen years.

Ayes, 149

Noes, o

Neutrals, o." 1

This, of course, establishes the fact that John
Cabot was not a Venetian citizen by birth ; other
wise it is plain that he would have been under no
necessity to become naturalized. But does it also
prove that he was born beyond the limits of the Re
public of Venice ?

No satisfactory reply can be made to that question
without first examining what were the naturalization
laws enacted in Venice before the i6th century. 2

On the nth of December I298, 3 the Venetian

1 State archives in Venice, Senato 1795, vol. iv, vol. i, p. 330, 395 ;
Terra, 1473-1477, folio 109. Infra, ROMANIN, Storia docutnentata di
Syllabus, doc. I. The latter word in Venezia, Venezia, 1855, 8vo, v l- iv,
every cise refers to our own appendix, p. 469, quotes regarding the Venetian

2 Vettor SANDI, Principj di Storia naturalization, the registers of the
Civile della Repubblica di Venezia, Great Council called Magnus and
Venezia s 1755 ; 4to, vols. ii and iii ; Capricornus, which comprise the years
Cristoforo TENTORI, Saggio sulla 1299-1308. We presume that for the
Storia civile, politico,, ecdesiastica . . . subsequent laws and decrees, the
della Repubblica di Venezia, Venezia, Spiritus (1325-1349), the Leona (1384
1785-1790, 8vo, vol. i, dissert, iv ; -1415), and Ursa (1415-1454), should
Giambattista GALLICCIOLI, Delle be consulted.

Memorie Vewte antiche, Venezia, 3 GALLICCIOLI, loc. cit.



NOT A VENETIAN BY BIRTH. 3

population was divided into two classes, viz.: the
nobility, and the common people. These classes,
so far as national rights were concerned, formed
again separate orders, consisting of (a) the natives
of the city of Venice, (b) those of the laguna islands,
or Duchy, and (c) the natives of the annexed towns
and provinces.

At first, noblemen alone were citizens ; but the
term must be taken in the sense of a full citizenship,
for we find even in those remote times citizens de
jure, who, although plebeians, enjoyed civic rights of a
patrician character. The only condition imposed on
each was that of being a legitimate child born in
Venice, whose father was himself the son of a citizen
who had never obtained his living by manual
labour. 1

Those classes of Venetians, however, did not
long retain their exclusive privileges, for in 1305 a
law conferred the citizenship on every individual
born in lawful wedlock, who had been a resident of
Venice for twenty-five consecutive years. 2

In 1348, when the plague had swept off a very
large portion of the population, every foreigner who
was married and had resided in the city with his
family for two years, acquired the right to be made
a citizen. 3 This extreme liberality caused strangers
to flock into Venice from every quarter, and the
number of applicants became so great that the
Government, fearing lest the old inhabitants should
be overwhelmed by this influx, passed a law extend
ing the period of domicile to fifteen years. 4

On the 7th of May 1391, for reasons which we
have been unable to ascertain, but which may be
ascribed to a diminution of the population in conse-

1 Marco FERRO, Dizionario del vol. ii, p. 813; TENTORI, op. /.,
Diritto Comune e Veneto, Venezia, vol. i, p. 102.

1779, 410, vol. iii, p. 189. 3 SANDI, vol. ii, p. 814.

2 SANDI, op. /., lib. iv, cap. 5, 4 Ibidem, p. 815.



4 JOHN CABOT

quence of the Genoese war, and the spirit of terri
torial extension which animated the Republic after
the treaty of Turin, the rulers again resorted to
extremely liberal measures. Anyone who removed
to Venice with his family had only to cause his
name to be recorded in the registers of the Pro-
veditor to acquire immediately civic rights ; at least
de intm, that is, rights to be exercised only within
the territory of the Republic. 1

Such excessive generosity soon resulted in the
same evils as in 1348, for the applications became
more numerous than ever. But as the Proveditor
was obliged to accept every demand, with no option
as regards granting citizenship, the right to confer it
was transferred to a special college, composed of at
least one hundred and fifty members, 2 clothed with
discretionary powers, as we presume.

