Anne Boleyn’s Emotional Last Letter to her Husband Henry VIII from the Tower of London
Posted By Claire on September 14, 2015
Today I’m delighted to welcome author Sandra Vasoli to The Anne Boleyn Files on the first stop of her book/blog tour for Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: A New Assessment which has just been released as a kindle book and paperback. It’s a meticulously researched book and is an excellent read – congratulations Sandi!
Giveaway – MadeGlobal Publishing is offering one copy of the paperback version of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower as a prize for one lucky commenter. All you have to do to enter the giveaway is to comment below saying what you think about this letter. You need to leave your comment by midnight (UK time) on Friday 18th September. The winner will be picked at random and contacted for his/her postal address. The giveaway is open internationally.
Over to Sandi…
This week, my book Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: A New Assessment becomes available by MadeGlobal Publishing. I am extremely grateful to Claire for giving me the opportunity to write a blog post related to the book’s content upon its publication.
This topic – an enigmatic, poignant, beautifully composed letter which was found in Thomas Cromwell’s personal belongings after his death, asserted to have been sent from the imprisoned Anne Boleyn with the purpose of being read by her husband, Henry VIII – is a subject of fascination for many. It has been so for the 475 years since its discovery. My keen interest led me to conduct research on and about this letter and its possible provenance; my study was thorough. However, can we learn more about its history? Of course – as is always the way when we attempt to recreate the past. Scientific techniques improve every day which allow us to better assess facts leading to conclusions. Readers of The Anne Boleyn Files have commented, asking if the letter itself has ever been subject to scientific analysis. To my knowledge, it has not, so we continue to rely on visual examination and circumstantial evidence to bring its story to life.
There is, in my view, a clue to the letter’s origination which is as important as any scientific or forensic fact. That is the letter’s content and how it is expressed: its elocution. What has been said, and how, on the page written so long ago gives us a sharp insight into who authored it. Although I understand that my argument is subjective, I would like to present it to today’s readers.
There are not many examples of speech or writings that we can ascribe definitively to Anne. We have the letter she wrote to her father while away in France at a young age – but that was a letter in which she practised her French, and it’s clearly the letter of a teen dutifully writing to her father. There are, though, several letters Anne had written to Cardinal Wolsey as she and Henry awaited Wolsey’s influence on the Pope to allow the dissolution of the marriage between Henry and Katherine of Aragon. These letters use language that is exceedingly polite, as was the custom of the day, and also adopt a tone that is almost cloying in its congeniality. (We know that Anne was not a fan of Wolsey’s during the time that the letters were written, but clearly she understood the power of complimentary persuasion). That being said, the innate style and the selection of words in those documents are not so different from the Tower Letter. Based upon this evidence alone, it is not unreasonable to think that one individual authored all of the letters.
What causes the letters to Wolsey and the Tower Letter to differ is the unmistakable, raw honesty which jumps from the page composed in the Tower. As I read the words over and over, I was struck by how real they felt to me as a woman. I could not help but imagine that if, in some strange time transport, I were in Anne’s unfortunate shoes, I would want to express the same emotions to my husband. This conviction has grown stronger for me with each and every reading of the letter. It is important to note that, while affording Henry the respectful salutation due a king in the opening lines, and demonstrating awareness that he holds her fate in his hands, the composition of the message itself is purely one from a wife to her husband.
Let’s look at each paragraph:
Sir, your Grace’s displeasure, and my Imprisonment are Things so strange unto me, as what to Write, or what to Excuse, I am altogether ignorant; whereas you sent unto me (willing me to confess a Truth, and so obtain your Favour) by such a one, whom you know to be my ancient and professed Enemy; I no sooner received the Message by him, than I rightly conceived your Meaning; and if, as you say, confessing Truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all Willingness and Duty perform your Command.
Here Anne begins by expressing her shock and displeasure at having been so caught off guard, and in not even understanding what Henry’s complaint might possibly be, since she is completely and utterly innocent. She is annoyed with him that he arranged for her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, to arrest her – since Henry was well aware they did not get along. She says that she is quite happy to bend to his ‘Command’ to tell the truth. I detect the slightest tinge of sarcasm in her statement that with all willingness and duty she will perform his Command. How like a wife who has been caught off guard with an empty accusation!
But let not your Grace ever imagine that your poor Wife will ever be brought to acknowledge a Fault, where not so much as Thought thereof proceeded. And to speak a truth, never Prince had Wife more Loyal in all Duty, and in all true Affection, than you have found in Anne Boleyn, with which Name and Place could willingly have contented my self, as if God, and your Grace’s Pleasure had been so pleased. Neither did I at any time so far forge my self in my Exaltation, or received Queenship, but that I always looked for such an Alteration as now I find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer Foundation than your Grace’s Fancy, the least Alteration, I knew, was fit and sufficient to draw that Fancy to some other subject.
You have chosen me, from a low Estate, to be your Queen and Companion, far beyond my Desert or Desire. If then you found me worthy of such Honour, Good your Grace, let not any light Fancy, or bad Counsel of mine Enemies, withdraw your Princely Favour from me; neither let that Stain, that unworthy Stain of a Disloyal Heart towards your good Grace, ever cast so foul a Blot on your most Dutiful Wife, and the Infant Princess your Daughter.
These paragraphs are just so telling. In my mind, it is pure Anne. With just a detectable note of mockery, she names herself his ‘poor Wife’ and states clearly that what she is accused of was never even a thought in her mind. She states flat out that she loved him truly – and that he found her when she was merely Anne Boleyn and that she would have been happy to remain Anne Boleyn had he not pursued her. She admits to being well aware their relationship was based on love, and should he ever fall out of love with her, her position would no longer be viable. She is open and forthright with no hint of submissive groveling, even though her life is at stake.
Try me, good King, but let me have a Lawful Trial, and let not my sworn Enemies sit as my Accusers and Judges; yes, let me receive an open Trial, for my Truth shall fear no open shame; then shall you see, either mine Innocency cleared, your Suspicion and Conscience satisfied, the Ignominy and Slander of the World stopped, or my Guilt openly declared. So that whatsoever God or you may determine of me, your Grace may be freed from an open Censure; and mine Offence being so lawfully proved, your Grace is at liberty, both before God and Man, not only to execute worthy Punishment on me as an unlawful Wife, but to follow your Affection already settled on that party, for whose sake I am now as I am, whose Name I could some good while since have pointed unto: Your Grace being not ignorant of my Suspicion therein.
