An unknown lady, Margaret Pole?

On this day in history, the 27th May 1541, Margaret Pole, the 8th Countess of Salisbury was executed at the Tower of London. I was fortunate enough last week to see her memorial tile on the floor of the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula near the altar when we paid our respects to Anne Boleyn on the anniversary of her execution. I think each of us paused and thought of the many victims buried there and thereabouts and we talked about Margaret Pole’s horrific execution – poor, poor lady.

Who was Margaret Pole?

Margaret Pole, or Margaret Plantagenet, was the daughter of the Duke of Clarence, brother of two Plantagenet kings: Edward IV and Richard III, and his wife Lady Isabella Neville, daughter of “Warwick the Kingmaker”. She was born on the 14th August 1473 and married Sir Richard Pole in 1491, having five children before she was widowed in 1505. One of her children was Reginald Pole who became a cardinal and then Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Mary I.

The Fall of the Poles

At the beginning of King Henry VIII’s reign, she was in favour. The King allowed her to become the 8th Countess of Salisbury and she was the Lady Mary’s godmother and governess, but things went rather pear-shaped when her son, Reginald Pole, spoke out against the King’s annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Things got even worse when Reginald Pole published Pro ecclesiasticae unitatis defensione, which denounced Henry VIII’s policies. This brazen insult to the King made Henry want to wreak his revenge on the Pole family and the situation was not helped by the Countess of Salisbury’s Plantagenet blood, which Henry VIII also saw as a threat.

In November 1538, various members of the Pole family were arrested for treason and taken to the Tower of London. In January 1539, many of them were executed. Even though the Countess was elderly (for Tudor times), being 65 years of age in 1538, she was questioned and taken to Cowdray House near Midhurst. In May 1539 a Bill of Attainder was issued against her by Thomas Cromwell and a tunic displaying the Five Wounds, which was used as a symbol in the Northern rebellions, was used as evidence against her, having allegedly been found in her belongings. She was stripped of her titles and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

The End of Margaret Pole

After two years of being imprisoned as a traitor in the Tower, the now frail 67 year old Plantagenet heiress was executed. As a woman of noble birth, Margaret Pole was given a private execution. There are two accounts of her execution – One says that she was executed by an inexperienced axeman who missed her neck the first time, gashing her shoulder, and that it took a further ten blows to finish her off. The second account tells of how she managed to escape from the block and that she was hewn down by the executioner as she ran. This second account concurs with the first in that it says that eleven blows were required. Whichever account you believe, this lady had a truly awful end. I will never understand how Henry could take his anger out on a frail old lady who was no threat to him and who had acted as a mother figure to his daughter Mary.

Blessed Margaret Pole

On the 29th December 1886, Pope Leo XIII beatified Margaret, making her Blessed Margaret Pole, a Catholic martyr. Her feast day is the 28th May, the date that some sources give as her execution date.

These are the words found on the wall of her cell and thought to have been etched there by Margaret:-

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 one step, as you shall see;
Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me!

RIP Margaret Pole, Lady Salisbury, another victim of King Henry VIII.

Further Reading

There is a great page on Margaret Pole at wikipedia – see,_8th_Countess_of_Salisbury and a book on her – Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership by Hazel Pierce.

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184 thoughts on “The Execution of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury”
  1. I had no idea she was a Blessed. Instead of saying RIP Lady Salisbury I’ll say Pray for us, Lady Salisbury! Henry made martyrs out of a lot of people, didn’t he?

    1. Yes, he did, and a lot of them were innocent women. He was one of the vilest, foulest
      human beings who ever lived. He awoke Lady Salisbury very early in the morning and
      had her told that she would be beheaded within the hour. Henry murdered Anne Boleyn,
      who was completely innocent of adultery, so he could have Jane Seymour. The 50+
      fat slob married a teenager, Katharine Howard, and had her executed for having had an
      affair prior to her marriage to the king.

      I think that King Henry VIIII’s remains should be disinterred, defecated upon by some
      very large, fat pigs, and then the remains thrown into the Thames River. I have read
      somewhere that either his daughter Mary or his daughter Elizabeth may have done just

      1. I’m with you. He was a complete monster. And what helped him attain that monstrosity was the classic evil of good people doing nothing. No one ever tried to stop him or gainsay anything he did. So a badly spoiled boy who was never expected to become king so was not trained to become one, and became a vicious spoiled monster of a man. And no one stopped him. An insane tyrant who destroyed countless lives & his country. Another Hitler.

        1. I thought speaking out against him was what started the whole PNole thing.

        2. I agree Edye.
          I just don’t understand why no one tried to stop him
          It may not have been easy, but it could have and
          should have been done.

        3. There is NO ONE who could have stopped him, that wanted to live….The Duke of Buckingham threatened to kill him and it got him execued….Sir Thomas More attempted to stop him, and he got executed. The reason he was not prepared to be King is because he was supposed to go into the priesthood, that is what he was preparing for before the death of Arthur.

        4. Hi Cathy,
          Thank you for your comment. When did the Duke of Buckingham threaten to kill Henry VIII? Thomas More did not try to stop him, Thomas More decided to resign as he didn’t want to oppose the king, he wanted to keep his feelings to himself. He wouldn’t sign the oath and that is why he ended up being executed, he didn’t actually take any action against Henry VIII.
          Henry VIII was not being prepared for the priesthood. He was being educated as a “spare” and spent his early life in a household with his sisters and mother.

        5. Here in America, the similarity between the sociopathic behaviors of Henry VIII and Donald Trump is all too troubling. History repeats.

      2. Henry was no more cruel than most kings of England. He knew his father had usurped the throne. An heir was crucial to him. Unfortunately, he went through a lot of women in his pursuit.

        1. Yes I agree there have been far worse than him ! We cannot judge what happened 500 years ago they hanged children ,married children it was a different world believe it or not he was nice once and left us some fantastic history !!!

        2. There may have been worse and there definitely
          was better. Others being worse is no excuse. He
          was truly an evil tyrant.

        3. The Tudors were bloody-handed murderers-even by the hideous standards of the day…as an amateur historian, i cannot countenance his murderous psyche, by co-dependence.

      3. Agreed. His neurosis regarding “threats” would today be diagnosed as stemming from profound fear. Also misogyny, megalomania, paranoia… I’m not a historian, but I’m guessing that killing became easier with each death he ordered. Sociopathy emerged as his rule-by-terror continued. Slaughter thine enemy. Historically, is it known whether he killed Catholics and the Irish as well as his wives & friends? A madman in every sense.

        1. Actualy he was far more cruel than anyother English monarch, he is the only monarch to have 70.000 of his own subjects killed for treason, 70.000 is a huge amount for one monarch, they call his eldest daughter Mary Tudor “Bloody Mary” though she only had over 300 ppl burned for herisy, yet she goes down in history far worse, was it because she was a Woman & Women have always been held to account far worse than Men for similar reasons, To say Henry wasn’t raised to be king is absolute rubbish! Every son of a monarch would be raised to be king as who knows if the only son died he would have to replace him as he did when King Arthur died shortly after being king! Henry was one of two sons, do U realy think that all the eggs would be placed in one basket when anything could & did happen in those days of cloak & dagger! He was raised as any future monarch would be being only the 2nd son & within 6 months he would take over his brother Arthur who was far more kind a person than Henry who was a spoiled child but still educated as a king in case his brother should die! His farther caught the flu & died but not before passing it onto his eldest son Arthur who died within 6 months of Henri Vii; Henri Viii was only 17 but it was after a jousting accident that knocked him unconous for nigh on 3 hrs, he was married to Anne Bolynne & after he recovered everyone around him noticed a great change in him from tears to great anger over the smallest things, he had loved Anne Bolynne in passion more than anyother wife but after her 2nd loss of a baby within 3 days she was arrested for treason even though she was innocent the very fact that he had the marraige anuled made it as if it had never been so, that being the case how can she commit adultry with a man she’s not married to? He was the one with the problem causing so many Women to have miscarages & even die while giving birth, Quote “it can’t be Me, ime a God anoited King & so it must be the Womens fault, he had a generic problem with his Sperm that caused loss of so many children though he was married 6 times he only had 3 children & two of them died young, only Anne Bolynnes daughter Elizabeth survived into old age for those days, she was on the Thrown longer than her sister mary lived, from the time of Henry Viii death, his 9 yr old son became king but died within 6 yrs followed by Henri Viis eldest daughter who died 5 yrs after being on the thrown two monarcs went on the thrown, wihin 11 yrs both were dead leaving the Thrown to the least likely one his youngest daughter, Elizabeth the Virgin Queen! She came on the Thrown at the same age as her modern namesake ‘Elizabeth 2nd also became Queen at 25 yts old, Elizabeth 1st stayed on the Thrown for 44 yrs, Her father ignored what was done to King John ages before with the ‘Magna carter, no king could rule & rule in such a way as to alienate his subjects, Quote = Shall i Reign with fear or love”, well we all know now that hed decided on fear, he had wives beheaded & best friend Thomad Cromwell, if Mary is eldest daughter hadn’t signed the paper saying he was head of the Church of England she too would have lost her life! Henri Viii reminds Me of Neto in actions of cruelty & Calligula who was a not so bad untill he got ill & was looked after in private on an island, after his illness he became the monster we all know of just as Henri Viii who became the monster not before he had a serious accident whilst jousting because he forgot to pull his visor down over his face & the lance hit him above his right eye, afyer those 3 hrs when he came too it didn’t take long before his evil started to show, Anne Bolynne was his 1st victim but far from his last! In one week he had 3 ppl burned in a cage on the water of the thames for being papist, within two days he had 4 ppl hung drwan & quartered for being lutherism, two of the differenr Christian faiths that hated each other, this being the case where did Henry Viii stand having 7 ppl killed in the worst possible way for being iether Catholic or Protistant! He had become the Psycopath we all know of! What injury to the head would change somone from being beloved to being feated & hated behind his bk as the court was full of eyes & ears all watching & listening just to tell the king of somone saying something against him & in the hope of getting paid highly for there spying on his enemies, most were enemies but bowed low! Who wouldn’t when he ruled after that accident, also we must never forget the what iffs, what if hed not seen Anne Bolynne, what if hed not broken with the church the sea of Rome, only by marrying Anne did this happen as she was a reformist who showed Henri that Englands monarchy predated Rome, making it so he Henry Viii could be the pope of England, he would have complete total power & then he could devorse his 1st wife Catherine of Aragon & marry Anne Bolynne so to have a malw heir, if Anne Bolynne wasn’t married to Henri Viii we would all be catholic now & the States wouldn’t exist as it would be as South & Central America, Catholic, the whole Christian World would be slow to change & on many things never change! What if, what if! Anne Bolynne made this World have its freedoms from the ball & chain of the Catholic church! Thats “what if” the Game of Throwns hadn’t happened but mainly Anne Bilynne caused the changes from the papist rubbish at the time as in these days where peadophiles are catholic priests ect! Thank God for Anne Bolynne who also gave us our best monarch ever Elizabeth 1st who ruled with popularity not fear, to be popular U can’t do as father did!

