Spain: June 1496

Pages 99-107

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


June 1496

13 June
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
136. De Puebla to Ferdinand and Isabella.
Has received the despatch and the letters sent by Salvador (de Ugarte).
Went directly to the King, and had a very long conversation with him. Has already written the substance of it.
The King held a public sitting of the Council in presence of the ambassadors of Venice and Milan, and of De Puebla in his capacity as ambassador of Spain, of the Pope, and of the King of the Romans. Addressed the King in the following manner :
Speech of De Puebla to Henry VII. concerning the Pope.
"It is now more than a year that I have been in Your Majesty's kingdom. The principal object of my mission was to inform Your Majesty of the great embarrassments of the Pope. Your Majesty assured me, in reply, that no Prince could be animated by greater love and devotion (to the Pope), and no one was more ready to show it by deeds than yourself. As soon as the Pope had made known (to you) his wishes, you would not only send him aid and succour, but also make war upon all his adversaries. Your Majesty knows that the Pope has communicated his great necessities to you in four or five briefs ; and especially in his last brief, read in the public sitting of this Council, he exhorted you for God's sake, and as being your Sovereign (fn. 1), and in the name of all the princes of the league, to be in earnest, and really to execute what you had promised, in order thereby to serve the cause of God and your own cause, by preventing your enemy from growing stronger. He bade you bear in mind that in your time the King of France had taken Brittany, which once formed a principal part of the kingdom of England, and had always been her ally ; to remember further that the King and Queen of Spain, although much occupied with the war against the Moors, had sent, at his and his ambassador's request, a succour of one thousand lances, and that one thousand lances sent then were worth more than ten thousand lances, could they be sent by you now to help him in his great embarrassments, and to render a great service to God. Moreover, your Majesty must not forget that you are obliged to do it, by respect to God and conscience, and in accordance to the law of God and the Church, and that for not doing it some Princes and Emperors have been deprived of their dignity. (I read the edicts which state this.) If all Princes are bound to do it, your Majesty is much more."
(Marginal note, written by Alvarez, Secretary of State.— He said this in order that they might not think it was on account of Sicily or of the marriage, but only for the sake of the Vicar of Christ.)
Conduct of Ferdinand and Isabella towards the Pope.
"Your Majesty may call to mind how their Highnesses have acted in all matters concerning the Church. When they were engaged in the war of Malaga, Pope Innocent sent a nuncio complaining of the King of Naples, grandsire of the present King (who is now with God), and asking succour and assistance against him. Although their Highnesses were occupied in such a holy war, they directly sent Count Tendilla with a numerous suite to exhort and request the King of Naples to fulfil his obligations to the Pope ; and as he did not do so immediately, their Highnesses sent Don Alonso de Silva and the Licentiate Frias to defy him, tendering at the same time, to the Pope, all the favour and assistance he had asked ; notwithstanding that the King of France was encouraged in his designs on the kingdom of Naples by this policy, and that the Neapolitan barons became more daring, and raised the rebellion in which they are now engaged. In that instance, their Highnesses, being requested by the Pope, sent him directly a great fleet and 700 lances and 600 foot. In addition to this, their Highnesses, at the request of the Pope, made war with France by land, and are still continuing to do so, taking Brittany as an example, for if the war had been continued Brittany would never have been lost. All this being notorious, and your Excellence (Henry) being bound by so many obligations to do the same for the Vicar of Christ, you ought, without loss of time, to execute in deed and in truth what is said above. You would thereby not only fulfil your obligations, but also confer an obligation on the King and Queen of Spain, and on all the Princes of the league. With one drop of water your Majesty could now effect, and do, and execute what, if the King of France were to be victorious (which God forbid), could not be done with a whole ocean, and, if it could be done, would not be of any profit. The House of England now sees what never before has been seen, that is to say, that the whole Christian world unites and allies itself with it. If it let slip this occasion great danger will accrue to England in consequence."
Answer of Henry VII.
