Known for both the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church and his six marriages, the life of Henry VIII still has a large presence in our society today. He’s been the subject of many books, movies, and television dramas. The famous King of England was born in 1491, was crowned in 1509 and was king until he died in 1547. The most famous of his wives, many consider, was Anne Boleyn. The two of them met when Anne joined Henry’s court in England, the precise details of their first meeting are unknown but, luckily, Henry’s love letters have been collected and saved. The letter I present this week is the very first letter Henry sent to Anne. It is in response to a letter from her and in it we can see Henry’s passion for Anne, despite having known her for only a short period of time.
“On turning over in my mind the contents of your last letters, I have put myself into great agony, not knowing how to interpret them, whether to my disadvantage, as you show in some places, or to my advantage, as I understand them in some others, beseeching you earnestly to let me know expressly your whole mind as to the love between us two. It is absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been for above a whole year stricken with the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail of finding a place in your heart and affection, which last point has prevented me for some time past from calling you my mistress; because, if you only love me with an ordinary love, that name is not suitable for you, because it denotes a singular love, which is far from common. But if you please to do the office of a true loyal mistress and friend, and to give up yourself body and heart to me, who will be, and have been, your most loyal servant, (if your rigour does not forbid me) I promise you that not only the name shall be given you, but also that I will take you for my only mistress, casting off all others besides you out of my thoughts and affections, and serve you only. I beseech you to give an entire answer to this my rude letter, that I may know on what and how far I may depend. And if it does not please you to answer me in writing, appoint some place where I may have it by word of mouth, and I will go thither with all my heart. No more, for fear of tiring you. Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain yours,