Spain: 1493

Pages 43-51

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

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1493. 8 Jan.
Arch, de France.
78. Treaty of Ferdinand and Isabella with Charles VIII. King Of France.
1. The old alliances between Spain and France are renewed.
2. Ferdinand and Isabella bind themselves to assist the King of France against all his enemies, without exception, and in particular against the English, who are old foes of the French, and the King of the Romans and the Archduke Philip, as long as they shall be at war with the said King Charles, who, on his part, promises to succour Spain in a similar way.
3. Ferdinand and Isabella engage their royal word and faith as Christians not to conclude, or permit to be concluded, any marriage of their children with any member of the Royal family of England, or of the King of the Romans, or in general with any enemy of France, without previously obtaining the express permission and consent of the King of France.
4. Charles VIII. restores the counties of Roussillon and Cerdaña to King Ferdinand.—Narbonne, 8th January 1493.
The treaty is printed in Du Mont, Corps Universel, &c., III. 297.
19 Jan.
Arch, de France.
79. Ferdinand and Isabella.
Ratify the treaty concluded with Charles VIII. of France, in Narbonne, on the 8th of January 1493. — Barcelona, 19th January 1493.
15 Feb.
S. E. C. d. C. L. 1. & 2. 163. 165.
80. Christopher Columbus to the Escribano De Racion, Of The Islands In The Indies. (fn. 1)
Praises God for the signal triumph he has vouchsafed to him in his great enterprise. Has discovered numerous islands inhabited by people without number. Has taken possession of them all, with sound of trumpet, and the Royal banners displayed, without any opposition.
Gave the first island the name of San Salvador, in commemoration of the mighty Lord who has bestowed all this, according to His wondrous working. The Indians call this island Guanabam. Galled the second island Santa Maria de Concepcion ; the third, Ferdinanda ; the fourth, Isabella ; the fifth, Juana, &c. Coasted along the island Juana towards the west. It was so large that he imagined it to be the main land of Cathay. Did not find cities and towns near the coast, but only small hamlets, with the inhabitants of which he could have no intercourse, for they fled as soon as he approached. Continued his voyage, thinking he would not miss large towns. At last, after he had sailed a great number of leagues, found that the coast trended to the north. Did not wish to go towards the north, because winter was at hand. Moreover, the wind was contrary. Turned, therefore, again towards the south, and proceeded to a certain point where he sent two men ashore in order to find out whether there was a king or any great towns there. They made a three days' journey, and found an indescribable number of hamlets, and multitudes of people, but no government. They therefore returned. Heard very soon from Indians, whom he had already taken, that the land before him was an island.
Coasted now one hundred and seven leagues towards the east.
Eighteen leagues distant from the former island there was another island lying east, and which he called Hispañiola. Coasted along that island, towards the north, one hundred and seventy-eight leagues in a direct line.
This and the other islands are all very large, and have a great number of harbours, which are better than any other harbours with which he is acquainted in Christendom. There are such good and large rivers that it is a wonder to see them. The land is high, and there are many mountains and high mountain ranges, all veiy beautiful, and of a thousand different forms, all accessible, and covered with trees of innumerable different kinds. The trees are so high that they seem to reach the sky, and it is said that they never lose their leaves. Believes it is the fact, because he found them as fresh and green and beautiful as they are during the month of May in Spain. Some were in flower, some bearing fruit, and some again in bud, others bearing fruit, as yet unripe, according to their nature. The nightingale and a thousand other species of birds were singing in the middle of November. There are palm trees of six or eight kinds, which are admirable in their beautiful deformity. There are also pine forests. There were very large open fields. There are beasts and large birds. There are fruits and vegetables. There are mines of metals. The island of Hispañiola, with its mountains and plains and fields, is perfectly beautiful. The soil is rich, and well adapted for fruit and vegetables. The timber is excellent for building houses and towns, and the ports are on such a magnificent scale as is difficult to believe without seeing them. There are many rivers of excellent water ; gold is carried down by most of them. The trees and vegetable and plants are very different from those on the island of Juana. There are many rich mines of gold and other metals.
