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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century


Works of King Henry VIII

Lady with green sleeves, painted after a portrait of Anne Boleyn by Anniina Jokinen

Popular legend has it that "Greensleeves" was composed by King Henry VIII at the time of his wooing of Anne Boleyn. The song was entered into the Stationer's Register so late as 1580, as "a New Northern Dittye of the Lady Greensleeves", and was first printed in A Handful of Pleasant Delights in 1584. Its attribution to King Henry VIII is highly doubtful, though not disproved. —AJ

Alas, my love, ye do me wrong,
      To cast me off discourteously:
And I have lovèd you so long,
      Delighting in your company!
Greensleeves was all my joy,
      Greensleeves was my delight;
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
      And who but Lady Greensleeves.

I have been ready at your hand,
      To grant whatever you would crave;
I have both wagèd life and land,
      Your love and good-will for to have.
Greensleeves, &c.

I bought thee kerchers to thy head,
      That were wrought fine and gallantly;
I kept thee both at board and bed,
      Which cost my purse well-favour'dly.
Greensleeves, &c.

I bought thee petticoats of the best,
      The cloth so fine as might be;
I gave thee jewels for thy chest,
      And all this cost I spent on thee.
Greensleeves, &c.

Thy smock of silk, both fair and white,
      With gold embroider'd gorgeously;
Thy petticoat of sendal right,
      And these I bought thee gladly.
Greensleeves, &c.

Thy girdle of the gold so red,
      With pearls bedeckèd sumptuously,
The like no other lasses had:
      And yet thou wouldst not love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

Thy purse, and eke thy gay gilt knives,1
      Thy pin-case,2 gallant to the eye;
No better wore the burgess' wives:
      And yet thou wouldst not love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

Thy crimson stockings, all of silk,
      With gold all wrought above the knee;
Thy pumps, as white as was the milk:
      And yet though wouldst not love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

Thy gown was of the grassy green,
      Thy sleeves of satin hanging by;
Which made thee be our harvest queen:
      And yet thou wouldst not love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

Thy garters fringèd with the gold,
      And silver aglets 3 hanging by;
Which made thee blithe for to behold:
      And yet thou wouldst not love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

My gayest gelding thee I gave,
      To ride wherever likèd thee;
No lady ever was so brave:
      And yet thou wouldst not love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

My men were clothèd all in green,
      And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen:
      And yet thou wouldst not love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

They set thee up, they took thee down,
      They served thee with humility;
Thy foot might not once touch the ground:
      And yet thou wouldst not love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

For every morning, when thou rose,
      I sent thee dainties, orderly,
To cheer thy stomach from all woes:
      And yet thou wouldst not love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

Thou couldst desire no earthly thing,
      But still thou hadst it readily,
Thy music, still to play and sing:
      And yet thou wouldst not love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

And who did pay for all this gear,
      That thou didst spend when pleasèd thee?
Even I that am rejected here,
      And thou disdainest to love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

Well! I will pray to God on high,
      That thou my constancy mayst see,
And that, yet once before I die,
      Thou wilt vouchsafe to love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

Greensleeves, now farewell! adieu!
      God I pray to prosper thee!
For I am still thy lover true:
      Come once again and love me!
Greensleeves, &c.

kerchiefs; scarves

a fine, light silk

splendid, grand

delicacies, regularly

still = always, ever

deign, consent

1. Small pen-knives suspended from the waist by a cord. (See illustration)
2. Renaissance clothing often required various pieces of clothing to be attached with pins: lace collars and cuffs, for example; sometimes sleeves and even the overskirt. These pins, when not in use, would be kept in a pin-case. (See image)
3. Aglets (or aiglets, or aiguillettes), also called "points", are metal tips crimped at the end of laces, ribbons, and cords, to keep the fibers from unravelling. (See image)

Anonymous. "Greensleeves." Luminarium. Anniina Jokinen, Ed.
          14 May 2009. [Date you accessed this page].

Audio Excerpt from
Toronto Consort: Mariners and Milkmaids.

Backto Works of Henry VIII

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on May 14, 2009. Last updated February 7, 2018.


The Tudors

The Parents of Henry VIII
King Henry VII
Elizabeth of York

The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Queen Catherine of Aragon
Queen Anne Boleyn
Queen Jane Seymour
Queen Anne of Cleves
Queen Catherine Howard
Queen Katherine Parr

The Children of Henry VIII
Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond
King Edward VI
Queen Mary I
Queen Elizabeth I

The King's Advisors
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cromwell
Sir Thomas More

European Monarchs
Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland
James IV, King of Scotland
James V, King of Scotland
Mary of Guise, Queen of Scotland

Mary Tudor, Queen of France
Louis XII, King of France
Francis I, King of France

Ferdinand II, King of Aragon
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Pope Julius II
Pope Leo X
Pope Clement VII
Pope Paul III

English Nobility
Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
Edward Stafford, D. of Buckingham
Thomas Howard, 3rd D. of Norfolk
John Dudley, D. of Northumberland
Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire
George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford
John Russell, Earl of Bedford
Thomas, Lord Audley
Richard de la Pole
Thomas Seymour, Lord Admiral
Edward Seymour, Protector Somerset

Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio
Cardinal Reginald Pole
Bishop Stephen Gardiner
Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London
Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London
John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester
John Aylmer, Bishop of London
John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester
Archbishop William Warham
Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester
Edward Fox, Bishop of Hereford
William Tyndale
Hugh Latimer
William Grocyn
Thomas Linacre

Historical Events
The Battle of the Spurs, 1513
Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520
Dissolution of Monasteries, 1536-40
Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536
The Siege of Boulogne, 1544
The Sweating Sickness

Tudor Legal System
Common Law
Court of Common Pleas
Court of King's Bench
Court of Star Chamber
Council of the North
Oath of Supremacy
The Act of Supremacy, 1534
The Act of Succession, 1534
The Ten Articles, 1536
The Six Articles, 1539

Royal Residences
Greenwich Palace
Hatfield House
Richmond Palace
Windsor Palace

Tudor Literature
See section
16th-century Renaissance English Literature

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