Post-classical history


THE NEWS THAT Cabot had been awarded a royal pension in December 1497 that was to be paid out of the customs revenue of Bristol was not as agreeably received in the port as Cabot would have hoped. There simply may have been a failure by Henry VII’s clerks to generate the necessary paperwork, but Bristol customers had refused to pay Cabot. Henry VII had to issue a warrant ordering the twice-annual payments on February 22, 1498. According to the king’s household daybooks, between January 8 and 12 Henry had already given “to a Venysian in Rewarde” 66 shillings, eight pence, which was the equivalent of five marks. It was probably to compensate Cabot for his travels and troubles in resolving the pension mess. Also in January, Henry awarded without explanation 40 shillings to “William Weston of Bristol.” It may have been to compensate the merchant for expenses in preparing the next voyage or to reward him for corroborating Cabot’s testimony as to what he had found.

Cabot also renewed his patent with Henry on February 3, 1498, with an additional conferral of rights that complemented the original patent of 1496 rather than replaced it. Yet the Venetian’s grandiose promises to mount a flotilla on the scale of Columbus’s second-voyage armada and establish a colony were not borne out. Henry granted “John Kabotto” (or Kaboto) the right to impress in the king’s name up to six vessels as large as two hundred tons and pay for them out of his own pocket at the normal rates of the crown. Cabot was also allowed to take with him any of “our officers or ministers or subjects” who chose to go freely, as no one otherwise could leave his realm without his permission. But there was nothing about emptying prisons to provide the free labor Cabot needed to develop the colony, much less any mention of a settlement or trading post.

England clearly was not Spain. Cabot would have to make do with much less than Columbus. He would also have to turn a profit promptly from his claims of having reached the land of the Great Khan. Henry VII was not going to pour funds into Cabot’s vision with the munificence or the patience of Fernando and Isabel.

Precious little is known about the ships or the men who accompanied Cabot. The king’s household accounts for March and April 1498 include a series of payments to a Launcelot Thirkill of London in association with a man named Thomas Bradley for the press of a ship going to “the new Ilande.” Evidence recently surfaced that the king also loaned Thirkill and Bradley money for this voyage. A reward was also made in April to one John Cair who was “goying to the new Ile,” and this probably involved a ship press as well. William Weston presumably was involved, perhaps in the king’s service. The Genoese barber and the Burgundian whom Raimundo di Raimundis had encountered surely were along. If Martin Behaim ever were to step forward and actually invest in the voyage scheme, either with a ship of his own or as a provider of trade goods, now would have been the time. Raimundis had also heard about “some poor Italian friars” who had their eyes on bishoprics.

No voyage log or journal would endure, but more than likely there were five ships. Despite the reports of great schools of cod from the 1497 voyage, no fishing was contemplated. The Great Chronicle of London’s account for the year September (Michaelmas) 1497 to September 1498 described how Henry was encouraged to “man and victual a ship at Bristol in search for an island which [Cabot] said he knew well and was rich and replenished with rich commodities.” In this ship, paid for by Henry, “diverse merchants of London ventured in her small stocks,” or trade goods, “being in her as chief patron the said Venetian, and in the company of the said ship sailed also out of Bristol three or four small ships freighted with slight and gross merchandise [such] as coarse cloth caps, lace point and other trifles. And so departed from Bristol in the beginning of May.”

FOR HIS FIRST NEW voyage since departing Cadíz (more than likely with Cabot) in September 1493, Columbus needed to weigh two factors in choosing where he was about to sail. One was the startling discovery Hugh Say had credited to Cabot in 1497. The other was the renewed interest of the Portuguese in a sea route to the Indies around southern Africa.

The new king, Manoel I, had revived the quest to prove the round-Africa route to India that had lain dormant since the Días voyage of 1487–88. Three ships under Vasco da Gama departed Lisbon on July 8, 1497, and word of this initiative surely reached Fernando and Isabel. Were the Portuguese successful, there was bound to be a dispute over how the rights of Portugal and Spain converged in the Indies from opposite directions. With Columbus insisting that his discoveries to date included the Chersonese peninsula and islands on the perimeter of the Indies, da Gama’s flotilla could wind up approaching Española from the west in 1498.

