Milan
1497

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1912

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310-341

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'Milan: 1497', Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts in the Archives and Collections of Milan: 1385-1618 (1912), pp. 310-341. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=92279 Date accessed: 01 August 2014.


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1497

1497.
Feb. 10.
520. Henry VII, King of England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan. (fn. 1)
Has received the names of the duke's colleagues and adherents and of those recommended by him.
Westminster, the 10th February, 1496.
[Signed:] Henricus, manu propria.
[Latin.
April 19.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
521. Henry VII, King of England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan. (fn. 2)
Last year we sent to you our esquire and household servant, Antonio Spinula, citizen of Genoa, with certain commissions from us. We have now heard from this Antonio himself that his return to us is only delayed because of certain sums of money due to him in your city of Milan, of which he cannot obtain payment. We therefore earnestly pray your Highness to take this Antonio under your protection and cause justice to be done in his case, compelling his debtors to make full payment without further waste of time, so that he may return to us at the earliest possible moment. By doing this you will afford as the utmost satisfaction, and we shall be ready to do as much and more for you when we are asked.
The Tower of London, the 29th April, 1497.
[Signed:] Henricus, manu propria.
[Latin.]
[1497.
May.]
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
522. Instructions to Don Raymundo de Raymondi of Soncino, ambassador designate to England.
You are going to the King of England so that he may have full knowledge of the affairs of Italy. You can tell his Majesty this in our name after the compliments of the first audience, as we have instructed you in our other commissions, beginning at the beginning of Italy about the King of France telling his Majesty how….
For us you will say that we shall not fail to oppose these evil designs and alarms as much as possible, and knowing the confused state of Italian affairs we are compelled to stand well provided in our own house; and although we are exhausted and weary with the wars sustained for so long in our own state, yet we are bound to stand prepared, maintain our forces and pay them well and we shall always work for the welfare and interests of Italy, in which we shall never grow weary so long as our strength endures.
[Italian; draft.]
1497.
May 25.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
523. Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, to Dom, Battista, his councellor and ambassador.
Messer Baptista. The person we propose to send to England is Messer Raymundo of Soncino, our secretary, and we shall give him general instructions to offer congratulations about the renewed league, for the entry of the king, to thank him for his friendly disposition displayed to the potentates of the most serene league and urge him to persevere by informing him of the state of Italian affairs and the hopes based upon his great qualities and magnanimity, and his high repute with all. We shall not give him any other special instructions, as we do not know what the Most Illustrious Signory will do, but we direct him that in his further steps he must conform to the instructions given to the ambassador of the Signory. You will admonish him on this point, so that he may know what he has to do, may get himself ready and await the commissions we may send to him.
Milan, the 25th May, 1497.
[Signed:] B. Chalcum.
[Endorsed:] Consulto Dom.Baptiste consiliario, et oratori nostro.
[Italian.]
June 2.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
524. Instructions of Dom. Raymundi de Raymundis, about to go to the King of England.
When we learned some months ago that the King of England had entered our league, we had an idea when the news first came from Rome, of sending an ambassador to his Majesty to offer our congratulations, and do what was becoming, especially as we have always esteemed him highly, while he has displayed a very friendly feeling. His lordship and the Signory of Venice had the same idea of sending ambassadors, but circumstances have hitherto prevented the idea from taking shape. Now we all think we must not put off any longer. His lordship has chosen … and we hear from Venice that the Signory have selected the Magnifico Andrea Trivisano, and at least they will send him next Monday. He will travel by Spires, taking the shortest route. We have chosen you, induced by the prudence, loyalty, and affection shown by you in other affairs in which we have employed you. We shall be well pleased if you will start at once and go with the greatest possible speed, joining Andrea Trivisano. You will show him your credentials and tell him the cause of your going, informing him that this is in order that the intimacy which has hitherto existed between the Signory and ourselves in all things may also be demonstrated in this matter, and we have instructed you not only to travel in his company and appear at the Court at the same time, but as arranged between his Signory and us, to proceed with his Majesty in conjunction, both in making the exposition to his Majesty and in the subsequent negotiations concerning the league. So that he may see our commissions, you will show him these instructions, and if he then approves, you will travel together. When you reach the Court you will conduct yourself in going jointly or severally to make the exposition according to his Majesty's pleasure. When presented to his Majesty you will give him our letters of credence and after making the fitting salutations you will congratulate him on the prosperity and happy state in which we hope you will find him, as a thing we desire most highly owing to the affection and esteem we have always borne him. You will then say that we learned some months ago of his Majesty's entrance into our league, which afforded us unspeakable satisfaction as well as all our other allies, chiefly owing to the accession of a most powerful and wise king such as his Majesty, to the great advantage of the league itself and in the interests of universal peace and the welfare of Christendom. Owing to the honour of this and our affection and esteem for his Majesty, we desire to offer our congratulations, though we wished to act jointly with our allies and especially with the Signory of Venice with whom we are absolutely at one. It also seemed good to send viva voce not only the better to express the extent of our pleasure, and to thank his Majesty for entering our league, upon which you will duly enlarge, but also to give public testimony to all of the high value set upon his Majesty. Although with our love and esteem he might expect from us whatever was in our power, yet the bond of this alliance has added enormously to our eagerness for his welfare and exaltation. You will make him the most ample offers, and as a further demonstration of our affection you will remain some time with his Majesty with orders to inform him day by day of what happens through us in matters concerning the league and to advise us of what his Majesty tells you to inform us, as we know that his prudence and friendly disposition to the league cannot fail to produce the works and wise advice that the day requires with the progress of events. As we understand that the king is at war with the King of Scotland, if you find fortune propitious to him in this enterprise, you will congratulate him suitably in our name, but if things go against him you will say nothing to him about it.
This is what you must do at the first audience, adding subsequently, when you have an opportunity, some other things for which you have instructions from us. When you have time to speak to him another day you will say that although we are sure that he has heard from other sources of the present state of affairs in Italy, yet we have thought fit through your means to state what we considered depended upon the league, and worthy of his Majesty's notice. Thus with the intervention of the Venetian ambassador if possible you will inform him that after the arrangement of the peace at Vercelli at the time of the siege of Novara, how the King of France persisted in that seige without a rest and the peace continued thus for more than a year. Meanwhile the King of France demanded other things outside the articles and also tending against the benefit of our league, wherefore we would on no account consent. This led to all the events of last year. He keeps sending troops to Italy and by various messengers and ambassadors he demands the fulfilment of his wishes, making the most liberal offers if we consent. But we have always set the welfare of the league before everything else, and from this it happened that at the beginning of last January the captains of the forces left by the King of France this side the Alps, opened war against our state, invading and taking some of our lands and places, owing to treason. At the same time, to trouble us more, the Cardinal S. Pietro in Vincula and M. Baptistino da Campofregoso, men of the King of France, directed themselves towards Genoa, owing to its great importance to our state, proceeding to Savona with a considerable force, chiefly Gascons and Germans. It is thought that through their partisans they proposed to stir up a tumult in Savona and other places on that coast and then cause a revolt in Genoa, but the strong provisions made by us together with Venice not only prevented the success of their evil design, but when they entered our state of Lombardy they were compelled by fear to abandon the places taken and withdraw to Asti and Astisana, while those who went to Savona, seeing they could effect nothing, returned with no small shame.
While we and the Signory were increasing our army the Cardinal and Messer Baptistino, returned again to Savona with a larger force, and although with the help of the brothers of the Marquis of Finale, who are his enemies, they took some of the marquis's lands, yet ultimately they were driven out by our forces, compelled to abandon the places occupied and retire ignomiously. On the other side the army of the Signory and our own, besides the recovery of the places lost, captured Novi, an important place of M. Baptistino.
While the enemy were waiting to indemnify themselves news arrived from Lyons and from the King of the Romans of the truce made by their Catholic Majesties of Spain with the King of France, including the allies of both sides, allowing the allies of Italy up to the 25th April to enter it, and some days still remain until that date. Though the Duke of Savoy might pursue the war in that interval, at the prayer of the French he proposed an armistice. This was arranged by the Signory and us, the brief space not allowing us to consult the other allies. We did it to show the good disposition of the league towards peace and to show honour to the Duke of Savoy, who deserved it for his behaviour to the league, and so war ceased. Subsequently with the time of the truce news came from our allies that they accepted it, and the French having sent a person of rank and a herald of the Most Christian to our captains to ask if they wished to observe the truce, they answered Yes, and this was published simultaneously on both sides on the 24th April, while some days before they had sent to Spain the mandate of our allies and of King Frederick to accept the truce.
