Tag Archives: Margaret Pole

On this day in 1501 – Henry Stafford was born

Henry Stafford was born on 18th September 1501 in Penshurst, Kent to Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Eleanor Percy.

On 16th February 1519 Stafford married Ursula Pole, daughter of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and Sir Richard Pole. The marriage had been arranged by Stafford’s father the Duke of Buckingham after it was suggested by Cardinal Wolsey. Ursula brought a dowry of 3,000 marks which would be increased by a thousand if her mother was able to gain back family land from King Henry VIII. Ursula’s mother, Margaret Pole, managed to secure them lands worth 700 marks and in return Edward Stafford kept lands worth £500 for Ursula’s jointure, in the event of her husband’s death.

Henry Stafford and his new wife lived in the household of his father as due to their young age they were required to have a guardian. In November 1520 the couple had their first child, named Henry, who died in infancy.

In 1521 Henry’s father was arrested and beheaded after being accused of treason, he was posthumously attainted by an Act of Parliament in 1523 which meant that his titles and lands were forfeited to the crown leaving Henry and his family with no support. Until the Attainder against his father, Henry had been known as the Earl of Stafford.

It is believed that Henry and Ursula had 14 children during the course of their marriage including Dorothy Stafford who served Queen Elizabeth I as Mistress of the Robes.

In 1547 Henry petitioned Parliament for the restoration in blood but did not ask for his father’s lands and titles to be returned to him. Instead in 1548 he was summoned to appear in front of Parliament and it was here that he was created 1st Baron Stafford by King Edward VI. It was the fourth time Baron Stafford had been created but because it had been viewed as a new creation he was the first in this line. Henry in February 1558 won the right for the title to have been recognised as a continuation from 1299, giving the title its history.

In 1531 Staffordshire elected him as a recorder for the borough and he was later appointed as Justice of Peace for Staffordshire and Shropshire in 1536. Henry was also the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire between 1558 and 1559 a role that included Clerk of the Peace.

In 1548 Henry published an English translation of the 1534 tract by Edward Foxe entitled ‘The True Dyfferens Between the Royall Power and the Ecclesiasticall Power’. During the reign of Queen Mary I he converted back to Catholicism and translated two tracts by Erasmus against Luther. His personal library included over 300 books many of which were in Latin.

Henry died on 30th April 1563 at Caus Castle in Shropshire. He was buried in Worthen Church on 6th May.

wothen churchWorthen Church the burial place of Henry Stafford

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On this day in 1570 – Lady Ursula Pole died

Ursula Pole was born in 1504 and was the only daughter of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and Sir Richard Pole. Making Ursula the granddaughter of the Duke of Clarence and therefore had a claim to the English throne. Sir Richard Pole died when Ursula was only one year old. Ursula had four older brothers all of whom acquired positions within King Henry VIII’s court. Ursula grew up at the family home at Warblington Castle, Hampshire whilst her mother acted as Royal Governess to the Princess Mary.

Lady Ursula married Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford on 16th February 1518 when she was 15 years old and he was 18. The marriage was suggested by Cardinal Wolsey and arranged by Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham. Ursula’s dowry was 3000 marks which would be increased by a further thousand if her mother was able to reclaim some of her family lands from King Henry VIII. Instead, the Countess of Salisbury gave the couple land in Somerset and Devon that was worth 700 marks. The Duke of Buckingham also ensured that lands worth £500 were set aside for Ursula in case she was widowed. The Duke also paid for the wedding with the exception of Ursula’s clothes which her mother paid for.

Due to the newlyweds ages the couple went to live within the household of the Duke of Buckingham, who acted as their guardians. Ursula was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in France, in 1520, she was four months pregnant and in November 1520 Ursula gave birth to the couple’s first child.

Just a year later in 1521 Ursula’s father in law was arrested on charges of treason and beheaded. After his death an Act of Attainder was passed and his titles and lands were forfeited to the King, leaving Ursula and her husband very little to live on. It was not until 1547 when King Edward VI created her husband, Henry, the 1st Baron Stafford meaning that Ursula was now a Baroness.

The couple had 14 children in total, seven sons and seven daughters. Their eldest daughter Dorothy would go on to serve Queen Elizabeth I as Mistress of the Robes. Ursula had seen many of her family members lose their lives at the hands of the royal executioner from her mother and brother to her son Thomas was executed for treason for leading an unsuccessful uprising against Queen Mary I in 1557.

Having lost her husband in 1563 Ursula died on 12th August 1570, aged 66 her final resting place is unknown.

Ursula PoleLady Ursula Pole

On this day in 1541 – Lady Margaret Pole was executed

Margaret Pole was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and Lady Isabel Neville making Margaret niece to both King Edward IV and King Richard III. Margaret would have had a claim to the English throne had it not have been for the attainder passed against her father after he was executed for treason.

