This letter was written in the summer of 1528, as indicated by its reference to the sweating sickness. When a servant of Anne’s became infected at court, Henry VIII reluctantly sent her away to Hever Castle. Most of his famous love letters to Anne were written during this period of forced separation.
Anne did become ill, but survived. She wrote this letter to Wolsey in thanks for the gift and letter he sent her while she was ill. The great Cardinal and Anne have often been placed at perpetual odds in history books, but in 1528 their relationship was still amicable enough. Anne and Henry both believed the Cardinal would be able to secure Henry’s annulment from Katharine of Aragon; when he eventually failed, both were disillusioned – and Henry’s disillusionment led him to arrest his old friend. Only Wolsey’s natural death saved him from certain execution.
Wolsey was pro-French and wanted to marry Henry VIII to a French princess when his first marriage was annulled. He was discomfited by the rise of Anne Boleyn, and her many relatives. Naturally enough, opposition to the Cardinal’s policies centered around the only other person who so completely dominated Henry VIII’s life – Anne herself. In the beginning, both Anne and Wolsey realized they could not afford to offend each other. But just a year after this letter was written, after the disastrous legatine hearing at Blackfriars, Anne realized Wolsey could not secure the annulment. And she suspected, quite correctly, that he had never intended for her to marry Henry.
Wolsey had hoped the delays in securing the annulment would outlast Henry’s passion for Anne; he only later realized the annulment itself would be impossible.
In my most humble wise that my poor heart can think, I do thank your grace for your kind letter, and for your rich and goodly present, the which I shall never be able to deserve without your help, of which I have hitherto had so great plenty, that all the days of my life I am most bound of all creatures, next the king’s grace, to love and serve your grace, of the which I beseech you never to doubt that ever I shall vary from this thought, as long as any breath is in my body. And as touching your grace’s trouble with the sweat, I thank our Lord that them I desired and prayed for are escaped; and that is the king’s grace and you, not doubting that God has preserved you both for great causes known alonely of His high wisdom. And as for the coming of the legate, I desire that much. And if it be God’s pleasure, I pray him to send this matter shortly to a good end; and then I trust, my lord, to recompense part of your great pains. In the which I must require you, in the mean time, to accept my goodwill in the stead of the power; the which must proceed partly from you, as our Lord knoweth, whom I beseech to send you long life, with continuance in honor. Written by the hand of her that is most bound to be your humble and obedient servant,
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Letter from Anne Boleyn to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey mid-summer 1528" https://englishhistory.net/tudor/letter/letter-from-anne-boleyn-to-cardinal-thomas-wolsey-mid-summer-1528/, February 28, 2015