Spain: September 1496

Pages 123-129

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

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September 1496

12 Sept.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
Entry of Henry VII. into the league.
158. Queen Isabella to De Puebla.
Has received his letters of the 13th of June and 11th of July.
Approves of the manner in which he carries on his business in England, especially so far as the entry of Henry into the league is concerned. Has received letters from Rome stating that Henry has become a member of the league, but does not yet know the conditions. The entry of the King into the league must be proclaimed in England without loss of time, but the conditions kept secret, as they are probably not favourable.
Marriage of the Princess Katharine.
Has received a letter from Henry concerning the marriage of the Princess Katharine with the Prince of Wales. Is pleased that Henry so much desires the conclusion of that marriage. Has a high opinion of him as a "Prince of great virtue, firmness, and constancy." Loves him very much, and hopes that after the marriage of their children a much more intimate friendship will take place between them than between any other princes. The marriage and alliance are to be concluded at the same time, and on the following conditions :
Articles of the marriage treaty.
The marriage treaty agreed upon with the English ambassadors at Medina del Campo must be renewed, but with the following additions and alterations :—
1. The fourth part of the marriage portion must be payable in ornaments, &c. of the Princess.
2. The scudo, which was calculated at 4s. 2d., must be calculated at no more than 350 maravedis.
3. The conclusion of the marriage must be kept most secret, in order that the King of Scotland may not hear of it.
4. The time when the marriage is to be contracted per verba de futuro is to be postponed.
5. The Princess must be at liberty to bring 150 persons with her, who are to remain in England.
Treaty of alliance.
The treaty of alliance must also, in all clauses, be conformable to the treaty of Medina del Campo, except that the clause concerning the King of France must be left out. It is not necessary to mention the King of France at all in this treaty. The clause respecting the Duchess of Brittany has likewise become obsolete.
The King of the Romans, the Archduke, and the members of the league must be excepted.
Spanish commerce.
The clause respecting Spanish commerce in England must be altered. If Henry cannot be persuaded to take off the extra burdens from the Spanish merchants, it must be stipulated in a separate instrument before a public notary, that it shall not be regarded as an infringement of this treaty if English merchants and merchandize in Spain should be obliged to pay as high customs as Spaniards pay in England. The conclusion of the treaties must not, however, be delayed on account of this difference.
War with France.
Since Henry delares it to be utterly impossible for him to begin war with France, he is to be no further pressed on that subject. But he must assist Spanish vessels at sea. De Puebla must bide his time, and by degrees obtain further advantages from Henry. The more preparations for war are made in England, the greater will be the offers which the King of France will make to Henry. If war between England and France should be declared, Henry will force the King of France to accept his conditions.
Proposed marriage for the son of Henry VII.
Thinks that a marriage of the son of Henry with the daughter of the Duke of Bourbon would be a misfortune. The English would not like a French woman, and the French would not keep their promises.
Intends nothing else in Scotland but to separate the King of the Scots from France, and to render good service to Henry. Henry must marry one of his daughters to the King of Scots.
King of the Romans.
Is very sorry that the King of the Romans should cause so much trouble to Henry. He has some friends of the Princess Margaret about his person, but their designs will be frustrated. If Henry wish something more to be done by him in this matter, he must say so.
Archduchess Juana.
The Archduchess (Juana) sailed from Laredo on the 22d of August. The admiral who commands her fleet, and who is to bring back the Princess (Margaret of Austria), has orders to request the assistance of England in case of need.
The Archduchess (Juana) goes to Flanders with the best intentions of favouring the interests of Henry. Besides the instructions given to her, she has a particular reason for doing so, as she has been brought up in company with her sister, who is to be married in England, and likes to live in friendship with her. Henry VII. has henceforth a daughter in Flanders.
The King of France knows it, and has made great preparations to intercept the Archduchess. It is expected that Henry will do all in his power to prevent the execution of this design.
A letter for Henry is enclosed. (fn. 1)
Has had no news of the Archduchess since she sailed. If he hear anything about her, he must directly write by an express courier.
Does not think it advisable to ask the Pope to declare the marriage between Katharine and Arthur binding from the beginning, because the King of Scots would hear something of it. After ten or twelve months the Pope might be asked to make such a declaration.—No date. No address.
Written by Fernand Alvarez, Secretary of State.
Spanish. pp. 11½. Draft.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 4. f. 1. 159. Ferdinand and Isabella to De Puebla.
Power to conclude, with the commissioners of Henry, a the marriage between Princess Katharine and Prince Arthur, to settle her marriage portion and dower, and to stipulate for the restitution of the marriage portion if the marriage should be dissolved by death or otherwise.—Without date or signature.
