Peter of Wakefield

Born: Unknown

Died: 1213

Wareham, Dorset, England

Peter in History

Virtually nothing is known of the life of Peter of Pontefract (or Peter of Wakefield, as he is alternatively called) except that he was a simple hermit with the reputation of being a prophet who was once visited by Christ and given his powers. Peter came to fame when he brought to light a prophecy that King John would lose his crown on Ascension Day (the anniversary of when he ascended the throne) on the following year (May 1213). When John heard of this, he had Peter thrown in prison until the said date. The day came and went, and John was still king. As a result, both Peter and his son were hanged. Although John did indeed remain King of England, many contemporaries and historians alike will claim that the prophecy did indeed come true, considering that John was forced to temporarily surrender his crown so that he may be re-crowned as the Pope's holy vassal, after making peace with the church. Therefore, it is usually agreed upon that Peter died for no reason.

Peter in Shakespeare

Appears in: King John

Within King John, Peter of Pontefract appears in one scene where he claims John will lose his throne on ascension day. John has the man imprisoned until the said date passes. On ascension day, John is indeed temporarily deprived of his crown, but only so he can be immediately re-crowned by Cardinal Pandolph to symbolize that the king has be reunited with the pope. John realizes that Peter's prophecy has come true, just not the way he would have expected it to. Nothing is mentioned as to Peter's fate. Historically, of course, he was hanged.


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