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New evidence suggests Cabot may have known of New World before voyage
Ottawa Citizen ^ | 29 April 2012 | Randy Boswell

Posted on 05/07/2012 11:58:05 AM PDT by Theoria

An Italian historian has unveiled a previously unknown document that sheds fresh light on explorer John Cabot’s discovery of Canada — a brief entry in a 516-year-old accounting ledger that shows Cabot had financial backing from a Florence-based bank in England and, most intriguingly, may have had prior knowledge of the distant land his famous 1497 voyage would put on the world map.

The Italian-born Cabot is known to have sailed from England in search of the New World three times between 1496 and 1498. He is believed to have reached Newfoundland aboard the Matthew in 1497, but Cabot disappears from the historical record after his return voyage to North America in 1498, and is generally presumed to have perished during that expedition.

The revelation about an Italian banking connection to Cabot’s transatlantic ventures was first reported in 2010 by Postmedia News.

But University of Florence history professor Francesco Guidi-Bruscoli, working closely with two British researchers and funded largely by a Canadian benefactor, has now pieced together the full story of Cabot’s Italian financing and published his findings in the scholarly journal Historical Research.

At the heart of Guidi-Bruscoli’s discovery is a long-overlooked accountant’s notation in records held by a Florentine archive detailing a loan of “nobili 50” — 50 nobles sterling, or about 16 English pounds — to “Giovanni Chabotte viniziano” (John Cabot of Venice) “a trovare il nuovo paese” (to find the new land).

Historians have traditionally described the sailor’s voyages, despite Cabot’s Italian heritage, as a purely English enterprise commissioned and supported by King Henry VII and merchants from the west coast port city of Bristol.

But “despite the brevity of the entry” in the record book maintained by the Bardi banking family of Florence, “it opens a whole new chapter in Cabot scholarship, introducing an unexpected European dimension and posing new questions for the field,” Guidi-Bruscoli writes.

Among the questions posed are two particularly significant ones: Did Cabot already know about “the land” he was supposedly setting off to find? And is it possible that other sailors from England, where Cabot had moved to pursue his dream of overseas exploration, had previously visited “the new land” of North America — perhaps even before Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the Caribbean Islands in 1492 and that epoch-making “discovery” of the New World?

Remarkably, the answer to both questions may be yes, says University of Bristol historian Evan Jones, one of the British scholars working with Guidi-Bruscoli and founder of the Cabot Project research initiative, funded in large part by Canadian philanthropist Gretchen Bauta of the Weston family retail dynasty.

The clue, says Jones, is the ledger’s reference to Cabot’s goal being “the” new land rather than the indefinite “a” or some other less precise phrasing.

“The use of the definite article in ‘the new land’ is tantalizing,” Jones told Postmedia News by email. “And this isn’t just a translation issue — the implication is the same in the Italian, ‘il nuovo paese.’

“I think we can be pretty certain that ‘the new land’ doesn’t refer to the land Columbus had found — given that the royal patent Cabot was granted was pretty clear about excluding these territories,” added Jones. “So, I think the reference must indicate that the Bardi believed that Cabot was going off to discover/rediscover a land already known about. The use of ‘new’ suggests it was a land which had been found relatively recently — so this can’t be a reference to the Norse voyages.”

The discovery of the New World, so momentous in global history, remains a contentious field of study. Scientists disagree over the timing and origins of the original peopling of the Western Hemisphere by the ancestors of today’s aboriginal nations of North and South America. And while it’s now accepted that Viking voyagers reached the northern tip of Newfoundland around the year 1000 — leaving faint traces of their brief presence at L’Anse aux Meadows, a UNESCO World Heritage Site — the European “rediscovery” of the Americas in the late 15th century is not so straightforward.

Despite the well-documented discoveries by Columbus to the south in 1492, there is fragmentary evidence hinting at possible earlier English voyages across the North Atlantic.

