From a letter to Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII in 1509 married his dead brother’s wife Catherine of Aragon, whose seven pregnancies failed to produce for him a male heir. In 1533 he annulled the marriage and married Boleyn, dissolving ties with the papacy and becoming the head of the Church of England one year later. Boleyn did not bear an heir either, and so he charged her with treason. She was beheaded in 1536.
In debating with myself the contents of your letters, I have been put to a great agony, not knowing how to understand them, whether to my disadvantage as shown in some places, or to my advantage as in others. I beseech you now with all my heart definitely to let me know your whole mind as to the love between us.
For necessity compels me to plague you for a reply, having been for more than a year now struck by the dart of love, and being uncertain either of failure or of finding a place in your heart and affection, which point has certainly kept me for some time from naming you my mistress, since if you only love me with an ordinary love the name is not appropriate to you, seeing that it stands for an uncommon position very remote from the ordinary. But if it pleases you to do the duty of a true, loyal mistress and friend, and to give yourself body and heart to me, who have been, and will be, your very loyal servant (if your rigor does not forbid me), I promise you that not only the name will be due to you, but also to take you as my sole mistress, casting off all others than yourself out of mind and affection, and to serve you only, begging you to make me a complete reply to this my rude letter as to how far and in what I can trust—and if it does not please you to reply in writing, to let me know of some place where I can have it by word of mouth, the which place I will seek out with all my heart. No more for fear of wearying you. Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain your HR.