John Day's letter to Columbus informing him of the Cabot voyages of discovery in order to help Columbus find the New World!!
John Day was Bristol merchant and spy for the Spanish Inquisition. He sent detailed descriptions of John Cabot's voyages to help him (Columbus) find the New World.!!
This letter was discovered in the Spanish National Archives in Simancas in 1955 by Dr. Hayward Keniston of the University of Michigan and Dr. Louis André Vignaras. It was from a certain John Day (a spy for the Spanish Inquisition) to Christopher Columbus and was sent in 1497.
John Day to the Very Magnificent and Honorable Lord, the Lord Great
With your most revered Excellency's servant, and considering what you instructed me therein, which I would wish to do in accordance with my desire and duty, I do not find the book Invincio Fortunati; I thought I had brought it with my effects, and am greatly annoyed that I can not find it, because I sought very much to serve you. The other [book] by Marco Polo, and the copy of the tierra [globe or world map] which has been found I send you, and if I did not send you the chart, it is because, with my heavy schedule [occupaciones] it is not as I would like it to be, since I made it in a hurry at the time of my departure [from England], but with the help of the enclosed copy you will be able to ascertain what you wish to know, since the capes of tierra firma and the islands are therein named and you will also see there where the first landfall [primera vista] took place, because it was on the return [course] that was found the major part of the land
Thus also your
Lordship will see that the cape closest to Ireland is 1800 millas
west of Cabo Dursal, which is in Ireland, and the lowest
part of the Isle of the Seven Cities is west of the Rio de Burdeos,
and you will note that he did not go ashore save at one place of tierra
firma, which is close to where they made the first landfall,
in which place they went ashore with a crucifix and raised banners
bearing the arms of the Holy Father and the arms of the King of England
my lord, and they found big trees from which masts of ships are made,
and other trees underneath them, and the land was very rich in pasturage;
in which place (as I have already told your Lordship) they found a
very narrow way leading into the land, and saw a spot where someone
had made a fire, and found dung of animals which they judge to be
tame, and they found a stick of elbow length perforated at both ends
and painted with brasil and from these signs the land is
judged to be inhabited; and as he found himself to be with few men
he dared not enter the land beyond a cross-bow shot, and he took on
fresh water and returned to his ship and along the coast they found
many fish of the kind that in Iceland are cured in the air and sell
in England and other countries and which in England are called estoqfis;
and also when coasting they saw running ashore two bultos [big objects],
one chasing the other, but were unable to tell whether they were men
or beasts; and it seemed to them that there were cultivated lands
where they thought there might be villages, and they saw vegetation
whose leaves appeared fair to them, and the time that he departed
from England was in the end of May and he was en route 35 days before
he found land, and the winds were east and northeast and the seas
were smooth on the outward as on the homeward passage, save one day
when there blew up a gale, and that was two or three days before he
found land; and being so far out, the north-seeking needle failed
him and varied two points down, and he went exploring the coast one
month more or less and the above said cape of tierra firma
which is closest to Ireland being [passed] on the return, they arrived
off the coast of Europe in 15 days. Carrying a stern wind, he arrived
in Brittany because the mariners confused him, saying that he was
steering too far north; and from thence [Brittany] he came to Bristol
and went to the king to tell him all the above said, and the king
gave him a grace of 20 pounds sterling per annum that he might recuperate
during the time when more becomes known of this business, since it
is hoped to launch an expedition of 10 or 12 ships to discover the
said land more completely the coming year, God willing, because on
this said voyage he had but one ship of 50 toneles with 20 persons
and victuals for 7 or 8 months, and because he wished to get this
[expedition] under way.
It is considered certain that this same point of land at another time was found and discovered by those of Bristol who found el Brasil as you are already aware, which is called Ysla de Brasil, and is presumed and believed to be the tierra firma which those of Bristol discovered.
As regards the first voyage which Your Lordship wished to know about, the fact is that he [Cabot] went in one ship and the people whom he engaged disconcerted him and he went ill provisioned and encountered contrary winds and decided to return.
Magnificent Lord, upon completion of other matters pertaining to the case, I would like to serve Your Lordship provided I am not impeded from so doing because of business obligations of great importance and by the proper preparation of documents and cargoes for shipment to England which I must expedite. Which matters greatly interfere with my serving of Your Lordship; but accept from me, Your Lordship, as a Magnificent Lord, the wish of my true intention, which is to be of service to you, and when I find myself in a position [so to do], when comparatively unencumbered by business, I will take up work which shall have for its purpose to be of service to you, and when I shall have had news from England touching on the above (and I know that everything [English] comes to my attention), I shall make known to Your Lordship everything that may not be prejudicial to the King [of England] my Lord.
In return for any services which I hope to perform on your behalf, I pray that your Lordship will be pleased to write to me a few words touching on those matters, since the kindness which in this matter you will be doing me will open many hints wherewith to serve you with all the things of which you are aware. May Our Lord cause your Lordship's high estate to prosper in conformity with your merits. When your Lordship is through with it, please deliver the book or command that it be given to Mycer Jorge.
I kiss your Lordship’s hands.