On 22nd June 1536 Lady Mary Tudor finally submitted to her father, King Henry VIII, and accepted him as the Supreme Head of the Church of England and the invalidity of his marriage to her mother, Katherine of Aragon. Mary was a staunch Catholic and to recognise Henry’s split from Rome and the head of a new church would have been something that Mary had struggled with. However, a visit from Henry’s council just a week earlier where they threatened her must have weighed heavy on her mind and combined with council from the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, Mary came to her decision and wrote to her father;
“Moste humbly prostrate before the feete of Your most excellent Majestie, your most homble, faythefull, and obediente subjecte, which hath so extremely offended Your most gratyous Highnes, that my heavie and fearfull hert dare not presume to calle you Father, ne Your Majesty hathe any cause by my desertes, saving the benignetye of your most blessed nature dothe surmounte all evelles offences and trespasses, and is ever mercyfulle and redy to accepte the penytente callynge for grace, in any convenyente tyme. Havinge received this Thursdaye, at nighte, certene letteresfrom Mr. Secreatary, aswell advisying me to make my homble submyssyone immedyatly to your selfe, which because I durste not, without your gravyous licence, presume to doe befor, I latly sente unto him, as sygnefyenge that your moste mercyfull harte and fatherly pyttye had graunted me your blessyng, with condissyone that I should persevere in that I had commenced and begoone; and that I should not eftsones offend Your Majesty by the denyall or reffusalle of any suche articles and commaundementes, as it maye please Your Highenes to addresse unto me, for the perfite trial of myne harte and inward affectyone, for the parfait declaration of the bottome of my herte and stomake.
Fyrste, I knowledge my selft to have most unkyndly and unnaturally offended Your most excellent Highenes, in that I have not submitted myselfe to your moste juste and virtuous laws; and for myne offence thearin, which I must confesse wear in me a thousand folde more grievous, then they could be in any other lyving creature, I put myselfe holly and entirely to your gratyous mercy; at whos hands I cannot receave that punishment for the same, that I have derserved.
Secondly, to opene my herte to Your Grace, in theis thinges, which I have heartofore refused to condiscend unto, and have nowe writtene with myne owne hand, sending the same to Your Highenes hearwith; I shall never beseeche Your Grace to have pyttye and compassion of me, yf ever you shall perceave that I shall prively or appertly, vary or alter from one pece of that I have writtene and subscribed, or refuse to confyrme, ratefy, or declare the same, wher Your Majesty shall appointe me.
Thurdly, as I have and shall, knowinge your excelent learnynge, vertue, wisdom, and knoledge, put my soulle into your directyone; and, by the same, hathe and will, in all thinges, from hence foarthe directe my consyence, or my body I do holly commyte to your mercye and fatherlye pyttye; desiringe no state, no condissyone, nor no mannore degre of lyvinge, but suche as Your Grace shall appoynte unto me; knoledging and confessynge, that my state cane not be so ville, as ether the extremity of justice wold appoynte unto me, or as myne offences have required and deserved. And what soever Your Grace shall comaunde me to doe, touching any of theyse pointes, ethere for thinges paste, presente, or to come, I shall as gladly doe the same, as Your Majestie cane comaund me. Moste homblye, therefor, beseeching your mercy, most gratyous Soveraine Lord and benign Father, to have pyttye and compassion of your myserable and sorrowfull child; and, with the aboundance of your inestymable goodnes, so to overcome my iniquitie towards God, Your Grace, and your holle realme, as I maye feele some sensyble tokene of reconsyllyation; which, God is my judge, I onely desyre, without other respect, to whome I shall dayly praye for the preservation of Your Highenes, with the Queenes Grace, and that it may please him to send you issue. From Hownsdon, this Thursdaye, at 11 of the clocke at nighte.
Your Graces moste humble and obedient Daughter and Handmayd,
Remains of Lady Mary’s letter to King Henry VIII