The moment the truce began the armies were dissolved, our frontiers only being well guarded, and at the same time the King of France withdrew his men beyond the Alps except 300 or 400 lancers. News afterwards came from the Sovereigns of Spain of the said truce, with its articles and an intimation that their Majesties had accepted it in the name of all the allies, feeling sure it would be ratified. We have not sent his Majesty a copy of these articles, as we feel sure that their Majesties of Spain will have sent them to him, but we give you a copy to use when necessary. You will add how our allies of Italy and the other lords named in the truce are looking for its observation, through which the Florentines, who persist in their union with the French, have ceased attacking Pisa, but from what we hear there is some doubt about their designs against the Sienese, although these are included in the truce, owing to the favours shown lately by the Sienese to Piero di Medici, when he tried with the help of Bortholomeo da Livano, a chief of the Orsini, to enter Florence, going to the very gates of the city, but being compelled to retreat as you know. For the purpose of acting against the Seines the Florentines have engaged Paulo and Vitellozo Vitelli at a good wage. As this enterprise may kindle a greater fire, our allies of Italy have tried persuasion with the Florentines and have also written to their Majesties of Spain to induce the Florentines to abide by the proper terms.
You may also tell his Majesty that we have lately heard that two barques, a Genoese ship and a ship of King Frederick, laden with grain, when returning to Genoa, have been plundered by French ships, containing French men from the Most Christian's own Court. This has caused a great stir in our city of Genoa, which should be shared by us and our allies if this infringement of the truce be not remedied, as owing to what the Genoese have done for the league, and to keep them well disposed they deserve to be relieved of such misfortunes. We have therefore written to their Majesties of Spain to provide a remedy and our citizens of Genoa are showing great diligence in collecting a fleet to go recover their ships and goods.
Of Naples you will tell his Majesty that King Frederick has it quiet and obedient except some places of the brother of S. Pietro in Vincula and a few others still in rebellion, against which he meant to proceed, but for the truce. We have given you the examples you have received so that you may speak more fully of that kingdom.
Of the coming of the King of the Romans to Italy and the good results therefrom, preventing the King of France from returning and making for the welfare of the kingdom and all Italy, we say no more as you are fully informed, leaving it to your prudence to speak opportunely, not missing any chance that seems favourable to speak of the affection shown to his Imperial Majesty to the league in coming to Italy, exposing his person to danger his promptitude in accepting the truce and the continuance of his excellent disposition, acting with the other allies to induce the King of France to accept a good peace.
This is what you will say at the second and third exposition if you cannot satisfy everything at the second, and you will continue afterwards to inform his Majesty what we write to you, endeavouring to act with the other ambassadors of the allies, in keeping him well disposed towards the league, from which he may hope for glory and exaltation and with his help for the firm establishment of universal peace and the quiet of the Christian faith.
You will maintain a good understanding and friendship with the Venetian ambassador and also with the papal when he arrives, showing diligence in the visits and consultations which take place for the benefit of the league and the honour of his Holiness.
We tell you the same if you chance to find there some representatives of the King of the Romans or their Majesties of Spain, to whom we give you letters of credence.
Milan, the 2nd of June, 1497.
[Italian.]
June 5.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
525. Particular instructions for Dom. Raymundo of Soncino, ambassador designate to England.
It will be your duty to investigate thoroughly the state of that kingdom, to report thereupon, especially their disposition towards the affairs of our league and the King of France, and if there are any dealings between them and what hopes are based thereupon. We trust to your wit and discretion to know what we shall be glad to hear. You will inform yourself diligently so that you may supply the knowledge, and in particular you will examine the views of his Majesty as regards the King of the Romans and how they pursue their affairs in the war against Scotland and what position their affairs are in.
This last November when at Viglevano, we received some very friendly letters from M. Petro Penech, doctor, councillor and royal secretary, and from the Rev. Master, Petro de Bressa, also a secretary. We desire you to visit both with our letters of credence, in a friendly manner to prove how we value their affection, and that we shall not fail to show them the extent of our favour.
Similarly as some who stay at London have displayed a good disposition towards us and have done us a great service in presenting our letters to his Majesty and advising us of the news of that country, when you meet them, you will speak them fair in our name, telling them how much we have appreciated their services.
When the King of the Romans happens to come where you are, or only a day away, we desire you to go to his Majesty with our letters of credence, communicating the reason for your coming and offering your services, always provided that the Venetian ambassador approves, if he is in your company.
We direct you to do the same with the Queen of the Romans, offering if she wants something to do it for her. We also desire you to visit the Cardinal of Canterbury in the most friendly fashion, to show our great esteem for his Eminence.
We give you four blank sheets signed by our first secretary, to use if you have occasion to make any visits besides those indicated.
Milan, the 5th June, 1497.
[Signed:] B. Chalcium.
[Italian.]
[1497.
June.]
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
526. Antonio Spinula, Envoy of the King of England, who returned recently from Rome, writes to the Duke of Milan that he has letters from one of the king's chamber dated at the Tower of London on the 26th June, stating that the commons of of Cornwall have risen because of the money which they have to pay to the aid of the king for the war of Scotland, and they came as far as Blatz, but the king routed them near Greenwich.
That the nobles of England bore themselves so well and loyally and in such great numbers that no King of England ever had so great an army nor any other, from there to Jerusalem.
That the King of France has sent ambassadors to treat for peace between the Kings of England and Scotland.
That the grand master has gone to Scotland by sea with a great army, and with those who are in the country has done great hurt to the Scots, and the king has decided to make a good end to it.
That by letters of the Secretary of the King of England, dated at London on the 27th June, he has the following advises:
That at the end of May there was an insurrection of the people in Cornwall, about 20,000 persons who would not pay the subsidies, and they took up arms against the king's council.
That all the nobles and gentlemen of the realm, in very great force, hastened to the defence of the king and council and fought the rebels on the 17th June, four miles from London.
That the troops with the king numbered 45,000 persons, and before the king had approached within two miles of the enemy, the first part of his army had routed the rebels, both of whose leaders they took, a common man, a smith, and Lord Anelei, brother of the Bishop of [Hereford], who were speedily executed. (fn. 3)
That they do not … of anything except against Scotland.
That the King of Scotland entered England in person last week with a great power, but immediately he heard that the grand master of the king's household, M. de Broch, had gone by sea with a fleet of 70 ships and had entered Scotland far up and was doing great hurt, the king forthwith returned to Scotland with all his power.
That there are two ambassadors from the King of France to negotiate peace between these kings.
[Italian.]
July 10.
Somarii.
Milan
Archives.
527. Summary of letters of the Chancellor resident with his Imperial Majesty. Letter of the 10th July in Euessen.
How his Imperial Majesty by letters and a post from the archduke his son has received word that the people of England have in great part taken up arms against their king with the favour of the King of Scotland and the Duke of York, and his Majesty has fled from London in terror. The reason is because the people want the king to render account of his money. He stripped the kingdom to make war on France, and they want the king to hand over to their direction four of the leading men at his Court. The queen has withdrawn to the Tower of London where the treasure is and which is strongly guarded, because the people want the treasure in their hands for their common benefit.
[Italian.]
July 12.
Somarii.
Milan
Archives.
528. Letter of the 12th ex faucibus montium.
How his Imperial Majesty agrees with the Duke of Milan that they must not let Gimello pass.
How his Imperial Majesty is still resolved not to send fresh ambassadors for a treaty of peace, but will send instructions to Messer Lupiano which he is about to despatch.
How his Imperial Majesty is still resolved to withdraw to himself the difference between the Marquises of Monferrat and Finale and will write to both and to S. Constantino.
[Italian.]
1497.
July 19.
Carteggio
Generale.
Milan
Archives.
529. Exemplum litterarum Domini Raymondi de Raimondis.
His Imperial Majesty informed Messer Andrea Trivisano and me at Fresen that we should find in Brabant that Duke Albert of Saxony had equipped an imperial ambassador, who would go secretly to England, and do the same things as we should. We therefore made enquiries at Malines, and by joint letters begged Duke Albert to send this envoy. He replied that his Majesty had given him no commission to do such a thing, and so we leave Antwerp to-morrow without this envoy, and shall arrive in England when it may please God.
Antwerp, the 19th July, 1497.
[Italian.]
Aug. 5.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
530. Reymundtus de Soncino, Milanese Ambassador to England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
On the 22nd ult. we reached Bruges, and there being a report that the French had at certain times broken the road on the territory of the archduke near Calais, the Venetian ambassador thought it would be better not to go that way until the King of England had ordered his captain of Calais to send a force to meet us. We received word yesterday from M. Pietro Contarini that provision had been made for every thing. We shall leave to-day to continue our journey.
By letters of M. Pietro and many others we learn that his Majesty is 50 miles beyond London towards Scotland, to prevent the White Rose from taking root, and I gather that our coming is desired by his Majesty. Those affairs are in great travail, and will not be brought to an end quickly in the usual way, because the said monarch is most powerful, although they say that the White Rose has a strong footing in Scotland, because he has taken to wife the daughter of the first nobleman of that most fortunate realm (et quelle cose sono in gran travalio, et quale non prendera termine presto al usato perche la prefata Maesta è potentissima si ben se dica et Rosa biancha ha gran piede in Scotia per la donna che l'ha tolto filia del primo Signore de quello Regno felicissimo.) Long live your Excellency, to whom I humbly commend myself.
