John Cabot was an Italian and a native of Venice. When he sailed westwards in the little Matthew, in 1497, however, he flew the banner of St George at his masthead, for he had been sent on a voyage of discovery by England’s King Henry VII. After a crossing of six weeks, land was sighted. Cabot went ashore to claim what he called ‘Prima Vista’ – ‘First Seen’ – for England. It later became known as Nova Scotia. He then sailed northwards along the southern coast of ‘New Found Land’ naming capes, bays and islands as he went. He was particularly impressed by how rich the seas were in salmon, sole (‘about a yard in length’) and cod. He returned to England on 6 August to a great welcome and a gift of £10 from the not over-generous king.
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