Spain: December 1495

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

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'Spain: December 1495', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth( London, 1862), British History Online [accessed 19 July 2024].

'Spain: December 1495', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509. Edited by G A Bergenroth( London, 1862), British History Online, accessed July 19, 2024,

"Spain: December 1495". Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509. Ed. G A Bergenroth(London, 1862), , British History Online. Web. 19 July 2024.

December 1495

28 Dec.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
113. Ferdinand and Isabella to De Puebla.
Have received his letters of 9th of September, and 11th, 17th, and 30th of October.
Have written to him on the 14th of May, 20th of June, 21st of July, 22nd of August, 22nd of September.
King of the Romans.
"You are astonished that the King of the Romans should have let the person who calls himself Duke of York escape at such a time out of his power ; and you think that we have arranged the matter badly with the King of the Romans, because he did so much harm at such a conjuncture. We should have been glad if we had been able to procure what you had suggested, that is to say, not to let him out of his power. But he was not at liberty to do any other thing, as he wished to get rid of him, as we have already written to you, and as you have already explained (to Henry VII). You afterwards wrote to us that Rojas had sent you a paper of the King of the Romans, in which a clause is contained, that the King of the Romans shall not be obliged to assist the King of England against him of York. In spite of this clause, we think it would be advantageous to the King of England to enter into the league, for, if he does, the King of the Romans will at any rate not be at liberty to assist his adversary. Although the King of the Romans does not succour the King of England at present against him of York, he will be persuaded by us to do so afterwards. The King of England must not be offended by this, for it would not be honest of the King of the Romans if he not only abandoned him of York, but also declared himself directly against him whom he has kept at his court hitherto and always favoured. It must be well understood that we will help the King of England against him of York." (fn. 1)
"You say, you wish that the York were in our hands, and that we should keep him. We shall, after the conclusion of our alliance with the King of England, certainly be obliged to render him all possible assistance. But if it be true what you write, that the York is taken prisoner, there is no longer any necessity for what you desire ; write therefore soon how this affair has ended, and all other news from England, not in cipher but in common writing. (fn. 2) It was very right that you did not communicate our offer to the King of England to be security for the strict fulfilment by the King of the Romans of the clause concerning the so-called Duke of York."
Do not send the power for the treaties of alliance and of marriage between the Princess Katharine and Prince Arthur, because the courier goes by land, and the roads are insecure. Promise to send the power by sea with Salvador de Ugarte, or another courier. But he may conclude the treaty of marriage as it was formerly concluded, or, if possible, on better conditions.
Alliances to be concluded.
Henry must conclude his alliances with Spain, Flanders, and the King of the Romans at the same time. If the alliance with the King of the Romans cannot be directly concluded because he is now so far off, the alliance with Spain and England alone may be signed. If Henry prefer to enter the league before he conclude his separate treaties with Spain, the King of the Romans, and the Archduke, his wish may be gratified. But whatever is done, Henry must, without loss of time, make war upon France." (fn. 3)
Princess Margaret.
Henry has asked that the marriage between Doña Juana and the Archduke should be concluded without loss of time. This marriage and the marriage of the Princess Margaret with the Infante of Spain are already concluded. "If the King of England should now ask for the old Duchess to be sent away from Flanders, we answer that we also have grave complaints against her. She has never shown friendship to us. Nevertheless, she is a woman, and it would be mean to ask, or to grant her banishment. Our daughter is now going to Flanders, and when she is there the old Duchess will no longer occupy the same position nor enjoy the same authority as hitherto. Tell the King of England to desist from his demands."
Send an answer to the last letter of Henry. Henry has complained of the treaty concluded by Venice and Milan with France. Have already said that the Duke of Milan has made the treaty only in order to obtain Novara, and that Venice has never made peace with France.
