Three Letters from Henry VII to the Dukes of Milan

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  • Medieval Academy of America

    Three Letters from Henry VII to the Dukes of MilanAuthor(s): Curt F. BhlerSource: Speculum, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Jul., 1956), pp. 485-490Published by: Medieval Academy of AmericaStable URL: .Accessed: 17/02/2014 14:46

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    THE collection of historical documents in the Pierpont Morgan Library' contains three letters from King Henry VII of England to the dukes of Milan, one being addressed to Gian Galeazzo Mllaria Sforza, the other two to Lodovico Maria Sforza, known to us more familiarly as "II Moro." Extremely summary accounts (two being (qite inaccurate) of these letters have previously appeared in print, but no detailed discussion of these letters now in the MIorgan Library has so far b)eefn publislle(l.

    I'he first of the three letters was acquired by the library very recently, having been sold at a Sotheby auction on 12 October 1954.2 The document is slightly damaged oni the right hand margin, with the result that the date is defective so far as the year is concerned. Fortunately this can be determined from outside sources, and the document may thus be dated 21 December 1490. Save for one other instanice, where the supplied details can hardly be questioned (C[elsitu- dine]), the editor lias made no attempt to provide the missing letters; it was deemed preferable to indicate lacunae by dots rather than to supply conjectural readings of dubious value. The texts are printed in the normal fashion, all con- tractions having been expanded with the use of italics; punctuation and capitali- zation of the original have been retained in the transcripts. [A(ddress, on verso]: Illustrissimo ac Potentissimo principi Domino Johanni galeaz Maria Sfortia Vicecomiti: 11 Duci Mediolani &c / PapiQ anglerihque Comiti: ac genuQ & CremonQ || domino: Consanguineo et confQderato nostro Carissimo. / ||

    [Text, on recto]: Illustrissimo ac Potentissimo principi Domino Johanni galeaz maria sfortia uicecomiti Duci mediolani &c / PapiQ angleriQque comiti: ac genuQ et cre-iimofll (lomino, conmanguineo et confQderato nostro carissimo Ilenricus dei gratia rex angliQ et franci~: ac dominus hyberniQ Salutem: et prospera uotorum || incrementa. Intelleximus tam ex litteris uestris quam etiam ex relatione nobilis uiri benedicti spinulQ, uestro nomine nobis facta, quam beni|lgne quamque humaniter et amice dominus dauid gulielmus orator noster a(I sedem apostolicam missus istuc diuertens a uestra Celsitudine fuerit || SllS- ceptus: nec minus etiam cognouimus / quam grato animo et quam iucunda mente mutuam nostram redintegratam necessitudinem uestra Sublimitas || acceptarit: quQ sane omnia licet antea al) eodem oratore nostro litteris fuissent nobis demonstrata summa tamen curn nostra uoluptate atque animi || dulcedine ex litteris uestrQ Celsitudinis et eius nuncio benedicto spinola, uiro nobis admodum grato audiuimus Equidem Illustrissime princeps non || possunius imprimis non ingentes gratias uestrQ Sublimitati habere quod oratorem nostrum istac transeuntem nostro intuitu et precipuo nostro amore tam || libenter uiderit: tanque honorifice susceperit. Vestra nanque Celsitudo tot nobis et tam manifesta in- tegerrimi sui erga nos amoris indicia || sQpe antea et nuper quoque nobis ostendit: ut

    I For a similar discussion, compare the writer's "A Letter from Edward IV to Galeazzo Maria Sforza," SPECULIJM, XXX (1955), 239-240.

    2 W, Westley Manning sale, p. 40, lot 21 1, with reproduction of the letter.


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  • 486 Three Letters from Henry VII to the Dukes of Milan