        2. Your post is nothing more than bigoted nonsense. You also need to learn to spell before attacking people’s faith with media hysteria and unproven statements. I believe a study of actual facts will show it is you who are talking uneducated rubbish, not Catholics.

      4. Katherine Howard was having an affair during her marriage to Henry, with a courtier named Thomas Culpepper. This was why Henry had her executed.

        1. There is actually very little evidence that Katherine Howard had a sexual affair with Thomas Culpepper, although she did meet him late at night and as he said they intended to go further, they were found guilty of presumption of treason, based on their predictable actions, not actual actions. Yes, I believe Katherine slept with Culpepper, but there was no actual proof.

      5. Henry VIII’s coffin was found in a small cache of three coffins, one of which was Jane Seymour’s, along with one other coffin containing an unconnected lady, whose name escapes me. He had asked to be buried with Jane Seymour. You can see a photo of this if you google. His coffin, clearly obvious by its size, was propped upagainst the wall if I remember correctly. His remains were then reburied under the chapel at Windsor which is the private, exclusive burial preserve of all UK royal burials, Westminster Abbey no longer being used for these. Henry VIII was truly a monster. If you see his actual armour in the Tower of London, it is very intimidating by its sheer size. The man himself must have been terrifying. At one point in his reign, he was executing around 400 people per month.

        1. the third coffin in the vault was Charles the 1st,not another woman a small coffin was identified as a child of queen anne

        2. Katherine Howard’s last words were on the lines of i did a qeen, I would rather die the wife of culpepper

      6. Interesting post. I feel he deserves evey word. Sadly, I really can’t see
        Elizabeth doing that to him my understanding is she worshiped him.
        I could see Mary doing it.
        Its just sad that a horrible murderer like him is revered like
        he is. I’m at a loss.

      7. Katherine Howard did also have an affair with Thomas Culpepper DURING HER MARRIAGE TO HENRY

      8. The coffin in St. George’s Chapel known as Henry’s is definitely Henry’s. He’s with Jane Seympur. Charles I is also in there, along with an infant child of Queen Anne. The grave WAS forgotten until it was rediscovered when excavation commenced in 1813 for a passage to a new royal vault. The old vault was opened in the presence of the Regent, George Prince of Wales, the future King George IV, and verfied. A marble slab was inserted to mark the grave during the reign of King William IV in 1837.

      1. Pray for yourself, God hears all, i don’t need somone to intercede for Me, ide rather God hear it from Me, if He is!

        1. Michael Taylor, you should check your history because I feel you have some things confused. The most glaring of which is that Arthur Tudor (d. 2 Apr 1502) never ruled England. He died seven years before his father, Henry VII, did and his brother, Henry VIII, became king (21 Apr 1509).

          You may also what to proofread your posts.

    2. Melissa,
      She is indeed Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.
      The Rt. Hon. Simon Abney-Hastings, 15th Earl of Loudon, Senior descendent of the Plantagenet line, holds a mass every year on her anniversary in Melbourne, Australia where he resides.

  2. What a sad end to a women who was of no threat to Henry. It is also rumoured that Henry had her grandson executed, right?

    1. Actually Geoffrey Pole the grandson was actually pardoned and released. He went into exile later on and came home when Mary came to the throne.

      1. Geoffrey Pole was Margaret Pole’s son and I think Sheena is referring to Margaret Pole’s grandson, Henry, son of Henry Pole, Baron Montagu, who was imprisoned with his father in the Tower of London. I did try to find out what happened to him but could only find that he died sometime after 1542 while still imprisoned at the Tower, although I haven’t seen any contemporary evidence to back this up.

  3. Dreadful! As so often, there are so many aspects of Henry’s policy of government that defy all logic or rationality. So many aspects of his character that are simply repulsive.

    1. The real truth, as I see it, was that Plantagenets were exterminated whenever it could be got away with and justified – they were such a potential threat to the Tudor pretenders!

  4. Hi Sheena
    Margaret Pole’s grandson, the son of Lord Montagu was arrested with his Father. He was 17 or 18. No record of what happened to him.
    Another family also arrested at the same time was Henry Courtney, his wife and his son Edward. Cousins to Henry VIII. Courtney was accused of treason along with the Pole family. Henry Courtney was beheaded. His wife was released in 1540. She was a good friend of Mary. (Henry’s daughter) Edward Courtney who was 11 at the time of arrest and was kept prisoner in the Tower for 15 years.
    Henry always feared that his right to the throne was illegitimate. Reginald Pole started writing against the divorce from Katherine. Even though the Pole family were his cousins, he felt the need to be rid of them. Why he had to kill a 67 year old lady is beyond comprehension.

    1. its disgusting thats what it is to allow a man such as henry to be allowed rule and just murder people as he wished all in the name of the crown again corruption they were all tainted with this madness

      1. Who was going to prevent him from ruling? Remember when Henry came to the throne he was quite different and Thomas More saw his reign as a new goldern age. He was 17, handsome, kind, fun loving, just, wise, learned, athletic, courteous, and a very different person to the cruel tyranical Henry of 1541. Many things had changed him: a long and bitter divorce, deception and perceived adultery in the woman that he had torn the kingdom apart for; betrayal, uprisings, war, four marriages; the loss of Jane Seymour; his marriage to Anne Boleyn, a severe bang on the head when he fell from his horse is blamed for a personality change, and so on. He did not just come to the throne in order to murder people: the executions were as a result of a lot of political, personal and religious changes in the country connected to Henry’s dynastic problems. The rivals that he saw in these families are also indirectly connected with all of these changes. Henry may have ended his reign as a tyrant: but he cerainly did not start out that way and his people loved him. He was a popular monarch for more than 30 years.

        You may be right: there is a madness connected to the crown and to power: the Tudors were no different in that than their predessessors and their successors. If it was not for the restraints on the crown by Parliament the upstarts on the throne at the moment would most likely be as crazed as some of our kings and queens of years gone by. But there was certainly no-one who was going to remove him: he had too much power and kings were seen as sacred in those days. That is why they were allowed to act as they did: the people could not do much about them unless they had a revelution and most people had too many other important things to do; such as living to be bothered. It is the same now: we will still have a limited monarch; as we are too lazy to get rid of them and be a republic instead.

        1. I just want to say thank you for this tempered and informative response. As I was reading many other comments that demonized Henry VIII’s actions, horrid as they were, they seem little different than the way we behave now, except when we feel our power threatened we bomb countries instead of killing families. As the world gets larger the power plays and exploitations are so far away that we don’t have to look at them, but they are indeed being perpetrated. And as you say, we’re simply too busily getting on with life to incite change. We think that the world has come so far, changed so much, but I wonder if it’s just been reconfigured.

        2. Thank you for your comments banditqueen and Leah. How right you both are. What we have to remember is that back then people truly believed that the monarch was legitimately put on the throne by God Himself. There were not many non believers back then. Who really wanted to offend God or return the country to civil war? Yes, the things Henry viii did were horrible, but I think comparing him to a man who murdered six million people is a little extreme. Take a look at his eldest daughter, Mary I, or should I say bloody Mary. Surely she and her maternal grandparents Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain killed far more people than did Henry. For what I ask you. For not worshipping God the way they thought He should be worshipped.