Venice having been again greatly depopulated by
epidemics, the Senate, on the 7th of July 1407, issued
a general decree extending the right of citizenship to
any stranger married to a Venetian woman, and
coming to reside in the city. 3 We infer that once
more such a great facility, which dispensed with the
condition of previous residence, resulted after a while
in detrimental effects. However, it is not till sixty-
five years later that we find modifications introduced
in the law. On the nth of August 1472, the Doge
Nicola Trono decreed that in future a residence of
at least, fifteen consecutive years and payment of all
State taxes during that time, should be first required ; 4
but nothing was said relative to marrying a Venetian
woman.

The reader must bear in mind that these naturaliza-

1 FERRO, art. Cittadinenza. A. Avog., MS. ; TENTORI, vol. i, p.

2 SANDI, lib. iv, chapt. 5, vol. ii, 108 ; CECCHETTI, // Doge di Venezia,
p. 815. Venezia, 1864, 8vo, p. 246.

3 SANDI, lib. vi. cap. 2, vol. iii, 4 Infra, Syllabus, doc. 2, which
p. 345, on the authority of the book contains the entire text of the decree.



NOT A VENETIAN BY BIRTH. 5

tion laws applied only to aliens, or natives of the
annexed provinces. The inhabitants born in the
metropolis, or within the Duchy, never ceased to
enjoy the full nationality conferred on that class of
residents by a special decree issued in 1313, and of
which we shall speak hereafter.

The citizenship was of two kinds, viz.: de intus
and de extra, relating respectively to privileges
within and without the dominions of the Republic.
These two sorts of privileges were frequently com
bined in the same individual, who was then a citizen
de intus et extra. And as the citizenship de extra
comprised the enjoyment of all the commercial rights
which Venice possessed in foreign lands, together
with the privilege of sailing under the flag of St.
Mark, dependent, after 1472, so far as naturalized
citizens were concerned, only on giving security to
the State, applicants who were traders or seamen
naturally sought to complete their naturalization by
becoming citizens de extra as well as de intus.

In addition to the entry in the Senatorial
register quoted at the beginning of the present
chapter, we possess a list of seventeen naturaliza
tions de intus et extra, recorded in the Book of
Privileges. John Cabot figures the thirteenth in
the roll, as follows :

" Simile privilegium factum fuit Joanni Caboto sub duce supra-
scripto 1476: The like privilege has been granted to John
Caboto, under the above-mentioned Doge, in I476." 1

The privileges alluded to are set forth in the
decree of Doge Trono, rendered the 1 1 th of August
1472, which precedes the list of naturalized citizens
already cited, and is entitled : " Privilegium Civi-
litatis de intus et extra per habitationem annorum
XV. : Privilege of Citizenship within and without

1 Ibidem.



6 JOHN CABOT

granted in consequence of a residence of fifteen
years." The motive is to be derived from the
following clause :

" Quod quicumque annis XV vel inde supra, Venetiis continue
habitasset; factiones et onera nostri dominij ipso tempore subeundo,
a modo civis et Venetus nostri esset ; Venetiarum Citadinatus et
privilegio et alijs beneficiis, libertatibus et immunitatibus, quibus alij
Veneti et cives nostri utuntur et gaudent perpetuo et ubilibet con-
gauderet : That whosoever has inhabited Venice for fifteen years
or more, and during that time fulfilled the duties and supported the
charges of our Seigniory as if he had been a citizen and one of our
own Venetians, shall enjoy perpetually and everywhere, the privilege
of Venetian citizenship, and the other liberties and immunities
enjoyed and used by the other Venetians countrymen of ours." 1

It is evident, on the face of this document, that
the decree was rendered in favour of individuals
who were not Venetians, or " countrymen of Vene
tians." This is made further apparent by referring
to the list itself. The applicants whose origin is
stated in the decrees, all come from places which
never belonged to Venice, such as Milan, Balabio,
Lodi, Novara, nor even to the original dominions,
such as Brescia and Bergamo.

