Anne’s Letter from the Tower: 6 May 1536

Let me start off by saying this letter from Anne may be real, or it may be a fake. The original copy of this letter no longer exists, however, the story goes that  a copy was found among Thomas Cromwell’s things after his execution. Some have said that it cannot be real because a 16th century prisoner would not have been allowed to write a letter to the King in such a familiar manner.

The note at the top of the letter, “From the Lady in the Tower” was said to have been added by Cromwell after receiving it.

In reading this I can almost hear Anne’s words – do you believe this is an authentic letter from Anne?

From the Lady in the Tower 

Your grace’s displeasure and my imprisonment are things so strange to me, that what to write, or what to excuse, I am altogether ignorant. Whereas you send to me (willing me to confess a truth and so obtain your favor), by such a one, whom you know to be mine ancient professed enemy, I no sooner received this message by him, than I rightly conceived your meaning; and if, as you say, confessing a truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all willingness and duty, perform your duty. But let not your grace ever imagine that your poor wife will be brought to acknowledge a fault, where not so much as a thought ever proceeded. And to speak a truth, never a prince had wife more loyal in all duty, and in all true affection, than you have ever found in Anne Bulen – with which name and place I could willingly have contented myself, if God and your grace’s pleasure had been so pleased. Neither did I at any time so far forget myself in my exaltation or received queenship, but that I always looked for such alteration as I now find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer foundation than your grace’s fancy, the least alteration was fit and sufficient (I knew) to draw that fancy to some other subject.

You have chosen me from low estate to be your queen and companion, far beyond my desert or desire; if, then, you found me worthy of such honor, good your grace, let not any light fancy or bad counsel of my enemies withdraw your princely favor from me; neither let that stain – that unworthy stain – of a disloyal heart towards your good grace ever cast so foul a blot on me, and on the infant princess your daughter.

Try me, good king, but let me have a lawful trial, and let not my sworn enemies sit as my accusers and as my judges; yea, let me receive an open trial, for my truth shall fear no open shame. Then you shall see either my innocency cleared, your suspicions and conscience satisfied, the ignominy and slander of the world stopped, or my guilt openly declared. So that, whatever God and you may determine of, your grace may be freed from an open censure; and my offense being so lawfully proved, your grace may be at liberty, both before God and man, not only to execute worthy punishment on me as an unfaithful wife but to follow your affection already settled on that party for whose sake I am now as I am, whose name I could some while since have pointed unto – your grace being not ignorant of my suspicions therein. But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my death, but an infamous slander must bring your the joying of your desired happiness, then I desire of God that he will pardon your great sin herein, and likewise my enemies, the instruments thereof; and that he will not call you to a strait account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me at his general judgment-seat, where both you and myself must shortly appear; and in whose just judgment, I doubt not (whatsoever the world may think of me), mine innocency shall be openly known and sufficiently cleared.

My last and only request shall be, that myself only bear the burden of your grace’s displeasure, and that it may not touch the innocent souls of those poor gentlemen, whom, as I understand, are likewise in strait imprisonment for my sake. If ever I have found favor in your sight – if ever the name of Anne Bulen have been pleasing in your ears – then let me obtain this request; and so I will leave to trouble your grace any further, with mine earnest prayer to the Trinity to have your grace in his good keeping, and to direct you in all your actions.

From my doleful prison in the Tower, the 6th May.


Letter: Hanson, Marilee. “Letter By Queen Anne Boleyn to her husband, King Henry VIII 6 May 1536″”></a&gt;, February 10, 2015

Further Reading:

The Anne Boleyn Files – 6 May 1536 – A Letter from the Tower by Sandra Vasoli – Letter by Queen Anne to her Husband, Henry VIII; 6 May 1536



Anne Boleyn Henry VIII History

12 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Given her character, it seems like something she would have written. She asked for mercy but at the same time stood her ground that she had done nothing wrong. She knew why he wanted to get rid of her. She knew he wanted Jane. She understood even though she was innocent, he would kill her if it meant getting what he wanted. An honest person can face death knowing God makes the final judgement. I think the letter was hidden from Henry. He wanted to be rid of her without having to hear anything about it.

  2. Don’t think anyone would have shown this letter to Henry, if she did write it. His conscience couldn’t have borne it, and his conscience was always clear(ha). Cromwell would have been afraid of his wrath.

    • I think it makes sense that Anne would have written this letter as she knew that her days as queen were numbered. She stated her innocence but was forthright about the King wanting to admonish her.
      I also think she would not beg for his forgiveness in any way. Lastly she was concerned about the future of their daughter and how she would be treated.

  3. I believe that the letter is real. Anne Boleyn was a very shrewd and politically savvy woman. She was walking a fine line here. She was willing to confess to any real sin that she may have committed. But, she also knew not to trust Cromwell to deliver her “confession” to the King in a manner that would denote her words accurately and truthfully. She desperately wanted to face Henry directly, work her charm on him, and then procure her freedom.

  4. I would think it would be real as it was found in Thomas Cromwell’s things.Why would a copy of her letter be in his things? Unless he Copyed Annes letter and burnt the original. But that wouldn’t make much sence eather.

  5. I don’t think this is authentic because long before her arrest Anne knew she was doomed and that the trial a mere formality hence her statement at the trial:
    Charged is not convicted or is it in this court ?!
    She knew Henry’s personality only too well and knew well before her arrest that he wanted Jane Seymour and what he wanted he always got by fair means or foul
    She herself had a degree of obstinacy and no matter how great her fear would never have written in such a pleading tone

    • If this letter is not real why would it be found in in Thomas Cromwell’s things? I think if Anne was guilty of anything it was having too much pride. Cromwell did not like the ambitious Boleyn family. I’m sure that Anne loved Henry, but whether Henry really loved Anne–I don’t know. Her arrest, trial, and execution happened so quickly. She endured it according to history with grace. Her poor body was placed into an empty arrow box, and she was given a traitor’s burial. Poor misunderstood Anne

      • I was so offended on a tour at the Tower several years ago when the guide made fun of Queen Anne, in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula no less. I wrote a complaint note. In any case agree how very sad.

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