        3. Many also attribute some of his personality deterioration to head injury from his 1536 jousting accident. Still a jerk (understatement) but not necessarily born that way.

        4. What I would say about the 1536 accident is that: 1) We have mixed reports regarding how serious it was. One report from someone who wasn’t in England at the time says that the king went without speaking for two hours, whereas reports from those at court at the time say that he wasn’t hurt. 2)By 1536, Henry VIII had already executed Thomas More (who was a very close friend and father figure), Bishop Fisher, Elizabeth Barton and the Carthusian monks (one of whom was a close friend of the king’s), and then he started his reign making scapegoats of Empson and Dudley, then there was the Duke of Buckingham…. I don’t think Henry suddenly turned into a monster after 1536.

        5. Yes, every time someone talks about who Henry’s first victims were, I respond with the names Empson and Dudley. I usually receive blank looks in response.

        6. @ Leah : “Take a look at his eldest daughter, Mary I, or should I say bloody Mary. Surely she and her maternal grandparents Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain killed far more people than did Henry.”
          Please provide some evidence for your bizarre claim.
          And also, compare the number of victims of “Bloody Mary” and of “Good Queen Bess” [“‘Elizabethan conquest” of Ireland included in the calculation]. This will be an enlightening comparison.

        7. “Who was going to prevent him from ruling ?”

          I’m surprised there weren’t several attempts
          to assassinate him.

      2. Margaret, what you are saying is very ignorant. You should read up on absolute monarchies. Who pray tell would have had the ability to disallow Henry VIII from doing as he pleased?
        Just because England had a Parliament did not mean then what it means now. It is very foolish to view 16th century England through the lense of modern morality.

    2. my name is Jason Pole and I’ve appeared in a peerage website as being a living descendant of Margret Pole id love to know more about this

      1. Wonderful to hear from an actual decendant of Margaret Pole. Can you offer any unknown facts about her, her family and any possible decendants

  5. This was one of the saddest executions of Henry’s reign. I have never understood what could have been going on in his mind when he condemned this poor lady to death.

    1. …if you think that Henry VIII, in defiance if the Catholic Church over his wish to marry Ann Boleyn, “created” the Anglican church so he could marry her … then you can understand that he could do apparently irrational inexplicable things when it suited him
      it has always puzzled me how people can call themselves devout Anglicans when the entire reason the Anglican church even became a denomination was because it was founded for nefariuos resons

      1. So I suppose the Catholic Church doesn’t have any blood on their hands do they???? She’s not called Bloody Mary for nothing!!! And I’m sure a lot of innocent children suffered under the hands of the catholic church even in recent times!!!!!!!! Get a grip!! You need to look at the period as a whole, Henry was no different to any other ruler at that time!!

        1. Well put!! To add to that, there are many rulers today who act in much the same way as Henry did.

        2. I think if you read about all the rulers of that period you will see none of them were as evil as Henry VIII. I have never read that his Father executed two of his wives. One of them innocent , there as no evidence of Ann having affairs, he wanted her out of the way so he could marry Jane Seymour. He killed monks in evil ways just to raise money by stealing from the churches. The Stuarts get a bad name but they did not kill their wives or men of God. He was not even a strong King, he lost land and wars, Elizabeth was cruel like her sister Mary but she a strong ruler who defeated the Spanish. Also he did only create the Church of England so he could get a divorce. That is a fact. He was an insane despot. Yes even now the Catholic Church has hurt children but so have Vicars. Evil people are attracted to jobs that give them trust, so they can abuse. However in HIstory Henry VII is by far the most evil king ever to rule.

        3. The Catholic Church has a very bloody history. That is not excusing any other religion. I guess no one should thro rocks.

      2. I think you will find that Henry v11 had margaret poles brother arrested when he was 11 kept in the tower and then executed at 24 for no other reason than he was a plantagenet and had a greater claim to the throne than him .

        1. I assume Heather meant Henry Viii but in any event he wasn’t the most evil monarch either. That honour goes to King John.

  6. i would say she died because there was risk her person would had been used by supporters of the Pole family and the lady Mary, by people who would like to see on the throne somebody else than Henry, and Reginald was still a threat then anyway…..just imagine, you would support somebody you like in his/her studies & life and at the end s/he turns back to you and is not your faithful and loyal subject. Its just politics, nothing personal. At home i sometimes have huge discussions with my mum about Elizabeth I. & Mary of Scots. Defiinitely i vote for Elizabeth, peace in realm and security of the throne is more important than to cut off somebodys head.

  7. Ernest Shakleton the explorer was believed to have a particular insight into how to rule his men, because he was brought up in a dominantly feminine family. and this insight was beneficial. Likewise, Henry was raised and protected by his Mother, in the tower, and by a series of nannies, etc. this softer influence does not seem to have benefitted him, nor his daughters, wives, aunts, cousins, etc. His agenda overtook his tenderer feelings.

  8. Margaret Pole did indeed meet a terrible end. It is appalling that a lady of her standing and one who had resolutely kept her distance from the court and had always behaved with gravity and dignity, should die in such a cruel way. After all, she did not express any political views or had any aspirations for her family other than being a friend and supporter of Katherine of Aragon. I suspect the executioner botched the job and hacked her to death. A sad death for a frail woman who had been arrested on trumpted up charges and who had actually be woken with out warning and told that she would die that day – no wonder she resisted!! RIP.

    1. Poor Margaret, indeed. She was told she would die within the hour. There was no trial, no sentence and more importantly, no crime! She was a frail, old lady with a lifetime of service, including Henry VIII’s daughter Mary (who considered her a second mother). A very, very sad and painful end.

  9. janice says:
    May 28, 2010 at 1:15 am

    i would say she died because there was risk her person would had been used by supporters of the Pole family and the lady Mary, by people who would like to see on the throne somebody else than Henry, and Reginald was still a threat then anyway…..just imagine, you would support somebody you like in his/her studies & life and at the end s/he turns back to you and is not your faithful and loyal subject. Its just politics, nothing personal. At home i sometimes have huge discussions with my mum about Elizabeth I. & Mary of Scots. Defiinitely i vote for Elizabeth, peace in realm and security of the throne is more important than to cut off somebodys head

    Some executions by state heads are required, (traitors, assassins, etc.) but so many times it has been shown throughout history (and present times) that executions are used as an excuse for murder. And by the way, Elizabeth’s and Mary (Q of Scots) situation is entirely different than Henry’s rampages of pique and fit. There was no reasoning behind it, and murderous rages were a part of his persona. A persona that obviously was suffering from major mental instabilities. So in that context, no it wasn’t for the safety of ‘state’ or ‘throne’ that drove his fondness of executions, it was his love for himself above everything else.

  10. My guess for Henry’s actions can be summed up with one person, Margaret Beaufort. Henry must have known about her part in the removal of Richard III from the throne. Though I have not had a chance to research her fully, Robin Maxwell’s novel To the Tower Born was very interesting in showing what she could do (though I must remind myself it is a novel). I think Henry was scared to death of those events playing out once again and as a result good people suffered.

    1. Margaret Beaufort may have plotted to contact her son Henry Tudor, but she actually had nothing to do with removing Richard iii from the throne as he wasn’t removed from the throne. Henry gathered intelligence from a variety of sources, his mother included, until she was confined to her husband’s control for treason. At that time she was watched and her letters read as she was not allowed to write to him. He also gathered support from a variety of sources, French jail birds, mercenaries, malcontents from failed risings and mainly Welsh aid after he landed. Margaret was involved in agreement with Elizabeth Woodville that he should marry Elizabeth of York and that attracted Yorkist support. However, he had less than half the army of King Richard and he certainly didn’t have any guarantee of winning. Margaret Beaufort was under house arrest so could have no part in what happened next. Henry Tudor was lucky in that he had a veteran commander in the Earl of Oxford to fight his battles as he was not a warrior himself. He was also lucky that Richard was a warrior and took the opportunity to try to kill Henry and win the battle. Richard charged and almost took Henry Tudor out. He was prevented by 200 pikemen around Henry, after he killed Henry’s bannerman, William Brandon. At some point after this he lost his horse and fought on foot. Lord Thomas Stanley sat on the fence but now sent his brother to charge into Richard’s men, who died along side their King and thus the battle was ended. Norfolk was killed fighting for Richard on another part of the field and Northumberland was a coward and did nothing. Where was Margaret Beaufort at Bosworth? That’s right she wasn’t there. Where was Margaret Beaufort in Wales? That’s right she wasn’t there. She was involved in the plot to encourage Henry to invade in 1483 which failed and was not able to do much to aid him in 1485, so no she didn’t help remove Richard iii from the throne.

      I believe you are confusing Blessed Margaret Pole with the mother of Henry Vii, Margaret Beaufort. Margaret Pole, whom we are talking about was the daughter of King Richard’s elder brother, George Duke of Clarence, executed privately on his other brothers order, Edward iv, in 1478.

