Cabot and Bristol's Age of Discovery

Front cover of book

Evan T. Jones and Margaret M. Condon, Cabot and Bristol's Age of Discovery: The Bristol Discovery Voyages 1480-1508 (University of Bristol, 23 Nov 2016), ISBN 0995619301, 104 pp., 71 illustrations, £11.99 rrp.

Also available as a free ebook from and the Bristol Record Society. Please note that in the digitised version of the book some images have had to be removed for copyright reasons. Many of the documents referenced in the text can be found in the document transcriptions section of the Cabot Project publications page.


John Cabot's voyage to North America in 1497, on the Matthew of Bristol, has long been famous. But who was Cabot? Why did he come to Bristol? And what did he achieve? In this book, the two leading historians of the Bristol discovery voyages draw on their recent research and new discoveries to tell the story of the voyages of exploration launched from Bristol at this time. The Venetian Zuan Chabotto (John Cabot), lies at the heart of this story. But his three expeditions are set in the context of the discovery enterprises funded and led by Bristol's merchants over many decades. The book is written for the general reader and is richly illustrated to bring the fruits of the University of Bristol's acclaimed Cabot Project to the wider public.

Sample Chapters

Contents page, Introduction and Chapter 4: Cabot book sample (PDF, 1,715kB)

About the Authors

Dr Evan T. Jones is a senior lecturer in economic and social history at the University of Bristol, where he specializes in the maritime history of Bristol in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. He has published on a variety of topics including: trade, shipping, fishing and smuggling. He has been working on the port's discovery voyages since 2002. This interest gradually developed into a major international project, involving colleagues in England, Italy, Canada, the USA and Australia.

Margaret M. Condon is the chief researcher on the Cabot Project. The author of several important articles on the reign of Henry VII, she has long expertise in late medieval administrative history. Now based at the University of Winchester, she has worked with Dr Jones intensively since 2009. Jones and Condon are currently writing a major academic monograph on the Bristol Discovery Voyages, to provide the full account of their research and findings to date.


'A splendid book: clear and attractive to read; I devoured it in one sitting. The  no-nonsense 'myth-busting' element is great and the varied illustrations are lovely. Just what a 'popular history' book should be.'
Wendy R. Childs (Emeritus Professor of Later Medieval History, University of Leeds)
'Considering Cabot’s 1497 voyage to North America has been famous for going on two centuries, we ought to know all about it, but in fact this is the introduction to something more like a detective story, with the research still in progress.  There is probably more to discover; there will certainly be full-scale historical study in due course, but in the meantime this excellent little book will whet all readers’ appetites'
Nicholas Rodger (University of Oxford)
'A highly-readable summary of 'the story so far', with an added mystery that hints at the thrill of the chase in the search for evidence.  The account never strays into the journalistic simplicity but nor does it become over-academic or patronising. Instead, it leaves the reader keen to discover more.' 
Andy King (Senior Curator, Industrial & Maritime History, Bristol Museums)


The book can be bought direct from the University of Bristol online shop both for UK Delivery and Overseas Delivery. It can also be purchased online from The National Archives Bookshop and can be found in a variety of outlets in Bristol, including the Matthew of Bristol, Bristol Archives and the shops of MShed, Bristol Cathedral and St Mary Redcliffe.

Those wishing to purchase copies for onwards sale, or for educational institutions, should contact Dr Evan Jones direct. Heavy discounts are available for multiple purchases, or for schools, universities and public libraries. This book was directly published by the University of Bristol as part of its commitment to Public Engagement. Any profits will be used to fund the research and associated educational activities of the Cabot Project, the authors taking no royalties from the sales. The University account for the book is 'Cabot Project Publications'.

Also available as a free ebook from and the Bristol Record Society.

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