Anne Boleyn writes to Cardinal Wolsey

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn has always been said to have had a fiery temper. None experienced it more than Cardinal Wolsey.The first letter appears to be Anne thanking Wolsey for taking up her cause. I assume this means the cause to obtain an annulment/divorce between Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon.

Authors have claimed that Anne never forgave Wolsey for breaking apart her relationship with Percy – if that were the case, this first letter seems a little conniving and opportunistic, in my opinion. Was she still angry with Wolsey but only using him to get what she wanted?

It’s interesting to see in the second letter Annes anger and embarrassment by the hand of Wolsey – she certainly was mad at him for not giving her what she wanted and so desperately needed as well as embarrassed that she opened up to him for him only to appear to side with Queen Katherine. It’s interesting to see how her mood changes from the first letter to the second.

I’m not sure on the authenticity of this letter, nor do I have dates of the letters. All I know is the source book lists it as a letter written by Anne to Cardinal Wolsey.

by Unknown artist, oil on panel, late 16th century (circa 1520)
Cardinal Wolsey

Letters dated 1529

First Letter from Anne to Cardinal Wolsey:

My lord,

After my most humble recommendations, this shall be to give unto your grace, as I am most bound, my humble thanks for the pain and travail that your grace doth take in studying, by your wisdom and great diligence, how to bring to pass honourably the greatest wealth that is possible to come to any creature living, and in especial remembering how wretched and unworthy I am in comparing to his highness. And for you, I do know myself never to have deserved by my deserts that you should take this great pain for me; yet daily of your goodness I do perceive by all my friends, and though that I had not knowledge by them, the daily proof of your deeds doth declare your words and writing toward me to be true.

Now, good my lord, your discretion may consider as yet how little it is in my power to recompense you, but all only with my good-will, the which I assure you that after this matter is brought to pass you shall find me, as I am bound in the mean time, to owe you my service, and then look what thing in this world I can imagine to do your pleasure in, you shall find me the gladdest woman in the world to do it. And next unto the king’s grace, of one thing I make you full promise to be assured to have it, and that is my hearty love unfeignedly during my life; and being fully determined, with God’s grace, never to change this purpose, I make an end of this my rude and true meaning letter, praying our Lord to send you much increase in honour, with long life.

Written with the hand of her that beseeches your grace to accept this letter as proceeding from one that is most bound to be

Your humble and obedient servant,

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn

Second Letter from Anne to Cardinal Wolsey:

My lord,

Though you are a man of great understanding you cannot avoid being censured by every body for having drawn yourself the hatred of a king who had raised you to the highest degree to which the greatest ambition of a man seeking his fortune can aspire. I cannot comprehend, and the king still less, how your reverend lordship, after having allured us by so many fine promises about divorce, can have repented of your purpose, and how you could have done what you have, in order to hinder the consummation of it. What, then, is your mode of proceeding? You quarrelled with the queen to favour me at the time when I was less advanced in the king’s good graces; and after having therein given the strongest marks of your affection, your lordship abandons my interests to embrace those of the queen. I acknowledge that I have put much confidence in your professions and promises, in which I find myself deceived.

But, for the future, I shall rely on nothing but the protection of Heaven and the love of my dear king, which alone will be able to set right again those plans which you have broken and spoiled, and to place me in that happy station which God wills, the king so much wishes, and which will be entirely to the advantage of the kingdom. The wrong you have done me has caused me much sorrow; but I feel infinitely more in seeing myself betrayed by a man who pretended to enter into my interests only to discover the secrets of my heart. I acknowledge that, believing you sincere, I have been to precipitate in my confidence; it is this which has induced, and still induced me, to keep more moderation in avenging myself, not being able to forget that Ihave been

Your servant,

Anne Boleyn



Letters: Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain Vol. II, by Mary Anne Everett Wood Cheifly from the originals in the State Paper Office, The Tower of London, The British Museum and other State Archives.

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Anne Boleyn Henry VIII History

4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. There is no evidence that Anne Boleyn was believed to practice witchcraft or was suspected of it by Henry. Henry continued to have sex with Anne regularly just as soon as it was allowed by the church, which is why she was definitely pregnant again before the end of 1533. The extra finger nail or tip is a myth invented by Nicholas Sander in the 1580s.

  2. I, too, think they are by two other persons. The first is filled with flowery rhetoric, but the second seems to stumble rather than glide. She certainly remains an enigma. I do agree with the conniving part, and possibly tongue-in-cheek, as she did most definitely have an ax to grind with the corrupt cardinal.

    Side not. Did you know Anne suffered from milk leg following the birth of Elizabeth? This would never appeal to Henry (think Ann of Cleeves) and would have added to the supposition that Anne practiced witch craft? (Already suggested because of the large mole on her neck, which she covered with her necklaces, and the extra finger tip on her hand, which is why she created the style of the long, flowing sleeves.)

    Overall, I don’t think Anne pursued Henry or queenship, but when it was offered she gladly jumped on board. Then she fought for her life, and the life of her daughter.

  3. Although the wrath and lack of gladness I found the second one quite poor in terms of writing and phrasing, appears to me to be another person rather than our lovely Anne,


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