During King Richard III’s reign Margaret and her brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, were kept at Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire until Richard was defeated by the hands of Henry Tudor’s army at the Battle of Bosworth. After this Margaret’s brother was taken into the Tower of London only to be seen once in 1487 before he was eventually killed as he was considered a rival to the throne and the focus of the rebels cause. Margaret, however, was married of to Henry’s cousin Sir Richard Pole in an attempt to make her forgotten by marrying her to a lowly courtier.

Sir Richard Pole was created Chamberlain for Arthur Tudor, Henry’s eldest son and when Arthur married Katherine of Aragon Margaret was one of her ladies in waiting. The Pole’s would be at Ludlow Castle until Arthur died in 1502 and Richard was put in charge of the Welsh Marches.

Sir Richard and Margaret Pole had five children when Richard died in 1504 and with the death of her husband Margaret was left with limited land and no income and so Henry VII paid for Sir Richard’s funeral to help ease the financial burden. Also to help her family Margaret arranged for one of her sons, Reginald, to enter the Church. Reginald’s relationship with his mother was to be strained after this and he had a career that eventually led him to be Archbishop of Canterbury during Mary I reign.

With Henry VIII coming to the throne after the death of his father Margaret was again appointed a lady in waiting to his new wife and Margaret’s former lady, Katherine of Aragon. Henry was very favourable to Margaret and restored some of her brother’s lands to her at the cost of 5000 marks. She was restored the lands of the Earl of Salisbury making her one of only two ladies in England to be a peer in her own right and by 1538 Margaret was the fifth richest peer in England.

Margaret’s other children became favoured by the new King, her eldest son Henry was created Baron Montagu and her second son Arthur was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Margaret’s daughter, Ursula, married Henry Stafford and her youngest son, Geoffrey, married the daughter of Sir Edmund Pakenham.

Margaret’s favour continued when she was made Princess Mary’s Governess and she remained loyal to Mary. When Mary was declared illegitimate and her household was broken apart Margaret asked to remain with Mary at her own cost, a request that was turned down. Even the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, suggested to the King that Mary was kept with Margaret again Henry refused calling Margaret ‘a fool, of no experience’.

The Plantagenet name remained a strong name in England and when Henry began to turn away from Rome the north began to rise and the Pole name, in particular Reginald, was a name that the rebels would march behind. Henry began investigating the rebels and Sir Geoffrey was arrested after being found communicating with Reginald. Under interrogation Geoffrey admitted that Lord Montagu and his mother as well as Henry Courtenay had all corresponded with Reginald as well. They were all arrested in Novemnber 1538.

January 1539 saw Geoffrey pardoned and released but Lord Montagu and Henry Courtenay were executed on the charge of treason. All those arrested were attainted this included Montagu and Courtenay who were already dead. As part of the evidence for the attainders Thomas Cromwell had produced a tunic worn by the Pilgrimage of the Grace that bore the symbol of the Five Wounds of Christ. This was enough for Henry to condemn his mother’s cousin to death.

Margaret Pole and her grandson, Henry and Courtenay’s son were held in the Tower of London where they would remain for the next two and a half years. On the morning of 27th May 1541 Margaret was informed that she was to executed within the hour and prepare herself. Her execution is remembered as being one of the most horrific. A block was prepared and 150 witnesses were there to see the former Countess of Salisbury die. Margaret was dragged and forced to place her head on the block and the executioner took his first swing, missing Margaret’s neck completely and hitting her shoulder. It allegedly took a further 10 blows before Margaret died. She was later laid to rest in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London.Margaret Pole

Book review – The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory has a real talent for bringing alive the characters of her stories. Those who lived and breathed during the Wars of the Roses over 500 years ago are brought to life on the pages of her books. The King’s Curse is no different as we follow Margaret Pole through 40 years of her life.

Margaret Pole, Plantagenet by birth and niece to King Edward IV and King Richard III is now living in the Tudor court. Her brother, Edward, is locked away in the Tower of London his only crime is being the true Plantagenet heir to the throne. We are first introduced to Margaret in The King’s Curse after her brother has been executed on the orders of Henry VII at the request of the Spanish monarchs before they send their daughter, Katherine of Aragon, to England for marriage to the King’s oldest son, Arthur.

Margaret is head of the household at Ludlow Castle serving Prince Arthur and his new bride Katherine. We see through her eyes the developing love between the newlyweds and the heart break when Arthur dies just months later.

Margaret is sent home to her husband, an arranged marriage at the hands of Henry VII in order to bury the Plantagenet name and memory of years past. Margaret and her husband struggle with money and to raise their own children and with the death of her husband the family are pushed into poverty. As a reader you really feel for Margaret who has to do anything she can to survive.

With Henry VIII taking the throne upon his father’s death he is keen to unite the once warring families, especially as his mother was also a Princess of York. He restores his aunt’s titles and lands to her and welcomes her to court once again running the household of the new Queen, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret is loyal to the new Queen as she was when she was in Ludlow. We stay with Margaret in the service of the Queen for more than a decade where she is witness to the Queen’s many miscarriages and stillbirths along with the birth of the only surviving child a daughter, Mary.

