For Release June, 2001




North America should have been called “Venetia”* not America.


Flag of Venetian Republic was planted here first in 1497


Italy may have a sentimental claim to the East Coast



June 24th marks the 504th anniversary of explorer John Cabot’s history making landing on the North American coast in 1497.  Researchers at the Italic Institute of America (formerly the Italic Studies Institute) have announced the results of a yearlong review of historic documents relating to Cabot’s voyage.  Their findings can be summarized as follows:


v     John Cabot was born Giovanni Cabotto (spelling varies) in Gaeta, Italy.  His family moved to Venice where he became a citizen of that city-state.  Around 1492, he moved to Bristol, England with his Venetian wife (Mattea) and their three children Lewis, Sebastian, and Sancio.  Neither Cabot nor his children gave up their Venetian citizenship.


v     In 1496, inspired by fellow Italian Christopher Columbus’ explorations of the Caribbean, Cabot requested and received authorization to sail from Bristol to find Asia by way of the northern seas.  Cabot, his sons, heirs and deputies were given title to any lands they found as vassals to English King Henry VII.  Cabot was to finance the entire expedition himself.


v     On May 2, 1497, Cabot and a mixed crew of English and Italians sailed from Bristol on the Mathew (named after his wife).  He reached the Canadian coast (probably Nova Scotia) on June 24, 1497 where he planted a cross and the flags of England and Venice (the lion of St. Mark, hence “Venetia”).   NOTE:  Amerigo Vespucci never landed in North “America”


v     Cabot cruised down the coast to about Chesapeake Bay.  This was most likely outside of the area he was restricted to in Henry’s charter.  Nevertheless, the English claim to the East Coast was based on this voyage.


v     Upon returning to England Cabot was rewarded with a 20 pound per year pension most likely given for his discovery of the rich cod fishing grounds off the American coast.  This alone was a major boost to the English economy.


v     Benjamin Franklin’s Vindication for the Colonies (1775) argued that England did not “own” North America because Cabot financed the expedition himself.


v     John Cabot and his son Sebastian, also an explorer, always retained their Venetian citizenship.  There is no evidence that the family relinquished their rights to their North American lands.  Venice, their place of citizenship, may have successor rights under international law.  In 1783, Great Britain surrendered its rights to the thirteen colonies with the Peace of Paris at the end of the American Revolution.  In the 19th Century, rights to Canada were ceded to that country.  There is no evidence that any adjudication of the rights of Cabot, Venice or Italy (successor to Venice) has ever taken place.


For copies of documentation and information contact John Mancini 516.488.7400, fax 516.488.4889. 
Email:       Mail: PO Box 818, Floral Park, NY 11001


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