Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 03.djvu/351

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Barton
Barton
345

with the nun (cf. P. Friedmann's Anne Boleyn, i. 245).

After Henry's marriage with Anne Boleyn (28 May 1533) the nun's adherents looked in vain for the fulfilment of her prophecy that he would die in the succeeding month. To maintain her influence she shifted her position, and declared that, like Saul, Henry was no longer king in the sight of God. The mendicant friars spread report of her new revelation throughout the country,and Cromwell, then at the height of his power, viewed it as a treasonable incitement to rebellion. Her friend Warham had died on 23 Aug. 1532, und on 30 March 1533 Cranmer was consecrated to the primacy. The new archbishop was directed to subject the nun in the summer of 1533 to rigorous examination, and on 19 July the prioress of St. Sepulchre's was ordered by Cranmer to bring her before him and Dr. Gwent, the dean of arches. The girl at first maintained her prophetic rôle. Cromwell had sent down a set of interrogatories, but Cranmer declined to use them, deeming them to be too direct to obtain the nun's conviction out of her own mouth, and one of Cromwell's agents wrote (11 Aug.) that 'my Lord [of Canterbury] doth but dally with her.' But Cranmer had no intention of treating the nun leniently, and repeated examinations drew a full confession from her in September. 'She never had visions in all her life, but all that she ever said was feigned of her own imagination, only to satisfy the minds of those which resorted to her and to obtain worldly praise' (Strype's Cranmer, ii. 272). On 25 Sept. Bocking and Hadley, her chief counsellors, who had long been watched, were arrested, and in the course of the following October Bocking confessed his share in the imposture. In November, besides the nun and the two monks of Christ Church, Masters, the parish priest of Aldington, Richard Dering, another monk of Canterbury, Hugh Rich and Richard Risby, Friars Observant of Canterbury, Henry Gold, parish priest of Aldermary, London, and Edward Thwaytes, the author of the pamphlet on the Court-at-Strete miracle, were committed to the Tower. Brought before the Star Chamber, they all threw themselves upon the mercy of the court. A conference was held at Westminster by the judges, bishops, and peers as to the fate of the nun. In a public assembly (20 Nov.), to which persons from all parts of the country were summoned, Lord Chancellor Audley made a declaration that Elizabeth had aimed at the king's dethronement, and cries of 'To the stake' were raised by those present. In accordance with an order issued by the Star Chamber, a scaffold was erected a day or two later by St. Paul's Cross; the nun with her chief accomplices were placed upon it, and all read their confessions aloud there, while Capon, bishop of Bangor, preached a sermon in denunciation of the fraud. The ceremony was repeated in the same month at Canterbury, when the culprits were exhibited on a scaffold erected in the churchyard of the monastery of the Holy Trinity (Chronicle of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, in Narratives of Reformation (Camden Soc.), p. 280). To destroy the effect of the nun's influence it was deemed necessary to thus degrade her in the sight of her followers. It was also Cromwell's desire to implicate in the conspiracy, by repeated examinations of the prisoners, Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, and other adherents of Queen Catherine, and probably the queen herself. Many of Elizabeth's former disciples (including the Marchioness of Exeter and Thomas Goldwell, prior of Christ Church, Canterbury) were aware of Cromwell's aim, and, panic-stricken by the nun's confession, wrote direct to Henry VIII begging him to pardon their former intimacy with her. There was no hurry on the part of the government in determining the punishment due to the offenders, and after their public exposure they were taken back to the Tower. But before the close of 1533 every detail in the imposture was known to Cromwell. When parliament met in the middle of January 1533—4, a bill of attainder was drawn up against the nun, Bocking, Dering, Rich, Risby, Gold, and Masters, the parish priest of Aldington, as the concoctors of a treasonable conspiracy, and against Sir Thomas More, Bishop Fisher, Adeson, Fisher's chaplain, Abel, Queen Catherine's chaplain, Thwaytes, and two others, as abettors of it. To More and Fisher the bill was privately communicated before its introduction into the House of Lords (21 Feb. 1533–4). More frankly avowed his error in conferring with the nun; produced a letter in which he had warned her to avoid politics; and denied that he had admitted her prophetic powers (W. Roper's Life of Sir T. More, ed. Singer, 1817, pp. 125–133). The explanation was deemed satisfactory by Cromwell, and More's name was withdrawn from the bill in obedience to the wish of the House of Lords. Fisher in letters to the king and to the House of Lords declared that he had only tested the nun's revelations, and had committed no offence whatever; but the evidence as to his support of the nun was so powerful, and his defence was deemed so ineffectual, that proceedings against him were allowed to take their course. On 6 March the bill was read for the third time