by Heather R. Darsie
Letter Fourteen speaks for itself: it seems that someone leaked information about Henry’s desire to meet with Anne Boleyn. Letter Fourteen is one of the shortest, if not indeed the shortest, of Henry VIII’s letters to Anne. It says:
“Darling, I heartily recommend me to you, ascertaining you that I am not a little perplexed with such things as your brother shall on my part declare unto you, to whom I pray you give full credence, for it were too long to write. In my last letters I writ to you that I trusted shortly to see you, which is better known at London than with any that is about me, whereof I not a little marvel; but lack of discreet handling must needs be the cause thereof. No more to you at this time, but that I trust shortly our meetings shall not depend upon other men’s light handlings, but upon our own.
Written with the hand of him that longeth to be yours. H. R.”
Letter Fifteen takes place after Anne visited Henry at court. He is clearly intoxicated by his love for her when Henry opens,
“Mine own sweetheart, this shall be to advertise you of the great elengeness (loneliness or misery) that I find here since your departing; for, I ensure you methinketh the time longer since your departing now last, than I was wont to do a whole fortnight (two weeks).”
The real Letter Fifteen, via Wikimedia Commons.
Laying it on quite thick, Henry insists that it is due to his love for Anne,
“I think your kindness and my fervency of love causeth it; for, otherwise, I would not have thought it possible that for so little a while it should have grieved me.”
Henry was writing or researching for a book or treatise of his own when he wrote Anne this letter. It most likely related to his Great Matter, the annulment of his marriage to Katharine of Aragon. Henry writes,
“But now I am coming towards you, methinketh my pains be half removed; and also I am right well comforted in so much that my book maketh substantially for my matter; in looking whereof I have spent above four hours this day…”
The King of England was so dedicated to his work that day that it caused Henry a headache. Due to his mental fatigue and headache, Henry could only dash off something quick to Anne Boleyn,
“…which causeth me now to write this shorter letter to you at this time, because of some pain in my head; wishing myself (especially in an evening) in my sweetheart’s arms, whose pretty dukkys (breasts) I trust shortly to kiss.”
Talking about Anne Boleyn’s pretty breasts in Letter Fifteen is quite the departure from the contents of Letter Fourteen. Either Henry was exceedingly confident in who was delivering his letter to Anne, or he simply stopped caring what the people of England thought.
“Written by the hand of him that was, is, and shall be yours by his own will, H. R.”
What awesome foreshadowing for how Henry would literally do all he could to move Heaven and Earth for Anne.
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- The Scots Queen Surrenders: An Overview of the Battle of Carberry Hill
Sources & Suggested Reading
1. Luce, John W. and Company, with designs by Florence Swan (1899). Love Letters of Henry Eighth to Anne Boleyn. Pp. XXXVII-XL. Boston and London: John W. Luce & Company (1906).