The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


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News sent from London to the Duke of Milan, 24 August 1497

Source: A.B. Hinds (ed.), Calendar of State Papers, Milan, Vol. I (HMSO, 1912), no. 535, English Translation from Italian.
Manuscript: Milan Archives (Potenze Estere: Inghilterra).
Full version by: Evan Jones (2009)

The following comes from a fifteenth-century copy / digest of a letter in the Milan State Archives. It would have been produced by clerks of the Duke of Milan as a way of compiling foreign intelligence. The author of the letter is not mentioned in the digest, the clerks merely noting it as 'News received from England this morning by letters dated the 24th August.' The rest of the letter dealt with the rebellions King Henry VII was currently facing and the marriage alliance between England and Spain. H.P. Biggar (Precursors of Jacques Cartier (1911) pp. 15-16), suggested that the letter was written by the Ambassador of the Duke of Milan, Raimondo di Soncino. However, while Soncino certainly did write a later letter about Cabot's voyages, he had only just arrived in England at the time the letter was sent. Indeed, other correspondence indicates that he disembarked at Dover on 23 August, so it is most unlikely that he would have got to London by the following day. The extract that relates to the voyages of John Cabot states:

'Also some months ago his Majesty sent out a Venetian, who is a very good mariner, and has good skill in discovering new islands, and he has returned safe, and has found two very large and fertile new islands. He has also discovered the seven cities, 400 leagues from England, on the western passage. This next spring his Majesty means to send him with fifteen or twenty ships.'

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