Spain: April 1503

Pages 294-305

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

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April 1503

1503. 11 April.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
359. Queen Isabella Of Spain to De Puebla.
Doctor De Puebla, my ambassador and counsellor.
I received the letters you sent me up to the ... of February, and wrote our wishes respecting everything to Ferdinand, Duke de Estrada, our ambassador. He will communicate with you. It is not necessary, therefore, to repeat anything here, or to say more, excepting with regard to two things, which make us, and not without reason, dissatisfied with you.
Recall of Don Pedro de Ayala.
The one is, that, as you are aware, you wrote to us that if we would command Don Pedro de Ayala to come here, you would take care to conclude this negotiation to our entire satisfaction, and that it should be attended with more advantages to us than in the past. On this account alone we desired him to leave England, but we now find that ever since he came here our affairs have been conducted in a much worse manner than they were before.
Demand made by Henry VII. respecting the Princess of Wales.
The other matter is, that although we placed the most sacred confidence in you as regarded our affairs in the past, and although you were a learned man, you did not take care to arrange matters in such a way as to prevent the King of England, our brother, from demanding that which he now asks, in order to delay the fulfilment of his promise to us and the Princess of Wales, our daughter. For, as he promised he would send back the Princess of Wales, and restore the 100,000 scudos of the dowry, which it is very plain he is bound to do, you should have put the matter in such a way that he could not have demanded what you say he does. Moreover, it being yourself who made the agreement for us, and who knew the truth so well, we are astonished that you have not hit upon some way by which the King of England. our brother, and the members of his council, and the persons who negociated and settled the affair with you, should know and confess the truth. For we clearly cannot patiently suffer anything more to be said about a thing which is so devoid of truth and virtue, of right and reason, and which is so disrespectful to our own persons, and towards the Princess of Wales, our daughter. Therefore, if a remedy be not speedily found for these things, we shall consider that the principal responsibility of the failure rests upon you.
On this account we command you to apply to these affairs all your industry, and skill, and knowledge, and eloquence, so that both the abovesaid things may be done and remedied without any delay, as we have written to Ferdinand, Duke de Estrada. Meanwhile, preparations must be made for the return hither of the Princess of Wales, our daughter, for there must be no delay about her departure on account of them. In any case you will come with her, and if you should have served us well you will receive our thanks, and if not, you shall be made to know that you have not served us.
Herewith, we send letters for the Princess of Wales, our daughter, and for Doña Elvira Manual, in recommendation of you, that you may have greater authority for serving her. Likewise, we send a copy of the letter of receipt which the King of England and the Prince of Wales, whose soul is with God, have given of the 100,000 scudos which they have received of the dowry, and the letter about the customs. The others are not sent as yet, because they are in your chests at Granada. However, since you always have, in your keeping, copies of the writings that you send to us, you can by their means do what you would, if you had the originals, which we will send you from here.
Signed : I, the Queen.
Alcala, 11th April.
Indorsed by Almazan : "Doctor De Puebla. Duplicate of that taken by Don Pedro de Ayala."
The whole despatch is written in two keys of cipher, the one intermixed with the other. The keys are no longer extant. The deciphering is by the editor.
11 and 12 April.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 4. f. 60.
360. Queen Isabella Of Spain to Ferdinand, Duke De Estrada.
The last letter which we received from you is dated the 24th of December, and previous to that time we had read the letters of which you make mention, and had replied to them.
Death of the Queen of England.
Marriage of Henry VII. to the Princess of Wales.
Opinion entertained of it by Queen Isabella.
Since then we have received letters in which we are informed of the death of the Queen of England, our sister. These tidings have, of a truth, caused us much grief, as we have declared more at length by our other letter, and in which we have spoken of the audience you are to seek, and the consolation you are to administer, on our part, to the King of England, our brother. Do as we have directed you in the said letter. The Doctor has also written to us concerning the marriage of the King of England with the Princess of Wales, our daughter, saying that it is spoken of in England. But as this would be a very evil thing,—one never before seen, and the mere mention of which offends the ears,—we would not for anything in the world that it should take place. Therefore, if anything be said to you about it, speak of it as a thing not to be endured. You must likewise say very decidedly that on no account would we allow it, or even hear it mentioned, in order that by these means the King of England may lose all hope of bringing it to pass, if he have any. For, the conclusion of the betrothal of the Princess, our daughter, with the Prince of Wales, his son, would be rendered impossible if he were to nourish any such idea.
