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Barton, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Barton, 1506?–1534, English prophet, called the Maid of Kent or the Nun of Kent. She was a domestic servant who, after a period of illness, began (c.1525) to go into trances and to utter prophecies, which were claimed to be of divine origin. She entered a convent in Canterbury, and, under the influence of Edward Bocking, her prophecies became increasingly dangerous politically. She foretold dire consequences to King Henry VIII should he divorce Katharine of Aragón and marry Anne Boleyn. Bocking probably hoped to stir an uprising against the king, but his protégée was arrested (1533) and brought to confess herself an impostor. She and her accomplices were put to death.

See biography by A. Neame (1971); study by E. J. Devereux (1966).

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Barton, Elizabeth

Barton, Elizabeth (c.1506–34). Prophetess. Known as the Maid of Kent, Elizabeth Barton, a domestic servant, developed religious mania, with trances and visions. She was taken up by local catholic priests and used to discredit Lutheran ideas. But when she took up the cause of Catherine of Aragon and declared that Henry VIII would die if he divorced her, the Maid moved into deep waters. For a time she was protected by Warham, More, and Fisher, but when Cranmer succeeded Warham as archbishop he interrogated Barton and obtained a confession that her revelations were feigned. With several of her associates she was executed at Tyburn in April 1534.

J. A. Cannon

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