Elizabethan Sea-Dogs: A Chronicle of Drake and His Companions

By William Wood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
HENRY VIII, KING OF THE ENGLISH SEA

THE leading pioneers in the Age of Discovery were sons of Italy, Spain, and Portugal.1 Cabot, as we have seen, was an Italian, though he sailed for the English Crown and had an English crew. Columbus, too, was an Italian, though in the service of the Spanish Crown. It was the Portuguese Vasco da Gama who in the very year of John Cabot's second voyage ( 1498) found the great sea route to India by way of the Cape of Good Hope. Two years later the Cortereals, also Portuguese, began exploring the coasts of America as far northwest as Labrador. Twenty years later again the Portuguese Magellan, sailing for the King of Spain, discovered the strait still known by his name, passed through it into the

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1
Basque fishermen and whalers apparently forestalled Jacques Cartier's discovery of the St. Lawrence in 1535; perhaps they knew the mainland of America before John Cabot in 1497. But they left no written records; and neither founded an oversea dominion nor gave rights of discovery to their own or any other race.

-18-

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