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E X P L O R A T I O N A N D E A R L Y S E T T L E M E N T HEN CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, sailing under the auspices of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Aragon and Castile, made his dramatic voyage to Samana Cay in the Bahamasin 1492,thirty-five-yearold KingHenry VII had reigned uneasily for sevenyearsin England. Discontent in many parts of his kingdom and suspicion in London kept his attention on domestic affairs. In France the twenty-two-year-old Charles VIII, on the throne for only a year, also faced trouble at home as well as abroad. In Portugal, King John II, forty-seven, had had eleven yearsto establish himself. Secure at home, he sent out explorers who discovered the mouth of the Congo River and the Cape ofGood Hope. Ferdinand, forty, and Isabella, forty-one, had united their crowns at their marriage in 1469, and afterward they defeated the Moors and drove out the Jews. Spain as a world power was in the ascendancy. John of Portugal suspected that some of Columbus's discoveries were in the region his own explorers had already visited, and he protested Spain's claim to them. The question wassubmitted to the newly installed Pope Alexander VI, a Spaniard incidentally,who decreed in 1493 that Spain should have all rights to land west of aline from pole to pole and passing100 leagueswest and south of the Azores and Cape Verde. John was not satisfied and a treaty the next year moved the line of demarcation 370leagues west of the islands, giving Portugal a clear claim to Brazil. This may have prompted certain merchants in Bristol, England, to consider their own interests; engaged in shipping and trading abroad, between 1481and 1483 they apparently had touched the coast of Brazil, or the Isle of Brasil as they called it. Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher, had been in England in 1489-90 to discuss his brother's plans with King Henry and, perhaps, to gather what informationhecould about English discoveries. News of Columbus's second voyage in 1493, when he visited a number of Caribbean islands, must have concerned the Bristol merchants. Early in 1497 at their own expense, although under a charter from Henry VII, they sent Giovanni Caboto (or John Cabot), a nativeof Genoa who had settled in Bristol in 1490, to look for a northern route to the East. 28 2 w 29 Exploration and Early Settlement Columbus, it was believed, had found a southern route to the riches of the Orient, and English merchants might well profit by a northern one. Cabot and his three sons, Lewis, Sebastian, and Santius, were authorized by King Henry— in clearviolation of the pope's decree—"to saile to allparts, countreys, and seasof the East, of the West, and of the North, under our banners and ensignes." Departing Bristol on 2 May 1497, the Cabots passed along the coast of Newfoundland and up and down the coast of Labrador. SirHumphrey Gilbert in 1583 said that John and SebastianCabot "made discovery also of the rest from Florida northwards, to the behoofe of England," but this either wasan error or wassaid simply to support England's intentions at that time to establish a colony farther south than Newfoundland. Cabot's voyage, nevertheless, was the basis of England 's claim to much of North America. French Interest The circumnavigation of the globe in 1519-22 by Ferdinand Magellan'sexpedition for Spain demonstrated what most learned people of the day knew—that the world was round. This created new interest in exploration. Francis I of France, at agethirty, wassuddenly inspired to know more of the New World. A group of expatriate Florentine and Portuguese merchants in Lyons obtained his support in sending Giovanni da Verrazano, a Florentine-born resident of France, in search of a new route to the Orient and of new lands between those already discovered by Spain and England. In a report made on 8 July 1524 after his return, Verrazano said that he had sailed south past Spain before heading west into the open Atlantic near the Madeira Islands. He sighted land in 34°N latitude, near modern Cape Fear,on 21 March 1524, the first European to see what is now a part of the United States. Following the coast to the south for about 150 miles, Verrazano failed to find a suitable harbor and returned to his first landfall. Here a party...


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