      Margaret Pole was an unfortunate victim of King Henry Viii who had for a long time served his first wife Katherine of Aragon and was one of the most important people in the kingdom. She was also governess to his daughter Mary for many years. Her son Henry Pole and Reginald Pole were also close to the King for many years. His divorce from Queen Katherine was for Reginald a big problem and when he went to study in Rome he became involved in a faction who opposed Henry Viii. He was persuaded to write against the divorce and to support the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry was outraged. The entire family were arrested and dumped in the Tower. In 1539 out of revenge Henry Pole and his brother in law were tried and executed for treason. Their younger brother gave up false information about the plot and was spared as he tried to commit suicide, twice. He was later let go. Margaret Pole and her grandson, another Henry Pole were kept in the Tower. Her grandson disappeared, believed starved to death and all of a sudden in May 1541 Margaret, a very old lady was taken without trial or warning and beheaded. She refused to submit to death and her execution was very nasty. She wasn’t guilty of anything, but by now Henry had changed very much and he was mercilessly clearing house. Margaret is regarded as a holy martyr by the Catholic Church.

      1. Hello Judith, I am trying to find a pattern for an embroidered sewing box designed by Maureen Tamock and published in an Australian magazine. Can you help me? My email address is
        Thank you

        1. We r busy discussing king henry the 8th and Margaret Pole….not sewing boxes

    1. I think that is exactly why he killed Margaret. It was a threat to her son who I believe was living in the Netherlands at the time. Does anyone know how RIchard Pole, Margaret’s husband, dies?

    1. Hello Maureen, my name is ‘Pril Rigby. I live in Perth, WA. I have a friend in Cornwall who is trying to get a pattern for an embroidered sewing box designed by you and published in an Australian Magazine. She doesn’t know the name of the magazine. Can you help us? My email address is
      Thank you

  11. Maureen, it was a clickable link for me (no copying and pasting needed). The picture is beautiful but sad, showing her praying in her cell in the Tower with rats at her feet. I was struck by a line in the article describing Margaret’s son, Reginald Pole, as being the last Archbishop of Canterbury (he died the same day as Mary I). Is this because it’s a Catholic web site and they don’t consider the office legitimate now that it is under the authority of the Anglican church? I’m not criticizing, being neither Catholic nor Anglican. I was just curious.

  12. I think that this is one of the most shocking and sad executions during Henry’s reign.

    Rest in peace Lady Saliisbury.

  13. Another female sacrificed in the tubulent world of male politics of Tudor times. The countess was born ‘to close to the throne’. She was a constant threat in the Kings mind. She had more royal blood running through her veins than either Henry or his father, and she was in and out of favour depending on the Kings mood. In a time when the whole of your family could be destroyed, and your wealth and belongings taken and put in the royal treasury by upsetting the Henry, you would have thought that her son Reginal Pole would have considered the danger he put his mother, and his family in by speaking out against the King’s policies, while he was hiding behind the Pope’s cassack in Europe. He knewn how vengeful Henry could be. To my mind he was as responsible for his Mother’s execution, and the other members of his family as the King, he had no qualms about offering them for sacrifice, because he was after a cardinals cap. Reginald Pole gave the King the last excuse he needed to remove the family that he considered a threat to his crown, and get his hands on their wealth, after all Margret was around the 5th richest women in the kingdom
    As for her execution, I have read that with her being a proud woman, and protesting her innocence to the end, she refused to place her head on the block, when they tried to force her down she struggled and fought, and would not keep still. While they were trying to hold her in place the axeman was told to strike when he could, therefore the poor woman ended up being butchered alive. A terrible end to another innocent woman, at the hands of men and their power struggles. I only hope that the cardinals cap, the Arch Bishops mitre, which he later received from ‘Bloody Mary’, was worth it.
    Am I too cynical, maybe, but power, religion and wealth, is a terrible mix. Keep up the good work, I find the articles up for discussion stimulating and refreshing. Reading other comments/ideas gives you a whole new prospective on things, Thank you.

    1. Wait. I think we need to remember that Henry’s mother was a plantagenet as well. That simple fact makes him no pretender to the throne. His father could however be seen as a horse of a different color. Although, he did have peerage.

  14. I think this sad Lady’s execution is just another example of Henry VIII’s domineering power and his desire for revenge against anyone (her son, Reginald) who dared to speak out against him. His method of dealing with those who disagreed with him was to silence them by any means possible, including death. We often hear of those he executed but I’d be interested to learn of who and how many were financially and socially ruined by him during his reign. I imagine the number might be staggering. Even his so called close friends did not escape his wrath; notable Norries who died on the block accused of adultry with Anne Boelyn, but also the Duke of Suffold and his sister for their marriage without his permission. Henry almost destroyed them financially; it was only their willingness to submit to him totally after their marriage that they were able to once again regain his favor – something that rarely happened once Henry’s anger was stirred against someone. Would it not be interesting to have a mental evaluation of Henry VIII? Just imagine what it would say.

  15. RIP dear Lady Salisbury. You are in heaven while Henry resides in hell – where he belongs! He had over 70,000 people killed in his reign. Unbelievable!

    1. What proof do you have for Henry having 70,000 people killed other than a random number that a so called historian trotted out without backing up their sources or numbers, came out with on TV one day? There is no proof that he had 70,000 killed: what is your justification for this figure?

      Oh and by the way, if Henry repented and died in the faith of Christ then he is not in Hell, he is in heaven!

      1. It actually isn’t a “random number” that was trotted out on TV one day. It has been cited by many historians and chroniclers over time.

        The figure of 72,000 actually comes from a contemporary source, William Harrison’s (1534-1593) “The Description of England” which was published as part of Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles. Harrison was chaplain to Lord Cobham. In his chapter “Of Sundry Kinds of Punishment Appointed for Offenders”, he wrote:
        “It appeareth by Cardan (who writeth it upon the report of the bishop of Lexovia), in the geniture of King Edward the Sixth, how Henry the Eighth, executing his laws very severely against such idle persons, I mean great thieves, petty thieves, and rogues, did hang up threescore and twelve thousand of them in his time.”
        Cardan was Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576), the Italian mathematician, physician and astrologer, who cast Edward VI’s horoscope. Cardano, in turn, cited the Bishop of Lexovia (the old name for Lisieux):
        “He was affected also by a constellation with schismatic properties, and by certain eclipses, and hence and from other causes, arose a fact related to me by the Bishop of Lexovia, namely that two years before his death as many as seventy thousand persons were found to have perished by the hand of the executioner
        in that one island during his reign.”
        It appears that Harrison added to it to make up for the final years of Henry’s reign.
        As Thorsten Sellin says in his article “Two Myths in the History of Capital Punishment” –, David Hume repeated Harrison’s figure of 72,000 in his nineteenth century work, as did Samuel Romilly in a debate in the House of Commons in 1810. As Sellin points out, nobody knows where the Bishop of Lexovia got his information about 70,000 being hanged. He was Jacques d’Annebaut, son of the Constable of Normandy and brother of Claude d’Annebault, Marshal of France. He was Bishop of Lexovia from 1539 to 1558 (Cardinal from 1544). Although the figure comes from contemporary sources, it is generally taken with a pinch of salt because we just do not have records to back it up.

        Harrison’s book can be read at (search for “threescore”) or you can see the page in question at Google Books click here.

        1. All the Tudor monarchs had severe punishments against thieves and beggers and so on: that does not mean that there is any evidence of 72,000: show me the trial records and I will believe the figure. Sorry I have been taught to challenge figures in history as they are often eggagerated and not always verified. I am aware of most of the sources above: I just do not agree with the figure unless I see proof: sorry. And it was trotted out on TV: The Madness of Henry VIII!

        2. You misunderstand me, I’m not saying that the figure is correct, we have no way of knowing it, what I’m saying is that it IS from contemporary sources because you claimed that it was just something “trotted out” on TV with no basis and that’s not true, whether you agree with the figure or not. I too don’t agree with it and there’s no way of verifying it unless someone looks at all of the court records throughout the country at that time. It comes to an average of 1894 executions a year or 36-37 a week.

          Out of interest, Harrison was not being critical of Henry VIII’s 72,000 executions, he was praising the King for dealing for “idle persons… great thieves, petty thieves, and rogues.”

    2. It is really sad that anyone in this age believes in heaven and hell, if these places do exist they are here on earth and we humans make them

      1. It’s even sadder that people don’t believe in heaven or hell as maybe they may have more care for their fellow human beings and respect for themselves if they did.

        1. When non-belivers discover they are wrong it will be too late to change their minds. Just saying!

  16. While I agree with much of the above, I would point out that Lady Salisbury is the only case I know of where an aristocratic woman did not go to her execution with the courage and dignity expected of her class. Guilt or innocence were relative in the religious / political turmoils of her day. The correct and expected behaviour was to show dignity and courage. To forgive ones enemies in general and the executioner in particular and not to make a fuss. Such behaviour as Lady S showed might be interpreted as being cowardly by her contemporaries. It was even more important for a Christian martyr to behave well. Not to do so suggested a lack of faith in God’s mercy. I do not understand while the pope declared her “Blessed” – clearly a political gesture just like the original execution.

    1. well how in the name of goodness could u remain at ease and showing courage and dignity on a scaffold about to have your head hacked off , henry was evil and will never be at peace

      1. Others did!! I’m not judging I believe there was nothing wrong with her behaviour just stating the obvious!

        1. Maybe she had dementia and didn’t understand. She was 67 years old, after all. Contemporary accounts sympathized with her, and didn’t portray her as cowardly.

