First Despatch of Raimondo di Soncino to the Duke of Milan 1497


Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) was a native of Genoa and a citizen of Venice, who obtained letters-patent from Henry VII of England in 1496 for a voyage of discovery. In the summer of 1497, he crossed the Atlantic and discovered the mainland of North America—probably the Labrador coast. On this achievement was based the claim of England to North America. The three documents contain all the evidence from contemporary witnesses whose information may have come from John Cabot himself. The text is from the Hakluyt Society’s edition of Columbus’ Journal.

24th AUGUST, 1497.

Some month afterwards His Majesty sent a Venetian, who is a distinguished sailor, and who was much skilled in the discovery of new islands, and he has returned safe, and has discovered two very large and fertile islands, having, it would seem, discovered the seven cities 400 leagues from England to the westward. These successes led His Majesty at once to entertain the intention of sending him with fifteen or twenty vessels.