The most compelling clue is a two-page letter in Spanish — only found in the 1950s, and believed to have been sent to Columbus in 1498 by a mysterious English merchant and spy named John Day — that contains this startling statement about Cabot’s recently completed 1497 voyage to Newfoundland: “It is considered certain that the cape of the said land was found and discovered in the past by the men from Bristol, who found ‘Brasil’ as your Lordship well knows. It was called the Island of Brasil, and it is assumed and believed to be the mainland that the men from Bristol found.”

The late British historian David Quinn, a dean of discovery scholarship, argued that the Day letter provided “a rational case for placing the English discovery of America in the decade before Columbus sailed in 1492, and possibly as early as 1481.”

Quinn concluded the likeliest such discovery could have been made during a 1481 voyage organized by four Bristol men — Thomas Croft, William Spenser, Robert Straunge and William de la Fount — who had equipped ships named the George and the Trinity “to serch & fynde a certain Isle called the Isle of Brasile.”

The Day letter has been hailed as a “crucial document” by Memorial University of Newfoundland historian Peter Pope — who is also collaborating with Jones in the Cabot Project — and as “the most important new piece of evidence to come to light in the 20th century touching the discovery of America” by an esteemed British historian, the late Alwyn Ruddock.

Ruddock’s unfinished research, in fact, is what prompted Guidi-Bruscoli’s probe of Italian bank records in search of more evidence of Cabot’s voyages to Canada.

Before she died in 2005, Ruddock had produced a detailed outline for a planned book about Cabot that suggested she had unearthed major new findings the explorer’s expeditions to Canada and the possibility of earlier English voyages to North America.

Bizarrely, Ruddock ordered her research notes destroyed upon her death. But Jones has led the effort to reconstruct and rediscover Ruddock’s evidence — even gaining permission to search through her house — and recently found documents confirming her hint about the key role played in the Cabot-era voyages by the little-known Bristol sailor William Weston.

Guidi-Bruscoli has now confirmed the Italian financing link to Cabot that Ruddock had also been documenting, and Jones says further research is aimed at exploring Ruddock’s hints about pre-Cabotian — and possibly pre-Columbian — voyages to Canada.

“It’s worth noting that Alwyn Ruddock certainly believed this was the case on the basis of other documents she had access to,” said Jones. “However, not having seen those documents ourselves, we can’t be sure.”

For his part, Guidi-Bruscoli is cautious about the implications of the ledger entry on the question of a pre-1492 discovery of North America, noting that the true identity of the North Atlantic “Brasil” — a name later given to the South American country — remains a mystery.

“While the entry implies that the Bardi believed in a prior discovery, we can’t assume this had occurred,” he writes. “It is likely the Bardi were referring to the mythical ‘Island of Brasil’, which Bristol mariners certainly claimed had been found by one of their number in times past. Whether this story can be equated with an actual discovery is much more uncertain, however.”


TOPICS: History
KEYWORDS: acrossatlanticice; brucebradley; cabot; canada; columbus; dennisstanford; godsgravesglyphs; johncabot; newworld; solutreans
See Also:

Did an English expedition BEAT Columbus to the Americas? Record of bank loan to sailor who found North America in 1497 hints that others may have been there first

1 posted on 05/07/2012 11:58:16 AM PDT by Theoria
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To: SunkenCiv

New world, sail, ping.


2 posted on 05/07/2012 11:59:52 AM PDT by Theoria (Rush Limbaugh: Ron Paul sounds like an Islamic terrorist)
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To: Theoria

Vikings and Native Americans were first. Columbus was first recognized by the main stream media of the time. Ever heard of Erick the Red? Where did all the Viking settlements come form?


3 posted on 05/07/2012 12:06:19 PM PDT by mountainlion (I am voting for Sarah after getting screwed again by the DC Thugs.)
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To: Theoria
The Spaniards beat them by oh ~10000 years or so... When the Spainiards came to the America's in 1490's they were just rejoining their long lost cousins :) This group makes a sound argument using carbon dating, and stratigraphy both well respected dating techniques in the Geoscience's.