Anne seems to believe that Henry will provide her a fair and open trial – and focuses on her ability to convince the panel of her innocence, which will then stop the travesty of her accusation: the ‘Ignominy and Slander of the World’. She adds that, once she is cleared, he will no longer feel humiliated, and can proceed with his affair. The affair that, as she reminds him, she is well aware of – and has told him so. How dramatic! And how like arguments between spouses!
But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my Death, but an Infamous Slander must bring you the enjoying of your desired Happiness; then I desire of God, that he will pardon your great Sin therein, and likewise mine Enemies, the Instruments thereof; that he will not call you to a strict Account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me, at his General Judgement-Seat, where both you and my self must shortly appear, and in whose Judgement, I doubt not, (whatsover the World may think of me) mine Innocence shall be openly known, and sufficiently cleared.
This passage is simply amazing, yet not at all difficult to imagine coming from Anne. She lets Henry have it with full force. With that same hint of mockery she terms her situation as the ‘Infamous Slander’ (could it be a play on Henry’s ‘Great Matter’?) and proceeds in no uncertain terms to tell him that if his ‘Happiness’ is dependent on such slander, she worries not for herself, because she will be proclaimed innocent in heaven – but instead her concern is for him and how he will fare when he meets God – where, by the way, they must both ‘shortly appear.’
My last and only Request shall be, That my self may only bear the Burthen of your Grace’s Displeasure, and that it may not touch the Innocent Souls of those poor Gentlemen, who (as I understand) are likewise in strait Imprisonment for my sake. If ever I have found favour in your Sight; if ever the Name of Anne Boleyn hath been pleasing to your Ears, then let me obtain this Request; and I will so leave to trouble your Grace any further, with mine earnest Prayers to the Trinity to have your Grace in his good keeping, and to direct you in all your Actions.
Your most Loyal and ever Faithful Wife, Anne Bullen.
From my doleful Prison the Tower, this 6th of May.
Here we have the final clause, and the one which evokes so much sorrow for me as I read it. Finally, Anne breaks her steely façade. She agonizes over the men she knows to be innocent who share the injustice being wrought. She offers herself in their stead. Then, finally, we hear her plead with Henry: did he ever love her? She believed that he did. If so, won’t he please, please release the others? If only he will, she promises to withdraw and leave him to his new relationship in peace. Perhaps this was an inside reference, reminding him that it is what they both had fervently wished of Katharine, only to hear her steadfast refusal.
Then she signs her name: Anne Bullen. Of course she would refer to herself in this way, and not as the Queen! She had just made clear the point that their relationship started as Anne and Henry, and she would have it end that way as well.
On May 15 Anne had her trial. We know today that it was a travesty of justice. But what does emerge from that event is another vignette of Anne – intelligent, proud, brave and clear-minded. The words she said to her accusers were recorded and we are able to read them. They are uncannily reminiscent of the characteristic valor used in her last letter to Henry. Here we have two examples of her heartfelt thoughts which are mutually supportive of the theory that they emanated from Anne as she awaited death.
Numerous illustrious historians, including Eric Ives, Alison Weir, Retha Warnicke, and Jasper Ridley have indicated that they feel either the prose is too elegant, or the emotions and statements counterproductive, or the tone too injurious and pious to have come from Anne. With all respect due these individuals, I strongly disagree. I believe that the words which resonate in the letter were entirely characteristic of Henry and Anne’s unique relationship – this is how they fought and made up; this reflects the boldness she used when they loved and argued and loved again.
It is believed, and I share the theory, that Henry never saw the document. If this is true, how would he have reacted had he read Anne’s words? Would they have touched a deep nerve causing him to retract his death sentence?
This we will never really know, but the speculation is riveting.
Click here to find Sandi’s book on Amazon now.
Catch up with the other stops on Sandi’s blog tour this week to enjoy Sandi’s articles and to enter the giveaways:
- 14 September – Here!
- 15 September – www.tudorchronicles.com/
- 16 September – www.queentohistory.com/
- 17 September – onthetudortrail.com
- 18 September – www.queenanneboleyn.com/
- 19 September – englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com
Sandra Vasoli, author of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: A New Assessment, earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Villanova University before embarking on a thirty-five-year career in human resources for a large international company.
Having written essays, stories, and articles all her life, Vasoli was prompted by her overwhelming fascination with the Tudor dynasty to try her hand at writing both historical fiction and non-fiction. While researching what would eventually become her Je Anne Boleyn series, Vasoli was granted unprecedented access to the Papal Library. There she was able to read the original love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn—an event that contributed greatly to her research and writing.
Vasoli currently lives in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two greyhounds.
- Ives, Eric. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing, London 2004. P 58
- Ridley, Jasper, Henry VIII The Politics of Tyranny, Viking, New York, 1985
- Weir, Alison, The Lady in the Tower, Random House, 2010
98 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn’s Emotional Last Letter to her Husband Henry VIII from the Tower of London”
Reading this letter gives me chills. I too believe it was indeed written by Anne but never given to Henry VIII. Anne’s tone in the letter seems to fit what most people believe their relationship to have been. She was the wife who gave her opinion very freely and was extremely passionate. Something Henry loved in the beginning and later on learned to dislike and feel controlled by (IMO). It strikes me as very sad that he never received her letter. Of course her ‘enemies’ would want to keep Henry on track to get rid of her by using his temper and anger against her. If he was able to speak to her or read this letter than I believe , and I believe her ‘enemies’ believed, Henry would have softened his stance on the situation. Thus saving her life. Somethino they did not want to happen.
I also believe this letter to have been written by Anne. But I do not think that Henry read it. I think Cromwell held onto it and that is the only reason it
Has survived instead of being destroyed.
Such a heartfelt plee of her innocence but ye can almost here the rage she clearly letting him know “I know about your mistress but I’m still your wife ” such a brave soul facing all this and thinking of others and her daughter before her own self I think she must of thought to herself Henry was testing her he never go tru with this after all they went tru to be together to be discarded so easily is heartbreaking
If only Henry had read this letter! Seeing the way Anne wrote of herself and of her relationship gives me chills. The slight references to both Katherine and to Jane are subtle reminders that she knew she was in serious trouble and was attempting to give Henry whatever he wanted.
I think the letter is genuine why else would Cromwell go to the trouble to hide it?He might have felt it might have had some effect on the king or possibly change his mind about executing Anne.
Could it be the letter was a creation of Cromwell’s, who knew Anne well and agreed with her Reformist ideas, and meant to be found in his papers after death? It would bolster the claim of Anne’s innocence and, ergo, her (Protestant) daughter’s legitimacy.
Only a thought to stir the pot.
How fascinating. Poor Anne – I feel such sadness for her. To have enemies in the Tudor Court was very dangerous. If only Henry had read this letter, maybe Anne would have been allowed to retire from court to a convent or some such. I believe the words are from Anne, as they are just what I would expect her to say, having researched many, many books and articles about her. She was a clever lady and very loyal to her true friends and supporters and, how like Anne, to plead for the accused men to be spared.
What life was like in a convent for unwanted women of nobility is hard to imagine, but it certainly was no setting that could constrain the fiery temperament of Anne Boleyn and Henry knew it.
I’d never read the letter in an analytic way, but it’s all the more powerful now I’ve read this article. I had wondered the reason for the theory that Henry never saw it, but Cromwell perhaps wanted her name cleared further down the line. Giving Henry that letter likely would have put an end to that.
I was impressed by Anne before now, but I’m even more impressed with all her little digs throughout the letter. Such an extraordinary woman to do the things she did and finish it off with a single letter. It’s awe-inspiring.
I believe that the letter was written by Anne, but i think that Henry never had any knowledge of the letter because it was Cromwell who had it and did not give it to Henry, Because Cromwell had the letter this may be why it has survived and did not get destroyed when the other letters and possessions of Anne were.
Reading the letter you can get a idea of the type of person she was, she did not hold back on what she thought and wanted it to be known, this is evident in the accounts that we do have of Anne and Henry together and the fierceness of their relationships. The letter also shows her compassion for both Henry and for the other men accused.
I shall definitely need to read the book because I’m not convinced that there is an argument positively in favour of Anne’s authorship.
Esch time I read about tAnne’s final days and horus it really makes me sad . The more we study her the more we cans ee that she was certainly a very unpset adn lonely lady with pressure to provide a son and .She never thought that her husband woudl return to his mistresses and wild ways after he married her …this was such a major shock to her .
She often let her heart rule her head adn acted on impulse …from what we haev learned.
It is sad her first mistake was one that people through history have made … not seeing the flaws of the person she loved until it was too late.
I agree with you, Sandi.
Anne herself was a contradiction, why shouldn’t her last letter be a contradiction? She was highly intelligent and educated, but cursed with a short temper and a sharp tongue she never had under full control.
She would plead with Henry for her life, believing that they were – or, once were – deeply in love. But she would not grovel, being far too proud for that.
Nor would she let Henry have it in full, lashing out at him for all the injustices he did to her, and was allowing to happen, knowing that her daughter was in great danger. Though “only a girl” Elizabeth was heiress to the throne, and Anne would do just about anything to protect her beautiful daughter.
She would, however, jab at him a little, just so he would understand that she was angry at what had to be occurring to her – arrested under false charges, her brother and four innocent men as well – which could only be the result of a betrayal on the highest levels. Henry was about the only one who could bring her down. She knew he probably used the services of Cromwell and her enemies, but they could only have moved against her this successfully if Henry had approved of her destruction.
I believe this letter was written by Anne Boleyn. I think Henry did read the letter from Anne Boleyn but he still didn’t care if Anne Boleyn was innocent he wanted a son.
I believe that this letter was written by Anne boleyn.i think she would have tried her best to plead for justice and contact henry.but I think that Thomas Cromwell would have kept it away from him for obvious reasons as he was very devious and ambitious. Power does strange things to people.
I strongly believe that those are Anne`s words and that Henry never read this….and even though he would i think that this would not change the course of events.
Congratulation to Sandra Vasoli for what must be the best book on Anne Boleyn this year and i can`t wait to read it!
I apologise for poor english..it is not my native language.
Best wishes for Sandra and Claire!
I believe that this letter was written by Anne Boleyn. She was a highly educated, erudite woman, and I think her personality shines through her words. She was tempestuous, a woman of contradiction, but very aware of her Queenship, and in my opinion, would never have done any of the crass and ridiculous things that she was later accused of – she was far too conscious of her dignity and position to ever consider falling from grace. She would never have done anything to cause the legitimacy of her daughter to be called into question.Whether Henry ever saw the letter or not, I don’t know, but I feel it would have made no difference to him either way. He was determined to be rid of Anne forever, and would never have contemplated letting her live – she would have been a permanent thorn in his side – and what Henry wanted, Henry got, regardless of who had to die! Henry wanted her, pursued her, got her, and destroyed her, and yet she is the one who is vilified by history. She was a woman that I admire very much, not least because even when faced with an unjust death, she used her wit and intelligence to hit Henry with her barbed words!!
A very interesting article which leaves me wanting to know more. I shall definitely add this book to my must-read list.
I came across this letter many years ago and remember being a bit surprised that it was considered a forgery at that time. As articulate and savvy as Anne was, it astounds me to think that she wouldn’t try to communicate with Henry when her life was on the line. In reality, we have to assume that there are many communications we will never know of, but I hope this one isn’t a forgery after all.
How very interesting. It is, for me easier to emepthize with the people, place and setting in which this all occurs. Thanks for bringing this to us.
It is real.
I have no doubt that this letter was written by Anne’s fair hand. Not only was she well educated but it confirms other evidence we have about her personality and the relationship she had with Henry.
Cromwell would never want this seen. After the falling out between himself and Anne, as well as knowing how fast Henry could change his mind and the direction of his thinking, it would have been to dangerous for his own head to let her have any last influence over Henry.
I just don’t know if I believe it or not. I would like to think that Anne got the satisfaction of some last words to Henry – even if he did not get to read them. But, then again, think of the agony she may have felt having written the letter and failed to move him.