Bruges, the 5th August, 1497.
In duplicate.
Endorsed:
Illmo. ac Exmo. Principi et Dom. meo colenmo. Dom. Duci Mediolani.
[Italian.]
Aug. 10.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
531. Raimundus of Soncino, Milanese Ambassador to England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
On the 8th inst. we safely reached Calais, accompanied by his Majesty's soldiers and cordially welcomed by the royal officials. Although M. Andrea Trivisano and I wished to proceed immediately, yet the captain told us that he had sent to see if there were any vessels of ill repute about these shores, and if they brought word on their return that the passage was safe, he would let us go, well accompanied by two good ships with tops. To-day, the feast of St. Laurence, the captain has honoured us with a magnificent banquet. We do not expect to cross before the 14th inst.
Calais, the 10th August, 1497.
[Italian.]
Aug. 11.
Potenze
Estere.
Germania.
Milan
Archives.
532. Sanctus Brascha, Milanese Ambassador in Germany, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
I have seen letters from Antwerp of the 29th ult. which report that in England the ministers of the tin mines had gone to London, and proceeding from town to town raised as many as 20,000 of the people against the king, who had not half as many. Ultimately his Majesty routed them, slaying about a thousand, and had the three ringleaders beheaded. In spite of this defeat, the people so roused are trying to arm again with the support of the King of Scotland and King Edward's son.
Innsbruck, the 11th August, 1497.
[Italian.]
Aug. 13.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
533. Giovanni de Bubulcho to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan. (fn. 4)
Yesterday evening I had a letter from Antwerp of the 29th July, in which is a paragraph which your Excellency will see below.
There is nothing new here. The King of England was to leave yesterday to go towards Scotland with a great power. The King of Scotland with the Duke of York is understood to be strong and some say that he has already entered England. Nothing certain is known, but some great crash will take place before a month is out. God help the right, I say no more. If I hear anything more I will inform your Excellency.
From home, the 13th August, 1497.
[Italian; copy.]
Aug. 21.
Potenze
Estere.
Germania.
Milan
Archives.
534. Sanctus Brascha, Milanese Ambassador in Germany, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
Yesterday morning after mass five of us ambassadors went to ask a time for audience. He received us after supper. He spoke very honourably of your Excellency, expressing his appreciation of your sincerity at a time when it is impossible to trust the peoples with their natural lust for change and something new. He instanced the English with whom just now three ragged blacksmiths (fabri di scalzi) have dared to seduce the people and raise them in arms against their king, and told us a part of what he heard from England.
Innsbruck, the 21st August, 1497.
[Italian.]
[1497.]
Aug. 24.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
535. News received from England this morning by letters dated the 24th August. (fn. 5)
First of all, by God's grace, the king and the whole Court were in good condition, and on the 17th August were at a place called Woodstock, fifty miles from London, where it is said they would reside until Michaelmas, more or less according to circumstances. That in that place on the 14th July, there had been firmly concluded and published the marriage of the daughter of the King of Spain to the eldest son of the King of England, and she was to come over next spring. That the King of Scotland with his whole army, accompanied by the individual who styles himself the Duke of York, had been besieging a place in England on the seashore, and King Henry had sent his forces, numbering 40,000 men, by sea and land to give battle. So they fought and many fell on both sides, the King of Scotland being put to flight, abandoning all his artillery; but as the matter is very recent, the writer was unable to learn the numbers of the slain. The English were pursuing the Scots and following up the victory, The truth would soon be heard and he would then write to his Excellency.
Also that Monsignor de Deber and two other captains who lately rebelled against the king had been beheaded and quartered in the city of London on the 28th of June, many others being put to death, so that his dominion may be considered much strengthened and permanent.
Also some months ago his Majesty sent out a Venetian, who is a very good mariner, and has good skill in discovering new islands, and he has returned safe, and has found two very large and fertile new islands. He has also discovered the seven cities, 400 leagues from England, on the western passage. This next spring his Majesty means to send him with fifteen or twenty ships.
Also the kingdom of England has never for many years been so obedient to its sovereign as it is at present to his Majesty the King.
[Italian.]
Aug. 24.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
536. Raimondo de Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
We remained at Calais from the 8th to the 23rd inst., partly because the royal magistrates are accustomed to detain every ambassador until his Majesty is advised and has replied and ordained what he desires, and partly because after we had learned the royal will we had to await favourable weather, which has been contrary for many days. Yesterday we came safely to the island, and there the magistrates were very cordial, as they were at Calais, making every favourable demonstration to us. I hear that two noblemen are coming to meet us as far as St. Thomas of Canterbury, one an ecclesiastic, the other a layman. I think that we shall stay at London, because I hear that his Majesty has left the army and gone to Oxford on his way to London, though I am not sure of this.
Dover (Doble) the 24th August, 1497.
[Italian.]
Aug. 30.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
537. Raimondo de Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
From Dover I advised your Eminence of our arrival in the island, and that two nobles, an ecclesiastic and a layman were to take us to London. We arrived there on the 26th inst. very well accompanied. To-day his Majesty has sent word for us to be ready on Friday to go to Oxford, five miles from where he is and whence he will send to give us audience. Accordingly we shall go and the Reverend Master, Antonio de Carbonariis, will accompany us, out of the reverence which he bears for your Eminence. I shall never cease to take his advice and council as much as possible. It is most fortunate that he had written as otherwise I should have been unprepared, especially as I am still without letters from your Eminence, and should have done little less than he is doing.
London, the 30th August, 1497.
[Italian.]
Sept. 5.
Carteggio
Generale.
Milan
Archives.
538. Stefano Taberna, Milanese Ambassador at Rome, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
The Venetian ambassador told me he had letters from the Signory instructing him to beg the pope to send to his ambassador in England and to proceed against the King of France by censure and interdict.
Rome, the 5th September, 1497.
[Italian.]
Sept. 8.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
539. Raimondo de' Raimondi of Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
Since I left Milan I have written to your Excellency two letters from Fresen, two from Antwerp, one from Bruges, one from Calais, one from Dover and the last from London.
On the 1st inst. accompanied by the same two lords, one ecclesiastic and one lay, who had brought us to London, we set out for Adiscot, fifty miles from London, where his Majesty is accustomed to spend the summer for hunting. On the 2nd we were taken to Oxford, a place for general study, and the Venetian ambassador was lodged in one of the colleges for the students and I in another. On the morrow we were fetched to go to the royal quarters, seven miles from Oxford. When we were a mile off the Bishop of London and the Duke of Suffolk came to meet us and received us with a little Latin speech on the part of the bishop. We went to the royal quarters, where they took us into a room to rest awhile, and then the same lords and others took us into the royal presence. The king was standing and remained so until our departure. The royal seat was adorned with cloth of gold, and besides the multitude of nobles and gentlemen, six bishops, the Cardinal of Canterbury and the Spanish ambassador were also present. There also was the king's eldest son Arthur, Prince of Wales, about eleven years of age, but taller than his years would warrant, of remarkable beauty and grace and very ready in speaking Latin (de singulare belleza et gratia et promptissimo in parlare latino.) His Majesty, in addition to his wonderful presence, was adorned with a most rich collar, full of great pearls and many other jewels, in four rows, and in his bonnet he had a pear-shaped pearl, which seemed to me something most rich.
After we had presented our letters of credence and received permission to speak, Messer Andrea Trivisano made an elegant oration, agreeable to his hearers, with honourable mention of your lordship and the allied powers. After he had done, I also said a few words according to the instructions given me about what I was to say, also mentioning the allied powers with honour, in the first audience, speaking with respect of the Venetian Signory. As the marriage with Spain was already announced, I said that I was sure your Excellency was extraordinarily delighted to hear of the conclusion of something so much desired. I offered my congratulations, referring to the sovereigns of Spain with due respect. After we had kissed the hands of his Majesty and the prince and had a brief and familiar talk, we were taken to dine. After a space his Majesty sent for us to a chamber, in which there were only the cardinal and two other ecclesiastics. He gave us leave to speak and Messer Andrea Trivisano set forth the state of Italian affairs according to the instructions of the Signory and your Excellency, as we had shown each other our instructions. If in certain places Messer Andrea or I thought that I should say something, I spoke, with Messer Andrea's good will, and among other things we tried to speak so that his Majesty should understand that we two were as united as are his Senate and your Excellency.
Your lordship has heard from many of this king's wisdom and ways. I can testify to this, and need add no more. He speaks French, but in such a way that every one can understand, and above all he evidently has a most quiet spirit (mostra havere l'animo quietissimo.) He told us that he rejoiced at the good fortune of the league, the more because the affairs of Italy had steadily prospered since he entered. He informed us with great modesty of his victory over the Scots. He said he wished us to return to London, where we should be more comfortable than at Oxford.
