Monday, May 25, 2009

Incidental Plaidy Lady: Elizabeth Barton

Elizabeth Barton (circa 1506 – 1534)

Such controversy about this lady! She’s referred to briefly in Plaidy’s St. Thomas’s Eve (The King’s Confidante) as one of the voices against King Henry’s right to divorce.

The ‘Nun of Kent’, as she was otherwise known, was against Henry’s religious reform (in order to permit his divorce to Queen Catherine and proceed to marry Anne Boleyn) and prophesized that if the King were to marry Anne, he would die right after, along with other doom and gloom events that were sure to happen in consequence…

When she was about fifteen and working as a servant in Kent, she became very ill and often fell into trances after that. Her visions were of a religious nature. Elizabeth became a Benedictine nun shortly after having the religious authorities verify the validity of her predictions and seeings. She had great credibility among the faithful who believed and were inspired by her prophesies.

This posed a great problem for Henry VIII, since he feared (not only the nun’s predictions) but also the people’s opinions. The King need not have anything encumber his way. So by Henry’s orders, off went the non of Kent.. executed for treason and hanged at the Tyburn gallows in Westminster.

So, for some Elizabeth was an imposter and for others a saint; a debatable issue on the side of both Catholics and Protestants alike.

What is your opinion on Elizabeth Barton?


  1. Holy cow, Henry actually had a nun executed? Ballsy, wasn't he? LOL. Far be it from me to declare her the real thing or a fake, but I will say that I've been known to go into trances and stare off into space quite often while visualizing a quiet life without kids and no one has declared me anything but neurotic. Hmmmm.

  2. Some of Barton's followers started a church which is still in existance:

    "McKee wrote in 1925 that "The Protestant tradition, which holds up to popular scorn Dame Elizabeth Barton, O.S.B., commonly known as the maid of Kent, has been received without question by many generations. Only in recent years have a few historians undertaken to study her case impartially, and to shift out the truth from the falsehoolds and misrepresentations with which it has so long been overlaid". My little book contains the truth about Dame Barton and the holy church that she co-founded with St. Bishop Fisher.

    This book was designed for those that are newly converted to our church and for those that have an earnest design to learn more about the Tarish Rite Apostolic Church."

    Source: The Children of Wisdom: An Introduction to the Tarish Rite Apostolic Church, 1525-1999 by Bishop Saucer

  3. I don't know if she was indeed a fake or not but for all of Henry's worry about doing the wrong thing in the eyes of God, I can't believe he had a nun executed. Very interesting Lucy.

  4. Having just written an essay on her, I am amzed that this woman has been either written out of history or condemned as weak and a puppet of other men hostile to henry policy changes. She really was remarkable. the most comprehensive study of her so far is by Alan Neame.

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