Are astonished that the breves of the Pope have not yet arrived in England.
Are pleased that Henry is ready satisfactorily to arrange the business concerning the Spanish merchants in England.
He must never cease to watch the negotiations of France in England. Henry must avoid all appearance even of favouring France. He may rather declare war against the King of France, even if he were not prepared to carry it on.
Henry wishes to know the state of things in Scotland. Have sent their ambassadors to Scotland in order to prevent the King of Scots assisting him of York, or doing harm to Henry. Letters for the ambassadors in Scotland are enclosed.
Are pleased with the answer of Henry to the ambassadors of the Archduke. What he has said is only just. Spain has begun the reconciliation between England and Flanders, and must therefore be permitted to carry the negotiations to the end.
Have not received the letter of the Doctor, who is privy counsellor to Henry. He must inquire what has become of that letter. Fernand Alvarez writes more particulars. —Tortosa, 28th December 1496. (fn. 4)
Indorsed : "Draft of the letter to Doctor de Puebla which went from Tortosa by Juan de Valmarada, courier, by sea. He took two other copies to Diego de Soria, to be forwarded by land to Flanders, and from Flanders to England."
Spanish. Draft. pp. 4.
28 Dec.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
114. Ferdinand and Isabella to De Puebla.
The same despatch written in cipher.
There are some alterations in the wording, but the substance is exactly the same.
Spanish. Written in two different keys of cipher, one of which is extant.
28 Dec.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
115. Ferdinand and Isabella to Henry VII.
Have sent their instructions to De Puebla, who will make communications concerning the negotiations now pending.— No date.
Spanish. Draft. p. ½.
28 Dec.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
116. Ferdinand and Isabella to De Puebla.
Send him a despatch similar to that which was sent with Salvador de Ugarte.
Alvarez will write the news from Spain.—No date.
Draft. Spanish. p. ½.
28 Dec.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
Tidings to be sent from England.
117. MCCCIX. (Guide) to Alonzo De Compludo, Agent of Diego De Soria in London. (fn. 5)
"Sir, I have received your letters directed to me and to the Directors of the Company, who are much pleased that you have so ably and so minutely given all the commercial news from there. For they are disposed to act here (in Spain) according to the sales there (in England). You must, therefore, communicate to them the prices of iron and of other merchandize at least once a month, or even every day, in order that our masters may sell here according to the prices there. You know that though there are not more than two fairs at Medina, there is every day and every hour opportunity for selling as one likes. For this reason our masters have told me to go to this residence and to open a shop, in order to receive your letters and to write you what passes here. There are three copies of the letters which the Directors of the Company write you. I give two of them to Diego de Soria. He will send them each separately CCCLXXXVIII (with) a DLXVIII (courier) by land. The third copy goes by Juan de Santa Gadea by sea. But I doubt whether he will be able to sail before the fine weather sets in, for the sea is so very rough now. I do not, therefore, send you DCCCCXXXIX (the) MDCCLXXXVII (power) which you have desired, hoping that a person of trust will soon be sent MDCCXCIIII (by) MCCCCLXXXVIII (sea). But you can, in virtue of the letters and instructions which you have already received, execute the sale of the iron and the purchase of cloth, just as though you had received the MDCCLXXXVII (power). I assure you that the money has been kept back for no other reason but from fear of the insecurity of the roads. It is hoped that Salvador de Ugarte will soon come and bring it to you, and if he delay much another courier will do it. You know money cannot be confided to all persons. Nevertheless, in order to enable you to inform us what you have bought I will write to Diego de Soria to send you one thousand maravedis. He will send you with this despatch his bill of exchange.
News from Spain.
The news from Spain is that the King and Queen, our lords, have been in Arragon, and concluded in person their parliament of Arragon, which has voted a good number of troops for three years. They have come to this town of Tortosa, where they hold the courts of Catalonia ; and in San Mateo, seven leagues from here, sit the courts of Valencia. It is expected that they will obtain here in a very short time many more troops than in Arragon, perhaps three times as many, and likewise for three years. They have already five thousand lances, most of them men-at-arms. They will further assemble in the month of March in Castile twenty thousand lances, ten thousand men-at-arms, ten thousand horsemen, and one hundred thousand foot. May God give peace to Christendom, and may these troops be employed against the Infidels.
