Henry’s Court in 1510:
Luis Caroz was Spanish ambassador to England as a representative of Ferdinand of Aragon. It was his job to inform Ferdinand of what was going on in England, at Henry’s court, and to speak on his behalf.
As Ferdinand’s daughter, Catalina (Katherine) was the queen consort of Henry VIII, it was important for him to know how his daughter and son-in-law were doing.
This excerpt from Caroz’s letter paints a picture of what England was like at the beginning of Henry VIII’s reign.
Luis Caroz to Ferdinand II
[Spanish Calendar, Vol II]
London, May 29, 1510
…The King of England amuses himself almost every day of the week with running the ring, and with jousts and tournaments on foot, in which one single person fights with an appointed adversary. Two days in the week are consecrated to this kind of tournament, which is to continue till the Feast of St. John, and which is instituted in imitation of Amadis and Lanzilote, and other knights of olden times, of whom so much is written in books.
The combatants are clad in breast-plates, and wear a particular kind of helmet. They use lances of fourteen hands’ breadth long, with blunt iron points. They throw lances at one another, and fight afterwards with two-handed swords, each of the combatants dealing twelve strokes. They are separated from one another by a barrier which reaches up to the girdle, in order to prevent them from seizing one another and wrestling. There are many young men who excel in this kind of warfare, but the most conspicuous among them all, the most assiduous, and the most interested in the combats is the King himself, who never omits being present at them…
Mumby, Frank Arthur; The Youth of Henry VIII – A Narrative in Contemporary Letters, page 142