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Portrait thought to be Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, c.1535. Unknown Artist. NPG.
Cardinal Pole (1500-1558)

MARGARET POLE, Countess of Salisbury (1473-1541), was daughter of George Plantagenet, duke of Clarence, by his wife Isabel, daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker. She was born at Castle Farley, near Bath, in August 1473, and was married by Henry VII to Sir Richard Pole, son of Sir Geoffrey Pole, whose wife, Edith St. John, was half-sister of the king's mother, Margaret Beaufort.

Sir Richard was a landed gentleman of Buckinghamshire, whom Henry made a squire of his bodyguard and knight of the Garter. He also gave him various offices in Wales, such as the constableship of Harlech and Montgomery castles and the sheriffwick of the county of Merioneth; he held, too, the controllership of the port of Bristol. His marriage to Margaret probably took place about 1491, certainly not later than 1494, in which year the king made a payment of £20 'to my lady Pole in crowns.'1 Next year Pole seems to have raised men against Perkin Warbeck. In 1497 he was retained to serve against Scotland with five demi-lances and 200 archers, and shortly afterwards with 600 men-at-arms, 60 demilances, and 540 bows and bills. Two or three years later he was appointed chief gentleman of the bedchamber to Prince Arthur, whom he attended into Wales after his marriage, and the chief government of the marches was committed to his charge. He died in 1505, leaving his widow with a family of five children. Four were boys, viz. Henry (who became Lord Montague), Arthur, Reginald the cardinal, and Geoffrey. The only daughter, Ursula, married about 1516 Henry, lord Stafford, son of the Duke of Buckingham.

Margaret's brother Edward, earl of Warwick, was judicially murdered by Henry VII in 1499. Henry VIII, who described Margaret as the most saintly woman in England, was anxious, after his accession, to atone to her for this injustice. He therefore granted her an annuity of £100 on 4 Aug. 1509, and on 14 Oct. 1513 he created her Countess of Salisbury, and gave her the family lands of the earldom of Salisbury in fee. Her brother's attainder was reversed, and in the parliament of 1513-14 full restitution was made to her of the rights of her family.

She thus became possessed of a very magnificent property, lying chiefly in Hampshire, Wiltshire, the western counties, and Essex. But there is no doubt that it was heavily burdened by redemption-money claimed by the king. On 25 May 1512 she had delivered to Wolsey £1,000 as a first payment of a benevolence of five thousand marks for the king's wars, and in 1528 she was sued for a further instalment of £2,333 6s. Sd. Of her restored lands the manor of Canford and some others were soon reclaimed by the crown as part of the earldom of Somerset. In 1532 she purchased the manor of Aston Clinton in Buckinghamshire from Sir John Gage.

Meanwhile she was made governess to the Princess Mary. But in 1521, at the time of the Duke of Buckingham's attainder, she and her sons seem to have been under a momentary cloud. She herself was allowed, however, to remain at court — 'propter nobilitatem et bonitatem illius.'2 In 1525 she went with Princess Mary to Wales. In the summer of 1526, during her absence, the king visited her house at Warblington in Hampshire.

In 1533, when the king married Anne Boleyn, her loyalty was severely tried. She refused to give up Mary's jewels to a lady sent from court, and was discharged of her position as governess. She declared that she would still follow and serve the princess at her own expense. Her self-sacrificing fidelity to the princess was fully recognised by Catherine of Arragon. The king, however, took good care to separate his daughter from one whom she regarded as a second mother.

After Anne Boleyn's fall in 1536, the countess returned to court. But at that very time her son Reginald sent to the king his book, 'De Unitate Ecclesiastica,' which gave deep offence, and she trembled for the result. Both she and her eldest son, Lord Montague, wrote to Reginald in strong language of reproof. She denounced him as a traitor to her own servants, and expressed her grief that she had given birth to him. The letters, however, were written to be shown to the king's council, by whom they were despatched to Reginald in Italy. Though the countess's alarm was quite genuine, her disapproval of Reginald's proceedings was not equally sincere.

The king knew well that his policy was disliked by the whole family, and he privately told the French ambassador that he intended to destroy all of them. The blow fell in the autumn of 1538, when her sons Geoffrey and Lord Montague were arrested. One Gervase Tyndall,a spy upon the countess's household, was called before Cromwell at Lewes, and reported a number of circumstances about the escape some years before of the countess's chaplain, John Helyar, rector of Warblington, beyond sea, and about clandestine messages sent abroad by one Hugh Holland, probably to Cardinal Pole himself. Fitzwilliam, earl of Southampton, and Goodrich, bishop of Ely, were sent down to Warblington to examine the countess. They questioned her all day, from the forenoon till almost night, but could not wring from her any admission. They nevertheless seized her goods and carried her off to Fitzwilliam's house at Cowdry. Her house at Warblington was thoroughly searched, and some letters and papal bulls discovered.

