Early Letter from Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII

Early Letter from Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII

This letter from Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII is a re-translation and was placed under the year 1519, however per the author of the Letters: Royal Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain, Volume II, they state it was probably not written until several years later – they dated it as 1527. To put things into perspective, it was the 4th of March 1522 that Anne played Perseverance in ‘The Chateau Vert’ at York Place, her first recorded appearance at court. So it would seem out of timeline for this letter to have been written in 1519.

Early Letter from Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII (1)As far as I can tell there is no hard evidence (primary source) to point towards a date that Anne became a maid-of-honour to Queen Katherine, however, this letter leads me to believe that she was most recently appointed to the position so that the king could see her as he wished without suspicion. I’ve referred to The Anne Boleyn Files (my go-to for all things Anne) for a date of Anne becoming maid-of-honor. The owner of the site, Claire Ridgway states in a timeline that Anne was appointed in 1522. That would be the same year that she played Perseverance, which would make sense.

If 1527 is indeed correct it is also the year that Anne accepted Henry’s marriage proposal by sending him the ship jewel, as well as the same year that Henry requested an annulment from the Pope. However, I keep going back to her last paragraph in this letter and wonder if it wasn’t written closer to 1522.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this letter and what your thoughts are on the timeline.

Sire,

It belongs only to the august mind of a great king, to whom Nature has given a heart full of generosity towards the sex, to repay by favours so extraordinary an artless and short conversation with a girl. Inexhaustible as is the treasury of your majesty’s bounties, I pray you to consider that it cannot be sufficient to your generosity; for if you recompense so slight a conversation by gifts so great what will you be able to do for those who are ready to consecrate their entire obedience to your desires? How great soever may be the bounties I have received, the joy that I feel in being loved by a king whom I adore, and to whom I would with please make a sacrifice of my heart, if fortune had rendered it worthy of being offered to him, will ever infinitely greater.

The warrant of maid of honour to the queen induces me to think that your majesty has some regard for me, since it gives me the means of seeing you oftener, and of assuring you by my own lips (which I shall do on the first opportunity) that I am,

Your majesty’s very obliged and very obedient servant, without any reserve.

Anne Boleyn

Source:

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 [Translated by: Gregorio Leti, Vita Di Elisabetha, Vol. II. P. 50]

Anne Boleyn – Chronology

 

17 Comments

  1. Marion

    From what I understand, a maid of honour was unmarried, i.e. a maiden. They were junior to the ladies in waiting.

  2. I was under the impression that Henry didn’t see Anne until she played Perseverance. Is this correct? Also, I don’t know what their titles were, but is maid of honor a higher rank than lady in waiting? If so, then 1522 makes total sense.

  3. Interesting letter, though I think the authenticity should be questioned. If it is indeed genuine, one would think that it would have to be dated closer to 1522.

    Unless, of course, this was written post-Percy Debacle, when Anne returned to court. That would place it closer to 1524. (Perhaps Anne returned to court for Christmastide of her banishment, and had a conversation with the king, which piqued his interest and had her restored to her position in Katherine’s house the following year?) We, of course, know that Henry’s pursuit of Anne began sometime after that initial banishment to Hever after the ‘engagement’ to Percy. And the letter does seem to make some…flirty…references for that time, (lips, heart, etc.)

    If this were after her initial appointment to Katherine’s service, would it not have been more meet for Anne’s father to send this letter to Henry, as he was the one that secured the position for her initially? Also, wasn’t the queen responsible for those selected to her service? Wouldn’t Thomas Boleyn have sent the letter of thanks for the original appointment to Katherine? Can’t imagine Henry being read, sent, or reading a letter from a knight’s daughter after an initial appointment that would have been made by Katherine. But perhaps so if Henry himself had secured the position for her again after she was dismissed due to ‘misconduct’.

  4. Helen

    If it is genuine, and for a letter with this sort of content I don’t see why it wouldn’t be, I would guess from the content it belongs to an earlier timeline. 1527 would seem too late for this particular letter. I’d have to agree that your best sources would be books. As a starting point I recommend David Starkey’s Six Wives and Alison Weirs similarly titled book as well as her Mary Boleyn. As it has some useful information on the 1520’s

  5. Lynn Drummond

    This is very different letter than I had expected. This is soft, and gentle, this is a young lady, this changes perspective. Thank you for doing this post. More please!!!

  6. Zo

    Interesting letter! Wasn’t 1519 when Anne’s sister Mary got called home to England? Could this be where a mix-up of dates occurred?
    I could understand a later date of 1526 (rather than 1527) if Henry is calling Anne back to court after her being banished at Hever for her engagement to Henry Percy.
    Otherwise, I would agree with your guess of 1522 for the reasons you stated.

    • Tudors Dynasty

      Thanks for visiting my site and taking the time to comment – glad you enjoyed it, and of course, agreed with me. 😉

    • Tudors Dynasty

      I am sadly no expert on the matter, however I am reading a book right now called “Ladies in Waiting: Women who served at the Tudor court”, and there is no mention of warrants in there. That doesn’t necessarily answer your question definitively but I’ll continue looking for you.

    • Tudors Dynasty

      No doubt. However, since posting this I’ve had other researchers tell me that it’s possible this letter is a fake. I have some digging to do to find out if it is. I hope not, but you never know.

  7. Catalina Monti di Oro

    I really can’t tell but the letter is important because it is the only one that Anne wrote to Henry the Eight. As to finding out about Anne Boleyn or any other wife or anything else about the time period. I do not go to any Facebook page or even the other sites on the Internet, Google or Yahoo or Hotmail or any of the other many places to go on the Internet or the computer. I read books. I go to the library and read books.

  8. Samantha

    I agree. I believe it was written closer to 1522 than 1527. Unless she was still praising him for this position. But given that he asked for an annulment and most of the court ignored the Queen by 1527 makes me think that isn’t the case.

    • Tudors Dynasty

      Thanks for your feedback! It would seem odd for her to still be thanking him so many years later.

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