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Elizabeth Barton

Barton, Elizabeth, 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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