Although Christopher Columbus is widely credited as the ‘discoverer’ of America, a new loan form to the first sailor to find North America hints that other expeditions might have found the continent BEFORE 1492.
The loan to John Cabot – discovered by historical detective work – makes reference to ‘THE new land’, hinting that sailors had discovered America BEFORE Cabot or Columbus.
Christopher Columbus famously sailed to the Caribbean islands in 1492 – but with a royal patent from Henry VII of England, John Cabot, a Venetian merchant, sailed from Bristol to North America in 1497. The new discovery shows that the first European to set foot in North America since the Viking Leif Ericsson in the 11th Century was financed by a loan of 50 nobles (£16, 13s, 4d) from the Bardi banking house.
Just like Columbus, the Engish voyages were financed by the great Italian merchant banks of the era, receiving the loan in 1496. John Cabot – also known as Zuan Caboto or Giovanni Chabotte due to his Venetian birth – made two voyages, one in the summer of 1496, one in 1497.
On the second journey, he landed in Newfoundland.
The entry itself is also curious in that the reference to ‘the new land’ implies that the money was given so that Cabot could find a land that was already known about.
As such, it may revive claims that Bristol merchants had discovered North America at an earlier time. Dr Guidi-Bruscoli is more cautious on this score, however. ‘While the entry implies that the Bardi believed in a prior discovery, we can’t assume this had occurred.
‘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.’
Dr Jones agrees. ‘It would be wonderful to find that Bristol mariners had first visited North America before the 1480s – if only because it would cast new light on the originality of Columbus’ venture of 1492. Right now, however, we can’t be sure about that. Although one never knows, that could change.’
Dr Evan Jones, who leads the project in Bristol, describes the new evidence as a ‘fantastic find’. He adds, ‘We have long known that Italy’s great merchant banks were key to the success of the ventures launched by Portugal and Spain. But it always seemed that the English ventures were an exception. Now it is clear that they too were part of network of Italian-financed expeditions to explore beyond the limits of the known world.’
The payment of 50 nobles (£16 13s. 4d.) was made so that ‘Giovanni Chabotte’ of Venice, as he is styled in the document, could undertake expeditions ‘to go and find the new land’.
The second of these was to result in the European discovery of North America – Christopher Columbus not having ventured beyond the Caribbean islands. Dr Guidi-Bruscoli, who is based at the University of Florence and is also a Fellow at Queen Mary in London, found the financial records after being contacted by Jones and his co-researcher, Margaret Condon. …
Finding out about the funding of Cabot’s voyages is exciting because, while it has long been known that the explorer received political support from the King, the identity and motivations of those who paid for the expeditions has never been known. …
Reactive arthritis from Chlamydia beat Columbus, in the end. Columbus is the only serial killer rapist with an American holiday (the 2nd Monday in October) named after him. On one of his journeys landed on what is now the Dominican Republic. The natives there were the Taino “Indians” which Columbus and his men killed and used as sex slaves.
“While Columbus once referred to the Taino Indians as cannibals, a story made up by Columbus – which is to this day still taught in some US schools – to help justify his slaughter and enslavement of these people. He wrote to the Spanish monarchs in 1493: “It is possible, with the name of the Holy Trinity, to sell all the slaves which it is possible to sell…Here there are so many of these slaves, and also brazilwood, that although they are living things they are as good as gold…”
Columbus and his men also used the Taino as sex slaves: it was a common reward for Columbus’ men for him to present them with local women to rape. As he began exporting Taino as slaves to other parts of the world, the sex-slave trade became an important part of the business, as Columbus wrote to a friend in 1500: “A hundred castellanoes (a Spanish coin) are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten (years old) are now in demand.” – Thom Hartmann
… “Because Columbus captured more Indian slaves than he could transport to Spain in his small ships, he put them to work in mines and plantations which he, his family and followers created throughout the Caribbean. His marauding band hunted Indians for sport and profit – beating, raping, torturing, killing, and then using the Indian bodies as food for their hunting dogs. Within four years of Columbus’ arrival on Hispaniola, his men had killed or exported one-third of the original Indian population of 300,000. Within another 50 years, the Taino people had been made extinct [editor’s note: the old assumption that the Taino became extinct is now open to serious question] – the first casualties of the holocaust of American Indians. The plantation owners then turned to the American mainland and to Africa for new slaves to follow the tragic path of the Taino.
This was the great cultural encounter initiated by Christopher Columbus. This is the event we celebrate each year on Columbus Day. The United States honors only two men with federal holidays bearing their names. In January we commemorate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., who struggled to lift the blinders of racial prejudice and to cut the remaining bonds of slavery in America. In October, we honor Christopher Columbus, who opened the Atlantic slave trade and launched one of the greatest waves of genocide known in history.” – Jack Weatherford
We’d be better off just celebrating the fact that it is the 2nd Monday in October.