Columbus could not meet the disparate challenges posed by Cabot and da Gama in one voyage. Of the two, the threat posed by Cabot must have seemed the least dire. His discoveries seemed to be in Portuguese territory, and in colder, higher latitudes that Columbus had no desire to challenge. And the only riches Hugh Say had reported were stockfish. The last thing Columbus wanted to find was a new source of air-cured cod.

Columbus thus embarked on his third voyage with three priorities—at least as far as Fernando and Isabel were concerned. He needed to relieve and reinvigorate the struggling Española colony left under Bartolomé Columbus’s care; confirm and consolidate the Spanish claim to his alleged Indies discoveries; and be prepared to rebuff any attempt by da Gama, using force if necessary, to overstep the territorial bounds of Tordesillas and the papal bulls of 1493 if the Portuguese flotilla happened to approach Española from the west.

Columbus left Sanlúcar de Barrameda on May 30, 1498, with six ships; Cabot’s five ships were probably already at sea. Columbus’s fleet paused twice in the Madeiras to take on supplies: on June 7 at Porto Santos, where his late wife’s brother was governor, and then on June 10 at Madeira, where Columbus had once served as a factor for Genoese merchants.

During Columbus’s Madeiran sojourn, affairs in Henry VII’s England acquired one of their periodic, potentially explosive complications. Perkin Warbeck, who was living under house arrest, escaped on the night of June 9 through a window of the palace at Westminster. He was found the next day, hiding in a monastery a few miles away in Shene. After twice putting him on public display to endure ridicule, Henry removed the pretender to more closely guarded quarters in the Tower of London.

“I wrote a long while ago to your Highnesses, supplicating you to give your opinion and advice as to how the King of England ought to deal with Perkin,” Roderigo de Puebla wrote Fernando and Isabel on June 12. “Your Highnesses have not to this day, no doubt for some just reason and impediments, sent a word in reply, or written anything. I say this because the said Perkin fled a few days ago, without any reason. Your silence causes much pain to me, because I am sure the King of England would do what your Highnesses might advise.”

It was true that Henry had long been unsure of how to deal with Warbeck after sparing his life with a pardon and that the recent escape was demanding a firm decision. But Puebla had a habit of claiming that past messages never reached his monarchs, thus excusing his silences on weighty matters. Where Warbeck was concerned, Puebla had never even told them about the alarming uprisings in 1497. For Puebla to claim that his monarchs’ silence now caused him much pain was galling.

A public feud between Fernando and Isabel’s two ambassadors in London, Roderigo de Puebla and Pedro de Ayala, also had become a scandal for the Spanish crown. Puebla had been agitating against Ayala’s presence in London since the initial peace with Scotland was secured in September 1497 and otherwise had been deriding and even undermining his performance. He had excoriated Pedro de Ayala’s actions as ambassador to Scotland so persuasively that in early 1498 Fernando and Isabel had been compelled to send a new ambassador to Scotland, Fernán Pérez de Ayala (who never took up his post, as he perished in a shipwreck en route). But while Pérez was delayed in his fateful departure by bad weather, news had arrived from England of the recent “disturbances” there. At first, the monarchs doubted the report of the traumatic 1497 Scottish invasion, the Cornwall uprisings, and Perkin Warbeck’s capture, “because De Puebla had not said a single word about it in his letters.”

Puebla’s silences were astonishing lapses, as Fernando and Isabel were preparing to have their daughter Catherine wed Henry’s heir Arthur and had no idea the kingdom had been plunged into such chaos, and with such a serious threat to the rule of the house of Tudor. Puebla likely had also become far too close to Henry in regard to Cabot’s enterprise. It was within the bounds of his character and his expertise as a doctor of civil and canonical law to have assured Henry in 1496 that Cabot’s activities would not offend Fernando and Isabel or the terms of Inter cetera or Tordesillas. Perhaps he had interpreted the opaque letter from his monarchs of March 28, 1496, to mean that if Henry at least joined the Holy League, they would look the other way where Cabot and Spanish rights under Tordesillas were concerned. Once Henry had done so, even though he refused to agree to go to war against France, Puebla could have considered the Cabot matter closed. And the fact that Fernando and Isabel had then entered into the remarkable pact with France at Alcala in November 1497 obviated any concern that Henry had not fully complied with their earlier wishes.