A long deliberation between Henry and his Council followed. The answer of the King was, that he had shown great contempt for the French ambassadors in the presence of De Puebla ; that he had asked a large sum of money from the King of France, and had also sent to exhort and even request him to desist from the war ; that if the King of France would not do so he should be obliged to do his duty ; that he had likewise sent his ambassadors to the Pope and to the King of the Romans to treat about his entry into the league. The answer must soon arrive, and we might, therefore, have patience and wait for it. He hoped all would end well, and be amicably arranged.
Private audience had by Puebla.
Had, after the public sitting of the Council, a private audience of Henry. They were alone. "The King asked me, why I had affronted him so much, when I knew that he would do more from love of your Highnesses than for all the rest of the world ; for your Highnesses are the most Christian of all the Princes. He esteemed you more than all the other Princes together. What he is determined to do at present is the following :—Call together all his soldiers in the kingdom, and review them ; at the same time arm the whole of his navy. That would cause uneasiness and fear to the King of France. Meanwhile I might wait for the return of the ambassadors, and arrange the business with his commissioners. I answered, that he might, to gratify the ambassadors of Venice and Milan, repeat his statements before them. He sent for them, and told them the same thing in my presence."
Conferences with the English commissioners.
Conferred with the English commissioners. Asked first to see their powers. They showed two powers ; one for the alliance, the other for the marriage. Asked for both subjects to be contained in the same powers. New powers were therefore given by Henry, corresponding, word for word, with his powers. Six of the greatest personages in the kingdom were selected as commissioners. They went every day to his lodgings, where the deliberations took place. "These proceedings were well observed by sharp spies, of whom a great number assemble here continually from all parts of the world. I think it was done on purpose to cause more fear and suspicion to the King of France, seeing that men of such high authority, and living in such houses, came to my lodgings, which are in the monastery of the Augustine Friars, the most public place in the whole of England, and frequented by all foreigners."
Marriage contract.
The marriage.
The English Commissioners wish nothing to be altered in the marriage contract concluded in Granada. As Ferdinand and Isabella have obtained their counties of Roussillon and Cerdaña, they ought to be more willing to give a good marriage portion. If the King of France hear that this marriage is concluded, the effect of it will be tantamount to a declaration of war from England.
Roussillon and Cerdaña.
De Puebla.—Ferdinand and Isabella are not indebted to Henry for their counties of Roussillon and Cerdaña. They obtained them from Charles about a year after the peace between France and England.
English Commissioners.—That is true, but the restoration of the counties was agreed upon earlier. At all events, the treaty between France and England has much facilitated the matter. Object, at the instigation of the English merchants, to all the demands respecting the commerce of Spanish merchants in England.
De Puebla.—Even if England were to send aid amounting to 20,000 horsemen, it would be impossible to yield to their pretensions.
King of Scotland.
The negotiations have not yet come to any conclusion The return of the English ambassadors is expected. The same negotiations which the King of Scots carries on in Spain are carried on in England,—his marriage, and the extradition of the so-called Duke of York.
The English Commissioners show no great eagerness in coming to a definite conclusion in the Spanish business, knowing that no treaty will be signed if England do not directly declare war against France.
Spanish couriers imprisoned by the Bretons.
Has meanwhile received their last instructions. The messenger who brought them said that two couriers, sent from Spain to Flanders, were imprisoned by the Bretons, and their despatches taken from them. Those who did so only sent one letter to him, but promised to send the other despatches hereafter. It is a very disagreeable occurrence, but there might be some advantage in it, for the King of France will be afraid, if he should read the letters. He fears a war with England more than with the greater portion of Christendom.
Was much pleased at the news contained in their letters which he had received. They may believe that if they really have the person in their power who says that he is the son of Edward, they are absolute masters of England (de aqui).
Went to the King, who was very angry that the couriers, though they had sailed in English vessels, had been taken. Explained their secret instructions (misteris) to Henry. Henry declared "by the faith of his heart" that he recognised in them the greatness and goodness of the King and Queen of Spain. If they would execute their designs soon, they might be sure that he would conclude the treaties with them immediately, and without changing anything in them. But otherwise, having such a "hindrance" in Scotland, how could he undertake a serious war against France? Henry asked him to make haste, and to arrange "both matters" in secret, repeating his assurances that he would do the will of Ferdinand and Isabella if they really effected what they proposed to do.
