Letter from Anne Boleyn to King Henry VIII
late summer 1526

Background
Queen Anne Boleyn Seventeen of Henry VIII's famous love letters to Anne Boleyn exist; they can be viewed at the Vatican Library. However, only one of Anne's love letters to the king has survived. It is undated, but its contents place it in late summer/early autumn of 1526. How? She thanks the king for personally appointing her a maid of honor to his queen, Katharine of Aragon, but also - and more importantly - she acknowledges the king's serious declaration of love for her. As students of Anne's life know, this subtle but vital shift in their relationship occurred in summer 1526. We also know that she returned to court as a maid of honor to Katharine of Aragon at the same time. Interestingly, this letter reveals that Anne owed her position at court entirely to the king's favor.

This is believed to be the first love letter Anne wrote to Henry, and is rarely included in any biography of the queen. However, its authenticity is not in serious doubt.

One should remember that Henry's brief relationship with Anne's sister, Mary Boleyn, had only ended a year before (in July 1525.) On 4 March 1526, Mary gave birth to a son called Henry, widely assumed to be the king's son. Anne's feelings about this awkward situation were never made clear, but she was not close to her sister.

Please note that Anne spelt her surname 'Bulen' in this letter. This is the third variation of the name I've found.


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 favors 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 pleasure make a sacrifice of my heart, if fortune had rendered it worthy of being offered to him, will ever be infinitely greater.
The warrant of maid of honor to the queen induces me to think that your majesty has some regard for me, since it gives me 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 Bulen.


to Letters of the Six Wives of Henry VIII

to Primary Sources
to Tudor England
to Anne Boleyn website