Henry VIII’s Love Letters to Anne Boleyn

Henry VIII wrote Anne Boleyn a collection of love letters which still survive today because they are in the Vatican Library. How they ended up there, we just don’t know, but the most likely explanation is that they were stolen from Anne Boleyn to provide evidence of her relationship with the King. Unfortunately, we do not have Anne’s replies but the letters are evidence of Henry VIII’s romantic side and his strong feelings for Anne.

You can click on the following links to read these letters in their entirety. I have put them in the order that they can be found in the 1906 book published by John W Luce and Company, rather than the order of the Harleian Miscellany, because, as J. O. Halliwell Philipps points out in his notes on the letters, they only make sense in this order.

46 thoughts on “Henry VIII’s Love Letters to Anne Boleyn”

  1. Amanda says:

    I love all of these letters: it is so wonderful to be able to read of Henry’s love for Anne! Also wanted to let you know that the link to letter # 15 doesn’t work.

    1. kassidy says:

      sorry but link #15 does work…. at least on my computer

      1. Joe Benavides says:

        The link to Letter #15 works on my tablet.

    2. Emma says:

      It works for me on my phone!

      1. Kieran M Jenkins says:

        works here to, although that comment already confirms that, I just wanted to get in on this seven year conversation, #peak

        1. Matty says:

          Same, I just want to get in this convo too, its almost been 9 years since that first one was posted, and now Im using this website for HW in my AP Euro class!

  2. Tegs says:

    Sooooo romantic! 🙂

  3. Liz says:

    Can’t begin to express how much I’ve loved reading these letters….now I wish to marry a modern-day Henry VIII….Sigh.

    1. Cynthia Layne says:

      Are you sure?

    2. Kel says:

      Seriously? I will confess, these letters are very beautifully written and express what Henry VIII must have conceived as a very deep and true love for Anne. But we can’t ignore the ultimately tragic and sad end to this passionate affair. We know that every promise of service and faithfulness expressed in these letters has been proven by history to be ultimately false.

      I would rather look for a love as constant as the one described in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116:

      “… Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove:O no! it is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken…”

      1. Kaz says:

        Instead of a henry, I would totally marry a Mark Smeaton or Henry Percy type for sure 🙂 That’s what history basically is teaching me – don’t go for the ruler (he’s a psycho!), go for the true men 🙂 How many bosses have we worked for that have been divorced from their first wives – too many! The first wives aren’t silly – they probably saw the monsters that their husbands were becoming as they got higher up in the ranks at work, and did the right thing by running!

        1. Kaz says:

          Sorry I mean I’d marry Thomas Wyatt type any day (not Henry Percy, but he’s not so bad either) – men that appreciate life itself, and it would be an amazing bonus if they see life through artistic means like music or poetry – there is so much freedom in that 🙂 But being married to someone who only cares about money and is worried about strategies on how to get more money, well, I would just know the marriage wouldn’t last at all because it’s superficial.

      2. lucieloo says:

        Well Said!!!

        What a tragic ending. But at least England was blessed with Queen Elizabeth.

    3. Ron says:

      The your head could be separated from your shoulders too. Engage your mind before your fingers.

      1. Renee says:

        I wish to God people would take your advice. Never happens though. Sigh.

    4. S. CASSI says:

      Really. Then I remember he had her head cut off!

    5. Cynthia Drake says:


  4. Natasha says:

    It feels as though ever time i read these letters (and i have read them many times) it never fails to move me. The love he bore for this women is incredible, how long he waited for her, how long she waited for him didn’t seem to matter. What mattered to him most was knowing that Anne felt the same for him and would one say hopefully be his.

    Reading these letters however, makes me question some Historians. Many say that King Henry VIII loved Jane Seymour above all other Queens, and I’m sure he did love her. After all Jane gave Henry his long awaited son and heir to the throne. He was even laid to rest by Jane.

    But the way he loved Anne, the amount of time(and by time I mean years) he spent courting her, his break with Rome, the divisionn of his kingdom because of his love for this women speaks volumes and can not be ignored.