If you should find that the King of England wishes to marry, we will tell you, at the end of this letter, the match which we think would be suitable for him, and all that occurs to us relative to it.
Return of the Princess of Wales to Spain.
It now remains for us to speak to you about the other affairs which you have taken in hand. You must have already felt that if, even before this time, in order to hasten the conclusion of the betrothal of the Princess of Wales, our daughter, with the Prince of Wales, it was necessary to hasten the coming hither of the said Princess, our daughter, it has now become a matter of pure necessity that she should depart immediately. For, now the Queen of England is dead, in whose society (the betrothal being concluded) the Princess, our daughter, might have honourably remained as with a mother, and the King being the man he is, even though the betrothal were concluded, it would not be right that the Princess should stay in England during the period of mourning for the Prince of Wales. Much greater also will be the necessity and obligation of her coming hither if the betrothal between her and the Prince of Wales should not be immediately concluded.
On this account, my Lord the King and I have determined that the Princess, our daughter, shall depart and come hither immediately, by the help and under the guidance of God. But, before her departure, you shall endeavour, by all possible ways and means that you can use, to have the betrothal of the Princess of Wales with the Prince of Wales concluded and settled.
Instructions for Dona Elvira.
In order to effect this, it appears to us that the business will have to be conducted in the following manner :—I am writing to Doña Elvira to inform her that we have fully determined that the Princess, our daughter, shall come immediately to us, and that she must therefore make all the preparations needful for such a case. Directly on receiving these despatches you will give my letter to Doña Elvira, and request her at once to prepare all that may be requisite. And do you and she, conjointly, inform immediately the Princess of Wales, our daughter, of our determination with respect to the circumstances in which she is placed, and her coming hither, God willing, so that she may cause all necessary preparations to be made in her household.
Give also our letters of credence to Pedro Manrique, and to Alonso de Esquivel and Juan de Cuero, and inform them of the circumstances in which the Princess, our daughter, is placed. Say likewise, that we command each of them, severally in his office, to cause to be made in all haste the necessary preparations for the Princess, our daughter.
Vessels to be provided for the return of the Princess.
Moreover, that there may be no delay about her coming hither, it appears to us that she could come very easily, and also without any, or at very small expense, in the fleet belonging to our merchants which has gone to Flanders, when it is on its homeward voyage. We, therefore, send authority to you to take up and agree about the ships that will be necessary for her, as well those of the said fleet, as those of other our subjects, which are in English ports. At any rate it seems to us that she can come very well in the said fleet. In order that you may arrange the matter in her behalf, you shall send a person immediately to Flanders, provided with our letters, for the owners and captains of the ships, and for the consuls of the merchants, our subjects, who are there, and for all other particular persons to whom it may be necessary to give them. In these letters I have said that credit must be given to whatever you shall desire them to do on our part, or shall send to tell them. Then, provided with your letters of credence, the said person shall inform them that we have resolved that the Princess of Wales, our daughter, shall come immediately to Spain. And seeing she can make the voyage in the fleet on its return to Spain with little or no detention caused thereby to them, we pray and command them, in the interests of our service, to arrange that, on the return of the said fleet, it may make the passage by way of that part of England which shall be nearest at hand, and best suited for the embarkation of the Princess of Wales.
You shall likewise say to them that, as soon as they touch upon the coast of England, the Princess, with her attendants, will be prepared and ready to embark for Spain, God willing, without any delay. You shall, moreover, acquaint them that you are furnished with authority from us to arrange matters with them, and to promise, in our name, whatever it shall be reasonable to give them for bringing hither the Princess of Wales, our daughter. You shall, likewise, settle with them to make the homeward-bound voyage by way of England. The person whom you shall send over must also make the best agreement he can with them, and receive as certain assurance from them as it is possible to have, that on their return voyage hither, they will agree to take and bring in their ships the Princess of Wales, our daughter. As to the pay which you will have to give, make an agreement with them, according as you see whether they will be detained or not detained on this account. But let it be set down at as small a sum as you car manage.
