by Heather R. Darsie
The seventeenth love letter from Henry VIII of England to Anne Boleyn was likely written in late September 1528 because it mentions the arrival of the papal legate, Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio. Campeggio was acting legate in Rome for Pope Clement VII after Henry’s nephew through his current marriage to Katharine of Aragon, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, sacked Rome in May 1527. Henry had high hopes for the arrival of Campeggio, which is reflected in his letter to Anne:
“The reasonable request of your last letter, with the pleasure also that I take to know them true, causeth me to send you these news. The legate which we most desire arrived at Paris on Sunday or Monday last past, so that I trust by the next Monday to hear of his arrival at Calais…”
Engraving of Woman, Possibly Anne Boleyn. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Henry’s Lord Chancellor, arranged back in April 1528 for a papal legate to come to England to hear Henry’s annulment petition concerning his marriage to Katharine of Aragon. Finally, six months later, the legate was on is way. Henry hoped that his now nineteen year long marriage to Katharine would be annulled, allowing Henry to marry Anne Boleyn and hopefully beget healthy male heirs. Henry continues,
“…and then I trust within a while after to enjoy that which I have so long longed for, to God’s pleasure and both our comforts.”
Both Henry VIII’s and Anne Boleyn’s comforts, indeed!
“No more to you at this present, mine own darling, for lack of time, but that I would that you were in mine arms, or I in yours, for I think it long since I kissed you.”
Henry’s expression of romantic desire to Anne shows how nearly he believed the time to be when Henry’s marriage to Katharine would be annulled. Henry believed that even though the Holy Roman Emperor kept Pope Clement VII under his thumb, Henry did not think he had reason to fear that the legate would act in a way out of conformity with Henry’s and Anne’s wishes.
“Written after the killing of a hart, at eleven of the clock, minding, with God’s grace, to-morrow, mightily timely, to kill another, by the hand which, I trust, shortly shall be yours. Henry R.”
The date of the letter can be narrowed down even further to around 23 September 1528, when Henry’s treasurer Sir William Fitzwilliam wrote a letter to Cardinal Wolsey saying,
“The King, hunting in this park, showed me he was advertised from you that the Legate [Campeggio] intends to be at Calais tomorrow. He will therefore be glad to be at your manor of Hampton Court on Saturday next. As I told him you could not conveniently remove by that day, he wished to be at your house on Saturday or Monday at the furthest, where he will spend three or four days before his repair to Greenwich. Guildford, Wednesday, 23 September.”
One can imagine the relief Cardinal Wolsey was feeling, knowing that the legate was not far away and would soon grant Henry’s wish.
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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. XLIII-XLIV. Boston and London: John W. Luce & Company (1906).
- “Henry VIII: September 1528, 21-30,” in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4, 1524-1530, ed. J. S. Brewer (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1875),2064-2079. British History Online, accessed 2 January 2019, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol4/pp2064-2079. Specifically, No. 4766.
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