by Heather R. Darsie
This letter to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was written mostly by Anne Boleyn, with a postscript by Henry VIII. As for the art of wooing, perhaps Henry believed a letter to Cardinal Wolsey from the gentler sex (Anne Boleyn) would prod him to the purpose of producing an annulment of Henry’s marriage to Katharine of Aragon all the more quickly. As history has shown, that was not the case. However, one can imagine how in love these two must have been, or at least how purpose-minded they were, in composing this letter together. Anne begins,
Karl von Piloty [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
“My Lord, in my most humblest wise that my heart can think, I desire you to pardon me that I am so bold to trouble you with my simple and rude writing…”
It is obvious from this first but of writing that Anne has a firm grasp on language and is an eloquent writer. Perhaps this ability, in part, is what charmed Henry so. She continues,
“… esteeming [this writing] to proceed from her that is much desirous to know that your grace does well, as I perceive by this bearer that you do, the which I pray God long to continue, as I am most bound to pray; for I do know the great pains and troubles that you have taken for me both day and night is never likely to be recompensed on my part, but alonely in loving you, next unto the king’s grace, above all creatures living. And I do not doubt but the daily proofs of my deeds shall manifestly declare and affirm my writing to be true, and I do trust you do think the same.”
This is hefty, flattering language. One can imagine Henry VIII lovingly looking over Anne Boleyn’s shoulder, perhaps admiring the way she writes this letter or that, enjoying the words she uses, while Anne does her best to appeal to Wolsey. At the very least, this is a good bit of courtly propaganda to show that Anne Boleyn (and by extension, maybe the Boleyn faction) hold no ill will toward Wolsey.
“My lord, I do assure you, I do long to hear from you news of the legate; for I do hope, as they come from you, they shall be very good; and I am sure you desire it as much as I, and more, an it were possible; as I know it is not: and thus remaining in a steadfast hope, I make an end of my letter.”
An here is the dart; Anne is getting no younger and she and Henry are longing to make their relationship official in the eyes of the Church and get on with what royal husbands and wives do.
“Written with the hand of her that is most bound to be, Your Humble Servant, Anne Boleyn.”
Henry VIII then adds a postscript to Anne’s letter that is almost the same length as the body of her letter. In its entirety, Henry writes to Wolsey:
“The writer of this letter would not cease, till she had caused me likewise to set my hand, desiring you, though it be short, to take it in good part. I ensure you that there is neither of us but greatly desireth to see you, and are joyous to hear that you have escaped this plague so well, trusting the fury thereof to be passed, especially with them that keepeth good diet, as I trust you do. The not hearing of the legate’s arrival in France causeth us somewhat to muse; notwithstanding, we trust, by your diligence and vigilancy (with the assistance of Almighty God), shortly to be eased out of that trouble. No more to you at this time, but that I pray God send you as good health and prosperity as the writer would. By your loving Sovereign and Friend, H. R.”
Here again we see Henry’s attitudes about his love life come through; he is worried at the news (or lack there of) that the legate had not yet arrived in France for the purposes of Henry’s Great Matter. Henry presses Wolsey to further action, with the words Henry uses being interpretable as either encouragement or a slight threat.
At any rate, in so far as wooing is concerned, it is quite romantic for Henry to have co-written a letter with his lady love to a man as powerful and important as Wolsey.
You May Also Like
- Henry VIII’s Seventh Letter to Anne Boleyn
- Henry VIII’s Sixth Letter to Anne Boleyn
- Why do We Kiss Under the Mistletoe?
- Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn: Letter One, Approx. July 1527
- Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan and Lorraine, Lady of Tortona
Sources and Suggested Readin
- Luce, John W. and Company, with designs by Florence Swan (1899). Love Letters of Henry Eighth to Anne Boleyn. Pp. XVIII-XXI. Boston and London: John W. Luce & Company (1906).