We afterwards went to visit the queen, to whom Messer Andrea presented a letter of credence from the Signory, and I presented one given me by our queen in Fresen. After paying our respects and taking leave of the prince also, who was present, we returned to Oxford, where we were lavishly entertained that evening and the following day by the royal command and then taken back to London, whence we shall not depart for some time unless other orders reach us, because his Majesty will return at Michaelmas and will remain for the whole of the winter.
London, the 8th September, 1497.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 8.
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540. Raimondo de' Raimondi de Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
In many things I know the king here to be most wise, but above all because he is most thoroughly acquainted with the affairs of Italy, and receives especial information of every event. He is no less conversant with your own personal attributes and those of your duchy than the King of France; and when the King of France went into Italy the King of England sent with him a herald of his called Richmond, a wise man who saw everything, until the king's return. Then the merchants, more especially the Florentines, never cease giving the long advices.
Besides this his Majesty has notable men in Rome, such as Master Giovanni Zilio, a Lucchese, and Master Adrian, clerk of the chamber, who have received benefices and been enriched by him so that we have told him nothing new. The courtiers also have a great knowledge of our affairs, so that I could fancy myself at Rome. Accordingly I am of opinion that should it be decided to give any intelligence it would be advisable either to impart it more in detail than the others do, or to be beforehand with them. To this effect the Genoa letter bag will be of good use, but yet more such Florentine merchants as are in your confidence, as their correspondence passes through France without impediment and is but little searched.
The letter of congratulation, dated the 17th July, on the victory gained by the king, came opportunely, though rather late. The victories were two; the first against the Cornishmen, who, some ten thousand in number, took up arms under a blacksmith, declaring that they would not pay the subsidy; the other against the King of Scotland, who raised his camp, not very gloriously, to express myself no less modestly than this most sage king himself did. Another matter also which his Majesty did not tell me, is that the youth, the reputed son of King Edward, has fled incognito, and his wife is said to be a prisoner, so that I consider that this youth called Perkin, has vanished into smoke.
The King of England's dynasty is likewise established through a successor, whom may it please God to preserve, for his virtue deserves it, I allude to the prince, and your Excellency may congratulate the Sovereigns of Spain on so distinguished a son-in-law. The succession will be the more firmly established should the matrimonial alliance take place between Spain and Scotland which I am told is in negotiation, and a Spanish ambassador is even now with the King of Scotland. But even should that marriage not be solemnized, this kingdom is perfectly stable, by reason first of the king's wisdom, whereof everyone stands in awe, and secondly on account of the king's wealth, for I am informed that he has upwards of six millions of gold, and it is said that he puts by annually more than five hundred thousand ducats. This he can accomplish easily, for his revenue is great and real, not merely on paper (non in scriptis), nor does he spend anything.
He garrisons two or three fortresses, contrary to the custom of his predecessors, who garrisoned no place. Besides this, he has neither ordnance nor munitions of war, and his body guard I suppose does not amount to one hundred men, although he is now living in a forest district which is unfortified.
He well knows how to temporise, as proved by him before my arrival in this kingdom, when the French ambassadors wanted to go to Scotland, under pretence of mediating for the peace. He then entertained them magnificently, made them presents and sent them home without ever seeing Scotland; and now he is sending one of his own gentlemen in waiting to France.
The pope is entitled to much praise, for he loves the king cordially, and strengthens his power by ecclesiastical censures, so that at all times rebels are excommunicated. The efficacy of these censures is now felt by the Cornishmen, who are in this trouble that all who eat grain garnered since the rebellion, or drink beer brewed with this year's crops, die as if they had taken poison, and hence it is publicly reported that the king is under the direct protection of Almighty God.
As I wrote from Antwerp, the imperial ambassador and the papal nuncio have not yet arrived. The Spanish ambassador, in my opinion a very able man, alone is here. He gives me very good greeting, possibly from the extravagant compliments paid by me to his sovereigns at our first interview. The Neapolitan ambassador is about to depart. I much regret this as he would have enlightened me vastly, and has done so already to his utmost, As he is passing by Milan, your Excellency will be able to gather information from him about many things.
London, the 8th September, 1497. (fn. 6)
[Italian.]
Sept. 16.
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541. Summary of letter of Messer Raymundo de Raymundis di Soncino, Ducal Ambassador in London, of the 16th September, 1497.
On the 8th September the Duke of York descended upon Cornwall with 80 savage Irishmen, and was received by the Cornishmen, who made a rebellion there last month, which was reported, and although the Lord Chancellor offered him full pardon from his Majesty, yet they did not think it possible that he should be pardoned, but every one judges that this will be the final ruin of the Cornishmen and the end of the Duke of York, because the king with all promptitude had sent troops against them, and it was announced throughout the army that he would go there very speedily in person, and it was considered impossible for him to escape from his hand, and it was thought that the affair would be settled within a month.
It might be that the duke trusted that some of the nobles near Cornwall would move in his favour, but they have all learned to their cost the impossibility of getting out of this country, where owing to the heavy ground (grassi) and the marshes it is difficult to ride in winter, which … this kingdom. In the meantime the Scots are contriving some stroke (qualche fraxela), although we understand that between England and [Scotland] the marshes are so extensive that it would be all but impossible for the Scots to move in the winter, moreover such a movement is not expected in these countries, and the Duke of York, like a desperate man, did not think to drag out the affair at length.
Everything favours the king, especially an immense treasure, and because all the nobles of the realm know the royal wisdom and either fear him or bear him an extraordinary affection (o lo temono o lo amono sopra modo) and not a man of any consideration joins the Duke of York, and the state of the realm is in the hands of the nobles and not of the people.
Nothing revolutionary occurs, except what may be compared to the generation of aerial bodies. Thus some years ago these same Irish took the son of an English barber and announcing that he was of the blood royal, proclaimed him as king, subsequently taking him to England. However, when they encountered the royal army, the Irish all came off badly and the youth was taken. By the royal clemency he is living in the Tower of London, under the very slightest restraint. They say that his Majesty, out of respect for the sacred unction, wants to make a priest of him.
As already reported, letters from the king have reached the Mayor and Council of London with the news that the Duke of York has escaped from Scotland and gone to Ireland. There some Irish lords proposed to apprehend him, but he found some fishermen's vessels, and got away, and together with his wife he has arrived in Cornwall. The king says he has sent the Earl of Vincier, who is near Cornwall, to oppose them, as well as the Lord Chamberlain, and if necessary he will go himself in person. The Londoners do not believe anything that is told them, because when the time comes, his Majesty will make provision for everything. In the meantime they are taking steps that no one shall create any disturbance, and it is practically certain that similar precautions have been taken not only in this city but throughout the whole kingdom.
In London they say that the Duke of York is drawing nigh and that he is bearing three standards, one representing a little boy coming out of the tomb, the second with a little boy coming out of a wolf's mouth, and the third with a red lion. They say that he has about five thousand peasants (villani) with him. It is supposed that these little boys are intended to signify that human wisdom, represented by these same boys, will make things bad for his enemy. In any case the Duke of York will fall into the king's hands, and he cannot possibly escape.
[Italian.]
Sept. 22.
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542. Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, to Dom. Battista, his Councillor and Ambassador.
M. Baptista: We enclose a paragraph from a letter written from England to one of our Milanese merchants, so that you may impart the contents to his lordship as we have done here to his ambassador so that he may be informed of what we know. We also send you a copy of a letter of the Vice-Chancellor, so that you may communicate it to his lordship.
Milan, the 22nd September, 1497.
[Signed:] B. Chalcum.
[Endorsed:] Doctori Dom. Baptiste Consiliario et oratore nostro dilectissimo.
[Italian.]
Sept. 23.
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Milan
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543. Cornelio Stanglia, Milanese Ambassador at Genoa, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
By the enclosed from Messer Antonio Spinula you will see the news brought by the courier recently arrived from England, and how excellent it is. It is believed that by this victory that country will remain long at peace.
Genoa, the 23rd September, 1497.
[Italian.]
Sept. 26.
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544. Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
The Cardinal of Perosa (fn. 7) in the presence of his Holiness read to the ambassadors of the league a paragraph from a letter of the 15th of the King of England. His Eminence said the letter had been written by that king for advantageous matters (per cose beneficiale). The paragraph stated that on the 15th was celebrated the marriage between the king's eldest son and Margaret (sic) daughter of their Catholic Majesties of Spain. That the King of Scotland had gone to besiege a castle; his Majesty sent two of his captains with a most powerful army. When the King of Scotland heard of their coming he raised the siege and disappeared in the direction of Scotland. The captains pursued him and by their means and that of a powerful fleet which he had sent to the coasts of Scotland his Majesty hoped soon to have good news. That the Duke of York, who had taken refuge in those waters with a few ships, would fall into his hands.
