Happy Mother’s Day! A Letter from Henry VII to Mum

First, let me mention that The Traitor’s Wife was picked as the discussion book for May by Shelfari’s Medieval Junkies group! I just found this out yesterday. Thanks so much!

Second, over at my Facebook page, I asked my friends to name their favorite mother, and one person named Margaret Beaufort as one of hers. As I was casting about for a Mother’s Day post, I thought I’d share this letter by Henry VII to his mother, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, taken from Original Letters Illustrative of English History, H. Ellis, ed., series 1, vol. 1. S. B. Chrimes in his biography of Henry VII states that this letter was probably written in 1501. Note the postscript in which Henry apologizes for not writing more often “for verrayly Madame my syghte is nothing so perfitt as it has ben.”


Madam, my most enterely wilbeloved Lady and Moder, I recommende me unto you in the most humble and lauly wise that I can, beseeching you of your dayly and continuall blessings. By your Confessour the berrer I have reseived your good and most loving wryting, and by the same have herde at good leisure such credense as he would shewe unto me on your behalf, and thereupon have spedde him in every behalve withowte delai according to yowr noble petition and desire, which restith in two principall poynts: the one for a generall pardon for all manner causes: the other is for to altre and chaunge part of a Lycense which I had gyven unto you before for to be put into mortmain at Westmynster; and now to be converted into the University of Cambridge for your Soule helthe, &c. All which thyngs according to your desire and plesure I have with all my herte and goode wille giffen and graunted unto you. And my Dame, not onely in this but in all other thyngs that I may knowe should be to youre honour and plesure and weale of youre salle. I shall be as glad to plese you as youre herte can desire hit, and I knowe welle that I am as much bounden so to doe as any creture lyvyng, for the grete and singular moderly love and affection that hit hath plesed you at all tymes to ber towards me. Wherfore myne owen most lovyng moder, in my most herty manner I thank you, beseeching you of your goode contynuance in the same. And Madame, your said Confessour hath more over shewne unto me on youre behalve that ye of your goodnesse and kynde disposition have gyven and graunted unto me such title and intereste as ye have or ought to have in such debts and duties which is oweing and dew unto you in Fraunce by ye Frenche Kynge and others, wherfore Madame in my most herty and humble wise I thanke You. Howbeit I verrayly [think] hit will be ryght harde to recover hit without hit be dryven by compulsion and force, rather than by any true justice which is not yet al we thynke any convenyant tyme to be put in execution. Nevertheless it hath plesed you to gyve us a good interest & meane if they woull not conforme thayme to rayson and good justice to diffende or offende at a convenyant tyme when the caas shall so require herafter. For such a chaunce may fall that thys your graunte might stande in grete stead for a recovery of our Right, and to make us free, wheras we be now bounde &c. And verrayly Madame, and I myht recover hit at this tyme or any other, Ye be sure ye shulde have your plesure therin, as I and all that God has given me is and shall ever [be] at youre will and commaundment, as I have instructed Master Fisher more largely herin, as I doubte not but he wolle declare unto you. And I beseeche you to sende me youre mynde and plesure in the same, which I shall be full glad to followe with Goddis grace, which sende and gyve unto you the full accomplyshment of all youre noble and vertuous desyrs. Written at Grenewiche the 17 day of July, with the hande of youre most humble and lovynge sonne

H. R.

After the wryting of thys Letter, your Confessour delyvered unto me such Letters and wrytings obligatory of your duties in Fraunce which hit hath plesed you to sende unto me, which I have received by an Indenture of every parcell of ye same. Wherfore eftsoons in my most humble wise I thank you, and I purpose hereafter, at better leisure, to knowe youre mynde and plesure further therein. Madame I have encombred you now with thys my longe wrytings, but me thyngks that I can doo no less, considering that hit is so selden that I do wryte, wherfore I beseeche you to pardon me, for verrayly Madame my syghte is nothing so perfitt as it has ben; and I know well hit will appayrea dayly; wherfore I trust that you will not be displesed though I wryte not so often with myne’ owne hand, for on my fayth I have ben three dayes or I colde make an ende of this Letter.

To My Lady.

1 thought on “Happy Mother’s Day! A Letter from Henry VII to Mum”

  1. What a great letter! I especially like the bit I shall be as glad to plese you as youre herte can desire hit, and I knowe welle that I am as much bounden so to doe as any creture lyvyng.

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