The Smugglers' City
Department of History, University of Bristol


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Pedro de Ayala, the Spanish envoy in London, to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in Spain, 25 July, 1498

Source: Transcribed and translated by H.B. Biggar (ed.), The Precursors of Jacques Cartier, 1497-1534 (Ottawa, 1911), pp. 28-9
Manuscript: Archivo General de Simancas, Estado Tratados con Inglaterra, leg. 2, fol. 196
Web version by: Evan Jones (2006)

p. 28

...I think Your Highnesses have already heard how the king
of England1 has equipped a fleet to explore certain islands or
mainland which he has been assured certain persons who set out
last year from Bristol in search of the same have discovered. I
have seen the map made by the discoverer, who is another
Genoese like Columbus, who has been in Seville and at Lisbon
seeking to obtain persons to aid him in this discovery. For the
last seven years the people of Bristol have equipped two, three
[and] four caravels to go in search of the island of Brazil and
the Seven Cities according to the fancy of this Genoese. The
king made up his mind to send thither, because last year sure
proof was brought him they had found land. The fleet he pre-
pared, which consisted of five vessels, was provisioned for a year.
News has come that one of these, in which sailed another, Friar
Buil 2, has made land in Ireland in a great storm with the ship
badly damaged. The Genoese kept on his way. Having seen
the course they are steering and the length of the voyage, I find
that what they have discovered or are in search of is possessed
by Your Highnesses because it is at the cape which fell to Your
Highnesses by the convention with Portugal.3 It is hoped they
will be back by September. I let [?will let] Your Highnesses
know about it. The king has spoken to me several times on the
subject. He hopes the affair may turn out profitable. I believe
the distance is not 400 leagues. I told him that I believed
the islands were those found by Your Highnesses, and
although I gave him the main reason, he would not have it.
Since I believe Your Highnesses will already have notice of all

(1) Henry VII.
(2) Who sailed with Columbus on his second voyage.
(3) The treaty of Tordesillas [1494].

p. 29

this and also of the chart or mappemonde which this man has
made, I do not send it now, although it is here, and so far as I
can see exceedingly false, in order to make believe that these are
not part of the said islands [of Your Highnesses].........

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