Introduction, Part 2

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1862.

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'Introduction, Part 2', Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, (London, 1862), pp. lxxiii-cxlvi. British History Online [accessed 20 June 2024].

. "Introduction, Part 2", in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, (London, 1862) lxxiii-cxlvi. British History Online, accessed June 20, 2024,

. "Introduction, Part 2", Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, (London, 1862). lxxiii-cxlvi. British History Online. Web. 20 June 2024,

In this section


At the time when the treaty of Estaples was concluded, a solemn agreement was entered into, by which Charles promised to pay to Henry the sum of 745,000 crowns in halfyearly instalments of 25,000 livres. There is a great number of receipts still extant. But in political circles it was always suspected that Henry did not receive the money. Ferdinand reproached him with his weakness in not resenting the nonfulfilment of the promises of France. Pedro de Ayala gives very intelligible hints that the receipts were only feigned, and the ostentatious manner in which Henry declared that one instalment had really been sent serves only to confirm the suspicion. In fact we learn, from a document preserved amongst the Cottonian MSS., (fn. 1) that Charles, instead of paying Henry, asked him for money when he was making preparations for his expedition to Italy. Henry showed great unwillingness to comply with this request, and said that the receipt he had sent him, without obtaining the payment, was more advantageous to France than a loan which would have to be immediately repaid. If any doubt still remains, it will be removed by a reference to the treaty concluded after the death of Charles between Henry and Louis XII. The sum then due by France to England is stated to be 745,000 crowns, which is exactly the amount mentioned in the first agreement.

This was not the only payment, however, which Charles had promised to England. He took it upon himself to give large and numerous pensions to English subjects ; and it is most probable that these pensions were always punctually paid whenever they became due. He seems even to have often exceeded his obligations. De Puebla at least more than once complains that he could not prevail with the French party in England, adding that the King of France not only sent fair words, but showed his good will towards the principal subjects of England by "deeds." (fn. 2) The reason which induced Henry to connive at the corruption of his nobles and officers was because he did not wish to be forced by means of the intrigues of other foreign courts with his subjects to enter again into a confederation against France.

It was at that time a general rule for all princes of any importance to have a party of their own in the dominions of other princes whether they were their friends or enemies. Henry VII. had his partisans in France, and it was one of his chief endeavours during the latter years of his reign to form a strong English faction in Spain. Ferdinand was particularly able in finding out means which cost him little, but which gained him devoted friends in foreign countries. We see him, for instance, ordering his viceroy to procure a number of Neapolitan horses and to send them to Genoa as a present to the Genoese nobles. (fn. 3) Marino Georgio, ambassador of the Republic of Venice, was a doctor of law. Ferdinand intended to make him a Spanish knight. As the doctor objected to becoming the member of a military order, he made him Spanish privy counsellor, whilst he still remained Venetian ambassador. Francesco Capello, the well known diplomatist, was ennobled by Ferdinand. When Ferdinand had reconquered the island of Teneriffe, he sent Capello one of the nine petty kings whom he had captured there as a present, in order that the whole of Venice might see how much he honoured her ambassador. Yet even this was not enough. One of the islands discovered by Columbus was made over to Capello. The choice was a curious one ; the gift was the island of the Roses, better known under the designation of the island of the Cannibals. Capello was created Count of the Cannibals, which title was to remain in his family for ever. Where Ferdinand, however, could not expect to buy foreign statesmen with trifles, he sacrificed immense sums of money, the value of which he so well knew. For instance, on a single day, the 16th Dec. 1506, he granted to ten officers and counsellors of the Archduke Philip not less than 7,100 gold ducats yearly as pensions for life. His mode of treating the English was of a much less expensive character. He sent letters, sometimes by the dozen, through his ambassadors, to be distributed amongst English noblemen and the great officers of state. They all resembled each other closely. Ferdinand and Isabella expressed their satisfaction at hearing that the receiver of the letter was such a faithful servant of theirs, and hoped he would continue as he had begun. These letters were generally not even addressed, and it was left to the ambassador to write the direction. De Puebla said they produced great effect It was almost incredible, he added, in what high estimation the English held the most insignificant letter of a foreign prince, and especially of such great princes as the King and Queen of Spain. The only officer of Henry who seems to have received pecuniary rewards from Spain was Petrus Carmelianus, his Latin secretary. He was not an Englishman by birth. The partisanship was carried to such an extent that when the King of Scots and Perkin Warbeck threatened Henry, Ferdinand could dare promise as a special favour that he would instruct the English subjects who were dependent upon him to espouse the royal cause against the Pretender.

Maximilian, King of the Romans, was the only prince who had scarcely ever a party in foreign countries. It is a pity, writes De Puebla, that he not only does not pay the English a single penny, but treats them discourteously.


The King of France had undertaken his expedition to Italy. At first Ferdinand showed not the least jealousy. The expedition appeared to be badly framed, and a great defeat seemed in the eyes of statesmen more probable than a success. But the undertaking of Charles proved against all expectation to be more like a triumphal progress than a war, and Ferdinand saw that his calculations had been entirely false. He was afraid that Charles would render himself master of the whole of Italy, and that the Pope would become his "sacristan."

Pope Alexander the Sixth was a Spaniard by birth, and Ferdinand always called him his "natural," that is to say, a man who had been born his subject. Though he certainly could not pretend to exercise the rights of a sovereign over the Pope, he made a show of patronizing him. There might have been vanity in it. Still the patronage was not entirely devoid of reality, and in certain circumstances gave great power to Ferdinand.

The objects which Ferdinand and Henry respectively entertained, in the year 1495, were the same as they had been in the year 1485, but the manner in which the negotiations were carried on was essentially altered. Ferdinand had seen that he had underrated the character of Henry VII. and found himself obliged to treat him as a captain treats a besieged enemy, endeavouring to cut off his supplies, and to prevent his escape. In order to effect this, he tried to get into his hands all the diplomatic relations between Henry and foreign powers, and make it dependent on himself whether Henry was to be on friendly terms with his neighbours and to be assisted by them, or to be left friendless and exposed to destruction. He succeeded in doing so as far as the negotiations of England with Scotland, with the King of the Romans and the Archduke Philip were concerned, and almost accomplished his design of bringing under his control the relations between England and France. Henry defended himself against the schemes of Ferdinand. He lost ground, but his resistance was so courageous that the conditions offered to him became more advantageous in proportion as the siege was protracted. The contest would have been worthy of two great men, had there not been so much faithlessness in the means of which they made use. At last Henry was reduced to the necessity of entering the league, but its conditions were materially altered in his favour. The clauses, according to which each member of the league was obliged to have a certain number of troops always in readiness, and to attack France when required to do so, were declared not to be binding upon Henry.

The principal means employed by Ferdinand in order to make Henry bow to his will were, on the one hand, the promise to assist him against Perkin Warbeck, if he yielded to his wishes, and, on the other hand, a threat to abandon the cause of Henry if he did not perform what was expected from him. The menaces of Ferdinand were carried so far that De Puebla openly declared to Henry, in the presence of his council, that emperors and kings had been deposed for not obeying the behests of the Pope. If Henry did not accede to the demands of Ferdinand and the Pope a similar fate might be in reserve for him.

When we hear the name of Perkin Warbeck pronounced, we think of a poor impostor and nothing else. But in the days of Henry VII., the person, now designated by that appellation, was generally believed to be the son of King Edward IV. Wherever he was mentioned in whisper or aloud, the idea of rebellion represented itself to the mind of the hearer. The Duchess Margaret acknowleged him as her nephew. The King of the Romans and the Archduke Philip had received him at their courts, and treated him as the rightful heir to the crown of England. Intriguing with English subjects was continually carried on.

Most of the courts of Europe were wavering in their affection to the two parties at that time competitors for the crown of England. The King of the Romans had received Perkin at his court and treated him as the rightful heir. He had promised Warbeck he would make him king. At any rate Henry himself confessed it to the King of France. When the King of the Romans was induced by Ferdinand to send away Perkin, he insisted that a clause in favour of him should be inserted in the treaty of the league. In common with the other members of the league Maximilian was obliged to assist Henry against all aggressors as soon as the King of England had joined that confederacy. Maximilian, however, objected and desired to be exempted from the obligation so far as the Duke of York (Perkin Warbeck) was concerned. Long negotiations were necessary to dissuade him from insisting on this clause.

The King of France treated Henry exactly in the same way as Henry behaved towards him. When the King of England made concessions to the demands of Spain, the King of France made preparations for injuring Henry. If the King of England had made a serious war upon France, there is no doubt that the King of France would have immediately assisted Perkin Warbeck.

Ferdinand seems really to have preferred Henry to the Pretender. Whatever his opinion as to the claims of Henry and Perkin may have been, he had a strong political reason for his preference. Ferdinand and Isabella wanted to make immediate use of England. As a change of dynasty would of necessity occasion great troubles, and England would thereby be rendered quite incapable for a time of undertaking any foreign war, he tried as much as possible to avoid so untoward an occurrence. But that Ferdinand and Isabella were not very zealous partisans is clear from their frequently hinting at depriving Henry of his crown if he did not do their bidding. When the King of England complained that the King of the Romans wished to introduce the clause in favour of the so-called Duke of York into the treaty of alliance, Ferdinand remarked that the King of the Romans was bound in honour not to declare himself an enemy of a person whom he had received into his family circle and treated as a friend.

The neutral position which Henry occupied between Spain and France contributed in a great measure to free him from the danger by which he was threatened. France offered him her services against Perkin in order that he might not be obliged to have recourse to the protection of Spain. Ferdinand assisted Henry with the intention of making use of him against France as soon as the fear of a rebellion in England should have passed away.

Charles sent a paper to England under the seal of his council, in which it was stated, on the authority of a king-at-arms of Portugal, that the so-called Duke of York was the son of a barber. He even promised to send his father and mother for the purpose of giving their evidence. As soon as Ferdinand was informed of this offer, he declared the French testimonies to be worthless, and said that he could send much better witnesses, amongst whom was a knight of the name of Ruy de Sosa, who had been Portuguese ambassador to England in the reign of Edward IV. He had seen the real Duke of York, and would swear that the Pretender was a different person. This offer was repeated, and Queen Isabella had actually a testimonial drawn up by two notaries. But Henry did not like either the French or the Spanish proffers. He did not wish for false witnesses ; it was the Pretender himself that he wanted.

As Perkin Warbeck was then in Scotland, the King of Scots became a very important personage. The question whether Perkin was to be delivered into the hands of Henry, or not depended in the first place upon him. Ferdinand tried to gain influence over the King of Scots. He based his political plans on the vanity of the Scotch, of which he had already had some experience. For, when De Puebla intended to marry James IV. to the illegitimate daughter of Ferdinand instead of the Infanta Juana, the Scotch had boasted they could force the King of France to do whatever they liked. Ferdinand ridiculed their vanity, but was politician enough to avail himself of it. He instructed De Puebla to inform the King of Scots that he should have one of his legitimate daughters as soon as he should have fulfilled his promises and forced France to restore the counties of Roussillon and Cerdaa. On this occasion Ferdinand decided to flatter the vanity of the Scotch by maintaining a standing embassy in Scotland. It was quite a new thing for a great power to have a resident ambassador in Scotland, and the Scotch were delighted with the honour. This was not enough. Although Ferdinand and Isabella, on the 1st of January 1497, had ratified the marriage treaty between the Princess Katharine and the Prince of Wales, they kept the marriage strictly secret, and promised the same princess to the King of Scots. Henry was not quite satisfied. Ferdinand, it is true, declared repeatedly that he only duped the King of Scotland in order to prevent him from assisting the Duke of York. But Henry was not sure who was to be the victim of the false play of Ferdinand, he or the King of Scots. Unhappily the letters of Don Pedro de Ayala, who conducted this affair, are not extant. If, however, we may judge from the partiality of the ambassador in favour of James, the fears entertained by Henry do not appear to have been entirely groundless. The King of France intended likewise to send an embassy to Scotland, in order to obtain possession of the person of Perkin Warbeck. Henry had asked him to do so. On second thoughts, however, he seems to have been afraid of the result. Ferdinand would never have consented that so important a person as Perkin Warbeck should be in the power of France. He would therefore have used all his influence in Scotland to prevent James from acceding to the demands of King Charles. Henry, accordingly, told Ferdinand that he disliked the interference of the French in this matter. Should the ambassador to Scotland, he said, come to England he would detain him for a year or longer. At the same time he besought Ferdinand to obtain possession of Perkin Warbeck. The gratitude which he told Ferdinand he should feel for such a service goes far beyond the limits of what a king owes to himself and to his country. Almost every day Henry assured De Puebla that Spain should absolutely command England in all things (in omnibus et per omnia) if Ferdinand would keep Perkin Warbeck as his prisoner. Ferdinand gave evasive answers. He would do nothing, he said, to obtain possession of the Duke of York ; but would keep him should he fall into his power. On another occasion, Ferdinand gave De Puebla permission to make arrangements to obtain the person of the Duke of York. That concession was entirely illusory. De Puebla had no influence whatever in Scotland. When Henry repeated his demands, Ferdinand even openly declared that he could not accede to them. For, he said, if he had the Duke of York in his power, Henry would next ask for him to be sent prisoner to England, and he would not for any earthly consideration commit so mean an action. Meanwhile, the French Ambassador Concressault was not arrested in England, but safely arrived in Scotland. He offered 100,000 crowns for the delivery of Perkin. But, as Henry had foreseen, James refused the proposal. The King of England, not succeeding in his plans by the help of either Spain or France, became exasperated, and decided upon declaring war against Scotland. Ferdinand dissuaded him. Henry, he said, must well know by experience how little reliance kings can have on their armies in such wars ; a battle lost would cost him his crown. Continued negotiations afford a better course. Henry followed the advice of his Mentor. The influence of Spain, France, and of the Pope, was brought to bear upon James, the Scotch nobility, and the King of the Romans. It was only natural that the unhappy Pretender should be unable to withstand such a combination for any length of time. Perkin Warbeck was obliged to leave Scotland, and sailed to Cornwall to place himself at the head of the insurgents. De Puebla gives a circumstantial anecdote respecting his voyage. Perkin had sailed from Scotland in a Biscayan ship. On the high seas his ship fell in with an English cruiser, and was stopped by her. When the Biscayan master and crew were called into the presence of the English captain, they were asked by him whether Perkin Warbeck was on board their ship. He told them that the friendship between Spain and England was of so intimate a nature, that they were obliged by the terms of it to deliver up the rebel. He showed them, moreover, letters patent under the royal signature, by which Henry promised 2,000 nobles and other favours to any one who would arrest the person of Perkin Warbeck. All, however, was in vain. The "obstinate" Biscayans swore that they had never seen such a man, or even heard of him. Yet all the time the Pretender was hidden in a pipe in the bows of the ship.

