Spain and Portugal enjoyed a head start of nearly a century in founding empires of settlement. The northern Atlantic states soon made up for their late start, however. As early as 1497 John Cabot (d. c. 1498) and his son Sebastian, Italians in English service, saw something of the North American coast and gave the English territorial claims based on their explorations.
In the first half of the sixteenth century the explorations of another Italian, Giovanni da Verrazano (c. 1485-1528), and a Frenchman, Jacques Cartier (1491-1554), gave France competing claims, which were reinforced in the early seventeenth century by the detailed exploration of Samuel de Champlain (c. 1570-1635). Dutch claims began with the voyages of Henry Hudson (d. 1611), an Englishman who entered Dutch service in 1609.