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Margaret (St.) Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury

Margaret (St.) Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury[1]

Female 1473 - 1541  (67 years)

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  • Name Margaret (St.) Plantagenet 
    Suffix Countess of Salisbury 
    Born 14 Aug 1473  Farleigh Castle, Bath, Wiltshire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Acceded 1499 
    Died 27 May 1541  Tower of London, Tower Green, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Cause: She was executed with appalling barbarity. 
    Buried St. Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 

      «u»«b»See her Biography «/b»<>«/u»

      Acceded: 1499

      Margaret PLANTAGENET
      (C. Salisbury)
      Born: 14 Aug 1473, Farleigh Castle, Bath, Wiltshire
      Acceded: 1499
      Died: 27 May 1541, Tower of London, Tower Green, London, England
      Buried: St. Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London
      Notes: The Complete Peerage v.XIIpII, p393.
      Father: George PLANTAGENET (D. Clarence) <../PLANTAGENET3.htm>
      Mother: Isabel NEVILLE (D. Clarence) <../NEVILLE2.htm>
      Married: Richard POLE (Sir Knight) <../POLE.htm> 22 Sep 1494
      1. Henry POLE (1° B. Montagu) <../POLE.htm>
      2. Reginald POLE (Cardinal) <../POLE.htm>
      3. Geoffrey POLE (Sir) <../POLE.htm>
      4. Arthur POLE (Sir) <../POLE.htm>
      5. Ursula POLE <../POLE.htm>

      <../images/Pole,Margaret(CSalisbury)02.jpg> <../images/Pole,Margaret(CSalisbury)02.jpg>«tab»