As soon as Henry had the Pretender in his power, he asked the advice of Ferdinand as to what was to be done with him. Ferdinand did not answer. The letters of Henry or De Puebla in which the request was made are not extant, but there is a holograph of De Puebla, from which we learn the fact, and also that no reply was made. "I besought your Highnesses a long while ago," said the doctor, "to write your opinion and advice how the King of England ought to deal with Perkin. Your Highnesses have to this day, no doubt from some just reasons and impediments, never sent a word in answer nor written any other thing. Your silence causes me much pain, because I am sure the King of England would do what ever your Highnesses might direct."

In June 1498 Perkin escaped, as De Puebla adds, "without any reason." He was recaptured and his execution decided upon. De Puebla writes, at the very time of his arrest, that this measure was in contemplation. The common report that he was pardoned, and executed only in consequence of a subsequent conspiracy, deserves therefore little credit. There can be no doubt that Henry construed the silence of Ferdinand as implying his assent to a sentence of death. The prisoner was kept in the Tower, in a cell where neither sun nor moon could reach him. He was very soon so altered in his appearance, that it was generally believed he could not live long. The Bishop of Cambray, who was at that time Flemish ambassador to England, wished to see Perkin. Henry sent for him, and made him confess in presence of the Bishop and De Puebla that he was an impostor, and that the Duchess Margaret knew it. A few days later Perkin was hanged.

Who was Perkin Warbeck? Was he the son of Edward IV.? I cannot answer the question. It is not even probable that Henry VII. himself knew or cared to learn. On the whole, it is not easy to prove the identity of a person who has left his home and friends in childhood. His appearance changes, and resemblance is not conclusive. How much greater must be the difficulty when thousands of persons who declare themselves in favour of his identity are not believed, because they are said to be biassed by political partisanship. The testimonials of France and of Spain, on the other hand, only show how many were ready to make false statements in favour of Henry. It is clear why Henry preferred the version that Perkin was a Fleming. It would have been much more difficult to pass off an Englishman as a Spaniard, Portuguese, or Frenchman, than as a native of the Low Countries.

But however great may be the personal interest with which this question is fraught, it is of little political significance. Perkin was believed by all the princes of his time to be the real Duke of York. Of this we have the certainly unexceptionable evidence of Henry VII. himself. On the occasion when he saw Perkin Warbeck in the presence of the Bishop of Cambray and De Puebla, he said to both ambassadors, in order to prove the great perversity of Perkin, that he had succeeded in persuading the Pope, the King of the Romans, the King of France, and, in fact, all the princes of Christendom, with the exception of Ferdinand and Isabella, that he was the son of King Edward. He thus confirmed the assertion of Perkin in his letter to Queen Isabella that the King of the Romans, the Archduke Philip, the Duke of Saxony, and the Kings of Denmark and Scotland had honoured him with embassies and treated him as their equal. Even the single exception which Henry made with regard to Ferdinand and Isabella will not bear investigation. For, if documents which are destined to remain in the hands of the most confidential servants, and which have no political object in view, deserve greater reliance than declarations of ambassadors made for certain purposes, Ferdinand and Isabella also considered Perkin Warbeck to be the Duke of York. The document to which I refer is the original of a key to the cipher in Latin numbers, used by De Puebla and preserved at Simancas. One chapter of it is headed "The Pope, the Emperor, Kings, and other persons of the Blood Royal." There is even the direction added, that persons who do not belong to royal families must be looked for in other places. Perkin Warbeck, not under this name, but under that of the Duke of York, is to be found in the chapter of royal personages ; his cipher is DCCCCVII, and his neighbours on either side are the Duchess Margaret and King Alfonso of Naples. Even to those who firmly believe that Perkin Warbeck was an impostor, it must at least be clear that he was treated by the continental princes just as the real Duke of York would have been treated.

Should the letter contained in this volume, at the end of the year 1495, be really a copy of a love letter of Perkin Warbeck to Lady Katharine Gordon, it would show that, as regards refinement and chivalrous feeling, the Pretender had few, if any, equals among the princes and nobles of his time.

Henry had now rid himself of his most formidable enemy. The consequences were visible even in matters of external form. Ferdinand had never condescended hitherto to address him as "Brother," according to the style usual between kings. He only called him "My Cousin." When Perkin ceased to be dangerous, Henry asked the King of Spain whether he would not henceforth give him also the title of "Brother," a demand to which Ferdinand graciously acceded. But however great the advantages which Henry had obtained might have been, he had dearly purchased them. Don Pedro de Ayala found that he had grown twenty years older in a few weeks. Ill-omened prophecies were rife in the country. Henry was in such a state of nervous excitement that he secretly ordered a Welsh priest into his presence and desired him to tell him his fortune. When the priest hinted at dangers that were still threatening him, Henry commanded him to keep the secret. The King grew devout. He heard a sermon every morning, and for a long period continued his devotions during the rest of the day. He seems to have regained his mental health by degrees, but his bodily strength appears never to have been entirely restored. At any rate, henceforth we hear of continual illnesses.


When Perkin Warbeck was still in Flanders and was treated there as the rightful King of England, Ferdinand told Henry that the surest way to prevent the Pretender from being assisted by the houses of Austria and Burgundy would be to marry the Archduke Philip to the Infanta Juana. The presence of the young Archduchess in the Flemish Court would reduce the Dowager Duchess Margaret to insignificance. Doa Juana having been taught to regard Henry as her second father, her influence would be used entirely in his favour. Besides, she would have another reason for serving the cause of Henry. As she was to be married in Flanders and her sister in England, she could not but wish that both countries might be at peace. Though Henry had at first objected to the marriage, he soon adopted the views of Ferdinand, and was thenceforth perhaps more impatient to see Doa Juana in Flanders than the Archduke Philip himself. He wrote over and over again to Ferdinand, asking him not to delay her departure.

In August 1496 a numerous fleet sailed from Laredo to convey Doa Juana to Flanders, and to carry back the Archduchess Margaret who was betrothed to the heir apparent of Spain. The Spanish princess was accompanied by a numerous suite of officers and servants. Ferdinand had calculated that the more Spaniards that accompanied his daughter to Flanders the greater would be the Spanish influence there.

As soon as the Archduchess Juana had arrived at her new home, Henry wrote her letter after letter, but received no answer. When his third letter remained without effect, he sent complaints to Spain. The Archduchess had, however, not treated Henry worse than her own mother. Queen Isabella had not received the least token of affection from her since she had left her native shores. Other persons who wrote from Flanders to Castile darkly hinted that the Archduchess had changed her devotional habits, and was on the way to become a free thinker.

In March 1497 two ambassadors, the Knight Commander Londoo and the Friar Thomas de Matienzo, Sub-Prior of Santa Cruz, were sent to Flanders in order to inquire into the manner in which the Archduchess lived. The ambassadors, and especially the friar, were received by her with great distrust. She suspected that the latter was intended for her confessor. The report sent by the ambassadors to Spain was by no means encouraging. The Archduchess, they said, was in perfect health, and looked handsomer than ever. She had, moreover, not become quite an infidel, as she kept up devotional exercises with great regularity in her house ; still, on Ascension Day, she would not confess, though her two confessors were in attendance. The friar believed that his presence at the court prevented the princess from performing her customary religious duty. When Matienzo saw her, she did not ask for news of any one in Spain. He inquired whether she had any message to send to her father and mother. She said, No. He asked whether she would like to see him again, and she replied that if he wished to come he might. On the whole the Archduchess does not seem to have entertained the least attachment for Spain.

As for the Spanish servants, who were destined to influence to such an extent the politics of Flanders, nothing more hopeless than their position can be imagined. The court camarilla consisted of the Provost of Liege, a certain Muxica, most probably a Spaniard, and a Madame de Aloyne. They had driven the Spanish servants away, and deprived them of even their pensions which were sent from Spain. The Bastard, for instance, who seems to have occupied a high position, was to have 4,000 crowns salary. "He had been deprived of 2,000, and the other 2,000 he could not get." He was not able to go to court because he could not pay for his meals. As for the other Spaniards, they all lived in such utter destitution that it was pitiful to see them. Numbers of them died from starvation. Even the pious Sub-Prior had to suffer, and was outraged that the Flemings did not give him food, while they themselves preferred "good eating to righteous living." The whole was misery, disunion, and intrigue. There was no doubt left that the plans of Ferdinand and the hopes of Henry were miserably wrecked.


After the execution of Perkin Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick the affairs of Henry took a more prosperous turn. The only remaining difficulty concerned the King of Scots. He had been persuaded to abandon the cause of the Pretender, under the promise that he should become the son-in-law of Ferdinand and Isabella, and he was now to learn that he had only been their dupe. Ferdinand, however, had already found an expedient. He had proposed to Henry, as early as the 26th April 1496, that he should give one of his daughters in marriage to the King of Scots. Henry objected, and declared that James would scarcely be inclined to wait until the Princess Mary should be of marriageable age. He and the Queen, moreover, thought it inconsistent with their duty as parents to confide so young a princess, to a man like James. It would, they said, be tantamount to delivering her to destruction. But as Ferdinand was not to be persuaded to give the King of Scots another of his daughters as wife, Henry, with a heavy heart, at last acceded to his proposal. The Bishop of Durham was commissioned to treat with James concerning the peace and the marriage. On the 24th of March 1500, however, Don Pedro de Ayala informed Ferdinand that all the endeavours of the Bishop of Durham had been fruitless. The King of Scots had grown more suspicious than ever that he had been overreached, if not by Henry himself, at any rate by those in his interest, and he threatened an open rupture. The manner in which he was prevented from doing this is characteristic. It was known that he would not decide upon any great measure without first consulting Don Pedro de Ayala. Thus it was important to prevent any interview between them. Don Pedro was in London, and though James repeatedly wrote that he wanted to see him, the Spanish ambassador always returned evasive answers, pretending ill health, or a despatch which he was awaiting, or some similar excuse. In this way month after month passed away, during which affairs were settled between Spain and England. At last, when all the details had been definitely arranged between Henry and Ferdinand, Don Pedro proceeded to Scotland, and the treaty of Stirling was concluded.

The treaty of marriage between the Prince of Wales and the Princess Katharine had been concluded, for the second time, on the 1st October 1497. It had been ratified by both parties over and over again and the marriage ceremonies had been more than once performed by proxy, the last time secretly, from fear of the King of Scots, in the chapel of the royal manor at Bewdley. The Bishop of Lincoln had scrupled to officiate on that occasion, because dignitaries of the church were forbidden to sanction clandestine marriages ; his objections, however, were overruled by De Puebla. After all had been done, and great sums had been spent in order that a splendid reception might be given to the Princess, her departure from Spain was still postponed. There were more reasons than one for the delay. Ferdinand, on closer examination of the treaty, found that he had been deceived by Henry in regard to the dowry to be given with his daughter. The treaty of alliance, too, offered occasion for very unpleasant correspondence. Even such a trifle as the title to be given to the King of England was earnestly debated. At one time the dispute assumed so unfriendly a character that the marriage seemed in danger of being broken off.

In the year 1500, when Henry had an interview with the Archduke Philip, it was suspected that he intended to marry the Prince of Wales to the Archduchess Margaret, whose first husband, the Infante of Spain, had lately died. To allay their apprehensions, Ferdinand and Isabella sent Fuensalida, Knight Commander of Haro, to Calais. In his despatch of the 29th June 1500 the ambassador described how greatly he was mortified during his journey by hearing everywhere that the marriage had been concluded. However, on his arrival at Calais he found the rumours to be false.

Among the political affairs domestic matters were sometimes introduced. The Queen and the mother of the King, for example, asked Ferdinand and Isabella to allow the Princess Katharine to begin to take wine, because the water in England was not drinkable. On another occasion the wish was expressed that the Princess should profit by the presence of the Archduchess Margaret in Spain and learn to speak French. The question about the servants who were to accompany her to England gave no little trouble. Ferdinand and Isabella desired to send as many, and Henry to accept as few as possible. On one thing Henry insisted much. He wished that the Spanish ladies who were to remain in England should be all of them beautiful, or at any rate not ugly. This was a matter of some political importance. If the Spanish ladies in the service of the Princess could be married into noble English houses, the new Tudor dynasty might in future count upon greater support in the country.

An English ecclesiastic, nephew of one of the secretaries of Henry VII., had given up his living in England, amounting to more than 300 nobles, and emigrated to Spain. He seems to have been well received at first, but after fourteen years' residence there he found himself reduced to misery, and was without food, without clothing, without money, and without a living. If we may judge from the manner in which he wrote Spanish, he does not seem to have been a man of great attainments. His letters certainly contain more grammatical errors than words. Still he was made a means of semi-official communication. His uncle forwarded news to him from England, and he communicated it to Queen Isabella. The great love which the English bore to the King and Queen of Spain, and especially to the Princess Katharine, was dwelt upon at much length. Had the Spaniards been gluttons, the tidings from the secretary of Henry would have induced them to come over with the Princess as soon as possible. In Flanders, the secretary wrote that many Spaniards had died of starvation. But he protested that as many as liked might come with the Princess of Wales, and none of them would die of hunger. If they died it would be from eating too much ; such a stock of provisions had been laid in.

