Giovanni da Verrazzano (1485-1528) was an Italian explorer who explored much of the west coast of North America while working for French crown. During his early 16th century voyages to the North America (who was by then still regarded as unexplored part of Asia) he mapped the coast between Cape Fear, Carolinas all up to Newfoundland, founding New York Harbor and Narragansett Bay.
Little is known about Verrazzano’s early and private life, and there are several versions of his origins. By all historical accounts, he was born in or around Florence, Italy, and he regarded himself as Florentine during the rest of his life. In early 16th century he started his life on the sea as deckhand, navigator and soon explorer with the several missions who went to the shores of the North America, more specifically Newfoundland. With the trade tensions between France, Spain and Portugal rising, French king Francis I asked Verrazzano to prepare exploratory fleet that will try to find water route to the pacific between Florida and Newfoundland. After few setbacks with bad weather and repairs, Giovanni da Verrazzano reached Cape Fear in January of 1524, and sent letters to the France with his conviction that they were indeed near China. In following weeks he passed near the mouth of Delaware River, New York Bay, Long Island, Narragansett Bay, Maine, southeastern Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
Second voyage of Giovanni da Verrazzano happened in 1527, and it resulted in his visit to Brazil where he only managed to bring back to France large quantities of Brazilwood. Third and final journey happened one year later in 1528 when Verrazzano visited Central America, Florida, Bahammas and CentrealAntiles. It was there where he meets his end. While being anchored near Guadeloupe, his crew became attacked by native Caribinhabitans. It was reported that he was then killed and eaten by them. Other historians speculate that he and his crew were captured by Spaniards and executed as pirates.
Today, name and life of Giovanni da Verrazzano is remembered by several monuments located in North America, most notably by bridges name after him in Jamestown and Maryland.
|Name||Giovanni da Verrazzano|
|Place of Birth||Val di Greve, south of Florence, Italy, Republic of Florence|
|Place of Death||Island of Guadeloupe|
|Known For||First European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick|
|Parent(s)||Piero Andrea di Bernardo da Verrazzano, Fiammetta Cappelli|
|Expedition Partner(s)||Thomas Auber, Jean Ango|