John Cabot and his Italian financiers


  • I would like to thank Evan Jones and Margaret Condon for their invaluable advice and continuous feedback as co-members of the ‘Cabot project’, funded by the British Academy (SG100194) and Gretchen Bauta, a private Canadian benefactor.


While the early Bristol expeditions to North America have always been thought of as a purely English phenomenon, this article demonstrates that they were partly funded by Italian capital. Following the slight leads left behind by a deceased historian, documents have been found which demonstrate that a payment of fifty nobles was made in 1496 to the Venetian explorer, John Cabot, from the London branch of a Florentine company: the Bardi. This article discusses the significance of the payment for Cabot and his expedition, the reasons why the funding might have been advanced, and the position of the Bardi within London's Italian community.