Ah, the ’50s – the time of poodle skirts, cat
Henry VIII’s letters to his mistress show his desperate insecurity. As the only person to ever tell him no, she had him at her beck and call. But after the chase, he quickly tired of her and had her beheaded. The letters were found in the Vatican and had seemingly been stolen during Henry’s struggle with the Pope to marry Anne Boleyn. Her letters have not survived, but his responses show that her tactics worked on him like a charm.
She would not sleep with him, but did grant certain ‘favors,’ which is clear from his feverish words:
“Mine own sweetheart, wishing myself (especially an evening) in my sweetheart’s arms, whose pretty dukkys I trust shortly to kiss.” And in another letter: “Send her some flesh, representing my name, which is hart flesh for Henry, prognosticating that hereafter, God willing you may enjoy some of mine.”
#2 Mind Games
He says that her noncommittal letters have him in agony – sometimes she loves him and sometimes not. He begs her for a clear sign that she will give up her body and heart:
“It is absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been for above a whole year stricken with the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail of finding a place in your heart and affection.”
He begs her to write to him, as the lack of hearing from her is driving him to despair. He signs his desperate letter ‘your servant’. As a love-token he sends her a deer:
“Killed late last night by my own hand, hoping that when you eat of it you may think of the hunter.”
#4 Absence makes the heart grow fonder
He sends her his picture in the hope that it will make her think of him. He writes that the more they are kept apart, the more desperate his love grows:
“The more distant is the sun, and nevertheless the hotter; so is it with our love, for by absence we are kept a distance from one another, and yet it retains its fervor, at least on my side”.
#5 Offer hope
In response she sends him a little diamond ship with a woman in it assuring him of her affection. But she does it so skilfully that he still feels insecure, writing:
“The demonstrations of your affection are such, the beautiful mottos of the letter so cordially expressed, that they oblige me forever to honor, love, and serve you sincerely, beseeching you to continue in the same.”
#6 Treat him mean
He apologizes for his ‘rude letter’ but says that he has to write as he is in torment. He has heard a rumor that her opinion of him has changed:
“I am sure that I have since never done anything to offend you, and it seems a very poor return for the great love which I bear you to keep me at a distance both from the speech and the person of the woman that I esteem most in the world:”
Her tactics paid off and Henry married her. But soon his eye found a new object of desire and Anne fell from her pedestal, was accused of adultery and witchcraft, and was ultimately beheaded.
You can read the full content of his letters at Project Gutenberg: