Today, 14th February, is, of course, Valentine’s Day, the feast of St Valentine and the day of love.

But was Valentine’s Day’s celebrated in Tudor times?


Find out more in this video…

The letter mentioned can be seen at

Talking of love, King Henry VIII wrote a series of love letters to Anne Boleyn, including this one, which he wrote in a rather panicked state after receiving the news that Anne Boleyn had contracted sweating sickness. It was written in French but here is an English translation:

THERE came to me suddenly in the night the most afflicting news that could have arrived. The first, to hear of the sickness of my mistress, whom I esteem more than all the world, and whose health I desire as I do my own, so that I would gladly bear half your illness to make you well. The second, from the fear that I have of being still longer harassed by my enemy. Absence, much longer, who has hitherto given me all possible uneasiness, and as far as I can judge is determined to spite me more because I pray God to rid me of this troublesome tormentor. The third, because the physician in whom I have most confidence, is absent at the very time when he might do me the greatest pleasure; for I should hope, by him and his means, to obtain one of my chief joys on earth — that is the care of my mistress — yet for want of him I send you my second, and hope that he will soon make you well. I shall then love him more than ever. I beseech you to be guided by his advice in your illness. In so doing I hope soon to see you again, which will be to me a greater comfort than all the precious jewels in the world.
Written by that secretary, who is, and for ever will be, your loyal and most assui’ed Servant,

H. (A B) R.
[the AB being surrounded by a heart motif]

Author Sandra Vasoli visited the Vatican Archives as part of her research for her book Je Anne Boleyn and was able to view Henry VIII’s love letters to Anne Boleyn. In a talk she did on this for the Tudor Society, Sandi explained how she was blown away by the contrast between the letter above and the previous letters:

“This letter, unlike any of the others in the whole collection, is visually a mess. Seen with the magnifying glass, his pain and anxiety jump off the page. The ink is splattered and smeared by his large hand. Every few words, the quill has been jabbed into the ink and the writing becomes dark and scratchy. There are fine sprays of ink where the nib of the pen caught at the parchment in haste. It is unbelievably heart-wrenching. And, at the bottom of the page, after the closing, he has again drawn his initials, large and enclosing a shakily drawn heart. In the heart are Anne’s initials. It so looks like he is encompassing her in his big arms, surrounding her with himself and his heart. When I saw that letter, the ‘magic’ of documents came alive for me. At that moment, I saw and felt how very much Henry loved Anne.”

You can enjoy Sandra Vasoli’s talk about Henry VIII’s love letters to Anne Boleyn by clicking here.

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