King of Portugal.
You know already that the King of Portugal has died, which is a fatality in such a time and at such a conjuncture. The former Duke of Beja, first son of the brother of our Queen, is now undisputed King of Portugal. The crown belonged to him by right, and besides the departed King left it to him in his will. He left to Don Georges, his natural son, to whom it was thought he would leave the kingdom, nothing, but only recommended him to the new King. Portugal is now as dependent on the will, and as obedient to the orders of our lady the Queen, as Andalusia. If, therefore, the factors of the Company who stay at Lisbon write to you, you may answer them, and send them merchandize just as to Burgos.
If the DCCCCLIII (marriage of Princess Katharine) and DCCCCLII (the marriage of Prince Arthur) are concluded, you must write it, and I promise you that this and what DCCCLV (De Puebla) (fn. 6) did in the affair of DCCCCXXVII (the Constable of Navarra) (fn. 7) will be paid, and is much to my taste. Therefore make haste and conclude the business, but at the same time must MMXXXIIII (begin) MCCCVII (war) DCCCXCIIII (between England) MCCCXXIX (and) DCCCLXXXIIII (France).
This country is very dear, and it is therefore impossible to sell as much of the merchandize which was brought as is desired. Nevertheless, I am pleased to stay here, in order that you may hear every day from us, and you must likewise not be sparing of messengers.
The enclosed sealed letter is for the factors in DCCCCXXII (Scotland). As you know their names write the directions on it, and send it directly. As soon as you receive an answer from them send it to me. God preserve your life.—Tortosa, 28th December 1496.
"Your MCCCIX (Guide)."
Addressed : "To Alonso de Compludo, factor of Don Diego de Soria in Londres." (fn. 8)
Spanish, and cipher.
P. R. O. Fr. R. 11 & 12 Hen. VII. m. 16. (15.) 118. Henry VII. to Thomas, Bishop of Winchester.
Commissions Thomas, Bishop of Winchester, John Dynham of Dynham, William Warham, Doctor of Law, Robert Middleton, Richard Guildford, and John Rysley, to confer with De Puebla, ambassador of the King and Queen of Spain, and to arrange various particulars respecting the marriage of Princess Katharine with Prince Arthur.—No date.
Latin. pp. 2.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 5. f. 76. 119. Richard, Duke of York, (Perkin Warbeck,) to Lady Katharine Gordon (?) (fn. 9)
Most noble lady, it is not without reason that all turn their eyes to you ; that all admire, love, and obey you. For they see your two-fold virtues by which you are so much distinguished above all other mortals. Whilst, on the one hand, they admire your riches and immutable prosperity, which secure to you the nobility of your lineage and the loftiness of your rank, they are, on the other hand, struck by your rather divine than human beauty, and believe that you are not born in our days, but descended from Heaven.
All look at your face, so bright and serene that it gives splendour to the cloudy sky ; all look at your eyes as brilliant as stars, which make all pain to be forgotten, and turn despair into delight ; all look at your neck, which outshines pearls ; all look at your fine forehead, your purple light of youth, your fair hair ; in one word, at the splendid perfection of your person ;—and looking at, they cannot choose but admire you ; admiring, they cannot choose but love you ; loving, they cannot choose but obey you.
I shall, perhaps, be the happiest of all your admirers, and the happiest man on earth, since I have reason to hope you will think me worthy of your love. If I represent to my mind all your perfections, I am not only compelled to love, to adore, and to worship you, but love makes me your slave. Whether waking or sleeping, I cannot find rest or happiness except in your affection. All my hopes rest in you, and in you alone.
Most noble lady, my soul, look mercifully down upon me your slave, who has ever been devoted to you from the first hour he saw you. Love is not an earthly thing, it is heaven born. Do not think it below yourself to obey love's dictates. Not only kings, but also gods and goddesses have bent their necks beneath its yoke.
I beseech you, most noble lady, to accept for ever one who in all things will cheerfully do your will as long as his days shall last. Farewell, my soul and my consolation. You, the brightest ornament of Scotland, farewell, farewell.
Indorsed in Spanish : "From the Prince of Wales to the Princess of Wales."
Latin. Copy.