Regardless, Puebla had never followed up on his initial January 1496 report on John Cabot’s efforts to secure a patent from Henry, had never told his monarchs about the first voyage attempt of 1496 or, more important, the successful second one of 1497. It went without saying that he had reported nothing about the third voyage, which had already sailed when Puebla wrote Fernando and Isabel on June 15, 1498, to lodge another forceful complaint about Ayala, furious he was living in the capital and styling himself as the ambassador to both Henry VII and Scotland’s James IV. Puebla had confronted Ayala, who showed him a letter from Isabel to Henry VII that supported Ayala’s contention (as Puebla conceded) that “he has been furnished with letters and credentials.” Nevertheless, London was not big enough for both of them. Puebla told Fernando and Isabel that they “must decide, from what he has written, whether all this be for the good of their service or not.”

Puebla did not know it, but his reputation with the king and queen had plummeted in recent months as the news of his unhelpful silences emerged. Two Spanish diplomats, the knight commander Sanchez de Londoño and the subprior of Santa Cruz, Johannes de Matienzo, were en route to England. They had been dispatched to Flanders to deal with the disturbingly erratic behavior of Fernando and Isabel’s daughter Joana, Philip IV’s new bride. Under secret instructions, the envoys were first making a detour to London. “They are to inquire into the manner in which De Puebla conducts his business,” the monarchs had instructed on March 7. “It is said that he is entirely in the interest of King Henry.”

IN ESMERALDO DE SITU ORBIS, which was composed for Manoel I between 1505 and 1508, the Portuguese cartographer Duarte Pacheco Pereira stated: “Fortunate Prince, we know and we have seen how, in the third year of your reign, in the year of Our Lord 1498, your Highness ordered us to discover the occidental part, beyond the Ocean Sea, where was found a huge continent surrounded by many large islands.” The word of Cabot’s discoveries thus had reached Portugal, the other signatory of Tordesillas, and Manoel had ordered in 1498 a search for the lands Cabot had discovered.

The Portuguese picked up where they left off in their westward voyaging—in Terceira, which of course had been home to the voyages of the Teives and the scheme of 1486–87 that involved Dulmo, Estreito, and Behaim. Gaspar Corte-Real, son of João Vaz, who had been central to the captaincy dispute that thwarted the Dulmo-Estreito-Behaim enterprise, may have begun searching unofficially for what Cabot had found as early as 1498. As mentioned, Gaspar was the brother-in-law of Joss van Huerter’s heir, Joss the younger, and thus part of the extended family of Martin Behaim, who had married Joss the younger’s sister, Joana. The Corte-Reals had been prime candidates for playing a leading role in the stillborn voyage proposal Behaim made to Manoel’s predecessor, João II, in 1493.

Although it would not be surprising if Gaspar in fact mounted an unofficial search for Cabot’s 1497 discoveries at the first opportunity, particularly if his relative Behaim had been involved in the Bristol enterprise, the earliest surviving Portuguese exploration patent for these investigative voyages, dated October 28, 1499, granted a “Johan Fernandez” of Terceira the governorship of any islands he might discover. Fernandez (or João Fernandes) clearly was acting on news that Cabot’s finds fell on the Portuguese side of the dividing meridian of Tordesillas, as his patent noted he “was desirous to make an effort to seek out and discover at his own expense some islands lying in our sphere of influence.” Whether Gaspar Corte-Real was actively involved at this early date or not, the quest to find the Isle of Seven Cities was being reinvigorated on Terceira. Martin Behaim may have helped export the search to England, but the Terceirans wanted it back, along with whatever landfalls Cabot (with the aid of Behaim) might have claimed for Henry VII.

Fernandes pursued Cabot’s finds with a partner named Pero de Barcelos. The search was thus drawn right back into the unresolved squabble with the Corte-Reals over the captaincy rights of Terceira that had confounded the earlier enterprise of Dulmo, Estreito, and Behaim. As a landowner embroiled in the squabble, Barcelos mentioned in the course of giving evidence in 1506 how “there was an order from the king our lord to go discovering, for me and for one João Fernandes Lavrador, on which discovery we spent three years.” Fernandes and Barcelos likely had started this three-year quest in 1498, the year before Fernandes secured the known patent. But in all their searching, the statement of Pero de Barcelos implied, the duo found nothing.

Give Cabot and his Bristol companions their due: They had reached a landfall in the west that apparently had thwarted Portuguese investigations for decades and that continued to defy their investigations.

