The Tudor Society

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.

When Henry VIII inherited the throne in 1509, Margaret’s fortunes greatly improved. She was employed back into the service of Katherine of Aragon, who was now queen as the new King’s wife. In 1512 she was granted the title Countess of Salisbury in her own right, restoring her to a title that had been previously held in her family. This restoration benefited Margaret greatly, providing her with an income through her Salisbury lands and estates, which eventually led to her being one of the wealthiest peers in England.

Margaret was known for her devout Roman Catholic beliefs, as was her son Reginald. During the 1530s, with religious change in England, Reginald fled abroad. He refused to acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the new Church of England and staunchly disagreed with his break from the Catholic church and the Pope, an act of high treason on behalf of Reginald. This left Margaret in a precarious situation, was she to support her treasonous son in a far away country or her sovereign lord and king?

In 1536, Reginald altogether broke with the King. He had urged the Princes of Europe to depose Henry immediately. The English King was incensed with anger, with Reginald out of reach, his wrath turned to the remaining Pole family. Although both Reginald's older brother and his mother wrote to the king in reproof of Reginald’s attitudes and actions, he was in no mood to spare them.

In January 1539, Sir Geoffrey Pole was pardoned, after being arrested in August 1538 and placed in the Tower. Margaret’s son Henry and Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter, were both executed for treason. In May 1539 Margaret and other members of her family were attainted. Due to the conviction, Lady Salisbury was stripped of her lands and titles. As part of the evidence for the Bill of Attainder put against Margaret, Thomas Cromwell produced a tunic bearing the Five Wounds of Christ, symbolizing Margaret's support for Roman Catholicism and of her son, the exiled cardinal. The supposed discovery, six months after her households were searched at her arrest, is surely a fabrication of the truth. Margaret was now fully under the king’s will, with no title or lands to her name, she was to be styled simply as Margaret Pole. We can’t imagine how Margaret was feeling, she was 65 years of age when brought to the tower in 1539, an advanced age by the standards of the day. We can only imagine her mental state was a mixture of uncertainty and anxiety for the welfare of her family and of her own mortality. As Hazel Pierce states in her biography of Margaret Pole "The downfall of the Pole family might be viewed by some as a failure on Margaret’s part: failure to maintain her family’s position, failure to keep her sons more firmly under control, failure to act as politics and common sense dictated rather than in accordance with her conscious."

Margaret was now sentenced to death. She had been interred in the Tower of London for two and a half years, forever conscious of what her fate would be. Although Margaret was incarcerated, she was still waited on by a number of servants and received a grant of fine clothing in March 1541 from the current queen’s wardrobe. A story goes that Queen Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, empathised with the elderly countess in the tower and requested her tailor to send her some comforting items, such as a furred nightgown and furred slippers. We cannot be sure if Katherine directly sympathized with the countess or if it was just her queenly duty to dispatch some of the garments she did not wear anymore.

On the morning of 27th May 1541, Margaret Pole was informed she would be dead within the hour. Henry VIII was determined to rid his realm of anyone that may pose a threat to his throne, which included a frail 67-year-old lady. Until the end, Margaret claimed her innocence before God, she stated no crime had been imputed to her and that she was wrongly judged. According to popular belief, a poem was found carved on the wall of her cell, as follows:

‘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!’

If Margaret did in-fact carve this last plea of innocence into her cell wall, it clearly shows she had been wronged by the law. Regardless, the former countess was removed from her cell and taken to the place within the precincts of the tower where she would be executed.

Due to her former status and being of noble birth, Lady Pole was spared the dishonour of a public execution, although according to Eustace Chapuys, Imperial Ambassador, there were numerous witnesses present, including the lord mayor of London. A story that has been popularized through the centuries is that Margaret had to be physically held down during her execution and that once the first blow of the axe missed her neck she leapt from the scaffold and attempted to scurry away. This story seems quite far-fetched, however, according to the Calendar of State Papers, the Executioner was dubbed a ‘blundering youth’ who ‘hacked her head and shoulders to pieces.’ The execution was obviously a bloody affair with an undoubtedly sad and tragic end for Lady Pole. Imperial Ambassador Chapuys wrote in disgust that ‘there was no need or haste to bring so ignominious a death upon her’ he carried on to say, due to her advancing years, that she could not ‘in the ordinary course of nature live long.’ Her remains were buried in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London.

She died a traitor under the law, but to many others an unlawfully judged elderly woman who did not deserve her cruel end. Following the execution of his mother, Cardinal Reginald Pole said that he would ‘Never fear to call himself the son of a martyr’. And 345 years later, in 1886, Lady Salisbury became exactly that. On the 29th December 1886, she became the Blessed Margaret Pole under the Roman Catholic Church. She was beatified by Pope Leo XIII.

There are 157 comments Go To Comment

  1. L

    I have always felt that Margaret’s execusion was completely un-neccassary. She had done nothing wrong, her execution was nothing more than pure spite, from Henry. It was Reggy Pole who was Henry’s true target and because Reggy had thankfully hidden away in Rome? out of harms way. Henry needed a way of venting his anger over what Reggy had sais and sadly his victim was Margaret.

    1. R

      I agree, there is no evidence that Margaret Pole had anything to do with the intrigues of her son, who ironically was more upset about Henry Viii and the way things had gone than actually wanting to harm him. Henry could not get hold of her son Reginald, finally flipped and citing security as he was going North, had poor old Margaret executed in her 70th year. Katherine Howard had shown concern for Margaret and sent her wsrm clothing. I don’t know which version of the execution is accurate but it was badly botched. RIP Blessed Margaret Pole.

      1. C


        1. D

          You literally woke up in the morning and didn’t know if you’d be alive to eat dinner.Such a sad time to live. My heart breaks for all those souls taken too soon by tyrant who wanted absolute power.

          1. R


    2. B

      There were so many unjustly executed, starting with Anne Boleyn. It was on the King’s whim. Sad really.