It was a matter of serious consideration to Ferdinand and Isabella whether it would be well for the morals of the Princess that she should go early to England. Don Pedro de Ayala was of opinion that the Court of Henry VII. was not a fit place for a young princess. On the other hand, it might be advisable, he thought, that her going to England should not be delayed, because if she remained longer in Spain she would in future always remember the happier life she had led there, and be rendered miserable for the rest of her days. The delay before the Princess went to England gave Queen Isabella the opportunity of writing a letter full of fine sentiment. She had been informed of the great expenditure that had been incurred for the reception of the Princess, and for her wedding. "I am pleased to hear it," she wrote, from Granada, on the 23rd of March 1501, "because it shows the magnificent grandeur of my brother the King of England, and because demonstrations of joy at the reception of my daughter are naturally agreeable to me. Nevertheless, it would be more in accordance with my feelings, and with the wishes of my lord the King, that the expenses should be moderate. We do not wish our daughter to be the cause of any loss to England, either in money or in any other respect. On the contrary, we desire that she should be the source of all kinds of happiness, as we hope she will be, with the help of God. We, therefore, beg the King our brother to moderate the expenses. Rejoicings may be held, but we ardently implore him that the substantial part of the festival should be his love, that the Princess should be treated by him and the Queen as their daughter, and by the Prince of Wales as we feel he will treat her. Say this to the King of England."

At last, on Sunday the 2d of October, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the Princess entered the harbour of Plymouth. Directly on leaving the ship she went to mass. The Licentiate Alcarez, who accompanied her, wrote on the 4th to the Queen of Spain that "the Princess could not have been received with greater rejoicings had she been the Saviour of the world."


On the 2d of April 1502 Prince Arthur died. When the sad tidings reached Henry and Elizabeth, their grief was overwhelming. A touching description of it has come down to us. (fn. 4) There is no reason to doubt that their sorrow was genuine, but it had no chastening effect upon the King. Scarcely had his tears time to dry, when he began to act in an avaricious and unkingly manner respecting money matters, and showed a most ungenerous harshness towards the young Princess of Wales, whom he had hitherto always proclaimed to be his beloved daughter. She was not even removed from the infected place where Prince Arthur died, though she was herself ill and suffering. Ferdinand and Isabella were twice obliged to insist on her removal.

The whole of the correspondence, from the death of Prince Arthur to the marriage of the Princess Katharine with Prince Henry, was carried on in cipher which, with the exception of a single short letter, I have been successful enough to decipher. Not all the despatches are extant, however, and almost all the letters of the Duke de Estrada to Spain are lost. But, as the custom prevailed of repeating in one letter what had been said in another, we can. form a tolerably accurate idea of the course of the negotiations.

When the news of the death of Arthur reached Ferdinand and Isabella, they sent, without delay, Fernand Duke de Estrada to England as their ambassador.

He received two commissions, both dated on the 10th of May 1502. By the first he was commanded,

1st. To reclaim from the King of England the 100,000 scudos which had been paid as an instalment of the marriage portion of the Princess.

2d. To demand that the King of England should deliver to her the towns, manors, lands, &c, which had been assigned as her dowry.

3d. To beg Henry to send the Princess of Wales to Spain, in the best manner and in the shortest time possible.

4th. To superintend himself, if necessary, the preparations for her departure.

By the second commission he was authorized to conclude a marriage betwen the Princess Katharine and Henry Prince of Wales.

The power to conclude a marriage had not been given without meaning to the Duke de Estrada. Ferdinand and Isabella really wished that the new marriage of their daughter should be concluded in England. The ambassador had been instructed to employ the greatest cunning and flattery in order to get at the truth, whether the first marriage had been really consummated. Doa Elvira, who was the first Lady of the Bedchamber, had written that the Princess Katharine and the late Prince of Wales had never lived together as man and wife. This letter of Doa Elvira is not extant, but Queen Isabella informed the Duke de Estrada of its contents in her despatch of the 12th of July 1502. Besides, "she," most probably the same Doa Elvira Manuel, had informed the Queen that Henry desired the marriage, but did not wish it to be known. Estrada was, therefore, instructed to act with the greatest circumspection, lest Henry, on finding that the King and Queen of Spain entertained the same views, should drive too hard a bargain. Queen Isabella, who calculated that Henry would betray his real intentions as soon as he saw that the Princess was to leave England, ordered the Duke de Estrada to make preparations for her departure.

Another letter of the Queen to the Duke de Estrada, dated the 10th of August 1502, is a masterpiece of its kind. It displays such deep maternal feeling and high moral sentiment, that it might be held up as an example to all good Christians. "I therefore," she wrote, "command you that you shall press much for the departure of the Princess of Wales, my daughter, so that she may come here immediately. The greater her loss and affliction, the more reason is there that she should come and be near her parents. Moreover, the Princess of Wales can show more unrestrainedly the sense she entertains of her loss, and give freer vent to her grief in Spain, because the customs of this country permit it better than do those of England. And you shall say that we cannot endure that a daughter whom we love should be so far from us when she is in affliction, and that she should not have us at hand to console her. It would also be more suitable for her to be with us than in any other place." In order to make a still stronger impression upon the mind of Henry, she directed the ambassador to make all necessary preparations for the departure of the Princess. Ships were to be freighted, the silver and plate to be packed, and some of the household were really to embark. But all these fine sentiments and all these preparations were a mere stratagem. Queen Isabella desired now as little as formerly that her daughter should return to Spain. She instructed Estrada to avail himself of the fear with which Henry would be inspired, to obtain the best possible conditions for the marriage settlement.

Isabella had not miscalculated the effect which her letter was likely to produce on the King of England. Henry made overtures through Doctor De Puebla for the marriage between the Princess Katharine and Henry, Prince of Wales, and even promised that the conditions, especially as regarded the dower, should be satisfactory to Spain. Negotiations were carried on down to the death of Queen Elizabeth, without having at that time arrived at any definite conclusion.

As soon as the Queen was dead, Henry changed his plans. The same letter which announced the decease of Elizabeth, brought the intelligence that the King himself was not disinclined to marry the Princess Katharine. This letter is lost, but we learn its contents at great length from the answer of Queen Isabella, dated Alcala, 11th April 1503. When I deciphered the despatch, I could scarcely at first persuade myself that immediately after his bereavement Henry could dare to think of a marriage with so young a princess, who was at the same time the widow of one son and the destined bride of another. But there is not the least doubt about it. The new aspirant to the hand of the Princess Katharine was King Henry himself, and no other. The cipher in which the despatch of the 11th of April 1503 is written occurs so often in this correspondence, that any one who has mastered the key can read it with as much certainty as if it were print. There being no abbreviation in cipher, and every sign being clearly put, ciphered correspondence leaves less doubt about the meaning than attaches to bad handwriting. Moreover, finding such unexpected tidings, I examined the despatch over and over again, and the more closely I analysed it the surer I became of the fact. Besides, it does not rest upon the interpretation of a single word only. The whole sense of the letter shows that no other person than the King of England can have been meant. Queen Isabella instructs the Duke de Estrada to offer Henry her sympathy for the loss of the Queen, her sister. She then continues, that Doctor De Puebla had written to her concerning the marriage of King Henry with the Princess of Wales, "saying, that this marriage was spoken of in England. But as it would be a very evil thing, the very mention of which offends the ears, she would not for anything in the world that it should take place." Therefore, if anything were said about it, he was to speak of it as a thing not to be endured, in order that the King of England might lose all hope of marrying her daughter. In another place, Queen Isabella added, that the King of England must be told that there were two things about which she and her husband were firmly resolved. The first was, that the Princess Katharine should never marry King Henry, and the second, that she was immediately to return to Spain.

If the King of England was so much in want of a second wife, Queen Isabella told him, he might, instead of her daughter, marry the young Queen Dowager of Naples, who "was particularly well calculated to console him in his deep affliction." The young Queen Dowager being her niece the friendship between England and Spain would be as much strengthened by this marriage as by one with her daughter.

It is true, De Puebla seems to have only written that "the English said" a marriage between King Henry and the Princess of Wales might be contracted. The words "the English" might mean the Privy Council, according to the manner in which De Puebla was accustomed to express himself. But there is little doubt that it meant here the King himself. If the very confidential intimacy existing between Henry and De Puebla be borne in mind, and if it be considered how little De Puebla wished or dared to say anything which might be prejudicial to Henry, it is clear that his letter cannot have been composed without the consent of the King of England.

The decided refusal of Queen Isabella arrived in London on the 14th of May, and produced the desired effect. Henry was, perhaps, not yet incapable of feeling the emotion of shame. He may also have been allured by the new proposal, and the prospect of a double dower. The Queen Dowager of Naples had already a rich marriage settlement in that kingdom, and Ferdinand promised to give her 200,000 ducats if she married Henry. However that may be, we hear nothing more of a marriage between the Princess Katharine and Henry VII. ; on the contrary, her marriage with the Prince of Wales was soon afterwards determined upon. The contract was concluded at Richmond on the 23d of June 1503.


Marriages between royal houses are at all times of political importance ; but in the days of the Tudors, as I have already remarked, they were the only reliable bonds. The marriage schemes of Henry, which at this period began to enter into the foreground, deserve, therefore, our fullest attention. The principal marriageable princes and princesses on the Continent were the following :in France there were three princesses, the sister of Francis, Duke of Angoulme, afterwards Francis I., and Claude and Rene, the two daughters of King Louis, who were mere children. Of Spanish princesses there was, besides the Princess Katharine, the young Queen Dowager of Naples. She was the daughter of the sister of Ferdinand, about twenty-six years old, and when she married her first husband, she had the reputation of being a very amiable lady. The King of the Romans had to dispose of his daughter Margaret, and of his grandson Charles, Duke of Luxemburgh. Margaret had scarcely accomplished the twenty-fourth year of her age. Nevertheless she had been once divorced and had twice become a widow. This was no disadvantage to her. On the contrary, it was a recommendation, for, she had two dowers, one in Spain and one in Savoy.

After the death of Queen Elizabeth, there were, in the royal family of England, three candidates for marriage, the King himself, the Prince of Wales, and his daughter Mary. If they chose judiciously, they might enter into matrimonial alliances with all the three great reigning houses of Europe ; namely those of France, Spain, and Austria. The advantage, in the estimation of Henry, would be incalculable. Who would dare to attack a Tudor if the family were allied with Scotland, France, Spain, and Austria? But safety was not the only thing Henry might attain if he carried out his plan. England might become the natural mediator between the contending parties in Europe, and thus restore peace to Christendom. As, however, there was no other prince to be married of the continental houses, the Princess Mary would have to become the wife of the Duke of Luxemburgh. It is true, in the treaty of Blois it had been arranged that he was to marry the Princess Claude of France. But were not such treaties oftener broken than kept? Henry, at all events, did not regard the obstacle as insurmountable. Ferdinand was in the highest degree dissatisfied with the treaty. Henry, therefore, addressed himself to the King of Spain. Though it had been the policy of his whole life to live on friendly terms with France, he now promised to go to war immediately and with all his forces if Ferdinand in return would arrange a marriage between the Princess Mary and the Duke of Luxemburgh. A few weeks later, on the 5th December, he even offered Ferdinand to make over to him his claims on the duchy of Guienne. Whatever prospect of success Henry might have had reason to entertain in respect of this marriage, there was an obstacle to his other plans which it was very difficult to overcome. The Prince of Wales was already betrothed to a Spanish princess. If this union was to hold good, King Henry must then marry a French princess in order to complete his projected alliances with the three great powers. This was not easy. The three French princesses were children, and Henry could but little afford to wait. Thus, it would have suited his plans much better that the Prince of Wales should marry a French princess, and himself a Spanish. But Ferdinand would, on no account, permit the marriage between the Prince of Wales and the Princess Katharine to be annulled. If Henry had ventured openly to declare his plans, it would have produced an immediate rupture with Spain. The only expedient left him was not to show any disinclination to marry his son to the Princess Katharine, and meantime to conclude his own marriage with the Queen Dowager of Naples. He might hope, after having concluded his own alliance, to dispose differently of the hand of his son.

These plans demanded some time for ripening, and consequently more than a year and a half elapsed before Henry showed any earnest desire to accept the offer made him by Queen Isabella. But when the Duke de Estrada, in the month of August 1504, returned to Spain, Henry asked him to speak about his marriage to King Ferdinand. Before he had received any answer to these communications, he declared through De Puebla, in the month of October 1504, that, hitherto, he had not decided on taking a wife. Nevertheless, as it would please Ferdinand and Isabella, he would confer with his council about his marriage with the Queen Dowager of Naples. Meantime, added the ambassador, the King of England would be very glad to have a picture of his intended bride. If it were not considered an improper thing, Henry begged that a portrait of the said Queen, delineating her figure and the features of her face and painted on canvas, should be sent to him. This matter was to be kept most secret, and the portrait to be placed in a well-closed case, so that there might be no risk of its being seen by any one. Moreover, it was very desirable that neither the young Queen nor her mother should know for whom the portrait was destined. For, "if she proved to be ugly and not handsome," the ambassador wrote a few days later, (fn. 5) "the King of England would not have her for all the treasures in the world ; nor would he dare to take her, as the English think so much about personal appearance." He also informed Ferdinand that the King of England was entirely absorbed with the idea of his new matrimonial alliance, and spoke almost daily of it ; sometimes in private interviews, and on other occasions in the presence of his council. All the counsellors were of the same mind, and said that Henry could not find a better match, "search all the world over." The King, in particular, "lauded Ferdinand and Isabella above the cherubim" for their kindness in offering him such a wife.

Ferdinand had given his consent in general terms, (fn. 6) and Henry determined to send his "servants," Francis Marsin, James Braybrooke, and John Stile, to Valencia, where the Queen Dowager of Naples was living. Her mother was Governess and Viceregent of that kingdom. The ambassadors left in June 1505. The instructions, given to them, and their answers have been repeatedly printed, and are tolerably well known. The whole document is not merely indelicate ; it also exhibits a great amount of coarseness.

