Explorer Bios: John Cabot

John Cabot
Cabot (Source).
  • John Cabot (c. 1450–1499). Sailing under the English flag for King Henry VII, the Italian navigator John Cabot is credited with “discovering” parts of North America, possibly reaching Newfoundland. News of Christopher Columbus's crossing of the Atlantic and Portugal's reaching the Indian Ocean spurred the English monarch to action. Cabot’s 1497 voyage marked the earliest-known (confirmed) European exploration of coastal North America since the Norse visits to "Vineland" led by Leif Eriksson in the eleventh century. Cabot's expeditions put England into the colonial race right at the start and helped lay the groundwork for the British claim to Canada—even though the exact landing site was (and still is) unknown. Just reaching a land first was enough in the European mindset to claim sovereignty, as was the case with Ferdinand Magellan in the Visayan Islands (Philippines). Spain would soon boast of an empire over which the sun never set, but it was a claim the British would most known for.

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Map of Enrique of Malacca's circumnavigation
Map of Enrique of Malacca's circumnavigation: Malacca, Lisbon, Seville,
Rio de Janeiro, Puerto San Julián, Guam, Limasawa, Cebu.[1]

On March 28, 1521, Enrique of Malacca became the first person to complete a linguistic circumnavigation of the globe—he traveled so far in one direction that he reached a point where his own language was spoken. Enrique’s journey began a decade earlier following the sack of Malacca, when he was taken as a slave by Ferdinand Magellan. A teenager, he accompanied Magellan back to Portugal, then to Spain, and finally on the Armada de Molucca to locate a westward route to the Spice Islands. More about Enrique of Malacca.

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