The 16th century was different from our age in many ways, but some things never change.

“Your mother makes big eyes when you already speak of needing another pair of shoes for the winter,” wrote Heinrich Bullinger to his son on December 20, 1553. “It is hardly fifteen weeks since you left us, when you took three pairs with you, the red, the gray, and black. At this rate, you will need six pairs a year. I have more than enough with two. Do not let your shoes go to pieces, but get them mended on time.”

On another occasion, Anna wrote to the same young boy, “My friendly greetings my dear, and know that it makes me completely happy that you are so well provided for. I ask you to be sound, hard working, and to clean yourself, fearing God, honorable toward God, and all people. I ask you to always think about why you are in a foreign place and to watch the time for doing what needs to be done, not being slothful, and praying without ceasing, loyally. And protect yourself from bad company and enjoy staying home. In addition to this, let me know how your clothing is, and if you have enough shirts or how they are being washed. They must be soaped or given to the woman again sometimes. It is so hot. Write it down, and greet her from me. And do not let your shoes fall apart, give them to be cleaned, and be domestic. May God not only protect you from suffering. From me. Anna Bullingerin. Your mom.”

And Heinrich added, “Greetings from daddy too.”


From “Myths and Reality about Heinrich Bullinger’s Wife Anna,” by Rebecca A. Giselbrecht, ISSN 0254–4407 – Zwingliana 38 (2011), 53–66