From the file of duh! Discovery News reports that Christopher Columbus may not have been the first to America. Recent findings in a bank ledger from the Bardi banking house in London refers to paying John Cabot 50 nobles sterling to find the new land, not a new land. This little change in grammar has lead to a flurry of excitement for John Cabot scholars. How much of the new land did Cabot know about before his and Columbus’ journeys? Is this really evidence of prior knowledge of a new land or a slip of the pen? More research into the Bardi documents will hopefully uncover whether they knew of the new land and if this knowledge led to their financing of John Cabot’s voyages.
An investigation worthy of a Dan Brown novel has shed new light on the voyages of John Cabot, the Italian navigator and explorer, revealing that he may have had knowledge of European expeditions to the “New World” that predated Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage.
Although commonly credited with “discovering” America, Christopher Columbus would not reach the mainland of the New World until 1498, when he sailed to South America.
Farther north, Cabot became the first European since Leif Ericson and the Vikings to land on North American soil when he made three voyages for England’s Henry VII between the summers of 1496 and 1498. The second of these expeditions, carried out in 1497, resulted in the European discovery of North America — at Newfoundland.
Now a brief entry in a yellowed accounting ledger has revealed an unexpected European dimension to Cabot’s discovery: In April 1496, the Italian-born explorer received financial backing from an Italian bank — the Bardi banking house in London.
Rossella Lorenzi reports for Discovery News of the evidence found in the late historian, Alwyn Ruddock’s research notes and how further study of them may unveil new discoveries.