Rome, the 26th September, 1497.
[Italian.]
Sept. 30.
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545. Raimondo de' Raimondi of Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
On the 19th inst., by Vadino Gambarana of Saona, I advised your Excellency of the coming of Perkin to this realm and what was the general opinion about it; and on the 25th by way of the Genoese at Bruges, I sent word that Perkin had fled. Now with the arrival of the Venetian packet I will send a detailed account of what has taken place according to the relation of Messer Fra Zoan Antonio de Carbonariis of Milan, who was actually present in the city of Exeter.
On the 6th of this month Perkin landed in Cornwall at a port called Mount St. Michael, with three small ships and about three hundred persons of various nationalities, who had followed him for some time before. As he had so few with him, it is thought that the Cornishmen must have invited him. In fact eight thousand peasants were forthwith in arms with him, although ill disciplined and without any gentlemen, who form the governing class of England (presso li quali gentilhomini e lo stato de Ingliterra).
They proclaimed Perkin as King Richard, and they paid for the victuals with which the communes provided them, as they had done when the Cornishmen were routed at London. They marched towards his Majesty, who did not hear of this movement until the 10th, although it is not more than two hundred miles from Mount St. Michael to Woodstock. Without awaiting the royal command the Earl of Devon, a lord of the county, opposed these people with about 1,500 men, but owing to the multitude of the enemy he withdrew to the city of Exeter. Perkin arrived at that place at the 22nd hour of the 17th of the month, and being refused admission, he began the attack on two of the gates. He burned one, but the earl drove him off with stones, so that at the second hour on the following day Perkin asked for a truce for six hours. This was granted on the understanding that no one of Exeter should be allowed to follow him. The moment the truce was made, Perkin departed and went to a village called Minet, ten miles from Exeter, where he passed the night. On the 19th he came to another good village called Tanton, twenty-four miles from Exeter, and stayed there until the 21st. During this time he issued some orders. Among other things he published certain apostolic bulls affirming that he was the son of King Edward and that he meant to coin money and to give money to all.
In the meantime his Majesty had sent the Lord Chamberlain against him with a good number of men, and announced that he would pardon all who laid down their arms. Accordingly the numbers with Perkin constantly lessened. He began to declare that he had a close understanding with some lords of the realm. As the bridges on the straight road were cut, he proposed to turn somewhat to the right and take another way. Subsequently at the fourth hour of the night, he silently departed from the camp with some ten persons and at dawn the next morning the unfortunate Cornishmen discovered their plight and took to flight, to such an extent that by the third hour of the day not one as left in Taunton.
His Majesty had already assembled an army of 30,000 men, and still kept increasing his forces; but this Fra Zuan Antonio went with all speed to Woodstock and brought word of everything. Accordingly his Majesty dismissed all his army except 6,000 men, with whom he himself is going into Cornwall. Including the Chamberlain's forces he will have 10,000 men, and it will be the holy oil of the Cornishmen. God grant it be not the same for others also, as they have taken Perkin's chests, and these will probably have papers inside, although we have not heard anything.
As I have already written to your Excellency, this movement was considered puerile by everybody, and the Cardinal, whom I visit frequently, had no other fear except that the man would escape, as he has done. Although I have tried hard to gather from the Cardinal who it is that supports Perkin, I have not succeeded. He only mentioned the King of Scotland and the old Duchess Margaret of Burgundy, King Edward's sister, who has at times written to the Cardinal recommending Perkin as the son of King Edward, by whom the Cardinal was raised up. The Cardinal replied: But indeed he is not reputed the son of King Edward in this kingdom.
Accordingly I repeat that this present state is most stable, even for the king's descendants, since there is no one who aspires to the Crown. With concord at home they have no occasion to fear and nothing to do with any foreigner, especially as his Majesty has a very great treasure, which increases daily. What I wrote about the captivity of Perkin's wife was not correct, and I do not believe that she ever left Scotland.
I am assured that they are negotiating for that marriage between Spain and the King of Scotland, and I believe that the king here desires it. I have received a letter from your Excellency written on the 6th August directing me to ascertain the facts about certain advices sent by Messer Antonio Spinula about English affairs. Although I have written practically the same thing by the courier Filippo, yet I am writing the reply in the margin of those advices.
I do not know what to say to the lords here about Italian affairs, because I have never had any letters from your Excellency, and yet the Venetian ambassador has already had three advices from his Signory. Although, owing to his kindness, I hear everything before he sends it to the king, yet I should wish to have similar things from your Excellency, and you can write to me frequently by the packet of Genoa and of Venice, by way of Turin or the Florentines, so as to maintain the reputation of your Excellency during the time of my stay here.
London, the 30th September, 1497.
[Italian.]
Sept. 30.
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546. Summary of letters of Messer Raymondo at London, the 30th September, 1497.
Sends copy of a letter written by the King of England to the ambassador of their Catholic Majesties of Spain resident there, signed with the king's own hand.
Henricus dei gratia Rex Anglie et Francie ac dominus Hibernie insigni vero domino Roderico Gondisalvi doctori de Puebla, serenissimorum regis et Regine hispaniarum etc. oratori clarissimo nostroque plurimum dilecto salutem et prosperitatem.
Significamus vobis certam notitiam nos habere ubi Perikinus consistat et amplius eum esse in hujusmodi loco ut ad nostrorum requisitionem teneatur et a nostris servientibus custodiatur quam primum ad nos venturus. Hoc factum iccirco voluimus vobis declarare quomodo non dubitamus id vobis fore vehementer gratum, non dubitamus quin rem ipsam magnificis oratoribus Venetiarum et Mediolani demonstrabitis quos non dubitamus pereque gavisuros.
Ex oppido nostro Succestrie xxx die Septembris, 1497.
[Italian; copy.]
[Sept.]
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547. Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, to Reymundo De Soncino, his Ambassador in England.
We have received two of yours of the 8th and 10th August. The former is a duplicate, but we have not received the original. There is nothing to answer to them, except to commend what you have written. We have written some days ago to Philippo the courier to come to us, and we have sent you letters of change. We again repeat, go, as we need your person in the matter begun by your hand.
[Italian; draft.]
1496.
Oct. 21.
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548. Raimondo de Raimondi de Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
By the enclosed extract your Excellency will have full information about the end of Perkin. However, I will also relate what was told me by the royal herald Richmond, who is a man of wit and discretion. When Perkin fled from Tanton, in the company of John Aeron, sometime a merchant of London, and two other English gentlemen, he came to an abbey called Diodle, where there is a noble franchise with a circuit of thirty miles and touching the coast. The abbot of this place happened to know the said John and the two gentlemen, and sent word to his Majesty about them, feeling sure that the youth must be with them, as indeed he was. Some of the Royal Council went thither, and came to the following arrangement with John and his fellows, to wit, that John should go to his Majesty and either bring back a pardon for himself and his companions, or should be put back into sanctuary, while in the meantime the two companions should stay behind and guard the youth, so that he should not escape, despite the fact that about the franchise, especially on the sea side there were so many royal guards that not one of them could get away.
John, who swore to the king that he had never known Perkin except as Richard II, son of King Edward, returned with the offer (faculta) of a pardon to the young man if he would go to the king's presence. The youth agreed to go, and renounced the franchise into the abbot's hands. He put aside the habit in which he had disguised himself in this place, and clothing himself in gold, he set out with some of the king's men, among whom was this Richmond. He tells me that the young man is not handsome, indeed his left eye rather lacks lustre, but he is intelligent and well spoken (dice chel giovane non e bello anzi locchio senestro e senza uno poco de strambo ma e ingenioso et ben parlante.)
The young man was brought into the royal presence, where many nobles of the realm were assembled, some of whom had been companion of Richard, Duke of York. He kneeled down and asked for mercy. The king bade him rise and then spoke as follows: We have heard that you call yourself Richard, son of King Edward. In this place are some who were companions of that lord, look and see if you recognise them. The young man answered that he knew none of them, he was not Richard, he had never come to England except that once, and he had been induced by the English and Irish to commit this fraud, and to learn English. For quite two years he had longed to escape from these troubles, but Fortune had not allowed him (fu condotto a la presenza regia dove se ritrovavano multi signori del Regno et alcuni de quelli che furono compagni de Ricardo Duca de Occhi, et inzenochiato domando misericordia. El Re lo fece levare poi disse in questa sentenza. Havemo inteso che se chiami Ricardo filiolo del Re Eduardo; in questo loco sono de quelli chi erano compagni de quello Segnore, guardi se tu cognosci. Et lui rispose chel non cognosceva alcuno ne era Ricardo ne mai venuto in Inghilterra se non quella volta et che era stato indutto da Inglesi et da Ibernici ad fare questa falsita et imparare Inglese. Et gia dui anni ha desiderato uscire de travalii ma non li e stato permesso da la fortuna.)