The people of this island, and of all the others which he has seen and heard of, walk about naked, just as when they were born. Some of them cover themselves a little with leaves, or with some cotton. They do not possess any iron or steel, or any arms ; nor are they well calculated for the use of arms. Nob that they are badly formed ; on the contrary, they have fine figures ; but they are very timid. The only weapons they have are reeds, which are cut when the seed is ripe. They insert into the end of them a small piece of sharp wood. But they do not dare to use even these weapons. Has often sent two or three men to a hamlet, in order to speak to the inhabitants, who cams out in great multitudes, but fled in such a way that neither father nor son took heed of one another, as soon as they saw the white men approaching. They had not been ill treated ; on the contrary, had given those whom he could get near, all kinds of things which he had, clothing as well as other things, without asking any equivalent from them. They are timid by nature. It is true that they lose their timorousness as soon as they become accustomed to the white men. They are not false, and are very liberal. When asked for anything which they have, they never say, No ; on the contrary, they offer all they have, and show so much love that they would willingly give their hearts. Whether it be a thing of great value or nothing worth which is given them, they are equally contented. Had forbidden his men to give them vile things, such, for instance, as pieces of broken glass, broken needles, and so on. It is true, if they could get them they would think they had obtained possession of the finest jewels in the world. One sailor got gold of the weight of two castillanos and a half for one needle. Others had given things of even less worth, and had received in return great quantities of fruit. For the smallest coin, if it were only new and shining, they gave all they had, even great quantities of gold. For broken iron hoops of casks they gave all their property, cattle, and whatever they possessed. Thought it was wrong to cheat them. Gave them a hundred different nice things in order that they might be the more easily disposed to become good Christians and devoted subjects of the King and Queen of Spain, and that they might love the whole Castilian nation. Had done this also that they might give him all that was necessary for the voyage.
They do not profess any kind of idolatry. They only believe that "the good, the power, and the might is in Heaven." They were firmly persuaded that Columbus and the ships had come from Heaven. Was received as a messenger from Heaven in all places where they had had any intercourse with the natives. The reason of their belief was not because they are stupid ; on the contrary, they are very subtle ; they navigate all the adjacent seas, and the information they give is wonderfully exact. The reason of their belief was simply because they had never before beheld men who wore clothing. Moreover, they had never seen ships. Directly after his arrival in the Indies he took some Indians by force, in order that their fear of them might be dispelled, and that they might give him information about the islands. They very soon became able to make themselves understood, and to understand the Spaniards, by means of words and of signs. They had been of great advantage to him. Is still carrying them about with him, and they still believe that the Spaniards have come from Heaven, in spite of all the conversations he has had with them. When he arrived at a new place, the Indians immediately told the natives that the men from Heaven were there. As soon as that was known, the people ran from house to house to announce the news, and they all came skipping and jumping from all sides to see the men from Heaven. Neither small nor great remained at home. Every one of them brought presents of something to eat, and gave them with wonderful love.
They have, all of them, a great number of canoes, like the Spanish fustas ; some are larger, and Rome smaller. The largest are quite equal in size to fustas of eighteen benches. They would be even larger if they were not all made out of one piece of timber. They go much quicker than the Spanish fustas. Has seen canoes with sixty and eighty oarsmen.
Has not observed any great difference in the appearance and the customs of the natives on the various islands. They all understand one another ; a circumstance which is very favourable for their conversion to the Holy Faith, to which they are much inclined.
The island of Juana seems to be larger than England and Scotland put together. Has sailed along the coast for sixty leagues, and yet there remained two large provinces, which he has not seen, which cannot contain less than fifty or sixty leagues in length. One of the provinces is called Cavan. Men having tails are born there. Hispañiola, according to the reports of the Indians, is larger than the whole of Spain from Coluga to Fuentarabia. Believes it, because he coasted along the island for an extent of one hundred and thirty-eight leagues. It is so beautiful that it is much to be desired, and, when once seen, never to be left.
Has taken possession of all the islands in the name of Ferdinand and Isabella, who can dispose of them as absolutely as of the kingdom of Castile.
Has taken possession of a place in the island of Hispañiola, which is very well situated for commerce with the continent, and with the Grand Khan. Has baptized the town Navidad. Has fortified it. The fortification is being finished at the present moment. Has left a garrison there, artillery, and provisions for more than a year, and a boat with sailors. Has made the King his best friend, so that he is very proud of the settlement. But even should the natives change their minds, they would be unable to do any harm to the garrison. The King and his people walk about naked, and have no arms. The garrison would suffice to destroy the whole island. It seems as if all the men were contented with one wife, but they allow their King to have as many as twenty wives. The women appear to work more than the men. It seems that they have no property of their own. What one possesses they all possess, especially with respect to eatables.