When the marriage of Henry with the Queen Dowager of Naples was first proposed, the political state of Europe rendered the friendship of Henry highly desirable to Ferdinand, while the good will of Ferdinand was equally valuable to Henry. Ferdinand was involved in a war with France, in consequence of quarrels which had arisen respecting the partition of the kingdom of Naples ; and Henry wished to make use of Ferdinand in order to obtain, through his influence, possession of the Earl of Suffolk. But as soon as Ferdinand entered into negotiations of peace with France, the alliance with Henry became a subordinate consideration, and he accordingly proposed to France to marry the intended bride of Henry to King Alfonso of Naples. Henry complained in a tone of deep resentment of the faithless behaviour of Ferdinand. It is true that Ferdinand assured him his jealous fears were unfounded. But the King of France had concealed nothing from Henry, who knew full well that if the marriage between the young Queen Dowager and King Alfonso did not take place, it would only be because France had not approved of the Spanish proposal.

Soon after Queen Isabella had died, and as Ferdinand was again a marriageable man, it was proposed that the long disputes between France and Spain should be settled by a marriage between him and Germaine de Foix the niece of King Louis. Each step which brought Spain and France nearer together lowered the value of the offers which had been made by Henry.

One of the articles of the instructions given to the ambassadors who went to Valencia was to engage a good painter to take the portrait of the intended bride. If the first painter should not succeed, another was to be engaged, and the commissioners were told not to rest satis fied until they had succeeded in procuring a perfect likeness. But the talent of the Spanish artists was not put to the test. The young Queen Dowager would not allow any portrait of herself to be taken. Ferdinand had, in fact, a conference with the mother of the young Queen respecting his marriage. But when he found that his sister and niece were averse from it, he did not think it necessary to press them any further, and the affair was at an end.


As soon as Ferdinand became an enemy of the House of Austria, Henry, on his part, also cared less for the alliance with Spain. Ferdinand was no longer in a position to mediate between him and the King of the Romans respecting the delivery of the Earl of Suffolk. As Ferdinand had shown himself to be a lukewarm friend of Henry when he was not in want of his services, Henry retaliated upon him now and became his opponent.

In order to make the reader fully understand the conduct of Henry, I must add a few words respecting the disputes between King Ferdinand and King Philip. During the lifetime of Perkin Warbeck Henry looked upon Philip as one of his most determined enemies. The animosity existing between Henry and the Archduke soon communicated itself to the two nations. The English were treated badly in Flanders, and the Flemings had much to suffer in England. But from the time that Philip leant more towards the policy of France the relations between him and England sensibly improved. The beginning of a much more intimate friendship between Henry and Philip is to be dated from their interview near Calais on Whit-Tuesday, in the year 1500. Henry seems to have appreciated the confidence placed in him by Philip who came to the meeting without ceremony and without protection. Nor was he the only person on whom the behaviour of the young Archduke produced a favourable impression. He became popular with all the English who were present, and even De Puebla wrote that he was a much better prince than he was generally reported. The vanity of Henry must moreover have been flattered to a considerable extent, when he overheard the Archduke telling the Spanish ambassador that he regarded the King of England as his natural protector. On the whole, they behaved to one another like father and son. Although Henry had afterwards occasionally to complain of the Archduke, they never ceased to call one another father and son down to the death of the latter. In the summer of 1504, Philip and the Archduchess Juana were in Spain. They had gone there in order to be sworn as Prince and Princess of Castile and Arragon, a ceremony that was customary in Spain, in order to place the succession beyond all doubt. Queen Isabella fell dangerously ill, and the French threatened the frontiers of Perpignan and Fuenterabia. At this conjuncture, Philip declared his intention to return to Flanders by way of France. His journey taken at such a time was in truth scarcely becoming. He not only showed great want of feeling towards the suffering lady, his mother-in-law, but also placed himself in the power of the enemy of the very country the succession to which had just been secured to him. All remonstrances remained fruitless. Philip went to France, and soon afterwards concluded the treaty of Blois which was not favourable to Spanish interests. To take the crown from Queen Isabella and place it on his own head was out of his power, while she was still alive. However, his conduct was little short of it. Before the Queen was dead, he had already assumed her title, and styled himself King of Castile and Granada. On the 26th November 1504 Isabella died at Medina del Campo. Immediately afterwards, Ferdinand went to the market place, mounted a platform, and renounced, in presence of the assembled people, his title as King of Castile. He did so in conformity with the will made by the Queen. This will is preserved at Simancas, and shown as one of the greatest curiosities of the archives. In it she directs that her daughter Juana shall be her successor and govern in conjunction with her husband. But whenever Juana and Philip are absent from Spain, or Juana is prevented from attending to public business, Ferdinand is empowered to act as governor of the kingdom in her name and authority. This governorship of Ferdinand was not to cease until the eldest son of Juana and Philip had attained the age of twenty years.

During the illness of the Queen, and after her death, Ferdinand wrote most loving letters to Philip, who did not greatly value them. A quarrel between the father and son-in-law very soon broke out. If we are to believe Ferdinand he acted in the most disinterested manner imaginable. If, on the other hand, we are to credit Philip, Ferdinand was the most detestable character possible. The fact seems to have been that both of them acted with equal selfishness.

With the Princess of Wales, Philip had always entertained the most intimate relations. She was so young and inexperienced that she little suspected she should do harm to her father by communicating all the secrets which she happened to learn to her first Lady of the Bedchamber, Doa Elvira Manuel. Doa Elvira, in her turn, imparted them immediately to her brother Don Juan Manuel, who, though ambassador of Ferdinand, had betrayed his master and espoused the cause of Philip. Thus, Philip was generally well informed of all that was going on at the court of England. As soon as he had obtained possession of the Earl of Suffolk, he and the King of the Romans sent an embassy to Henry who was staying at Cranbourne. When the ambassadors arrived in London they went to pay their respects to the Princess of Wales. While they were waiting, De Puebla went accidentally to Durham House. At the door he was told by one Lebron that the ambassadors were in the ante-chamber. De Puebla introduced them to the Princess, who received them with great courtesy. When asked what the object of their coming was, they declared that their mission was secret. Nevertheless, in the course of conversation it transpired that Philip was intending to deliver the Earl of Suffolk to Henry and to offer him the Archduchess Margaret in marriage. They added that they had brought with them two portraits of the Archduchess ; one on canvas, and one on wood. Philip intended to go to Spain, they said, with the Queen Juana as soon as she had recovered from her confinement, which was expected to take place in five or six weeks. The Princess was much pleased to hear these good tidings, as she thought, and wished to see the portraits of the Archduchess, which, by the way, she thought by no means well executed.

De Puebla was amazed at the indiscretion of the ambassadors, and he immediately wrote every word that he had heard to Ferdinand.

The ambassadors frequently repeated their visits to the Princess Katharine. It even seems that De Puebla had been a little mistaken in his judgment of their indiscretion ; for though they had made blunders, they had not betrayed the most essential part of their mission. Philip wished above all things to have a personal interview with Henry at Calais. In order to obtain a plausible pretext, Doa Elvira, who favoured the ambassadors and their master, used her influence over the Princess, and made her write letters to her sister Juana and to Philip, expressing her delight at the prospect of seeing them. In the shortest time possible, the answers of the King and Queen of Castile arrived. They said they wished for nothing so much as to see her and the King of England. The Princess of Wales, still unconscious of what she was doing, had a pair of horses saddled directly after the receipt of these letters, in order to send them to the King of England without losing an hour. When her Maestre-sala and Don Alonzo de Esquivel, were ready to start, De Puebla entered the palace of the Princess. Full of delight, she told him what had happened, and what she intended to do. De Puebla saw at a glance that the interview between Henry and Philip signified nothing less than an alliance between them against the King of Spain. He therefore, offered to ride over to the King and to deliver the letters himself, hoping to counteract, by his representations, the effect which they might produce on Henry. An old, infirm doctor of law may not have seemed to the Princess to be a very proper sort of courier, especially where great speed was desired. But De Puebla avowed that her distrust of him was the principal reason why she rejected his offer. He then begged her, at least, to wait a few moments while he spoke with Doa Elvira respecting some household matters. He took that lady into an adjoining room, explained to her the meaning of the whole affair, and reminded her of what she owed to King Ferdinand. Doa Elvira, however, refused to listen to his advice, till he threatened to expose her faithlessness. She then promised that the messengers should not be sent.

De Puebla, satisfied with this assurance, returned to his house and sat down to dinner. Scarcely had he begun to eat when he was informed that the Maestre-sala and Don Alonzo had started with the letters in spite of the promises which had been made him. Without touching another morsel, he set off with great speed to Durham House. With tears running down his cheeks, he made the Princess swear she would not betray anything of what he was going to communicate to her. After she had sworn he explained to her the meaning of the intended meeting, and, telling her that it was in prejudice of her father and of her sister, asked her to write another letter to the King of England. The Princess, who, as the doctor said, had an excellent heart, and loved her father more than herself, wrote, at his dictation, a short note to Henry, asking him to value the interests of King Ferdinand above those of any prince upon earth ; adding, that if she had earlier known what De Puebla had communicated to her under oath, she would never have sent her first letter, and the letter of the Archduke.

The letter was sent off at once by a courier, who was strictly enjoined to ride at full speed, and to overtake the Maestre-sala. This scene happened on the 17th August 1505. Next day the Princess wrote another short note, in the same tone as the last, and De Puebla proceeded with it to the King of England. He seems to have been, to a certain extent, successful. Henry, on the 13th of September, wrote a letter to Ferdinand, in which he expressed himself in strong terms respecting the ingratitude of Philip, and promised to do all in his power to assist the King of Spain. Philip, notwithstanding, seems to have gained some advantage ; for, the proposal of an interview had been made, and some wish for it may have lingered in the mind of the King of England. Whether a correspondence between Henry and Philip respecting their meeting may have taken place, or of what kind it may have been, is not known. I have not found any traces of it ; except that Doa Elvira, as one of the servants said, went "in an evil hour" to Flanders on the pretence of consulting a physician about her eyes.

On the 7th January 1506 Philip embarked from Zealand, accompanied by a fleet of fifty sail. He was overtaken by a storm, and ran for shelter to Melcombe in Dorsetshire. Philip disembarked, and sent immediately a message to the King expressing his desire to see him. His messengers were very graciously received, and on the 21st of January he met Henry at Windsor, the Kings saluting each other with "glad and loving countenances." Precautions were taken to prevent the Princess Katharine and her sister Juana from meeting. According to the minute narrative of the reception of King Philip, which is preserved in the Cottonian MSS., Queen Juana did not see her sister until just before her departure. They were not even then more than an hour together, and were never left alone. The reasons are obvious. The Princess Katharine knew the whole meaning of the interview, and if she had seen her sister without witnesses she would have informed her of what was in progress. Ferdinand had always asserted that Queen Juana was not an undutiful daughter, and Philip seems to have shared the opinion. If, therefore, she had been made aware by the Princess of Wales of the real intentions of her husband, she might have withheld her sanction ; and as the crown of Castile belonged to her she might have counteracted all his plans.

A few days later, on the 9th of February, a new alliance between the two Kings was concluded. Henry bound himself to assist Philip in the defence of his present states and of all those to which he might have a claim ; further, to take care of the person, estate, honour, dignities, concerns and affairs in general of Philip in the same manner as a good father would take care of a beloved son. As soon as ever Philip required material assistance against his opponent, Henry was to send him as much succour as he could spare, without considering whether the enemy were an ally of England or not. Further, Henry promised to deliver to Philip all his exiles and rebels to be found in England, and as the promises of the King of Castile were almost verbatim the same as those of Henry, the King of England thereby acquired the right to demand the immediate delivery of Suffolk.

When this treaty had been concluded, Philip sent one Laxao with a message to Ferdinand, who answered by the same messenger that he expected Philip in Spain, and would receive him as his beloved son. (fn. 7)

Later in the month of May two other treaties were concluded, one of them concerning the marriage between Henry and the Archduchess Margaret, and the other respecting commerce between England and Flanders.

Whilst Henry was still hoping for the hand of the Queen Dowager of Naples, the King of the Romans had offered him another wife. Of the documents which relate to this proposal, only one is in existence. It is a kind of memoir composed in cipher and in Latin by Thomas Savage and Don Pedro de Ayala. According to it, Maximilian had sent a private messenger, Herman Rimbre to tell the King of England that he would give his daughter Margaret to him in marriage if he would lend him as equivalent a considerable sum of money and military succour for his intended journey to Rome, and his undertaking in Hungary. Henry distrusted the sincerity of the King of the Romans, and wished to avail himself of the advice of Don Pedro de Ayala, who was then staying in Flanders. The message was thought so important and so delicate that Thomas Savage was ordered to learn it by heart. To confide it to writing seemed too dangerous. It appears, however, that Don Pedro de Ayala, who had not the same reason for keeping the negotiation so entirely secret, insisted on having it put into writing.

Henry did not, at that time, accept the proposal of Maximilian. As Prince Charles was, according to the plans of Henry, to marry the Princess Mary, his own union with the Archduchess would have allied the royal Houses of England and Austria by two marriages, while he would have remained unconnected with either France or Spain by matrimonial bonds. But now that Philip was on his way to Spain and that Henry had entered into such an intimate alliance with him, circumstances had entirely changed. If Philip became King of Castile, the Archduchess Margaret would no longer be an Austrian Archduchess only, but a Spanish Infanta also. After Henry had allied himself with her nothing would remain for him to do, in order to accomplish his plans of forming matrimonial alliances with the three great reigning houses of Europe, but to dissolve the marriage between the Princess Katharine and the Prince of Wales, and to marry him to a French princess. Philip, it was to be expected, would easily consent to the dissolution of the marriage. He had no special reason to favour the Princess Katharine, who had sided with her father against him.

The old plan of Henry to marry the Princess Mary to Prince Charles was revived and made a subject of negotiation during the stay of Philip in England. The result of the conferences was certainly committed to writing ; but I have not been able to meet with it. The only information about the affair is contained in occasional remarks occurring in later despatches. Thus, for instance, Jehan le Sauvaige wrote on the 30th July 1506 to Maximilian, mentioning the marriage between the Princess Mary and Prince Charles. Maximilian himself declared, in his letter to Henry of the 14th of September of the same year, that he had advised Philip to conclude the marriage in question. However, the most direct proof of all is afforded by Henry himself who declared in October 1507 (fn. 8) to De Puebla that the marriage between his daughter and Prince Charles was not only spoken of during the stay of Philip in England, but actually concluded.

