Love letter reveals King Henry VIII's infatuation

Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:17pm EST
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By Martina Fuchs

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A rambling love letter written by Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn in an effort to convince her to become his second wife will go on display in Britain for the first time in April.

The letter, written in French around 1528, reveals the English king's affectionate side and shows just how determined he was to break with the Roman Catholic Church, which would not annul his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

"The demonstrations of your affection are such, and the beautiful words of your letter are so cordially phrased, that they really oblige me to honor, love and serve you forever," Henry wrote to Anne nearly five years before they would marry.

"...Henceforth my heart will be dedicated to you alone."

Historians believe the letter was stolen from Anne by a servant. It eventually ended up at the Vatican where it was kept for nearly 500 years, only recently being brought to light.

The British Library, which will put the letter on show as part of an exhibit starting April 23, says the letter touches on the revolutionary changes in ideas that took place during Henry's reign "and take us...into the king's own mind."

"Henry is not only England's best-known king -- with his wives, his girth and his bloodthirstiness -- he is also our most important single ruler," David Starkey, a historian who is curating the exhibition, told Reuters.

"When he came to the throne, Henry was the pious prince who ruled an England at the heart of Catholic Europe. When he died, he was the great schismatic."   Continued...

<p>A love letter written by Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn is seen in this handout photograph, received in London on February 13, 2009. REUTERS/The British Library/Handout</p>