Has not found monstrosities among the men, as many have reported there were ; on the contrary, they are all very handsome. They are not negroes, as in Guinea ; nothing but their hair is black. During the daytime they shut themselves up, and are not brought up in places exposed to the rays of the sun, which are here immensely powerful. That the sun is so powerful is not to be wondered at, as these islands are only twenty-six degrees distant from the line. In such islands as have high mountains the winter is rather severe, but the natives are accustomed to it.
The natives of the second island are believed by the others to be very ferocious. They eat raw flesh. They possess a great number of canoes, in which they go to all the other islands in order to rob and steal whatever they can get. They are not monsters in appearance ; they only wear long hair like the women. They use bows and arrows of reeds, with a little stick inserted in the head. They are both ferocious and mean when they have to deal with the other Indians. Thinks no higher of their courage than he does of that of the others. They contract matrimony with the women of the first island, in which there is not a single man. These women do not work, but they use bows and arrows. They cover themselves with wire [one word unintelligible] of which they have a great number.
There is another island larger than Hispañiola. The inhabitants are said to have no hair. There is gold in immense quantities. Brings some Indians from there, and from other islands, in order to bear witness.
To judge only from what he has seen in this expedition, made in great haste, it is clear that he is able to give to the King and Queen of Spain as much gold as they want, provided he receives a little assistance, and as much as the ships can contain of cotton and spice and mastics. Mastics have hitherto been found only in Greece, in the island of Chios. The seignoria have sold it at their own prices. Moreover, there are fine qualities of timber, and in great quantities. Slaves might be exported to any extent which might be wanted ; that is to say, from amongst the idolators. Thinks he has also found rhubarb and cinnamon, and would have found other valuable things if he had had more time. Had remained nowhere when the wind was favourable for sailing. Would have done much more if the ships had been better.
God gives victory to all those who walk in His paths, as is clear in this case. Has now found and seen the islands of which so many fables have been told. Next to God, he is most indebted to the King and Queen of Spain. The discovery is so great that the whole of Christendom ought to keep festival and praise the Holy Trinity.
An immense number of people will be converted to the Christian Faith. Moreover, great material gains will be obtained.
On the 2nd, they had frost and hail storms in the Canary Islands.—Calavera, on the Canary Islands, 15th February.
P.S.—Encountered such a storm on the Spanish seas that he was obliged to lighten the ships by throwing the cargo overboard. Had been fortunate enough to gain the port of Lisbon. Will write to the King and Queen of Castile.— 14th March.
Indorsed : "This letter was sent by Columbus to the Escribano de Racion, of the Indies. Another letter came for the King and the Queen."
Spanish. Contemporaneous copy. pp. 22.
[This letter was discovered by Don Thomas Gonsales in the attics of the archives of Simancas, on the 12th of September 1818, when he was occupied in putting in order the documents returned from France.]
8 March.
P. R. O. Sp. Bd. 48.
Articles of the treaty for the marriage of the Princess Katharine.
81. Treaty between Henry VII. and Ferdinand and Isabella.
Both parties promise to procure that Prince Arthur shall marry the Princess Katharine of Spain as soon as the Prince reaches his fourteenth and the Princess her twelfth year.
As soon as the Princess shall have attained her twellth year and the Prince his fourteenth, the Princess shall be sent to England at the expense of her parents.
The marriage portion is to be 200,000 scudos, each scudo worth 4s. 2d. ; of which 100,000 scudos must be paid four days before or after the solemnization of the marriage, 50,000 within the first year, and 50,000 within the second year after the marriage. The payments are to be made in coin, gold, silver, plate, and ornaments of gold and silver.
The dowry of the Princess is to consist of the third part of the revenues of Wales, Cornwall, and Exeter. She is to be endowed with it within four days, before or after, the solemnization of the marriage. In case she become Queen, she is to have as great a dowry as any other Queen of England has had.
If the brother and the sisters of the Princess Katharine die she is to succeed to the inheritance of the Crown of Spain, just in the same manner as though she had always lived in Spain. —Given under the great seal in the palace of Westminster, 8th of March 1492.
Latin. Copy. pp. 9.
8 March.
Fr. R. 8 Hen. VII. m. 9.
81 a. Henry VII.
The treaty of the 8th March.—Westminster, 8th March.
10 March.
Fr. R. 8 Hen. VII. m. 11.
82. Henry VII.
Commission to [in blank], his ambassadors, to treat with the ambassadors of the King and Queen of Spain, and to conclude a treaty of alliance and marriage between Prince Arthur and the Princess Katharine.—Westminster, 10th March.
Latin, pp. 1½, in print.
Printed in Rymer.
19 March.
S.E. L. 1. f. 342.
