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John of Leyden

(the prophet), being about to marry Bertha, met with three Anabaptists who observed a strong likeness in him to a picture of David in Munster cathedral. They entered into conversation with him, and finding him apt for their purpose, induced him to join their rebellion. The rebels took the city of Munster, and John was crowned “ruler of Westphalia.” His mother met him in the street, and John disclaimed all knowledge of her; but subsequently visited her in prison, and obtained her forgiveness. When the emperor arrived with his army, John's Anabaptist friends deserted him, and “the prophet,” setting fire to the banquet-room of his palace, perished with his mother in the flames. (Meyerbeer: Le Prophéte [an opera]).

His real name was John Bockhold.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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