The treaties were most advantageous to Philip. The alliance was levelled directly against Ferdinand. He was not mentioned by name, it is true ; but as Henry bound himself to defend the present possessions as well as the claims of Philip against all and every person without any exception, it was quite superfluous to name Ferdinand or any other of Philip's adversaries. The promises which Philip made in return may at first sight appear more than equivalent for the services Henry undertook to render him. But on closer examination they dwindle down almost to insignificance. Suffolk was to be delivered to Henry ; this however, was scarcely a gain, for, the King of the Romans and Philip had offered him to Henry before the treaty had been made. Besides Suffolk was a very unimportant person when compared with Ferdinand ; a few agents of police and a few soldiers sufficed to transport him to Calais and to hand him over to the commissioners of Henry. A prison or an execution was the only alternative that he had to expect ; he had, therefore no means wherewith to revenge himself on Philip for his extradition. Ferdinand, on the other hand, even after the loss of the government of Castile, remained a powerful prince. His hereditary dominions, that is to say, Arragon, with Barcelona, Roussillon and Cerdaa, the kingdom of Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Sicily and Naples, provided him with material power which, in the hands of so gifted and experienced a king as he was, might become dangerous.

The marriage of Henry with the Archduchess Margaret and that of the Princess Mary with Prince Charles, might have been an additional and no small advantage to England. But the marriage of the Archduchess Margaret did not depend on Philip, who was only her brother and had certainly no right to dispose of her hand so long as her father was alive ; and even if the King of the Romans gave his consent, there still remained the Archduchess, who was perfectly able to take care of herself. The treaty concluded with Philip was therefore of little avail so far as regarded the marriage of the Princess Margaret. Charles was a mere child, and Philip, as his natural guardian, might have disposed of his hand. But as Charles was only six years old, eight years would still have to elapse, before a valid marriage could take place. There was ample room for contingencies to arise which might prevent the carrying out of the project. In fact, neither one marriage nor the other ever took place.

Another advantage is said to have been obtained by Henry through the commercial treaty with Flanders. But isolated commercial treaties were of little worth, especially in those times when alliances were continually changing. There could be no doubt that commercial concessions, however great, would be revoked as soon as Philip wished to form some other alliance. The whole result, then, of the treaties concluded during Philip's stay in England was, that Philip gained the immediate assistance of Henry in the most important enterprise of his life, and which he was on the very point of carrying out, while the greater portion of the advantages obtained by Henry consisted in promises which were either beyond the power of Philip to fulfil or which could be executed only at a distant period.

Philip went to Spain. His companions warned him against the treachery of Ferdinand. Great precautions were intended to be taken at the interview with his father-in-law. As soon as Ferdinand was informed of it, he went, without weapon "in his hand, and with love in his heart," to see Philip. The two Kings met not far from Astorga. They embraced one another, and behaved thence-forth as father and son.

The love professed by Ferdinand was not sincere. Even after the death of Philip he could not forgive him. He designated him, in a letter to the Princess Katharine, as the implacable enemy of his whole house, of himself, Queen Juana, and the Princess Katharine. That Ferdinand had not given up all his plans on Castile must be concluded, from various circumstances. When he proceeded to Naples, he left his chamberlain, Lewis Ferrer, in charge of his interests in Castile, and corrupted the most influential counsellors of Philip, granting to ten of them considerable pensions for life. Don Manuel, the traitor, was among them. The document is signed by Ferdinand and Almazan, and dated the 16th December 1506. The date is decidedly an error. Ferdinand had already, on the 4th of September, embarked at Barcelona for Italy, and did not return until 1507. I have so often seen the writing of Ferdinand, that I can positively assert the signature to be his. Besides, it would not help to clear up the matter if it were supposed that "Yo el Rey" meant King Philip. Philip, on the 16th of December 1506, had been dead for twenty-two days. Either the year or the place must, therefore, be an error. But whether the date or the place be an error, one fact is clear, that Ferdinand bought the men who were nearest to the person of Philip. What the services expected from them might have been is left in darkness.

Before Ferdinand had reached Naples, Philip was dead. The common report was, that he had been poisoned by the partisans of Ferdinand. Mariana defends Ferdinand against any such suspicion, and attributes the sudden death of Philip to his excesses. Peter Martyr is of opinion that the King of Castile caught a bad cold, and was killed by the blundering treatment of his physicians. It is not probable that this matter will ever be fully cleared up ; but whatever were the causes of Philip's death, the plans which Henry had built upon him fell at once to the ground.


The life of the Princess Katharine was not ameliorated by her betrothal to the new Prince of Wales. The harsh and unfeeling behaviour of Henry was mitigated only when he expected to obtain advantages from altering his general conduct. Thus, when he thought that Ferdinand would render him services in the affair of Suffolk, and when he imagined that he should win the hand of the Queen of Naples, he became almost humane. We find, for instance, that on the 4th July 1504, he ordered John Heron to pay 300l. to William Holibrand, who was charged to defray therewith the expenses of the Princess for the months of July, August, and September. This sum was not great, especially as Henry retained the large dowry of the Princess. Still it was an immense effort for him to make. We find De Puebla, writing a little later, that Henry kept the Princess at court, and treated her like his own daughter. De Puebla generally exaggerated the good actions of Henry, still there must have been some truth in his report. But, however great the friendliness which Henry occasionally displayed towards the Princess he never entirely abandoned his intention of dissolving the marriage whenever circumstances should permit. The protestation against the marriage which the Prince of Wales made at his command before the Bishop of Winchester on the 27th June 1505, admits of no other explanation. The document is printed by Collier, and in Lord Herbert's history of Henry VIII. Collier quotes the Cottonian MSS., Vitell. D. xii., as the source from which he took it. The document is no longer there. But that is no reason for distrusting Collier and Lord Herbert, as it may have been destroyed by the fire.

The few signs of sympathy and the little assistance rendered by Henry to the Princess of Wales entirely disappeared whenever he thought that Ferdinand did not enter into his projects, or that he could carry them out better with the assistance of other persons. Thus, when the interview between Henry and Philip was in contemplation, the Princess of Wales wrote that the behaviour of the King towards her was continually becoming worse, that her household was broken up, and she was living in utter destitution. There are a great number of similar letters still extant, from which we learn that she was reduced to such extremities as to be unable to pay for her food, and the clothing of herself and her ladies. Though the principal blame lies with Henry, who had twice bound himself to provide for her, still Ferdinand and Isabella cannot be exculpated. Katharine was placed between a harsh father-in-law and hard parents. I cannot even except Queen Isabella from the reproach. Although during the lifetime of her mother the misery which the Princess endured had not attained the height which it did in after years, it was well known in Spain that she was suffering from want. Isabella, however, not only did not assist her daughter, but, on the contrary, wished to deprive her of the few jewels that were left to her. In the year 1503 the Queen of Spain wanted to enlist 2,000 English soldiers against France, and told the Duke de Estrada to persuade the Princess of Wales to sell her personal ornaments, and pay the soldiers out of the proceeds.

Poverty, however, was not the only evil with which the Princess of Wales had to contend. She could not bear the climate of England, and during the earlier years of her residence in this country was almost always ill, constantly suffering from severe colds, coughs, and attacks of fever. In August 1504 she was very ill, and her life seemed to be in danger. Fever and cough were her complaints. I must leave it to physicians to decide on the propriety of the treatment administered. It consisted in purging her soundly, and afterwards in attempts at bleeding. Blood, however, would not come, though her Spanish physician tried the operation twice, once in the arm and once in the ankle. As the physicians could not induce the blood to flow, they had again recourse to purgatives, and reserved their ultimate decision as to the use of further means to a future time.

In spite of illnesses and doctors, her youth carried her through all. But it was not until the 5th of April 1507 that her physician wrote she had at last entirely recovered from the long malady from which she had suffered ever since her arrival in England. The only sufferings she had now to endure, he added, were mental afflictions, beyond the reach of medical skill. Notwithstanding the straits to which the Princess and her household were reduced, we frequently hear of marriages projected between Spanish ladies and gentlemen who waited upon her and members of noble English houses. They must therefore, still have been held in some consideration. The hard treatment to which the Princess was subjected could not fail to produce its effect upon her. In a daughter who, so long as she had been under her parents' roof, had never known suffering, it was only natural that she should disbelieve her father had any share in inflicting unhappiness upon her. She looked upon the King of England as the only author of all her misery, although she occasionally accused the Spanish ambassadors of not fulfilling the intentions of Ferdinand.


With the death of Philip a new period in the policy of Henry VII. commenced. As regarded the government of Castile, one pretender had made way for another. Maximilian, in his character of guardian of Prince Charles, claimed the regency in opposition to Ferdinand. The untrust-worthiness of the King of the Romans was proverbial. Of no other prince in Christendom did Henry entertain so low an opinion. He had ridiculed him in former times when Maximilian had desired to become his ally against France. He wished, he said, that Maximilian would make good his boastful promises ; not, however, in order to participate in his great feats as an ally, but only to see him fight against the French. Philip, as the husband of Queen Juana, had undoubtedly an interest in the government of Spain. It was, moreover, fully acknowledged in the will of Queen Isabella. But the case of Maximilian was very different. Although he was the guardian of Prince Charles, his guardianship was restricted to the affairs of Germany. He had no authority in Spain, and Queen Isabella had, very naturally, not even alluded to him in her will. Moreover, the relations between Maximilian and France were much more embarrassing than those that had subsisted between Philip and King Louis. Philip had been on good terms with him, whilst Maximilian was his declared enemy. Since Louis had dissolved the marriage between the Princess Claude and Prince Charles, Maximilian had with great ostentation asserted that he would punish the "French foxes" for the slight they had put upon him.

No alliance could be less desirable than that of the King of the Romans. Yet the ill-advised political plans of Henry reduced him to the necessity of seeking the friendship of such a worthless ally ; and the treaties concluded with Philip during his stay in England, were renewed with Maximilian. It was, however, very soon known that the Archduchess had resolutely refused to marry Henry. She was much pressed for more than a year by the agents of Henry, as well as by her father, but remained firm to her resolution. The utmost that could be obtained was to prevail on her to write from time to time flattering letters to Henry in order to secure some advantages for her father. But Maximilian himself was not sincere. He wanted soldiers and money from Henry. The dower of the Archduchess Margaret was to consist of 300,000 crowns, and that of the Princess Mary of 250,000 crowns. Thus the balance in Henry's favour was 50,000 crowns. Besides, as the marriage of the Archduchess Margaret was to take place earlier than that of Prince Charles, the King of the Romans would have to be the first to make the payments. Nevertheless, he asked Henry to pay him at once 100,000 crowns as an instalment of the dower of his daughter. It is true that he offered bonds on certain Flemish towns as security. The revenues of the towns must, there is no doubt, have been much greater than the sum demanded. But if Maximilian should not fulfil his obligations, how would it be possible, in such a case, for Henry to obtain possession of the Flemish towns? To involve the nation in a war for the sake of 100,000 crowns, which regarded him only personally, would have been an unprofitable affair. And yet Maximilian declared that unless he received the 100,000 crowns, no marriage should take place. (fn. 9) How little value he attached to an alliance with England is evident from another fact. He told Margaret, through whose hands all the negotiations passed, that the marriage between the Princess Mary and Prince Charles should be null and void if the King of France were, within a year, to declare himself willing to marry his daughter to the young Archduke.

Whilst Henry was countenancing the plans of Maxmilian respecting the regency of Castile, he also entered into negotiations with France with regard to a marriage of the Prince of Wales to a French princess. But he told Fedinand that the French, and not he, were making the offers, and even claimed the merit of not accepting the French proposals, though Louis was willing to pay him a marriage portion twice as great as that of the Princess Katharine. The assertion that all the offers proceeded solely from France is not probable. France was then the ally of Ferdinand, and since Ferdinand had as strong and even a stronger interest than France in opposing Maximilian, the Spanish alliance could be relied upon by Louis. Henry, on the other hand, was negotiating with Maximilian respecting his own marriage to the Archduchess Margaret, and that of his daughter to Prince Charles. He could not, therefore, be expected to lend any effectual assistance against the very person on whom the fulfilment of his wishes depended. Besides, the direct testimony of the King of France was against Henry. Louis not only positively denied that he had offered a French princess to the Prince of Wales in marriage, but declared himself ready to send ambassadors to England in order to urge, conjointly with the Spanish ambassador, the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Princess Katharine.

In spite of the treaties concluded with Philip during his stay in England, and the negotiations with the King of the Romans and the King of France, the correspondence between Henry and Ferdinand was never interrupted. It is probable that Ferdinand was only informed of such clauses of the treaty as directly affected the regency of Castile. Even De Puebla seems to have been left in the dark. At least as late as the month of October 1507, he asked Henry what the nature of the treaties with Philip had been. At all events, if Ferdinand was aware of what had passed, he dissimulated.

Ferdinand had not sent, at the time which had been fixed upon, the 100,000 crowns that still remained to be paid of the marriage portion of the Princess Katharine His reasons were many. The troubles which had arisen after the death of Queen Isabella, and the coming of Philip to Spain, had brought him into difficulties. When he left the government of Castile to Philip, he demanded that he should pay the dower of the Princess out of the revenues of that kingdom. Philip, however, would not acknowledge his obligation, and a faint attempt to persuade the executors of Queen Isabella to sell her jewels, and send the proceeds over to England, remained without effect. Henry gave way to a "fit of fury," and the poor Princess was the principal sufferer. Even De Puebla, who, as the Princess said, "sugared over" everything, confesses that the behaviour of Henry was "very unpleasant" on this occasion. What right, however, had Henry to expect payment? He had made the Prince of Wales renounce the marriage with the Princess Katharine, and was continually negotiating with France for the purpose of obtaining a French princess for his son.