    2. Saint Margaret Pole refused to bend to the injustice inflicted upon her and forced the executioner to catch her and do his worse. She was declared blessed because that is what she was or rather is. The Holy Father declared her so because of her saintly life and her death in the Catholic Faith. She had done no harm to anyone. Who are you to call anyone a coward when they are being hacked to pieces by an executioner paid to kill her? And a frail woman to boot nearly 70 years old? He showed her no mercy despite her age and her sex and she forced him to chase her before he could perform his terrible office. I would suggest it was the executioner who was a coward? Executioners cover their faces as they do not want anyone to know who they are in case of retribution, but I say they are cowards for doing such a terrible act to begin with. Margaret was a very holy woman and that is why she was made a saint.

      The Holy Father only declares someone a saint after it is decided by two investigations: they look into every part of a persons life and after life, and make a decision based on that investigation. It is not just looked at by one person or based on their death, but their life as well, and what others said about them. You may not understand any of that; but God made Margaret a saint: the Holy Father only put the blessing to His declaration.

      1. King Henry VIII was one of the most foul, vile human beings who ever lived. This murder of Margaret Salisbury, giving her an hour’s notice that she was to be beheaded,
        shows that Henry VIII was a murderer and a filthy coward to boot. He falsely convicted
        Anne Boleyn and had her beheaded for nothing. The over 50 great big fat slob married
        a teenager, Katharine Howard, and had her beheaded for having an affair with her cousin.

        I think that Henry should be disinterred, defecated upon by several very large fat pigs, and
        his remains shoveled into the Thames. I hope he’s burning in hell, the filthy son of a whore.

        1. oh William Burke I love the reference to the large fat pigs. I thoroughly agree except the reference to his mother. he was a vile disgusting fat grotesque parody. of a man. the way he had his wife and his friends killed shows he is a grotesque monster. it was dangerous being his friend that’s for sure.

        2. So you think his mother Elizabeth of York was a whore? Who are you to decide if someone burns in hell and what has his being fat towards the end of his life to do with his character changes? Yet another infantile comment.

    3. If you were dragged out of bed at 6 am in the morning and told you would be executed
      within hours, I don’t think you would be too brave, either. Henry Viii was a foul scum.
      HIs remains should be dug, defacted upon by very large pigs, and then the remains
      shoveled into the Thames.

      1. Strong words William, Henry may have done many cruel things but what drove him to act the way he did was the preservation of his throne and it’s very easy for us to look back from a distance of five hundred years and abhor his actions such as his treatment of his wives and the monks who were sacrificed at the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry had no son to succeed him till Edward was born with his third wife, he was his only son and although the execution of an elderly woman seems awful to us Henry was trying to eliminate the contenders to his throne and make it more secure for his son, however I agree this was unnecessary as Henry was just acting out of spite here because Lady Salisbury’s son had managed to allude him and flee abroad, he had reached the stage in his life now where he was getting increasingly paranoid and suspicious about everything and this may not have been all his fault as he had suffered two head injuries, the last one being so bad he was unconscious for two hours and not expected to live, from his portraits painted in later life he may appear as a fat slob and seem vile and cruel to you but the reality really is very different, one of the things you have to realise is that he was an enigmatic charismatic man who had great charm and it was this charm that endeared him to the English people and won their deep affection, from the moment he appeared in their lives as a sunny lively boy to the moment he became King and wowed everyone with his handsome tall physique, his prowess in jousting and his affable friendly manner, right through to old age when he became tyrannical and had beheaded two wives, this affection he never lost and one of the reasons was because he was extremely patriotic and loved his country like the parent loves the child, he may have been many things and done many awful things but he put England first and in fact it’s something many politicians today could learn from.

  17. dynastic stability was. important for henry 8th after all before his farther 16 battles had .taken place .you cant judge history with 2013 veiws and the risk of a catholic war was allways a risk

      1. A bit of bigotry creeping in there Kathryn. You refer to the inquisition well get over yourself Mrs and look at the reasons behind the inquisition, and if you cannot do your research into these important occurrences; may I suggest that the sash of you garment be elevated to a high altitude. In other words madam; BELT UP

  18. St Margaret was murdered by Henry VIII for two main reasons:

    1st she was a Plantagenet, thus a menace to the throne because Henry VIII actually as an usurper was fully aware of his illegitimacy to the throne of England (as well as his father Henry VII, responsible for the biggest destruction of official Archives in England).
    2nd being a staunch Catholic, she was a threat to Henry VIII’s schism, the proof of this was that Henry VIII i.a. dismissed her as Governess of his dautghter Queen Mary. Who, it has to be acknowledged, later reintrocuded the Roman Catholic Faith in a what I dare call une manière très peu Catholique.

    Saint Margaret by equipollency, having shed her blood for the Catholic Faith, is to all effects a Saint for the Roman Catholic Church as the late Rev. Father Walsh in St. Asaph, a Relatore delle cause dei Santi for this case, wrote to me several years ago.
    The only missing step is an official proclamation from the Holy See which I presume has never materialized for neither understandable nor obvious diplomatic ??? reasons.
    Her son Card. Reginald de la Pole actually proved to be a pusillanimous person, most probably because he did not wish to end as a Martyr as his Mother, since Henry VIII remunerated killers pursued him even in Italy were he had sought sanctuary.
    Even if perhaps resting on scant historical documental evidence, I would suggest further reading of Hugh Ross Williamson’s (a direct descendant of St Margaret) books (out of print and difficult to find) on the subject.

    Pray Saint Margaret’s reliquiae (now under the floor of St Peter ad vincula at the Tower in London) may some day be brought to rest in her own shrine in Christchurch East Dorset.


    1. It seems Countess Margret has quite a dedicated and informed champion in you, D-G. Keep up the good work.

      (Btw, can you recommend any good resources on the topic of the Tudor reformation? I can only assume you might know some.)

  19. At the risk of having the book thrown at me, I would point out that if Margaret Pole had met her death with the courage and dignity of Jane Grey, Anne Bolyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Rochfort she would not have suffered so much. To go to ones execution with dignity and courage was the conduct expected of mediaeval and Tudor aristocrats – it was part of the obligation of nobility. Margaret Pole by her (reported) conduct let the side down.

    On the other hand, while it may have taken eleven blows to sever her head, it it very unlikely that she would have felt them all. A damaging blow to the upper spine could well have speedily rendered her unconscious. As I say, if she hadn’t put up a fight – if she did – she would have suffered less.

    And she might well have suffered more & for longer if she had died a natural death.

    And who is to say that a “frail old woman” might not be politically dangerous ?

    1. Chapuys’ report of the execution actually makes no mention of her putting up a fight:

      “She sent her blessing to her, and begged also for hers. After which words she was told to make haste and place her neck on the block, which she did. But as the ordinary executor of justice was absent doing his work in the North, a wretched and blundering youth (garçonneau) was chosen, who literally hacked her head and shoulders to pieces in the most pitiful manner.”

      So it’s hard to know what really happened. I hope that she didn’t suffer for long.

      “And who is to say that a “frail old woman” might not be politically dangerous?” Well, she had shown no signs of being dangerous and had been Mary’s governess, but she was obviously linked to Cardinal Pole.

  20. Henry by this time 1541 had become over sensitive about those around him and very suspicious of them. Cardinal Pole, the last true Archbishop of Canterbury, may have written against Henry’s divorce, but he was not responsible for the execution of any of his family. The entire family were victims of the fact that Henry had become paranoid and would not tolerate anyone who was of royal blood other than his own. The Poles were royal via George, Duke of Clarence, the third son of Richard, Duke of York, brother of Edward IV and Richard 111. He was Margaret’s father.

    Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury was the last of the victims that were executed from a family who could have taken over the throne had the Tudors been wiped out. The fact that they supported Mary and were also against the divorce was used as an excuse to round them up and to implicate them in a plot invented by Thomas Cromwell. Margaret was the matriarch and the others were her sons and grandsons. Cardinal Pole, Henry, Lord Montague, Harry Courtney, Geoffrey Pole, her young grandson, who was pardoned because of his youth, were all accused of imagining the King’s death and of having a right to the crown that they wanted to promote. Really it was revenge by Henry, who had once supported and sponsored the family, because he felt betrayed by Cardinal Reginald Pole whom wrote to the rebels in the north to encourage them against the King. He could not get at Cardinal Pole so he took out the rest of the family instead.

    Henry first of all took out Lord Montague and then he took out others, along with their friends, Edward Neville and Sir Nicholas Carewe, accused of knowing about this plot but not telling the council about it. Having destroyed the sons, imprisoned the young grandson, Henry decided that the matriarch had raised them to be traitors and went after poor Margaret. In spite of her years of loyal service, despite her piety and her praise from the King over all of those years, her being governess to the Kings daughter Princess Mary, Margaret was suddenly seen as dangerous. Although she was very old (|I am not sure, but I think that she was at least 70 plus) for some reason an ever more paranoid Henry imagined that this saintly old lady was somehow behind the plots, and the poor woman, without trial was taken and executed.

