4th November – On this Day in History…

Posted By on November 4, 2011

Countess of Salisbury

Margaret Pole, mother of Reginald, Henry and Geoffrey

On this day in history…

1530 – William (some say Walter) Walsh and Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, arrived at Cawood Castle and arrested Cardinal Thomas Wolsey for high treason.

1538 – Henry Pole, 1st Baron Montagu, was arrested for treason along with his brother-in-law, Sir Edward Neville, and Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, and his family (wife Gertrude Blount and son Edward Courtenay). The three men were accused of conspiring against the King, seeking to deprive the King of his title of supreme head of the church and plotting with Cardinal Reginald Pole, the exiled brother of Montagu. Montagu’s brother, Geoffrey Pole, had been imprisoned in the Tower of London at the end of August 1539 and had implicated Henry Pole during his interrogation on the 26th October.

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and mother of Reginald, Henry and Geoffrey, was interrogated on the 12th November by William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, and Thomas Goodrich, Bishop of Ely.

What happened to these people?

Neville was beheaded on the 9th December 1538, Geoffrey Pole was pardoned on the 2nd January 1539, after having attempted suicide several times, Montagu and Exeter were beheaded on Tower Hill on the 9th January 1539, and Margaret Pole was eventually executed on the 27th May 1541. Exeter’s wife was released in 1540 and his son in 1553. Cardinal Pole escaped the wrath of Henry VIII as he was in exile. He was attainted for treason in 1539 ‘in absentia’ but this was reversed by Mary I in 1554 and he became her Archbishop of Canterbury, serving in that office until his death in 1558.

4 thoughts on “4th November – On this Day in History…”

  1. miladyblue says:

    In addition to having Plantagenet blood, weren’t some of the accused “traitors” here also cousins to some degree or other to Henry, who could possibly have had claims to the throne better than the Tudors? Jeez, being related to royalty was not only awkward, but downright dangerous, too.

    1. Lilly says:

      Haha yes – I think that’s the real reason Margaret pole and her son were executed, because Henry was paranoid about his position as king – probably because the tudor’s claim for the throne came through the beauforts, who were debarred from inhering the throne. Henry’s father had Margaret’s brother executed purely because of his blood which gave him much more right to the throne than Henry! I’m quite glad I wasn’t around in Tudor times..

  2. Anne Barnhill says:

    Yes, being of royal blood was dangerous! Poor Margaret Pole–didn’t they have to hack her several times after she had run away from the executioner? Awful…

  3. Banditqueen says:

    The fate of the Poles is reflective of how paranoid Henry Viii had become in this his last decade. He had been particularly so since the execution of Anne Boleyn, two years earlier and the jousting accidents he had in January 1536. He had been a close ally of the old Plantagenet families of Neville and Pole, being their jousting partners during his years as Prince of Wales and his very early reign. Against the wishes of his father, they were his friends and allies. Henry and Catherine patronized the Pole, Courtney and Neville families and Margaret Pole, nee Neville, daughter of the late Duke of Clarence, was the governess of Princess Mary and high in favour. Her middle son, Reginald, later Cardinal Pole, was a great scholar and Henry sponsored his studies and he earned a scholarship in Rome. The long years of the annulment and the demise of Katherine of Aragon changed things and Henry’s gentle personality was tinged with anger and impatience which grew into bitterness and paranoia. Henry Pole and his family became caught up in the political and religious fallout from Henry’s break from Rome, although they all conformed. It was this that Reginald wrote against and his sponsorship of the Northern Rebellions in 1537 that caused a rift between the King and Pole family. Reginald became a fugitive on the Continent and Henry’s henchmen were unable to get hold of him. Cromwell set the family up in the so called Exeter Plot in 1538 and Henry was determined to bring down the family because he failed to get Reginald. They were accused of being in association with Reginald and plotting to kill the King, based on a phase in a letter by Henry to his brother abroad. Henry Pole and Henry Lord Montague were arrested, tried and executed in 1539. Their mother, Margaret Pole was held in the Tower until the Court prepared to leave London for York and executed in May 1541. It was a terrible execution and it showed how Henry had transformed into a tyrant and monster, perhaps because of brain damage, but most certainly he was a very different man and King than he had been for the first twenty years of his reign. Unfortunately, it is this last decade and acts of cruelty which Henry Viii has become known for, his many good points and achievements forgotten.

    While it is partly true that it was dangerous to have Plantagenet blood at this time, it wasn’t that which condemned the Poles, it was the conscience of one of them, Reginald Pole and his conviction to the truth. Henry Vii did behead the brother of Margaret Pole, Edward, Earl of Warwick, but after the many rebellions connected to Warwick, the so called Richard, Duke of York and others like Edmund de la Pole and John de la Pole, he had little choice. He was encouraged in this by Spain before Isabella and Ferdinand would allow Catalina of Aragon to sail to England to marry Prince Arthur. Margaret was married off to a cousin of Henry Tudor, Sir Richard Pole and had five children. There is no evidence of systematic killing off those of Plantagenet blood and a number survived for generations to come.

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