On this day in history, 8th June 1536, Henry VIII’s eldest daughter Mary, the future Mary I, wrote to her father, the father she had been estranged from since the breakdown of her parents’ marriage. We have a record of her letter to him, although it is damaged:
“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 Though she understands, to her inestimable comfort, that he has forgiven all her offences and withdrawn his displeasure long time conceived against her, her joy will not be full till she is allowed to come to his presence.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.”
It is clear that Mary wants to be reconciled with her father and come back to court. It appears that she thinks that now her stepmother is out of the way – Anne Boleyn was executed on 19th May 1536 – that everything will be ok. However, Mary was soon to find out that her ill-treatment and the breach in her relationship with her father was not at all down to Anne, it was punishment for what the king saw as his daughter’s disobedience. The king sent members of his council to Hunsdon on 15th June to bully her; he would not even think about reconciliation until Mary had submitted completely to him, accepting him as Supreme Head of the Church of England and accepting the annulment of her parents’ marriage. Poor Mary.
Mary did eventually submit to her father but only after she was persuaded to do so by Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, who actually feared for Mary’s life. She was then welcomed back to court. Signing the submission, going against everything she believed, cost Mary dearly. She must have felt that she was letting her mother down.
Notes and Sources
- Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume X: 1083.