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What is a brief biography of Giovanni da Verrazano?

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Quick Answer

Giovanni da Verrazano was an Italian explorer and navigator who lived from 1485 to 1528. He is remembered as the first European after the Norse expeditions to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick.

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Full Answer

Giovanni da Verrazano was born in Tuscany, Italy in 1485. At an early age, he traveled to Egypt and Syria. In the early 1500s, he went to France, where he met with King Francis I and also came in contact with members of the French navy, sparking his interest in oceanic travel. Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci and Ferdinand Magellan were becoming renowned explorers during this time, which may have also inspired Verrazano.

In January 1524 he sailed to the New World and reached Cape Fear, North Carolina. He then sailed northward, exploring the eastern coast of North America, making discoveries on the voyage. He discovered the sites of present-day New York Harbor, Block Island and Narragansett Bay. He and his men interacted with the local population of Rhode Island for two weeks before returning to France in July 1524.

In March 1528, Verrazzano sought a passage to India and left France on his final voyage. While in the Caribbean, the crew spotted a heavily vegetated, seemingly unpopulated island. Verranzzano went with a few crew members to explore the island and was attacked by a large group of cannibalistic natives who killed and ate them all.

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