John Cabot was an English explorer of Italian descent who embarked on two voyages to the New World. Cabot's first voyage was successful, but historians believe that he died during his second.
Historical evidence suggests that John Cabot, born Giovanni Caboto in Genoa, Italy, spent much of his early life as a spice trader for the Venetians. He presumably travelled to the Levant and reached other eastern Mediterranean destinations. John Cabot independently came to the same conclusion as Christopher Columbus that the best way to reach the rich eastern coast of Asia was by sailing west, into the Atlantic.
Under orders from the King Henry VII of England, Cabot began his first voyage, landing in North America soon after. His landing in 1497 was probably the first European trip to North America since the travels of Leif Eriksson in the 11th century. While Cabot did claim the land he encountered for King Henry, he hoisted both English and Venetian flags. Cabot's second voyage was considerably less successful, and most of his crew, himself included, died at sea. The lasting legacy of Cabot's voyages was the British interest in Canada and the development of a shorter northern route across the Atlantic Ocean.