Richmond was not present at this interview, at which there were none besides princes, but I believe it all, because he is a wise man, and because he showed me a sheet, written in French, signed in a different hand thus “Per Pero Osbek,” which he says is in Perkin's hand, in which he names his father and mother, his grand parents on both sides, his native city of Tournay, his parish, his schoolmasters, the places where he was brought up and to which he has been up to the present time. Many other similar sheets have been made, to be sent, so I take it, to various places.
I asked Richmond whether those who led (hanno governato) this young man thought that he was the Duke of York, or if they knew he was not. He told me that Perkin had informed the king that of the three English who were with him at the franchise, two thought he was the duke, but John Aeron knew that he was an impostor. As it thus appears that John lied to the king he has been arrested by a person who has recently come from the king.
The King of Scotland, Perkin's father-in-law, and the King of the Romans, have been taken in. Madame Margaret of Burgundy knew all, according to what this one says. The Most Christian King a long time ago had been put right as to the truth of the matter, and he wrote a letter to the king here saying it was quite clear that Perkin was a burgess of Tournay. Nevertheless Perkin deposes that the last French ambassador in Scotland advised him, Perkin, to go to France, with the promise of an ample safe conduct and of a yearly pension of 12,000 franks. But either the English or the others who have supported Perkin have allowed him to come to want, as they found no more than ten crowns at the franchise.
I asked Richmond if Perkin would escape with his life. He told me that he would, but it was necessary to guard him well, in order that the men of Cornwall may not murder him, as they are incensed since they have learned from the king that they have been worshipping a low born foreigner as their sovereign (era necessario guardarlo bene adeo che Cornualiesi non lo amazeno perche represi dal Re che habiano adorato uno plebeio alienigena per Re, mostrano rabia.)
The king here is most clement and pardons everybody, even the common people of Cornwall, although if he wished to do strict justice he would have to put to death more than 20,000 men. I think it most likely that the heads will be headless.
To-morrow or the day after this Richmond is to cross the sea to go to the Court of the Most Christian King, where he will stay until he is recalled, and within a few days three of the king's men will be in France, the chamberlain and the doctor, who are there, so they say, about the reprisals, and this herald, who is worth two doctors.
There is nothing remarkable about his Majesty having various persons in one place, because he is cautious and reflects deeply over all his proceedings, although from this time forward he is perfectly secure against Fortune, and has no one else to fear, while his treasure will remain like the leaven.
It is said that immediately after All Saints his Majesty will come to give audience to the Scottish embassy. The queen has already arrived; the ambassadors of Spain and Venice and I went to meet her. The Venetian ambassador considers that the king is coming late, because he has to treat about some new duty laid upon Malmsey wine entering this kingdom, as a set off against the equivalent duty imposed by the Venetians upon foreigners, who wish to take away Malmsey from Crete. I doubt he will effect nothing, unless everything is left as it was originally. It is also feared that this negotiation will prove superfluous for this year. Thus they say that the ship ‘Tiepola’ which has come laden with Malmsey, has arrived at an unlucky time. Some, however, still cherish hopes; but the German merchants of London have room for none, for news has reached them that on the 14th of September ninety of their ships were wrecked on the coast of Iceland, which were coming to this kingdom with very rich cargoes. It is said that some three thousand dead bodies have come to land.
I cannot adequately express to your Excellency the kindness of the Genoese merchants here, who do their utmost to honour your lordship in my person.
I beg your Excellency to see that the benefices which you have granted me are mine every time they fall vacant, although I am absent. The parish church of Galignano, diocese of Cremona, three miles from Soncino, is not the first canonry of Piacenza and the first of San Stefano of Milan.
London, the 21st October, 1497.
[Italian.]
1497.
Nov. 27.
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549. Raimundus de Raymundis de Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
In a few days I have received three of your Excellency's letters of the 25th September by a Venetian courier, and of the 18th and 25th October by the packet of Genoa. I forthwith informed his Majesty of the capture of Salerno. His Majesty came to London on the 22nd inst. and on the following day the Venetian ambassador and I went to see him, offering congratulations upon the complete pacification of the kingdom. He replied most benignly, as is his nature. On the 25th we were summoned by his Majesty to be present at the reception of the Scotch ambassador, who has come with 30 horses and has presented his credentials. He wished to speak in secret. I do not know what was said, but he brought the ratification not of the peace but of a truce for seven years. However, before this ambassador leaves I believe he will have instructions for a perpetual peace. As this ambassador and I were companions in the same house I saw the original ratification of the articles come from Scotland, and as the king here has mentioned as his Italian allies his Holiness, Naples, Venice, Milan and Ferrara, that king has not named any Italian except your Excellency. At this same reception the Spanish ambassador resident here was also present, and we three were all on one side; on the other was the French ambassador, a soldier as I have already written. Although the Spanish ambassador resident with the King of Scotland has come in the company of the Scotch ambassador, he has not said anything under the credence of the Scotch ambassador despite the fact that the articles state that the truce is made by the intervention of their Majesties of Spain and though they say that the Spanish marriage with Scotland will take place.
At the conclusion of the audience we accompanied his Majesty to the chamber, and he thanked us for our pains in showing him honour recently. The Venetian ambassador told him that some one was leaving for Venice if he wished to send anything to the Signory or I to your Excellency. As I was leaving, in the same chamber, they showed me Perkin, the false duke who fared so ill. He did not seem to care for us to speak to him. (Nel partire in la medesima camera me fu monstrato Perechino el non duca de cativa prosperita et monstra havere ingenio pur non li parlassemo.) In a few days I will write my views about him.
The royal chamberlain who went to France has returned, but the doctor and the herald have stayed.
London, the 27th November, 1497.
[Italian.]
Dec. 6.
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550. Raimondo di Raimondi de Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
On the 27th ult. I wrote of current events by a Venetian courier, and I did not send word about a matter upon which your Excellency desires fuller information before the king had given his first audience to the Scotch ambassador. The Venetian ambassador and I accompanied his Majesty to the chamber and after he had drawn us aside, together with the Spanish ambassador resident here, he remarked among other things that one of his chamberlains had recently come from France, who said there was a general report at that Court that the King of France proposed to make another expedition against Italy. The Venetian ambassador made signs to him that the French ambassador was in the room and not far from me. For this reason I made a suitable reply and await a better opportunity.
It happened that on the day after the audience, which was on the 26th, the packet of Genoa arrived with a letter from your Excellency announcing the taking of Salerno. As the said ambassador thought that we should not miss this opportunity on the 29th we went together as we do habitually to his Majesty. After mutual congratulations about Salerno, the Venetian ambassador repeated what his Majesty had said about a French expedition against Italy. He first pointed out that the Signory and your Excellency with the help of the other allies were prepared to show your faces to the French and more gallantly just now than usual, as the Prince of Salerno, head of the Neapolitan rebellion, had been driven out. He said however that war is uncertain and if Fortune is unfavourable to Italy French ambition will grow and they will want to rule everywhere. He therefore besought his Majesty, as a most noble member of the league, to consider well what might be advisable in such case.
The king praised the ambassador's prudence, but said it was not necessary to think of such eventualities, as although his servant had brought this report it was not possible that the French king from choice should take up war against so many powers as his Holiness, the King of the Romans, the sovereigns of Spain, the Most Illustrious Signory and your Excellency, who had a superabundance of prudence and power. The ambassador, who had come for the purpose, rejoined that Reason would argue against the French showing such audacity, but considering their lust for lordship and the scant consideration they have shown to the late truce we must presuppose that they will do what they can to invade Italy. In such case his Majesty should direct his wisdom to consider the common danger and think of such remedies and provisions as occurred to him. In my opinion the ambassador said all that could be desired in such a case and so I simply confirmed his words, reminding his Majesty that from the first I had performed a similar embassy in the name of your Excellency.
His Majesty then remarked that of all the allies none was so far from Italy as he and it behoved the others to think of provision; but as one of the allies he said that in his opinion either all Italy must be conquered, in which case he felt assured that the French king would not venture to attack Italy owing to the great wealth of Venice and the power of your lordship, or that they ought to seek some way of peace. The ambassador said that his Highness must be aware that neither the Signory nor your Excellency had left a stone unturned to unite Italy and they had not succeeded. If the wealth of Venice and the power of your Excellency were great, the wealth and power of his Majesty were greater, magnifying the fortune of this realm as was requisite and also true. If his Majesty was far from Italy he was very near to France and the sovereigns of Spain had made every effort for peace and all in vain, so that more was required than what his Majesty had mentioned.