      1. C

        Ann boleyn d served her end she never once thought of the pain she caused Kathrine of Aragon

        1. C

          Ann Boleyn was framed for adultery. No one deserves to die in this manner. Henry 8th was a monster.

          1. v

            I’m also having a hard time blaming Anne Boleyn for anything. She was a woman fighting for her place in this world, probably manipulated by her family too. And even if she was adulterous (most likely she wasn’t), I don’t believe death penalty is the correct reaction no matter the perspective.

        2. V

          Some of the things Anne was said to of done against catherine were untrue like when Catherine died it’s said Anne and Henry wore yellow but now reports say only Henry wore yellow and it may not of been in a bad way yes in English culture to wear yellow was offence however in Spain it was a sign of respect so Henry may of done it as Catherine was spainsh and he was trying to win the spainish over after his late wife died second thing that’s apparently wasn’t true her hate for Mary apparently Anne tried to have a relationship with Mary Henry’s daughter but it was Mary who refused and was mean toward Anne yes there one account of Anne saying one bad thing about Mary but wouldn’t u got the ump if u kept trying to have a relationship with someone and they didn’t and were mean I get why Mary hated Anne she blamed Anne for her mother divorce but lets me honest Henry wanted a boy so much he would of gone with any girl Anne just caught his eye first and her family noticed that and used it to their advantage Anne really had no choice she couldn’t refuse her family and the king and I think over time Anne did love Henry I don’t think it was love at first sight for her like it was Henry but yh in my opinion she didn’t deserve that and it reason Henry killed her was coz he divorce Catherine for Anne so he couldn’t the. Divorce Anne so he had to come up with another way to get rid of her

          1. G

            G-D Wrote the Bible, and laws, women in Israel were stoned for adultery, as was the prostitutes, Moses had a man and woman stoned because they killed her husband because he saw them having sex,Got Killed thousands in the wilderness, G-D meant what he wrote and still does.And now it is alright to murder babies, why not, they aren’t alive.dead things don’t grow in the body, they don’t get born to come out crying.They still stone people in Israel,the disciples deserved to die,they were preaching G-D’s words.what was so wrong with carving a golden cow, right. yeah.have a blessed day.How many men today kill their wives for getting old,

          2. B

            God did not write the Bible. Mortal men did.

        3. E

          Anne Boleyn was a victim of Henry VIII’s too . She did all she could to dissuade him of his advances for a very long time. The King wanted her even more as a result. I don’t think she tried to harm Katherine in any way. Henry had made his mind up by then.

        4. J

          Anne Boleyn had no choice in her life. Henry wanted her and he always got what he wanted.Anne never wanted to marry him but as we all know Henry always got his own way

        5. J

          Are you crazy? This is a joke, right?

          1. M

            I hope so. The nut job writing about Israel & Moses is scary

        6. J

          No she didn’t. It was Henry that pursued Anne for many years. She was trapped into that marriage as Henry needed a male heir. When Anne was not able to produce one it was off with her head and 5 innocent men. He did not want to repeat the divorce problems he had in divorcing Katherine. We don’ t what she thought about Katherine ‘s pain. Henry was a brut 😡.

        7. g

          Anne wasn;t the cause of Catherine of Aragon’s pain. No one but Henry was the cause. Anne could not refuse the King’s wish to make her his queen. She actually thwarted his advances for as long as she could. Catherine who was in a terrible positions herself, should have realized the harm she would do to so many by not granting Henry a divorce.Thousands died because of it and the country was fraught with turmoil by the madness of Henry 8.Catherine could have sacrifice her pride which would have ended the mayhem that ensued.I also do not believe for one moment that Catherine’s marriage to Arthur was never consumated as Catherine claimed. Additionally, I believe that Margaret Pole actually had knwledge of whether or not the marriage was consumated.

    3. C

      This appears more a game of thrones and those who could claim against Henry. The Tudor claim to the Throne was always dodgy, and relied on the women’s blood line.
      Interesting regarding Courtney, there appears to be the original Earls of Devon, before William the Conqueror and the Bishopric which came from the land donated by the first Queens father(Saxon) as her dowry lands to the charity as mother of the church. In return under the coronation oath, in return the Pope oath was that their seed would inherit.

      1. M

        I have tried to decipher and understand what you’re talking about because I am very intrigued. But I am struggling.

  2. S

    I think Henry was a lonely and evil man the people around did not help they all made him suspicious how very sad and lonely he must have been .That poor woman princess Margaret I do how ever find the Tudor period very interesting.

    1. L

      I do agree that certain courtiers brought the worst out of Henry! They knew how fearful he was of losing the crown and made him like that!

      1. K

        Sounds like the Trump administration.

        1. L

          I was just thinking the same thing!!! Believe me, if he could, he would!!! His day will come …

          1. C

            Same comment made to Katherine also applies to you, Linnard. Typical!

        2. C

          Really Katherine, your comment is so not necessary in this forum. Typical!

          1. S

            I Agree!

          2. A

            I agree, to compare Henry viii to Trump is very ignorant and woke. Yes, your comment LH and K have no common sense whatsoever!

        3. J

          That’s what I told my wife tonight after watching the last episode of the Spanish Princess.

        4. J

          So unnecessary!

          1. H

            Not true

        5. E


        6. C

          Also what I was thinking. A man who perceives “enemies” everywhere and tries to get revenge on them. Thank goodness you can no longer take someone’s head off – instead they lose their jobs or receive angry public tweets.

        7. S


        8. T

          So damn ignorant – you and Linnard are just delusional crats. This has nothing to do with America…this is United Kingdom history.

          1. R

            It is about how we all view history and any view point is valid in my opinion and gives us all a present day account as to how others in power act these days. Trump, Boris,Putin… all valid.

          2. S


          3. S

            Clarification, I’m saying “EXACTLY” to Tammy T. NOT Robert B.!

