Tuesday, May 08, 2012

This One Is Really Interesting

Not a lot of hard evidence, but still intriguing:

Cabot may have known of Canada before the voyage
"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?"
Did English sailors visit Canada before Columbus ‘discovered’ New World?
"The clue turned up as Guidi-Bruscoli researched the financing of a series of voyages between 1496 and 1498, when he disappeared. The historian, working with British researchers, found a brief reference in a 516-year-old accounting ledger that points to support from a bank in Florence for Cabot's expedition to find "the new land." The revelation suggests the voyage was not a strictly English enterprise, as has been generally accepted. "It opens a whole new chapter in Cabot scholarship, introducing an unexpected European dimension and posing new questions for the field," Guidi-Bruscoli writes in an article published in the scholarly journal Historical Research. The Postmedia story says the reference suggests it's possible Cabot, who moved to England to pursue his goal of overseas exploration, may have already known about "the new land," and that English sailors had visited North America perhaps even before Christopher Columbus's "discovery" of the New World in 1492. Historian Evan Jones of the University of Bristol, home of the Cabot Project, said the clue lies in the ledger's use of the word "the" instead of the indefinite "a" in referring to new land, suggesting they already knew it was there. "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," said Jones. "So, I think the reference must indicate that the Bardi (bank) 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.""
I wonder if they've explored the records of the Basque fishermen who fished the Grand Banks off of Newfoundland. We already know they had contact with the indigenous people of that Island. Perhaps knowledge of "the" new land came via them.

Discovery sheds light on Cabot's travels
"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."
"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.""
All very inneresting. I wonder if the Italians will want some sort of compensation for that loan? Like a cut in Canada's GDP. Shhh. Don't tell them I said this.

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