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The Tudor Society

Valentine’s Day in Tudor times

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The 14th of February is the day on which we celebrate love. But what is the history of this feast? 

According to history.com, St Valentine may have been two different men. Supposedly under the rule of emperor Claudius II, in the third century, all marriages and engagements in Rome were forbidden. Claudius thought that a wife and a family kept the men from joining the army. St Valentine secretly continued to perform marriages for young lovers. After this was discovered, the Roman saint was executed on the 14th of February. 

When exactly the day started to be linked to romance is not known, but there was a poet and author named Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, who connected the two by writing about how birds would choose their mates on Valentine’s Day. And in the 15th century, John Lydgate, combined it with people who would choose their love on that day and wrote:

“To look and search Cupid’s calendar
And choose their choose, by great affection.”

Tudor times

The oldest love letter known dates back to Valentine’s Day in the year of 1477. In this, a woman named Margery Brews writes to her fiancé John Paston. Margery calls him “Right reverent and worshipful and my right well-beloved valentine”. You can read the complete letter here.

But Henry the 8th himself also wrote many love letters, including quite a lot to his second wife Anne Boleyn. In one of his letters for example, he ended the note with the sentence: “Written by the hand of him, who is, and always will be yours.”
To read more of his letters click here.

If you are interested in more, watch Claire’s video about Tudor lovers here. Note: this video is for members only or you can start our 14 day free trial

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Valentine’s Day in Tudor times