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John Cabot: Following Columbus

John Cabot (original Italian name: Giovanni Caboto) was born around 1455 in Italy, but in 1490 he moved to Spain. It is probable that, like his fellow-countryman Christopher Columbus, he wanted to be part of an expanding frontier of exploration, the Atlantic Ocean, and he first proposed the existence of a Northwest Passage as early as 1490.

His scheme was to reach Asia by sailing west across the north Atlantic - a shorter and quicker route than Columbus' southerly route. Cabot was trying to go one better.

Spain or Portugal weren't interested in his ideas, so in 1494 or 1495 Cabot turned to England and got backing from the merchants of the port of Bristol.

He made his first voyage in 1496, and after his return to England, he thought that a new, shorter route to Asia had been found.

In 1498 he led a new expedition with five vessels, but the results of this voyage remain a mystery - the ships sailed, one returned damaged after a storm, and John Cabot disappeared from the historical record.

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