        9. C

          More like the Biden regime!

        10. C

          No, sounds like The left wing progressives and communists marching through the institutions politicising them. The IRS, The CIA, The FBI all of them make up crimes against their political opponents to destroy opposing points of view and they destroy real human beings in the process, just like Cromwell did for Henry XIII. At least I know that people that destroy and corrupt our once fair systems to have power will burn eternally – it says so in the Bible. I have faith!

          1. R


        11. J

          Your a moron. Happy with the mentally deficient dolt in the White House now are you? Figures Katherine of Idiocy.

          1. A

            I agree, to compare Henry viii to Trump is very ignorant and woke. Yes, your comment LH and K have no common sense whatsoever!

        12. H

          You sound like a pig begging for food

        13. A

          You took the words right out of my mouth‼️ I have often seen parallels between Henry Tudor, {I do not recognise his claim to the throne as his father was a usurper and he was a SCUMBAG}. and the EVIL OBESE PREVARICATING THIEVING MALIGNANT NARCISSISTIC SOCIOPATHIC SCUMBAG DECAYING PILE OF EXCREMENT CON “man”, MONSTER WHO MASQUERADED AS A SO~CALLED “pres____t”, they resemble each other physically and in personality. Also, Henry Tudor had SOME Plantagenet blood, however, he was also descended from a COMMONER Owen Tudor. I cannot stand either of these individuals. My doctorate is in Archaeology, my specialty is Mediaeval Britain and Europe. The USURPER ended my favourite dynasty THE PLANTAGENETS.

          1. J

            If we are going to talk about USURPERs, I feel compelled to point out that Henry VII usurped the throne from the USURPER Richard III who had usurped it from Edward V, and Edward V was the son of the USURPER Edward IV who usurped the throne from Henry VI, and Henry VI was the grandson of the USURPER Henry IV who usurped it from Richard II.

            I am not at all certain what made Henry VII “a scumbag” as opposed to pretty much any other King of England up to that time. I suspect you make this judgement of him solely because you believe he ended your favorite dynasty, the Plantagenets. In reality, the Plantagenets destroyed themselves.

        14. C

          That is an ignorant and useless comment.
          Shame on you.

        15. K

          Oh yes because Trump and his evil ways are responsible for every bad thing that’s happened sense Eve and the apple… smh… grow up!

        16. S

          Yes! I have no doubt if they could get away with it, they would.

    2. L

      The old battle-axe got what she had coming to her!

      1. A

        Lance Smith show some humility and read the story again. By looking at the evidence she was unjustly executed by an evil sad little King in Henry Viii. Ergo, she was rightly beautified as a martyr.

        1. H

          Yes . I agree .

        2. J

          “Evil”? In his later years, maybe. “Sad little”? Hardly. Henry VIII was tyrannical, but also powerful and charismatic. He was larger than life. He established the Royal Navy and the Royal College of Physicians, he placed England in the center of European politics, created the Church of England, instituted legal and political reforms that are in place today. He is talked about today to a degree that no other English/British monarch is. His dynasty, although it lasted only 118 years and three generations, is the most talked about and written about dynasty in British history.

          Yes, by all means, let’s weep tears for Anne Boleyn and Margaret Pole and Mark Smeaton and Henry Norris and whoever else died at Henry’s whim. (But that doesn’t include Catherine Howard. The State executed her, not Henry.) Boo hoo. See, even I can do it. Boo hoo. See, even I can do it. But times were different then, life was tough, and those who hung around the court were well aware of the danger. No reason to turn Henry VIII from the lion he was into a mouse he wasn’t.

      2. B

        What is wrong with you? Whatever she may have been – and no one then or now ever proved anything wrong or even credible against her even though they tried hard under royal command – no one deserves to be murdered with an ax like a chicken bring hacked by a clumsy oaf of a butcher’s apprentice taking his first shot at using a knife.

      3. j

        yes my ancestors were going inherit the throne of england so watch your mouth
        not queen elizabeth iis …. history was extremly unfair to my [people.

        1. J

          You think things are any different today? They are not!

        2. L

          Lol, “my people”. You’re acting like you’re some entitled Viscount wearing velvet pants, living in a castle ffs…. a couple of generations away.

          Just because you researched your family tree like an amateur doesn’t give you the right to start acting like you’re directly connected to this matter in any serious way.

          1. H

            Yes and no

          2. H

            Yes and no at the same time.

      4. R

        What old battle axe? Margaret Pole wasn’t a battle axe. She had served the Tudor regime loyally, was a governess to Princess Mary and a friend of Queen Katherine of Aragon. She lost her father when she was 3 and her brother was executed by Henry Tudor in 1499. Yet she served Henry Viii for decades. Just because he could not get at her son who wrote against his divorce, Henry took his spite out on Margaret and her family. Her sons, grandson and son in law were all locked up in 1539 with her. Her son was executed as was her son in law. Her grandson, aged 8, vanished, probably starved to death. Margaret was kept alive and then without preparation brought out and suffered 10 strokes of the axe.

        So, how did an elderly and frail woman of 69 get what she deserved? Her death was unnecessary, cruel and agonising.

        1. C

          I agree. Henry the VIII acted like Kim Jung on of Korea acts. A nut case that ruled by fear. He did so because he was intellectually dishonest and religiously a heretic and couldn’t convince people to condone his decisions and bad behaviour.

          1. A

            Kim Jung huh? North Korea is a cartoon state created to simply pose as a nuclear threat. Kim Jung is an actor.

        2. A

          I concur completely. Henry Tudor The SCUMBAG, was well aware that his claim to the throne was WEAK, so he systematically eradicated most of the rivals with stronger claims than him. He destroyed most of the monasteries AND THE TOMB OF SAINT THOMAS ā BECKET, one of my very distant relatives. He makes me sick🤮

        3. V

          Absolutely correct. They had parliament back then she wasn’t even tried by a set of peers to acknowledge her (supposed crimes), just like King Henry VII. Let’s execute people unjustly because they feared of a rising to take over their legitimate claim to the crown! It really was a sad era back then.

