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The general consensus among scholars is that Giovanni da Verrazzano was born in the Val di Greve, south of Florence, Republic of Florence,[1][2][3][4][5] the son of Piero Andrea di Bernardo da Verrazzano and Fiametta Capelli; some alternative theories have been elaborated: e.g., a certain French scholarship assumed that Verrazzano was born in Lyon, France, the son of Alessandro di Bartolommeo da Verrazano and Giovanna Guadagni.[6][7] Whatever the case, Verrazzano always considered himself to be Florentine[8] and was considered a Florentine by his contemporaries as well.[9] He signed documents employing a Latin version of his name, “Janus Verrazanus,†and in his will dated 11 May 1526 in Rouen, France (preserved at the Archives départementales de la Seine-Maritime), he called himself “Jehan de Verrazane.â€[10] Although Verrazzano left a detailed account of his voyages to North America, little is known about his perso nal life. After 1506, he settled in the port of Dieppe, in France, where he began his career as a navigator. Probably in 1508, in the company of captain Thomas Aubert, he embarked for the American coast on a ship called La Pensée, equipped by the shipowner Jean Ango.[11] He explored, possibly during a fishing trip, the region of Newfoundland and possibly the St. Lawrence river in Canada; on other occasions he made numerous voyages to the eastern Mediterranean. In September 1522, the surviving members of Ferdinand Magellan’s crew that circumnavigated the globe returned to Spain. Competition in trade, especially with Portugal, was becoming urgent. Impelled by French merchants and financiers from Lyon and Rouen, who were seeking new trade routes, King Francis I of France, in 1523, asked Verrazzano to make plans to explore an area between Florida and Terranova, the “New Found Land”, for France, with the goal of finding a sea route to the Pacific Ocean. Within months, four ships set sa il due west for the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, but a violent storm and rough seas caused the loss of two ships. The remaining two damaged ships, La Dauphine and La Normande, were forced to return to Brittany.[citation needed] Repairs were completed in the final weeks of 1523, and they set sail again. This time the ships headed south toward calmer waters, which were under dangerous Spanish and Portuguese control. After a stop in Madeira, complications forced La Normande back to home port, but Verrazzano’s ship, La Dauphine, piloted by Antoine de Conflans, departed on January 17, 1524, headed once more for the North American continent.[12] It neared the area of Cape Fear on about March 1 and, after a short stay, reached the Pamlico Sound lagoon of modern North Carolina. In a letter to Francis I, Verrazzano wrote that he was convinced the Sound was the beginning of the Pacific Ocean, from which an access could be gained to China. This report caused one of many errors in the depictio n of North America in contemporary maps. The continent would not be fully mapped for hundreds of years. Verrazzano’s voyage in 1524 Continuing to explore the coast further northwards, Verrazzano and his crew came into contact with Native Americans living on the coast. However, he did not notice the entrances to Chesapeake Bay or the mouth of the Delaware River. In New York Bay, he encountered the Lenape and observed what he deemed to be a large lake, which was in fact the entrance to the Hudson River. He then sailed along Long Island and entered Narragansett Bay, where he received a delegation of Wampanoag. The words “Norman villa” are found on the 1527 map by Visconte Maggiolo identifying the site. The historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote “this occurs at Angouleme (New York) rather than Refugio (Newport). It was probably intended to compliment one of Verrazzano’s noble friends. There are several places called “Normanville” in Normandy, France. The main one is located near Fécamp and another important one near Evreux, which would naturally be it. West of it, conjecturally on the Delaware or New Jersey coast, is a Longa Villa, which Verrazzano certainly named after Francois d’Orleans, duc de Longueville”.[13] He stayed there for two weeks, and then moved northwards, following the coast up to modern Maine, southeastern Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, after which he returned to France by 8 July 1524. Verrazzano named the region he explored Francesca in honor of the French king, but his brother’s map labels it Nova Gallia, “New France”.[14] With financial support from Jean Ango and Philippe de Chabot, Verrazzano arranged a second voyage which departed from Dieppe with four ships early in 1527. One ship was separated from the others in a gale near the Cape Verde Islands, but Verrazzano reached the coast of Brazil with two ships and harvested a cargo of brazilwood before returning to Dieppe in September. The third ship returned later, also with a cargo of brazilw ood.[15] This partial success, although it did not find the desired passage to the Pacific Ocean, inspired Verrazzano’s final voyage, which left Dieppe early in 1528.


 

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