|Courtesy of The TudorsWiki|
Many people see this as evidence Anne must have been born in 1501 or even 1499, because the handwriting and French is too good for a seven-year-old girl.
I tend to disagree. As many scholars have noted, the letter's French is bad. Anne made several corrections, and in some places, the words are unintelligible. In other words, it looks more impressive than it really is.
This is the text of the letter, as translated by Philip Sergeant:
Sir, — I understand by your letter that you desire that I shall be a worthy woman when I come to the Court and you inform me that the Queen will take the trouble to converse with me, which rejoices me much to think of talking with a person so wise and worthy. This will make me have greater desire to continue to speak French well and also spell, especially because you have so enjoined it on me, and with my own hand I inform you that I will observe it the best I can.
Sir, I beg you to excuse me if my letter is badly written, for I assure you that the
Written at [? Veure] by Your very humble and very obedient daughter, Anna de Boullan.
Education in the Tudor era was much different than today. It started earlier, and the expectations were more stringent than today. Few allowances were made for a child's age. These methods were apparently successful, because noble children of the era are recorded as having remarkable accomplishments for their ages.
In the letter, Anne asks her father to pardon her mistakes because the letter is the first she has composed by herself, something unlikely to have been written by a fourteen girl. (In comparison, her daughter, Elizabeth, was writing flawless letters in Italian by age ten, and knew several other languages.)
This is a letter from the eight-year old Henry FitzRoy to his father, asking for a harness for his horse to aid with his studies of Julius Caesar.
|Courtesy of the Scottish Archive for Schools|
letter that was written by Princess Elizabeth when she was ten years old. It's in Italian and shows even better handwriting than that of Anne Boleyn. Granted, there is quite a difference between seven and ten, but Elizabeth supposedly knew several languages at this point, which presumably required years of study.
Anne apparently excelled in her studies, because Margaret found her exceptionally bright for her "young age." This comment indicates that Anne was younger than the usual accepted age of thirteen for maid of honor.
While it's not certain proof, I believe the letter would have been well within Anne's abilities if she had been tutored since she was a toddler, as most noble children were.