Her persecutors renewed the attack with a set of written interrogatories, and obtained her signature to the answers. She remained in Fitzwilliam's house, long unvisited either by him or his countess, until 14 March following (1539), when, in answer to her complaints, he saw her, and addressed her with barbarous incivility. Shortly afterwards she was removed to the Tower. In May a sweeping act of attainder was passed by the parliament against not only Exeter and Montague, who had already suffered death, but against the countess, who was not even called to answer the accusations against her, and against her son Reginald and many others.

At the third reading of the bill in the House of Lords Cromwell produced, what was taken as evidence of treason, a tunic of white silk, embroidered with the arms of England, viz. three lions surrounded by a wreath of pansies and marigolds, which it was said Fitzwilliam had found in her house, having on the back the badge of the five wounds carried by the insurgents at the time of the northern rebellion [cf. Pilgrimage of Grace]. The act of parliament was passed on 12 May 1539, but it was not put into force at once; and in April 1540 it was supposed that the countess would be released. She was tormented in prison by the severity of the weather and the insufficiency of her clothing.

In April 1541 there was another insurrection in Yorkshire under Sir John Neville; and on this account, apparently, it was resolved to put the countess to death, without any further process, under the act of attainder passed two years before. Early in the morning of 27 May she was told that she was to die. She replied that no crime had been imputed to her; but she walked boldly from her cell to East Smithfield Green, which was within the precincts of the Tower. No scaffold was erected, but there was only a low block. The lord mayor and a select company were present to witness the execution. The countess commended her soul to God, and asked the bystanders to pray for the king and queen, Prince Edward, and the Princess Mary, her god-daughter, to whom she desired to be specially commended. She then, as commanded, laid her head upon the block. The executioner was a clumsy novice, who hideously hacked her neck and shoulders before the decapitation was accomplished.


1. Eccerpta Historica, p. 99.
2. Calendar of State Papers, Henry VIII, iii. Nos. 1204, 1268.




      Excerpted from:

      Gairdner, James. "Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury."
      Dictionary of National Biography. Vol XLVI. Sidney Lee, Ed.
      New York: Macmillan and Co., 1896. 28-29.




Other Local Resources:




Books for further study:

Pierce, Hazel. Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership.
           University of Wales Press, 2009.




Web Links:


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This page was created on April 26, 2009. Last updated May 3, 2012.







Index of Encyclopedia Entries:

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Edward II
Piers Gaveston
Thomas, Earl of Lancaster
Roger Mortimer, Earl of March

Hundred Years' War (1337-1453)

Edward III
The Battle of Crécy, 1346
Edward, Black Prince of Wales
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Roger Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March
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Richard II
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Archbishop Thomas Arundel
Thomas de Beauchamp, E. Warwick
Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford
Ralph Neville, E. of Westmorland
Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk
Edmund Mortimer, 3. Earl of March
Roger Mortimer, 4. Earl of March
John Holland, Duke of Exeter
Michael de la Pole, E. Suffolk
Hugh de Stafford, 2. E. Stafford
Henry IV
Edward, Duke of York
Edmund Mortimer, 5. Earl of March
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland
Sir Henry Percy, "Harry Hotspur"
Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester
Owen Glendower
The Battle of Shrewsbury, 1403
Archbishop Richard Scrope
Thomas Mowbray, 3. E. Nottingham
John Mowbray, 2. Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Fitzalan, 5. Earl of Arundel
Henry V
Thomas, Duke of Clarence
John, Duke of Bedford
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury
Richard, Earl of Cambridge
Henry, Baron Scrope of Masham
William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk
Thomas Montacute, E. Salisbury
Richard Beauchamp, E. of Warwick
Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick
Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
Cardinal Henry Beaufort
John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset
Sir John Fastolf
John Holland, 2. Duke of Exeter
Archbishop John Stafford
Archbishop John Kemp
Catherine of Valois
Owen Tudor
John Fitzalan, 7. Earl of Arundel
John, Lord Tiptoft

Charles VII, King of France
Joan of Arc
Louis XI, King of France
Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy
The Battle of Castillon, 1453



The Wars of the Roses 1455-1485
Causes of the Wars of the Roses
The House of Lancaster
The House of York
The House of Beaufort
The House of Neville

