This is a remarkable account by Laurent Vital, a royal secretary, of a chance visit to Kinsale by Archduke Ferdinand in 1518. Though it has hitherto been neglected but it is of great significance. As well as describing the landing and entertainment of the royal party in Kinsale following stormy weather which disrupted a voyage from Spain to the Low Countries, it also provides a lot of detail about Irish social customs and dress. Indeed Vital's description of Irish dress is one of the finest we have and there can be little doubt that his observations influenced Albrecht Dürer's drawing of the Irish in 1521 and perhaps also later ones by Christoph Weiditz and Lucas De Heere. Its frankness, curiosity and humour exemplifies all that is best in the Renaissance spirit.
Vital's account was brought to our attention by Jereon Nilis of the University of Leuven.
Hiram Morgan, March 2012.