If, by chance, there should be much delay in the return hither of the said fleet, arrange the matter in the best manner you are able with as many other ships of our subjects as may be in port there, and we will give directions for the payment to them of the sum which you shall agree for them to receive.
Betrothal of the Princess of Wales.
Conduct of Henry VII.
Immediately on the arrival of the messenger in England, and after you have had an audience of the King of England, and offered him consolation on our part, you must set about bringing to a conclusion the betrothal of the Princess of Wales, our daughter, and of the Prince of Wales. For, it certainly seems a very grievous and strange thing to us that, after having conducted ourselves in this business with so much love and frankness towards the King of England, and with such pure heart and such a good will to preserve and increase the bonds of relationship and amity between ourselves, him, and our successors, he should desire to conclude the negotiation in the manner he does, especially when we consider his former wishes in regard to it. For, what he now requires, is neither that which in reason ought to be between such Princes, nor will our honour, nor that of the Princess of Wales, our daughter, permit that he should make use of such crooked expedients in these negotiations. Most certainly if there had been in our kingdoms a like Princess, the daughter of the King of England, who had come hither in the way that the Princess, our daughter, has gone to England, and if we had had to treat respecting her betrothal with our son, we would have guarded the honour of his daughter more jealously than even if she had been our own. And with much love and a right good will would we have done all that in such a case would have had to be done, without making such turnings and twistings in the business. If, in truth, we had acted otherwise in such a case, the King of England would have had much reason to complain of us ; but it seems to us that in this case he does not value the connexion so much as he ought to value it, and that he does not even wish to conclude the business at all. Yet since the King of England, taking example from what we would do, ought to regard the honour of the Princess as identical with his own, you must yourself see what honour would be done to the Princess and to us, if she, being a woman, and such a Princess as she is, should have to stay waiting in England, and be thereby made to appear as if she were asking and wishing for the said marriage.
Therefore, we command you, by all the ways and means that you can use, to endeavour to have the act of the betrothal concluded without delay in the manner which we have directed. You must also add thereto all that may be of advantage, and conduct the affair in such a manner that by means of Doctor Puebla, or in any other way which may seem better to you, the King may know that there are two things respecting which we are firmly resolved.
The first is, that he must be made to know that, if he have any hope of marrying the Princess of Wales, our daughter, on no account whatever can such a thing be. The other is the determination we have taken respecting the coming hither of the Princess of Wales, our daughter. In this way the King will be deprived of the hope of marrying her, if he be thinking of it, and of detaining her longer in England, and will then, perchance, at once proceed to do what he has to perform. For, if you make strong representations to him, now that he is suffering from the loss of the Queen his wife, who is in glory, and show him what he will lose if he do not consent to this betrothal, it is probable he will settle it in the manner respecting which we have given you commandment.
Marriage portion.
Moreover, we do not know what reason there is why the King of England should ask for a larger sum, if the Princess of Wales should marry the present Prince of Wales, than he received when she married the late Prince of Wales. For the circumstances are identical ; or rather, since the late Prince of Wales was even better suited to the Princess of Wales on account of her age than is the present Prince, there is more reason to give less than more. However, we do not wish to make that a matter of discussion, and will only say, that the sum given now must be the same as was agreed to before.
It is necessary also to say that, to the 100,000 scudos which the King of England has already received, we will add the other 100,000 as soon as the Prince of Wales and the Princess of Wales receive the nuptial benediction, and the marriage, God willing, is consummated.
Letters patent for English ships.
You will likewise tell and assure the King of England, on our part, that if he assent to the betrothal, we desire him and his English subjects to know that in addition to the other advantages which will ensue, we will give letters patent, in which we will declare that English vessels may ship goods from our ports like the ships of our own subjects. For this will be a means of greatly increasing the sentiments of friendship and love between the subjects of both countries.