I’m somewhat torn about whether this letter is truly from Anne. If it was genuine, I can’t imagine why Cromwell would have kept it, instead of burning it. Also, IIRC, it is somewhat similar to Cromwell’s last letter to Henry — both challenges Henry with the fact that he is doing wrong by imprisoning an innocent. However, Anne was aware how Henry treated Mary when Katherine of Aragon challenged Henry — I do not believe she would expose Elizabeth to the same thing, especially since Elizabeth would have no one else to speak for her or protect her. (This is the main reason why I doubt the letter’s authenticity) Cromwell did beg that his son not suffer for any faults attributed to him, even though Gregory was married to Janey Seymour’s sister and – would have some protection,
I believe this was written by Anne.
This is one of history’s mysteries that will probably never be solved. There’s convincing evidence that Anne did write it, and that she may not have written it. Its survival is a miracle in itself.
Does anyone know who currently possesses the letter? I would be very interested to see if they would consider having a first-rate medium spend some time with it and see if he or she can pick up on any of its energy and come to a conclusion as to who wrote it.
Meanwhile, we’ll just have to take it on faith that Anne did indeed pen this tragic plea for her life.
Either way, I’m ordering the book and look forward to reading it!
Oh, to think what might have been had Henry read those heartfelt words from Anne. Cromwell’s influence hiding the letter, surely sealing her fate and of the innocent men imprisoned alongside her. Rest in peace, my lady Anne..
This is a beautiful and heart-rending letter, and I would like to believe it is genuine. I look forward to reading Sandra’s analysis in her book.
This letter looks real and originally written by Anne Boleyn, but seems never has reached the King eyes, Cromwell captured this pearls in his own benefits and beliefs.
By the other hand if the King had has received he surely this letters never will be known by third parties
Thank you for this wonderful article. I am in agreement with you–the letter sounds too feminine, using the methods of a woman who knows she has been well-loved once, to try to turn the tide that is now against her. I have always believed the letter was legitimate…who else could have written it? Why would they? And why would Cromwell keep it, otherwise? It makes no sense. I’m sure Cromwell had told his spies to bring him anything Anne might write. He was too unsure of his case to trust anything to chance. And there is a chance the letter might have moved Henry in some way. Who knows? Congratulations on the book!
I would like to preface my comment with a quote from historian Will Durant about the life of Jesus Christ:
“That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so loft an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospel.”
Anne Boleyn’s Tower Letter is awesome! To me, for the letter to be a forgery is FAR more difficult to believe than to believe that Anne herself wrote it!
From the first sentence that is written there is no doubt the words expressed belong to Anne .
I can’t wait to read the rest of the book.
The letter, I believe, was indeed written by Anne, why else would Cromwell kept it. Anne knew Henry so well, and the letter would have appealed to his vanity and his sense of charity and pity (he was being trained for the church before his brother Arthur died). The letter, had it reached Henry, may have had the desired effect and that was why Cromwell kept it as it would have turned the tables and Cromwell would have been in peril, which ironically he was after the Anne of Cleves debacle. Anne was a highly intelligent woman who played her cards well, it’s very sad to read this letter and think ‘what if’ – Henry was capable of epic rages but Anne was adept at dealing with them, the only way to ensure that she didn’t get around Henry was to ensure he never got the letter.
I fully believe that Anne wrote the letter. I do not believe Henry ever read it. If she was being watched and everything she said and did reported to Cromwell this letter would have been delivered to him before every being sent to Henry. I think perhaps Cromwell decided not to take a chance on it being read. Henry wanted Cromwell to rid him of Anne that was his assignment. The letter may not have helped him accomplish his duty. I think he knew he was on thin ground and he and Anne once friendly were no longer. However it would have been wonderful to hear or see what Henry’s response was to the letter though I don’t think the outcome would have been any different.
I’m not sure exactly what I think–arguments on both sides are so persuasive! However, I do want to believe she was the author of such a compelling document!
After looking at both sides of the debate and also reading the excerpt from Ms. Vasoli’s book, I believer that Anne did write the letter. The style seems to fit her personality and is certainly tailored to the situation she found herself in. She is trying to be careful, but at the same time, is letting Henry know how wronged she has been and that she is innocent of the charges against her.
I also believe that there is no way Cromwell or Anne’s other enemies would have let Henry see the letter if they could possibly prevent it. As for whether it would have helped Anne now that Henry had his sights set on Jane Seymour, I don’t know, but it might have at least saved her life.
I also believe this last letter was written by Anne. She is so concerned for his soul in this letter. Even after she was found guilty and was giving her last speech, she continued to pray for Henry’s soul and still cared for him so much, even though he wronged her so. I think it would be easy to imagine she wrote this letter, having thought Henry had seen it and still chose to put her to death, that she would be bitter and angry with him. But she continues to stand by him and asks that everyone pray for him.
I believe Cromwell had good reason to keep this letter from Henry. If Henry had seen this letter, I believe it would have turned the tables on Cromwell, showing he cooked up all the allegations himself to further his own agenda.
I did not know this letter even existed until today. Anne sounds exactly how I imagined she would sound – a fighter till the end. Her intelligence really shines through. I can’t wait to read this book.
What a brave, truthful, seemingly Anne Bullen epistle!!!
would love to read more about this
I truly believe that Anne wrote the letter. It sounds just like her and I can’t believe that she would just sit quietly in the tower without trying to make her case to Henry. I don’t think that Cromwell showed the letter to Henry because it would have ruined all his hard work. I also wonder if Henry would have thrown the letter into the fireplace because once he was done with you that was it. But then I think about what he did with both Lattimore and Catherine Parr, so who knows what he might have done. Fascinating article and I must get a copy of this book.
I was deeply saddened reading this letter scribed by Anne’s hand – or not – that such an intelligent and passionate woman (clearly ahead of her times) could have married such a crazy narcissist and not realized he was capable of destroying her as easily as he had his first wife. It is tragic to think that so many powerful men hated her (perhaps because of her brilliance?) that they along with the King had to take such a cowardly action – essentially performing a royal murder. As I write this I realize – with the emotions it evoked, I do tend to believe it very likely was penned by Anne.
Such a fascinating letter. I do believe that this is Anne’s letter. It is so passionately written and you can sense the fear that she had while being held in the Tower. I agree that Henry probably never saw this letter. The letter was found among Cromwell’s possessions, so we can assume that he did read the letter and could not allow Henry to see it since it could possibly sway his decision to be rid of Anne.