      5. J

        Another moron. Hopefully someone will put you in The Tower where your’s will be botched even worse!

        1. T

          Who are you to call anybody a moron? Trump-lovers are deeply moronic.

          1. V

            Is that really necessary? What does Trump have to do with the topic at hand? NOTHING‼️

    3. H

      Henry was misguided by many of his so called advisors thus leading him to do what he did. Each family of the queen schemed behind his back as did cardinal
      Wolsey and Lord Cromwell. Because of these two men many innocent people were executed including Sir Thomas More!!!

      1. L

        It seems that this evil king had his enablers as well as sychophants. I would grant him no excuse for being the hideous greedy, gluttonous pig he actually was.

        1. C

          Henry was a MONSTER< plain and simple! I hope he suffered tremendously on his death bed, a rotting leg wound, too fat to even breathe…Karma had her way, with the ascention of Elizabeth I……hope Henry continues to rot in hell!

          1. S

            You said what I’ve always thought,even when it wasn’t popular to think or say it, way back when I was young and you were taught in school that he was a great English king. I Know he died a SLOW and painful death.

      2. S

        Thomas More was no ‘innocent’. He had no qualms about torturing suspected heretics to get confessions

        1. M


          1. L

            Too many killings during those era.

        2. R

          More did not torture anyone. He had a hand in 5 people being punished under the laws as heretics. There is no contemporary evidence to support later claims of torture. Even Fox who wrote the story corrected it and said it wasn’t correct. Try reading Peter Aykroyd, Richard Morris and John Guy who admit his zeal v heresy but confirmed he didn’t order torture.
          Even if he did, so what, it was Henry Viii who made the law not him and he acted within the law. I don’t see people screaming on here about Cromwell and his use of extreme measures.

          More was a martyr for the true faith and deserves more respect. By the way, nobody deserves to die a horrible and painful death, no matter what.

  3. R

    It has just struck me that Margaret Pole or Princess Margaret Plantagenet of Clarence and Warwick, Countess of Salisbury as she properly should have been called, witnesses, (not literally as in seeing them happen) the death of members of several generations of her family…four in fact if we allow for her grandson being starved or poisoned or dying of neglect. Her father, George, Duke of Clarence was privately executed on the orders of his brother, Edward iv, probably by drowning in a large butt of wine, her brother was beheaded on the orders of Henry Tudor, after being stitched up in treasonous conversation with Warbeck (so the accusations went), her son and son in law, both executed on false conspiracy charges and her grandson died mysteriously in the Tower. Plus of course the sad and barbaric execution for no reason than being a member of the family, the matriarch, who had served Henry loyally through his wife and daughter for decades. It seems more like a systematic annihilation of the last true members of the House of York, who, although barred by statute, had, a better claim to the crown than Henry Viii. This was one of the highest, oldest, noblest families in England, the Tudors had swung between holding them suspect and executing them and using them in long term royal service and as honoured friends. For years Margaret and Gertrude Pole had been friends with Henry Viii and Katherine of Aragon, the former governess to Princess Mary. Henry Pole and Courtney had been close friends of Henry Viii and Reginald benefited from royal patronage in the form of Henry paying for his education. The ladies and Marquis stood godparents to the Kings children. Everything changed when Henry changed. The Poles were devout Catholics. Henry became Head of the Church and divorced Katherine, but the Poles despite not accepting the divorce, signed the Acts of Succession and Supremacy, while privately minding their true faith. Reginald, the family misfit and brilliant scholar, Cardinal and Archbishop, let his feelings known, was upset at the divorce of his aunt and godmother, Katherine of Aragon, writing against it and the supremacy from Europe. His big mistake, however, was allowing himself to be drawn into the anti Henry political agenda in Rome, writing to encourage more rising in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry wanted Reginald big time and sent assassins against him, but failed to catch or kill him. Historians theorize that as Henry could not get hold of Reginald he destroyed his entire family in 1539 when Cromwell cooked up fake charges of conspiracy to wish Henry dead and Margaret, her son, son in law, grandson and their wives and her younger sons were rounded up and put in the Tower. After the execution of her eldest son and son in law Margaret was left in the Tower. One of her remaining grandsons was also kept there but vanished, assumed dead. Her young son Geoffrey was pardoned as he tried to kill himself three times and a younger Courtney brother was also pardoned and later proposed as an unsuitable husband for Queen Mary I. Margaret was not charged or tried. She was just kept a prisoner and then one day in 1541, without any warning she was told that she was about to die. Margaret was bewildered, not knowing what she could have done wrong. Henry killed this pius elderly lady out of spite and revenge. Her execution was badly botched. It took several strokes of the axe to kill her. She was beautified as a Catholic martyr. After a life time of devoted service, this was a terrible way to die, betrayed by the Tudor family, that the Poles chose to accept and serve.

    1. D

      Thank you for such an informative insightful comment. I have been looking for the real reason Anne Boleyn was executed. The separation from the Catholic Church & the origin of the First Church of England coincides with the separation of their banking practices, which were then liberated from the use of Jewish middlemen of the Church due to their restriction on managing their finances. King Henry was directly able to manage his own coffers without the Church’s interference giving him greater control over his entire kingdom & the finances of his court; giving him better insight to their political stance & possible opposition, but also he was no beholden to any higher power, he was then at the point, king with absolute power. By dismissing his Catholic ties with Spain he was free to control his future. History has a way of rewriting itself.

