Spain: October 1507

Pages 433-441

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

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October 1507

24 Oct.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 5. f. 58.
551. Katharine, Princess Of Wales, to King Ferdinand Of Spain.
Most high and mighty Lord,
I despatched a messenger on the 23rd of September, by way of Flanders, with letters from me, in order that they might be committed to a courier, who would convey them by that cross route to your Highness. On account of not being sure of the safety of letters sent from England, it would have been dangerous, or at any rate might have been considered suspicious, if it had been known that another courier had been despatched, it being so short a time since the last one set off. Therefore it was necessary for me to send my letters by the above-mentioned route.
Conduct of De Puebla to the Princess Katharine.
Her opinion of him.
Ferdinand must not trust in De Puebla.
Firmness manifested by Princess Katharine.
Difficulties put in the way of her marriage by De Puebla.
Reports respecting what had passed between the King of France and Ferdinand.
Behaviour of the Princess of Wales to Henry.
Your Highness will learn by them that the cause which induced me to write to you with so much haste was that I had discovered Doctor De Puebla had been making attempts to prevent your Highness from carrying out your intention of sending a competent ambassador to come hither together with the dowry. For that reason I made known my wishes very plainly to your Highness, although in all my former letters I had given you to understand the same thing. But I feared as abovesaid, that the Doctor would make false promises to do more than he would or could. Moreover, as your Highness is not able to see what passes here, I also feared that the Doctor might succeed in making your Highness listen to what he wished, rather than to the truth, and to what I have asked you for. On this account, I have written so soon again. For I wish to undeceive your Highness respecting what is requisite for your service, and the remedy to be found for me. I assure your Highness that I have not changed from what I wrote. It seems to me that Doctor De Puebla is sending this courier to your Highness, and he has told me to make haste. But as I do not know whether what he writes be true, I beg your Highness that nothing which he may say or write to you may be credited, excepting in so far as it shall agree with what I say. For if what I say be contrary to what he reports, your Highness may be assured that what he writes is also contrary to the interests of your Highness. Your Highness must not hasten or inconvenience yourself, whatever Doctor De Puebla may say to your Highness in order to make you go beyond what I have asked. For as I have hoped for the best in the most troubled seasons, I am not going to yield now that your Highness is in a state of such increased prosperity. This I say, because Doctor De Puebla puts more difficulties than ever in the way of my marriage being concluded. For instance, he has told me, and also the King of England, that an ambassador of his, who is in France, has written to him, saying the King of France told him that when he saw your Highness he asked you if my marriage was to take place, and that your Highness said it had not taken place, nor did you believe it would be concluded. The King of France told this to the ambassador of the King of England, that he might give his master information of it. When Doctor De Puebla said so to me, I answered nothing. But when the King of England told me, I answered that I could not bear to have such a thing said as that your Highness had spoken differently from what you had written in your letters. I also gave him to understand that your Highness could not say that a thing would not be done which was already irrevocable. I also said that, even if this were not so, your Highness knew what my wish was, namely, that I should not be taken out of the power (fn. 1) of the King of England even if I were to die for it, and that that would be sufficient of itself for your Highness. (fn. 2) At the same time I said many flattering things to him, with which I pleased him, and everything went off very well. He replied to me, that he well knew your Highness desired my marriage, because it was a matter that suited you well, and that he could not tell what was the cause which had led to such a thing being said. I could not draw from him the avowal that he really believed it, which pleased me more than if he had really believed it, but would not show it. Finally, I satisfied him well, in many ways, too long to repeat here, always showing him that my marriage was a thing which could not be undone. When he gave me to understand that there was nothing done which need prevent your Highness on your part, and him on his, from disposing of your children in another manner, I told him that I could not comprehend him, and that I did not like to take it in the sense he meant.
Marriage of Monsieur De Foix.
Henry wishes Ferdinand to hasten his decision respecting the marriage of Queen Juana.
The Princess Katharine "baits" Henry with the hope of marrying Queen Juana.
Deception practised by her towards De Puebla.
Consequences of her former conduct.
Asks Ferdinand to write to the Lord Chamberlain.