      Born at Castle Farley, near Bath, 14 Aug 1473; daughter of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence (he of the nosedive in the "butt of almsey"), and Isabel, elder daughter of the Earl of Warwick (the King-maker). During the reign of Edward IV, little Margaret and her brother were brought up at Sheen, with the children of her uncle, King Edward IV. At his death, Margaret and , after a short stay at Warwick Castle-their ancestral home-resided for a short time at the Court of Richard III. When the crook-back King's son died, the youthful Earl of Warwick became de jure heir to the Crown, and Margaret, his sister, in the same way, Princess Royal. These short-lived honours, however, ended in 1485, when the victory of Bosworth <../Documents/the_battle_of_bosworth.htm> gave the Throne to the Tudor. Warwick , under Henry VII <../aboutHenryVII.htm>, paid with his life the penalty of being the last male representative of the Yorkist line (28 Nov 1499). By birth she was of the "ancient Royal House" of Plantagenet, and she had never been declared illegitimate, unlike her first cousins, the "Princes in the Tower".
      About 1491 Henry VII <../aboutHenryVII.htm> gave her in marriage to Sir Richard Pole, whose mother was the half-sister of the king <../aboutHenryVII.htm>'s mother, Margaret Beaufort , and Henry VII <../aboutHenryVII.htm>'s trusted President of the Prince's (then Henry VII <../aboutHenryVII.htm>'s firstborn son, ) Council in Wales. At her husband's death in 1505 Margaret was left with five children, Richard; ; ; Sir Geoffrey ; Arthur and Ursula (who would marry Henry, Lord Stafford). , was to become cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury, and also the indirect cause of his mother's martyrdom. Henry VIII <../aboutHenryVIII.htm>, on his accession, reversed her brother's attainder, created her Countess of Salisbury, and an Act of Restitution was passed by which she came into possession of her ancestral domains: the King <../aboutHenryVIII.htm> considered her the saintliest woman in England.
      Royal blood, even the faintest of drops, was considered a threat by Henry VII <../aboutHenryVII.htm> and his fledgling Dynasty. (Henry VII <../aboutHenryVII.htm> 's actions go a long way to cast guilt on him rather than Richard III in the disappearance and murder of the "Lost Princes.") At the time of the Pole boys' birth, all seemed well - their mother was aligned with one of Henry VII <../aboutHenryVII.htm>'s staunchest supporters, and Henry VII <../aboutHenryVII.htm> himself would produce three sons (, Henry VIII <../aboutHenryVIII.htm> and Edmund, though two of these boys would never see their 17 birthdays).
      Close friend of Catalina de Aragon <../aboutCatalinadeAragon.htm>, after the birth of the Princess Mary <../aboutMary.htm>, Margaret of Salisbury became her sponsor in baptism and confirmation. Margaret was assigned to Mary <../aboutMary.htm>'s household when the latter was still the pampered, beloved daughter of the King <../aboutHenryVIII.htm> and Queen <../aboutCatalinadeAragon.htm>; she was Mary <../aboutMary.htm>'s first "Lady Mistress" who oversaw and governed Mary <../aboutMary.htm>'s household and acted very much in the capacity of a mother.
      Royal children, no matter what charming pictures books and movies tend to paint for us, were raised apart from their parents. Royal parents were busy with the business of government, and non-regnant Queens were busy with patronage, childbirth, pleasing their Royal husbands and adorning their Courts. Royal children were (except for a few notable exceptions) were not even nursed by their own mothers, but by wet nurses specifically hired for that purpose (and the specifications for such a position were elaborate and exact).
      Royal birth demanded a certain style, and rank was recognized by the Royal child, even from infancy, having his or her own household. Once Mary <../aboutMary.htm> no longer needed a nurse (Lady Bryan, who was, coincidentally, related by marriage to the Boleyns - her husband's first wife was a Boleyn relation) the Plantagenet Countess of Salisbury was honoured with a prominent position in the Lady Princess' household.
      <../images/Pole,Margaret(CSalisbury)01.jpg> <../images/Pole,Margaret(CSalisbury)01.jpg> A sketch of Margaret Pole British Library«tab»Catalina de Aragon <../aboutCatalinadeAragon.htm> often communicated with her daughter through Margaret (it was noted that all Margaret had to say to Mary <../aboutMary.htm> was "Madam, your mother, would wish..." for the eager-to-please little girl to comply instantly and with good cheer). But when the matter of the king <../aboutHenryVIII.htm>'s divorce began to be talked of Reginald Pole boldly spoke out his mind in the affair and shortly afterwards withdrew from England. Margaret was allowed to stay with Mary <../aboutMary.htm> for a while, but then Henry <../aboutHenryVIII.htm> feared that Margaret, a long-time friend and admirer of Catalina <../aboutCatalinadeAragon.htm>, would only serve to strengthen Mary <../aboutMary.htm>'s resolve not to bend to her father's Will, especially where it touched Catalina <../aboutCatalinadeAragon.htm> and Mary <../aboutMary.htm>'s status. «tab»
      Margaret was dismissed from Mary <../aboutMary.htm>'s service, and thus she begged to remain, and pay for Mary <../aboutMary.htm> to have a household from her own pockets, Mary <../aboutMary.htm> was bundled off to serve herself in the household of the new "only" Princess in England, her baby half-sister, Elizabeth <../aboutElizabeth.htm>. So began Mary <../aboutMary.htm>'s days of abject misery, and Margaret, though she never stopped loving and praying for Mary <../aboutMary.htm> and her beleagured mother and their cause, disappeared from the Henrican center stage.
      Catalina de Aragon <../aboutCatalinadeAragon.htm> and Margaret entertained dreams of a marriage between (who was not an ordained priest, though he became a Cardinal. It is entirely possible that did not receive Holy Orders to keep him available as a possible spouse for Mary <../aboutMary.htm>). These dreams were especially treasured when Carlos V threw over his child cousin Mary <../aboutMary.htm> to marry another cousin, Isabella of Portugal, who was more of an age to immediately given Carlos an heir (whereas Mary <../aboutMary.htm> at the time was six years old, and had six years to go before reaching the canonical minimum of twelve).
      Catalina <../aboutCatalinadeAragon.htm>, being Spanish, naturally favoured an Imperial alliance for her daughter over a French one, and when it appeared that Henry <../aboutHenryVIII.htm> was not going to engage Mary <../aboutMary.htm> to a royal spouse at all (he bastardized Mary <../aboutMary.htm> when Elizabeth <../aboutElizabeth.htm> was born to his second wife, Anne Boleyn <../aboutAnneBoleyn.htm>) an escape for Mary <../aboutMary.htm> and a marriage to Cardinal Pole (who was on the continent and avoiding Henry VIII <../aboutHenryVIII.htm>'s wrath - the good Cardinal was publishing papers supporting Catalina <../aboutCatalinadeAragon.htm>'s and Mary <../aboutMary.htm>'s cause and deriding Henry <../aboutHenryVIII.htm>) seemed the happiest prospect for her unhappy daughter.