FROM MADEIRA, COLUMBUS PROCEEDED to the Canaries on June 16, arriving three days later at Gomera; the island’s governor and former Columbus lover, Beatriz de Bobadilla, coincidentally married the Canaries conquistador Alonso de Lugo that year. There Columbus divided his fleet. Three ships would sail directly for Española, under the command of loyal men: Columbus’s companion’s brother, Pedro de Arana; a cousin from Genoa, Juan Antonio Columbo; and the governor of the city of Baeça (Baeza), Alonso Sanchez de Carvajal. Columbus would sail on with the three remaining vessels southward for the Cape Verdes.

Spanish vessels were not permitted to sail south of the Canaries through the waters off the West African coast without securing Portugal’s permission, and presumably this had been arranged so that from the Cape Verdes, Columbus could steer west, doing his best to estimate through dead reckoning the location of the dividing meridian of Tordesillas relative to any known or new landfalls. Four years after the treaty was concluded, this would be Columbus’s first opportunity to confirm that his previous discoveries lay on the Spanish side of the meridian.

Yet according to the voyage account seen by Las Casas, Columbus had an altogether different goal: “[H]e wishes to go to the south, because he intends with the aid of the Sancta Trinidad [Holy Trinity] to find islands and lands, that God may be served and their Highnesses and Christianity may have pleasure, and that he wishes to prove or test the opinion of King Don Juan of Portugal, who said that there was continental land to the south.”

Columbus had gathered that João II thought Tordesillas would reserve for Portugal landfalls yet to be discovered to the southwest of the Cape Verdes. The late king “was certain that within [the Portuguese territory under Tordesillas] famous lands and things must be found.” When Columbus paused with his three ships at Santiago in the Cape Verdes, “certain principal inhabitants” came to him and said “that to the south-west of the island of Huego, which is one of the Cape Verdes distant 12 leagues from this, may be seen an island, and that the King Don Juan was greatly inclined to send ships to make discoveries to the south-west.”

Columbus admitted that his desire to investigate João II’s suspicions had been a matter of contention between himself and Fernando and Isabel. His monarchs would have been interested in having him finally confirm the location of his existing discoveries in relation to the Tordesillas meridian, not find out what other landfalls existed in the Ocean Sea that might belong only to Portugal. But now that he had at last embarked on a new voyage of discovery, Columbus had his own agenda to pursue.

COLUMBUS MAY HAVE DECIDED not to share what he learned about Cabot from Hugh Say with his monarchs, as the intelligence could have had negative implications for his own claims about an Indies discovery. But as Say knew prominent men, such as Isabel’s own Castilian treasurer, Francisco Pinelo, it seems unlikely the news of the 1497 voyage would have stopped at Columbus. As Say’s intelligence had indicated that Cabot’s finds were in the Portuguese realm of Tordesillas, Fernando and Isabel as well as Columbus may have thought it best to let this sleeping dog lie. No communiqué from Fernando and Isabel to either Roderigo de Puebla or Pedro de Ayala in London endures to suggest an effort by the monarchs to raise Cabot’s activities with Henry VII.

As Columbus’s third voyage unfolded, however, he proved to be intensely curious about undiscovered lands that indeed might belong to Portugal, albeit in southern latitudes rather than in northern ones. At least one item of intelligence gathered from Say would have helped dictate Columbus’s course: Inventio Fortunata promised volcanic islands somewhere beyond the Cape Verdes.

Columbus departed the Cape Verdes on July 4 with his three ships. He ordered a course toward the southwest, “because then he would be on a parallel with the lands of the sierra of Loa [Sierra Leone] and cape of Sancta Ana in Guinea, which is below the equinoctial line [equator], where he says that below that line of the world are found more gold and things of value: and that after, he would navigate, the Lord pleasing, to the west.” Columbus reasoned that lands along the same latitude, even if separated by hundreds of leagues, would offer the same resources. The English could have their cod in waters the Venetian had explored far to the north. Columbus wanted the gold of Portugal’s Guinea Coast, and he was dearly hoping some new landfall to the west of them would yield that wealth.

