Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Love" Letters of the Tudors

I though I would do something special today to celebrate Valentines Day. I have brought together a few letters from various Tudors. Though not all of the following are "love" letters per se, each one of them shows strong feeling and, often times, love of the writer to the receiver.


Several love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn exist. Here is one I find intriguing:
Mine own sweetheart, these shall be to advertise you of the great loneliness that I find here since your departing, for I ensure you methinketh the time longer since your departing now last than I was wont to do a whole fortnight:  I think your kindness and my fervents of love causeth it, for otherwise I would not have thought it possible that for so little a while it should have grieved me, but now that I am coming toward you methinketh my pains been half released and also I am right well comforted, insomuch that my Book maketh substantially for my Matter, in writing where of I have spent above IIII Hours this Day, which caused me now to write the shorter Letter to you at this Tyme, because some Payne in my Head. Wishing myself (specially an evening) in my sweetheart's arms, whose pretty dukkys I trust shortly to kiss.  Written with the hand of him that was, is, and shall be yours by his will. 

H.R.
Source: Love Letters of Henry VIII (Book)
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Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII, 1526.
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.


Source: Love Letters of Henry VIII (Book)
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Katherine of Aragon's last letter to Henry VIII, 1536.

My most dear lord, king and husband, 
The hour of my death now drawing on, the tender love I owe you forceth me, my case being such, to commend myself to you, and to put you in remembrance with a few words of the health and safeguard of your soul which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the care and pampering of your body, for the which you have cast me into many calamities and yourself into many troubles. For my part, I pardon you everything, and I wish to devoutly pray God that He will pardon you also. For the rest, I commend unto you our daughter Mary, beseeching you to be a good father unto her, as I have heretofore desired. I entreat you also, on behalf of my maids, to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants I solicit the wages due them, and a year more, lest they be unprovided for. Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things.  
Katharine the Quene.


Source: English History
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Katheryn Howard to Thomas Culpepper
Master Culpepper, I heartily recommend me unto you, praying you to send me word how that you do. It was showed me that you were sick, the which thing troubled me very much till such time that I hear from you, praying you to send me word how that you do, for I never longed so much for thing as I do to see you and to speak with you, the which I trust shall be shortly now. The which doth comfort me very much when I think of it, and whne I think again that you shall depart from me again it makes my heart to die, to think what fortune I have that I cannot be always in your company. Yet my trust is always in you that you will be as you have promised me, and in that hope I trust upon still, praying you then that you will come when my Lady Rochford is here, for then I shall be best at leiseure to be at your commandment, thanking you for that you have promised me to be so good unto that poor fellow my man, which is one of the griefs that I do feel to depart from him, for then I do know no one that I dare trust to send to you, and therefore I pray you take him to be with you that I may sometime hear from you. One thing I pray you, to give me a horse for my man, for I have much ado to get one, and therefore I pray send me one by him, and in so doing I am as I said afore; and thus I take my leave of you, trusting to see you shortly again, and I would you was with me now that you might see what pain I take in writing to you, 

Yours as long as life endures,

Katheryn
Source: Tudor History (thanks Lara!)
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Catherine Parr to Henry VIII, 1544.

Although the distance of time and account of days neither is long nor many of your majesty's absence, yet the want of your presence, so much desired and beloved by me, maketh me that I cannot quietly pleasure in anything until I hear from your majesty. The time, therefore, seemeth to me very long, with a great desire to know how your highness hath done since your departing hence, whose prosperity and health I prefer and desire more than mine own. And whereas I know your majesty's absence is never without great need, yet love and affection compel me to desire your presence. 
Again, the same zeal and affection force me to be best content with that which is your will and pleasure. Thus love maketh me in all things to set apart mine own convenience and pleasure, and to embrace most joyfully his will and pleasure whom I love. God, the knower of secrets, can judge these words not to be written only with ink, but most truly impressed on the heart. Much more I omit, lest it be thought I go about to praise myself, or crave a thank; which thing to do I mind nothing less, but a plain, simple relation of the love and zeal I bear your majesty, proceeding from the abundance of the heart. Wherein I must confess I desire no commendation, having such just occasion to do the same. 
I make like account with your majesty as I do with God for his benefits and gifts heaped upon me daily, acknowledging myself a great debtor to him, not being able to recompense the least of his benefits; in which state I am certain and sure to die, yet I hope in His gracious acceptation of my goodwill. Even such confidence have I in your majesty's gentleness, knowing myself never to have done my duty as were requisite and meet for such a noble prince, at whose hands I have found and received so much love and goodness, that with words I cannot express it. Lest I should be too tedious to your majesty, I finish this my scribbled letter, committing you to the governance of the Lord with long and prosperous life here, and after this life to enjoy the kingdom of his elect. 
From Greenwich, by your majesty's humble and obedient servant,  
Katharine the Queen.

Source: English History
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Elizabeth I letter to Eric XIV of Sweden. Though not a "love" letter, it shows her feelings towards him.
25 Feb 1560

Most Serene Prince Our Very Dear Cousin,
      A letter truly yours both in the writing and sentiment was given us on 30 December by your very dear brother, the Duke of Finland. And while we perceive there from that the zeal and love of your mind towards us is not diminished, yet in part we are grieved that we cannot gratify your Serene Highness with the same kind of affection. And that indeed does not happen because we doubt in any way of your love and honour, but, as often we have testified both in words and writing, that we have never yet conceived a feeling of that kind of affection towards anyone. We therefore beg your Serene Highness again and again that you be pleased to set a limit to your love, that it advance not beyond the laws of friendship for the present nor disregard them in the future. And we in our turn shall take care that whatever can be required for the holy preservation of friendship between Princes we will always perform towards your Serene Highness. It seems strange for your Serene Highness to write that you understand from your brother and your ambassadors that we have entirely determined not to marry an absent husband; and that we shall give you no certain reply until we shall have seen your person.
      We certainly think that if God ever direct our hearts to consideration of marriage we shall never accept or choose any absent husband how powerful and wealthy a Prince soever. But that we are not to give you an answer until we have seen your person is so far from the thing itself that we never even considered such a thing. But I have always given both to your brother, who is certainly a most excellent prince and deservedly very dear to us, and also to your ambassador likewise the same answer with scarcely any variation of the words, that we do not conceive in our heart to take a husband, but highly commend this single life, and hope that your Serene Highness will no longer spend time in waiting for us.
God keep your Serene Highness for many years in good health and safety. From our Palace at Westminster, 25 February



Your Serene Highness' sister and cousin,
Elizabeth
Source: Luminarium
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Robert Dudley's Last Letter to Elizabeth I

I most humbly beseech your Majesty to pardon your poor old servant to be thus bold in sending to know how my gracious lady doth, and what ease of her late pain she finds, being the chiefest thing in the world I do pray for, for her to have good health and long life. For my own poor case, I continue still your medicine and find that [it] amends much better than any other thing that hath been given me. Thus hoping to find perfect cure at the bath, with the continuance of my wonted prayer for your Majesty's most happy preservation, I humbly kiss your foot. From your old lodging at Rycote, this Thursday morning, ready to take on my Journey, by Your Majesty's most faithful and obedient servant, 


R. Leicester 

Even as I had writ thus much, I received Your Majesty's token by Young Tracey.
Source: Elizabeth I.org
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