      1. C

        Probably because Henry tired of her- *and she did not produce a living SON/ heir which Henry DESPERATELY needed to secure the throne he never felt secure ON. He was getting older and without the son he desperately needed after TWO marriages, he needed to be rid of her as soon as possible to marry again. His next wife– his “favourite” was Jane Seymour- compared to Anne, very meek and mild, and DID bear the son Henry needed, and died of childbed fever soon after…

        1. P

          Anne was an arrogant social climber but that is not a fatal character flaw. She would have survived if she could produce a male heir. Unfortunately she made an enemy of Cromwell and he moved heaven and earth to get his revenge by playing on the paranoid Henry. She was found guilty of treason based on trumped up charges and Henry’s desperate need of an heir. The tragedy is that Anne wasn’t the only victim.

        2. L

          Henry VIII already had healthy heirs to the throne, he wasn’t desperate. The throne of England accepted female succession. He was simply a mysogynist male chauvinistic PIG and got his reward, a lurid, humiliating death!

          1. A

            This is incorrect on both accounts. Henry VIII was incredibly desperate for a male heir. The succession of his father’s dynastic line absolutely 100% depended on such. Before the 1500s, the only female to ever try to rule England was Matilda, who was opposed by her cousin Stephen and his faction, and a civil war erupted for the next thirty years. This was a legendary dark time in English lore, and men of power often reiterated the outcome as scare tactics to further emphasize their beliefs of the dangers of female monarchs- particularly that female monarchs would not be accepted by the nobility and would ultimately lead to civil war every time. Females were allowed as an absolute last resort, only to preserve royal blood, but never yet accepted, and certainly discouraged. Queen Mary I was only accepted because her father and grandfather had paved the way for her rule (not intended for her, but still) by executing every other peer of the realm who had any claim to the throne. This is the same reason Elizabeth I was accepted as sovereign (and she still had to work for it)- because the Henrys had left no others with authentic right to rule. Both the legitimate royal bloodline (Plantagenet) and the Tudor bloodline was restored when Mary Stuart’s son, James VI of Scotland, became James I.

    2. L

      She seem to have unwittingly lived on the edge of the block most of her life. As a child losing her father at the hands of his brother ( Edward lV). The turmoil between her and her cousin Elizabeth Tutor. Then the murder of her brother (Teddy) and her children. This woman had to have suffered from PTSD. how she could mentally deal with any of this is beyond me.

      1. J

        Her father was executed by his brother, but for the last in a long line of treasonous acts. She clung to the old ways, bones of saints, milk of the virgin, blood of christ, enough splinters of the true cross to take a forest to construct it. Indulgencies for Gods sake. Reginald wisely buggered off, but there was another son who appears to have been a true grandson of his illustrious grandfather who also ultimately dragged the family down, also a bitter, jealous, twisted mummy’s boy. Henry Vlll was without doubt as mad as a sack of frogs, and twitchy, suspicious and disgustingly obese as well as suffering from that godawful ulcer. Under an all powerful monarch like that, if it’s going to cost other people actually related to you their lives (madness), you go undercover and you stay undercover until it’s safe to come out, even if it takes a couple of generations. Madness taking over the land of complete imbecility and building a little house there. Beatified? The woman went down on her knees and begged to be executed. Eventually, her crass and incredible stupidity coincided with Henry losing his patience along with his marbles.
        Mind you, saints, beatifications, magic bones, belts and a variety of habidashery wouldn’t have cut her any slack with me either. Except that l’d have had her empty stupid head on London bridge much earlier.

    3. B

      Did you say Queen Catherine was an aunt to Reginald or did I misread that?

      1. M

        Catherine of Aragon was godmother to Reginald Pole.

    4. M

      The word you’ve used, and so has another person on here, ‘beautified’ is to do with making yourself or someone ‘beautiful’.
      The word you are looking for is ‘beatified’ – not that I believe such a thing can be done nor is it important, it is meaningless. But it least use the right word as I doubt Margaret was way beyond thinking about ‘beauty’ by then!

      1. M

        Beatification is still important to Catholics all over the world.

  4. R

    Henry was pure evil in the way he executed people and to have done this to a 68 year old woman! His father came to the throne by a spurious claim to the throne and if it had not been for the traitorous act of Thomas Stanley,he would have lost the battle that day. Richard paid on the battlefield that day for being a traitor to the young Edward when instead of crowning him ,locked him up in the tower.

    1. J

      Excuse me, but bollocks. Since Edward IVs marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was bigamous on account of the fact that Edward was already pre contracted to a trusting young virgin of this land named lady Eleanor Cobham, to whom he was pre contracted, as pre contraction was just as binding as marriage vows which made Edward a married man. Elizabeth Woodville had a bigger, tougher family. But when the pre contraction came to light, the jig was up and all of Edwards hitherto presumed legitimate children were, without a shadow of a doubt, bastards, and as such barred from taking the thrown.
      Now, as legitimising Elizabeth of York also legitimised both of her brothers, the two people who had a cracking motive to get rid of them was fanatical mum Margaret Beaufort and her pitiful spawn Henry Tudor, both descended from a bastard, from a family specifically disbarred from the throne, a crazy Valois (take a peek at Henry VI, mother = crazy valois princess married to Henry V, daughter of father who thought he was made of glass. Oh, and a bit of rough groom. Henry’s family tree stump. There. You’ve learnt some historical facts.

      1. L

        Ha ha. I loved how Margaret Beaufort was portrayed in The Spanish Queen. What an actress and I oved the series. For those who are not sympathetic to Margaret Pole might have thought Laura Carmichael (who played Edith, the woman who just wasn’t allowed to be happy on Downton Abby) was perfectly cast for this streaming series on HBO.

        1. L

          That is Spanish Princess not Spanish Queen. Perhaps your facts are not that correct?

          1. S

            The Spanish Princess series becomes The Spanish Queen after Catherine’s marriage to Henry.

      2. J

        Well, none of my comments are posting, but what the heck, it doesn’t hurt to try.

        There is no evidence that Edward IV was pre contracted to Eleanor Butler, whether she was a “trusting young virgin” or not. Richard III fabricated that, and terrified Parliament into saying they believed it. Parliament did not have the right to rule on that, anyway. It was a church matter. It’s ludicrous to say that the children of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville were “bastards without a shadow of a doubt.”