SANCHEZ DE LONDOÑO and Johannes de Matienzo arrived in England on June 27 after “a very bad voyage.” On July 5, the day after Columbus departed the Cape Verdes, Londoño and Matienzo had an audience with Henry VII, accompanied by Roderigo de Puebla. Matienzo reported to Fernando and Isabel that Puebla “showed great suspicion, standing there and watching them like a wolf.” For the next thirteen days, the pair would assemble a fairly incredible dossier of Puebla’s alleged crimes and misdemeanors. Cabot’s fleet continued to sail on, its existence unreported by any member of the increasingly crowded and fractious Spanish diplomatic corps surrounding Henry’s court. Its investigative energy was focused entirely inward.

On July 13, at latitude 5° north, Columbus made an authentic if miserable discovery: the Doldrums of the mid-Atlantic equatorial region. They were a cruel reward for his long-standing aversion to the cold of northern latitudes braved by Cabot. For eight days, “the wind deserted him and he entered into heat so great and so ardent that he feared the ships would take fire and the people perish. The ceasing of the wind and coming of the excessive and consuming heat was so unexpected and sudden that there was no person who dared to descend below to care for the butts of wine and water, which swelled, breaking the hoops of the casks: the wheat burned like fire: the pork and salted meat roasted and putrefied.”

While Columbus and his men suffered in the equatorial furnace, Londoño and Matienzo wrote a report to Fernando and Isabel on July 18 that was devastating to the standing of the ambassador who had maintained a cone of silence around Cabot’s activities for more than two years.

“The Doctor is in such a state of irritation with Don Pedro de Ayala that it has been the cause of many disagreeable scenes which are notorious in England,” they advised. “There is no remedy for it. De Puebla cannot bear any other ambassador. He has been unable to conceal his fear and distrust towards them, though he had been told that [Ayala’s] services are fully appreciated in Spain.”

Although Londoño and Matienzo did not mention it, Ayala did give cause for concern. He was cutting a dangerous figure, with a retinue of servants that engaged in brawling. Of the dozen men employed by him since arriving in Britain, only three hadn’t been killed or maimed by 1498: Four had fallen in border skirmishes between England and Scotland, two had been killed on the road in Scotland, and another three were incapacitated by wounds they had suffered.

Puebla would recount to his monarchs how one brawl erupted in London when Ayala was struck in the arm by a brick thrown from a window. One of his retinue, a Scottish cleric no less, had killed an Englishman in a street fight. Only an intervention by Henry VII spared the Scotsman from being hanged, and the corrupt English legal system soaked the clergyman’s brother for an astounding two hundred pounds.

Regardless, in Londoño and Matienzo’s estimation Ayala could do no wrong, and the feud between the two ambassadors was irreparable. “There is not a single person in England who speaks ill of the one, or well of the other. The quarrels between them are a public scandal. It is time to throw the baton between them.”

Puebla was judged a shameful disaster as an ambassador. Londoño and Matienzo called him “a liar, a flatterer, a calumniator, a beggar, and does not seem to be a good Christian.” The attestations they gathered recounted how he sponged meals off the royal household and lined his pocket as a legal fixer for Spanish and Italian merchants in the capital. He even lived in a whorehouse run by an English mason, where he took his meals with the prostitutes and covered up robberies committed by the mason against the brothel’s clients. As scandalous as this may have seemed, the worst of it was Puebla’s favoring of Henry’s interests over those of Spain.

Addressing Puebla’s complete failure to notify his monarchs of the dangerous uprisings and invasion from Scotland of 1497, Matienzo said he had informed Henry that “as soon as the news of disturbances in England had reached Spain, the Spanish fleet had been armed and kept ready to assist him, although the truth of the tidings was doubted, because De Puebla had not mentioned them.” Because of his poor service, the Spanish had secured far less advantageous terms for the marriage of Arthur and Catherine than they could have, at a time when Henry had been under such duress.

Puebla was “a great partisan” of Henry VII and “a quarrelsome intriguer.” Spanish merchants alleged he failed to defend their interests and was “more an agent of the exchequer of the King of England than ambassador of Spain. He is under such subjection to Henry that he dares not say a word, but what he thinks will please the King.”

Especially damning was the opinion gathered from the privy councilor Pierre Le Pennec (“Pedro Pennec”), who was from Morlaix in Brittany. Like Puebla, he was a doctor of civil and canon law; like Ayala, he was a prothonotary of the church. In addition to being a clerk and councilor of Henry, he was also a political agent in Henry’s foreign service. Puebla was said to have “conducted the business of Spain very badly.” He had compromised treaties, delayed peace efforts, and sabotaged Ayala’s diplomacy to the detriment of Spain’s interests. There seemed to be no end to the failings of Puebla. Indeed, according to a testimony signed by a “Doctor Breton,” who was assuredly Le Pennec, “It would require all the paper in London to describe the character of the man.”