His fury was allayed by a letter of Ferdinand. As soon as Henry had heard of the death of Philip, he directed the Princess of Wales to write to Ferdinand, who was then at Naples, and ask the hand of her sister for her father-in-law. Ferdinand answered that he would try to persuade Doa Juana to take a second husband, and that if she were not disinclined to a second marriage, she should marry no one else but Henry. He made it a condition, however, that the whole matter should be kept secret, and that nothing should be done in it until his return to Castile. This answer of Ferdinand was not candid. He had just proved by experience how prejudicial to him the husband of his insane daughter could be. If there were any difference between Philip and Henry, it was not in favour of the King of England, who would most probably prove a much more inconvenient son-in-law than Philip. Had Ferdinand gained thereby any great advantages, he would, perhaps, have wavered. But the idea of committing such an unheard-of act, only to injure himself, could not for a moment have presented itself to his mind. The reason why he did not reject from the beginning the offer of Henry is very clearly given by himself. He did not wish that the marriage of the Princess Katharine with the Prince of Wales should be broken off.

The correspondence which followed fills the reader with disgust. The manner in which the matter was discussed is almost worse than the object which was in view. But that which most offends our feelings is, that the person to whom the correspondence was principally intrusted was the young Princess herself. She not only performed at this period, and with remarkable skill, the office of ambassador, but was formally accredited in that capacity at the court of Henry. When the reply of Ferdinand arrived in England, Henry had just been at the point of death. He had suffered from quinsy, and his life had been despaired of, He still kept his chamber, and none of his privy counsellors were admitted to his presence. When, however, it became known that news had arrived from Spain, De Puebla was instantly admitted. Although the King was in a state of exhaustion, the interview lasted two hours ; and the next day but one the Spanish ambassador spent the whole day with him in his closet. The first letters of Henry to Ferdinand are a curious compound of deep annoyance that he had not got the money which he expected, and of covetous longing after the crown of Castile. The prospect of obtaining the hand of Juana filled him, to use his own expression, with "rapturous joy." De Puebla and the Princess Katharine were instructed to communicate to Ferdinand in detail the views of the King of England respecting the marriage. Henry promised to make so good a husband to Queen Juana, whether she were sane or insane, that it would be impossible to find a better. If married to him she would be sure to recover her health ; but even were her mental disease to continue, Henry's counsellors added, it would not signify much, as "the English do not mind insanity ;" especially if the Queen were able to bear children. Being afraid that this declaration might not be strong enough, the privy counsellors protested a few months later that it would not deter them though worse things were true than had been said of her insanity. As for the conditions of the marriage, Henry would like Queen Juana to come to England. But if she could not be persuaded to do this, he would go to Castile, and spend some time there. The presence of Henry, however, should not interfere with the regency of Ferdinand. On the contrary, Ferdinand would remain in undisputed possession of the government during his life. Philip had been a bad son, but Henry would prove a model of filial affection. De Puebla added, in a letter to Almazan, that Henry had become "as docile as a child." The King of England further promised that he would not only place his person, but also his kingdom, with all its power and riches, at the absolute disposal of his father-in-law. Ferdinand had a real political interest, if not to conquer, at least to overawe the Moors on the coast of Africa. Henry, therefore, offered him his services in an African war. The English bowmen, it was said, were so particularly adapted to fight against the Infidels that in a few years the whole of Africa would be conquered. Henry, drawing upon his imagination, held up before the eyes of Ferdinand a picture painted in dazzling colours. Ferdinand was to make a progress as "a conqueror and a father through Africa," whilst the Kings of England and Portugal would follow him as his sons. Henry was fifty-one years of age, and, consequently, only by a few years the junior of the King of Spain.

To these magnificent promises and anticipations were added some much smaller concessions, which nevertheless were most probably more appreciated by Ferdinand. Such were the prorogation of the payment of the dowry ; the promise to accept the plate at the price at which it was valued ; and the notice that Henry had countermanded the departure of the ambassadors, who were ready to start for France in order to conclude the marriage of the Prince of Wales with a French princess.

The money affairs relating to the marriage of Henry with Doa Juana were to be settled in the following manner. Out of the revenues of Castile the expenses of the government were first to be defrayed. Next, Ferdinand was to pay out of them all his personal charges ; and from the remainder a fixed pension was to be allotted to Henry. The amount was not fixed at first, but according to a later letter it appears that Henry expected to receive as much as had been offered to King Philip when he intended to go to Spain.

As soon as Ferdinand might deem it the right moment, Henry promised to send his ambassadors, with full power to conclude the marriage treaty, and perform the marriage ceremonies by proxy. There were only two things which the King of England begged might not be inflicted upon him ; that is to say, either a refusal of Queen Juana to receive his ambassadors when they had arrived in Spain, or a refusal of the Queen to marry him, which, he said, would reflect dishonour on his character. When the Princess of Wales wrote these words, she could not refrain from adding, that in that respect she disagreed with the King. She was right. The refusal of such a disreputable proposal could not reflect any fresh dishonour on the man who had made it. It was well known that the health of Henry was giving way at this time, and that he was verging on the grave. He seems to have felt that that was not in favour of a man who was striving to win the hearts of two ladies. He attempted, therefore, to give himself the appearance of youth. In the month of September 1507, he wrote to the Princess Katherine that he was leading a pleasant life, surrounded by the nobility of England, and going from one hunting place to another. (fn. 10) A month later, his ever ready friend De Puebla, told Ferdinand that the last illness of Henry had done wonders for him ; he had become quite strong and stout, and looked twenty years younger. (fn. 11)

Many letters were written at this period. But they all resemble each other, and the only differences to be found consist in minor incidents. For instance, when the Archduchess Margaret had returned from her journey to Savoy, Henry was "perplexed." He wanted a decisive answer to be sent him, because, he said, "Margaret was already waiting for him in Flanders." If he could obtain the hand of Juana he would reject the Archduchess ; but if not, he would marry her, as "she would certainly make him a good wife."

Ferdinand was not the only person with whom Henry had to reckon for his marriage with Juana. The King of Spain, if he ever consented, would, it was clear, only give his consent on the condition that the marriage between the Princess Katharine and Prince Henry were likewise concluded. On this account, and for other reasons a Papal dispensation was necessary. Julius II., warrior Pope though he was, might nevertheless have some scruples in sanctioning such an unnatural marriage. At all events it was requisite to gain his good graces beforehand. Henry accordingly became at once a zealous enemy to the Infidels. He wrote letters so full of Christian devotedness, and exaltation of the Church, that they were read in the Public Consistory of the Cardinals in Rome, and Henry was lauded by them all as the model of a Christian king.

The overflowing expressions of affection used by Henry met with a full response from the King of Spain. "Love begets love," he wrote, and therefore he loved his good brother and son Henry above all mortal men. He was so much delighted, he told him, with the idea of Henry marrying his daughter, that it would be a consolation to him on his death-bed. Could there be any more comforting reflection than the knowledge that he should leave his daughters, his grandchildren, and his kingdoms under the care of so virtuous a prince? His heart, he said, was never at rest until he had heard some good tidings of his dear son. But however great his love might be, it was easily to be understood, he added, that he could not give an answer in such an important affair before he had returned to Castile, and seen his daughter.

Month after month passed away. The voyage of Ferdinand from Naples to Spain was retarded, and the impatience of Henry was daily on the increase. He began to have evil forebodings. He had waited so long, and the Archduchess Margaret, he told the Princess Katharine, was waiting for him, and yet in the end he might meet with a refusal, and then all his sacrifices would have been made in vain. He asked her to write to the Cardinal Ximenes, and beg his good offices. Katharine objected, while she exhorted him not to be impatient, saying that the matter was to be kept secret, and that she could not make any one acquainted with it unless she had permission from her father. At last an expedient was adopted. She wrote to the Cardinal, and recommended to him the King of England in general terms with respect to a matter concerning which King Ferdinand would speak to him. But instead of sending the letter direct to the Cardinal, she addressed it to the King, and asked him to destroy it, if he did not think it advisable to deliver it. What Ferdinand did with the letter is not known. At all events Henry gained nothing by it. He then made up his mind to have the lady addressed directly. But he did not dare to write to her himself, and the Princess Katharine had again to do his work. The letter, most probably written at the dictation of Henry, is a strange one. Henry, it stated, had already been in love with Juana when she visited England with her husband. It had even been his intention to retain her longer in the country, for, her departure weighed greatly on his heart. But his Privy Council had strongly admonished him to let the Queen go. They had good reason for that, as the King of England was such a passionate man, and would have quarrelled on her behalf with her husband. Following the advice of his friends, he had concealed his feelings and affection. The King of England, the Princess was obliged to write, was a prince full of the noblest virtues, and possessed of immense treasures. If Doa Juana would hearken to the communications of King Ferdinand she would become the greatest Queen in Christendom. If, on the other hand, she refused to listen she would commit a great sin against her God, her father, and herself.

All was in vain. In January 1508 Ferdinand had seen his daughter, and wrote that the lady whom Henry was wooing was still carrying about with her the corpse of her deceased husband. Every attempt at persuading her to consent to its burial had been fruitless. On New Year's Day she had even demanded that royal honours should be paid to the dead body. Ferdinand said he did not think it proper to speak of a new marriage until the strange ceremony to take place on New Year's Day had passed over. When, at a later date, he mentioned the subject, she answered that she would do his will in all things, but begged him not to press her for an answer until her husband had been laid in his grave. A few faint attempts were made afterwards for the sake of appearances. But Henry at last perceived that he must give up the hope of gaining Ferdinand's consent to marry his insane daughter.


It is scarcely necessary to say how bad was the influence exercised by these negotiations on the Princess Katharine. A more degrading position than the one she had to occupy, when she was obliged to write a love letter from Henry to her sister, it is hardly possible to imagine. She was no longer such a child as not to be fully aware of what she was doing, and of what was passing around her. She frequently makes remarks from which we can judge that she perfectly understood the whole baseness of the transactions. Besides, she was treated with cruelty. Her misery and her poverty were daily on the increase. The King of England told her that he was not obliged to give her the smallest sum of money, not even for food ; and she deeply resented having to live upon alms. It is true that her father once sent her 2,000 ducats. But the clamour of those who demanded payment only became all the greater in consequence. Shortly before Henry asked her to write a letter to Juana, he sent her two hundred pounds, and promised more. But his liberality ceased very soon. He told the Princess, in a brutal manner, that her marriage to the Prince of Wales was not valid. She spoke to De Puebla and her confessor on the subject. Both of them gave unfavorable answers to her inquiries. Ferdinand was equally unable to comfort her. He bade her have courage, and not despair. But the utmost he could say concerning the validity of the marriage was to tell her she should never allow any doubts to escape her before Henry. That the marriage was really a valid one, even her father could not assure her. It was in fact no marriage, as the Prince of Wales had been under age, and this defect had not been dispensed with. The heaviest weight on her mind, she said, was the cruelty of not permitting her to see the Prince, though she was living with him in the same house. When she complained to Henry of all she had to endure, he had the barefacedness to tell her that he was making her suffer in order to induce her father the sooner to send her marriage portion. Nor was Henry the only author of her misery. De Puebla was quite as bad, if not worse. He was the most confidential adviser of Henry in all matters concerning Spain. When he was consulted by the Princess he did nothing but betray her, and defend every act of Henry. Besides, he had already become quite decrepid in body and mind. When he was pressed he gave no other answer than that he was "doing wonders," and begged her to say so to King Ferdinand. The Princess replied he need be under no uneasiness ; she would always write the truth. In fact, she did not disguise his unworthiness. Harshness succeeded to flattery, whenever Henry or De Puebla thought they should thereby gain something from her. But she saw through the King and the ambassador, and despised them only the more. Their words are kind now, she writes, but their actions are as bad as ever.

The Princess Katharine would have lost all belief in the goodness of human nature, had there not been one exception from the general corruption. The servants she had brought with her from Spain, and above all her confessor, behaved to her with exemplary devotion. They had not received a single crown as salary since they had come over to England. Instead of the promised splendour they had found nothing but poverty and misery. Yet not one of them reproached the Princess with it. On the contrary, they vied with one another who should serve her best, as though, said the Princess, they were every day receiving fresh favours at her hands. She felt the misery to which her servants were reduced, more keenly than her own sufferings, and considered herself as more miserable than any woman in England, of whatever condition she might be.

The Princess early learned to dissemble. "I bait the King," she writes, "with the hope of marrying Doa Juana, and I flatter him and his counsellors." But, on the whole, it was much more the spirit of resistance which was raised in her. She was, she said, submissive, but she could not forget that she was the daughter of the King of Spain. She would not give way, even though she should die for it. It is true, that sometimes her energies failed her. She had moments of deep dejection, and hinted very clearly to Ferdinand, that she would become a nun if he did not soon release her from her intolerable humiliations.

The treatment of the Princess of Wales had become so cruel, that it was impossible for Ferdinand to permit it to continue. He consequently despatched in the summer of 1508, Gutier Gomez de Fuensalida, Knight Commander of Haro and Membrilla, as ambassador to England. The Princess had urged strongly that a man should be sent over who would dare to speak an "honest word." Neither De Puebla nor the Duke de Estrada had ever done so. She wished for Don Pedro de Ayala ; but if he could not be induced to come, she would most desire to have Fuensalida. Don Pedro excused himself on the plea of his bad health ; Fuensalida was therefore sent. At the same time, the banking house of Grimaldi, in London, undertook to pay the sum that was still deficient in the dower of the Princess Katharine.

Neither the instructions which Fuensalida took from Spain, nor the letters which he wrote from England, are extant. We learn what passed between him and Henry only from the letters of the Princess Katharine, and the despatches which Ferdinand sent him when he was in England. Whilst De Puebla had been a flatterer of Henry, and the Duke de Estrada a weak man, more fit to preside over the ceremonies at the palace than to conduct business of state, Fuensalida displayed perhaps too much energy. The fact was, he spoke to Henry in such a tone, that the King soon refused to see him. With the privy councillors the ambassador had stormy scenes.

The Princess of Wales thought his behaviour impolitic, but Ferdinand thoroughly approved it. In August 1508 he wrote that Henry was a man of no honour and of bad character. He had shown extreme covetousness and little love, not only with regard to the Princess, but also in other respects. Ferdinand said he would break immediately with such a King, were it not for the sake of the Princess of Wales. If Henry could be induced to have the marriage ceremonies immediately performed, the whole remainder of the portion might be paid in money. But it must be kept secret that it was to be paid by Grimaldi, for, if the King of England were to know it, he would raise the rate of exchange in order to profit by it. Besides, the ambassador was directed to employ the greatest precaution lest Henry should make vain promises, in order to get possession of the money, and then "make off with it." Precaution, Ferdinand said, was necessary, as he had to deal with a man of no virtue, whose thoughts were bent on cheating. The demand of the King of England, that in case of the death of the Princess her dowry should be settled upon him, was thought by Ferdinand to be dangerous, since Henry might be induced by his covetousness to poison her. If Henry continued his evil behaviour, Ferdinand added, he would learn by experience that he, and not Ferdinand, would be the loser.

