The second prophecy, which came to pass, was one extended by Friar William Peto, head of the Franciscan Observants and who was one of Catherine of Aragon’s and her daughter, Mary’s confessors. During an Easter sermon at the Franciscan chapel in Greenwich on 31 March 1532, instead of preaching about the death and resurrection of Christ as would have been appropriate for the Easter sermon, he denounced Henry VIII in front of a stunned congregation by comparing Henry and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, to the biblical Ahab and his wife, Jezebel.
Jezebel has gone down as one of the bad women from the Christian Bible. Three other notables are Delilah, a courtesan, who brought the downfall of Samson (resulting in an awesome song by Tom Jones). Potiphar’s un-named wife who levelled an accusation of rape against Joseph when he refused her licentious advances which got him thrown in jail for a couple of years, and lastly Salome with her “Dance of the Seven Veils.” She performed an erotic dance for her stepdad, Herod Antipas, in exchange for John the Baptist’s head. This was a fair exchange as John the Baptist was considered a troublemaker and rabble-rouser for criticising the royal family but in all likelihood, she requested his head because he turned down her unabashed advances and as they say, “hell has no fury… “
Ahab, the seventh king of Israel and a believer in one G*d, married Jezebel, a Phoenician princess, who brought along a large entourage of priests and prophets of Baal and other gods which led Israel back into idolatry and the veneration of fertility and underworld gods. Further trouble started when a man called Naboth refused to sell Ahab his prosperous vineyard that he had inherited from his father. Ahab went into a sulk and Jezebel, when finding him, mocked him for being an ineffectual king and said she would sort out the problem. She wrote a letter on Ahab’s behalf proclaiming a day of fasting and arranged that Naboth be seated between two scoundrels. These two cohorts would bring forth charges against Naboth for “cursing both G*d and king” at a mock trial arranged by Jezebel. After which he would be stoned to death and the vineyard be handed over to King Ahab.
Very much like the Attainder Act Henry enforces on his enemies during his reign
Elijah, a prophet and miracle worker living in Israel in the ninth century BC confronts Ahab over the issue (1 Kings 21:1-19) and remonstrates him, “Hast thou killed and also taken possession?” So it was not bad enough that Naboth was murdered but that his possessions were stolen as well and Elijah said to Ahab that as the dogs licked Naboth’s blood from the floor after being stoned to death, so shall dogs lick Ahab’s blood after his death. Elijah goes on to inform Ahab that the same thing would happen Jezebel. Jezebel had been butting heads with Elijah from the time she married Ahab and had levelled a threat so fearsome upon Elijah that he fled into the wilderness and begged G*d to let him die.
And so, Elijah’s prophecy came to pass. During a battle near the Jordan River, an enemy arrow mortally wounded Ahab and dogs came to lick the ground where he had lain bleeding through his chariot. Jezebels death was somewhat more astonishing. She was thrown from an upper floor window and then trampled to death by her own eunuch’s blood splattered horse. While the usurpers including the traitorous Jehu, who was her close confidant, were feasting in her palace, wild dogs tore her apart and devoured her. The only body parts remaining for burial were her head, hands and feet. Jezebels death is not just the death of a Phoenician princess who became Queen of Israel and who led Ahab from the one true G*d, but it also represents the symbolic death of the gods and goddesses she worshiped. Jezebel never actually tried to lead Ahab astray from the Israeli G*d but that’s a story for another day
Back to 1532
Friar Peto’s sermon that Easter Sunday to the congregation was in fact a thinly disguised prophecy uttered against Henry and Anne. He knew he could not openly threaten the King unless he wanted to be hanged, burned, beheaded and then quartered for treason so the sermon focused on Jezebel. The “idolatrous whore” who had led the innocent Israeli King astray just as Protestant Anne was accused of leading Henry away from the true church. Peto went on to imply that if Henry continued to behave like Ahab, then his corpse would suffer the same indignity that had befallen the Israelite king centuries earlier
And as with Jezebel, it would not be enough to simply to kill her; Anne should be violently expelled from the political and religious community. It was after all Anne who was the more fervent believer of the new religion. She was the one who introduced Henry to religious reform by giving him her copy of “Obedience of a Christian Man” and “The Supplication of Beggars.” Although in her defence, she did order an English translation of the Latin bible and offered it to all her friends, guests and servants to read. After reading “Obedience of a Christian Man” Henry exclaimed, “This is a book for me and all kings to read”
[On a side note: William Tyndale, a Protestant wrote The Obedience of a Christen Man in 1528. It is best known for advocating that the king of a country was the head of that country’s church, and not the pope. This was the first documented writing advocating the divine right of kings. The book was instrumental in influencing Henry’s decision in declaring the Act of Supremacy, which made him the Supreme Head of the Church of England in 1534.
