Friday, May 1, 2009
Friday's Royal Ancestor; Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury
Margaret Plantagenet Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541. She is a distant cousin of mine through the Neville's and Plantagenet's. A woman of real principal. She was the last member of the Plantagenet dynasty, the daughter of the 1st Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward IV and Richard III.
Her father was executed by his brother Edward IV when she was four. Upon her father's execution her brother Edward succeeded as 17th Earl of Warwick and 7th Earl of Salisbury. Edward spent most of his short life in the Tower of London as Henry VII's prisoner. He was the last male reprensenitive of the Yorkist line and was seen as a major threat to the Tudor King and upon the King's order was executed in 1499.
In 1513 Henry VIII allowed Margaret the title of 8th Countess of Salisbury following which was the Act of Restitution giving her back all her ancestral domains, making her a very wealthy woman. She married Sir Richard Pole in 1491. Richard died in 1505 leaving Margaret with five children, best known was Reginald Pole, who became Cardinal Pole who was in open opposition to Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon.
After the birth of Lady Mary Tudor King Henry VIII's daughter from Queen Catherine of Aragon, Margaret became Mary's godmother and Governess. They formed a loving and lasting relationship.
Mary was still in Countess Salisbury's charge when Henry married Anne Boleyn. Henry was receiving opposition in his efforts to have his daughter treated as illegitimate, for this reason he had the Countess removed from Lady Mary's household. She was a staunch Catholic which the King considered a threat. She begged to be allowed to serve Lady Mary at her own cost. She was brought back to court after the execution of Anne Boleyn.
In 1530 her son Cardinal Reginald Pole, then in exile sent King Henry a copy of his published threatise Pro escclesiasticae unitatis desensione
, a pamphlet commissioned by the Pope denouncing King Henry's policies. The King being so enraged, and determined that Cardinal Pole's family should pay for the insult, he had the Countess and her eldest son Henry Pole, 1st Baron on Montagu arrested in 1538 and sent to the Tower charged with treason.
In the Tower she suffered great indignities, and ill health. On the morning of 27 May 1541 she was dragged from her cell to the block for execution, she was 67 years old, frail and ill. She refused to lay her head on the block and was forced down. The executioners first blow struck her shoulder. It took several blows to complete the execution. She was buried at the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London along with two of her sons.
Her son Reginald Pole became the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. She has been regarded by Catholics as a true Martyr, and was beatified in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII.
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