“The Spanish Match”. The Prince of Wales Travels to Spain in Disguise to Meet the Infanta Maria Anna

[Charles, Prince of Wales (1600-1649) (Charles I, King of England from 1625); Maria Anna of Spain (1606-1646)]

Verdadera Relación de la entrada del Príncipe don Carlos de Inglaterra en la Corte de Madrid, Viernes diez y Siete de Março, este año de 1623. Dase cuenta de la general alegría que en la Corte uvo con la venida deste Príncipe y la causa della.

Seville: Impresso en Madrid, y por su original, con licencia del señor Oydor Veas Bellon, por Francisco de Lyra, 1623


Folio: 30.5 x 21.5 cm. [4] pp.

SOLED EDITION. Palau gives the imprint as Seville.

Disbound. Uncut. Ornate woodcut device on final page.

An extremely rare pamphlet, only two copies known: Biblioteca de la Real Academia de la Historia (Spain) and Senate House Libraries (Univ. College London).

This rare Spanish relation describes the Prince of Wales’s secret journey to Madrid to meet the Infanta María Anna, his intendedl wife.

In 1622 King James I of England, Charles’ father, had received an offer from the Spanish king, Philip III, to strengthen the ties between England and Spain with a dynastic marriage between his daughter and James’ son, the future Charles I. However, when Philip IV ascended to the throne, diplomatic relations suffered. In an effort to salvage the compact, Charles resolved to travel incognito to Spain in order to revive the match personally.

In 1623, Charles and the Duke of Buckingham, assuming the names Thomas and John Smith and wearing false beards, traveled quietly to Madrid, where they surprised the King, and Charles was granted audiences with the Infanta. This Spanish account of this remarkable series of events begins with the arrival of Charles and Buckingham:

“On Friday night, the 17th of March, between 10 and 11 o’clock, two gentlemen came to the house of the Earl of Bristol, and finding a servant at the door, they told him to inform the earl that two cavaliers wished to see him. When the Earl descended the stairs with a candle, he was astonished to find that the strangers were the Earl of Buckingham and Charles, Prince of Wales. He informed the Count of Gondomar, who went to the palace to give the news to His Majesty.”

In the end, the marriage did not take place, in part because the Infanta did not wish to marry a Protestant and Charles would not convert to Catholicism. The episode came to be called “The Spanish Match”, a designation that has continued to this day.