The role of Latin Secretary to the King was established under Henry VII. Since Latin was the language of European diplomatic and scholarly discourse, the Tudors had to adept. Initially, linguistic competence was a rarity in England and the first persons to be appointed to that position were attracted from the Continent. It was the secretary’s job to handle all correspondence; the assist in the writing of (Latin) speeches; and to promote a culture of learning. The first occupant of this position was the poet Pietro Carmeliano [Petrus Carmelianus, Peter Carmelian] who had moved from Rome to London in 1481. He remained in London for most of his life. He was one of the King’s chaplains at Richmond Palace and by 1490 he acted as Henry VII’s secretary.
Henry VIII replaced him in 1511 with Lucca-born Andrea Ammonio who held the post until his sudden death in 1517. The latter had published his volume Carmina preceding his appointment in which he flattered the King. The ‘tradition’ of appointing Europeans to the post was briefly interrupted when Mary I chose Roger Ascham as Latin Secretary. Cromwell tried to end the long-standing custom by changing the name of the office. In 1649 he nominated John Milton as his Secretary for Foreign Tongues to the Commonwealth Council of State. From 1666, Charles II invited Malines (Mechlin)-born Nicholas Oudart to take on the position which he held until his death in 1681.