8 June 1536 – Mary appeals to her father, Henry VIII

Henry and MaryOn 26th May 1536, a week after Anne Boleyn’s execution, Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary, had written to Thomas Cromwell, asking him to intercede with her father on her behalf and for permission to write to the king. On 8th June 1536, Mary then wrote to her father. Letters and Papers has a record of her letter:

“Begs his daily blessing. Though she understands, to her inestimable comfort, that he has forgiven all her offences and withdrawn his displeasure long time conceived against her, her joy will not be full till she is allowed to come to his presence. Begs pardon for her continual suit and rude writing, for nature will suffer her to do no otherwise. Hopes God will preserve him and the Queen, and send them a prince. Hownsdon, 8 June.”

Mary appears to have believed that Anne Boleyn had been responsible for her ill-treatment and the breach in the relationship between father and daughter, and thought that she could be reconciled with her father now that her stepmother was gone. How wrong she was! Henry was not interested in a reconciliation until his daughter toed the line by submitting to him and accepting him as Supreme Head of the Church of England. Instead of allowing her to “come to his presence”, he sent members of his council to Hunsdon 15th June 1536 to bully his twenty-year-old daughter into submission. It must have been a terrifying encounter for Mary – click here to read about it – and a shock for her to find out that her father could be even crueller without Anne by his side. Poor Mary.

Notes and Sources

  • Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume X: 1083.

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3 thoughts on “8 June 1536 – Mary appeals to her father, Henry VIII”
  1. I don’t think Henry was any crueller without Anne at his side than with her towards Mary. If is just this time he does not have a wife willing to bully Mary for him and Mary has written to Henry directly. I believe Henry was capable of shielding himself from blame by appearing to be gracious while Anne or somebody else gave the orders to the household servants to bully Mary. While Henry may have been moved to alleviate the daily torment that Mary underwent by allowing her to go back to her own household, he was not prepared to accept her outright defiance any longer. Henry now resorts to a direct approach, much to poor Mary’s shock by sending a delegation to give her the only terms on which he will accept her back, accept her parents marriage as unlawful. If the bully was Norfolk, and given his personality it well could be, even though he is not mentioned, he was probably acting alone and to scare Mary. The biggest shock of all this is that Mary had believed everything was the fault of Anne Boleyn, as the evil stepmother, but now we see Henry felt the same way. Only this time he had to act directly, he cannot hide behind Anne, who unlike Jane Seymour, was prepared to bully Mary after she refused to accept her as queen. Let’s not forget that Anne visiting her daughter asked to speak to Mary and tried to be friendly by saying that she would intercede with Henry if Mary would recognize her as queen. Some hope! Mary was seventeen and of course knew everything as seventeen years olds do, but she was completely devoted to her mother, probably heavily influenced by Katherine, her faith, teaching and royal status and upbringing told Mary that she was Henry’s daughter, his legal heir, that Katherine was his legal queen, divorce not possible; she could not accept Anne Boleyn as Queen. Mary Tudor had been in Ludlow, ruling as Princess of Wales, since she was 11, now Anne just thought she could give that up? Yea, right! Mary replied that she knew of no queen but her mother, but if the King’s mistress would help her she would thank her. Anne tried a few times to help Mary but as she refused to recognize her she issued orders to pinch and beat her. I believe Henry had changed over the last six months of his marriage to Anne, he was now hardened to Mary’s pleading, if she wanted forgiveness and reconciliation she had to accept all of his authority, had to accept that he was right, had to accept that his marriage to Katherine was wrong, or be in exile.. The shock that her father was prepared to act thus, was prepared to bully and demand her submission directly shook poor Mary to the core; she submitted.

  2. Mary was a very obstinate girl and had been influenced by her mother, they probably appeared strong as they stood together against Henry and Anne, and Mary possibly believed that in her fathers eyes she was still his darling daughter and he would never harm her, yet after Katherine died she must have felt very vulnerable and alone and quite possibly feared that Anne would poison her, her father she had wrongly supposed was influenced by Anne yet it is true that her step mother had made several friendly overtures to her and had been rebuffed, Anne then grew sick of her and decided enough was enough and ordered her aunt to treat her unkindly, this is true of people when an offer of friendship is made and when the usual response is just a sneering word people turn angry and just don’t bother to be nice, Mary was rather foolish here as Anne could have reconciled her to her father but like Katherine she wouldn’t toe the line, Katherine was a powerful Queen (even if Henry believed she had never been his wife), who had the backing of her nephew Charles and Spain yet Mary was just a young vulnerable princess without power and was subject to her fathers whims, he had had enough of her defiance, he probably thought he had been far too soft with her and like an angry father he wanted to shock her into submission, Eric Ives writes that Mary did not realise that much of her ill treatment came from Henry and when she found out that it hadn’t all been down to Anne the truth destroyed her, like many of his courtiers and closest friends and his two tragic Queens Mary came to realise that when he had to be Henry could be brutal and would not let sentimentality get in the way of him doing what he believed he had to, from Thomas More who he had once loved and Katherine, who had valiantly defended his country at Flodden, from Anne who he had once written he would endure half her pain to cure her as she lay ill from the sweating sickness only to behead her, from Henry Norreys who had been a friend of his for years only to be sacrificed in his quest to get rid of her and countless others, they all came to realise that Henry was a very dangerous man to meddle with.

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