by Heather R. Darsie
In case you missed Love Letter Eleven on Tudors Dynasty at http://www.tudorsdynasty.com/the-love-letters-from-henry-viii-to-anne-boleyn/
The tone of this letter from late June 1528 is in stark contrast to Henry VIII’s previous two letters to Anne Boleyn: not only is he overjoyed that Anne has escaped death from the Sweat, he is also quite flirtatious. From the contents of the letter, it seems the two lovebirds have been apart for quite a length of time. The amount of time could have been made to feel even longer because of Anne’s sickness and what must have been their mutual fear over whether she would survive. Henry begins,
“Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons.” Cartoon by Hans Holbein the Younger and over painting by an unknown artist. Via Wikimedia Commons.
“The cause of my writing at this time, good sweetheart, is only to understand of your good health and prosperity; whereof to know I would be as glad as in manner mine own, praying God that (an it be His pleasure) to send us shortly together, for I promise you I long for it.”
Henry had resumed some of his regular pastimes, including hunting.
The bloodlust of the hunt may have reminded Henry of other lusts by which he was frequently taken. He gifts Anne a deer (hart), and wishes that she think of him when eating it. Even more to the flirtatious point, Henry wishes that Anne could enjoy Henry’s own flesh. With God’s grace, of course. He says to Anne,
“How be it, I trust it shall not be long to; and seeing my darling absent, I can do no less than send her some flesh, representing my name, which is hart flesh for Henry, prognosticating that hereafter, God willing, you may enjoy some of mine, which He pleased, I would were now.”
Those are provocative words coming from the King of England.
Henry then sharply changes topics, addressing the situation of Anne’s sister Mary Boleyn. Mary’s first husband died during the 1528 outbreak of the Sweat. He was very much in debt, leaving Mary in a difficult situation with two young children for whom she had to provide. Anne brought the worrisome state of her widowed sister to Henry’s attention, and he tells Anne,
“As touching your sister’s matter, I have caused Walter Welze (Welsh) to write to my lord my mind therein, whereby I trust Eve shall not have power to deceive Adam; for surely, whatsoever is said, it cannot so stand with his honor but that he must needs take her, his natural daughter, now in her time of extreme necessity.”
What interesting contents in this letter; first, a bold flirtation, then second, talking about Anne’s sister. One must wonder how Anne Boleyn reacted to the hasty change of subject.
Henry closes the letter in a similar way to his others,
“No more to you at this time, mine own darling, but that with a wish I would we were together an evening. With the hand of yours, H. R.”
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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. XXVIII-XXIX. Boston and London: John W. Luce & Company (1906).
- The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Sweating Sickness.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. Published 5 July 2017. https://www.britannica.com/science/sweating-sickness Accessed 10 February 2018.
- Weir, Alison. Mary Boleyn: the Mistress of Kings. New York: Ballantine Books Trade Paperbacks (2012).