In effecting the conclusion of the marriage, you shall make use of Doctor Puebla, since he has written many times to us that, if Don Pedro were removed, he would carry out this affair in accordance with our wishes, and that it should be attended with much improvement upon the last treaty. He did this after we had written to him complaining about it, and desiring him to endeavour to obtain what he said he could. We added, moreover, that, if the treaty were not concluded immediately, he must come hither with the said Princess.
Betrothal of the Princess of Wales.
In order, therefore, to have this affair of the betrothal concluded, use all the eloquence that you may see to be requisite, not omitting anything which may prove advantageous to it. Try, moreover, to have it settled at once, in order that when the fleet shall go to England on its return to Spain, the marriage may be settled, and the Princess of Wales ready to come hither in the fleet, if God will. The said betrothal being settled, by the will of God, if the King of England should insist much on the Princess of Wales not going to Spain, on account of its removing a great safeguard from his kingdom if she were to do so, and if he should insist upon her remaining in England, then you and Doña Elvira (seeing that the King of England has reason to ask such a thing, and some way being found whereby the Princess may remain in England consistently with our honour and hers,) may relinquish our design respecting her departure. You shall afterwards consult with us as to the manner in which it appears to you that the Princess of Wales may remain where she is.
In that case it will not be necessary that you should make the fleet, or the other ships collected together for her voyage, wait for her. For if, after having seen what you may communicate in such circumstances, we, should resolve that, at any rate, the Princess of Wales shall come to us, we will write and provide ships for her voyage, in case the said fleet have arrived in Spain.
Departure of the Princess of Wales for Spain.
However, should the King of England not be willing immediately to settle the betrothal of the Princess of Wales with the Prince of Wales, as abovesaid, in that case, the Princess of Wales shall depart at once for Spain. She shall do so, moreover, without waiting to recover the 100,000 scudos of the portion of which the King of England has to make restitution, should he not immediately give them. Meantime, you shall justify her departure as much as you possibly can, by means of arguments and by means of the Doctor.
Restitution of the marriage portion.
To show that we have right on our side in what we ask from the King of England, as to the restitution of the 100,000 scudos in gold, we have sent a document to England, signed by some doctors of our council, in which it is made clearly to appear, and to be a thing about which there can be no doubt, that the King of England is bound to restore that sum to us. This document you can show to him, and also the attestation of the doctor who drew it up by our royal command, and who swears that we never gave, or thought of giving him authority to assert that the King of England was not obliged, in case that God took [the Prince of Wales to himself], to restore to us the marriage portion which the Princess of Wales took with her. Nor did he ever agree to such a thing, nor would we have given him permission to do so, on any account in the world. Moreover, not only did he never speak to us about such a thing, but if he had even so much as hinted at it, we should have looked upon it as an insult offered to us, and for the same reason we would not have allowed him to speak about the marriage portion. For such a thing was never known as that the daughters of Castile, after being portioned by their parents, should have to give up the portion they had brought with them, in case of the dissolution of the marriage and their becoming widows. But, that it should be given to the father of the husband, is certainly a thing unheard of, nor has such a thing ever been spoken of, or agreed to. On the contrary, it has sometimes happened that they have been taken without any portion, and dowered by their husbands. Because, in addition to being the daughters of such monarchs as they are, respect is likewise had to the fact, that in Spain daughters inherit, which is not the case in France. On that account, if such a thing were asked from any one else, it would not amount to so much as it does when asked from our daughter.
This is so clear and well known to both literate and illiterate persons, that we were with good reason much surprised that the King of England should think of mentioning it.
Conduct of Henry VII.
For it would not be consonant either with reason, or with right, human or divine, but would, on the contrary, be a most barbarous and dishonest proceeding, if the King of England, provided he could, were to keep by force that which the Princess of Wales took with her, and which belongs to her. Likewise, it would be an action the most opposed to virtue that was ever seen, if, over and above the loss and affliction with which God has visited her, and in addition to the great trouble of mind which she had to suffer both on leaving us and on her return, the King of England were to deprive her of whatever consolation and compensation could be given her for her losses.
Of a truth it is a thing which she herself cannot endure to hear spoken of, and we will not believe that the King of England, being so virtuous a Prince as he is, could do a thing so contrary to virtue and to the dignity belonging to royalty.