De Puebla.—They will effect it, but Henry must first declare war with France.
Henry.—At present it is impossible,—explaining the matter very circumstantially.
Duke of York.
Implores them to get the person who calls himself the son of Edward into their power. That is the most important point ; that is the "whole" thing. That done, and the King of Scotland detached from France, the King of France will be in such a miserable condition that he will accept any conditions imposed on him by Spain, and keep them without disturbance.
The bundle of papers for Don Martin is sent to Scotland. Don Martin has not written, because he says he is unwell. London, 13th June 1496.
Alliance with the Archduke.
Archduchess Joana.
Postscript.—Henry esteems Flanders more than any other power. If Rojas had accomplished what he was requested to do, anything whatever might have been obtained from Henry. But Rojas did not only not accomplish it, but did not even prevent the ambassadors of the Archduke from doing everything that was disagreeable in England, giving Henry to understand that the marriage was "nichil." They do not believe it even to this day. Has in vain implored the ambassadors of the Archduke, and sworn to them that Ferdinand and Isabella would regard the affairs of Flanders as their own, and not have concluded with England, except for the sake of Flanders. There are very few honest servants in that country. They are all influenced by personal interest. Rojas, too, has not done his duty, since he has not excepted Spain or included her in this treaty. The affairs of Spain are conducted quite differently in England. "Would to God that the Archduchess (Doña Juana) would soon go to Flanders. She will be able to do much good in England and in Flanders, especially if she is as wise as the daughter of such parents is expected to be. Only a few words more about Scotland. If your Highnesses have the so-called Duke of York in your power, and hold him in your Royal hands, you may be sure, according to what I am told, that you can absolutely do your will in omnibus et per omnia in England." They are very angry in England with the King of the Romans, for having sent the so-called son of Edward to England.
If they can now accomplish what is stated above, they will have "all the glory before God and the world" to themselves. But they must be very careful, for the Scotch "are astute in the highest degree."
Indorsed : "Deciphered from the cipher of Doctor De Puebla."
Received at Laredo, 30th of July 1496.
The letter is written in cipher, and deciphered by Almazan, Secretary of State.
Spanish. pp. 14.
21 June.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
137. Ferdinand and Isabella to Doctor De Puebla.
Have received, on the 31st of May, in the town of Almazan, his letter of the 26th of April, with the circumstantial description of his audience and conferences with Henry after the receipt of his instructions, &c. sent by Salvador de Ugarte.
Treaties with Henry VII. to be concluded.
Cannot reproach him for not having concluded anything, because it was his first audience. But he must now conclude the treaties with Henry without any further delay. With their friendship Henry also gains the friendship of the King of the Romans and of the Archduke ; and, on the other hand, he knows the dangers which will accrue to him, in his kingdom and abroad, from his friendship with the King of France, who is always so untrustworthy.
Henry seems to entertain doubts on three subjects, viz. :—
1. Whether the King of the Romans and the Archduke are to be excepted in the treaties between Spain and England. As he has already answered this point, there is nothing more to be said.
Doubts expressed by Henry VII.
2. Henry does not like to accept the ornaments, &c. in part payment of the marriage portion. The conclusion of the treaty must not, however, be delayed on that account.
3. Respecting the obligations of Henry to declare war against France without delay, some difficulty prevails. But they have already written that it would be sufficient if Henry were now to proclaim his alliance with Spain, to arm his navy, and form a junction with the Spanish fleet, permitting Spanish vessels to enter English ports, and giving them all assistance there. The invasion of France by Henry in person can be settled hereafter ; he must be induced thereto by small degrees. This is the minimum. If possible, more must be gained.
He has not mentioned anything about the entry of Henry into the league. He must soon conclude this negociations, the conditions being so favourable to Henry.
Affairs of Scotland.
