Chapter 7England Explores and Colonizes John CabotIn 1490, Giovanni Caboto (/joh*vah*nee/kah*boh* toh/) moved his family from Venice to Spain. Years of experience as a Venetian spice trader had made Caboto an expert seaman. Now he was caught up in the spirit of exploration.Caboto wanted to form an expedition to search for a northwesterly route to the Spice Islands. Unfortunately, the monarchs of both Portugal and Spain had other plans.The Portuguese had established their own route to the East around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. When Christopher Columbus returned from his voyage, the Spanish believed that they had found another route. No one wanted to hear Caboto’s proposal for still another route.Caboto moved with his family to the port city of Bristol, England. There, Giovanni Caboto changed his name to John Cabot. The English 54The Big QuestionHow did European exploration of the Americas lead to settlement and colonization?
55John Cabot sought support for an expedition to find a passage to the Spice Islands through North America.
56monarch, Henry VII, and the merchants of Bristol were happy to give the explorer their support. They hoped he would bring them great wealth.After a failed first attempt in 1496, John Cabot set sail again in 1497. He sailed under an English flag with only one ship and a crew of eighteen. The ship crossed the North Atlantic. After five weeks of travel, the crew spotted what they called “new found land.” You may have learned about this area when you studied the Vikings and the colony they called Vineland. Cabot believed that he had found an island off the coast of Asia. He returned to England to report his findings.The sailors did not have any spices or silks to show for their journey, but they were able to describe scooping fish out of the Cabot’s crew described waters so rich in fish they could be scooped out in baskets.
57water in baskets. The voyage was judged a success, and another trip was planned for the following year.The next time Cabot set sail, he had a fleet of five ships. One of his ships returned to Bristol after a storm. Cabot and the other four ships were never seen again. To this day, nobody knows for certain what happened to them.The Northwest PassageJohn Cabot was one of the first explorers to seek the Northwest Passage to the Indies. He was not the last. Cabot’s son Sebastian followed in his father’s footsteps, as did many other explorers. For many years, all of these explorers were frustrated in their attempts. Those who went south found a continuous band of land blocking their way—the eastern coast of North America. Explorers who went farther north were literally stopped cold, their passage prevented by ice in the water. The farther north explorers went, the fewer goods they could find to bring back home. Northern explorers generally had almost nothing to show for their efforts.