The Tudor Society
  • A heretic cardinal, the other Tudor Drake, and a plotting baron

    In part two of This Week in Tudor History for the week beginning 5th April, I talk about why Pope Paul IV branded Cardinal Pole a heretic and took away his legatine powers, before introducing you to a sea captain named Drake, but not Sir Francis Drake, and telling you about John Lumley, a baron who was involved with the Ridolfi Plot but kept his head, and a man who was recorded as owning a full-length portrait of Anne Boleyn.

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  • 4 November – A cardinal’s actions lead to his family’s undoing

    On this day in Tudor history, 4th November 1538, Henry Pole, 1st Baron Montagu, his brother-in-law, Sir Edward Neville; Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter; Courtenay’s wife, Gertrude Blount, and the couple’s son, Edward Courtenay, were all arrested for treason and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

    Montagu, Neville and Exeter, along with Montagu’s brother, Geoffrey Pole, were accused of plotting with Cardinal Reginald Pole against the king. Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was also arrested, accused of the same.

    But how had it come to this, when Henry VIII had sought Cardinal Pole’s opinion on his marriage and the papacy?

    Find out what Cardinal Pole had done to upset the king, and what happened to his family and friends as a result, in today’s talk.

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  • 5 May – Can’t kill him for heresy, let’s try treason…

    On this day in Tudor history, 5th May 1543, religious radical, Adam Damplip, also known as George Bucker, was hanged, drawn and quartered in Calais, which was an English territory at the time.

    Although it was his heretical preaching that had got him into trouble, he couldn’t be executed as a heretic, so he was condemned as a traitor instead – clever, but nasty!

    Let me explain more in today’s talk.

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  • 15 December – Cardinal Pole is laid to rest

    On this day in Tudor history, 15th December 1558, Cardinal Reginald Pole, Mary I’s Archbishop of Canterbury and her chief advisor, was buried at Canterbury Cathedral. Coincidentally, Cardinal Pole had died the same day as his queen, on 17th November 1558.

    Find out a bit more about Cardinal Pole, his background, death and burial, in today’s talk.

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  • 29 August – The sad story of Geoffrey Pole

    On this day in Tudor history, 29th August 1538, Geoffrey Pole, son of Sir Richard Pole and Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was arrested. He was already on thin ice, having been a staunch supporter of Queen Catherine of Aragon and Princess Mary, but he now was suspected, like other members of his family, of being in communication with his brother, Cardinal Reginald Pole, a man who had upset King Henry VIII by writing a treatise against him and his policies.

    Unlike other members of his family, including Margaret Pole, Geoffrey managed to survive this trouble – how? Why? What happened?

    I explain all in today’s talk.

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  • 4 August – 13 Executions!

    Yes, you read that correctly! On this day in Tudor history, 4th August 1540, thirteen men were executed in London – 12 by being hanged, drawn and quartered, and one by being hanged. Awful!

    In today’s talk, I explain who these 13 men were and why they were attainted by Parliament and executed.

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  • 17 November 1558 – The death of Reginald Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury

    Did you know that 17th November 1558 was the death date of not only Queen Mary I, but also of Reginald Pole, Mary’s Archbishop of Canterbury? Strange, isn’t it?

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  • 15 December 1558 – The burial of Cardinal Reginald Pole

    Cardinal Pole

    Cardinal Pole

    On this day in history, 15th December 1558, Cardinal Reginald Pole, Mary I's Archbishop of Canterbury, was buried at Canterbury Cathedral. His rather plain tomb can be found on the north side of the Corona (or Becket's Crown) in the cathedral. Pole was the last prelate to be buried in the cathedral.

    Cardinal Pole died on the very same day as his beloved queen, Mary I. Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles record his death:

    Leauing queene Marie being dead & gone, you are to vnderstand and note, that the same euening, or (as some haue written) the next daie after the said queens death,The death of [...]rdinall Poole. Cardinall Poole the bishop of Romes legat departed out of this life, hauing beene not long afore made archbishop of Canturburie: he died at his house ouer against Westminster commonlie called Lambe [...]h, and was buried in Christs church at Can|turburie.

