Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, Original Letters

Original summons to attend the Coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn

Letter of Summons to the Lady Cobham to attend the Coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn: From Henry VIII: 28th April 1533

To our right dear and well-beloved the Lady Cobham.

Right dear and well-beloved we greet you well.

And for as much as we be determined upon the feast of Pentecost next coming to keep and do to be celebrate at Westminster, with all due circumstances of honour, the Coronation of our dearest wife the Lady Anne our Queen, as to her estate and dignity dothe appertain; and have appointed you amongst others, at the same time, to give your attendance on horseback in such place as to your degree apperteineth ; We therefore desire and pray you to put yourself in such aredines as ye may be personally at our manor of Greenwich the Friday next before the said feast, then and there to give your attendance upon our said Queen from thens to our Tower of London the same day, and on the next day to ride from the same our Toure, through our City of London, unto our manor of Westminster, and the next day, Whitsunday, to go unto our Monastery there to the said Coronation, providing for yourself and your women some faire white, or white grey palfreys, or geldings, such as ye shall think most fit to serve for that purpose. And as concerning the apparel of your own palfrey, ye shall be furnished therof by the Master of the Horses with our said dearest wife the Queen at any your repair or sending hider for the same in every behalf, saving for your bitt and your bosses. Trusting that for the liveries and ordering of your said women as well in their apparel as in their horses ye will in such wise provide for them as unto your honour and that Solempnite apperteineth: and your own Robes and Liveries shall be delivered at any time, when ye shall come or sende for the same by the Keeper of our Great Wardrobe : not failing hereof as ye intend to do us pleasure. Y even under Signet at our manor of Grenewich the 28th day of April.



Original Letters Illustrative of English History, Henry Ellis



Columbus, Original Letters

Letters between Christopher Columbus and Katherine of Aragon’s parents

The wedding portrait of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, 1469. The parents of Katherine of Aragon

Letter from Columbus to Luis Santangel giving a summary of his voyage:


Knowing the pleasure you will receive in hearing of the great victory which Our Lord has granted me in my voyage, I hasten to inform you, that after a passage of seventy one days, I arrived at the Indies, with the fleet which the most illustrious King and Queen our sovereigns committed to my charge, where I discovered many islands inhabited by people without number, and of which I took possession for their Highness’s by proclamation with the royal banner displayed, no one offering any contradiction. The first which I discovered, I named San Salvador, in commemoration of our Holy Saviour, who has, in a wonderful manner, granted all our success. The Indians call it Guanahani. To the second, I gave the name of Santa Maria de Concepcion, to the third, that of Fernandina, to the fourth, that of Isabela, to the fifth, that of Juana, thus giving each island a new name. (Note all of these names represent Spain, the Spanish Royal family or their Catholic faith.)

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Original Letters, Thomas More

The resignation letter of Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas More to King Henry the Eighth:

I would …like your Highness to call to your gracious remembrance, that at such time as of that great weighty Rome and office of your Chancellor, with which, (was) so far above my merits or qualities… Which your Highness… in your incomparable goodness, honoured and exalted me. You were so good and gracious to me and at my poor humble suit to discharge and unburden me; giving me licence with your gracious favour to bestow the residue of my life to come about the provision for my soul in the service of God, and to be your bedisman (man of prayer) and pray for you.

…So is it now gracious Sovereign that worldly honour is the time where I have resigned both the possession and the desire, in the resignation of your most honourable office; and worldly profit I trust experience proves, and daily more and more shall prove, that I never was very greedy….

But now it is my most humble suit to your excellent Highness, …to beseech you that no sinister information might move your noble Grace to have any more distrust of my truth and devotion toward you than I have or shall during my life gave you …cause.

For in this matter of the wicked woman of Canterbury, I have unto your trusty Counsellor Mr Thomas Cromwell, by my writing, as plainly declared the truth as I possibly can, which my declaration, of his duty toward your grace and his goodness toward me, he has, I understand, declared unto your grace; in any part of all which my dealing, whither any other man may peradventure put any doubt, or move any scruple of suspicion, that can I neither tell nor lie in my hand to let; but unto myself it is not possible any part of my said demeanour to some evil: the very clearness of my own conscience knows in all the matter my mind and intent so good. Wherefore most gracious Sovereign I neither will, nor it can become me, with your Highness to reason or argue the matter; but in my most humble manner prostrate at your gracious feet I only beseech  (beg) your Majesty with your own high prudence, and your accustomed goodness, consider and way the matter: and that if, in your so doing, your own virtuous mind shall give yow that notwithstanding the manifold excellent goodness that your gracious Highness has by so many ways used… me.