It is indeed a very interesting topic. I have different opinions. On one side I would say it was written by Anne. She was a strong, clever character who did everything she could when she and Henry wanted to get married. Why wouldn’t she tried to write a last letter to convince the man she loved and she believed the man once loved her (and they had many serious fights but in the end everything was all right) about her innocence. Clearly she hoped she can convince him, I don’t think until the last moment she believed that her true love would let her die. I also would’ve tried to do something in this situation though it is really hard to know what people would do in a situation like this and what Anne really did. People quickly change in a dramatic situation like this.
On the other hand for me the letter seems a bit strange. Very clever and we can say “very Anne” but the wording is strange for me at some points, for example she mentions her name twice in the letter and for me it just seems strange. Something that shows me, it didn’t come from Anne, this wording just doesn’t refer to Anne. The word “party” in the letter also sounds a bit interesting to me.
Though I really could not say a reason why would anyone compose a letter like this if it didn’t come from Anne. Why would anyone tried to save her or her reputation if it was not her who tried it?
I really think Henry has never read the letter. If we believe it comes from Anne and we accept the theory that it was Cromwell who desperately wanted Anne out of the picture there was no way he would showed this letter to Henry. If it was Henry who wanted to get rid off Anne and he read it, this letter could not change his mind.
There are two sides and it is really hard, probably impossible to decide what can be the truth.
i belive ann did write that letter!!!! it sounds soo much like what her personaity was!!! i also belive that cromwell did not give the letter to henry. but i dont understand why he did not destroy this letter? cant wait to get this book in the US!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am really on the fence about the letter, in one way, I think Anne capable of writing it because she was always one to speak her mind (and very eloquently too). The letter she wrote to Wolsey once she found out he had not advanced the divorce was very stinging and has the tone of this letter. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that Anne would want to be this bold with Elizabeth’s future in mind. I need this book to help me make up my mind once and for all 🙂
Reading this letter brings dismay. If Henry was smart he would have taken his poor wife’s letter and understood how innocent she really was. I wonder if she wrote other letters, to plea for her innocence. I know letter from back then got lost, or reprinted and burned, thanks to Cromwell and her other enemies. Who is to say that she did not write a letter to her uncle, or other people around the king, with pleas of her life and for her daughter to be treated right and not shamed in the eyes of people. Look what he did for Lady Lattimore who, later became queen Catherine Parr. She walked into the King’s room while he was with him men, discussing politics. She played it good to. She was able to save her head and not be brought to trail, by a few simple words. she saw the warrant and managed to reconcile with the King after vowing that she had only argued about religion with him to take his mind off the suffering caused by his ulcerous leg. With that she saved her own head. If Anne would have had the same chance, she would have survived as well.
The letter reveals Anne’s character despite her despicable circumstances. Even though she faced death, her appeal for the release of the men, including her brother, implicated in her “crime” is admirable. It is tragic that the letter never reached Henry; I would like to think better traits of his would have surfaced to save Anne from her horrid death. The fascination with Henry and Anne continues; this book promises to be a great read.
I agree with you Leslie, I want to believe this was written by Anne. It surely matches the fire and intelligence that she was known to have. But verbally lashing out in a moment of temper or when her place as Queen was secure is very different than sitting down to deliberately pen a letter when she knew her life and especially her daughter’s security were on the line.
Henry was also known to be quick of temper and I am of the opinion that the strong language of this letter would have angered him. The reference to his new love interest being the real reason why she was imprisoned as well as his “unprincely and cruel usage” of her (though shrouded in her statement that she would pray for his soul for it) is without a doubt the truth but would she have said this, knowing that it would not likely help her cause and in fact, likely to seal her doom? Perhaps, if she had nothing to lose. But she had Elizabeth to think of.
I have enjoyed reading everyone’s opinion on this. I too would like to read this book and find out more.
I think Anne did write the letter, but it was kept from the king. I didn’t realize that she never was put on trial for treason.
All I can say is that she was so brave, so courageous.I have always admired her as my heroine.She was born Lady Anne Boleyn but died a true Queen.
This letter casts an interesting new light upon Anne Boleyn, and definitely something that will stir many new thoughts on research involving her. I certainly think that Cromwell abstained from delivering this letter to his master as to not be the focus of his immense temper. This letter and its analysis show more about Anne Boleyn’s character than what we previously knew.
Anne must of been in mental and emotional turmoil by this point. I feel like this letter was not just her pouring her heart out to Henry but also her having her final say. It is a lasting testament to her innocence. She was treated so unfairly and this was the only way she could speak her truth. It’s a.monumental piece of history coming from a woman in anguish, while death was staring her in the face. R.I.P Queen Anne Boleyn
And thank you, so very much, for your interest and fantastic comments! What a wonderful group of readers of The Anne Boleyn Files!
Many many of you have stated what I came to believe based upon my research and findings about the provenance of the Letter: that it was given to Cromwell who never gave it to Henry. Indeed, it is profound to wonder what might have happened had Henry read it.
Furthermore, you will be shocked to find, as I was, that Henry indeed had regret on his deathbed over what he had done.
I am very anxious to hear your views once you have read the book and see the images of the original letter and the statement from Henry. Please do stay in touch about it!
Thank you Claire, for posting the article!
Visit the other blog sites this week to see more articles about Anne and Henry ,based on my research.
Love to you all,
Reading this letter shows us all how religion was seen, lived by in those times. No matter how high or low a station in life, in end we all stand to be judged in heaven.
Anne strongly defends herself, like Henry has up till now and continued to. Anne makes clear to set him free, lay all guilt on her and free the innocent.
In all this we forget Henry´s strong will and mind. He wants what he wants. No and never going to happen, is not an option. Without knowing, i suspect Henry of ordering any letters from Anne to be lost, burnt, never to get to him. Why? Because Henry couldnt stand to be swayed by a woman. His wife even, his queen! He did it with his 1st queen. Should he go soft now? When all signs was his mistress expected a son?
Anne knew how Henry operated, and I feel she prayed oh how she prayed.
We also forget, the strong men, enemies, who had henry´s ears. Easy to make sure no letter arrived at the king, and lie to the king.
Last I think had henry gotten this letter would he still not change her fate. How would it lool? After months of finding evidence, torture, witnesses to fabricate accusations toward Anne. No, what Henry wants Henry gets no matter who or what stands in his ways. from the day Henry fancied Anne´s maid in waiting, was Anne doomed.
