by Heather R. Darsie, J. D.
Henry VIII’s tumultuous relationship with Anne Boleyn is very well exemplified by the contrast between his fifth and sixth letters to her. As seen in the fifth letter, Henry is very confident in the relationship and jubilant because of Anne’s gift and the meaning behind it. In the sixth letter, Henry VIII seems worried about a cooling of affection from Anne Boleyn. Henry writes,
Anonymous Woman by Frans Pourbus the Younger between 1600 and 1609; via Wikimedia Commons.
“To My Mistress. Because the time seems very long since I heard concerning your health and you, the great affection I have for you has induced me to send you this bearer, to be better informed of your health and pleasure, and because, since my parting from you, I have been told that the opinion in which I left you is totally changed, and that you would not come to court either with your mother, if you could, or in any other matter…”
Coming off what must have been a good meeting in person, Henry can scarcely believe that Anne is so willing to be around him. The amount of time that passed between Henry seeing Anne and penning this letter is unknown. Having the letter delivered to Anne personally would allow Henry to become informed about whether she was ill, what changes had been made in her household, and so on. It would not be unlike the modern person asking a good acquaintance to have a look at their beloved’s social media. What change in status did Anne have, if any?
“… [if the report is true], I cannot sufficiently marvel at, because I am sure that I have since never done any thing [sic] to offend you, and it seems a very poor return for the great love which I bear you to keep me at a distance both from the speech and the person of the woman that I esteem most in the world…”
Would it not be interesting to know the contents of this report? And who reported it?
“…and if you love me with as much affection as I hope you do, I am sure that the distance of our two persons would be a little irksome to you, though this does not belong so much to the mistress as the servant.”
Meaning that Henry believes the irksome nature of his separation from Anne Boleyn are his feelings and not hers.
“…Consider well, my mistress, that absence from you grieves me sorely, hoping that it is not your will that it should be so; but if I knew for certain that you voluntarily desired it, I could do no other than mourn my ill-fortune and by degrees abate my great folly…”
It seems unlikely that Henry, after going through so much trouble to show his desire for Anne both publicly and privately, would give up now. True that this is at the beginning of their romance, likely in 1527 and no later than 1528, but Henry is already hanging on Anne’s every word and every bit of gossip about her. Plus, he was the king of England and particularly used to getting what he wanted.
“…And so, for lack of time, I make an end of this rude letter, beseeching you to give credence to this bearer in all that he will tell you from me. Written by the hand of your entire Servant, H. R.”
Henry always seems to be lacking time when writing Anne letters. That might be another tell of his timidity around Anne.
Click here or the link below for the seventh love letter.
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Sources & Suggested Reading
- Luce, John W. and Company, with designs by Florence Swan (1899). Love Letters of Henry Eighth to Anne Boleyn. Pp. XIII-XV. Boston and London: John W. Luce & Company (1906).
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