|“The Imposture of the Holy Maid of Kent”|
A country servant-girl, this Elizabeth Barton had begun having divine visions around Easter 1525, and developed a popular following for her gift of prophecy, generally delivered during spooky (perhaps epileptic) fits and trances.
This was all just fine with everyone, since King Henry was still a good Catholic at the time; Barton took orders in the St. Sepulchre Nunnery and continued her career in the seer business.
Elizabeth Barton wasn’t going to leave her place in Henrician England … but to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, Henrician England was about to leave her.
And like so many entries that age has given this site, it all went back to Henry’s leaving his first queen, Catherine of Aragon.
If one likes to see in the prophetic tradition a refracted expression of popular sentiment, speaking a religious rather than a political language, Elizabeth Barton’s divine gift set her up to be the mystical exponent of the English populace’s visceral reaction against Henry’s ascending paramour, Anne Boleyn.
Rather rashly, Barton began publicly warning her sovereign against his bedchamber gambit, threatening that if the proposed Boleyn union should come to pass, he “should no longer be King of this realm…and should die a villain’s death.”
That would be compassing the death of the king — which is treason, HERE
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