You shall, therefore, ask for the restitution of the marriage portion, and give a receipt for the 100,000 scudos which you are to receive, since you have already authority to frame the instrument for the payment of the money which you will bring over to us with the said Princess of Wales.
Explanations to be made.
If the King of England should not be inclined to give the money, it will be sufficient on our part that the affair should have received an explanation. But the requisition having been made, do not, on account of the nonpayment, give up, or delay the departure of the Princess of Wales for Spain. If, therefore, you can provide sufficient proof, without the King of England taking it as an affront, do it, and if not, do whatever may seem best to you, so that the King of England may not be annoyed, and that what has been done in England may be shown in Spain. Or rather, we are of opinion that it would not be well that you should say anything on our part, or on yours, because it would lower us more than there is any reason for, if we were to show any desire to give such explanation. Act, therefore, as may seem best, and if you should think that it will be better to manage so that the English may know of the business from others, and not from you, give to those other persons some explanation respecting the affairs of the Princess of Wales and the Prince of Wales. With this view, say that, on account of the love which we bear to the King of England and his kingdom, we consented, with much goodwill, to give the Princess of Wales in marriage to the Prince of Wales. But that God having taken the latter to himself before the matrimony was consummated, we find by letters received from England that the King of England desires the Princess of Wales should marry the present Prince of Wales. Tell them we have thought well of the proposal, desiring that on both sides our past loss should be healed and compensated, and that by this connexion, the love and amity subsisting between the two houses should be increased. Also that the subjects of both kingdoms, being thereby made nearer friends, should be able the more freely to traffic in the one kingdom and the other. Say likewise that the Princess of Wales is to come over to us, we, in this matter of the betrothal, having justly performed that which we owed to the affection we bore to the King of England and to his kingdom. But we now deem it right they should know that if she remain in England it is by the wish of the King of England, and not by ours.
Departure of the Princess of Wales.
Having made these two explanations, let the said Princess of Wales, our daughter, depart immediately without any delay, God willing, and without consulting us any more about the matter. Let her also come in the above mentioned merchant fleet, or in some other ships belonging to our subjects, which you shall be assured by the navigation company now established, are seaworthy. When she arrives, God willing, in some part or other of our kingdoms, we will send competent persons to accompany her on her journey to us.
Take care that there be no delay in the betrothal, because, in addition to the injury and shame which might result, it would cause us combined pain and grief to see her remain in the state in which she is. Besides, you must know that proposals have been made to us here, and that great matters, and of much importance, have been imparted to us, more than you can conceive, or than what appears. Therefore, if this betrothal be not concluded at once, in addition to the obligation we have to guard our honour and that of the Princess, it is on these other accounts very important for us to have the Princess in our power.—Alcala, 11th of April 1503.
Signed : I, the Queen.
Letters asked for by De Puebla.
Herewith we send you a copy of the letter of receipt which the King of England and the late Prince of Wales gave for the 100,000 scudos of the portion that they received. Also we send the letter which the King of England wrote to us about the business of the customs, and in which he promised that it should be remedied on the arrival of the Princess, our daughter, in England, because the Doctor says these letters will be of use in the negotiation. He has asked us for other letters, but as the chests in which they are contained are at Granada, they cannot now be sent. However, as the said Doctor always has in his keeping copies of all the letters which have been sent him from here, he can by means of his copies do all that he would have done if he had had the original letters. As we have written only briefly to the said Doctor, you will inform him of all that you shall deem necessary, to enable him to aid you in the matters we have in hand.
Marriage of the King of England.
Queen of Naples.
Returning now to the affair of the betrothal of the King of England, it seems to us that it would suit him very well to ... (fn. 1) the Queen of Naples, our niece, because in addition to ... her much ... which is suited for the consolation and comfort of the King of England. By this marriage the alliance and friendship subsisting between the two parties would, at any rate, be strengthened. On this account, if you find that the King of England wishes to marry, act in the way and manner which may seem best to you, being careful of the honour of both parties. If the King of England think well of this proposal, confer with him in detail on the conditions, and inform us of them, that we may make such provision as may be requisite, and let what passes in the matter be kept secret. But do not on this account defer the departure of the Princess of Wales, unless it be for the cause, and in the manner, abovesaid.
