Letters tell it like it is. While a person may sometimes find it difficult to have a serious in-person conversation, a letter can provide a little distance between the sender and recipient, maybe a preferred environment to send along either some bad news or perhaps longer prose.
Letters traditionally have been opportunities for writers to take as much space as needed to talk about whatever is on their mind. Essentially, they are what today’s online blogs have evolved into, where individuals or organizations can simply write whatever they want, whether it’s describing their home life or discussing love, one of those concepts that everyone experiences in different ways.
Some historical letters can provide a glimpse of the people of the time and what’s around them, such as pressing news issues, hobbies, and whatever else was taking place in their world when it was written.
Enjoy the following historical letters which give an interesting insight into their world, including their views of life and of love.
- Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
Although things didn’t end well for this relationship – Anne Boleyn was executed in 1547 after being charged with high treason, incest, adultery, and conspiracy – the fires of love burned strongly in its early days. Although King Henry was married to Catherine of Aragon at the time, his eye and his heart was quite taken by Anne, one of Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting and the sister of one of his many mistresses. He wrote her several letters over the years to persuade her to be a future wife. Although he certainly wanted a male heir, he also raved about her beauty and her kind soul. In an early letter, he wrote that he was seeking a true mistress and friend, and promised to be a loyal servant to her. Although he was the one who ordered her death, he later confided that she was special to him.
- Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan
History remembers Ronald Reagan as an impressive actor as well as a politician in the U.S. After retiring from films, he served as the governor of California and eventually was elected president, ushering in a new period of conservatism and national strength. Beside him for much of his political life was his wife Nancy, a former actress. Although the public sometimes criticized her for advocating astrology in her husband’s decisions, he always felt she was a strong and supportive companion and often told her so. In one letter, written in 1972, the then-governor congratulated her on their 20th anniversary and added some kind words that shared his love for her and said he never wanted to leave her side in the next 20 or 40 years – “I’ve gotten very used to being happy and I love you very much indeed.” She continued to take care of him after he retired from public life and dealt with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Napoleon and Josephine
The general who became emperor of France had a special place in his heart for a woman who originally went by Rose, but he decided a more formal, elegant name befitting an empress was in order. Though tough on the battlefield and in political arenas, Napoleon had a soft spot for his love, even after their divorce, since she couldn’t have children. He wrote many historical letters to her, especially when he was on the battlefield. In them, he shared how much he missed her and how he only feels happy when she’s nearby. And when she’s gone, he feels depressed. He also expressed hope of someday having more time to spend with her.