  • 1. The following paragraph is cancelled in the original :—"We do not believe that the demand of the King of the Romans is unreasonable, because he of York has lived in his palace and under his protection. Besides, the King of England, God be thanked, does not need help if the King of the Romans and the Archduke do not assist him of York. We therefore think that the King of England ought not to delay the conclusion of the alliance on account of this clause, especially as the marriages between our children and the children of the King of the Romans are now concluded."
  • 2. The following paragraph is crossed :—"As it would be a very great disadvantage to the King of England in his negotiations with us, and a great security for us that he would fulfill all his promises, we should very well like that, if possible, our servants should take him (the so-called Duke of York) prisoner, or that others should take him and deliver him to us. But considering that, if we had him in our power, he would not be a person to be kept by us, and besides thinking that the King of England would request us to deliver him into his hands—a thing which we would not do for any consideration whatever— we are of opinion that it is best only to cut him off from all assistance, and for the King of England to get him by his own exertions into his hands. If it is true that on the 30th of October, when you wrote your letter, he was taken prisoner, there is no longer any necessity to do anything in this matter."
  • 3. A paragraph is cancelled which contains the condition that Henry must invade France whenever Ferdinand invades it.
  • 4. It was customary at that time to commence the year in Spain on the 25th of December instead of the 1st of January. Consequently, the 28th of December 1496 is the 28th of December 1495, according to the historical reckoning.
  • 5. This paper is undoubtedly an instruction to De Puebla, written in the form of a commercial letter. It is written in the hand of Alvarez, Secretary of State to Ferdinand and Isabella. It is not difficult to guess that the Directors of the Company are the King and Queen of Spain, and the factors their ambassadors. The cipher used occurs in a great many other documents, and is here deciphered by the editor.
  • 6. In ciphered letters the writer generally cannot make use of I and you, because there are no ciphers for these pronouns. He must consequently speak of himself as of a third person.
  • 7. The cipher is DCCCCXXVII, and signifies Constable de Navarra. But I think that there is a mistake, and the cipher ought to be DCCCCXXII, which signifies Reyno de Escocia, or Scotland.
  • 8. Added to the words on the address is a complicated flourish, in the centre of which a D is distinguishable. It is probable that it was concerted with Don Alonso de Compludo not to open letters with this special flourish, but to deliver them to the Doctor De Puebla.
  • 9. The indorsement, written in a different hand and in a different language from that of the letter, is decidedly wrong. The letter cannot have been written to the Princess Katharine of Spain. Not to speak of other great improbabilities, this sole reason is quite decisive, that a Princess of Spain who never set foot on Scotch soil cannot be called "the brightest ornament of Scotland." But though the letter was clearly not written by the Prince of Wales to the Princess of Wales, there can be little doubt that it was composed about the time when Prince Arthur, then scarcely 12 years old, penned his love letters to the Princess Katharine, under the dictation of his blind tutor, and the superintendence of sedate bishops. The paper and the writing belong to the same period, and the indorsement is written in the hand of one of the Under Secretaries of Almazan. It is further highly probable that the letter in question was of some political importance, otherwise it would be unintelligible why it was copied, sent to Spain, and there preserved among the State Papers. Thus far there are no difficulties ; but as soon as we come to the question, who wrote the letter, and to whom was it addressed, we can do nothing more than hazard vague guesses. James IV. had in his younger years many a love intrigue with Scotch ladies, and he seems to have been quite capable of writing a similar letter. At the same time, he was a pretender to the hand of the Princess Katharine of Spain, and Henry VII. even believed that he was preferred to his son. Did King Henry get into his possession the amorous correspondence of the rival of Prince Arthur, and send a copy of it to Spain in order to show Ferdinand and Isabella what kind of husband the King of Scots was likely to prove to their daughter? This supposition, just admissible at first sight, must be rejected on closer consideration. The love letters of James IV. to Scotch ladies were letters from the King to his subjects ; and though a King might bend his neck and his knees as low as any mortal before the beauty and loveliness of a lady, he could scarcely speak with such high admiration of her lineage, her riches, and her prosperity, nor would he place himself indiscriminately among her admirers. Besides, although King Henry would have done anything to prevent a marriage of King James with the Infanta Katharine, he most ardently desired to see the King of Scots wedded to the Infanta Mary, the elder sister of the Princess Katharine. How could it have escaped him that if the letter in question should induce the King and Queen of Spain to refuse to James IV. the hand of their daughter Katharine, they would for the same reasons deny him the hand of their daughter Mary? As far as we can see, there is only one explanation of the letter possible. The person whom we now scarcely know under any other name than that of Perkin Warbeck was then generally believed to be Richard, Duke of York. He arrived on the 20th of November 1495 at the court of Stirling, and was well received by James IV., who offered him Lady Katharine Gordon, the nearest unmarried female relative of the King, in marriage. This match was of the highest political importance : it was equal to a declaration of war to the knife with Henry VII. That the letter in which the real or supposed Duke of York asked the consent of Lady Katharine to her marriage was written with the knowledge and consent of the King cannot, therefore, be doubted. King James, on the other hand, treated the Spanish ambassador in Scotland, Don Pedro de Ayala, with all the confidence and respect of a son. Consequently, it is equally probable that the letter was communicated to Don Pedro. Would it not have been strange if Don Pedro, who took much interest in the person of the young Pretender, and who apologized that he wrote about all, even the most trifling occurrence in Scotland to his masters, had not sent a copy of so important and interesting a letter to Spain? If we admit that the letter in question is a copy of a letter from the supposed Duke of York to Lady Katharine Gordon, all the circumstances mentioned in it serve only to corroborate our conjectures. The Pretender, reduced to an adventurous life, might well have spoken of her "immutable prosperity," and of her riches. As he saw the lady for the first time when he was a young man and she a young woman, he could with truth assure her that he had loved her from the first hour he beheld her. As Lady Katharine Gordon is reported to have been very handsome, the praise of her beauty appears less exaggerated ; and it seems to be only natural that a young wife would passionately love, as we are informed Lady Katharine Gordon loved, the husband who wrote such tender and romantic letters to her. Even the mistake of the indorsement is easier to account for on this supposition. Don Pedro de Ayala, in mentioning this letter in his despatch, could scarcely have called Lady Katharine anything but Doña Catalina, just in the same way as he would have styled the Princess of Wales. As the State Papers in the keeping of Almazan, First Secretary of State in Spain, were arranged and indorsed towards the end of his life (he died in 1514), and more than ten years after the marriage of Lady Katharine Gordon with the supposed Duke of York took place, the Under Secretary who indorsed this letter might easily have mistaken one Doña Catalina for the other. But, however that may be, the letter is a curious specimen of love letters of so remote a period, and forms a strong contrast to the coarse instructions given by Henry VII. to his agents when he intended to marry the young Queen Dowager of Naples.