by Heather R. Darsie
In this letter likely from 1527, Henry seems upset that Anne Boleyn failed to follow through on a promise she gave and did not give Henry positive emotional support the last time he saw her. Henry also asks after Anne’s current health. Henry writes, “Although, my Mistress, it has not pleased you to remember the promise you made me when I was last with you – that is, to hear good news from you, and to have an answer to my last letter; yet it seems to me that it belongs to a true servant (seeing that otherwise he can know nothing) to inquire the health of his mistress…”
William P. Frith, 1903: King Henry and Anne Boleyn Shooting Deer in Windsor Forest.
Continuing in the vein that Henry VIII, King of England, is really only a poor servant to his lady love, Henry goes on with, “…and to acquit myself of the duty of a true servant, I send you this letter, beseeching you to apprise me of your welfare, which I pray to God may continue as long as I desire mine own.” Then, Henry gets real romantic (yes, you read a slightly sarcastic tone, dear reader), and sends an a gift of venison, “And to cause you yet oftener to remember me, I send you, by the bearer of this, a buck killed late last night by my own hand, hoping that when you eat of it you may think of the hunter;” All joking aside, there is a degree of romance and honour to this gift. The king owned a substantial portion of the wooded areas in England, and it was illegal to kill the king’s deer. By giving Anne Boleyn and her family a gift of venison, he is bestowing upon her a gift of status
Finally, Henry closes with, “…and thus, for want of room, I must end my letter, written by the hand of your servant, who very often wishes for you instead of your brother [George Boleyn, Lord Rocheford].” He signs simply with, “H. R.,” for Henricus Rex, being Latin for King Henry or Henry the King.
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Sources & Suggested Reading
1. Luce, John W. and Company, with designs by Florence Swan (1899). Love Letters of Henry Eighth to Anne Boleyn. Pp. V-VI. Boston and London: John W. Luce & Company (1906).