Spanish. Draft.
15 Sept.
E. T. c. I. L. 2.
160. Queen Isabella to De Puebla.
The Queen.
Although this letter is a duplicate of that of the 12th of September, conveyed to you by Salvador Duarte, you will have to decipher and read it all, since it contains some additional matter.
Doctor de Puebla, I received a letter of yours, dated the 13th of last June, and which was sent me by Don Diego Lopez de Ayala.—(See despatch of the 12th of September.)
[The remainder is put in cipher from the letter written by the hand of our Lady the Queen.]
You will perceive by my former letters, and by the contents of the present despatch, what is the conduct which you have to pursue, as well in the affair of the treaty of amity as in that of the marriage. I desire that you should, with much diligence, hasten to conclude everything, and that you should have it done in the manner the most advantageous for us. If you see that such a proceeding be politic, make very strong representations to the King of England respecting the King of France.
Representations to be made to Henry respecting France.
To this end you shall say to him that he must already be aware that the intention of the King of France is nothing less than that of making himself Lord of Italy. It is for that reason he is holding Milan and Genoa ; for he calculates that if he keep those places in his possession the rest of Italy will not be able to defend itself, and that he shall then be able to turn the Pope into his sacristan.
Intentions of the King of France.
You shall therefore endeavour to induce the King of England to prevent him from carrying out this his intention, which, of a truth, rests upon slight foundation, but is nothing less than that of making himself King of Italy. You must also try to make the King of England understand the reasons [that actuate the King of France], so that he may conclude the treaty, which would be of the greatest advantage just at present. For if the King of France see that the King of England does not hold a neutral position, but that he has resolved to support the league, and to cross the Channel, and if he find that he has already entered into the league, and will make war immediately upon France, or at any rate command his subjects to make war (as we hear from other sources he will), then the King of France will entirely lose the hope by which perchance he is still inspired.
It is certain that there is nothing which would sooner put a stop to his avarice, abate his pride, compel him to desire peace, and to be content with his own, leaving to others what is not his, than such a conviction as this.
Good results that would follow from a war between England and France.
By acting thus the King of England, in addition to his being the cause of restoring peace to Christendom, and of doing such great service to God by delivering his Vicar upon Earth from vexation, would also be the means of preventing the patrimony of the Church from being exposed to tyranny, and its affairs abused. These would indeed be acts worthy of any Catholic Prince whatsoever, and would place the Pope and all the members of the league under such great obligations to him that they would thenceforth do whatever he might desire of them.
It is indeed true that in all the enterprises which he has formerly undertaken against France he has ever reaped honour and advantage. But it is also very certain that, supported as he then would be, he would be able more easily to oblige the King of France to yield to all that it might be deemed right to demand, than he would by remaining on the same footing with him as he has hitherto done, and showing him that he does not wish to do him any injury.
Answers to be made to Henry should he excuse himself from declaring war.
If, however, the King of England should alledge as an excuse for not making war the occurrences that are taking place in Scotland, which is what he always has done, then you can tell him that we quite perceive there is some show of reason in what he says. But you shall say that he can remedy that by hastening and concluding the marriage of his daughter with the King of Scotland. In order to aid the progress of that business, and of all that is connected with it, as also of the negotiations he is carrying on, we have sent our ambassador, as you are aware, with special instructions to do all that he can to bring about the said marriage in the way which the King of England may deem most fitting.
If any difficulty should, however, arise, we desire that our ambassador should, at any rate, obtain an extension of the truce, in order that during that time the King of England there, and ourselves here, may find some suitable expedient to obviate the difficulty. To this matter we will apply our minds with as much affection and good will as though it touched ourselves.
If it should chance that the King of England excuse himself from undertaking the enterprise on account of being under some obligations to the King of France, then you shall say to him that to be aware of, and permit the acts of the King of France is tantamount to his taking upon himself the responsibility of them. To such a course of proceeding might be applied the old saying, which is very much to the purpose here, namely, that he who compels his friend to cease from wrong doing, and hinders him from going along the road to ruin, does more for him than if he were to sacrifice his life in his behalf.
Feelings which Queen Isabella says she entertains towards the King of France.