Somewhere i think had Anne seen Henry´s 1st queens last years in cold damp freezing castles far from everything, her child raised even further away, parentless. She´d chosen a quick demise.
Finally, only one Anne was sad upset devastated to leave was Elizabeth. her daughter whom she so loved. Anne R.I.P. Britain´s most elegant revent queens ever! you are missed!
I believe this was from the heart, her anguish knowing so many innocent people were going to be put to death as well as herself. I do not believe Henry ever read it either because it was kept from him totally or he destroyed it without reading it. Once he made up his mind he did not have the moral courage to change his mind about anything as he believed he was never wrong about anything.
I can’t wait to read this book!
Wow! Reading this letter broken down like this was very overwhelming. It was fierce, beautiful and sad. Very emotional! I do wish he had read it.
Anne had a way with words and the letter was written with a female perspective to her husband and her king. There is one overwhelming reason why I feel Cromwell did not write this letter. Cromwell would not have asked for the men to be spared and it was in his best interest to keep the letter from the king.
I have been fascinated with Anne Boleyn and Henry,VIII for a long time. I was blessed to be able to visit the tower this past summer and hope to visit again. It is moving to be thtre and know the terrible things that happened. As far as the letter, if it’s real and was held back from Henry, it truly tells how Cromwell only cared about himself. After reading articles concerning the events that happened during that time, I think both Anne and Henry were disturbed in many ways, and maybe most of the people around them and at court. Off, course power and money will do that. Thank you for your work. I love reading about England and that time period.
Sounds like a very fascinating story. What you have posted makes a compelling read.
Ever since reading The Creation of Anne Boleyn, I too believe that she wrote this letter.
I too think this was written by Anne. Did Cromwell keep it from Henry or did he refuse to read it or was he not in his right mind to not care any more regarding Anne? Probably it was a great conspiracy to get rid of Anne so Henry could move on to Jane. Very interesting indeed! I’m rewatching Wolf Hall now.
Oh, I need to read this! I’ve always wanted to believe she wrote it, but surely Henry received it after Cromwell’s death (or it would have been destroyed). But how long did Henry lament about being “tricked” into executing Cromwell and apparently never lamented that his darling Cromwell had tricked him into executing Anne? Had it been so long after the fact that it didn’t matter any more? Jane had given him a son before fatally angering him. Would he have felt that he needed to bolster Jane’s memory as a means of supporting Edward’s inheritance? It would be a bit awkward to express regret for the death of the wife that allowed him to marry Jane and sire Edward. But then again, he would have already been besottedly married to Kathryn Howard by the time any letter could have been found in Cromwell’s effects. So maybe he just tried not to dwell on any injustice to Anne? Or found some rationalization that it was someone else’s fault? It seems he went to that well often!
First time I have read the letter. Very moving.
Many say above that Anne wrote the letter. But it is not her handwriting. She could have dictated it, but even the the signature would be hers. But is it? It could also be a copy of her letter but it it could also be a forgery.
Many also say that Cromwell kept the letter, meaning that it was found among his papers. But that it by no means sure for there was much during which somebody could have put the letter among the papers.
Sandra Vasoli writes that Cromwell kept the letter because as a lawyer he could not destroy evidence. But Cromwell could arrange show trials, which means that he could invent false evidence – so it could have not troubled him to destroy the right ones, indeed he must have done it in order to protect himself.
I am not saying that letter could not be Anne’s, only that one cannot believe something too easily.
I don’t know if this letter was really written by Ann, but I like to think it was. And anyway, who could have written a letter like that if not her? for which purpose? The words are smart and the style is caustic and cutting. I think that Sandra’s theory is captivating.
I was so moved to read this letter and to imagine the horror that AB must have been feeling. To be locked up in the tower, on trumped up charges and to find out that innocent men would suffer must have been so very painful. My thoughts on Henry 8 are unprintable!!!!! Look forward to reading the book. Thank you for writing it
I believe that Anne would have written Henry a letter to directly appeal to her husband and protest her innocence. I find it so sad that Anne had to die and it seems to me all because of the ambition and machinations of men. I find Henry confusing. From what I know he ordered all her portraits destroyed but not their love letters. I also was watching History channel and it was promoting a doco on Henry VIII and his lovers and in the promo they made a comment that Henry had ordered Anne’s heart removed after her execution and kept it in a heart shaped box. It’s the first I ever heard that possibility. Has anyone else in their research heard that?
I think it is very probable that the letter was either written or dictated by Anne. The tone is unique and seems far too distinctive for anyone to have been likely to be able to fake. In fact, the only other 16th century English person I can imagine writing in such a way would be Anne’s daughter Elizabeth.
I don’t believe, though, that Cromwell concealed the letter from the King. The letter itself makes it quite clear that Henry had been expecting a reply and that the Duke of Norfolk was in charge of delivering it. Given that Norfolk, however tense his relations with Anne Boleyn, was also no great friend of Cromwell’s, I don’t think that Cromwell would have dared to suppress it.
I also tend to believe Cromwell’s statement to Chapuys that he had framed Anne Boleyn, but only on Henry’s orders. As Chapuys himself noted in one of his letters, Henry’s blithe reaction to Anne’s downfall (getting engaged to Jane Seymour one day after Anne’s execution and married again ten days after that) does not suggest a man who genuinely feels hurt and devastated because he believes himself to have been betrayed by his wife. Rather, to my mind, it suggests cynical premeditation on Henry’s part.
I also think that the seriousness of Cromwell’s falling out with Anne has been overestimated. Certainly, the two of them had had a flaming row in which Anne had used some threatening language, but then Anne was proverbial for her fiery temper. Her bark, however, was usually far worse than her bite. I see no reason to suppose that Cromwell, after eating a suitably large quantity of humble pie, could not have reconciled with Anne, with whom politically speaking he had much in common, and this would seem a much safer course for Cromwell to pursue than attempting to frame the Queen without Henry’s prior approval. The Wolf Hall depiction of a rather reluctant Cromwell bowing to Henry’s demands seems more believable to me.
I believe that what actually happened is that Henry, by the time Anne’s reply came, had simply worked himself up into such a state of rage that he refused to read it, and that Cromwell (who was after all Secretary) therefore just filed the letter away with other letters and official documents in his custody.
What a great letter, I’ve always wanted to believe it was written by Anne, as it seems to capture her intelligent, bold and unconventional spirit so well.