    I do not believe that she was afraid. There is no evidence that she was dragged screaming to her death. But once on the scaffold she declared that she had committed no crime and refused to give in to the demands of the executioner. The poor woman may have lost her mind, having lost her sons, or she may have just been stubborn to refuse to accept her fate. The executioner had to chase the poor lady around and it ended in a gruesome execution, but she refused all to the end. She was not afraid, she did not scream in terror; she refused to accept the unlawful sentence given against her.

    Margaret Pole is Blessed Margaret Pole: I pray one day she is Saint Margaret Pole and that her sons are canonized as well as the whole family died for their faith, and treason was just the government’s excuse to destroy a dynastic rival family.

  21. I am a history fan , not a scholar, so cannot say so much as to the exact details of Margaret’s live or death. I love historical fiction and eagerly read every bit of it that I can. What surprises me is that more hasn’t been written about Margaret. This women who was Plantagenet herself seems to be to have a story that begs to be told. Just telling the known facts and details of her life would be engrossing. In many ways I imagine a fictional story about her would be much more interesting than either of Henry the Eight’s daughters. I plan on looking up more about her, purely for the enjoyment of it. She has all the qualities of a true heroine.

    1. Julie, read Phillipa’s book ‘The King’s Curse’, it’s written through the eyes of Margaret Pole, wonderful!

        1. Just read it also. Love her books. And from the research I’ve done so far, her novel seems very authentic, despite her filling in the gaps.

        2. WOW!!!! Philippe Gregory’s books are such fiction. Who uses historical fiction and shows like ‘the tudors’ as their source of historical facts. The are for entertainment.. Jane Rockford didn’t go so meekly to her death and everyone here is a little to wrapped up in something that occurred 500 yrs ago. He was pretty damn bad. Most of them were. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. As far as ‘the curse’….if you read each family history any of them could have been the problem since they were all related. The curse made the story that much better????? He was a horrible, entitled King. Most were, some more so than others.

      1. I have been reading all these comments and wondering who would mention the Philippa Gregory book THE KING’S CURSE. Margaret Plantagenet Pole was honored lady in waiting to Henry’s first wife and governess to his daughter Mary. She attended all of the royal births, but of course went out of favor under Queen Anne B when Princess Mary was declared a bastard and made to wait on the baby Elizabeth I . Margaret loses and regains and then loses and regains her lands, her titles, her favor until her death. She remains faithful to Princess Mary but stays alive by keeping a low profile. She remembers too well the execution of her Plantagenet father, her brother, countless others who had more claim to the throne than Henry VIII. The entire book is told from her point of view. Once Henry VIII takes a turn for the worse, it is truly a reign of terror, but he is not the young prince that Margaret knew as the child of her favorite cousin, his mother Elizabeth of York. Philippa Gregory in the NOTES after The King’s Curse, refers to the head injury as possible cause of the changes in him, but also she mentions more recent research that suggests he was KELL POSITIVE and that this factor caused all the miscarriages and stillbirths and his later unfortunate erratic behavior and brutality and paranoia. I read in order THE LADY OF THE RIVERS, THE RED QUEEN, THE WHITE QUEEN, THE WHITE PRINCESS, and then the KING’s CURSE. These books would give you a context for the “curse,” which was supposedly cast by the wife of Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville, and her daughter Elizabeth of York when the two York princes disappeared from the tower, supposedly murdered. Richard III gets usual blame, but the Tudor family stood to gain a great deal as well. The “curse” was that the guilty party would find their line without male heirs and end with a virgin with no issue. You will have to read the books yourself and decide what you think about all that, but it is a great read, all of it. It was often excruciating for me to read and listen to this last book.

        1. Philippa Gregory writes historical fiction and it is here where the reader becomes misled as he/she can take it as fact, Jean Plaidy books are nearer to the truth than Miss. Gregory’s, in fact after Richard 111 was found she was in a television interview with Philippa Langley and David Starkey and he lambasted both of them for being a novelist and Miss. Langley he called a Ricardian loon, showing he didn’t think much of their opinions at all. Dr. David Starkey is a notable historian and it is his books you should read if only to get a true version of the events, Alison Weir and David Loades are other equally fine historians and of course Professor Eric Ives.

        2. I would suggest that people read the beautiful new book by Susan Higginbotham and an earlier book by Hazel Pierce on Margaret Pole and Reginald Pole by Meyer if they wish to know more about this incredible woman and these turbulent times and remember Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel write for entertainment only.

        3. I have always stated the Margaret Beaufort was determined to get her son, Henry 7, on the throne at any cost. Even the lives of two children. You also have Queen Ann, Richard 111 wife, who wanted her son’s legitimate inheritance of the crown protected. Just something to chew on and think about.

  22. I wonder whether poor Margaret just lost it; and rebelled at the last, refusing to lay her head down out of sorrow and misery. Don’t forget, her father and brother were also executed as traitors (her father was a traitor, her brother was a victim of Henry VIII’s father’s paranoia), she had supported and obeyed the Tudor kings; it’s not hard to imagine that the poor woman just lost it at the end, ending up on the block despite having lived a virtuous life, and resorted to struggling for her life.

    I blame Margaret Pole’s executioner only for being inexperienced and not up to the task. Being an executioner was a job; the executioner did not order anyone’s death. A skilled headsman could make someone’s death quick. I believe that the unfortunate condemned man or woman customarily had to give the headsman a tip, or a purse; after the headsman asked (again, the custom) for forgiveness; although maybe that was just in the case of executing women, or royal women. Anne Boleyn was condemned to death by burning or decapitation, at the king’s pleasure; I believe he commuted the sentence from burning to the block; and granted her request for a French swordsman.

    But it was considered important for a nobleman or noblewoman to behave with dignity and courage when coming to be executed; and many of them did, even the young and imprudent Catherine Howard. Not only for their own honor and the dignity of their station, but many of them had families that they wished to protect; so they would praise the monarch or at least not blame him/her.

  23. Reading all of the comments was educational for me. So many learned historians on this site. I think you have actually changed my opinion (and, it was very bad) of Henry VIII. You have given me a bit of an “education, if you will. I have learned that politics and playing politics can be a life threateningly real game, more so back then but, even by current standards. I think they “played” a little rough back then, whereas today someone might be fired from their job or put in prison if they got a little “weird” or offended the powers that be. Interestingly, we still have torture in the current world, we still have executions and some put to death are in fact, innocent…we still have battling families over power and politically sly and deceiving people. We still have rampant corruption in government and we still have an extrodinarily powerful religious community. We even have a serial killer or mass murderer in power from time to time….I think we could call Hitler a little bloody, not much different from “Bloody Mary”. Not much of a change in society at all, when you get down to brass tacks…..

    1. Mary I was nothing like Hitler and you yourself need to read more if you think she was. Mary may have been a monarch of her time as was Elizabeth who punished people they considered heretics as was required by law but they didn’t round up and murder six million people, that’s ridiculous to compare them to Hitler. Hitler is a little bloody. Yes, the eleven or twelve million killed in WW2_will agree. Mary I should not even be called Bloody Mary as her reign was far less bloody than many others. It is still sad that after so many historians have proven her not deserving of this title that it still gets bandied about on websites.

      1. Comparing Queen Mary to Hitler is insane. But the reasons Mary had for burning so many people weren’t good, although they were to her being a devout Catholic. There’s never a good reason for mass murder, but back then it was a pretty common thing. And I’m pretty sure no one here knows who is in heaven or burning in hell. Only God knows that. One can only hope Henry is but……..

  24. I was just watching the showtime show Tudors and notice that a Lady Salisbury was said. I wonder if I am related to her in some way because my last name is Salisbury and i guess that it could be possible but who know right. And im not just joking here my actual real last name is Salisbury. Does anyone know if her ancestors ever came to America?

    1. Hi Zoe, her surname was actually “Pole” and she was the Countess of Salisbury, which is a place in England. Could your name come from the place?

      1. Pole was her married name. she was born Neville and a Plantagenet. No-one’s comments I have read so far make the point that her little brother Edward was put in the Tower by Henry VII and was executed while still a young boy. Also no-one has raised the point that Henry VIII had syphillis (obviously untreated in those days) which could account for his madness. His legs had putrid festering sores and I have read accounts that his body burst in his coffin.

        1. Yes, she married Sir Richard Pole. She was never Margaret Neville as Neville was her mother’s name, her father was, of course, George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV and Richard III. And, yes, her little brother was indeed executed for treason under Henry VII but he was not a young boy he was 24 years old at his death.

          The majority of historians now believe that it’s a myth that Henry VIII had syphilis. As Krya Kramer points out, the myth only started in 1888 and was debunked by 1931 but it is still spreading via some websites and books. We have Henry VIII’s expenses and there is no record of him being treated with the standard treatment of the time for syphilis – mercury or Chinese Wood – whereas we do know that Francis I was treated with mercury. There are also no contemporary reports of Henry suffering from the disease and he did not display the symptoms of it.
          Yes, there is an account of liquid leaking out of Henry’s coffin at Syon Abbey when it rested there on its way to Windsor on 14 February 1547. It was said to to fulfil the prophecy made by Franciscan friar William Peto in 1535. He had preached in front of the King at Greenwich that “God’s judgements were ready to fall upon his head and that dogs would lick his blood, as they had done to Ahab.”