Humans have been able to follow coastlines in small boats for 40,000+ years and open ocean waters for at least 30,000 years this is well proven in not only the orient but also the Pacific indigenous groups. Europeans at the time were as technologically advanced or more so during the last ice age. The Pre-Clovis points are a dead match for what the Northern Spaniards were making and stone technology is passed from human to human each culture had unique points and tools that was passed on the the next generation.

Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America’s Clovis Culture

"Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America’s Clovis Culture. The book puts forward a compelling case for people from northern Spain traveling to America by boat, following the edge of a sea ice shelf that connected Europe and America during the last Ice Age, 14,000 to 25,000 years ago."

4 posted on 05/07/2012 12:14:48 PM PDT by JD_UTDallas ("Veni Vidi Vici")
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To: mountainlion

Vikings are the first that we know of but I suspect plenty of others came before.


5 posted on 05/07/2012 12:15:57 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: mountainlion

There’s always the possibility of some group “finding” America’s East coast at earlier and earlier dates.


6 posted on 05/07/2012 12:16:11 PM PDT by ltc8k6
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To: JD_UTDallas
thanks.
7 posted on 05/07/2012 12:19:34 PM PDT by Theoria (Rush Limbaugh: Ron Paul sounds like an Islamic terrorist)
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To: cripplecreek
Writing on cave walls along the Mississippi or some other river were in ancient Irish language. A DNA study of the Cherokee suggest they are of European and the language has some similarity to Greek. Just some odd memories that I have and i don't have the references to back them up.
8 posted on 05/07/2012 12:34:56 PM PDT by mountainlion (I am voting for Sarah after getting screwed again by the DC Thugs.)
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To: JD_UTDallas
Overall, there was no “new” world as many cultures and peoples had made these voyages. The hemisphere was the “less visited” world.

What I find interesting is the juxtaposition of the fading lions of capitalism, the Venetians, and the new crowd, the Tudors as established by the engine of capital, Henry the VII. In both the “City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas” and “The Winter King” a study on Henry the VII and the founding of the Tudor dynasty, the close 1490-1510 cooperation between the Venetians and the Tudors is detailed showing how close they were in that age in circumventing the Papal forces in the central Mediterranean and the Muslim control in the east.

I think we can go back to Henry the II almost 400 years earlier to see the beginnings of the Venice-Britain efforts and what they spawned. Columbus, of Genoavise extraction, shipped out of Portugal and Spain as the Genoa Republic competed with the Venetians. The Venetians and the Muslims tied up the Silk Road path from the east and prompted the eastern European nations to round the Horn of Africa and venture elsewhere for a way around that duo.

This article is another confirmation of the capitalistic connection of Venice and Britain leading to the modern era more so than the artistic Renaissance of Florence.

9 posted on 05/07/2012 12:39:35 PM PDT by KC Burke (Plain Conservative opinions and common sense correction for thirteen years.)
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To: KC Burke
Overall, there was no “new” world as many cultures and peoples had made these voyages. The hemisphere was the “less visited” world.

Exactly there was no Indigenous peoples of North or South America, the Pre-Clovis were here, the Siberians came, the Vikings, the Japanese specifically from Island of Hokkaido as proved with DNA studies. The "new world" saw wave after wave of humans from all sides of the planet coming to explore and live, the first cultural/ genocidal war is now though to have been fought between Siberian land bridge people and the Clovis Europeans of the east coast. The DNA is pretty conclusive the east coast Indians are no where near the same genetically as the central and west coast Indians of the America's let alone the southern and meso American ones. Humans made it to Australia 40,000 years ago across open ocean by boat, same for the Polynesian Islands. Humans have had the technology to get to the Americas for at least 30000 years, and the evidence is mounting that people got here not 15000 years ago more like 25k or 30k BCE in pre ice age times.

It is always a pleasure to see someone who knows history, My Great Grandmother was a Doria from Genova of the same Doria's that funded Columbus needless to say we celebrate Columbus day as a family holiday.

