Royal Courtship

Lord Bacon, in his History of Henry VII., says that “that monarch in the year 1505, had thoughts of marrying the young Queen of Naples, and sent three ambassadors, with instructions for taking a survey of her person.” These instructions, and the answers to them, are still extant, among the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum (No. 6220.) They are as follow:—

Instructions given by the King’s Highness to his trusty and well-beloved servants, shewing how they shall order themselves to the old Queen of Naples and the young Queen her daughter.

1. After presentation, they shall well note and mark the estate that they keep, and how they be accompanied by Lords or Ladies.

2. Item—whether they keep their household apart or together.

3. Item—To mark her (the young Queen’s) answer to the communication, and to note her discretion, wisdom, and gravity.

4. Item—They shall endeavour them likewise to understand whether the young Queen speak any other language than Spanish and Italian, or whether she can speak French or Latin.

6. Item—Especially to mark the favour of her visage, whether she be painted or no— whether she be fat or lean—sharp or round— and whether her countenance cheerful and amiable, frowning or melancholy.
Answer—As far as we can perceive or know, she is not painted, and the favour of her visage is after her stature, of very good compass, and amiable, and somewhat round and fat, and the countenance cheerful and not frowning—tardy in speech, but with a demure, womanly, shamefaced countenance, and of few words.

7. Item—To note the clearness of her skin.
Answer—She is, for aught we could perceive, very fair and clear of skin, by her visage, neck, and hands.

8. Item—To note the colour of her hair. [The questions from 9 to 14 respect the young queen’s eyebrows, nose, lips, arms, hands, and fingers, which the ambassadors state to be “right fair and comely.”]

15. Item—To-mark whether her neck be long or short.
Answer—Her neck is comely, not misshapen, nor very short, nor very long; but her neck seemeth to be shorter because her breasts be full and somewhat big.

16. Item—To mark her breasts, whether they be big or small.
Answer—They be somewhat great and full, and insomuch as they were trussed somewhat high, after the manner of the country, it caused them to seem much fuller, and her neck shorter.

17. Item—To mark whether any hair appear upon her lip.
Answer—She hath none.

18. Item—That they endeavour to speak with the young Queen, that she may tell unto them some matter of length, and to approach as near to her as they honestly may, to the intent that they may find if she have spices, rose-water, or musk.
Answer—We have found no evil savour of spices or waters.

19. To note the height of her stature, and of what height her slippers be, to the intent that they may not be deceived in the very height and stature of her.
Answer—Her slippers be of six fingers height—she is of a convenient stature, somewhat round and well-liking, which causeth her Grace to seem less in height.

20. Item—To inquire whether she hath any sickness of nativity, or deformity, or blemish.
Answer—We have inquired of her physicians and otherwise in talk, but find in her person no disconformity nor cause of sickness.

21. Whether she be in any singular favour with the King of S. her uncle.
Answer—Ho much esteemeth her.

23. Item—To inquire of the manner of her diet, and whether she be a great feeder or drinker, and whether she uses often to eat and drink, and whether she drinketh wine or water, or both.
Answer—She is a good feeder, and eats meat well twice a day, and that her Grace drinketh not often, and that she drinketh most commonly water, and sometimes the water is boiled with cinnamon, and sometimes she drinketh ypocras, but not often.

23.—This article directs the ambassadors to procure a portrait of the young queen, “So that it agree in similitude and likeness as near as may be possible to the very visage, countenance, and semblance of the said Queen;” and if it be not so, the painter is to be ordered to reform it till it is.

By article 24, the ambassadors are required to ascertain the amount of the dowry, and the title and value thereof in every behalf.

Further reading:
The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Volume 35

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