I be a wrench of such a monstrous ingratitude as could with any of them all or any other person living digressed from my bound in duty of allegiance toward your good Grace, than desire I no further favour at your gracious hands than the loss of all that ever I may lese, goods, lands, liberty, and my life with all, whereof the keeping of any parte unto myself could never do me penny worth of pleasure. But only should my comfort be, that after my short life and your long (which with continually prosperity to Gods pleasure our Lord for his mercy send you)

I should …meet your Grace and be merry again with you in heaven, where among my other pleasures this should yet be one, that your Grace should surely se there than, that howsoever yow take me, I am your true bedisman (man of prayer) now, and ever have bene, and will be till I dye, how so ever your pleasure be to do by ine. How be it, if in the considering of my cause, your high wisdom and gracious goodness perceive, as I verily trust in God yow shall, that I now otherwise have demeaned myself than well may stand with my bounden duty of faithfulness toward your Royal Majesty; than h , in my most humble wise, I beseech your most noble Grace that the knowledge of your true gracious persuasion in that by half may relive the torment of my present heaviness, conceived of the dread and fear by that I here such a grievous bull put by your learned Council into your high Court of Parliament against me; lest your Grace might by some sinister information be moved anything to think the contrary, which if your Highness do not (as I trust in God and your great goodness the mater by your own high prudence examined and considered you will not,) than in my most humble manner I beseech your Highness further, (able it that in respect of my former request this other thing is very slight,) yet saith your Highness has here before of your mere abundant goodness heaped and accumulate upon me, though I was there to very far unworthy, from time to time, both worship and great honour, to saith I now have left all such things, and nothing seek or desire but the life to come and pray for your grace the while it may like your highness of your accustomed benignity somewhat to tender my pore honesty, and never suffer by the mean of such a bill put forth against me any man take occasion hereafter no. ‘then. untruly to slander me; which thing should yit by the peril of their own soul do themselfs more harm than me which shall I trust settle my heart with your gracious favour, to depends upon the comfort of the truth and hope of heaven, and not upon the fallible opinion or some spoken words of lightsome changeable people. And thus, most dread and most dear sovereign Lord, I beseech the blessed Trinity preserve your most noble Grace, both body and soul and all that are your well-wishers, and amend all the contrary; among whom if ever I be or ever have been one, than pray I God that he may with my open shame and destruction declare it. At my poor house in Chelsea the 5th day of March by the known rude hand of your most humble and most heavy faithful subject and bedisman

Thomas More Knight

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Early Tudors, Henry VII, Original Letters

The Intimate letters of Henry VII looking for a new wife

These fascinating and deeply personal original letters show what Henry wanted in a new bride after the death of his wife Elizabeth of York. His first choice was his widowed daughter in law Katherine of Aragon, the dowager Princess of Wales, who had been married to the late Prince Arthur. Katherine’s mother writes to her ambassador in England in reply to the offer of marriage:

11th & 12th April 1503: Queen Isabella of Spain to Ferdinand, Duke de Estrada… We have received letters in which we are informed of the death of the Queen of England, our sister. These tidings have, of a truth, caused us much grief… The Doctor has also written to us concerning the marriage of the King of England with the Princess of Wales, our daughter, saying that it is spoken of in England. But as this would be a very evil thing,  one never before seen, and the mere mention of which offends the ears, We would not for anything in the world that it should take place. Therefore, if anything be said to you about it, speak of it as a thing not to be endured. You must likewise say very decidedly that on no account would we allow it, or even hear it mentioned, in order that by these means the King of England may lose all hope of bringing it to pass, if he have any. For, the conclusion of the betrothal of the Princess, our daughter, with the (new) Prince of Wales, his son, (later Henry VIII) would be rendered impossible if he were to nourish any such idea…

Katherine of Aragon’s mother Queen Isabella

June 1505: This letter was sent to Henry answering his questions about one of his perspective brides the Young Queen of Naples:

1, Whether the young Queen speak any other languages besides Spanish and Italian: She understands both Latin and French, but does not speak them.

2, To note well her age, stature, and features of her body: The young Queen’s age is 27 and not much more. Could not come to any perfect knowledge of her stature, by reason of her wearing slippers after the manner of her country. A man could not lightly perceive the features of her body, for that she wore a great mantle of cloth.

3, To mark her visage, whether painted or not, fat or lean, sharp or round; cheerful, frowning, or melancholy; steadfast, light, or blushing: Is not painted; of a good compass, amiable, round, and fat; cheerful, not frowning ; a demure shame-faced countenance; of few words, but spoken with a womanly laughing cheer and good gravity.