    In my humble opinion I truly feel that Henry loved Anne is a way that he loved no other. Even though he betrayed her in such a way that can never be forgotten nor forgiven -their love goes down in history ( my mind) as one of the greatest loves of all times.

  5. Amy says:

    While the letters are moving and the long time that he spent courting Anne, I don’t see how it can be true love if he so quickly turned against her. Henry seems to like the chase and keeping that in mind it seems like puppy love even though it was for many years. Not really sure how I feel about these letters…

    1. Kaz says:

      I agree with Amy, I too don’t know how I feel about these love letters because we know the ending to their love story (Queen Anne’s head gets chopped off!), I guess we’re like crime investigators almost these days – the love letters don’t seem so sincere because of what happened at the end. Yep, the letters just remind me of obsession much like the crazed people of these days that get obsessed with celebrities etc just to do harm to them :/ Scary of course, but that’s how I see these letters – king henry was the crazed fan of Anne Boleyn, the unfortunate part was king henry’s power at the time.

    2. sarah says:

      Sociopaths are freakin’ scary people, they know just what to say to get what they want. Then the facade crumbles. I have been lucky to have only dated very sane guys, but ho-lee crap, when a complete nutjob came into my life? Scary. It took a long time to feel safe again, and I was always completely panicked for the next woman he would … well, be himself to. (luckily it is a small world and mutual friends knew the next woman! And also luckily, or blessedly, she was not a woman who put up with it)
      Point being, some humans can do, write, be anything they need to attain a goal. Henry VIII shed no tears for Anne. (maybe she was like the woman psycho boy dated after me and eventually saw through the facade) so I doubt anything much beyond lust drove some of his actions. Well, that and the whole male heir bit 🙂 Ya gotta love that Elizabeth was the awesome result of all this, though!

  6. Sally says:

    Yes, Henry loved Anne so much he had her head chopped off, leaving their daughter Elizabeth without a mother.

  7. Laura says:

    I think its wise to bear in mind that courting any woman of that time period required a courtier’s style of writing even from a King. Professing profound and undying love was expected much the way women today expect men to open doors for them. The idea was to impress. Henry was a man who got his way in all things and he had no intentions of failing with Anne. So how much of it was love and how much of it was the chase?

    To Natasha above, yes Henry did many things during the time he waited for Anne but do not think he did them for love of her. Anne opened the door of reformation to him which granted him the most powerful position of all. Head of the church which put him as a form of God on earth. In breaking with Rome, he also gained tremendous wealth from the monasteries he tore down. Anne was a business partner to him in a way Katherine was not and she wasn’t even Queen yet. We all know how the story concluded and I don’t think we’ll ever know if it was “true” love or not.

  8. Katy says:

    Hi, on Amazon there is a collection of these & it says they were originally published by “Hearne” in 1720. Do we know who this Hearne is? Is it Thomas Hearne? (That’s my last name & I so rarely see it spelled the same way I spell it so, just curious. Starting to get into some genealogy)

  9. Denis says:

    Yes laura courtly love was expected in the 15 and 16th century. But as Thomas Wyatts poems to Anne show its was merely expressions of love such as compliments etc Henry’s letters to Anne go deeper than courtly expressions of love they show much more affection and concern. Also a kind of longing. I myself am not sure if it was truly motivated by love or obsession and lust but I don’t think it was courtly love.

  10. karen says:

    I cannot even begin to see how Henry could love Anne so much and then kill her so ruthlessly! Boggling

  11. Sherri says:

    I agree with everyone’s opinion here. That Henry’s and Anne’s love was the stuff that movies are made of, books written about and songs written. That Henry was a tyrant who wanted his own way. That he betrayed the great love of his life. That he liked the challenge and the chase and hunt.

    Did Henry truly love Anne ?? I think he did and she him. But with great love comes great tragedy and sadness.

    I have always thought that Henry had Anne executed because he loved her so much. He took her away from his life and in that I mean with Anne still living and of this earth would he have been able to resist her ??? Would his relationship with Jane survived ??? Would Henry been able to put Anne away somewhere and never felt that passion, that love, that fire for any other woman ?? There was only one way to break the ties that bound them and that was death. With a love like that it must have been very difficult to maintain it. Everyday was a drama between them. How very exhausting. Henry was also seeking peace, calm etc, But did he actually achieve that with Jane ???