  25. I have known about Margaret, Countess of Salisbury for some years but having read more about her she was a Saint. She was never charged with anything so in my eyes was murdered. I will never read any more books about Henry VIII he was completely mad, how I hate him for doing this and ruining our country.

    1. Hi Janet,
      Margaret did not have a trial but she was charged with treason and Parliament passed an act of attainder in May 1539, so it was Parliament who found her guilty. I do agree with you, though, I see her execution as nothing more than revenge for her son’s opposition to Henry.

      1. Spot on Claire. I too had the privilege of visiting the church of St. Peter Ad Vincula and was fascinated with this grand lady. I also had the privilege to be taken to see the tomb of St Thomas More on two separate occasions and also visited the cell at the tower where he was held until his execution. Brave Brave people,who were at the mercy of a fiend (Henry VIII).

  26. I love reading about the past histories of england. Margaret pole was right to run from the block, if that is what she did. What was the worse that could happen. They were to execute her anyway. She made them earn it. Yet another poor soul sent to the block by the mad king. Btw, was just in exeter, devon this past week. My future home.

  27. Although she is not always depicted very kindly when recounting the story of her execution, Blessed Margaret Pole has always been held in high esteem in my family who are directly descended from her – my grandmother, born 360 years after Margaret died kept her memory alive in our family. The downfall of the Plantagenets does not read very well but then again the times in which they lived were rather brutal -her own father was executed as was her younger brother. It should not be forgotton that the mental faculties of Henry VIII must have been severely compromised in the latter stages of his life and by 1541 he was out of control . The weight of so many heads that had rolled during his reign must have weighed heavily on his conscience and turned him madder, it is no wonder he died in such a state.

    1. The Plantagenets were the royal house that ruled between 1154 and 1485 when Henry Tudor became Henry VII and established the House of Tudor on the throne. Plantagenets , such as Margaret Pole who was the daughter of George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV and Richard III), had a claim to the throne and so could be seen as a threat.

    2. Henry Tudor had a very thin connection to the throne. His grandfather Owen Tudor married Katherine Velois; the widow of Henry V (of Agincourt fame). Thew son of Owen Tudor & Katherine married Margaret Beaufort, and produced Henry Tudor of Lancaster who became Henry VII after he defeated Richard III. Richard was the younger brother of Edward IV of York. Edward Iv heir was to become Edward V after the death of Edward IV however; Richard Duke of Gloucester (the younger brother of Edward IV and the Duke of Clarence (Father of Margaret Pole) usurped the throne, and is believed to have ordered the deaths of his two nephews Edward and Richard and Richard Duke of Gloucester was crowned Richard III. Elizabeth of York (eldest child of Edward IV) promised Henry Tudor her hand if he landed in England and killed Richard III. This was accomplished at he Battle of Bosworth. Henry Tudor was crowned on the field at Bosworth with the bloodied crown of Richard III hence, became King by Conquest and also by his narrow connection to the House of Lancaster.

      He considered that by marrying Elizabeth of York, he strengthened his claim to the crown.

      1. Just wanted to mention that it was Elizabeth Woodville who promised her daughter, Elizabeth of York, to Henry Tudor. Richard III was negotiating a marriage for his niece with Manuel I of Portugal. Henry Tudor had boasted that he would marry Elizabeth of York, so he had to make it happen. Richard III should have had Elizabeth married off to someone else take the wind out of Tudor’s sails.

        1. Richard iii didn’t usurp the throne. He was lawfully offered the crown by the three estates of the realm after it was shown that Edward V and his brother and sisters were illegitimate, because their father had previously married Eleanor Talbot. He wasn’t just arranging to marry Elizabeth of York to the future Manuel I of Portugal but himself to Joanna of Portugal, to whom he was betrothed.

  28. Being related these findingsare such great reads
    William Harvey Berry
    your father
    Harvey Harris Berry
    his father
    Ada Isa Mustard
    his mother
    Evanna Harvey
    her mother
    Amos Franklin Harvey
    her father
    William Harvey
    his father
    Jane Walter
    his mother
    Jane Brinton
    her mother
    William Brinton
    her father
    William Brinton
    his father
    Thomas Brinton III
    his father
    Thomas Brinton II
    his father
    Thomas Brinton I
    his father
    John Brinton III
    his father
    Mary Stoner
    his mother
    Joan de la Pole
    her mother
    William de la Pole
    her father
    Earl Michael de la Pole, Earl of Su
    his father
    Earl Michael de la Pole

  29. In those days, the King’s will was largely done. .Henry Vlll ‘s paternal grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, was paranoid and no doubt schooled him in hatred against his own mother’s family, the “other side “of the Plantagenet family……She supported her son’s forbears.the Tudor’s..She wanted desperately to have a foot in the reigning Royal Family which she thought was her right….Probably always wary of Edward IV ‘s relatives….

    In those days, things were done that would not be tolerated to-day………People suffered even though blameless as Margaret Pole seemed to be……Sad times and a lot of injustice. It was natural that people resented their religion being changed, especially for the reason it was….To-day, the same churches are there and the Catholics have to uses newer buildings.. Very sad as they are exactly the sane religion and the Eucharist is identical…….same God and same needs.

    Rosamund Carpenter.

    1. What on earth do you mean “exactly same religion”? Incorrect
      As for what you said about the Eucharist, you need to study theology and history much more
      Please everyone study what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist and be informed before making statements like this and remember remain Respectful and Informed

    2. Although the Catholic Faith and Anglican Communion are part of the same Christian Faith, they are separate Churches and have very different teachings on a number of doctrines. For example, the Bread and Wine literally become the Body and Blood of Christ at the moment of Consecration and Catholics call this the Real Prescence in the Mass. The Anglican Church says it is just a spiritual representation and just Bread and Wine. It is symbolic of the Body and Blood, not a transformation. Yes, we believe in the same God and in the same salvation, but there are difficult forms of worship and sacramental beliefs. The two have much in common, but also many different traditions. A lot of people don’t know the difference today as things have moved closer, so don’t worry if you think we are the same. I am not offended. It’s a common mistake.

  30. There is a school of thought that believes Henry V111 suffered from quite a rare hereditary mental illness from his mothers side which manifests its self after mid 30s causing extreme erratic mood swings and paranoia.

  31. The more I learn about King Henry VIII, the more I despise him. I really don’t care that he founded the Royal Navy and his legacy was the formation of the United States of America. Let’s face it, he was an evil, psychopathic, murdering tyrant.

    I firmly believe that Henry VIII was a chronic diabetic. The incurable leg ulcer would be one sign of this disease. Another symptom of diabetes is impotence. All this stemmed from bad diet and over-eating. I think it goes without saying that the head injury he suffered after being knocked off his horse during a joust, turned the King into a psychopath.

    But I’m not here to defend him or his little toady, Thomas Cromwell. I would say that if only Queen Anne Boleyn had kept her mouth shut and hadn’t voiced her intentions to Cromwell, “I will see your head off its shoulders”, things would’ve been different. Likewise, if one Anne’s Ladies-In-waiting hadn’t gossiped about her . She was innocent. I think her remains should be found and reburied in Westminster Abbey-and not in an arrow chest. Especially after Thomas Cromwell had wanted her burned.

    I think that Henry really did cause the deaths of 70,000 people. Henry’s laws dictated that you had to marry by a certain age. If you didn’t, you were classed as barren and burned at the stake.

    Twice, I have walked amongst the ruins of Furness Abbey in Cumbria. What a beautiful building it must’ve been in its hey day. Had it not been for Henry and toady Cromwell, that magnificent building would still have been standing. It was there that I cursed Henry VIII. “You were a mad, psychopathic tyrant!”

    I think if I’d lived during Henry’s reign, my chances f survival would’ve been virtually nil. .

    1. I absolutely agree with yhou Colin. Henry VIII was a vile, cruel, villain, and murdered many
      innocent women, including this elderly Lady Margaret Salisbury. Henry VIII’ remains should
      be disinterred, crapped on some very large pigs, and then shoveled into the Thames.

      1. Another ridiculous uneducated statement from someone who doesn’t know anything about history or has anything sensible to say as this is the fourth time you have said the same thing, William. If you are going to disinterr Henry Viii, then what about the many other Kings and nobles who have done just as many vile things? Henry Viii and many others, everyone in fact will be judged in the next world. It is not our place to disrespect the dead or to make very vile and rude comments about them. Please refrain from doing so and try to be more positive in debates.

    2. Colin,
      I have never heard that H8 made a law that if someone was not married by a certain age that they were considered barren and burned at the stake. If I am wrong, please let me know and share a link for that information.

    1. Really? Based on a TELEVISION show? It was a great show, I enjoyed it immensely, however, they did take liberties with the truth (Didn’t Henry VIII have two sisters, Margaret and Mary, not just one as portrayed in the series). If you’re going to say he was a cruel bastard at least cite actual historical events and not TV drama.