We also note in the list that the last seven
names are not followed by an indication of original
nationality. John Cabot s is among these. The
omission is simply due to the negligence of some
clerk of the Ducal Chancery, who engrossed the list,
in as succinct a form as possible, a long time after
the decrees were rendered ; for it covers twenty-
eight years, and not only omits important particulars,
but likewise exhibits great chronological confusion.
We notice, for instance, that the term : " Sub duce
suprascripto " in Cabot s case, is made to refer to
Doge Giovanni Mocenigo, whilst it was under the
rule of Andrea Vendramin that he acquired the
Venetian naturalization.

1 Ibidem.



NOT A VENETIAN BY BIRTH. 7

The peculiar organization of the Venetian Re
public makes it incumbent on us to examine the
question of nationality under one more aspect.

It cannot be doubted that in the 1 5th century, which
is the epoch of the greatest prosperity of Venice,
the State only extended a right of protection to its
annexed, or conquered, towns and territories. The
natives of Padua, Verona, Bergamo, Brescia, Ravenna,
&c., &c., could not assume the title of " Venetian
citizens," although those cities actually formed parts
of the Republic of Venice. Even the laguna islands,
which were the nucleus of the rising republic in the
7th century, had, for many years previous, been
deprived of Venetian civic rights.

The 1 5th century was for Venice a period of great
territorial conquests : Vicenza, Verona, Padoua, in
1410, the Frioul in 1420, Dalmatia in 1426, Ravenna
in 1441, Cremona in 1448, &c., &c. Now, we see
in the roll above cited a native of Brescia, and one
of Bergamo, which cities were annexed to Venice
in 1428. This shows that a man born in the
conquered towns or provinces was, in 1476, a
Venetian, but not a Venetian citizen, which title he
could acquire only after having been naturalized
individually. And, as the place from which John
Cabot came originally when he applied for citizen
ship in Venice is unfortunately omitted from the
abstract of the decree, critics can presume, prima facie,
that he may have been brought into life in one of the
numerous Venetian localities the natives of which,
at that time, were not Venetian citizens born.

This view of the case has not been considered by
the patriotic Venetian writers who claim John Cabot.
They simply allege that he was born in Venice.
This, so far as the city is concerned, we have shown
to be absolutely untenable. Of late years, others
have put forward the original dominion of the



8 JOHN CABOT

Republic as the region of his birth. Here again the
pretension is inadmissible.

In 1313, a law conferred on all resident natives of
the Dogado the full naturalization, that is, de intus et
extra. The two highest authorities in the old
Venetian Jurisprudence, Vettor Sandi and Cristoforo
Tentori, are positive. They state the fact in these
words :

"Nell anno stesso [1313] dilatatasi la prerogativa all antico
Dogado Veneziano, si decreto Cittadino dell una e 1 altra classe chi
nato dentro il tratto da Grado sino a Cavarzere abitasse con ferma
stazione in quelle terre : In the same year [1313] the prerogative
of the old Venetian Duchy was enlarged, by granting the citizen
ship of both classes to any one born within the space extending
from Grado J to Cavarzere, 2 with a fixed residence in that region." 3

Particular attention should be paid to this decree,
because those who reluctantly concede that John
Cabot was not born within the city of Venice, hope
nevertheless to gratify national vanity in naming as
his birth-place Chioggia, one of the laguna islands,
which would make him a Venetian in the general
sense of the term. This selection is particularly
unfortunate.

Reverting to the decree of 1313, which, so far as
known, has never been abrogated, we reply that
Chioggia belonged to the original dominion, or
Duchy. " Esse Dogado," says Sandi, "comprendeva
12 principal! Isole . . . erano Chioggia, o Fossa
Clodia maggiore, e minore." Consequently, if
John Cabot had first seen the light in Chioggia, he
would not have been obliged to ask the Senate in
1476 to grant naturalization, since the natives of that

1 Grado is a town situate at the 3 SANDI, vol. ii, p. 814, and
northern entrance of the Gulf of TENTORI, Saggio, vol. i. p. 103.
Trieste. 4 SANDI, lib. iv, art. v, vol. ii, p,

2 Cavarzere is another town, situate 530.
on both banks of the Adige, twelve
miles from Chioggia.



NOT A VENETIAN BY BIRTH.

island, for more than one hundred and fifty years, had
been full Venetian citizens by birth !