Are told that Henry VII. has received good news from Scotland. The reason of it is, that the Spanish ambassadors have obtained a solemn promise from the King of Scots to undertake nothing against England before his embassy has returned from Spain. The Scottish ambassador has much insisted on the marriage of the King of Scots with a Princess of Spain, promising perpetual peace with England, and perfect safety to Henry from him of York. Have given only evasive answers, neither granting nor denying the marriage. Have sent a new ambassador to Scotland. He must tell that to Henry. Have no daughter to give to the King of Scots, as they intend to marry one of their daughters to the King of Portugal. Send now their ambassador to Scotland for the purpose of deluding the King of Scots as long as possible, with hopes, and inducing him to conclude a truce with England. Their reasons for doing so are twofold. Henry, during the truce, would be at liberty for his other undertakings ; and he could also, during that time, conclude a marriage between one of his daughters and the King of Scotland. Promise to use their influence in Scotland in favour of Henry, provided always that he first conclude his alliance with Spain. Wish to know his opinion.
King of France.
He must directly write in what state the negotiations of Henry with the King of France, the King of the Romans, and the Pope, now are. If Henry has told the King of France to leave the property of the Church alone, threatening him in case of refusal to do what he is bound to do, it is difficult to understand his fear of declaring war, as he gains thereby so many friends.
Spanish privateers.
Are pleased that their privateers have been well received and provisioned in English ports. Wish to know whether that has been done because Henry has ordered it, or only because it has not been prohibited?
All that was contained in his letter of the 13th of March is already answered in a former letter sent by Arnao, courier.
French ambassador's departure from Tortosa.
The French ambassadors who had gone to Tortosa have now returned. They make no other offers save those already made on former occasions. The whole is an imposture, in order to gain time and to make them suspected by their friends. Have given an answer only in order to justify themselves before God and the world. The French ambassadors are not satisfied with the answer. Perhaps a different story will be told in France, but this is the true one.
Duke of York.
If Henry conclude the alliances and enter the league, all will assist him against him of York. Their assistance is much more powerful than that of France, which country is now engaged in the wars. Promise to induce the Pope to use his authority against him of York ; but if Henry do not enter the league the Pope will be against him.
Spanish vessels.
Henry must now decide what he will do. The suspense is very prejudicial to Spain, on many accounts, one of which is this : Being at war with France, Spanish vessels cannot enter French ports, and French vessels are not allowed to enter Spanish ports ; but the English, being at peace with both countries, carry on a commerce between Spain and France, which is highly detrimental to Spain, but highly profitable to England. If they become accustomed to this kind of commerce they will keep the negotiations in suspense for any length of time. Have therefore sent orders that all vessels leaving Spanish ports, without distinction of nationality, must give security not to carry any merchandize to French ports.
A letter for the King of England is enclosed.—From the town of Almazan, 21st of June 1496.
Indorsed : "Draft of the letter to Doctor de Puebla sent by a courier from Almazan on the 21st of June 1496, to Diego Lopez de Ayala, in Fuentarabia, to be forwarded thence with the greatest care."
"Diego Lopez has written that he has received the despatch, and will send it in a ship which will be ready to sail to London in six days."
Draft. Spanish. pp. 2.
21 June.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
138. Ferdinand and Isabella to De Puebla.
This is a portion of the despatch, dated 21st June 1496, put in cipher. It begins with the words : "y quanto alo que dezis que el Rey de Ynglaterre vos dixo que tenia buenas nuevas de los negocios de Escocia," and continues down to the end of that despatch.
Headed : "Ciphering of one article of the despatch, written the 21st June 1496. Doctor de Puebla."
Spanish. Written in the Latin numbers used as cipher. The key is extant.
26 June.
S. E. T. c. I. L. 2.
Spanish merchants.
139. Ferdinand and Isabella to Henry VII.
Spain being at war with France, Spanish merchants are not allowed to carry on any commerce with that country, but foreign merchants enter the ports of Spain, and export goods of all descriptions to French ports, to the great prejudice of them and their subjects. Have therefore ordered that this commerce should be discontinued. As among the foreign merchants who export iron, &c. to France, there are many Englishmen, Henry is begged to prohibit, under adequate penalties, the continuation of the said traffic.—No date.
Draft. Spanish. pp. 2.


  • 1. De parte de Dios e de su Soberano. The idea was at that time still entertained in Rome that the Pope was the Sovereign Lord of England. In the Libros de Berzosa at Simancas, there is a copy of a Roman state paper of this period, in which England is enumerated among the fees of the Roman see.