Henry tried to scoff off the disconcerting sermon and attempted to get the congregation on his side by having another priest, Dr Curwen, give the sermon the following Sunday. Dr Curwen stood up and proclaimed the cowardice of Peto, claiming that Peto had fled town in fear of retribution. Meanwhile Friar Peto was actually out of town on church business. Dr Curwen spent the rest of the sermon advocating the church’s support for Henry’s pending divorce. But neither Henry nor Dr Curwen counted on another friar, one called Elstow, standing up and condemning the whole sermon. He denounced Curwen for placing “loyalty and preferment under the King higher than obedience to God’s Truth” because he, Curwen, was in fact supporting adultery and even went as far as comparing Curwen to one of Jezebel’s prophets of Baal
All hell broke loose in the church. Not only among the congregation but also between Curwen and Friar Elstow. Their vitriolic diatribe only ceased when Henry himself stood up at the back of the congregation and brought the church brawl to a halt
Henry was so enraged that he had the two Friars (Peto and Elstow) brought to him the following day where they fearlessly repeated their accusations against him. Peto went on to warn the king that to abandon his lawful wife, Catholic Catherine of Aragon, would lead to the end of the Tudor dynasty
The Earl of Essex told them during their detainment by the king that they deserved to be sewn into sacks and tossed into the Thames River. Elstow replied telling the Earl and the King that there was no point in threatening them as “With thanks to God, we know the way to Heaven to be as ready by water as by land, and therefore we care not which way we go”
Well, that takes the fun out of things and a deflated Henry, instead of imprisoning them or beheading them, just banished them from the Emerald Isle
[On a side note: This Earl of Essex was none other than Thomas Cromwell, who himself would be beheaded on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540 for among others crimes, the disastrous love match between Henry and his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. The day of his execution was on the same day of Henry’s marriage to his fifth wife, Catherine Howard
So where does this leave the two prophecies?
Henry lived an additional 12 to 15 years after both the prophecies were issued and but things went from bad to worse
- Catherine of Aragon miscarried or lost 3 male children which set the scene for everything that followed because Henry was insistent on a male heir
- Anne Boleyn miscarried 2 male children
- His one acknowledged illegitimate son by mistress Elizabeth Blount, Henry Fitzroy, died when he was 17 from consumption
- Henry lost the one Queen he claimed to have loved above all, Jane Seymour, who died a couple of days after giving birth to his only legal male heir, Edward VI
- After Henry died, his son Edward VI was crowned at 9 and dead by 15
- His Catholic daughter, known as Bloody Mary, sat on the throne for 5 years before dying childless
- His Protestant daughter, Elizabeth sat on the throne for almost 50 years before dying childless as well, effectively ending the Tudor line
And what of Anne Boleyn, the woman that led him stray and caused him to break with the Catholic Church? She was beheaded in 1556 (to the delight of all Catholics) and without a doubt after the execution; stray dogs would have licked at the congealed blood on the floor as they did centuries before at the body of Jezebel
Henry died aged 55 in 1547, obese, constipated, delusional and in excruciating pain from ulcers in his legs. The final nail in the coffin occurred when his casket was placed at the Syon Monastery overnight before being transported to its final resting place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Either because the coffin has been accidentally damaged during transit along the cobbled roads, or strained open due to the immense weight of Henry inside, but during the night, “red corporeal matter” leaked from the coffin onto the floor, where the following day workmen observed a stray dog licking at the blood
And so all the prophecies against Henry came to pass
Article – Obedience of a Christian Man – http://www.godrules.net/library/tyndale/19tyndale7.htm
Article – Supplication of Beggars – http://archive.org/stream/asupplicationfor32464gut/pg32464.txt