Chapter 7 : Darkening Days (1533 – 1538)
Henry continued to harbour resentment of Margaret, and, in 1535, when Chapuys suggested she be re-appointed as Lady Governess, spoke of her contemptuously, saying "the countess is a fool, of no experience." Margaret had annoyed Henry not only in relation to her support of Mary and Katharine, but by ill-advisedly persisting in an argument over land rights.
Margaret's world was disintegrating – her dear friend, Katharine, had been banished to the draughty castle of Kimbolton, well away from London; her charge, Mary to whom she had been "a second mother" had been taken from her and sent, aged seventeen, to live amongst her enemies; and the King was attacking the Church which had seemed eternal, and was rounding on anyone who had had dealings with Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent.
Barton had made a number of prophecies over the years, and, having been examined by William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, found to be a woman of purity. In earlier times, Henry had met the Nun himself and listened to her, but now she was beginning to criticise him and his policies. There was a hunt for all those who appeared to have given credence to her loud proclamations against Henry's second marriage.
Katharine had refused to have anything to do with Barton, and had instructed Margaret to keep the Nun well away from Mary, but it was alleged that Margaret had had the Nun's prophecies concerning the King's imminent death repeated to her. In such turbulent times, it is not surprising that Margaret, now sixty, fell ill, and lay for several months on a sickbed at Bisham. The Nun's prognostications were particularly sensitive because they touched on the succession, a matter over which Henry was increasingly touchy, especially where his blood relatives were concerned.
Margaret lay low for the next three years, but not low enough. In 1535, she became involved in a dispute with Cromwell over the appointment of one William Barlow as Prior of Bisham.
Bisham Priory was the ancestral mausoleum of the Earls of Salisbury and Margaret would normally expect a say in the appointment. She had certainly complained about the previous prior, although she now lobbied to have him retained. Barlow was not favoured by Margaret as he was a strong supporter of Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn. Not surprisingly, Barlow was appointed despite Margaret's opposition.