When the king asked the ambassador what he thought he should do, the ambassador replied that he could not say, but he remembered having read that when Hannibal was in Italy the Romans began war in Africa as a diversion. Then the king smiled and said: You must consider that we are not bound by the articles to anything, and that this kingdom and state has been troubled for a long while, and has suffered very grievously quite recently in the war with Scotland. At the present moment we are enjoying a good peace and a good alliance with the King of France, in such a way that we wish to rest awhile and keep on good terms with our neighbours. He concluded by saying that the union of Italy would be the end of the war (Vui dovesi considerare che non siamo obligati per capituli ad alcuna cosa et che longo tempo questo regno e stato travaliato et ultimo in questa querra de Scotia patito grandissimi desconxi apresso nui siamo in bona pace et bona liga cum lo Re Francese per modo che nui volemo riposare uno tempo et stare bene cum li vicini nostri, concludendo che la unione de Italia saria el fine de la guerra.)
After the king had asked how much money the Signory had lent to the King of Naples, if for a fixed term of repayment, and if the lands pledged would be restored upon repayment, and the ambassador had made a suitable reply, we left his Majesty. The ambassador and I are much astonished at such plain speaking, considering that the nature of this prince required more delay for such a decision. Yet seeing that he is no less good than wise we cannot help praising his candour, seeing he will not put off his allies with words. To tell the truth, his Majesty is right in behaving well to the French, as every year he obtains 5,000 crowns from them, some say for observing the peace made between King Edward and King Louis; others, whom I believe, say that it is because his Majesty, having supplied the Duchess of Britanny with much money, receiving in pledge some fortresses which the King of France afterwards captured, the king here, among other articles, arranged with the French when he went to Picardy, provided that the money lent to the duchess, now Queen of France, should be restored by the payment of 50,000 crowns yearly. The French not only pay this sum to his Majesty, but with his knowledge and consent they give provision to the leading men of the realm, to wit, the Lord Chamberlain, Master Braiset, Master Lovel and as these leading satraps are very rich the provision has to be very large. I hear also that they give to others, but this is not so well established as the case of these three.
Another chamberlain of the king is going to France again called Petito Francesco, a Breton. I do not know the reason, The Scotch ambassador is leaving to-morrow, but is expected to return in three months. I hear that peace has been concluded for the lives of the kings and four months after. The Spanish ambassadors from Scotland will stay here for some days before returning to Scotland, I believe, in order to keep matters in good train, although I consider this unnecessary with his Majesty, who is naturally very devoted to peace, especially with the Scots, against whom he may lose but cannot gain.
I wrote the above yesterday. To-day peace has been honourably proclaimed on the terms described and after a few days a royal ambassador will go to Scotland, I fancy in order to arrange for the ratification of the peace.
Perkin has been made a spectacle for everybody and every day he is led through London, in order that every one may perceive his past error. In my opinion he bears his fortune bravely. (Perechino e fatto spectaculo al mundo et ogni giorno e menato per Londres ad fine che ciascuna intenda lo errore passata et pareme chel comporti la fortuna animosamente).
I beg your Excellency to allow me to enjoy the benefices reserved to me which fall in during my absence.
London, the 6th December, 1497.
[Italian.]
Dec. 8.
Potenze
Estere.
Roma.
Milan
Archives.
551. Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
In the presence of the ambassadors, Gratialas suggested to his Holiness that whereas a truce has been made for seven years between the Kings of England and Scotland, and they have submitted their differences to their Catholic Majesties while the King of England has the Duke of York in his hands and has pacified his kingdom, the league might make use of his forces against the French. He urged the pope to send a capable ambassador to induce the King of England to take up this enterprise, promising him the assistance of his Holiness and a declaration that the provinces of France shall belong to his Majesty, namely, those which the King of England claims.
The pope replied that he approved of the idea of moving the King of England against the French; but they must consider that if he moved he would want financial help from the powers of the Italian league. He told Gratialas that he would write to King Frederick, the Signoria and your Excellency, to learn your opinion.
Rome, the 8th December, 1497.
[Italian.]
Dec. 18.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
552. Raimondo de Raimondi de Soncino, Milanese Ambassador in England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan. (fn. 8)
Perhaps amid the numerous occupations of your Excellency, it may not weary you to hear how his Majesty here has gained a part of Asia, without a stroke of the sword. There is in this kingdom a man of the people, a Venetian, Messer Zoane Caboto by name, of kindly wit and a most expert mariner. Having observed that the sovereigns first of Portugal and then of Spain had occupied unknown islands, he decided to make a similar acquisition for his Majesty. After obtaining patents that the effective ownership of what he might find should be his, though reserving the rights of the Crown, he committed himself to Fortune in a little ship, with eighteen persons. He started from Bristol, a port on the west of this kingdom, passed Ireland, which is still further west, and then bore towards the north, in order to sail to the east, leaving the north on his right hand after some days. After having wandered for some time he at length arrived at the mainland, where he hoisted the royal standard, and took possession for the king here; and after taking certain tokens, he returned (el quale visto che i serenissimi Re primo de Portugallo, poi de Spagna hanno occupato Isole incognite, delibero fare uno simile acquisto per dicta Maesta. Ed impetrato privilegi regii, che l'utile dominio di quanto el trovasse fusse suo, purche lo deritto se reserva a la corona, cum un piccolo navilio et xviii. persone se pose a la fortuna et partitosi da Bristo, porto occidentale de questo regno et passato Ibernia piu occidentale et poi alzatosi verso el septentrione ad navigare a la parte orientale, lassandosi, fra qualchi giorni, la tramontana ad mano drita et havendo assai errato, in fine capitoe in terra ferma, dove posto la bandiera regia, et tolto la possessione per questa Alteza, et preso certi segnali, se ne ritornato).
This Messer Zoane, as a foreigner and a poor man, would not have obtained credence, had it not been that his companions, who are practically all English and from Bristol, testified that he spoke the truth. This Messer Zoane has the description of the world in a map, and also in a solid sphere, which he has made, and shows where he has been. In going towards the east he passed far beyond the country of the Tanais. They say that the land is excellent and temperate, and they believe that Brazil wood and silk are native there. They assert that the sea there is swarming with fish, who can be taken not only with the net, but in baskets let down with a stone, so that it sinks in the water. I have heard this Messer Zoane state so much (al ditto Messer Zoane, come alienigena et povero, non saria creduto se li compagni che sono quasi tutti inglesi et da Bristol non testificassero cio che lui dice essere vero. Esso Messer Zoane ha la descriptione del mundo in una carta e anche in una sphere solida che lui ha fatto et demonstra dove e capitato, et andando verso el levante ha passato assai el paese dal Tanais. Et dicono che la terra optima et temperata et estimano che vi nasca el brasilio et le sete, et affirmano che quello mare e coperto di pessi, li quali si prendono non solo cum la rete ma cum le ceste, essendoli alligato uno saxo ad cio che la cesta se impozi in lacqua et questo io lho oldito narrare al dicto Messer Zoane).
These same English, his companions, say that they could bring so many fish that this kingdom would have no further need of Iceland, from which place there comes a very great quantity of the fish called stockfish. But Messer Zoane has his mind set upon even greater things, because he proposes to keep along the coast from the place at which he touched, more and more towards the east, until he reaches an island which he calls Japan, situated in the equinoctial region, where he believes that all the spices of the world have their origin, as well as the jewels. He says that on previous occasions he has been to Mecca, whither spices are borne by caravans from distant countries. When he asked those who brought them what was the place of origin of these spices, they answered. that they did not know, but that other caravans came with this merchandise to their homes from distant countries, and these again said that the goods had been brought to them from other remote regions. He therefore reasons that if the easterns declare to the southerners that these things come from places far away from them, and so on from one to the other, always assuming that the earth is round, it follows as a matter of course that the last of all must take them in the north towards the west (et detti Inglesi, suoi compagni dicono che portarono tanti pessi che questo regno non haveva piu bisogno de Islanda, del quale paese vene una grandissima mercantia de pessi che si chiamanoStochefessi.Ma Messe Zoane ha posto lanimo ad maggior cosa perche pensa da quello loco occupato andarsene sempre a Biva Riva piu verso el levante tanto chel sia al oppos ito de una Isola da lui chiamata Cipango, posta in la regione equinoctiale dove crede che nascano tutte le speciarie del mundo et anche in gioje, et dice che altre volte esso e stato a la Meccha, dove percaravane de lontani paesi sono portate le speciarie, et domandati quelli che li portano, dove nascono ditte speciarie respondono che non sanno, ma che venghono cum questa mercantia da luntani paesi ad casa sua altre caravane, le quali ancora dicono che ad loro sono portate da altre remote regione. Et fa questo argomento, che il se li orientali affermano a li meridionali che queste cose venghono lontano da loro, et cosi da mano in mano, presupposta la rotundita de la terra, e necessario che li ultimi le tolliano al septentrione verso lo occidente).