With the possibility of any more children born to the Queen we see Henry change from the boy that Margaret knew who was caring and loving to a bitter man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. This starts with putting aside Queen Katherine in favour of Anne Boleyn and raising his illegitimate son to a Dukedom.

Margaret remains loyal to the Queen and her daughter Mary, who she is the governess of. Margaret spends much of her time during this part of the story at her home and court news is relayed to her through hers son. Through this we learn of Henry’s break with Rome and the oath he makes every subject take throughout the country to the King’s new marriage and subsequently the birth of his new daughter, Elizabeth. With the news coming in the form of letters and her sons it does not place Margaret in the centre of the action so we are only told what is needed to be known and the less important details are left out.

Whilst at Margaret’s home we get to see the relationship with her family in particularly the strained relationship with her youngest son, Reginald. We are also able to see Margaret’s reactions to the Pilgrimage of the North and how the Pole family remain loyal to the Princess and want to act in her best interest as she is declared illegitimate.

Henry’s descent from the sweet child whose brother was destining to be King to the tyrant he became in his later life is really well documented in The King’s Curse his failures to produce many living heirs, his many wives and a country that drives him to be paranoid about anyone and everyone is clear to see and you have a clear understanding of what drove Henry to lose his way.

The tragic ending of the book shows just how far Henry’s paranoia stretched and I’d be surprised if you aren’t reaching for a tissue or calling out in support of Margaret.

As with many historical novels they don’t cover all the facts and truths but I find that they are a good starting place to jumpstart further readings to learn the truth.

The King’s Curse is well written each character is a good rounded person with their own personalities and the writing flows so easy that you find yourself constantly saying ‘just one more chapter’. Philippa Gregory once again shows why she is leading the way with historical novels.

The King's Curse

On this day in 1500 – Cardinal Reginald Pole born

It is widely accepted that Cardinal Reginald Pole was born on 3rd March 1500. He was born in Stourton Castle in Staffordshire to Sir Richard Pole and his wife Margaret. Margaret was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, which made Margaret the niece of King Edward IV and Richard III. Therefore Reginald would have had a strong Plantagenet claim to the throne had it not been for the Bill of Attainder that was passed against his grandfather when he was found guilty of treason.

Pole studied at Oxford from the age of 12 and completed his degree just after the age of 15. It looks like Pole was always destining for a life within the clergy.

Henry VIII bestowed many honours on Pole including the deanery of Wimborne Minister in Dorest, the Prebendary of Salisbury and the Dean of Exeter, despite never being ordained into the church. In 1521, with Henry’s blessing, Pole set off to the University of Padua where he quickly became popular and was highly regarded amongst scholars like Erasmus and Thomas More. Henry paid half of Pole’s fees whilst he was studying abroad.

Pole remained in Padua until 1527 when he returned home. Henry at this time was desperate for Pole’s support and his written opinion on ‘The Great Matter’, his divorce with Katherine of Aragon. In exchange for his support Henry offered Pole the role of Archbishop of York or the Diocese of Winchester in return for his loyalty. Pole wanted to avoid being dragged into the situation instead seeked permission to leave for France to further his studying. In effect he went into self imposed exile to avoid answering Henry’s demands. Despite this Henry was still covering Pole’s allowances abroad.

In May 1536, Pole eventually spoke out against Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. Henry called Pole back to England to answer questions on his writings. Pole disobeyed Henry’s orders and instead headed to Rome after receiving a Papal invitation to stay at the Vatican from Pope Paul III. This was a blow to Henry as it was clear for all to see that the once close relationship that they shared was over as Pole sided with Rome against Henry and England.

Despite never being ordained Pole, in 1537, was created a Cardinal and was charged with organising a march on London to replace Henry’s current government with a Roman Catholic one to bring the country back in line with Rome.

In retaliation to Pole’s betrayal Henry arrested members of the Pole family including his brother, nephew and mother, the Countess of Salisbury and charged each of them with treason and aiding Reginald Pole and his cause. All but one was found guilty and Bills of Attainders were passed against them all stripping of their titles and land and eventually they were executed for Pole’s betrayal.

Pope Paul III died in 1549 and a conclave was held to find his successor, at one point Pole had nearly two – thirds of the votes required to become Pope, however, Pole didn’t want to campaign to become Pope and so support began to slip away from him.

Reginald Pole remained a Cardinal and was quietly dedicated to his work. That is until the death of Edward VI in 1553. With the Catholic Mary I taking the throne Pole’s life was once again an active one. He instantly wrote to the newly anointed Queen and successfully returned to England from exile as Papal Legate in 1554.

Under Mary I, Pole saw the attainder against his family reversed and was finally ordained as a Priest in 1556. Two days later on 22nd March Pole was consecrated as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Pole was the last Roman Catholic to hold this position. Alongside this he also acted as chief minister and advisor to the Queen.

Cardinal_Reginald_Pole

Reginald Pole died on 17th Nov 1558, most likely for the influenza which had gripped London in an epidemic. He died just a few short hours after Queen Mary I. He is buried at Canterbury Cathedral.