    I know that history has other reasons for Henry executing Anne. Call me a true romantic but I like to think that there were reasons beyond the selfish and self centered ones that Henry actually gave. He just didn’t realize it at the time. How he must have missed Anne till the day he died. She was his 1 true match. Even though Henry would deny that how he must have went through the rest of his life with the other half of himself missing.

    1. sarah says:

      He had her killed because he LOVED HER too much? Famous last words of every wife or girlfriend beater!! Your post sent a bad shiver down my spine.
      Maybe there needs to be one working definition of “love” here? My understanding has always been that Love wants and acts for the absolute best of the loved/beloved. But also, an understanding of the mindset of Kings and Queens. It must be an enormously heady (oof, no pun intended) thing to truly believe you are the boss of everyone “because God alone placed me here”. Mindset and motives are important too… I really realized that whilst studying the life of Marie Antoinette. Quick example – she knew no other way of living. That doesn’t change over night, believing you just are entitled to certain things, to live a certain way.
      So, as someone mentioned above, we really do have to “be detectives”, and look from every angle. And how cool to have these letters, I have always been fascinated by them. Even though I often think Henry was many sandwiches short of a picnic 😉

  12. Beth says:

    Those letters are STOLEN property and should be returned by the Pope to the Queen of England! I love how the Catholics conveniently forget stealing is a SIN if it suits their needs. These need to be in ROYAL archives in England. I don’t understand why the Queen hasn’t pursued this, except that for some reason everyone feels the need to kiss Rome’s Ass. You can bet Henry VIII would get them back!

    1. Gail Marie says:

      But if Henry had ever gotten them back he would have destroyed them, and we would never have known their contents! What a strange twist that by being stolen, they were actually preserved for future generations.

  13. Danette says:

    Henry did not just wake up one day and decide to behead Anne. A lot of things happened that led up to it; the fact that she couldn’t give him a son, the courtiers close to him had dealings in turning the King’s head and changing his mind, Anne was pregnant with a son but had a miscarriage days after Henry’s horrific jousting accident – the baby was deformed and they believed that to be the work of the devil in those times – the courtiers despised the courting and subsequent marriage to Anne so they put a bug in Henry’s ear that she was having several affairs, including an incestuous affair with her own brother! Also, Henry had many affairs with different mistresses during Anne’s confinement with her pregnancies, so this in turn hurt Anne. Everything snowballed and once Henry had it in his mind to so something, he did it – no matter the cost. Eventually he had Anne declared a heretic, an (incestuous) adulterer, and a devil who used her powers to seduce the King! In his mind she did things that were unforgivable, whether they be true or not. He had her beheaded to not only make an example of her, but to mend his broken ego and and instill fear back into his subjects. Even with the love they shared, his courtiers made him feel like Anne betrayed him and that was not forgiveable. I personally want to believe he felt some sort of remorse after his anger subsided.

    1. Kelly says:

      I feel he did have remorse. He did send and paid for a skilled headsman to make sure that it was clean and done as humanely as possible. Kind of sick, but it was more than he did for any other person he had executed/beheaded. One must also understand all this came down after his jousting accident where historians now believe he may have had damage to his frontal lobe which could account for his ever changing moods on top of it opening back up his wound on his leg that never again healed. I am not taking up for him, but I do believe he had some head damage after the jousting accident which made him a totally different asshole than he may have been prior.

  14. Julia Freind says:

    “I have put them in the order that they can be found in the 1906 book published by John W Luce and Company, rather than the order of the Harleian Miscellany, because, as J. O. Halliwell Philipps points out in his notes on the letters, they only make sense in this order.”

    Where can i find this book or at least read it online? I’m really curious about why he says that and the notes he makes. I first read the letters in “The Life and death of Anne Boleyn” by Eric Ives and the order is different. It got me confused

  15. Aimee says:

    Actually, if you think some lousy love letters should be returned to the Queen of England, then that same Queen of England should be ready & willing to return the Kohinoor to India!