Also, with regard to his marriage, he told me conjointly with the other story, that he had heard how the King of France had sent ambassadors respecting the marriage of Monsieur De Foix, and that there was much delay in the answer to be given to his proposal. He said this was injurious to him because he was awaiting an embassy to come shortly from the King of the Romans, who were bringing him the assent to his marriage with the Duchess of Savoy, and the marriage of Prince Charles with his daughter. It occasioned him great perplexity, he said, to have to remain undecided while he was waiting the answer of your Highness. On this account he begged me to write to your Highness, requesting you to make haste. For that, whatever the answer might prove, he wished to have it, in order that he might know what to do. But I should be afraid of him if the answer were not to accord with his wishes, for he has partly declared to me his intention. I bait him with this (the marriage with Doña Juana), as I have written to your Highness, and his words and professions have changed for the better, although his acts remain the same. I also believe that Doctor De Puebla is the cause why they humble themselves so much to me, as well on account of the King (fn. 3) as to keep me contented. For they fancy that I have no more in me than what appears outwardly, and that I shall not be able to fathom his designs, or to acquaint your Highness with the truth as respects what is requisite for your interests, but that I shall content myself with his promises as though I had not made experience of them. I dissimulate with him, however, and praise all that he does. I even tell him that I am very well treated by the King, and that I am very well contented ; and I say everything that I think may be useful for me with the King, because, in fact, De Puebla is the adviser of the King, and I would not dare to say anything to him, except what I should wish the King to know. On former occasions I tried the contrary course with him, but it was injurious to me, nor was it of any use in obtaining a remedy for me. For, whatever I said to him, he did nothing but justify the King, and say that no new matters should be stirred up. I therefore considered that the better plan was to dissimulate with him, and to take no notice of his being ambassador, since he does none of the things which belong to such an office ; especially now his illness has laid him so completely aside that he would be of no use even though he were to desire it. He is nearer to the other world than to this. Whenever I speak to him, he does nothing else but beg me to write and assure your Highness that he is performing wonders. I tell him to have no anxiety, for I always take upon myself the office of writing to your Highness the truth respecting what he does. He has likewise told me I ought to write to your Highness, begging you that when you write to the King of England, my lord, you should also write to the Lord Chamberlain, since he is the person who can do most in private with the King. As it seems to me that to do this will be of use rather than be injurious, I think it well to entreat your Highness to write to him with much love. Tell him that I have written to your Highness to ask him to see what he can do here for me, and how much your Highness will be pleased if he does so. Make him, moreover, many offers on your Highness's part and on mine, so that Doctor De Puebla may give it out for his own doing. May your Highness do according to my request, and I will not say more now. For what I have written is enough, in order that your Highness may provide a remedy for me and for your service, with the diligence that you will see to be requisite, but not by the means which Doctor De Puebla suggests.
Pleasure experienced by the Princess Katharine in hearing good news of Ferdinand.
The news which have arrived here, that your Highness has been received in your realms with so much peace and harmony by every one, has made me so glad, that I am not conscious of my own troubles. I give infinite thanks to our Lord, who has thought good to make the world know what sort of person your Highness is ;—whose life and royal estate may our Lord guard and increase as I desire.—Ewell(?), 4th October 1507.
The humble servant of your Highness,
who kisses your hands,
The Princess Of Wales. (fn. 4)
Written in cipher, and deciphered by Almazan. The ciphered original is not extant.
Spanish. pp. 6.
5 Oct.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
552. De Puebla to King Ferdinand Of Spain.
[This is a duplicate of the letter of De Puebla to King Ferdinand of the 7th of September, with the following additions.]
Marriage of the King of England.
The King of England said that if his marriage could be concluded, he would make war on the Infidels in Africa, at the bidding of Ferdinand. If, from some reason or other, however, Spain could not now engage in an African war, he would fight against the Turks in Hungary.
Has passed the last four or five days with the King in Winchester, and during that time has conferred with him about the following subjects.
Marriage of the Prince of Wales with the sister of the Duke of Angoulême.
The English ambassador in France has written that the Queen of France is brought to bed, and her delivery daily expected. The said ambassador has further informed the King of England that the King of France has sent an embassy to Spain, with the intention to bring about a marriage of the Queen of Spain (fn. 5) with the brother of the Queen of France, and that King Ferdinand had told the King of France, at their late interview, that he did not consider the marriage between the Princess Katharine and the Prince of Wales as by any means certain, but that he, on the contrary, was persuaded the said marriage would not take place. The reply of the King of France to this communication had been that, as the Prince of Wales was not to marry the Princess Katharine, it was his wish that the Prince of Wales should marry the sister of the Duke of Angoulême. All this had been told by the King of France himself to the English ambassador. The King of England is much astonished to hear such things.