If we ourselves might venture to speak to the King of France, sure it is that we could tell him we were and still are in a position to do him the greatest damage, as is very evident. But our Lord knows that we do not desire injury to his person, and much less do we wish to gain anything from him. For even though we were to gain the half of his kingdom, yet the instant that he, returning to reason, should desire peace, we would restore everything into his hands. Thus as regards this point of not desiring to do him harm, our feelings are in conformity with those of the King of England.
Her reasons for wishing Henry to make war.
There is no doubt whatever that the war, as it is now carried on, is waged with such moderation that nothing is done but what is necessary to prevent the King of France from setting the whole of Christendom on fire. If he, on the other hand, were to make war with the same moderation that we do, there would of a certainty be no war at all. But if the King of France will continue to carry things with a high hand, putting reason entirely out of sight, then it would of a certainty be doing him a good office to prevent him from further following the road to ruin which he is taking. To do this more effectually it should be our endeavour to seek such expedients as would produce so desirable a result. One of these is to prevent him from carrying out his intentions. In order to do this, there does not appear to us to be a better course to take, or one calculated to be more advantageous at present, than that the King of England should make war upon him. For if he were to decide to do this (we of the league doing all that it is our intention to perform), it is very certain that we should then be able both speedily and easily to bring him to such a pass, that, for mercy's sake, he would be forced to see what hitherte he has not liked to comprehend. Thus, by means of the acts of the King of England and the members of the league, the evil would cease, and peace be restored to Christendom without prejudice to any one ; in addition to which it would benefit greatly the said King of England our cousin.
Therefore, by means of these and other reasons, upon which you will strongly insist, and which you will well know how to bring forward, you will show the King of England that by declaring war he will put the finishing stroke to a thing of immense and universal good.
[What follows is a copy of a portion of a letter written at Laredo in the Queen our lady's cipher, dated the 18th of August last. You must decipher it all.]
Embassies sent from France to Spain, and from Spain to France.
In addition to the cause about which I wrote to you, you shall also say to the King of England that in return for both times that the King of France sent his ambassadors to us, we have once more granted the sending of an embassy to him, and already two envoys are despatched. The cause whereof is this : he sent his ambassadors twice to us, as abovesaid, and although they came about things of little importance and less effect, and in fact to cast dust in our eyes by their fooleries, yet, in order that he may have no grounds for saying it is he who has obtained peace, attributing to himself what we have desired and procured, we have sent him these messengers. Also, in order that neither by word nor in deed should he take advantage of it, nor have any colour for saying so, we have sent the abovesaid ambassadors to bring everything to a conclusion for the service of God and the welfare of the world. For this is an affair which will be of much estimation as regards the service of God and the welfare of the world. Moreover, if it were possible to avoid all the many evils and calamities which follow upon war, not only would we send one and more than one embassy, but if requisite even we would go to him in our own person, sparing ourselves no trouble or pains whatever.
You shall likewise say to the King of England that, in addition to the other embassies which we have sent to him, we have granted the sending of a new one at this present time for the aforesaid reasons, and to exhort him to demand peace, either by way of arbitration, or by any other like means for establishing concord which may be desired, so that he may but be content with his own possessions, and leave to others theirs. For if he do not do this, all the wars, evils, and calamities which have been committed, are committing, and shall be committed, will be laid at his door, as they have been hitherto.
Times enough we have sent to say this to him, and to persuade him to reason, and we speak thus to the King of England, in order that if any one should make him a contrary statement, he may know that this is the truth.—Written at Oña, the 15th September 1496.
I, the Queen.
By command of the Queen,
Johan de Coloma.
Addressed : "By the Queen. To Doctor De Puebla, her ambassador in England, and of her Council."
Written in two different keys of cipher, intermixed with one another. The key of the Latin numbers is preserved in the archives at Simancas. The other key is not extant. The deciphering is by the editor.
22 Sept.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 3. f. 9.
161. Henry VII. to Thomas, Bishop Of London.
Empowers Thomas, Bishop of London, to conclude with the ambassador of Ferdinand and Isabella a strict alliance and a treaty of marriage between Princess Katharine and Prince Arthur. The Pope and the King of Denmark are to be excepted in the treaty of alliance.—Windsor, 22nd September 1496.
Latin, pp. 2, in print.
Printed in Rymer.
22 Sept.
Fr. R. 12 Hen. VII. m. 13. (18.)
162. Henry VII.
Another copy.


  • 1. A ciphered copy of this letter, dated Oña, 12 September 1496, is preserved in the same bundle. It is inserted in the ciphered despatch of the 15th of September of the same year.