John Cabot explored North America searching for a more northern route to Asia than the one Christopher Columbus found. His letters patent from King Henry VII authorized him to explore new lands, return to England with merchandise and have a monopoly on any trade.
John Cabot, an Italian whose original name was Giovanni Caboto, inspired by the voyages of Christopher Columbus, traveled to England in 1495 to obtain sponsorship and the king's approval for a voyage westward to Asia. His first voyage out of Bristol failed due to inclement weather. On his second voyage in 1497, he reached the northern coast of North America somewhere around Newfoundland, Cape Breton Island, southern Labrador or Maine, believing he had arrived in Asia. Although he noticed signs of human habitation, he did not encounter any people. After raising the flags of England and Venice, he explored the coastline and then returned to England with a favorable report. The king rewarded him with a pension.
In May 1498, Cabot left Bristol with five ships on a third voyage. This time he was determined to continue westward until he reached Japan. One of the ships became damaged and turned back to Ireland. Cabot was never heard from again. By 1499, the other ships along with Cabot and his crew were presumed lost at sea.