  32. What an incredible time from Henry 7th to Elizabeth,I have been reading early medieval history,never thought I would enjoy the Tudor period,but got well sucked in ,but so involved .Henry 8th children,Mary was excluded,fear of beheading,not allowed to see her mother ,near her death,Elizabeth ,the same,her mother beheaded ,and they were expected to be normal…?.
    What a tyrant Henry was,what a sad,sad person Henry was,I wonder if the revolt from the north had got stronger,would anyone else joined in.perhaps not as he had total control over his court.
    The only good thing he did,was to give us tourism which employs people.

  33. I am interested to know what happened to the Grandson, who was a prisoner in the tower? Did he befall some secretly planned fate after his Grandmother was excecuted so barbarically .

  34. If the Pope had just given him his divorce as he wanted from his first wife all would have been well for the Church. Sour grapes.

  35. While people are quick to point a finger at Henry or the Lady Salisbury they are forgetting two important facts. First, Henery’s jousting injuries. He suffered 3 major head injuries. Today he would be diagnosed with concussion syndrom at the least, Tramatic Brain Injury at the worst. Both would explain his erratic behavior. As to the Countess Salisbury running away, if you botched an execution of an old lady, taking 11 shots to kill her, don’t you think you would want to put a spin on it so it wasn’t your fault? After all, dead Saints tell no tales.

  36. Although Henry was a monster in later life, there is no excuse for his bloodlust when you consider he was a Christion supposedly following the word of god ie Thou shalt not kill.
    How-ever the RC church was corrupt bleeding many communities already in poverty, one could say thank you Henry for unshackeling the UK from the RC dogma even if it was for your own ends. I often wonder what life would be like today if the RC Church had dominated us like they did Ireland, No doubt we would have still been living in the Middle Ages like some Middle Eastern Countries.

    1. You talk absolute nonsense and something tells me by your writing that you have a hatred in your heart which blinds your reason Try and study some more before you make these silly comments

  37. Thank God I’m Scottish, he was our enemy and HM The Queen decends from the Scottish Royal Line and is not a DIRECT descendant of the fat tyrant.

    1. Actually, your Monarchy was related to Henry Viii and Henry Vii. Mary Queen of Scots was the great niece of Henry Viii and James Vi and I was her son.

  38. I can’t imagine what she would think about having her memorial next to the altar of Anne Boleyn. She pretty much hated her and thought that she was just an intelligent whore who manipulated the king. Margaret was a loyal friend and guardian of both Katherine of Aragon and her daughter Mary.

  39. It is a pity you find it necessary to include the sort of half-baked twaddle posted by Michael Taylor (Dec 5th) who seems apparently to have heard of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and one or two other people from the early Tudor period and woven them into his own somewhat idiosyncratic account.I was particularly enlightened to learn that Henry VII ‘caught ‘flu’ and passed it onto his son ‘King’ Arthur, who as a result died shortly after his father when until now I had thought Arthur died in 1502 and Henry VII in 1509. You live and learn!

  40. Rest in Peace, dear lady! You did not deserve to die so horribly and completely without dignity of any kind – this man was your cousin and this was the way you were treated? May God bless and keep you in his infinite care!

  41. Yes, poor Margaret Pole was treated so badly .
    It was obvious that the King became very insecure as years went on .I am sure the people at court felt very sad about how things went , but sadly in those days iof you spoke out ,it did not end well for you.

  42. Margaret Pole was a righteous and pious lady who had served Katherine of Aragon and Princess Mary for many years. Her sons had been close to the younger Henry, who didn’t become fat until after 1538, when he was in his late 40s and didn’t behave like a tyrant until after his injuries caught up with him after 1536 and 1537. The fall of the Pole family followed the writing by Cardinal Reginald Pole in 1536 condemning Henry’s divorce and religious changes and his support for the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry being fat may be associated with his tyranny because this is also when he suffered paranoid delusion, depression, possibly blood disorder, mental problems, possibly a head injury and a great deal of pain which changed his character. Being fat had nothing to do with his being a tryrant and I actually find some of the references to him being a fat pig and a tyrant offensive and am surprised they haven’t been removed. Numerous people have weight problems. That doesn’t make them pigs or evil or tyrants and these remarks prove the ignorance of the people making them. You need to learn to debate without making insults. Henry radically changed from the 1530s onwards and historians and medical doctors and psychiatrists have proposed a number of theories to explain the terrible events that surrounded the country during his last decade. Margaret Pole, however, was an innocent victim of her family’s fall, arrested and finally cruelly executed because Henry couldn’t reach her son. May she rest in peace and pray for us all, forever. Amen.

  43. So was her grandson starved to death, pardoned, just disappear, executed at 24 or ? I am so confused at this point, I do not want any conjectures or suppositions……This many stories, actually tends to make me skeptical of all of the other contributions to this blog…even her manner of death is disputed, the only thing that seems to have any credibility is her linage and the fact that it took 11 blows to sever her head, which I dare say was anticlimactic as she was probably dead after the first or second blow….let us have an educated historian answer these questions, please

  44. I don’t understand why Margaret Pole or her brother were executed. Was there actual evidence that Margaret herself was guilty or was it just a claim to the throne that made Henry nervous.

  45. I’ve just finished reading The Kings Curse, a great read which left me with a heavy heart for this great lady. I realise Pole was her married name but is there links to the name De la Pole or are they entirely separate families?
    My family name is Pole and it’s a whimsical fantasy I know but i was told by another ‘Pole’ that there was a lineage to him so there’s a possibility of a family link to me. Apparently there are clusters of Poles in Somerset and in Hull?
    In any event I have a new found respect for a Lady I hadn’t heard of before.

  46. Consider that Henry’s jousting accident in which his horse fell on him and and left him unconscious for hours may have left him with a brain injury. These injuries never improve the personality and probably contributed to his already narcissistic behavior. No excuses – he was a monster.

  47. The most murderous monarch was William the Conqueror who committed genocide against the people of Yorkshire, The whole British monarchy is based on mass murder.

    1. William the Conqueror was a cruel and evil man. He came from France to conquer England and to punish and kill as many English people as possible. He destroyed for the enjoyment of destroying and killed for the joy of seeing , what he perceived, the death of his enemies. He brought thugs and prisoners with him to fight. Times were awful back in the day. It seems all victor’s were incredibly evil, heartless and cold to the defeated. They were the defeated and owed no mercy. OK, Bandit, do you feel differently? Do you think the era justified the actions of the winners. Most of these rulers called themselves Christians. I think not! They wanted power and the death of anyone who they considered a danger to the position that were able to steal from the person whom they defeated in the last battle. No mercy shown to anyone.

  48. Breezed by a comment that someone wrote saying Henry and Trump were the same. A seriously stupid statement.
    I believe Henry lost his rationality after his injury from the jousting match. No one had a clue that the man was now certifiably nuts. I can only wonder what the public was thinking of this out of control lord and master of their realm.

  49. I believe that Henry also suffered from syphilis ( have read many publications about this) which can cause madness…and considering his sexual behavior throughout his life, I would not be the least bit surprised that much of his behavior (paranoia, psychosis) was due to his leg injury, head injury AND syphilus. We must consider the times as well. It was brutal…especially for women. They were bought and sold like cattle…even queens were pretty much controlled by their advisors and counselors.

  50. Question is there a copy of Margaret Poles arms. THERE MAY BE ONE IN THE CHURCH WHERE SHE IS BURIED

  51. Thanks for an interesting mini-bio of one of my favorite historical women.

    Fact Check… It’s an easy mistake to make.

    “Who was Margaret Pole?
    Margaret Pole, or Margaret Plantagenet, was the daughter of the Duke of Clarence, [and] brother of two Plantagenet kings: Edward IV and Richard III…”

    She did have two brothers, Edward and Richard, but they were not Edward IV and Richard III.

    Her brother Edward was the 17th Earl of Warwick, and was the last legitimate Plantagenet heir of the direct male line; executed by Henry VII on grounds of attempting to escape from the Tower of London. He never became king.

    Richard was only three months old when he died. Had he lived, might might have had a legitimate claim after his elder brother Edward, but Richard died more than 20 years before Edward was executed.

    They were, however, related.

    Their fathers were both York (George and Richard), and their mothers were both Neville (Isabell and Cecily). I think their actual relationships were “first cousins, once removed.”

    1. Hi Mitch,
      You misunderstood me, I wrote “Margaret Pole, or Margaret Plantagenet, was the daughter of the Duke of Clarence, brother of two Plantagenet kings: Edward IV and Richard III, and his wife Lady Isabella Neville, daughter of “Warwick the Kingmaker”.” meaning that Margaret’s father was the brother of Edward IV and Richard III. I think it’s clear because otherwise I’d be saying that Margaret was a man, in that she was the “brother”.
      Thanks though!

  52. You are right, I did misunderstand, and I apologize for my mistake. I see now what you meant.

    My direct family tree follows the Stafford line back through Edward I, II and III, and from there to William the Conqueror. My 16th great-grandfather was Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford and husband of Margaret Pole’s daughter, Ursula.

    Again I apologize for my error.

  53. I was said about Lady Margaret that she had etched words in the wall of her cell before she was executed. Where in the Tower was she held prisoner?

  54. Wonderful to hear from an actual decendant of Margaret Pole. Can you offer any unknown facts about her, her family and any possible decendants

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