        Nobody knows for certain who killed the Princes in the Tower. It cannot be proven. It has not been and never will be. So please do not say as fact that Henry VII and his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort killed them. It is more likely that Richard III did. It’s more likely that the person on the throne kills a threat to his rule than that two people attempting to gain the throne kill someone else who doesn’t have it. It didn’t matter what lies Richard made up, he knew that the Princes would be a threat to his rule as long as they lived, and he had already shown that he was utterly ruthless when it came to gaining the throne. Why would he not be utterly ruthless when it came to keeping it?

        As for Henry Tudor being pitiful, I bet you wish you could be that pitiful. He bravely invaded with a small army, won the throne, held onto it, replenished the bankrupt Exchequer, and restored the power and stability of the monarchy,

        John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, the only one of Henry VII’s ancestors who was born illegitimate, was legitimized in 1396 when his parents married. The wording of the Act of Parliament which legitmized John Beaufort and his three Beaufort siblings made it clear that they were to be considered as always having been legitimate and to be treated as if they always had been and were due all titles, privileges, and honors as if they had never been illegitimate There was NO condition made at that time that they or their descendants would be barred from the throne. That was done ten years later, in 1406, by their half-brother Henry IV, and by him alone, when he attached a codicil to the Letters Patent which John Beaufort had requested of him. A King did not have the right to amend an Act of Parliament that way, but nobody challenged him on it. Therefore, the codicil was illegal and it need not be paid heed to. Therefore, Henry VII was not legally barred from the throne.

        As for going on about Henry VII’s grandfather, Owen Tudor, being Clerk of the Wardrobe, what kind of silly snobbery is that?

        And Henry VII did not show any evidence of inheriting a propensity for mental illness. Every person inherits only 50% of each parent’s DNA, and 25% of each grandparent’s, and even less of a great-grandparent’s, etc. , and Charles VI was Henry VII’s great-grandfather, so the odds that Henry would inherit it were never great. Henry VI, of course, unfortunately did.

      3. B

        Absolutely correct. All the wickedness stems from Margaret Beaufort. She orchestrated the murder of the two Princes of York in the Tower and forced her son, Henry onto the throne, all while secretly ‘disposing’ of people that would, in her mind, get in his way.
        She was a fanatical, deluded, evil woman her entire life.
        I understand she had a horrific childhood being married and forced to have a child at just 12 years of age but she carried out some truly despicable horrors against people in order to ‘fulfil the prophecy’ she decided was a thing. She claimed that God told her her son was to be King and she murdered, lied, conspired and cheated her way to the Palace and Regency.
        A truly awful, evil woman.

  5. C

    I’m doing a project about Margaret Pole, yet I still don’t know how she was accused, why she was accused, or even if she was innocent or guilty. My project is due in 6 weeks please help me clear this up. Thank you!!

    1. L

      How about doing some research yourself?

      1. N

        Bravo! I concur!!!

      2. E

        👏😁 Absolutely! Do your own valid research, indeed! If you do your research correctly, you will learn much more accurate information and understanding from valid sources. You will also gain skills, a sense of accomplishment, and confidence that will stand you in good stead the rest of your life. Good luck! ☺️

    2. K

      There are pages of research at the bottom of this article. They should help you finish your paper.

    3. J

      See my comment. It’s fairly accurate.

  6. A

    I think the US became a country because of the Tudors. Their selfish and bloody reign made people want to flee.

    1. S

      You may be right. My son’s middle name is Stafford, for his grandmother’s family, who fled England generations ago and were related to Lady Pole.

    2. J

      And all those bloody convicts and puritans

    3. L

      Did you know that John Lennon’s mother was a Stanley? Lennon and MacCarthney and probably the rest of the boys were closely related and of PEERAGE.

    4. T

      I was thinking the same thing. The religious persecution, the tyranny of rulers and the lack of social mobility, created the yearning for America before it even existed.

  7. K

    Margaret Pole was a product of her time and Henry VIII ,s vindictiveness about missing Her Cardinal son stowed away in Rome.
    I did realise that she was of Royal Plantagenet blood but not the fact that her husband was of quite low status.
    The fact that he was executed at The Tower on trumped up charges by The Crown,then her son’s followed a similar fate,ending up herself being beheaded on trumped up charges(Are there any records of these charges ?),
    A blatant case of State Murder of A Royal Princess who stood up for her beliefs to the end.
    I like to think That I could stand up to a bully like Henry and hold July head up to the moment I was murdered.
    As a previous writer stated Richard should have been King,and maybe no Detonation in this Country.

  8. J

    Les recomiendo (si saben español) la lectura novelada de la historia de Lady Salisbury en el libro “6 relatos ejemplares 6” de la escritora española María Elvira Roca Barea (2018). Su relato titulado “La última reina” trata de la desdichada Margaret Pole y es magnífico. Además ofrece un interesante contrapunto de este triste episodio de la historia inglesa.

  9. S

    You may be right. My son’s middle name is Stafford, for his grandmother’s family, who fled England generations ago and were related to Lady Pole.

  10. S

    One has to remember that Margaret was Henry’s own aunt

    1. A

      Margaret Pole was Henrys cousin not aunt,

    2. D

      No his cousin…margret was cousin to Henry 8s mother…Lizzie, margrets mother and lizzies mother were sisters.

      1. F

        No no. Elizabeth of York’s mother was Elizabeth Rivers. Her father Edward IV was brother to George Warwick, Margaret Pole’s father

        1. K

          Elizabeth of York’s mother was Elizabeth Woodville.

        2. J

          Cor blimey, make your minds up. If Draw up a family tree. It’s quite simple. But watching Plantagenets troop up to the block throughout her life should have hammered it into even her thick scull. Do not mess with the Tudors. They’re not going to last and it’s pissing them off. Do not do anything to make it worse. She did. She clung to her Roman Catholic religion even when it was treason so to do. Beatified? If she deserved beatification, l deserve it for putting up with a certifiably insane sister all my life, and we aren’t allowed to execute each other!

