11 May 2018

Sources for my research: Letter from Nicholas Sagudino to Alvise Foscari, Patriarch of Venice

Alvise Foscari, Patriarch of Venice

Although some historical fiction authors like to give free reign to their imagination, I like to make sure my books are as historically accurate as possible. In the research for my current work in progress about Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, husband of Mary Tudor (Queen of France), I discovered this translation of a letter from ambassador Nicholas Sagudino to Alvise Foscari, Patriarch of Venice, which gives some idea of the level of detail available to researchers:
To do honor to the Flemish envoys, the ambassadors were invited to a joust on the 7th. The King entered the lists about two. First came the marshal in a surcoat of cloth of gold, surrounded by thirty footmen in yellow and blue livery; then came the drummers and trumpeters in white damask, followed by forty knights in cloth of gold; "and after them twenty young knights on very fine horses, all dressed in white, with doublets of cloth of silver and white velvet, and chains of unusual size, and their horses were barbed with silver chainwork, and a number of pendant bells, many of which rang. 
    Next followed thirteen pages, singly, on extremely handsome horses, whose trappings were half of gold embroidery and the other half of purple velvet embroidered with gold stars. Then came fifteen jousters armed, their horse armor and surcoats being most costly; and alongside of each was one on horseback, sumptuously dressed, carrying his lance, with their footmen." Then appeared the King in silver bawdkin, with thirty gentlemen on foot, dressed in velvet and white satin. Among the jousters were the Duke of Suffolk, the Marquis of Dorset, and my Lord Admiral. The King jousted with Suffolk, and tilted eight courses, both shivering their lances at every time, to the great applause of the spectators. The jousts lasted four hours, but the honor of the day was awarded to the King and the Duke. Between the courses the King and other cavaliers made their horses jump and execute acts of horsemanship, to the delight of everybody. Under the windows were the Queens of England and France. The adjoining chamber was occupied by the Cardinal and his attendants.
   The jousts being ended, a beam was brought, some twenty feet in length and nine inches in diameter, and was placed on the head of one of his majesty's favorites, by name Master Carol, [Sir Nicholas Carew] who was one of the jousters, and he ran a long way with the beam on his head, to the marvel of every body.  Of the two tents, one of cloth of gold cost the King 10,000 ducats, and was made when he crossed over to France in 1515; the other was of silk, surrounded by scaffolds, containing 50,000 persons. After the joust was a banquet, and at the head of the hall sat the King, between the Queens of England and France, and with them the Cardinal; at the side the ambassadors, with the handsomest ladies.
    In the centre of the hall there was a stage on which were some boys, some of whom sang, and others played the flute, rebeck and harpsichord, making the sweetest melody. The banquet being ended, the King and the guests above mentioned betook themselves into another hall, where the damsels of the most serene Queen were, and dancing went on there for two hours, the King doing marvellous things, both in dancing and jumping, proving himself, as he in truth is, indefatigable. Returned next day to London. Everybody is talking of the late entertainment. 
Nicholas Sagudino 11 July 1517.

(Source: British History Online)

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