      Unfortunately, however far out of reach Cardinal Pole was, his mother was still within Henry <../aboutHenryVIII.htm>'s reach, and despite the fact that Margaret had had no contact with Mary <../aboutMary.htm> and Catalina <../aboutCatalinadeAragon.htm>, she still was witness to the long-ago hopes (and probably still praying for them to see fruition) and, having the blood of the "ancient House of Plantagenet" and ideas of a Tudor- Plantagenet- Pole alliance, was thus seen as a threat to Henry <../aboutHenryVIII.htm> and his new, Mary <../aboutMary.htm>-less, line of descent. Also, it was hoped, that Cardinal Pole would surrender himself to save his mother, who, despite beiong past seventy, was thrown, along with every other Pole Henry <../aboutHenryVIII.htm> could get his hands on, into the Tower.
      She returned to court after the fall of Anne <../aboutAnneBoleyn.htm>, but in 1540 Reginald Pole sent to Henry <../aboutHenryVIII.htm> his treatise "Pro ecclesiasticæ unitatis defensione", in answer to questions propounded to him in the king's behalf by Cromwell , Tunstall , Starkey, and others. Besides being a theological reply to the questions, the book was a denunciation of the king <../aboutHenryVIII.htm>'s courses. Henry <../aboutHenryVIII.htm> was beside himself with rage, and it soon became evident that, failing the writer of the "Defensio", the royal anger was to be wreaked on the hostages in England, and this despite the fact that the countess and her eldest son had written to in reproof of his attitude and action.
      Unluckily, a search of Margaret's home produced a heraldic device entertwining pansies (the symbol of the Poles) with marigolds (one of the symbols of Mary Tudor <../aboutMary.htm>). Henry VIII <../aboutHenryVIII.htm> went off the deep end when he heard of that, and with Cardinal Pole refusing to return to England, he vented his anger on Margaret, whom once he said he "loved and honoured as [he did] his own Granddame".
      In Nov, 1538, two of her sons, Lord Montagu and Sir Geoffrey , with the Marquis of Exeter , Edward Neville and Sir Nicholas Carew were arrested on a charge of treason, though Cromwell had previously written that they had "little offended save that he [the Cardinal] is of their kin", they were committed to the Tower, and in Jan, with the exception of Sir Geoffrey , they were executed. Ten days after the apprehension of her sons the venerable countess was arrested and examined by William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton , and Thomas Goodrike, Bishop of Ely , but these reported to Cromwell that although they had "travailed with her" for many hours she would "nothing utter", and they were forced to conclude that either her sons had not made her a sharer in their "treason", or else she was "the most arrant traitress that ever lived". In Southampton 's custody she was committed to Cowdray Park, near Midhurst, and there subjected to all manner of indignity. In May Cromwell introduced against her a Bill of Attainder, the readings of which were hurriedly got over, and at the third reading Cromwell produced a white silk tunic found in one of her coffers, which was embroidered on the back with the Five Wounds, and for this, which was held to connect her with the Pilgrimage of Grace <../Documents/PilgrimageofGrace.htm>, she was "attainted to die by act of Parliament". The other charges against her, to which she was never permitted to reply, had to do with the escape from England of her chaplain and the conveying of messages abroad. After the passage of the Act she was removed to the Tower and there, for nearly two years, she was "tormented by the severity of the weather and insufficient clothing". In Apr, 1541, there was another insurrection in Yorkshire, and it was then determined to enforce without any further procedure the Act of Attainder passed in 1539.
      On the morning of 28 May (de Marillac; Gardner, following Chapuys, says 27) she was told she was to die within the hour. Margaret did not go easy. Various accounts have her struggling to the block, though she was aged and not in good health (and it is unlikely that her prison in the Tower was well-appointed, which could have done little to improve infirmity). A contemporary ballad was written of Margaret's journey to the block, which has Margaret saying:
      "For traitors on the block should die, I am no traitor, no, not I! My faithfulness stands fast and so, Towards the block I shall not go!
      Nor make on step, as you shall see, Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me!"
      Refusing to lay her head on the block, the young executioner was forced to swing at her as she struggled.
      Other accounts say that Margaret went quietly when fetched from her cell on the morning of 27 May 1541, though she commented that she had "no idea" what her crime was. Here the accounts agree- the executioner was young, (the "offical executioner" was away) and he did not know how to properly handle the unwieldly, heavy axe. Though Margaret was small and frail, it took the young man (who must have been panicked - though not as panicked as Margaret must have been) flailed away at Margaret's head and neck, hacking her to pieces for some time before she died.
      Here again, accounts differ: the first difference comes in as to whether or not Margaret went calmly to the scaffold. The second comes in as to whether or not Margaret had such a grip on herself that she did not run from the executioner when his first blow failed to kill or incapcitate her. An alternative version of the second has the pain-maddened and understandably terrified- out- of- her- wits Margaret leaping up from the block and taking off like a sprinter. At first, the people on the scaffold (there was a crowd of 150, including the Lord Mayor of London) were too stunned to do anything, and the executioner himself looked as if he was on the verge of fleeing the scene himself. However, again according to the sprinter version, he was ordered (it's said it took more than one such order) to pursue and subdue the raving, running Margaret with the axe.
      Whatever the version, all agreed that Margaret, Countess of Salisbury died a very hard death. Chalk up another judicial murder for Bluff King Hal <../aboutHenryVIII.htm>.
      When the story of his mother's gruesome death, in all its horrific and gory details, reached Cardinal Pole in Europe, he said that he would "...never fear to call himself the son of a martyr".
      Margaret was buried in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula within the Tower.
      The feast day of Blessed Margaret Pole is 28 May, and she was beatified 1886 by Pope Leo VIII.
      De Castillon and De Marillac: Correspondance politique
      Morris: The Month (Apr, 1889)
      Camm: Lives of the English Martyrs, I (London, 1904), 502 sqq.
      Gardiner: Dict. Nat. Biog., s. v. Pole
      Gillow: Dict. Eng. Cath., s. v.
      The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX
    Person ID I7486  Glenn Cook Family
    Last Modified 27 May 2007 