It also goes perfectly in tone with the comment that Anne supposedly sent to Henry on the day of her death:
“Commend me to his Majesty and tell him he has ever been constant in his career of advancing me. From a private gentlewoman he made me a marchioness, from a marchioness a Queen. And now he has left me no higher degree of honor. He gives to me my innocence the crown of martyrdom.”
It’s a beautiful letter and I always want to believe that Anne wrote it. I doubt whether Henry ever read it though.
It’s an incredibly direct and emotional letter – much more so than was the norm at that time – but I suppose you could argue that the circumstances were desperate and that the raw emotion led Anne to dispense with formalities.
A lot of academic studies have been done on style and vocabulary on literary giants such as Shakespeare and on Marlowe and others to prove or disprove authorship of disputed works. There is software that will analyse the texts and calculate a probability of authorship depending on the content of known works. It would be good if someone could do this for Anne and this letter, as this would give an impartial analysis, unclouded by the hopes and wishes of those of us who cherish Anne.
Anne’s known letters are totally different and they lack any kind of originality or literary merit. Of course they are not written to Henry.
The first thing, however, in such cases is the handwriting and that is not Anne’s.
Hi Ceri C and Hannale –
you both bring up interesting points, which were certainly considered, not just be me but by the many historians and antiquarians who have read the words and seen the actual document. In my book I offer numerous adjunct reasons why it seems probable that Anne was the author – not least that the letter was carefully handed from person to person, to remain in the Library today. Indeed the writing is not Anne’s, and again in the book it mentions an actual verbal exchange between Kingston and Anne in which he says he offered to pass her message if she would tell it to him. As for the analyitcal software, it is a cool idea – I know how often it has been attempted in terms of proof of Shakesperian authorship…. there are very very few examples of Anne’s text to work with, but who knows? Intriguing!
Yes I must get this book.
The letter feels real. But I will need to read the book to better understand.
Recent evaluation of the trials of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, have shown that the accusations of both were embellished at the very least. And in the case of Anne Boleyn, the charges were trumped up, the same as they were beginning to be, with Katherine Parr. Luckily, Katherine Parr was able to turn the King around before the warrant was served. All to remove each Queen by her enemies, to return England to the old faith.
Read the book, Katherine Howard: A New History, Kindle eBook. It will be a fascinating read, and shares much about Anne’s situation and trial.
by Conor Byrne. This book
Katherine Howard had no trial, she was condemned with a Bill of Attainder by Parliament. On the other hand, she was held in custody relatively long and interrogated many times, unlike Anne Boleyn.
One must remember that the concept of justice were different from those of today. The intent was regarded as the same as the deed. Culpeper confessed that he and Katherine had an intent to lie together.
As for Katherine Parr, the elemental difference to AN and KH was that Henry did not forbid her the access to him. It is even likely that it was he who let he have information about the immanent arrest and thereby to show repentance.
I can’t understand Culpeper saying that talk about digging your own grave, he was either very naive about the danger both he and Catherine was in or he was very reckless and foolhardy, I think it’s the latter, and yet they had Anne Boleyn as a tragic example.
From the documented accounts and descriptions of Anne, these eloquent words ring true to both her Spirit and Soul. I believe these are her own words that can finally be shared with the world providing her point of view.
I look forward to reading your novel!
I believe Anne Boleyn did indeed write this letter to Henry, It is eloquently written and true to Anne’s courageous nature. I feel it is also Anne’s letter as she appeals to Henry regarding their daughter Elizabeth, whom she would have foremost in her mind as she wrote the letter. I’m looking forward to read this book casing further light on the famous letter.
This letter is full of passion and reason. It breaks my heart to know it did not good for Ann. Powerfully written it makes me want to know more about it.
This letter reminds me that in all times strength can be found. Women have always been looked apon as the weaker sex. We can see with these words that strength is not all about muscles. Inner strength is harder to grow and she had it.
I believe Anne wrote this letter. As is pointed out, the language and emotions are very similar to the Anne that is known. It is very heartbreaking reading it, knowing the final outcome of her life. Thank you for the research on this!!
I believe that Henry never read this letter from Anne.I am not sure, that he would have changed his course of action. It seems he was determined to rid himself of her and have another wife. He did not change his mind after hearing Catherine’s pleas of love either. But why would Cromwell keep it? Lucky that it has survived.
I can’t wait to read this! It’s both heart wrenching and fascinating at the same time. It makes Anne feel like a real woman with real emotions- not just some story in a book.
I doubt that Henry had any interest in reading this letter. Once his mind was made up, he never listened to any opposition. It might have been offered to him but he would have tossed it away. The provenance of the letter seems authentic and it is known that Anne had an excellent education for a woman of her era. She could well have written it herself or dictated it to another person.
This would be a fascinating lead, i like many believe the letter never made it into Henry’s hands
This is one of those historical things we will never know the truth of, but I think it could quite possibly be Anne’s letter. This book would be an interesting read.
It’s a shame that Henry never got to read this letter, though I doubt it would’ve made a difference in his actions. Anne Boleyn is one of my favorite historical figures and this letter just affirms what has been said about her exceptional intelligence. Clearly Cromwell saw the significance of this letter, which is why he kept it instead of destroying it, and we are all the richer for that decision!
Since I first read a biography by Evelyn Anthony on Anne Boleyn in 1957, I have devoured any and every book (good or bad) I could find. Cannot wait to read this, I believe she did write the letter, whether Henry received it or even read it….well we will never know. It sounds well researched and thank you for writing it. I look forward to purchasing it.
I believe that the letter has been written by Anne as there are similar textual patterns which she uses in other letters pointing to a continuity that provides internal evidence that the letter is written by Anne. Although it may not be her handwritting, I can see no reason why she did not compose this letter. Do people really think that people of rank actually handwrote their own letters? In fact this was rare. Most composed letters and dictated them; adding personal notes and signitures. In formal situations letters were rarely actually written in the hand of the king, queen, gentleperson or noble sending them. Letters between lovers and husband and wife or family members may well have been handwritten, but not always. People had scribes and paid them well to write for them. In fact even some high borns could not write, but still produced letters. Command of language made composition of letters possible, not the ability to write. A person who could read, may not always be able to write beyond basic letters and words.
