Pair of boldly penned letters in old Spanish. The first is an LS signed by King Ferdinand at the center, "Yo el Rey,” [I the King] one page 8 x 11.5, dated February 21, 1512. Translated in full: “Senior accountants and reconcilers and confirmers and senior scribes of confirmations of privileges and chancellor and notaries and other officials who are in the office of the seal of the most serene queen and princess, my very dear and very beloved daughter: I have been informed by Don Yñigo de Velasco, constable of Castile, senior chamberlain of the said most serene queen and princess, my daughter, that he wished to have copied and confirmed the privileges of maravedíes in the form of bonds and other things that he has, and that if he had to pay the fees for the said privileges and confirmations, he would receive great injury, because due to the fact that he holds the said office of senior chamberlain of the said most serene queen, my daughter, he ought to be relieved of them. He petitioned me to order that he not be charged them, and taking into consideration the fact that the said constable holds the said office of senior chamberlain, and that the senior chamberlain has the same grounds to be exempt from paying fees of this sort as the others who are exempt in virtue of the ordinances of these kingdoms, and that already on a previous occasion I and the most serene queen, my wife (may she rise in glory), ordered that his father, the constable Don Pero Fernandez de Velasco, not be charged the said fees, on the grounds that he was our senior chamberlain, I thought it right. Therefore I order you not to charge the said constable or consent that he be charged any fees from the fees for his privileges and confirmations, but rather that you dispatch and issue them to him free of all fees, as and in the manner that they are issued and dispatched to the others who are exempt from paying the aforesaid fees in virtue of the said ordinances, and that you not do otherwise. Done in Burgos on the 21st day of the month of February of the year one thousand five hundred twelve.”
The second, an LS signed by Queen Isabella towards the top-center, “Yo la Reyna,” [I the Queen] one page, 8.5 x 11.75, dated May 31, 1501. Translated in part: “I order you, from any maravedies you have received in any way by my order, to give and pay at once to the Greek countess eighteen thousand seven hundred fifty maravedíes, of which I make her a grant. And obtain a receipt, with which and with this my warrant I account you free and quit of the said eighteen thousand seven hundred fifty maravedies. And I order my senior accountants to admit and include in your accounts the said eighteen thousand seven hundred fifty maravedies. Done in Granada on the 31st day of the month of May of the year one thousand five hundred and one.” In fine condition, with some expected light handling wear to both letters; Isabella’s exhibits a rusty paperclip impression to top left corner which has resulted in a small hole (all writing remains unaffected). The overall crisp presentability of the letters given their age is really quite extraordinary.
Here, in 1512, King Ferdinand is writing to the senior accountants of his daughter, Queen Joanna of Castile. Six years earlier, when she was unable to cope with the tragic death of her husband Philip, the young queen was deemed mentally ill and forever confined to a nunnery: she would later be known as ‘Joanna the Mad.’ This explains why Ferdinand was not addressing her directly, as others were handling day-to-day business in her stead. Upon Ferdinand’s death in 1516—only four years after this piece of correspondence—Joanna would inherit his kingdom of Aragon, and forging together with Castile, modern Spain evolved.
The year Queen Isabella signed this letter, Spain had partnered with the Republic of Venice to fight the Ottoman Empire—which included Greece—over contested territory surrounding the Aegean, Ionian, and Adriatic Seas. This Second Ottoman Venitian War lasted from 1499–1503, dating the queen’s 1501 letter to the height of the conflict. In her correspondence, Isabella is ordering a Grecian countess be paid a large some of money; notable since their countries were at odds. The war ended in Ottoman victory, causing Venice to suffer incredible financial losses; this letter is evidence Spain endured their own.
This gorgeous pairing of correspondence from Spain’s most recognizable royal partnership—the financiers of Christopher Columbus—is a perfect combination. With each letter possessing its own historical value, and both being preserved in such wonderful condition, the attractive framing brings it all together to make an impressive display. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.