Sebastian Cabot (explorer)

From Academic Kids

Sebastian Cabot (c. 14841557 or soon after), (originally Sebastiano Caboto) was an explorer, born probably in Venice, who may have sailed with his father John Cabot, the Genoese, in the service of England, in May, 1498. John Cabot and perhaps Sebastian, sailing from Bristol, took their small fleet along the coasts of a "New Found Land". There is much controversy over where, exactly, Cabot landed, but one common location often suggested is Nova Scotia. Cabot and his crew (including perhaps Sebastian) mistook this place for China, without finding the passage to the east they were looking for. Some scholars maintain that the name America comes from Richard Amerik, a Bristol merchant and customs officer, who is claimed on very slender evidence to have helped finance the Cabot voyages.

Sebastian Cabot told Englishman Richard Eden that he was born in Bristol and carried to Venice at four years of age, and he told Contarini, the Venetian ambassador at the court of Charles V that he was Venetian, educated in England. Contarini noted it in his diary.

By 1512 Sebastian was certainly employed by Henry VIII as a cartographer at Greenwich. In the same year he accompanied Willoughby to Spain, where he was made captain by Ferdinand V. After Ferdinand's death he returned to England, where, in 1517, he tried fruitlessly to win the support of Vice-Admiral Perte for a new expedition. In 1522, although once more in the employ of Spain as a member of the "Council of the Indies" and holding the rank of pilot-major, he secretly offered his services to Venice, undertaking to find the northwest passage to China.

Finally he received the rank of captain general from Spain, and was entrusted, March 4, 1525, with the command of a fleet which was to find Tarshish, Ophir, and Cathay, along with a new route to the Moluccas. The expedition consisted of three ships with 150 men, and set sail from Cadiz, April 5, 1526, but only went as far as the mouth of the Rio de la Plata. Cabot went ashore and left behind his companions, Francisco de Rojas, Martin Mendez, and Miguel de Rodas, with whom he had quarrelled. He explored the Parana River as far as its junction with the Paraguay and built two forts. In August 1530 he returned to Spain, where he was at once indicted for his conduct towards his fellow commanders and his lack of success, and was banished as of February 1, 1532 to Oran in Morocco. After a year he was pardoned and went to Seville; he remained pilot-major of Spain until 1547, when without losing either the title or the pension, he left Spain and returned to England, where he received a salary with the title of great pilot.

In the year 1553 Charles V made unsuccessful attempts to win him back. In the meantime Cabot had reopened negotiations with Venice, but he reached no agreement with that city. After this he aided both with information and advice the expedition of Willoughby and Chancellor, was made life-governor of the "Company of Merchant Adventurers", and equipped (1557) the expedition of Borough. After this, nothing more is heard of him; he probably died soon afterwards.

The account of his journeys written by himself has been lost. All that remains of his personal work is a map of the world drawn in 1544; one copy of this was found in Bavaria, and is still preserved in the Bibliotheque National in Paris. This map is especially important for the light it throws on the first journey of his father.

The character of Sebastian Cabot does not leave a favourable impression; restless and unscrupulous, he busied himself with the most varied projects, and was ready to enter into relations with any country from which he might hope to gain the realization of his schemes. The country most indebted to him is England, where he roused enthusiasm for great undertakings; with his father he laid the foundation of the English supremacy at sea.

The accounts of the journeys of John and Sebastian Cabot were collected by Richard Hakluyt.

External link

pl:Sebastiano Caboto


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