On 30th January 1649, following his defeat in the English Civil War, Charles I was executed. A few months later, Parliament passed an "Act for the Sale of the Late King's Goods", and in early October the "Sale of the Century" began. Over the next four years, masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Mategna, Veronese and other famous artists were covertly acquired by the Spanish ambassador in London. He shipped them to Madrid, where they were divided between the collections of Philip IV and his principal minister, Luis de Haro. The "Sale of the Century" is one of the most famous events in the history of collecting and is the culminating episode in this text, which traces the political and artistic relationship of Britain and Spain in the first half of the 17th century. The contributing historians and art historians begin their story in 1604 with the signing of the Anglo-Spanish Peace Treaty. They also discuss the novelesque visit to Madrid in 1623 of the Prince of Wales, the future Charles I, accompanied by the Duke of Buckingham, as well as the episode involving Peter Paul Rubens, who in 1628-29 acted as an agent in fresh peace negotiations between the two monarchies. The volume includes portraits and biographies of the leading figures, contemporary representations of the major historical events, and, of course, an account of many of the masterpieces that moved from London to Madrid.