  11. J

    Margaret’s father and Elizabeth’s father were brothers. Their mothers were not related.

    1. S

      Margaret Poles father was George duke of Clarence ,Henry 7 wife Elizabeth was Edward 4 daughter , they were brothers ,so Margaret and elisabeth are first cousins

  12. J

    Anne Boleyn was executed because she mocked Henry VIII’s performance in the bedroom.

    1. C - Post Author

      There were several factors in her downfall.

    2. J

      I think her biggest mistake Was when she said to Henry norris.. That he was “looking for dead mens shoes”…

  13. C

    I have recently found out more about my ancestry and realize I am related to the Pole family. My maiden name being Pole. My husband had researched my family tree, but not as far as Richard III. we stayed at Lordington House last year, which was the home of Richard Pole. They have pictures up of Lady Margaret and the history of the family.

    1. C - Post Author

      How wonderful!

    2. L

      Congratulations, Carol. That would make you a Plantagenat also? You share bloodlines with Brad Pitt and Alec Baldwin for starters, if so. Read Updates: Miles Mathis. He does marvelous work with geneology.

  14. K

    Fascinating to read about Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury ,one of my direct ancestors.
    It seems that her religion and Plantagenet bloodline dating back some 400years compared with the mere 120 years that the Tudors managed.
    She was a victim of her own mistakes ,and of political expediency by a jealous Henry 8th.
    He did not want any Plantagenet member surviving to lead a rebellion against Protestantism by Catholics.
    I am proud of her and her family,and hope similar events would be remembered.

  15. D

    Catherine Howard was Henry’s fourth wife. His fifth wife was Catherine Parr.

    1. L

      Catherine Howard was the 4th wife and Kathrynn Parr was the 6th wife and only surviving widow. Anne of Cleves was the 5th wife.

      1. J

        Anne of Cleves and Henry’s marriage was annulled 3 weeks before he married his 5th wife, Catherine Howard. Catherine was his 5th wife and Anne was his 4th wife.

        1. S

          Easy way to remember:
          Divorced (Katherine of Aragon)
          Beheaded (Anne Boleyn)
          Died (Jane Seymour)
          Divorced (Anne of Cleves)
          Beheaded (Catherine Howard)
          Survived (Catherine Parr)

          1. M

            Correct. Catherine Parr didn’t live much longer though. She remarried quickly after Henry’s death, got pregnant, and died in childbirth.

    2. J

      Wrong. Take an order mark. There’s another Anne squeezed in there

  16. C

    Yeah fascinated by how richard 111 betrayed his bro and in turn Edward 4 betrayed George of clarence margaret was innocent in all this losing both parents by the age of 5 and then murdered by her own nephew Henry 8 for no valid reason other than his hatred of Reginald pole her son

    1. N

      Henry was Margaret’s 1st cousin once removed

      1. T

        Finally someone got that righta

  17. S

    Henry the XIII was an arrogant, child and wife abuser, who left unchecked, with his massive self-importance, turned serial killer. It’s thought now that his behaviour was due to McLeod Syndrome and I believe that there is evidence to support that. However, that doesn’t excuse the execution of 100s of devout, loyal and terrified subjects. An era where you never know what the tyrant would do next!

    1. R

      Henry Viii wasn’t a child abuser or wife abuser. Yes he executed two of his six wives on dubious and in the case of Anne Boleyn, false charges. There isn’t any evidence of child abuse or wife abuse.

  18. F

    Sad story

  19. L

    You know, there are those out there who believe that royals and world leaders never killed or executed each other. That, regecide is, in fact, a taboo, given their ‘divine rights’ to rule. What do you guys say? Is this BULLOCKS?

  20. S

    Henry was so obsessed with providing and male that he forgot about his soul and legacy as a madman.

    1. S

      Henry was so obsessed with providing a male heir that he forgot about his soul. Sorry for the mess up of auto correct did me in

  21. T

    I have a theory. Reginald Pole had been forced to live apart from his family for much of his childhood/young adulthood. Margaret Pole was left a pauper after her husband died and she fell out of favour with Margaret Beaufort (the reason being for refusing to confirm that Arthur and Katherine were wedded and bedded while under her care. Margaret Beaufort did *not* want Henry marrying Katherine of Aragon. Turns out she was right to oppose the match as it led to nothing but a string of dead babies save for the young princess she bore who would grow up to be “Bloody Mary” and of course a horrible, tragic ending for the divorced and neglected Katherine herself. In hindsight, she would have been better off going back to Spain after Arthur’s death then live the life she did in England).
    Margaret Pole the newly widowed Plantagenet heir had to make some tough decisions after her husband died and she sent Reginald to live with a silent order of monks. I wonder if that fact played a part in Reginalds seemingly thoughtless and cruel decision to deliberately anger the king from afar resulting in his own mother’s peril and downfall and ultimately her death and that of his brothers…who were coincidentally never forced to live away from the family. He had to know that his words would lead to his family being the target of the kings anger and he had to know that it would put his mother in mortal danger.

    1. R

      What a load of rubbish. This is straight out of Philippa Gregory and is not fact.

      There wasn’t any problem with Margaret Beaufort and Margaret Pole or Katherine of Aragon and the two Margarets. Stuff and nonsense.

      As for Reginald Pole, he had every right to criticise Henry Viii and his annulment. He should not have allowed himself to get involved in plots against him and support the ill fated Pilgrimage of Grace, but his family had little part in that. No matter what Reginald wrote, it wasn’t his mother who wrote it. Henry couldn’t get his hands on Reginald and so with fake charges from Cromwell he arrested the entire family. The execution of Margaret Pole was cruel and unnecessary and nothing to do with Katherine of Aragon and Margaret Beaufort.

