It is almost certain that this rhyme refers to the visit of Juana of Castile to Henry VII’s court in 1506.
Juana and Henry had both been widowed and it was hoped that they may marry each other, however Juana was clearly not in her right mind at the time and the relationship came to nothing.
Juana was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain but after her marriage to ‘Philip the Hamdsome’ her sanity began to leave her, it was said, due to her husband’s regular infidelities. Her name in Spanish was ‘Juana la Loca’ or Mad Juana. You can read more about her here.
“I Had a Little Nut Tree” Lyrics
I had a little nut tree,
Nothing would it bear,
But a silver nutmeg
And a golden pear;
The King of Spain’s daughter
Came to visit me,
And all for the sake
Of my little nut tree.
Her dress was made of crimson,
Jet black was her hair,
She asked me for my nutmeg
And my golden pear.
I said, “So fair a princess
Never did I see,
I’ll give you all the fruit
From my little nut tree.”
“I Had a Little Nut Tree” Original Version
I had a little nut tree, nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg and a golden pear;
The King of Spain’s daughter came to visit me,
And all was because of my little nut tree.
I skipped over water, I danced over sea,
And all the birds in the air couldn’t catch me.