    maiori declarationi uix pateat locus. Quod autem ueteris nostrQ coniunctionis redint ... 11 uestrQ Celsitudini tantopere grata accesserit: et eadem proinde litteris suis sit nobis gratu- lata ex animo: gaudemus profecto supra quam litteris ... 11 ri possit, hoc nostrQ societatis et amicicie fQdus initum tantopere gratum et iucundum aduenisse. Nos autem quantum ad nos. . . || plane intelligimus eam ipsam contractam inter nos amiciciam, non posse gratiore unquam animo aut placabiliori mente a uestra C[elsitudine]* || accipi, quam a nobis ipsis: Tantus est noster amor erga uestram Celsitudinem et tam feruens gratificandi uoluntas: Faxit deiis ... II hQc nostra f dera sicuti ab optimo animo profecta sunt ita indies magis et magis coalescant: fecundentur et exube ... 11 fiant immortalia. Id uero nos pro uirili nostra contendemus semper: atque ita in officio perstabimus: ut uel facile omnes . . . || possint Illustrissimum dominum ducem mediolani consanguineum nostrum carissi- mum, usque adeo intimum esse nobis et propinquum: ut ... 11 non mediocri iniuria nemo in eum aliquod aduersum moliri possit. Reliquum est ut fQlicissime ualeat ad uota uestra Celsitudo ... || sui beniuolentissimos esse: ac perpetuo fore sibi firmiter persuadeat. Ex Regia liostra WindesorQ die .xxj. decembris M[CCCCLXXXX]* || [signed] Henricus R ||

    In the Calendar of the English state papers preserved in Milan,' the letter now in the Pierpont Morgan Library (MA 1578) is iioted under date 21 December 1490 together with this brief summary: "Returns thanks for the honourable recep- tion given to Sir David Williams, English ambassador to Rome, on his passage through Milan." Even if this entry had not been available, it would have been relatively easy to supply the correct year for the letter from other records.

    On 26 July 14904 Henry VII wrote to Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza that he was sending "Dominus David Gulielmus" to Rome with instructions to stop in ATilan on the way. David Williams was identified as the \laster of the Rolls ("rotulorum nostrorum custos"). In the king's letter, it was further set forth that Williams would be accompanied on his trip by Johannes de Giglis (Giovanni Gigli),' the collector in England for the pope; some years later, Gigli was identified as the "Orator regis Angliae in Rom. Curia"6 and subsequently became bishop of Worcester.7

    On 4 October of the same year8 Giacomo Gherardi, the papal nuncio in 1\iilan, wrote to the Apostolic Secretary Giovanni Pietro Arrivabenie that the (unnamed) "legatus ab Anglia, clericus, ut mihi refertur" had indeed arrived in Mlilan that day, tlhough his colleague Giovanni Gigli, having been seized by an attack of

    * Letters supplied where text is certain. 3Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts, existing in the Archives and Collections of Milan (London,

    1912), p. 272, no. 428. The letter had previously been cited in the Calendar of State Papers and Manu- scripts, relating to English Aff irs, existing in the Archives and Collections of Venice (London, 1864), I, 202, no. 602. When Allen B. Hinds prepared the Milanese calendar, he reported that he was unable to locate the document and quoted the contents from the Venetian calendar.

    4Calendar of State Papers ... Milan, p. 262, no. 411. 5 For a short account of his career, compare the Dictionary of National Biography, xxi, 311. 6 Conrad Eubel, Hierarchia catholica medii aevi (Milnster, 1913-23), ii, 1268, Wigornien., n. 4. 7Pope Alexander VI appointed him bishop of Worcester on 80 August 1497, and he was conse-

    crated in Rome. Giovanni Gigli died in Rome on 25 August 1498 without ever having visited his see. He was succeeded by his nephew, Silvestro Gigli. Cf. Eubel, loc. cit., and Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum ecclesiae catholicae (Leipzig, 1931), p. 200.

    8 Enrico Carusi, Dispacci e lettere di Giacomo Gherardi, Studi e Testi, xxi (Rome, 1909), pp. 550- 551.

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  • Three Letters from Henry VII to the Dukes of Milan 487

    podagra, had remained at Lyons. He also reported that the ambassador had previously conferred with the duke, who had been attending a hunt near Somma Lombarda, province of Varese.9 Three weeks later (25 October)'0 Gian Galeazzo himself wrote to Henry, explaining that Williams had been there and had received from the duke letters setting forth the nature of the business which had been transacted; furthermore, the duke stated that he had asked Benedetto Spinola to report directly to the king on these matters. [Spinola, as the Morgan letter shows, duly perfornmed this service.] Finally," we learn from a letter written by Giacomno Botta, bishop of Tortona, to the duke on 31 October that the English ambassador had at last arrived in Rome but that his companion had fallen ill en route. Clearly, the ambassador here referred to was David Williams. All these details, then, make it evident that the king's letter to Gian Galeazzo printed above was written on 21 December 1490.

    II The secondl letter (Pierpont Morgan Library, R. of E., Vol. I, No. 40), written

    slightly more than six years later (10 February 1496/97),12 deals with an event of greater historic significance.'3 It