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Henry VII's first Charter to the Cabot family for
reasonable demonstrations he showed, caused
The rich Venetian merchant and his sons were to find the ship and bear all expenses, the wily king stipulating for one-fifth of the gains, without any risk whatever.
The patent runs thus :
“Be it known to all, that we have given and granted, and by these presents do give and grant, to our well-beloved John Cabot, citizen of Venice, to Lewis, Sebastian, and Sanctus, fons of the said John, and to their heirs and deputies, full and free authority, leave and power, to fail to all parts, countries and seas of the East, of the West, and of the North, under our banners and ensigns, with five ships, of what burthen or quality soever they be, and as many mariners and men as they will take with them in the said ships, upon their own proper costs and charges, to seek out, discover and find, whatsoever Isles, Countries, Regions or Provinces of the Heathen and Infidels, whatsoever they be, and in whatsoever part of
one fifth of
of the net
the world which before this time have been unknown to all Christians. We have granted to them and every of them and their deputies, and have given them our license, to set up our banners and ensigns in every village, town, castle, isle or mainland, of them newly found; and that the said John and his sons and their heirs may subdue, occupy and possess all such towns, cities, &c. by them found, which they fets, trade,
occupy, can subdue, occupy and possess as our vassals and pay the
king, in wares and lieutenants, getting to us the rule, title and jurisdiction of the said villages, towns, &c.
profit at Brif. “Yet so that the said John and his sons and their heirs, of all the fruits, profits and commodities growing from such navigation, shall be held and bound to pay to us, in wares or money, the fifth part of the capital gain so
voyage, as often as they shall arrive at our port of Bristol (at which port they shall be obliged only to arrive), deducting all manner of necessary costs and charges by them made: we giving and granting unto them and their heirs and deputies that they shall be free from all payments of customs on all such merchandize they shall
tol each voyage.
Life of Sebastian Cabot.
None other to trade thither on pain of forfeiture of thips and goods.
bring with them from the places so newly found.
“ And moreover we have given and granted to them and their heirs and deputies that all the firm land, islands, villages, towns, &c. they shall chance to find, may not, without license of the said John Cabot and his sons, be so frequented and visited, under pain of losing their ships and all the goods of them who shall presume to fail to the places so found.
“ Willing, and commanding strictly all and singular our subjects, as well on land as on sea, to give good aslistance to the said John and his sons and deputies, and that as well in arming and furnishing their ships and vessels as in provision of food and buying victuals for their money, and all other things by them to be provided necessary for the said navigation, they do give them all their favours and aslift
The Cabots find the money.
“ Witness myself at Westminster, 5th March, in the eleventh year of our reign, or 1495 A.D.” As the civil year began on March 25th this would be really in the year 1496 A.D., one year only before the expedition failed.
Hypothetical voyage of the Cabots, in 1474 A. D., previous
to tbe Charter of Henry : supported by Sebastian Cabot's Map, published 1544, now in Paris: reasons which strengthen this view. State of England, and of Bristol, at the period of the Charter.
Theory of an earlier voyage.
PHE foregoing is the original charter
of Henry VII., which is generally
covery. A contrary theory has been broached, and is upheld by Harris, Pinkerton, Barrow, and others; viz., that the Cabots had, from their own private resources, failed westward, and, discovering the land, returned hastily, and, by their representations induced the king to grant them this patent. The two first named write as follows :
“But the year before that patent was granted, viz., in 1494, John Cabot, with his son Sebaftian, had failed from Bristol upon discovery,
Harris, vol. ii. p. 190, ed. 1744
and had actually seen the continent of New-
in one statement. Barrow says, “there is no possible way of reconciling the various accounts but by supposing John Cabot to have made one voyage, at least, previous to the date of the patent, and some time between that and the date of the return of Columbus, either in 1494 or 1495."
Now, the above statements agree entirely with the inscription on the map of Seb. Cabot in the “Bibliotheque Imperial ” of Paris, date