83. Luys to the Archbishop Of Toledo.
Had kept Christopher Columbus a long time in his house when he came from Portugal on his way to the King of France, in order to ask assistance in his discoveries. Thought that his enterprise would be advantageous to the King and Queen of Spain. Informed them, therefore, of the intentions of Columbus in his letter from Rota. Received the answer that he should send Columbus to them. Did so.
Wrote to them, saying that he could not undertake the enterprise at his own expense, but would prepare it in their name, provided they would give him a share in the profits. The Queen replied that she had given Don Alonso de Quintanilla the superintendence of the enterprise, but she would give him a share in the profits, if there should be any.
Columbus has been perfectly successful. Was the first to know it, and sent the tidings directly by Juarez to the Queen. Begged her to give him a share, or to allow him to send yearly some ships to the Indies. Thinks he is well entitled to it, as he has kept Columbus two years in his house, and introduced him to the Queen.—Cogolludo, 19th March.
Addressed : "To the most Reverend Cardinal of Spain and Archbishop of Toledo."
Spanish, pp. 2.
29 June.
Fr. R. 9 & 10 Hen. VII. m. 3. (15.)
84. Henry VII. to all Persons'
Letters of protection to Alonusus de Cisneres, merchant, of Spain, &c., in the service of Wm. Tyler, Knt., Lieutenant of the castle and town of Berwick.—Westminster, 29th June.
Latin, p. ¼.
8 Sept.
B. M. MS. E. 616. f. 3.
85. Richard, Duke Of York, (Perkin Warbeck,) to Queen Isabella Of Spain.
His elder brother the Prince of Wales, son of King Edward, had been assassinated. He had himself been delivered to a gentleman who had received orders to destroy him, but who, taking pity on his innocence, had preserved his life, and made him swear on the sacraments not to divulge, for a certain number of years, his name, birth, and lineage. That being done he had sent him away under the care of two persons, who were at once his jailors and governors. Had led a wandering life, in the midst of perils and misery, for the period of nearly eight years, during which time his governors had kept him in concealment in different parts of the world, until at last one of them died, and the other returned to his own country. Was left alone while still almost a child. Passed some time in Portugal, then went to Ireland, where he was recognised and joyfully welcomed by the Earl of Ormond and the Earl of Kildare, his relatives. Was equally well received by many of the chief men.
The King of France then sent for him, promising him aid against Henry Richmond, usurper of the Crown of England. Was shown the greatest honour by the King of France, but the promised aid was not given. Went, therefore, to the Duchess of Burgundy, sister to his father, who, moved by her humanity and virtue, welcomed him with open arms. The King of the Romans, his son, the Duke of Austria, the Duke of Saxony, and the Kings of Denmark and Scotland, received him in the same way, and sent ambassadors to him, proffering him friendship and brotherhood. Many of the chief personages in England, whose indignation had been roused by the iniquitous conduct of the usurper, Henry Richmond, had done the same in secret. Hopes Queen Isabella, who is not only his relative, but also the most just and pious of Princesses, will have pity on him, and intercede on his behalf with her husband, entreating that assistance may be given him. Promises that if he regain his kingdom he will be grateful, and a better ally of theirs than King Richard had been.
From the town of Andermund, 8th Sept. 1493.
Richard Plantagenet,
Second son of the late King Edward and Duke of York.
Indorsed in another hand : "From Richard Plantagenet, called King of England."
Addressed : "To the most serene and excellent Princess, Isabella Queen of Castile, &c."
Indorsed by Almazan : "To the Queen, our Lady, from Richard, who styles himself King of England."
Latin, p. 1. Printed in the Archœologia, vol. 27, p. 199.
27 Sept.
Fr. R. 9 & 10 Hen. VII. m. 11. (7.)
86. Henry VII. to Ochoe Martyns.
Licence to Ochoe Martyns, of Spain, to export out of England into Spain 150 broad cloths.—Westminster, 27th September.
Latin. p. ½.
28 Nov.
Fr. R. 9 & 10 Hen. VII. m. 10. (8.)
87. Henry VII. to all Persons.
Letters of protection to Ochoa Martin, John Ruys, and Domyngo de Vidua, subjects of the King and Queen of Castile, coming over to trade in England.—Westminster, 28th November, 9 Hen. VII.
Latin. p. ¼.


  • 1. Although the material portion of this letter is contained in the great report written by Columbus for the King and Queen of Spain, and printed in Navarrete's collection, I think it my duty to give a full abstract of it.