John and Sebastian Cabot were a father and son pair of explorers, originally from Italy, but who made their most important voyages in the English service. John Cabot was probably the first European explorer to reach the mainland of North American since the Vikings, while his son conducted a number of voyages of his own. Sadly the exact details of which man did what aren't entirely clear. This book was produced in an attempt to solve that problem.
Despite its age (first published in 1898) this is still a useful book. Beazley's main focus is on tracing the lives of the two Cabots using contemporary documents. He included every single reference to the Cabots' exploration and careers in the historical sources (and known in 1898), and most of the relevant quotes are included in some detail. There is also plenty of material on the nature of the sources and their reliability.
Beazley was a respected historian (Fellow of Merton College, Oxford and chair of history at Birmingham University), and this is a quality academic work of its period. A modern biographer would probably spend more time looking at the Cabot's time in outside English service, but that wasn't really Beazley's aim. He was willing to put forward theories about some of the more obscure elements of their voyages, but also to admit when the evidence is unclear.
This is still a readable account of the career of the Cabots, but its main value to the modern reader is the impressive collection of contemporary sources relating to the two men, which vary from official documents to mentions in private letters, and allow us to come to our own conclusions.
1 - Introductory Sketch
2 - Introductory Sketch Continued
3 - John Cabot's Life Down to 1496
4 - The Voyage of 1497
5 - The Voyage of 1497 Continued
6 - John Cabot's Second Voyage
7 - Sebastian Cabot: His Life to 1512
8 - Sebastian Transfers His Services to Spain, 1512
9 - The Venetian Intrigue of 1522
10 - Sebastian's Return to England, 1547-8
11 - Cabot's Exact Employment in England at this Time
12 - The Instructions Drawn up by Sebastian for the North-East Voyage of 1553
13 - The 'Cabot' Map of 1544
14 - The 'Cabot' Map of 1544 continued
15 - The Legend of the Map of 1544 continued
Author: Charles Raymond Beazley
Year: 2015 edition on 1898 original