Again and again, strange prophecies emerged in times of political distress in the Tudor era. After a young nobleman named Anthony Babington was arrested for a treasonous conspiracy to murder Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots, a book of Merlin prophecies was found in Babington's London home.Share
More than any other Tudor ruler since Henry VII, Elizabeth tried to harness prophecy, to understand it through her consultations with Dr. John Dee and his colleague, the bizarre necromancer Edward Kelley. She is the hard-headed queen, the ruler who said she had no desire for a "window into men's souls." However, she picked her coronation date based on what Dr. Dee told her to do.
It is with James VI that the brew of prophecy and the occult overflows. James was a Stuart king of Scotland, but part Tudor too, descended through both his parents--Mary Queen of Scots and Henry, Lord Darnley--from Margaret Tudor, the oldest daughter of Henry VII.
Scotland was already a place uneasy with such fears before James VI was born. The Act of 1563 forbade anyone to use witchcraft, sorcery or necromancy or to claim any of its powers, the penalty for both witch and client being death. (Read more.)