Henry had founded great expectations on the expedition of Maximilian to Italy ; calculating that if Maximilian rendered himself master of Italy he would become strong enough to be able easily to expel Ferdinand from Castile. When the Imperial forces were annihilated at the battle of Cadoro, Henry bethought himself of another expedient to injure Ferdinand.

The league of Cambray was then contemplated by the great powers of Europe. Two subjects were to be negotiated there ; the one consisted in the reconciliation of the Duke of Gueldres with the government of the Archduke Charles, and the other was to form a league against the Venetians. The princes who were to take part in it were, the Pope, the King of France, the King of the Romans, and Ferdinand. As the affairs of the Archduke Charles, who was then son-in-law of Henry, formed, ostensibly at least, the principal subject of the deliberations, Henry had a direct interest in the congress. But he does not seem to have been invited to join it. Had he possessed the penetration for which he was formerly distinguished, he would have seen how much he had sunk in the estimation of the continental powers ; but he was blinded to such an extent by his hatred of Ferdinand, his covetous desire to secure the hand of Queen Juana, and most probably his wish to obtain the regency of Castile, that he formed a scheme which was perhaps the most impolitic of any he had ever entertained. He begged the Archduchess Margaret, through Edmund Wingfield, to combine with the Cardinal of Amboise, in order that the King of Spain might be excluded from the negotiations and from the intended treaty. If Ferdinand were thus isolated, he might, Henry said, easily be deprived of the regency of Castile. The consequences of this pusillanimous policy of endeavouring to make others perform the part which he ought to have taken upon himself, if it were to be performed at all, were such as might have been anticipated. Henry did not exclude Ferdinand from the league, but Ferdinand excluded Henry. This exclusion was so complete that whilst the King of Hungary, the Duke of Milan, the Dukes of Savoy and Ferrara, and even the Marquis of Mantua, were invited to join it, Henry was not mentioned by a single word. Moreover, the King of the Romans and Ferdinand were reconciled, and postponed their differences concerning the regency of Spain until the war against Venice should be concluded.

The marriage schemes of Henry had now led just to the contrary of what he had expected. Instead of being allied with all the great houses of Europe, the King of England was isolated from every one of them.

Ferdinand resolved to discontinue all intercourse with Henry, and demanded that the Princess of Wales should be sent back to him ; but Henry declared that even if she did not marry the Prince of Wales, he would not permit her to return to Spain. What had been so long suspected became clear. Henry intended to keep the Princess as a hostage. Ferdinand could not brook such an affront. In order to rescue her, he declared, he would risk his person and his kingdom, and make "worse war upon Henry than upon the Turks." The King of England, he said, must keep faith in that matter, or if not, "the world might perish." War would have been immediately declared if the King of France had not persuaded Ferdinand to wait, observing that Henry was in the last stage of consumption, and the differences could be peaceably arranged with his successor.

Already for a long time past Ferdinand had made a marked distinction between King Henry and the Prince of Wales. The Princess Katharine seems really to have liked her future husband, and the Spanish ambassadors always spoke of him in a tone of praise, each according to what he most valued. De Puebla, a frail and infirm man, praised his stature and his gigantic limbs. The Duke de Estrada, a poor and insignificant man, spoke of his prudence, and the immense riches he was to inherit. Even Fuensalida, who was on such bad terms with Henry, seems to have had no complaints to make against the Prince of Wales. Whilst Ferdinand threatened the King of England with war and vengeance, he assured the Prince of Wales of his paternal love, and told him that he might dispose of himself and of his realm in everything.

The death of Henry VII. ended all these dangerous complications. He died unlamented. His behaviour to the Princess Katharine, and his ill-advised foreign policy during the latter years of his reign, contributed, probably, very little to render him unpopular. The English people had other reasons for their dislike. But, even viewed only from the point of his foreign policy, we can scarcely regret that his life was not longer protracted. On the contrary, had he died earlier he would have descended with more honour and fewer blemishes to the grave. He had worked himself upward from a very unfavourable position to that of one of the most respected princes in Europe. At the beginning of his reign it seemed doubtful whether he would be able to retain the crown for a day. By the incessant labour and prudence of fifteen years he inspired the continental princes with so much confidence that Ferdinand and Isabella confided to him their daughter, and he was selected as guardian of the peace between Spain and France. He was one of the umpires chosen to decide upon the disputes between Ferdinand on the one part, and Philip and Maximilian on the other. But he was not able to retain that elevated place. His behaviour became a scandal to the courts of Europe, at a time when ideas about honour were by no means nice. He was excluded from the league of Cambray, and England was threatened with a war, and with fresh internal disunion, by a prince whose power was certainly not despicable, and from whom Henry had received signal services.

There is no doubt that Ferdinand had been the principal instrument to free him from Perkin Warbeck. If we should be inclined to distrust the language of Spanish statesmen, we cannot reject the witness of the Imperial ambassador at the court of the Duke of Milan. Maximilian sided, he wrote, with the Duke of York, and Ferdinand with the King of England against the Pretender. The King of Spain, it must be confessed, had committed one great error. He had, during the lapse of many years, continually humiliated the man whom he was assisting. It would have been wiser either to have made common cause with the House of Austria, and tried to deprive Henry of his kingdom, or if Ferdinand lent him his aid he should have treated him as a king. This may to some extent be an excuse for, but it is not a justification to Henry. In his earlier period Henry had had a friend in the King of France. This friendship was not of such a nature as to satisfy our ideas of what that relation ought to be, but it went much farther than was the common rule in those corrupt times. He died friendless. The King of the Romans was not his friend.

Even stranger than the spectacle exhibited by the life of Henry is the circumstance that there is not a single statesman to be found, to whatever country we look, who was not utterly unscrupulous in the choice of means wherewith to attain his ends ; utterly regardless of truth, and utterly indifferent to treaties which he had sworn to maintain under the most sacred and formidable oaths. It would not exhaust the question if we were to content ourselves with the remark that the age was one of corruption. For the principal question is not, whether some hundreds or some thousands of statesmen entertained such low ideas of public morality as to be unable to distinguish right from wrong. What interests us much more is to see with how small an amount of morality public affairs can be carried on. But this is not the place to enter on such a subject.


With a few remarks on the commerce and discoveries of the time, I will conclude this preface.

The commercial relations between England and Spain were by no means neglected at that period. We find them continually mentioned in this correspondence. But even the action exercised by commercial affairs on the countries concerned in it was better known than might generally be supposed. For instance, when Ferdinand complained of the high duties imposed on goods imported from foreign countries to England, Henry replied that in the end the duties were not paid by the merchants who imported foreign goods, but by the English who consumed them. The foreign merchant, if his goods were highly taxed, at any rate sold them at a proportionably high price, and enjoyed in addition the advantage of buying English produce cheaper than if commerce had been free. The theory of blockading the coast of a country which was at war with another was not then a general rule. Merchants of neutral states were at liberty to enter the ports of the belligerents, and to export goods thence to whatever port they liked. Ferdinand found this theory inconvenient during his second war with France. He desired that England should enter as his ally into the war. As, however, the English derived great advantage by carrying on commerce between Spain and France, from which the Spaniards and the French were excluded, he feared that the English would become thereby the more disinclined to participate in the contest. He consequently prohibited neutrals from transporting Spanish goods to France.

This was, however, not the most important change which took place at that time concerning commerce. The merchants who carried on trade with foreign countries were exposed to a twofold risk. If their own government concluded a treaty of peace and alliance with the country to which they traded, they were obliged to be security for the strict fulfilment of the stipulations. In case that the government did not keep its promises, their goods were confiscated. The other danger arose from the insecurity of the seas. Pirates were to be met with everywhere. Piracy was not restricted to Moors and Infidels. When Christians of one nation fell in with a ship belonging to another nation, a fight generally ensued. The only difference between Infidels and Christians consisted in the treatment of the prisoners. The Infidels made slaves of them. The Christians, who were forbidden by religion and conscience to sell other Christians as slaves, regarded them as incumbrances, and threw them overboard.

Ferdinand attempted to put a stop to both sources of vexation. He declared the obligation imposed on merchants to answer with their private property for the acts of their governments was dishonest and useless. But Henry could not be prevailed upon to join in Ferdinand's views, and the old custom to make the merchants responsible for the fulfilment of treaties was continued. But with regard to piracy a general measure was concerted. Each ship, on leaving port was obliged to give security for her good behaviour towards any vessel of a friendly nation she might meet at sea.

One more particular deserves mention. After the betrothal of the Princess Katharine to Henry, Prince of Wales, it had been arranged that English vessels should be treated in Spain on the same footing as Spanish ships, and Spanish ships in England as English vessels. As soon as this arrangement was made public, a great number of English captains sailed to the port of Seville. They were permitted to import their goods, consisting of cloths and other merchandise, without difficulty. But when they intended to freight their vessels with oil and wine, the Spanish law, according to which foreign ships were only to be employed when there were no Spanish ones in the port, was enforced against them. Not less than 800 captains and sailors were thereby ruined. They stated their loss to amount to a large sum. After their return to England they went with great clamour to Richmond, where Henry then resided. As soon as the King was informed of the case, he fell into a fit of rage. He sent directly for De Puebla, and addressed to him a great many reproaches full of venom, not only on account of what had just happened, but raking up all kinds of grievances which had long been forgotten. "The words which came from his mouth were vipers," said De Puebla, "and he indulged in every kind of passion." De Puebla, however, bore all patiently, and made as good or as bad excuses as he could. This scene took place on a Friday. On the following Monday the rage of Henry had calmed down. He sent De Puebla a buck as a present, without, however, making any further direct apology. The ambassador, after receiving the present, went to the King, and the affair was settled without allusion to the scene of Friday.

I come to the discovery of America. The papers relating to it are preserved at Seville, and are most conscientiously edited by Navarete. But a few stray papers have remained at Simancas. One of them is a contemporary copy of a letter of Columbus written to a friend of his, when he was returning to Europe from his first voyage. It is dated Calavera, on the Canary Islands, 15th February 1493, and has a postscript from Lisbon of the 14th of March. It contains some inaccuracies respecting the duration of the voyage, and scarcely any facts which are not given more in detail in his great report to the King and the Queen. Still it is curious, especially on account of the freshness and vividness with which the discoverer describes the new countries he had seen. Another letter is signed Luys. It is dated Cogolludo, the 29th March 1493, that is to say, a few weeks after the return of Columbus, and is directed to the Archbishop of Toledo. We learn from it that the writer of this letter had become acquainted with Columbus before his enterprise, when he was on his way from Portugal to France, in order to request assistance from Charles VIII. Luys, who is most probably the person to whom the other letter is directed, and who was Escribano de Racion for the new discoveries, that is to say, Secretary for India, kept Columbus a long time in his house, and introduced him to the court of Spain. In the archives of Barcelona there is a passport and credentials of Ferdinand and Isabella for Columbus to the Kings in the parts of the world to which Columbus was to sail. The names of the kings are naturally left in blank. But Ferdinand and Isabella addressed them as friends, who had signified to them their wish to become better acquainted with them. The passport is written in Latin. (fn. 12) Another paper contains the grant to Columbus in reference to the discoveries which he had made and was to make. It is dated the 17th April 1492, and it positively states that the favours were granted to him in recompense of the discoveries "which he has already made in the oceanic seas, and which he is to make on this voyage." An error is scarcely possible. (fn. 13) The document is written in the hand of Almazan himself, who was very accurate. Besides, it coincides entirely with the document printed by Navarete from another source.

The Spanish discoveries naturally lead us to English enterprises in a similar field. Don Pedro de Ayala wrote on the 25th July 1498, to Ferdinand and Isabella, that merchants of Bristol had for the last seven years sent out annually some ships in search of the Island of Brazil and the Seven Cities. The enterprise of the merchants of Bristol therefore dates as far back as the year 1491, that is to say, one year before Columbus undertook his first voyage. The whole, said Pedro de Ayala, was a fancy of another Genoese, who had before then been in Seville and Lisbon asking assistance. In the year 1497 they had found land. Henry determined therefore, in 1498, to send five vessels, provided with provisions for one year, in search of the unknown land. One ship, in which sailed Friar Buil, was driven back by a storm on the coast of Ireland and wrecked. The Genoese, however, who by the way was no other than Caboto the Venetian, continued his voyage, and was soon expected to return to England. Ferdinand does not seem to have liked the English enterprise. He wrote to Henry that it was an uncertain affair, and that the King of France had induced him to undertake it with the intention of diverting him from more serious matters.

In collecting, deciphering, and arranging the documents contained in this volume I have bestowed two years' incessant labour. I can positively state that I have left no paper unexamined which belongs to the subject in question. I must refer all those who take a deeper interest in the history of the times to the abstracts contained in this volume, or, much better, to the full copies of the documents themselves, which will be shortly deposited in the Public Record Office. I have a firm belief that my collection is complete. If any document not mentioned by me should hereafter be found, it can only be because it has got into some collection entirely unconnected with my subject, or because, from certain reasons, of which I am not aware, it has been withheld from me.

An index will be given in the succeeding volume.

Remarks On The Ciphered Despatches In The Archives At Simancas.

There are different essays on the art of deciphering. In almost all of them the reader is directed, first to discover what signs occur the most frequently, and to judge thereby whether they represent vowels or consonants. This method, if it be useful for discovering any other cipher, is certainly useless to any one who wishes to discover the ciphers of Almazan. Where each letter of the alphabet can be rendered in fifty different ways it is quite impossible to say which letter occurs oftenest. Besides, where one sign represents a whole word, or a whole phrase, letters cannot be counted.