4, Clearness of skin: Very fair and clear.

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Henry VIII, Original Letters

‘With a quaking hand and a sorrowful heart.’ Cromwell’s letter from the Tower

On the 12th June 1540, Thomas Cromwell wrote this desperate letter to Henry VIII in a bid to save his own life:

Prostrate at your Majesty’s feet, I have heard your pleasure by your Controller, viz., that I should write such things as I thought meet concerning my most miserable state. And where I have been accused of treason, I never in all my life thought to displease your Majesty; much less to do or say “that thing which of itself is so high and abominable offence.” Your Grace knows my accusers, God forgive them. If it were in my power to make you live for ever, God knows I would; or to make you so rich that you should enrich all men, or so powerful that all the world should obey you. For your Majesty has been most bountiful to me, and more like a father than a master. I ask you mercy where I have offended. Never spoke with the Chancellor of the Augmentations and Frogmerton together at a time; but if I did, I never spoke of any such matter. Your Grace knows what manner of man Throgmerton has ever been towards you and your proceedings. What Master Chancellor has been to me, God and he know best; what I have been to him your Majesty knows. If I had obeyed your often most gracious counsels it would not have been with me as now it is. But I have committed my soul to God, my body and goods to your pleasure. As for the Commonwealth, I have done my best, and no one can justly accuse me of having done wrong wilfully. If I heard of any combinations or offenders against the laws, I have for the most part (though not as I should have done) revealed and caused them to be punished. But I have meddled in so many matters, I cannot answer all.
The Controller showed me that you complained that within these 14 days I had revealed a matter of great secrecy. I remember the matter, but I never revealed it. After your Grace had spoken to me in your chamber of the things you misliked in the Queen, I told you she often desired to speak with me, but I durst not, and you thought I might do much good by going to her and telling her my mind. Lacking opportunity I spoke with her lord Chamberlain, for which I ask your mercy, to induce her to behave pleasantly towards you. I repeated the suggestion, when the lord Chamberlain and others of her council came to me at Westminster for licence for the departure of the strange maidens. This was before your Grace committed the secret matter to me, which I never disclosed to any but my lord Admiral, by your commandment on Sunday last; whom I found equally willing to seek a remedy for your comfort, saying he would spend the best blood in his belly for that object.

Was also accused at his examination of retaining contrary to the laws. Denies that he ever retained any except his household servants, but it was against his will. Was so besought by persons who said they were his friends that he received their children and friends—not as retainers, for their fathers and parents did find them; but if he have offended, desires pardon. Acknowledges himself a miserable sinner towards God and the King, but never wilfully. Desires prosperity for the King and Prince. “Written with the quaking hand and most sorrowful heart of your most sorrowful subject, and most humble servant and prisoner, this Saturday at your Tower of London.

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Original Letters, Reformation

Original letter to Thomas Cromwell begging for a royal pardon

The following is an original letter written in 1539 to Thomas Cromwell from a priest who confesses that he had misunderstood the word of God and begs for a royal pardon for getting married:


Most humbly and wise, I being not so bold as to appear before your Lordship until your pleasure is known, fear set apart compels me to write. This last Lent I did no less than write, and also to your presence I did approach, suing for your lordship’s gracious service; but now my suit is much other, for my misfortune has been to have conceived untruly God’s word, and not only with intellection to have thought yet, but externally and really I have fulfilled the same; for I, as then being a priest, have accomplished marriage; nothing pretending but as an obedient subject. For if the Kings Grace could have found it lawful that priests might have been married, they would have been to the Crown double and double faithful, first in love, secondly for fear that the Bishop of Rome should sit in his power unto their desolation. But now by the noise of the people I preserve I have done in so much, which say the that the King sit in judgement with all his council temporal and spiritual has subscribed a contrary order, that all priests shall be separate by a day; with which order I have contented myself: and as son as I heard it to be true, I sent the woman to her friends three score miles from me, and speedily and with all clarity. I have resorted hether to desire the King’s Highness of his favour and absolution for my so doing; praying and beseeching your Lordship’s gracious comfort for the obtaining of his gracious pardon: and I shall be your bounden servant in heart and also your continual service of it shall please your gracious lordship to accept it during my life: within the 18th day of June.

Yours bounden for ever,


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Anne Boleyn, Battle of Bosworth, Epidemics, Henry VII, Original Letters, Tudor Medicine

The mysterious sweating sickness

Shortly after Henry Tudor won his crown from Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth several thousand of his subjects died of a mysterious new epidemic. It was called, ‘The English sweating sickness.’

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