Prophecy, madness, and the history of war and revolution in 17th-century Britain color this study of the life of Eleanor Davies


On the morning of July 28, 1625, Dame Eleanor Davis (1590-1652) heard “a great voice from heaven” tell her “There is Nintene years and a halfe to the day of Judgement and you as the meek Virgin.” She believed the message came from the prophet Daniel and began immediately to explain how the books of Daniel and Revelation applied to England’s history. In the next twenty-seven years, she wrote more than sixty religious and political tracts addressed to the king, the Parliament, and the public. Filled with anagrams, puns, and carefully contrived literary imagery, these tracts offered a devastating critique of the patriarchal society in which Eleanor Davies lived.
Handmaid of the Holy Spirit draws upon a rich array of primary documents and provides scholars of history, literature, and religion a basis for reevaluating their conclusions about seventeenth-century England. Nonspecialists will also find the dramatic story of the fascinating and eccentric Lady Eleanor Davies compelling reading.