    Father George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence,   b. 21 Oct 1449, Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Feb 1478, Tower of London, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 28 years) 
    Mother Lady Isabel Neville,   b. 5 Sep 1451, Warwick Castle, Warwick, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Dec 1476, Warwick Castle, Warwick, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 25 years) 
    Married 11 Jul 1469  Church of Our Lady, Calais, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F6820  Group Sheet

    Family Sir Richard Pole, Knight, Duke of Suffolk,   b. Abt 1462, Isleworth, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 18 Dec 1505, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 43 years) 
    Married 22 Sep 1494 
     1. Henry Pole, Lord Montagu,   b. Abt 1495,   d. 1538  (Age ~ 43 years)
     2. Reginald Pole, Cardinal,   b. Mar 1500, Stourton Castle, Staffordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Nov 1558, Lambeth Palace, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 58 years)
     3. Sir Geoffrey Pole,   b. Between 1494 and 1501, Lordington, Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1558  (Age ~ 64 years)
     4. Ursula Pole,   b. 1504, Isleworth, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Aug 1570, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years)
     5. Sir Arthur Pole,   b. Abt 1502, Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1535  (Age ~ 33 years)
    Last Modified 22 Jun 2007 
    Family ID F2930  Group Sheet

  • Photos
    Margaret Pole  Countess of Salisbury
    Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury
    Nee Margaret PLANTAGENET

    (C. Salisbury)
    Margaret PLANTAGENET
    Margaret PLANTAGENET
    A sketch of Margaret Pole
    British Library

  • Sources 
    1. [S27]