by Heather R. Darsie, J. D.
Lucas Horenbout, painted between June 1526-June 1527. Royal Collection Trust.
Henry VIII’s fourth letter to Anne Boleyn seeps romantic language, and is lacking the anxious tone of previous letters. Henry adopts an overall more romantic tone, and seems more confident in their relationship. The letter to Anne Boleyn starts with,
“My Mistress and Friend, my heart and I surrender ourselves into your hands, beseeching you to hold us commended to your favor, and that by absence your affection to us may not be lessened…”
Then the real pining is put to paper, though quite poetically,
“… for it were a great pity to increase our pain, of which absence produces enough and more than I could ever have thought could be felt, reminding us of a point in astronomy which is this: the longer the days are, the more distant is the sun, and nevertheless hotter; so is it with our love, for by absence we are kept a distance from one another, and yet it retains its fervor…”
This part of the letter is interesting because it illustrates the understanding of astronomy that Henry, and thus others, had in the early 16th century. These letters were written in 1527 or so, and this shows that there was some idea of how the seasons changed and why the days became longer and shorter.
Henry’s characteristic anxiety about his relationship with Anne Boleyn finally creeps into the letter,
“…it retains its fervor, at least on my side; I hope the like on yours, assuring you that on my part the pain of absence is already too great for me; and when I think of the increase of that which I am forced to suffer, it would be almost intolerable, but for the firm hope I have of your unchangeable affection for me …”
Henry then gifts Anne with another token of his affection, that is longer-lasting and a bit more meaningful than venison. It would have taken a good amount of money to commission this token, and shows the boldness of Henry’s affections for Anne,
“…and to remind you of [my affection] sometimes, and seeing that I cannot be personally present with you, I now send you the nearest thing I can to that, namely, my picture* set in a bracelet, with the whole of the device, which you already know, wishing myself in their place, if it please you. This is from the hand of your loyal servant and friend, H. R.”
*This writer speculates that the miniature in the bracelet which Henry gave to Anne could have come from the set of miniatures which Henry commissioned from Lucas Horenbout between June 1526 and June 1527. Further research is needed.
Click here for the fifth letter, or link below
Love learning about the Early Modern period? Are you interested in Tudor history or Women’s history? Then check out my book, Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s ‘Beloved Sister’, a new biography about Anna of Cleves told from the German perspective!
Sources & Suggested Reading
- Luce, John W. and Company, with designs by Florence Swan (1899). Love Letters of Henry Eighth to Anne Boleyn. Pp. VII-IX. Boston and London: John W. Luce & Company (1906).
- “Henry VIII.” https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/420010/henry-viii-1491-1547
Did you like this post? You may be interested in: