We know that history is written by the victors. But occasionally, the voices of beloved figures from the past break through the barriers of time, carrying words of hope, amusement, and wisdom. Here are 15 of our favourite quotes from the Tudor dynasty.
“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.” – Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603)
“I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck.” – Anne Boleyn (1501-1536) on the morning of her execution.
“This natural life of ours is but a pilgrimage from this wandering world, and exile from our own country: that is to say, a way from all misery to thee (Lord) which art our whole felicity.” – Mary I of England (1516-1558)
“Remember me when you do pray, that hope doth lead from day to day.” – Anne Boleyn
“I do not desire vengeance. I leave it to Him who is the just Avenger of the innocent and of those who suffer for His Name under whose power I will take shelter. I would rather pray with Esther than take the sword with Judith.” – Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1487)
“When I am dead and opened, you shall find Calais lying in my head.” – Mary I on her deathbed.
“I give you to understand that no Christian heart can be more full of joy and gladness than the heart of me your poor exiled friend, who will […] be prepared to pass over the sea with such force as my friends here are preparing for me. And if I have such good speed and success as I wish, according to your desire, I shall ever be most forward to remember and wholly requite this your great and moving loving kindness in my just quarrel.” – Henry VII of England (1457-1509) in a letter dated 1484, shortly before his victory at the Battle of Bosworth.
“Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things.” – Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536) in her final letter to Henry VIII.
“I will have but one mistress and no master.” – Elizabeth I of England
“I am myself a Queen, the daughter of a King, a stranger, and the true kinswoman of the Queen of England. I came to England on my cousin’s promise of assistance against my enemies and rebel subjects and was at once imprisoned… As an absolute Queen, I cannot submit to orders, nor can I submit to the laws of the land without injury to myself, the King my son and all other sovereign princes.” – Mary Queen of Scots
“Though it is not fitting for a gentleman to take his lady in the place of a servant, yet, complying with your desire, I willingly grant it you.” – Henry VIII of England (1491-1547) in a love letter to Anne Boleyn.
“Methinks love maketh men like Angels” – Catherine Parr (1512-1548)
“I send you by the bearer of this [letter] a buck, killed late last night by my own hand, hoping that when you eat of it you may think of the hunter.” – Henry VIII in a love letter to Anne Boleyn.
“Wherefore, since you love my father, I cannot but much esteem you; since you love me, I cannot but love you in return; and since you love the word of God, I do love and admire you with my whole heart. Wherefore, if there be anything wherein I may do you a kindness, either in word or deed, I will do it willingly.“ – Edward VI of England (1537-1553) in a letter to his stepmother, Catherine Parr.
“I choose what I believe, and say nothing. For I am not as simple as I may seem.” – possibly attributed to Katherine of Aragon.