HENRY VIII (1491-1547), King of England and Ireland. Letter signed with autograph subscription ('Vester bonus amicus Henry R[ex]') to Cardinal Benedetto de Accoltis, Bishop of Ravenna, London, 16 January 1529/30, signed by the King at the foot, in Latin, 17 lines written in an elegant humanistic hand in brown ink, signed by the King's Latin Secretary ('Petrus Vannes') in lower right corner, one page, 390 x 320mm, address on verso, traces of seal (ink erosion in initial letter 'H', small tears in folds touching letters in approximately 12 words, small hole affecting one word of address, neat professional repair on verso); and an 18th-century portrait engraving, after Holbein. Provenance: Sotheby's New York sale, 15 December 1986, lot 51; the Spiro Family Collection.
HENRY VIII ATTEMPTS TO ADVANCE HIS PLANS TO DIVORCE CATHERINE OF ARAGON. A letter of recommendation for the King's envoy Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde (father of his mistress, Anne Boleyn), sent to represent him in discussions with the emperor Charles V (nephew of Catherine of Aragon). 'Mittimus deinde ob no[n] nulla n[ost]ra negocia ad Cesaream M[aiesta]te[m] oratorem Ill[ustrissimum] D[ominum] Tho[mam] Comite[m] Wolerie et Wormondie consanguineu[m] et consiliaru[m] n[ost]rum delectissimu[m] privatiq[ue] n[ost]ri sigilli custodem'.
Sir Thomas Boleyn (1477-1539) was created Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde in December 1529, one of many marks of royal favour due to the fascination his daughter exercised over the King. He took part in diplomatic missions to France and Spain, and attended Henry on the arrival of the Emperor Charles V in England in 1522, when he obtained the office of Treasurer of the Household. He was appointed Lord Privy Seal in January 1530, when he was instructed to explain to Charles V, currently at Bologna for a meeting with the Pope, the reasons for the King's seeking a divorce, in the hope of counteracting the influence which the Emperor might have upon Clement VII in favour of Catherine. Boleyn failed to impress the Emperor, and the Pope did not express his views. Benedetto de Accoltis was among the most influential and corrupt members of the papal court.
Peter Vannes, kinsman of Andrea Ammonio of Lucca, his predecessor as Latin Secretary, served first Wolsey, then Henry VIII. In 1528/29 he joined Sir Francis Bryan's embassy to the Pope concerning the nullification of Henry's marriage to Catherine, with the particular duty of bribing the officials of the Curia and obtaining support for the King. He secured various ecclesiastical preferments, and retained the Latin Secretaryship under Edward VI.