“De Puebla wished to ingratiate himself with Henry” was one of the many allegations in the statement by Dr. Breton. “For this reason he told Ferdinand and Isabella that things were very difficult which, in fact, were very easy. Henry makes use of De Puebla for his advantage, but he knows the man.”

Puebla’s instinct for graft, and his closeness to Henry VII, had already been noticed by Raimundo di Raimundis in a letter to the Duke of Milan on December 18, 1497, which was written on the same day that he described his encounter with Cabot. “The Spanish ambassador, a man much after this king’s heart, sometimes throws out a hint that his sovereign might do something if he were assisted with money.”

The sweeping condemnations of Puebla pointed to additional reasons the ambassador was compromised where Cabot’s services to Henry were concerned. Puebla’s activities as a legal fixer for Italian merchants could have placed him in the company of Cabot’s backers. It was also said he had cut corners on his living expenses by residing at the Augustinian friary in London. This was the order of Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis, Cabot’s champion at Henry’s court and the link to his Florentine financiers in London. And Carbonariis had just sailed with Cabot on the latest voyage.

On June 20, Agostino Spinola, who had assumed the Milanese ambassadorship from Raimundo di Raimundis, had written the Duke of Milan from London, acknowledging receipt of several letters for Sforza’s subjects in England. One was for “Messer Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis. I will keep the last until his return. He left recently with five ships, which his Majesty sent to discover new islands.”

Raimundis apparently had been on target when he informed the Duke of Milan the previous December that “some poor Italian friars will go on this voyage, who have the promise of bishoprics.” Whether Carbonariis qualified as “poor,” expected a bishopric, or had company from members of the Augustine friary in London or not, the pope’s subproctor in England indeed had just sailed with Cabot’s flotilla.

THE HEAT WAS SO INTENSE on July 19 that Columbus thought his men and ships would burn. That they did not he attributed to the direct intervention of God. “He succoured him by His mercy at the end of seven or eight days, giving him very good weather to get away from that fire: with which good weather he navigated towards the west 17 days, always intending to return to the south.” On Sunday, July 22, they saw “innumerable birds pass from the west-south-west to the northeast: he says that they were a great sign of land. They saw the same the Monday following and the days after, on one of which days a pelican came to the ship of the Admiral, and many others appeared another day, and there were other birds which are called ‘frigate pelicans.’”

One week after Londoño and Matienzo sent their devastating bundle of allegations regarding the performance of Roderigo de Puebla, and three days after Columbus’s ships were visited by “frigate pelicans,” the scandalous ambassador’s rival, Pedro de Ayala, wrote his own detailed report on recent events for Fernando and Isabel. Most of the letter addressed Scottish affairs, but he also wrote at some length about Henry VII.

Apparently he was not as wealthy as people thought. “He likes to be thought very rich, because such a belief is advantageous to him in many respects.” Royal revenues were dwindling in part because Henry’s penchant for levying taxes was hurting commerce. Ayala further noted the “impoverishment of the people by the great taxes laid on them. The King himself said to me, that it is his intention to keep his subjects low, because riches would only make them haughty.”

Ayala assured his monarchs that Henry’s hold on the crown “is, nevertheless, undisputed, and his government is strong in all respects. He is disliked, but the Queen beloved, because she is powerless.” Henry was now forty-one and looked old for his years “but young for the sorrowful life he has led.” Ayala took measure of his vanity, his desire to be regarded as a ruler of global consequence. “He likes to be much spoken of, and to be highly appreciated by the whole world. He fails in this, because he is not a great man. Although he professes many virtues, his love of money is too great.”

Ayala also raised a fresh matter that had come to his attention. “I think your Majesties have already heard how the King of England 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,” he began.

Leaving aside what they might have learned of Hugh Say’s intelligence, Fernando and Isabel had heard nothing of the kind, at least not from Roderigo de Puebla, who by suspicious coincidence rushed a note to them on Cabot’s voyage the very same day. Cabot’s fleet was not only “equipped”; it had already sailed, and Ayala was furious.

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