Letter written by Catherine de Medici to the ambassador to Spain, $6500 (£5150) at Bonhams Skinner.

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Although undated, it references the recent death of Pope Pius IV on December 9, 1565, and implores the ambassador to enlist the aid of Philip II of Spain in getting the Cardinal Ferrara, Catherine’s cousin, elected as Pope.

The scheme did not work and instead (with Spanish support) Cardinal Ghislieri received the white smoke on January 7, 1566, and became Pius V.

The letter, written on one side and signed and addressed to the other, has a number of additional notations in a later, probably 18th century, hand.

Acquired by the vendor from Goodspeed’s Book Shop in Boston, it sold for $6500/£5150 (estimate $1500-2500) as part of the sale of books and manuscripts at Bonhams Skinner (28/27/21/14.5% buyer’s premium) in Massachusetts on February 1.