Where did John Cabot come from?

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Oct 5, 2017


Venice, but he was probably born in Genoa.


One of the most intriguing issues of the Age of Exploration is: why Genoa and Venice, who had the best masters (after the Portuguese) and the best boats were so little interested in the search for the new routes to the East Indies.

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Giovanni Caboto

John and Sebastian Cabot were from Venice, Colombo was from Genoa and Verrazano and Vespucci from Florence. Yet they all sailed for foreign nations.
The answer is that Italy had a favourable geographical position on the East-West trade line. They could comfortably sail their boats to Constantinople or to the far reaches of the Black Sea (Trebizond) and let the gruelling land-trekking part of the trail to someone else.
They had the experience, the equipment and the gun power to protect that well established commerce route. Why would they budge?

Spain, Portugal and England had the rotten part of that deal. If they wanted to trade with the East they had to face Venetian and Genoese guns in the Mediterranean Sea or find a novel route.
Hence Italian masters, who saw their carrier limited by political choices or personal quarrels, would easily find a European crown ready to open his or her coffers and sailed to the New World under those colours.
All this to say that Giovanni Caboto, who sought the North West Passage for Henry VII, was from Genoa.

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