The Tudor Society

May 27 – Cardinal Pole makes an enemy of Henry VIII

A portrait of Cardinal Reginald Pole by Sebastiano del PiomboOn this day in Tudor history, 27th May 1536, Cardinal Reginald Pole wrote to King Henry VIII from Venice. This letter, and what he sent with it, would lead to his brother and mother being executed.

Pole wrote "Was informed by letters, first of your chaplain Mr. Starkey, and afterwards of Mr. Secretary, of your Grace's pleasure that I should declare to you my opinion touching the superiority of the Pope, with other articles, and state my reasons. I have done so, accordingly, in a book which I send by the bearer. How it will satisfy you, He only knows in whose hand are the hearts of kings. If you wish further information of my purpose, I refer you to the bearer."

The cardinal attached a copy of his treatise, in which he criticised the king's annulment and denied the royal supremacy. He was making an enemy and the king would take revenge.

Henry VIII's revenge was terrible. He couldn't get at Cardinal Pole, who was abroad, so he took revenge on his family, accusing them of being involved in a conspiracy against the king. Henry Pole, 1st Baron Montagu, the cardinal's eldest brother, was tried and executed for alleged treason in 1539, while Pole's other brother, Geoffrey, was imprisoned and the cardinal was attainted in absentia. Pole's frail mother, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, also ended up on the scaffold on this day in 1541 (see below).

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May 27 – Cardinal Pole makes an enemy of Henry VIII