At all events, there is no proof whatever that he
was a Chioggian. The assertion is based exclusively
upon two lines inserted in a sort of keepsake written
at the close of the last century, and unsupported by
proof of any kind, viz.: " Caboto Veneziano nativo
di Chioggia ha scoperto la America settentrionale
per gli inglesi." 1 It may be true as regards Sebas
tian; 2 but if John Cabot is meant, such a bare
statement, made three hundred and fifty years after
the event, is, of course, worthless, even when
bolstered up with the allegation that in Pelestrina,
and in Chioggia, there were families of the name of
Capotto, Giabuto and cha Botto. For that matter
there were many individuals bearing a similar name
in other parts of Italy, in Gaeta, 3 as well as in Savona,
Porto Maurizio, and various localities, particularly
of Liguria, 4 which, as we shall now proceed to show,
rests its claims on more defensible grounds than
either Chioggia or Venice itself.

1 Cited by BULLO, La Vera Palria 3 MURATORI, Antiquitales italica.
di Nicolo de* Conti e di Giovanni inedii cevi, 1741, vol. iv, dissert, xlix,
CabotO) Chioggia, 4to, p. xxii. col. 395-6.

2 Castello, however, is the place 4 G. DONEAUD, / Caboto di Porto
in Venetia mentioned as having given Maurizio, in La Provincia, No. of
birth to Sebastian Cabot. Minerva, November iQth, 1881, in that Porto
No. of February 1763, quoted by Mr. Maurizio newspaper.

BULLO.



CHAPTER II.

WAS JOHN CABOT A GENOESE ?

WE have shown that John Cabot was only
an adopted citizen of Venice. It is
necessary now to ascertain his birth-place.

Several writers presume that he was born at
Castiglione, a place near Chiavari, in Liguria, be
cause Raimondo di Soncino relates that : " Messer
Zoanne Caboto ha donato una isola ad un suo barbero
da castione Genovese : Mr. John Caboto has given
an island to a barber of his from the Genoese
Castiglione." 1 The fact that John Cabot made a
present of an island to his barber (surgeon ?), who
was a Genoese, is scarcely sufficient to prove that he
also belonged to that nationality, inasmuch as he
made at the same time a similar present to another
of his companions, who was " Borgogne : from
Burgundy." There are better reasons to show John
Cabot to have been a Genoese by birth.

So early as January 2ist, 1496, Dr. Puebla, the
ambassador of Ferdinand and Isabella to England,
informs them of the efforts of an individual " like
Columbus," who was endeavouring to fit out an
expedition to discover transatlantic lands. His
letter is lost, but we possess the reply of the Spanish
monarchs, which contains the following passage :
" You tell us that a man like Columbus has come to

1 Dispatch of December i8th, 1497. text to draw a distinction between the

Jean et Stbastien Cabot y doc. x, p. 325. Castiglione in Liguria, and several

The expression "Castione Genovese," places of the same name in Lombardy

is evidently intended in the original and Tuscany.



WAS JOHN CABOT A GENOESE? 11

England for the purpose of proposing an undertaking
of the same kind to the English King." 1 The words
" uno como Colon " so clearly suggest those used by
Puebla two years afterwards : " otro Genoves como
Colon," that we may suppose an ellipse in Their
Majesties answer, and that Puebla s letter contained
a similar reference to Cabot s nationality. Be that
as it may, if his later dispatch of 1498 omits to give
the name of the navigator, it states explicitly that
he was a Genoese, in these words : " Cinco naos



Online LibraryHenry HarrisseJohn Cabot, the discoverer of North-America and Sebastian, his son; a chapter of the maritime history of England under the Tudors, 1496-1557 → online text (page 1 of 44)