Letter from Anne Boleyn to King
late summer 1526
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.
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
to Letters of the Six
Wives of Henry VIII
to Primary Sources