    The Chronicles go on to give a not so flattering account of Cardinal Pole's life, accusing him of "barbarous" behaviour and blemishing "the honour of his descent. You can read this account in the 1587 version of The Chronicles at The Holinshed Project.

    Diarist and merchant Henry Machyn records how Cardinal Pole's remains were taken on 10th December from Lambeth to Canterbury in preparation for his burial:

    The sam mornyng my lord cardenall was [removed from] Lambeth, and cared toward Canturbery with grett [company in] blake; and he was cared in a charett with [banner-]rolles wroth [wrought] with fyne gold and grett baners [of arms,] and iiij baners of santes in owllo [oil].

    In Ecclesiastical Memorials, John Strype writes:

    Cardinal Pole died the same day that Queen Mary did; and not many hours after her. His last will may be seen in Holinshed's History. Therein he desired his successor would not sue his executors for dilapidations, seeing he had bestowed more than a thousand pounds within these few years in repairing and making such houses as belonged to the see, since he came to it. The overseers of his will were Nicholas Archbishop of York, lord chancellor; Thomas Bishop of Ely; Ed. Lord Hastings, lord chamberlain; Sir John Boxal, the Queen's secretary; Sir Edward Cordal, master of the rolls; Henry Cole, vicar general of the spiritualities.

    Strype goes on to describe how there was "a secret report among Papists, abroad soon after, that both Queen Mary and Cardinal Pole, came to their ends by poison but that Dr. Haddon, "a knowing man", put their deaths down to "an infectious fever that the nation then laboured under [...] an outrageous burning fever [...]".


    Notes and Sources

    Images: Cardinal Reginald Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury, by Sebastian del Piombo, and tomb of Cardinal Reginald Pole from Wikimedia Commons.

    • Britton, John (1836) Cathedral Antiquities: Historical and Descriptive Accounts, with 311 Illustration, of the Following English Cathedrals...
    • Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1587 edition, The Holinshed Project.
    • 'Diary: 1558 (Aug - Dec)', in The Diary of Henry Machyn Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London (1550-1563), ed. J G Nichols (London, 1848), pp. 169-184 [accessed 10 December 2015].
    • Strype, John (1822) Ecclesiastical memorials; relating chiefly to religion, and the reformation of it..., p. 143. This can be read on Google Books.
  • The Downfall of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, by Alexander Taylor

    Margaret Pole

    Margaret Plantagenet was born during one of the most unstable periods in English royal history. The daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, brother to King Edward IV, and Isabel Neville, daughter of the powerful Earl of Warwick, Margaret was destined for a future of privilege and power. She was born a Princess, into the royal house of Plantagenet, and, not having the benefit of hindsight, would never have guessed her Plantagenet blood would cause such a number of life changing events.

    In 1478, her father Clarence was executed by her uncle the king on grounds of treason. By the tender age of 5, Margaret had lost both of her parents, and her future was uncertain. What would become of this young princess?

    1485, the Battle of Bosworth. Richard III, the last Plantagenet king was defeated in battle by the Lancastrian Henry Tudor. Henry had now founded an entirely new dynasty, and sat on the throne as the first Tudor Monarch. Margaret must have felt insecure. She and her brother, Edward, were next in line to the throne through their Yorkist blood, which the new Tudor king was fully aware of. The young Edward of Warwick, younger brother of Margaret, was hastily detained and kept under house arrest before being incarcerated into the Tower of London. His claim to the throne made him too much of a threat to be freely living in society, therefore the new Tudor king had no alternative but to confine the young aristocrat. Henry arranged a series of clever marriages for the daughters of the previous king and also for Margaret. The Yorkist princesses were married off to allies of Henry, who he knew could be trustworthy, indeed ensuring the princesses did not marry men who could pose a threat to Henry’s throne. Margaret was paired with Sir Richard Pole, an unlikely match in status, Margaret being of royal birth and Richard only a member of the gentry, hardly a suitable match.

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