  22. Y

    Geoffrey Pole, The youngest brother who was mommy’s favourite and spoiled throughout his young life, Was ironically more instrumental in his mother’s downfall then Reginald was by provoking the king. For a warm dinner and some clothes he sold his family down the river. Perhaps he already realized that they were doomed either way so he figured he will save his own skin rather then die with the rest of him. We cannot know what he was thinking but it is without a doubt he spent the rest of his life in shame and regret for his actions. He tried to commit suicide multiple times after he sealed his family’s fate. The story of the Plantagenets is a sad tale that makes you think how different it would’ve been if Henry Tudor had lost the battle of Bosworth (which, without the treachery of the Stanley’s, he likely would have). Henry Tudor was a usurper. The York’s should have held the crown and likely their line would still be on the throne today. Instead the “curse” real or not, on the Tudor line did it’s work. The line ended with a barren girl. Elizabeth, Anne Boleyns daughter.

    1. R

      There wasn’t any curse on the Tudor line by anyone. Stop watching Philippa Gregory and do some research.

  23. L

    York Princess
    Margaret Beaufort (Henry’s mother) was married to Thomas Stanley, he was never going to back Richard who was also a usurper and most probably a double child killer to boot! These were ruthless times, Kevin Mills has it about right in his comments above. The Tudors were not perfect but we, in this age, cannot imagine how it must have felt to be plotted against and not know who to trust.

    1. R

      There wasn’t any curse on the Tudor line by anyone. Stop watching Philippa Gregory and do some research. There is also no evidence that Richard or anyone killed the Princes in the Tower. Even so, this had nothing to do with the execution of Margaret Pole whose family were well treated until 1536 by Henry Viii. It was a fall out from the divorce, the Supremacy and the written criticism from Reginald Pole. Henry took it out on the rest of the family.

      1. B

        There were bones discovered in entrance of the Tower belonging to two small boys.
        That is fact. Look it up.

  24. I

    Thank you for an informative article on an ancestor, it is such a tragic tale.

  25. S

    Can you imagine talking to the king today, to look back at all he did for his protection of crown, a son, or just because he lusted, all the brutal deaths, and they were brutal, and mostly with torture, after all that, to have had the daughter from a queen he beheaded to have been such a Queen in her own right, what would he say to look back as we are now. Would he stand there and try to justify all the horror, or would he just throw his hands up and say, what was all that about there anyway, n
    o remorse, or just puzzled at how it all turned out. I think so much inbreeding with all the royals caused then to be insane, at least paranoid and by-polar, did they ever feel love, nothing came to them without strings attached, all friendships, marriages, even family,, was full of deception. Turned them all into murderers eventually to protect the family heritage.

  26. C

    I just finished watching the Spanish Princess.
    They never showed her execution.
    That Henry was a serial murderer.

    How come they called there parents Lady Mother or Lady Aunt?

  27. R

    The execution of Margaret Pole wasn’t shown in the Spanish Princess because it happened in 1541, two decades after the series finished.
    In any case the series isn’t accurate, none of the stuff by Philippa Gregory is accurate.

    I would recommend you read a life of Margaret Pole and only enjoy drama as entertainment, not history.

  28. J

    This is a very well researched and well written life of this much-wronged lady: Pierce, Hazel (2003). Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, 1473–1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership, University of Wales Press, ISBN 0-7083-1783-9

  29. E


  30. A

    Margaret Pole led a tragic and difficult life, fought mostly uphill and winning very little along the way. I have always felt that between her and Mary, Queen of Scots, I don’t know which one had the hardest life.., probably Madame Pole, at least Mary was a queen for a while. However, the Countess, did have some joy life, especially considering she lived far longer than the average woman during that time period. Her children must have brought her some joy and, from what I’ve learned, she did grow to love her husband (which is unordinary in arranged marriages). She was born into such wealth and power and yet struggled almost every day of her life to survive. So shameful that King Henry was so power mad that he felt he had to execute his 67 yr. old aunt for fear of his position, after a life of turmoil and heartache. She is assuredly one of the most tragic figures in all Tudor history.

    1. A

      I agree completely, and well said. Both of the women you mentioned are powerful figures as victims of tragic familial ambition and fear. I do believe Mary got the worst deal, since her child was taken from her so young. It is always terrible to lose a child, but to have your babe taken from you and then be imprisoned while he grows up, knowing he was already in a public and vulnerable position upon birth, must be a terrifying state to live in, and on top of that you have no distractions or joys whatsoever to keep you from the thought.
      For all of Margaret’s trials, she did at least live to see her children grow, and become successful, before she did see some of their lives ended or ruined. She was there when her children learned to walk, to talk, their prayers and playtime.
      The last twenty years of Mary Stuart’s life must have been total and complete misery, and her youth wasn’t as kind to her as one would have expected, since she was anointed Queen at only 9 days old.
      On the other hand, one could argue that Margaret never once attempted to seize power or control in any way, and yet was punished for such, and Mary did in fact lay claim to the English throne, against a current sitting sovereign. Mary no doubt knew the dangers she literally courted in some of her very public actions. Neither women, of course, deserved their fates in any way, and neither will be forgotten by me.

  31. A

    Rest ye in sweet peace, in the songs of larks and nightingales and ‘neath the softest of angel’s wings, blessed Lady Margaret Plantagenet.

  32. P

    Henry VII was not a legitimate king. HIS father was not the king, but the kings’ brother.
    So Henry VIII also was not a legitimate king, either.
    I’m guessing the only Tudor king that was legitimate was Henry the VI.

    1. C - Post Author

      Henry VII claimed the throne by right of conquest, like others before him, so he was a legitimate king.
      Henry VI wasn’t a Tudor, he was a Plantagenet, but, like Henry VII, of the House of Lancaster.

  33. K

    Just found she is part of our family when I was tracing my father’s family tree

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The Downfall of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, by Alexander Taylor