Margaret of Austria.
Marriage of the Archduke Charles with the Princess Mary.
The daughter of the King of the Romans (fn. 6), six or seven days ago, sent a very loving letter to the King of England. She told him that her father would soon send a great personage as ambassador, with full powers to conclude all the treaties which the Archduke Philip had concerted during his stay in England, and, if necessary, to grant even more favourable conditions. King Henry read the letter to him (De Puebla). Asked the King of what nature the treaties were which the King Archduke had concluded during his stay in England? He replied they were very good treaties, and most advantageous, as well to the kingdom, as to himself personally. Besides his marriage with the daughter of the King of the Romans, the King said a marriage between the Prince of Spain (fn. 7) and a Princess of England had been concluded, and all things respecting commerce had been settled according to his wishes. Believes the King has spoken the truth, considering as well the prudence of the King Archduke as the circumstance that he was in the power of the King of England. The King of England said finally, that it was not his intention to break off the negotiations with the King of the Romans, but to keep him in expectation till the decision of King Ferdinand should be known.
Respecting his marriage with the Queen of Spain, King Henry said that he would be a good son to King Ferdinand, and place at his absolute disposal the whole kingdom of England, with all his power and riches. King Henry spoke a long while about this subject, making the greatest offers, and saying that he would accept such conditions as King Ferdinand should think just. He begs a speedy answer.
English mode of fighting.
The King of England spoke much about the war against the Turks, and gave him the copies of three letters he had written to the Pope, and of two papal briefs respecting that war. If King Ferdinand, however, preferred a war in Africa, King Henry would do his will in that respect. The manner of fighting as practised by the English (fn. 8) is very peculiar, and very well calculated for a war in Africa. They use bows and arrows with wonderful dexterity. It is believed in England that the English bow-men could, in a few years, conquer the whole of Africa. The King of Portugal would join the expedition to Africa. King Ferdinand would command like a father, and the Kings of England and Portugal would obey him like sons. The King spoke for a very long time about this war.
The King of England said further that, if his marriage with the Queen of Spain should take place, the King of the Romans would soon be obliged to give up his plans, and to do the will of King Ferdinand. If King Ferdinand be living in peace with the King of France at present, their friendship would be much strengthened by the marriage in question.
Marriage of the King of England.
Has spoken before respecting the marriage of Princess Katharine, and the valuation of the jewels, &c. There is nothing more to be said here.
Poverty of De Puebla.
Is in great want of money. Has sold all his property, and been obliged to incur debts. Is in fear of being sent to prison for his debts, a thing which had nearly happened to the ambassador of the King of the Romans. The sergeants came to his house, and would have taken him to prison had he not found security. When the King heard of this, he was very angry, and the creditor of the ambassador did not gain anything by his proceedings.
Begs that some black and chesnut-coloured mules, which are much esteemed in England, may be sent. King Henry intends to send in return horses from Ireland, or English hackneys.
The King of England has no confidential advisers. The Lord Great Chamberlain (fn. 9), who is of his blood, is, however, more in his confidence than any other person. He is much devoted to King Ferdinand and the Princess of Wales. Begs that a gracious letter may be written to the Lord High Steward, and that he may be encouraged to continue.
His servant who takes this letter to Spain is a very good courier, and can bring the answer back to England.—Winchester, 60 miles from London, 5th October 1507.
Domestic news of the King of England.
Postscript.—Has once more read over the letters sent from Spain, and been reminded by them of the great pleasure Ferdinand has in hearing good news respecting the King of England. Adds, therefore, to this letter some lines. Has stayed with the King of England from the 26th of August to the day on which he writes, that is, the 5th of October. The King has been every day to hunt deer and other game in forests and in parks. Besides, he often went out hawking. The King of England has never enjoyed, during the last twenty years, such perfect health, and never been so strong and robust as now. It is wonderful to see how his long illness has given him twice as good a constitution as he had formerly. He is growing stout.
Cannot say the same of his own state of health. Has been very ill. Though his health has somewhat improved, fears he will not last through the winter. Recommends his only son, his other son having been drowned on his voyage to England.
Prince of Wales.
There is no finer a youth in the world than the Prince of Wales. He is already taller than his father, and his limbs are of a gigantic size. He is as prudent as is to be expected from a son of Henry VII.