  16. Leslie says:

    Henry was very competitive. Conquest was a daily thing in that time. Wars, etc. I think Anne was another conquest for him, and she was very aware that Henry loses interest in his bed partners. The whole kingdom knew thus about Henry.
    Henry was married the longest to Catherine of Aragon. I believe he loved her the best, because he was married to her the longest.
    So it was the conquest and Annes promise of a male heir that drove the lust.

  17. Geant says:

    Some of these fawning reader comments sound like they were written by that young, empty-headed bride of Charles Manson. Don’t think for a second that these letters represent genuine romance.

    Henry VII was a narcissist or a psychopath—a being without a conscience who feeds on stoking infatuation in others. What these letters demonstrate so perfectly is the love-bombing phase of narcissistic abuse—the stage when the narcisist lavishes praise, attention, and gifts upon his target. Narcissists bore easily of their sex partners, and they are ruthlessly attracted to money, power, and status, and the symbols of them. Henry VIII is the archetype of the narcissistic or psychopathic wife beater who used his legal system to murder two of his six wives when they invariably let him down. What I see in these letter is what every woman or man who’s been in a relationship with a narcissist ought to recall: a replaying of a carefully laid trap that seemed such a beguiling love story at the beginning, but turned out to have horrifying consequences by the end, when the devalue and discard phase of narcissistic abuse reached its inevitable destructive climax.

    Henry discarded five of his six wives before dying, and no doubt had countless affairs and mistresses. His royal portraits seem to bear the dour face of a cruel, peevish, entitled man grown accustomed to using and disposing of people when his interest faded. He is one of history’s greatest personifications of the narcissist personality type, and the web of intrigue conscienceless beings unflinchingly weave around their targets.

    1. Sabrina Emms says:

      Agree 100% Henry was not a romantic figure, he was one of England’s scariest Kings. Along with his daughter Elizabeth, who in my opinion, was not a great ruler, she was a narcist with a great propaganda machine. More people were persecuted and killed under Elizabeth than her sister Mary who we call “Bloody Mary”. Stop reading about her and Lester or Essex and read what else is said and see the corruption of the court and the oppression of the people. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree!

  18. Heidi says:

    Wait why were you writiing this on xmas day???

  19. Safire says:

    These letters prove the love Anne and Henry shared. Like many love stories it came to a tragic end. Like that of Romeo and Juliet. These letters truly show that true love exsists and tells us that even in the past love can still live on. As we read these beautiful letters let us remember the people behind them as we look back in time to Henry and Anne.

    1. Gaill says:

      True love does not entail chopping your beloveds head off.

  20. Sunshine VanScoy says:

    The Vatican needs to return these to the Crown. Why hasn’t the Royal family or The British museum demanded their return? Just shameful. The Vatican thinks they can do whatever the hell they want. So much of their wealth and finery is stolen.

    1. Claire says:

      If the hadn’t been stolen from Anne they would have been destroyed by Henry VIII or could have been destroyed or damaged like many other 16th century documents in the Ashburnam House fire, so I’m really pleased that they got taken. They’re safe in the Vatican Archives and if you’re going to say that the Vatican need to return them to the UK then other museums around the world also need to exchange objects, which would be chaos.

  21. Rachel says:

    If Henry was a Narcissist/Sociopath how could we be sure these are Henrys thought and not some courtier employed to wax poetic to get his way? Hmmm food for thought.

  22. Victoria Hornagold says:

    Are there records of the letters Anne wrote to Henry?

  23. Mae says:

    Such a contrast between the first few letters and 14 through the last letters. It seems to me like his interest in her was already dwindling. The passion in the first letters is replaced by short, routine, saying mostly the same things.

    Whether or not she loved him is an interesting debate. I know that she was already engaged when she caught his attention. Part of me wants to believe she did love him, just to put my mind at ease that she wasn’t in agony at least part of the time he was interested in her.

  24. Aimee says:

    Henry VIII was a horrible man and deserved to die of syphilis.

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