The First Battle of St. Albans, 1455
The Battle of Blore Heath, 1459
The Rout of Ludford, 1459
The Battle of Northampton, 1460
The Battle of Wakefield, 1460
The Battle of Mortimer's Cross, 1461
The 2nd Battle of St. Albans, 1461
The Battle of Towton, 1461
The Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 1464
The Battle of Hexham, 1464
The Battle of Edgecote, 1469
The Battle of Losecoat Field, 1470
The Battle of Barnet, 1471
The Battle of Tewkesbury, 1471
The Treaty of Pecquigny, 1475
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The Battle of Stoke Field, 1487

Henry VI
Margaret of Anjou
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York
Edward IV
Elizabeth Woodville
Richard Woodville, 1. Earl Rivers
Anthony Woodville, 2. Earl Rivers
Jane Shore
Edward V
Richard III
George, Duke of Clarence

Ralph Neville, 2. Earl of Westmorland
Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick
Edward Neville, Baron Bergavenny
William Neville, Lord Fauconberg
Robert Neville, Bishop of Salisbury
John Neville, Marquis of Montagu
George Neville, Archbishop of York
John Beaufort, 1. Duke Somerset
Edmund Beaufort, 2. Duke Somerset
Henry Beaufort, 3. Duke of Somerset
Edmund Beaufort, 4. Duke Somerset
Margaret Beaufort
Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond
Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke
Humphrey Stafford, D. Buckingham
Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
Humphrey Stafford, E. of Devon
Thomas, Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby
Sir William Stanley
Archbishop Thomas Bourchier
Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex
John Mowbray, 3. Duke of Norfolk
John Mowbray, 4. Duke of Norfolk
John Howard, Duke of Norfolk
Henry Percy, 2. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 3. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 4. E. Northumberland
William, Lord Hastings
Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter
William Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel
William Herbert, 1. Earl of Pembroke
John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford
Thomas de Clifford, 8. Baron Clifford
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John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester
Thomas Grey, 1. Marquis Dorset
Sir Andrew Trollop
Archbishop John Morton
Edward Plantagenet, E. of Warwick
John Talbot, 2. E. Shrewsbury
John Talbot, 3. E. Shrewsbury
John de la Pole, 2. Duke of Suffolk
John de la Pole, E. of Lincoln
Edmund de la Pole, E. of Suffolk
Richard de la Pole
John Sutton, Baron Dudley
James Butler, 5. Earl of Ormonde
Sir James Tyrell
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James Touchet, 7th Baron Audley
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John, Lord Lovel and Holand
Francis Lovell, Viscount Lovell
Sir Richard Ratcliffe
William Catesby
Ralph, 4th Lord Cromwell
Jack Cade's Rebellion, 1450


Tudor Period

King Henry VII
Queen Elizabeth of York
Arthur, Prince of Wales
Lambert Simnel
Perkin Warbeck
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King Ferdinand II of Aragon
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Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor

King Henry VIII
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King Edward VI
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Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland
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Mary Tudor, Queen of France
Louis XII, King of France
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The Battle of the Spurs, 1513
Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
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The Siege of Boulogne, 1544

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
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Sir Richard Rich

Edward Stafford, D. of Buckingham
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Thomas Grey, 2. Marquis of Dorset
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George Talbot, 4. E. Shrewsbury
Francis Talbot, 5. E. Shrewsbury
Henry Algernon Percy,
     5th Earl of Northumberland
Henry Algernon Percy,
     6th Earl of Northumberland
Ralph Neville, 4. E. Westmorland
Henry Neville, 5. E. Westmorland
William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester
Sir Francis Bryan
Sir Nicholas Carew
John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
Thomas Seymour, Lord Admiral
Edward Seymour, Protector Somerset
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
Henry Pole, Lord Montague
Sir Geoffrey Pole
Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland
Henry Manners, Earl of Rutland
Henry Bourchier, 2. Earl of Essex
Robert Radcliffe, 1. Earl of Sussex
Henry Radcliffe, 2. Earl of Sussex
George Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon
Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter
George Neville, Baron Bergavenny
Sir Edward Neville
William, Lord Paget
William Sandys, Baron Sandys
William Fitzwilliam, E. Southampton
Sir Anthony Browne
Sir Thomas Wriothesley
Sir William Kingston
George Brooke, Lord Cobham
Sir Richard Southwell
Thomas Fiennes, 9th Lord Dacre
Sir Francis Weston
Henry Norris
Lady Jane Grey
Sir Thomas Arundel
Sir Richard Sackville
Sir William Petre
Sir John Cheke
Walter Haddon, L.L.D
Sir Peter Carew
Sir John Mason
Nicholas Wotton
John Taylor
Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Younger

Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio
Cardinal Reginald Pole
Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester
Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London
Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London
John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester
John Aylmer, Bishop of London
Thomas Linacre
William Grocyn
Archbishop William Warham
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Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester
Edward Fox, Bishop of Hereford

Pope Julius II
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Pope Paul III
Pope Pius V

Pico della Mirandola
Desiderius Erasmus
Martin Bucer
Richard Pace
Christopher Saint-German
Thomas Tallis
Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent
Hans Holbein, the Younger
The Sweating Sickness

Dissolution of the Monasteries
Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536
Robert Aske
Anne Askew
Lord Thomas Darcy
Sir Robert Constable

Oath of Supremacy
The Act of Supremacy, 1534
The First Act of Succession, 1534
The Third Act of Succession, 1544
The Ten Articles, 1536
The Six Articles, 1539
The Second Statute of Repeal, 1555
The Act of Supremacy, 1559
Articles Touching Preachers, 1583

Queen Elizabeth I
William Cecil, Lord Burghley
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Sir Francis Walsingham
Sir Nicholas Bacon
Sir Thomas Bromley

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick
Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon
Sir Thomas Egerton, Viscount Brackley
Sir Francis Knollys
Katherine "Kat" Ashley
Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester
George Talbot, 6. E. of Shrewsbury
Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury
Gilbert Talbot, 7. E. of Shrewsbury
Sir Henry Sidney
Sir Robert Sidney
Archbishop Matthew Parker
Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich
Sir Christopher Hatton
Edward Courtenay, E. Devonshire
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
Thomas Radcliffe, 3. Earl of Sussex
Henry Radcliffe, 4. Earl of Sussex
Robert Radcliffe, 5. Earl of Sussex
William Parr, Marquis of Northampton
Henry Wriothesley, 2. Southampton
Henry Wriothesley, 3. Southampton
Charles Neville, 6. E. Westmorland
Thomas Percy, 7. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 8. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 9. E. Nothumberland
William Herbert, 1. Earl of Pembroke
Charles, Lord Howard of Effingham
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
Henry Howard, 1. Earl of Northampton
Thomas Howard, 1. Earl of Suffolk
Henry Hastings, 3. E. of Huntingdon
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland
Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland
Henry FitzAlan, 12. Earl of Arundel
Thomas, Earl Arundell of Wardour
Edward Somerset, E. of Worcester
William Davison
Sir Walter Mildmay
Sir Ralph Sadler
Sir Amyas Paulet
Gilbert Gifford
Anthony Browne, Viscount Montague
François, Duke of Alençon & Anjou

Mary, Queen of Scots
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell
Anthony Babington and the Babington Plot
John Knox

Philip II of Spain
The Spanish Armada, 1588
Sir Francis Drake
Sir John Hawkins

William Camden
Archbishop Whitgift
Martin Marprelate Controversy
John Penry (Martin Marprelate)
Richard Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury
John Dee, Alchemist

Philip Henslowe
Edward Alleyn
The Blackfriars Theatre
The Fortune Theatre
The Rose Theatre
The Swan Theatre
Children's Companies
The Admiral's Men
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Citizen Comedy
The Isle of Dogs, 1597

Common Law
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Council of the North
Fleet Prison
Assize
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Livery and Maintenance
Oyer and terminer
Praemunire


The Stuarts

King James I of England
Anne of Denmark
Henry, Prince of Wales
The Gunpowder Plot, 1605
George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham
Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset
Arabella Stuart, Lady Lennox

William Alabaster
Bishop Hall
Bishop Thomas Morton
Archbishop William Laud
John Selden
Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford
Henry Lawes

King Charles I
Queen Henrietta Maria

Long Parliament
Rump Parliament
Kentish Petition, 1642

Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford
John Digby, Earl of Bristol
George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol
Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax
Robert Devereux, 3rd E. of Essex
Robert Sidney, 2. E. of Leicester
Algernon Percy, E. of Northumberland
Henry Montagu, Earl of Manchester
Edward Montagu, 2. Earl of Manchester

The Restoration

King Charles II
King James II
Test Acts

Greenwich Palace
Hatfield House
Richmond Palace
Windsor Palace
Woodstock Manor

The Cinque Ports
Mermaid Tavern
Malmsey Wine
Great Fire of London, 1666
Merchant Taylors' School
Westminster School
The Sanctuary at Westminster
"Sanctuary"


Images:

Chart of the English Succession from William I through Henry VII

Medieval English Drama

London c1480, MS Royal 16
London, 1510, the earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
Visscher's Panoramic View of London, 1616. COLOR
c. 1690. View of London Churches, after the Great Fire
The Yard of the Tabard Inn from Thornbury, Old and New London




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