The Princess of Wales is well, and her health constantly improves. She suffers from no other evil than the anxiety she feels because she has heard that her marriage is not yet rendered indissoluble.
Spanish. Written in cipher, and deciphered by Almazan. pp. 16.
25 Oct.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 5. f. 43.
Sorrow felt by the Princess Katharine on the departure of Queen Juana.
553. Katharine, Princess Of Wales, to Queen Juana Of Castile.
Most noble and most mighty Princess, Queen and Lady, after having kissed the royal hands of your Highness and humbly commended myself to you, I have to express the very great pleasure it gave me to see you in this kingdom, and the distress which filled my heart, a few hours afterwards, on account of your sudden and hasty departure.
Feelings of Henry VII. towards Queen Juana.
My Lord the King was also much disappointed in consequence quence of it, and if he had acted as he secretly wished, he would, by every possible means, have prevented your journey. But, as he is a very passionate King, it was thought advisable by his Council that they should tell him he ought not to interfere between husband and wife. (fn. 10) On which account, and for the sake of other mysterious causes with which I was very well acquainted, he concealed the feelings occasioned by the departure of your Highness, although it is very certain that it weighed much upon his heart.
The great affection he has felt, and still feels, towards your Royal Highness from that time until now, is well known. I could not in truth express, even though I were to use much paper, the pleasure which my lord the King and I felt on hearing that the King, our lord and father, had returned to Castile, and was abiding there with your Highness, and that he was obeyed throughout all the kingdom, peace and concord prevailing everywhere.
Proposal made by the Princess Katharine to Queen Juana.
It is true that I have experienced, and am still experiencing, some sorrow and depression of mind on account of having heard, a few days ago, that the French have taken a large and beautiful city called Tilmote, belonging to my nephew, and that all his subjects and the whole land are in great fear of the French. Wherefore, as a remedy for everything, and not less for the destruction and chastisement of the Duke of Gueldres his rebel, I have ventured to write these lines to your Highness, entreating you to hearken to my wishes respecting this matter. I have, moreover, written to my lord the King, our father, about this business, which is of great advantage and importance to your Highness, to the increase of your state, the tranquility and welfare of your subjects, and those of the said Prince, my nephew, and which also affects my lord, the King of England. He is a Prince who is feared and esteemed at the present day by all Christendom, as being very wise, and possessed of immense treasures, and having at his command powerful bodies of excellent troops. Above all, he is endowed with the greatest virtues, according to all that your Highness will have heard respecting him.
Contemplated results of a marriage between Henry VII. and Queen Juana.
If what my lord the King, our father, shall say to you should please, as I think it will please, your Highness, I do not doubt but that your Highness will become the most noble and the most powerful Queen in the world. Moreover, nothing will more conduce to your pleasure and satisfaction, and the security of the kingdom of your Highness. In addition to all this, it will double the affection subsisting between my lord the King, our father, and my lord, the King of England. It will also lead to the whole of Africa being conquered within a very short time, and in the hands of the Christian subjects of your Highness, and of my lord the King, our father.
I entreat your Highness to pardon me for having written to you, and for having meddled in so great and high a matter. God knows what my wishes are, as I have already said ; and I have not found it possible to resist the desire I felt to write to you. For it appears to me that if this be not done, it will be committing a great sin against God, against the King, our lord and father, and against your Highness, whose life and royal estate may our Lord guard and increase.—Richmond, 25th October.
The Princess Of Wales.
Addressed : "To the most high and most ... Lady of Castile and P ... Arragon my Lady."
Spanish. Holograph. pp. 3.


  • 1. The meaning of the Princess of Wales is that she would rather die in England than give up the marriage.
  • 2. It is to be understood, "not to tell the King of France that her marriage with the Prince of Wales was not likely to take place."
  • 3. The prospect of his marriage with Doña Juana.
  • 4. Partly on account of the interest attaching to the letter itself, and partly because the deciphering is so bad as to be scarcely intelligible, I have thought it necessary to translate the letter in extenso.
  • 5. Doña Juana.
  • 6. Margaret of Austria.
  • 7. Charles, afterwards Emperor.
  • 8. Ynvieros (winters) in the original. It seems to be clear that this word is a mistake, and that Yngleres is meant.
  • 9. The Earl of Oxford seems to be meant, in whose family the office of Great Chamberlain appears to have been hereditary.
  • 10. Philip is generally said to have treated his wife badly.