He tells all this in such a way, and makes everything so plain, that I also feel compelled to believe him. What is much more, his Majesty, who is wise and not prodigal, also gives him some credence, because he is giving him a fairly good provision, since his return, so Messer Zoane himself tells me. Before very long they say that his Majesty will equip some ships, and in addition he will give them all the malefactors, and they will go to that country and form a colony. By means of this they hope to make London a more important mart for spices than Alexandria. The leading men in this enterprise are from Bristol, and great seamen, and now they know where to go, say that the voyage will not take more than a fortnight, if they have good fortune after leaving Ireland.
I have also spoken with a Burgundian, one of Messer Zoane's companions, who corroborates everything. He wants to go back, because the Admiral, which is the name they give to Messer Zoane, has given him an island. He has given another to his barber, a Genoese by birth, and both consider themselves counts, while my lord the Admiral esteems himself at least a prince.
I also believe that some poor Italian friars will go on this voyage, who have the promise of bishoprics. As I have made friends with the Admiral, I might have an archbishopric if I chose to go there, but I have reflected that the benefices which your Excellency reserves for me are safer, and I therefore beg that possession may be given me of those which fall vacant in my absence, and the necessary steps taken so that they may not be taken away from me by others, who have the advantage of being on the spot. Meanwhile I stay on in this country, eating ten or twelve courses at each meal, and spending three hours at table twice every day, for the love of your Excellency, to whom I humbly commend myself (el quale sono redutto in questo paese ad mangiare ogni pasto de x o xii vivande et stare tre hore a tavola per volta ogni giorno due volte per amore de V. Excell. a la quale humilmente me recomando).
London, the 18th December, 1497.
[Italian.]
Dec. 18.
Potenze
Estere.
Inghilterra.
Milan
Archives.
553. Raimondo de Raimondi de Soncesto, Milanese Ambassador in England, to Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.
By a courier, sent by the Venetian ambassador on the 6th inst., I wrote a long speech made by that ambassador to his Majesty. It fell out afterwards that his Majesty summoned both of us on the 14th, and told us he was informed by the Spanish ambassador, that we were not pleased with what he had said to us on the 28th ult., and as we might not have understood him perfectly, he would be glad to repeat his statement. The Venetian ambassador said that he had communicated everything to the Spanish ambassador, as one should with allies, and we were perfectly satisfied with his Majesty, but we should have liked an answer which met our requirements better. He then repeated what the king had said on the former occasion. His Majesty said this was right, and asked for a repetition of the reply, which was given. The ambassador asked me if there was anything else. I remembered something and repeated it, for in substance there was not much to remember, about uniting Italy, seeking peace, his being very remote from Italy and needing rest, and that he had a good peace and league with the French king. His Highness confirmed it all. He then remarked that all these things had been said in the way of argument (per modo di ragionamento). We must not be so concerned about the French king, as he was newly advised from France that this same king had left Molines to return to Amboise and had already put aside all warlike preparations against Italy. (fn. 9) He knew perfectly well that any accession of strength to the French was dangerous to his kingdom, and to avoid such a hurt, he would, if necessary, do more than he was obliged, and than we others imagined. At this point he spoke very graciously, though he did not enter into particulars. And thus, after being received with every sign of friendliness, we took leave of his Majesty.
In my preceding letter I said that we highly admired this prince for so frankly stating what he thought, and this interview has strengthened my opinion, as though the Spanish ambassador, who is most acceptable to his Majesty, brought it about, and all with good intent, yet he did not induce his Highness to change in the least, except to make this gracious addition. In my opinion, inasmuch as this prince is most prudent, and also adorned with every good quality, he deserves a kingdom of men devoted to the Crown, in which case, although he is by nature most pacific, I am certain that he would devote his attention to glorious affairs, and would not suffer the French to boast with impunity of having so disgracefully suborned this imaginary enemy against him for so long. But the English are more restless than any people of Italy, quamvis in camo et freno maxille eorum constricte sunt. For this reason the affairs of Scotland are more formidable to the kingdom than they would otherwise be; and although the peace has been made, yet the king there is no more than twenty-six years of age and very spirited, and the Scots, who have nothing to lose, are always willing for a war with England (al pare mio detto principe secundo chi e prudentissimo cosi e ornatissimo di ogni bono costume et mereteria uno regno di homini devoti a la corona; nel qual caso sono certo quantunche di naturia sua el sia quietissimo chel attendeva ad cose gloriose ne pateria che Francesi se gloriassero de haverli cosi licentiosamente subornato questo inimico imaginario tanto tempo, ma Inglesi sono novitosi piu che alcuno populo de Italia, quamvis in camo et freno maxille eorum constricte sunt. Et per tale causa le cose de Scotia sono piu formidabile al regno che non sariano. Et benche la pace sia fatta pur quello Serenissimo Re non passa xxvi anni et e molto animoso, et Scozesi che non hanno che perdere, sempre vorebono guerra cum Inglesi).
In addition to this there is a French ambassador constantly in Scotland for no good end, from what the Scottish ambassador told me, and although being at peace with his neighbours, he has no one to fear, yet a war might cause mischief more quickly at home than abroad, although there is no one else of the royal blood to be seen either at home or abroad. Accordingly, it seems to me that he thinks he has done enough in pacifying the kingdom; and this treasure of his, which every one supposes to be very great, he has accumulated because he has no one whom he can trust, except the paid men at arms, and I do not think that he will ever spend it outside the kingdom (et secundo che stando in pace cum vicini el non ha da temere alcuno, cosi la guerra potria causare del male piu presto in casa che fora quantunche del altro sangue reale non se ne veda alcuno in lo regno ne fori ne sia al mundo. Unde io estimo che li pare de havere fatto asai de pacificare el regno et questo suo tesoro al judicio de cascuno grandissimo lo ha cumulato perche non se ha da confidare de alcuno se non de le gente darme paghate. Ne credo chel lo spenda mai fora del regno).
The Spanish ambassador, a man much after this king's heart, sometimes throws out a hint that his sovereign might do something if he were assisted with money, but I have never heard a suggestion of this from the king or from his English. If he had to achieve similar results by money, he would need a well of it, because everything costs incomparably more in this kingdom than in any other place, and one cannot spend even for the very smallest thing less than a penny, fifty-two of which go to the ducat (perche ogni cosa senza comparatione costa asai piu in questo regno che in altro loco, ne se po in alcuna minima cosa spendere meno de uno denaro, et ne vanno cinquantadue al ducato).
I understand that when his Majesty crossed to Picardy the passages alone cost 30l. sterling, and a footman, at the very lowest reckoning, cost 8d. a day, and although the English are a warlike race, and feared by the French, yet they require every comfort even in the ardour of war (bencie Inglesi siano homini bellicosi et temuti da Francesi, pur voleno ogni commodita ancora in lardore de la guerra).
Then again this king being most wise, is suspicious of everything, and pretends that in the past he has been taken in, and that others have made peace and benefited their own affairs by leaning on his shoulders. I fully believe that he is a prince to observe ad unguem whatever he promises, but hoc opus hic labor est, and I fancy he will always wish to have peace with France, though I think if he saw her up to her neck in the water, he would put his foot on her head to drown her, but not otherwise (poi questo Re como sapientissimo dubita dogni cosa et pretende per lo passato de essere stato gabato et che altri habiano fatto pace et temperato del suo sotto le spalle sue. Ben credo liberamente chel sia principe per osservare ad unguem quanto el promette ma hoc opus hic labor est, et dubito vora sempre havere pace cum Francia et credo quando li vedesse cum laqua a la gola che li meteria li pedi sul capo per anegarli et non altramente).
There is nothing fresh in this kingdom and I do not believe that there will be while this sovereign lives. He has gone to his pleasance (cusaglio) a place six miles away, where he will celebrate the festivities. They speak of nothing here but of making good cheer.
London, the 18th December, 1497.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Ibid., no. 734.
2 Venetian Calendar, vol. i, no. 738.
3 James Touchet, Lord Audley, who was executed for this rebellion, was the grandson of James Touchet, Lord Audley, father of Edmund Audley, Bishop of Rochester, created Bishop of Hereford in 1492, G.E.C. Complete Peerage, Dict. Nat. Biog.
4 Venetian Calendar, vol. i, no. 747.
5 Venetian Calendar, vol i, no. 750; Mr. E.G. Bourne states incorrectly that this. MS. is no longer extant. The Northmen, Columbus and Cabot, page 424n.
6 Venetian Calendar, vol. i, no. 751.
7 Juan Lopez, Bishop of Perugia and Cardinal.
8 This despatch has been published by C. Barrera Pezzi, in an article for the Ateneo di Milano, 1865–7. A translation is printed by the Hakluyt Society, The Journal of Christopher Columbus etc. ed. Markham, pages 203–6.
9 Charles VIII was at Moulins on the 25th November, but had arrived at Amboise by the 13th December. Lettres de Charles VIII, vol. v, pages 155, 157.


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