27 May 1541 – Execution of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

Margaret PoleOn this day in 1541 the 67 year old Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury and former governess to the Lady Mary (Henry VIII’s eldest daughter) was executed at the Tower of London.

You can find out more about Margaret Pole, who was also Mary’s godmother, and her brutal end in my article The Execution of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.

RIP Lady Salisbury.

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15 thoughts on “27 May 1541 – Execution of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury”
  1. Margaret Pole’s execution is yet another example of Henry’s sociopathy. If anyone’s death ever haunted his conscience, it should have been hers.

      1. Hi Claire love the site,
        In my mind Reginald Pole speeded his mother and family to the block, when he spoke out against Henry, he knew how brutal and insecure he was, Margaret and her family were always a threat to his thone, in his mind, Pole gave him the final excuse needed to get rid of them From what I have read she begged Reginald not to speak out because of the consequences it would cause and declared him a traitor. So to me he was as responsible for her death as the king.

        1. I disagree with blaming the victim. Reginald Pole is as much Henry’s victim as his unfortunate mother.

          If Henry wished to kill someone, that person died. It’s really that simple.

        2. yes Pole was a victim too, after he spoke out against the divorce, he had to go into exile in Europe for safety. But no matter how strong his convictions were, I still feel that, he should have curbed his tongue for the sake of his family, he must have know the king would take revenge on them as he couldnt get hold of him. Maybe he didnt have the family sentiments as most. A lot of aristrocratic families in the past seem to be fractured emotionally from each other. I agree if the king wanted blood he would have it, but with no blame at his feet, thats why he had so many ‘hit men’, his scapegoats. Pole delivered his family on a silver platter, unwillingly maybe. He was on the climb to becoming Pope, and narrowly missed it, and returned to England when Mary became Queen, two religious zealots together, practising religious intolerance at its most barbaric.

  2. Poor Margaret Pole she was innocent she did not deserve death especially the way she was killed
    Her death is one reason I am not big on reading about Henry VIII she was just as innocent as Lady Jane Gery was, Jane never wanted the throne but she was still executed because she had royal blood

    1. Hi Ashley, just to say please dont be put off reading about Henry Vlll, because of all the ;bad press’ we hear of him. In his youth and early reign he was an intelligent and forward thinking man, who had around him some of the most intellectual men of the time, his court is a great place to read about. we all tend to associate him with his six wives, how badly he treated them, his tyranny,how cruel he was, and the ‘off with your head’ attitude. But honestly, there is a fascinating character to find out about putting all the negative things a side.

      1. Thanks Dawn I have read a little about Henry and in some ways he did sound like a good king but in some ways not I mean its not just the way he treated his wives but the way he treated Mary and Elizabeth but you know maybe I will read more about him I don’t know right

  3. Margaret was a saintly lady and harmless. She was more royal than any of them, being the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, and a niece of Edward the Fourth. Her father came before Richard 111 as he was the middle son, murdered or course. The Poles are the last of the Plantagenet family and so they had a right to the banners and heraldic symbols that they carried. They are cousins of Henry, honoured when he first came to the throne but as they criticised his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Reginald Pole and his brothers, Margaret’s sons all became marked men. Having got rid of two of them, unable to get hold of the third, and the fourth being too young, as well as her young grandson only being a child, Henry took it out on the head of the family, their mother. Margaret had been the governess to Princess Mary and was close to her. She was not a young woman in 1541 and she was not going to submit to public murder on the scaffold. Her family were found guilty by Attainder and not a trial, so why should she? However, it did mean that the poor old lady was chased around the scaffold an had to be cut down, literally by the headsman. Cruel and needless!

  4. And, see, Henry VIII was buried with such respect, pomp and ceremony, when he had all these innocent people executed. Maybe HE should be buried in the floor of St. Peter Ad Vincula. In an arrow box.

  5. That would have been so cool to see, her running around while the executioner chased her like a Benny Hill skit, yelling “Ouch” every time he hit her with the axe, LMFAO! I wish we could go back to those days. (deep sigh)

    1. How childish and insensitive can you get? Tell me, what sort of person thinks it is funny to see a frail old woman hacked to pieces by an axe? You are just sick, a sick troll.

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