10 posted on 05/07/2012 12:56:06 PM PDT by JD_UTDallas ("Veni Vidi Vici")
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To: Theoria

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_I_Sinclair,_Earl_of_Orkney

Time to brush the dust off the supposed voyage of Henry Sinclair and to look again at the medieval port of Bristol.


11 posted on 05/07/2012 12:56:58 PM PDT by Snickering Hound
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To: Theoria

Columbus’ explorations can be counted as the beginning of regular trade, empire expansion and settlement of the Americas by Europeans. Not “discovery”. And as a navigator, he was lame. His belief that the world was round, was not controversial - it was the size he calculated the globe to be. According to his calculations, India should have been near Florida.


12 posted on 05/07/2012 1:02:09 PM PDT by PFC
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To: Theoria

Columbus’ explorations can be counted as the beginning of regular trade, empire expansion and settlement of the Americas by Europeans. Not “discovery”. And as a navigator, he was lame. His belief that the world was round, was not controversial - it was the size he calculated the globe to be. According to his calculations, India should have been near Florida.


13 posted on 05/07/2012 1:02:20 PM PDT by PFC
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To: JD_UTDallas
As a descendant of the Doria line you will like Crowley's line of books if you haven't started reading them already. However, City of Fortune is not going to be fair to the “home team” in its focus.

The more I read, the supposed isolation of the (early) middle ages evaporates except in the heart of what later becomes Spain, France and Germany where if you were near no remaining Roman road, you were relegated to forest path limitations. Sowell makes a good point in showing the natural development characteristics of Europe versus Africa by citing a statistic that goes something like, “75% of Europe is within 50 miles of a navigable river or sea.”

14 posted on 05/07/2012 1:35:13 PM PDT by KC Burke (Plain Conservative opinions and common sense correction for thirteen years.)
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To: Theoria
“a trovare il nuovo paese” (to find the new land)

... as in "find the fountain of youth", "find Ecalibur" or "find the missing link". This is inductive reasoning, not knowledge. The banker's notation implies nothing. Even if they did know about the new land, why would they set out to "trovare" it? This appears to be stretching a point in a search for more grant money.

15 posted on 05/07/2012 1:41:01 PM PDT by Kennard
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To: Theoria
Ya gotta go where the work is . . .


16 posted on 05/07/2012 1:48:12 PM PDT by tomkat ( FU.baraq <font finger=middle>)
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To: Theoria
Odd coincidence--a little-known sailor from the 1400s named Weston supposedly played a key role, and the research now is being funded by a family that has money because of "the Weston retail dynasty."

There were various medieval legends about explorations (such as by St. Brendan). Even if those didn't happen, people in the 1400s might have thought they were real and acted accordingly.

A couple of Genoese explorers sailed west in 1291 and were never heard from again--did they make it across the Atlantic and get eaten by Caribs? Did they founder somewhere mid-ocean? No one knows what happened to them.

17 posted on 05/07/2012 4:03:53 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: Theoria

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks Theoria. Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


18 posted on 05/07/2012 6:57:45 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (FReepathon 2Q time -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Verginius Rufus; Theoria; JD_UTDallas; Snickering Hound; PFC; KC Burke; Kennard; tomkat; ...

> A couple of Genoese explorers sailed west in 1291 and were never heard from again

Hey, pretty interesting:

Vandino and Ugolino Vivaldi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vandino_and_Ugolino_Vivaldi


19 posted on 05/07/2012 7:06:05 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (FReepathon 2Q time -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: SunkenCiv
Thanks. I couldn't remember their names. According to the Wikipedia article on Lancelotto Malocello, he was looking for them when he reached the Canaries in 1312. The Romans had known of the existence of the Canary Islands. They were supposedly visited around 500 B.C. by Hanno the Carthaginian.

One of the islands is named Lanzarote after Malocello.

20 posted on 05/08/2012 6:52:50 AM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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