Don Pedro Manrique.
As to the affair of Don Pedro Manrique, if the marriage of the Princess of Wales with the Prince of Wales be not concluded, he will have to come hither immediately ; therefore there is nothing more to say about it. But if the betrothal be concluded, and the Princess should have to remain in England, we wish that he should either consult with her, or that, under colour that he has to come to Spain to inform us about affairs in England, you should find out some way for enabling him to come hither. If by chance, however, he should not come, I have sent a letter for him, in which I command him in no way whatever to meddle with this negotiation (fn. 1) ... the King of ... by me he be not ... you ... which with the King will have ... to negotiate, make use of this letter when you shall see it is time to do so.
De Puebla.
The Doctor has sent to beg me to write to the Princess of Wales and to Doña Elvira, asking them to regard him favourably. I will write to him, so that, as regards what he has to do in helping on the negotiation, he may not consider it as an affront that he has not had instructions sent to him. You will see that they are given to him, and do as shall seem best for the negotiation.—Alcala de Henares, 12th April 1503.
Signed : I, the Queen.
Indorsed in the hand of the Duke de Estrada : "I received it at Durham House, near London, on Sunday the 14th of May. Pedro de Avila, courier, brought it."
Written in two different keys of cipher, constantly mixed up the one with the other. Only a fragment of one of the keys is extant. Deciphered by the editor.
12 April.
S. E. T. c. L. 4. f. 62.
Queen Isabella of Spain to Ferdinand, Duke de Estrada.
The same despatch, written in the same cipher.
12 April.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 4. f. 86.
Restitution of the marriage portion.
361. The Doctors of the University of Salamanca.
A very diffuse opinion on the obligation of the King of England to return the 100,000 scudos paid as the first instalment of the marriage portion of the Princess Katharine.
The marriage treaty does not mention the restitution of the marriage portion, and it is alleged that, according to the law of England, such restitution cannot be demanded.
But the imperial and canon law dispose differently of this matter, and the King of England is bound, not only to restore the 100,000 scudos given to him in payment of the marriage portion, but also to deliver to the Princess her jointure. (fn. 2)
Indorsed : "Translated from Spanish into (very bad) Latin by Doctor De Puebla, ambassador of Ferdinand and Isabella in England."
Latin. Written in the hand of De Puebla.
pp. 8.
12 April.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 5. f. 10.
362. Doctor Angulo.
Opinion on the obligation of the King of England to return the 100,000 scudos, paid as the first instalment of the marriage portion of Katharine, Princess of Wales.
If the marriage treaty contain a clause stating that the marriage portion is to be given back to the wife, or to her heirs, within a certain time after the marriage has been dissolved by death, or for other reasons, the clause must be fulfilled, because it is not against law.
Opinion respecting the restitution of the marriage portion.
If the marriage treaty do not mention the restitution of the marriage portion, and if the wife die before her husband and without issue, the marriage portion is, according to law, to be given back to her father or his heirs, that is to say, if it be a dos profectitia, except in the following three cases :—
1. If it be understood that the wife is to have the marriage portion.
2. If the wife have committed adultery.
3. Or if it be the custom of the country that the marriage portion goes to the husband.
If the husband die before his wife, the dos profectitia is to be restored to the father, if he be living ; but in case that he is dead, the marriage portion remains the widow's, whether she have children or not.
If the marriage portion be a dos adventitia, that is to say, if it be given by any other person or persons than the father or grandfather of the wife, it is, after the dissolution of the marriage, to be property of the widow, or her heirs.
If the marriage portion consist in lands and other real estates, the restitution ought to take place immediately after the dissolution of the marriage ; if, on the contrary, it has been given in money and other moveable goods, the restitution cannot be enforced, according to law, until one year has elapsed after the dissolution of the marriage. (fn. 3)
Spanish. Holograph. pp. 3.


  • 1. Paper gone.
  • 2. This paper seems to be the document mentioned by Queen Isabella in her despatch to the Duke de Estrada of the 12th of April 1503.
  • 3. This document seems to be one of the papers mentioned in the despatch of Queen Isabella to the Duke de Estrada of the 12th of April 1503.