The ciphers which occur in Spanish despatches during the time of Ferdinand and Isabella are of very different kinds. The most simple is the one where Arabic numerals are interspersed with common writing. As they were not intended to supersede common writing entirely, they were restricted in number. I do not think that any key to this kind of cipher contained more than about fifty to a hundred signs. Another kind of cipher soon followed, which closely resembled the former one, differing from it only in the circumstance that Roman numerals were employed. But the number of signs belonging to this system was, from the first, much greater than that of the former, and soon increased from some hundreds to some thousands. The key to a cipher which contains two or three thousand signs is a little dictionary. If each sign represent a whole word, or even a whole phrase, it is not difficult to compose a letter without having recourse to a single word in plain writing. Letters written entirely in cipher first occur in the year 1495, and are composed of Roman numerals. In the papers of the succeeding year a new system of cipher is already introduced. Whilst the Roman numerals are still retained, an alphabet is added in which each letter of the alphabet can be expressed by a certain sign. In the first key to an alphabet of this kind, each vowel is represented by five different signs, and each consonant by four. The number of signs for each letter was, however, very soon increased to thirteen and fourteen, and even to much more ; so that between four and five hundred signs, and more, corresponded to the twenty-one letters of the Spanish alphabet. To this already complicated cipher was added a third kind. Certain significations were attached to monosyllabic words. For instance, "bax" signified "ciertamente," "dem" meant "gente de armes," "ham" "Yo, el Rey Catolico," and so on. To render the deciphering still more difficult, signs without meaning, nichil importantia, as they were termed, were intermixed with the cipher. They might, in appearance, be similar either to the signs for letters, or to the monosyllables, or they might be words in plain writing, such as "Semper ille Cesar," or "Je vous prie," or any other word of any other language, but generally one in which the letter itself was not written. These different signs were constantly mixed up not only in the same letter, or on the same page, but in the same sentence, and, it might be, even in one word. I will give one example. "DCCCCLXVIIII le N o malus " may signify nothing more than the single word enviando (sending). The manner in which it is composed is the following :

DCCCCLXVIIII signifies en (in)
le signifies vi (I have seen)
N signifies a
o signifies n
signifies d
malus signifies nichil importans
signifies o

It is, I think, not to be wondered at if many hundreds of pages covered with signs of such a kind, and continued without any interruption indicating a paragraph or a word, bewildered me. The letters of Almazan in plain writing were, moreover, by no means consolatory in this respect. I found, far oftener than I wished, a sentence in which he told an ambassador that he had changed the cipher, and that the old one was no longer to be used.

The first thing I considered it necessary to do was to study most carefully, not only the Spanish orthography of the period, but that of each statesman in particular who could be supposed to have written any of these letters. Even this was not sufficient. I had to study the turns of thought, and the favourite words and expressions of each statesman. Long and curious lists, covering many sheets of paper, lay during many months on my writing table, and were stuck up against the wall of my room.

I did not discover any of the keys to the ciphers in a methodical manner. Whilst engaged in copying I was constantly on the watch for a weak point, convinced that no man can for any length of time succeed in so completely disguising his thoughts but that he will occasionally betray himself to a close observer. Wherever I thought that that was the case, I tried to guess the meaning of the signs. A hundred times I may have done so in vain, but at last I triumphed. For instance : once while copying a despatch in a cipher then unknown to me, I found two signs with marks of abbreviation. What words, I asked myself, can be abbreviated in cipher? Only the most common ones. From many circumstances I inferred, that the abbreviated signs must signify n. f. (nuestra fija). If I were right in this supposition, it would be more than probable that the antecedent signs signified Princesa de Gales. On closer inspection I found five signs, generally signifying letters. The five letters I took to be G. a. l. e. s. I had not been mistaken, and at three o'clock in the morning of the next day I had discovered the key so far that no serious difficulties remained.

Another time, when copying a despatch, I remarked that three lines contained each twenty-one signs, which correspond to the number of the letters of the alphabet that were then in use, whilst the other lines contained generally from twenty-two to twenty-three. Suspecting that these lines, in all other respects looking exactly like the rest of the writing, concealed the key, I did nothing more than place the letters, A, B, C, and so on, over the signs. I was in the right. This time I had at once the whole key. But generally I had to proceed from small beginnings. Had the discovery of all the subsequent signs of a system of cipher been as difficult as the beginning, I should, most probably, have never been able to conclude my work. But however man may strive to act incoherently, he will not be able to free himself from certain rules. There never has been even a poet who, in the boundless exercise of his imagination, has succeeded in creating the character of a madman whose words and thoughts have not been subjected to certain, albeit unsound, laws.

The cipher used in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella was, as I have already hinted, of a two-fold character. In one kind of keys each sign expressed only one letter of the alphabet, and in the other each sign represented a whole word, or even a whole phrase. The writing in cipher which signifies letters, is so far like common writing, that all the signs for the letters which form the word must be put in their natural order. The only difference consists in the circumstance that each letter may have an unlimited number of signs to represent it. The signs may be of the most fanciful character. In the key of Don Pedro de Ayala, for instance, etiam signified ll and malus rr. A further circumstance that deserves mention is, that in this kind of cipher, all the signs follow in an uninterrupted string from the beginning of the despatch to the end. After the decipherer has substituted letters for the signs, he must then divide them into words and periods. In this kind of cipher, as the same sign is continually occurring in new combinations, I feel perfectly sure I have not been mistaken in a single case. Had I, for instance, confounded the sign for d with that for h, I should have discovered my error while deciphering the first page. Even such signs as signify nothing, and are used only in order to render the discovery of the key more difficult, will soon be found out. Thus, if between the signs signifying Yngla and terra any number of strange characters are introduced, the decipherer may rest assured that they are nichil importantia. For there can be no doubt that the word is Ynglaterra and that the intervening signs mean nothing.

The cipher in which each sign represents a whole word presents greater difficulties. The signs are not so often repeated as in the other system. Besides, the signs for letters form words in their combination, and the words of a language are known. The signs are therefore perfectly under control. Words, on the other hand, form sentences when they are combined, and the sentences of a writer are unlimited. Such control cannot consequently be exercised over them ; still they are discoverable. The first thing to be done is to bring all the signs of such a cipher into their order. The signs are before our eyes, and we shall, therefore, be enabled by close observation to discover the rule according to which they have been framed. This rule, in any extensive key, must either have relation to the natural order of numbers or to the alphabetical order of the arbitrary sounds which have been chosen for the cipher. It is true that the natural order of the numbers or the alphabetical order of the arbitrary sounds may be reversed, or begin in the middle of the alphabet, or the numbers, or at any other place, and be counted forwards or backwards. The decisive letter of the alphabet may not be, as in a dictionary, the first letter of the word but the last, or the first letter of the second syllable, or any other. Still the order of signs must have some relation to the natural order of numbers and letters which is so deeply impressed on the human mind that it is impossible entirely to ignore it. When the order of signs is found out, the words which correspond to them have next to be discovered. Here, again, the alphabetical order must form the ground work on which all the alterations have been based. The words may be arranged from A to Z, or from Z to A, or fractions of the alphabet may have been made. But here also the order must have some relation to the alphabet. If the reader be only fortunate enough to discover the meaning of a moderate number of signs, say ten or twenty, which are distributed over the different portions of the key, he will find it much easier to fill up the intervening spaces.

Numbers are easily rendered by alphabetical cipher. If the cipherer has to write seven hundred, he has nothing to do but substitute twelve signs for twelve letters. Moreover, Latin numbers are represented by letters. Thus, i signifies 1 in cipher : y, u and n signify 2, and m 3. Only the strokes are counted. y m consequently signifies 5, x is 10, L 50, C 100, &c. A third manner of writing numbers is as follows. In the great key of Latin numbers used by De Puebla MMCCCLXXIII up to MMCCCLXXXI, signify the units, thus :
MMCCCLXXIV is 2 etc.

The numbers from MMCCCLXXXII up to MMCCCXC correspond to the tens
MMCCCLXXXIII is 20 and so on,
MMMCCCC is 1,000
This system may be continued, and any number, however great, may be expressed in the same way.

If a man had to read a book in a language of which he knew nothing, and had to consult the dictionary for every word, he would certainly find his task a tedious one. Yet that would give but a faint idea of what I had to go through. For I had not only to consult my keys for every word, but for every letter. The labour entailed upon me, was rendered all the greater, as in the magniloquent language of Spain many words contain ten and more letters.

The question may be asked, whether my decipherings are trustworthy? I answer with full confidence in the affirmative. I have more reasons than one for doing so. After I had deciphered the despatches I found, in some instances, that they were only ciphered copies of drafts in plain writing. Thus I had an opportunity of comparing my interpretations with the originals, and found that in all essential points they were identical. The key of De Puebla and the fragments of the two other keys, which were given to me after my return from Madrid, provided me with an additional test. The keys which I had already formed before seeing them coincided perfectly with them. As I was correct so far, there was no reason why I should not have been equally so in the rest. But the general and most decisive proof consists in the circumstance that my keys disclosed the meaning of the despatches, concealed behind the cipher. Keys to cipher are real keys, and though, in the estimation of the statesmen of that time, I should have been considered as a thief, still, so far as the keys are concerned, they must have been like the original ones, or they would not have corresponded to the wards of the lock.

To explain my meaning more fully, I will make one short observation on the difference between the manner of putting letters in cipher and deciphering them. One word, or one letter of the alphabet may have ten, or a hundred signs corresponding to it. Those, therefore, who are engaged in putting a despatch into cipher have great power of choice, and may use, for the same word or the same letter, continually differing signs. But the decipherer is in a very different position. Although any word, or any letter, may be expressed by many different signs, each sign of the cipher expresses invariably the same word or letter, and nothing else. Thus, nothing is left to the discretion of the decipherer. For the same sign he must always substitute the same letter. Is it to be imagined that, if the same letter or word be always substituted for the same sign in the hundreds or thousands of combinations in which it occurs, that sense would be the result unless the interpretation were the right one? The decipherer must be immediately aware of it, if he be mistaken. He is either an impostor or he is right. The more complicated the cipher, the greater is the certainty to be attained. This will be rendered clear by an illustration.

The signs in cipher signifying words mean, more properly speaking, only a certain number of letters in a certain order. They may either form one word, or be portions of two words, or be merely an integral part of one larger word. Suppose, now, that it is already known that the sign cox signifies a river, but that it is not plain whether it is the Rhine or the Tiber, the Garonne or the Po. Suppose, further, that the number MDCIX means some great personage, but that it cannot be discovered whether it is the king, the prince, or the duke. Suppose, again, that these signs occur in the following combination : CoxMDCIX. If signifies d, according to a key already known, and s, all doubts will be solved. The river will be the river Po, and the personage the King, the whole word reading podreys [you will be able]. No other interpretation is possible.

I have brought over to England exact copies of all the ciphered despatches. Anyone who takes an interest in the matter may see them in the Public Record Office, and examine my method of interpretation. Small errors may have been made, but only in cases where a word has no essential signification, and rarely occurs. Words which are not essential do not alter the sense, and their exact meaning is therefore not so clearly discernible. Whether a word means ilustre or ilustrisimo, can scarcely be found out if it be expressed by a single sign. If it be written in a cipher representing letters, the number of signs will of itself be a clue. But even these insignificant errors will, I think, be very seldom met with. I have corrected my decipherings over and over again, and the last time with the assistance of Don Nemesio Alday, who, being one of the principal officers of the archives, an intelligent man, and perfectly conversant with the state papers of that date, was commissioned to make the copies for the Spanish Government. The only request I have to make with regard to such persons as desire to judge for themselves is, not to test the accuracy of my decipherings by the English translations. It is often necessary to render the same Spanish word in several different ways when translating into another language.

The decipherings of the ministers and ambassadors of the time are not perfectly correct in matters of detail. From the proceedings taken against Antonio Perez, it is well known, that in the time of Philip II., the Secretaries of State were instructed to suppress, in their decipherings, all such matters as were too secret to be communicated to the Council. In the papers belonging to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella no such suppressions for political purposes are observable. Still, omissions occur which have rather a suspicious appearance. If an ambassador asked for the payment of his salary, or solicited a bishopric, and the deciphering secretary was not his friend, such a passage might remain undeciphered, and thus have no more effect than if it had never been written. Moreover, if a matter were already known by means of other despatches, not now in existence, the deciphering secretary may have thought it sufficient to give only a short abstract. Again, owing to the pressure of business, it is not surprising that some mistakes have occured. These errors are sometimes so great that the King of England s confounded with the King of France, or the Emperor. To the statesmen of the time it was so easy mentally to correct such flagrant errors that they did not consider it necessary to make corrections in the decipherings. But now, after the lapse of three hundred and fifty years, serious misunderstandings may arise in consequence. On the whole, I have observed that two classes of mistakes constantly occur, as well in ciphering as in deciphering. If the key be new to the secretary, he is very liable to confound one column of signs with another. For instance, he may mistake the column containing the signs expressing c for those expressing d or b. If, on the other hand, the secretary, through long continued use, has become well acquainted with the key to the cipher, he will trust to his memory, and thus be exposed to the risk of confounding similarly sounding signs ; as for instance, hep and hip, though the one may mean Dios and the other Diablo. I had to correct all such omissions and errors.


  • 1. Cott. MSS. Cal, D. vi. f, 22.
  • 2. "Per obras de fecho."
  • 3. Despatch of the 3rd February 1496. Archivo General de la Corona de Aragon. Reg. 3669, f. 21v.
  • 4. Leland's Coll., v. 373.
  • 5. 5th December 1504.
  • 6. The document has no date.
  • 7. Despatch of Ferdinand to Don Gonzalo Ruiz de Figuera as his ambassador at Venice. Dated 1st July 1506.
  • 8. Despatch of De Puebla. 5th October 1507.
  • 9. See his letter to Margaret of the 23d of July 1508.
  • 10. Henry to the Princess Katharine, 7th Sept. 1507.
  • 11. De Puebla to Ferdinand, 5th Oct. 1507.
  • 12. Arch. Gen. de la Corona de Aragon. Reg., vol. 3569, f. 336.
  • 13. Arch. Gen. de la Corona de Aragon. Reg. vol. 3569. f. 136.