John Cabot granted letters patent, permission to explore and claim land

On today’s date in 1496, King Henry VII of England granted a letters patent to John Cabot and his sons, allowing them to explore and claim any new lands outside Spanish or Portuguese territories.

In 1997, the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Cabots’ initial voyage from Bristol, England to Canada’s east coast on a 10-cent Proof coin. Designed by Emanuel Hahn, the coin had a limited mintage of 50,000.

While working under commission of Henry VII, Cabot likely ventured to either Cape Bonavista or St. John’s, N.L. on the vessel Matthew. He is considered the first European to hit mainland North America since the Vikings’ 11th-century visits to Newfoundland.

Cabot's ship, the Matthew, was featured on a 1949 silver dollar.

Cabot’s ship, the Matthew, was featured on a 1949 silver dollar.

After Newfoundland joined the Canadian Confederation in 1949, the Matthew was also featured on a RCM silver dollar depicting the famed vessel. Designed by Thomas Shingles, the coin’s design features the phrase “May the new found land flourish” in Latin (“Floreat Terra Nova”).

Cabot disappeared while on voyage during the late 1400s.

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