Page:Henry VIII and the English Monasteries.djvu/85

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39
The Holy Maid of Kent

minister and master, and indispensable to Anne Boleyn, who now reigned supreme over the heart of Henry, that any symptom of popular discontent should be instantly repressed. Anything that might tend to stir up the latent feeling of hostility to their triple alliance must at all costs be prevented. Hence, as regards the " holy maid of Kent," so universally revered and respected, it seemed necessary to fix the stigma of hypocrisy and deceit upon her. Cranmer consequently, acting on the orders of Crumwell, about the middle of July, 1533, ordered the prioress of St. Sepulchre's to bring Elizabeth Barton to him at Otford in order that he might examine her. 1 At this interview the archbishop was apparently unable to convict the nun of anything more than a firm belief in the reality of her visions and revelations. A month later Dr. Bocking, "cellarer of Christchurch, Canterbury, and Hadley, one of the penitentiaries there," were arrested by the attorney-general, Christopher Hales, "as secretly as possible." At the same time a promise was sent by Hales to Crumwell that he should have the parson of Aldington and the official of Canterbury within a few days.* The nun herself had been in the minister's power and subjected to his examinations since her visit to Cranmer. It is worthy of note that from this time all that is known of her recantations and confessions emanate from Crumwell or his agents, who had already determined to make her out to be a " hypocrite nun." As to the connection of the monks of Christchurch, Canterbury, with the cause of Elizabeth Barton, a good deal is to be learnt from a letter which at this time Thomas Goldwell, the prior, wrote to Crumwell on the matter. " As concerning the knowledge of such things as Elizabeth Barton, nun, has spoken," he writes, "which as she said she had knowledge of in trances and revelations, these be the things that I have heard and have knowledge of. At the beginning thereof, the which was about seven or eight years past, as I think, my lord Warham, then being arch- bishop of Canterbury, sent his comptroller, called Thomas Walle, of Canterbury, and caused me to send two of my brethren, which were the cellarer, Dr. Bocking, and Dom

Calendar, vi. No. 869. 

2 Ibid., No. 1149. Christ. Hales to Crumwell, Sept. 25.