When other evidence is lacking it is important to look internally into the letter itself for clues, the style, repeated phases, emotions, things that they describe which can be verified, the type of letters used gives us a good clue as to the era of the writing, if it was secratariat cursive writing, the tone and the command of language; the sense, if the person has a pattern of endings and addressing people in a certain way, and other familiar things from other letters or texts by them. These are only a few methods, there are many more ways experts use to authenticate a piece of writing.
I have only read the first couple of chapters of the book, but have gone through other parts of it and I am very impressed with the care and the detail that Sandra has analysed the internal evidence in the letter and compared it with letters which are known to be by Anne. She has done an immense research in this and her analysis is very detailed and interesting. I can, however, see why some people believe that the letter is not by Anne. For one thing, there are phases that stand out more on a drama stage than a letter of a desperate and confused woman wishing to express her love, devotion and loyalty to a husband who has locked her up without any explanation. Phases such as ‘try me good King’ I have to admit sound as if they have come out of Shakespeare; but then this is a drama, a human drama, one of life and death, the greatest drama of them all. Just because a few phases do not sound like Anne’s normal tone, that cannot justify dismissing the entire letter. Anne was not herself; she was terrified; she was torn in two, she was confused, passionate, angry, insulted, void of answers and information, her life was on the line, she did not understand why she was in the Tower, she was just receiving bits and pieces of information and rumour; she may have been mentally over stimulated or deprived of sleep, her whole being was in conflict; as she dictated this letter; all of that came pouring out in one last appeal. I would defy anyone to spend one night in a police cell without talking to a lawyer or being charged, deprived of sleep, cold, alone, listening to all sorts of loud noises from the drunks in the next tank; deprived of medication, unable to eat the food as you are too ill and upset; mentally and physically exhausted, yet you cannot sleep, you begin to imagine stuff and to see things; unreal stuff; not even knowing if or when you will be released; and then tell me that they can write a letter that is cooly composed and makes perfect sense with no emotions or even some drama. Anne had suffered those things for six days. Of course there is some drama in the letter; it is a passionate and desperate appeal for a hearing.
Beyond some phases that sound dramatic, there is nothing that is not consistant with Anne’s personality, she is desperate yes, she appeals to her husband, she is even abstract at times; but her use of language is consistant with it being by her and no-one else. Anne perfectly describes her situation; she is surrounded by her enemies and spies; she has to be extra careful what she says; she cannot express the anger that she really has; this may go against her; she appeals to Henry on a very personal level, using the phase ‘as your wife’, not as queen. She reminds Henry of what they have meant to each other and she begs for a fair hearing; that her enemies will not have their way; all things that a wife placed in prison by her husband and lover for several years would place in a letter. This letter is different from all of her other letters; all of those were written by a woman who was free; a woman loved by the King, a woman who had the power of a queen, a woman who was then the queen, a confident woman; a woman of her own mind and agency; a woman who had the king’s respect and protection, and a woman not under suspician of treason and unfaithfulness. Anne had now lost everything, her freedom, her confidence, the man she loved, his protection, her power, her family, his love and respect, her child had been taken from her; and she was indeed surrounded only by enemies and spies and would sadly be tried by them. In addition to this; we have few letters by Anne to compare this with. Most have either been lost, destroyed or did not exist. But we do have some, and they give us clues that still allow us to make a judgement call on the letter. It is a moving letter; let us not take it from Anne; in the end it was the only thing that she had which was hers. So few of her literary remains have come to light; her song book being recently found, a few letters in the Vatacan library and royal collections, her Book of Hours and prayer book; a few official documents; no known portrait other than a possible coin and Holbein sketch exists; I want to hold onto the letter being hers too.
BanditQueen – as usual from you, a really really well thought out, well written comment. I do appreciate your complement on my research – but even more do I appreciate your insights and helping to convince people that it is altogether possible, and likely that this was Anne’s letter to Henry, and that simply because it’s not in her handwriting, or doesn’t have some phraseology that we would ‘expect’ from her should not exclude it from the realm of its authenticity.
I also believe that because it was carefully handed from person to person and ushered through the ages demonstrates the likelihood that it was hers.
Thank you again for taking the time and care to offer your thoughts! 🙂
I believe this was her own writing- but I think Henry would have told Cromwell to ignore anything coming from her- he was about to marry and she was dead for him anyway-
this sadly is a cautionary tale-to women that must have what belongs to others- the saddest day Queen Katherine had to endure because of Anne’s resolve to be the Queen- was nothing compared to the terrible end this man would give her, Her sister had been his mistress and was discarded- why would she want to get in the mix- I’m sorry for what happened to her- but now and then- lo mal quitado no luce” which translates into- if you take it away the wrong way.it will do you no good.Words to live by.
Very interesting book can’t wait to read it. Have a question, though.
Any reason why she would have spelled her last name Bullen?
In her Book of hours she signed her name Boleyn.
Perhaps, as written above, she did not physically write it?
Hi Nsarin –
I do not think Anne actually handwrote the letter. I believe she dictated it and a scribe wrote it out for her. But mainly, people spelled their name many different ways back in the 16th century. It was not unusual to see the family name of Boleyn be spelled Bullen. Spelling just wasn’t that important then !
Thanks for your question!
This letter is very sad but I feel that even if Henry V111 would have read this letter, he still would have continue to execute her, lets remember that Jane Seymour was already pregnant and carrying his much wanted male heir. Henry was a very CRUEL king and man.
Unfortunately, your position on Jane Seymour and that of her pregnancy is not correct. Her son was born in October 1537 and her marriage to Henry V111 to place in June 1536. She did not conceive until February 1537.
I do not think if he had read the letter that he would have changed his mind regarding Anne’s execution.
He wanted change and felt it was the path to his continuing the Tudor Dynasty.
Rhetorically asking: Why would Cromwell keep the letter? If Henry knew nothing about Cromwell’s scheme, then he would just destroy the letter, there would be no logical reason to keep it. If Henry knew what the scheme entailed, then once again, why keep it? I firmly believe Henry had made his mind up to marry Jane weeks if not months before Anne’s imprisonment, and even though his moods constantly fluctuated, it’s doubtful a letter such as this would have made him change his mind.
Why hold on to a letter for 6 years (from May 1536 to his death in 1540)? Could it be that Cromwell was hanging on to this letter as a bargaining chip against someone? Is there anyway that Anne’s letter could have been used to blackmail someone?