Pole, Margaret Plantagenet, Bl.
POLE, MARGARET PLANTAGENET, BL.
Married woman, martyr; b. Castle Farley, near Bath, Aug. 14?, 1473; d. London, May 27, 1541. She was of the house of Plantagenet; the niece of Edward IV and Richard III; daughter of George, duke of Clarence; mother of Cardinal Reginald pole. Margaret was three years old when her mother died (Dec. 22, 1476). A year later her father was arraigned on a charge of high treason and put to death in the Tower (Jan. 16, 1478). Margaret and her brother Edward, earl of Warwick, found their position insecure at the accession of Richard III (1483) since they were children of Richard's eldest brother. Edward, nearest male heir to Edward IV, was judicially murdered by Henry VII (1499). Margaret married Sir Richard Pole, son of Sir Geoffrey Pole, and was made countess of Salisbury (Oct. 14, 1513) by Henry VIII, partly to atone for her brother's murder. At the birth of Mary (1516), daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Margaret carried the princess to her baptism at Greyfriars church in Greenwich and later, was also sponsor at her confirmation. As lady governess for Princess Mary, she gained the affection of the queen. Following Thomas Cranmer's pronouncement of Henry's divorce (1533), Margaret was separated from court, although she returned at the downfall of Anne Boleyn in 1536. In that year her son Reginald, soon to be a cardinal, wrote against the divorce and attacked the king's usurpation of the title of head of the Church in England. While Reginald's blunt outspokenness came from the relative safety of the Continent, it brought reprisals to Margaret and her family. Henry Pole, Lord Montague, a son of Margaret, was charged with treason and beheaded on Tower Hill. A cousin, Henry Courtney, marquis of Exeter, met a similar fate. A third son, Sir Geoffrey, under examination had incriminated his brothers and Exeter.
Parliament, in May 1539, passed an act of attainder against the executed men, Lady Margaret, and Reginald Pole. Thomas Cromwell produced a tunic of Margaret's bearing the five wounds of Christ, the banner of the pil grimage of grace. Without trial, with no crime imputed to her, and upon this sole evidence, Margaret was thrown into the Tower. After two years, she was beheaded with only an hour's warning on the morning of May 27, 1541. Ludovico Beccadelli, Reginald Pole's first biographer, has recorded the words of the cardinal when the news of his mother's death was brought to him at Viterbo: "Until now I thought that God had given me the greatest blessing of being son to one of the best and most honored ladies in England…but from now on He has wished to bestow an even greater blessing by making me the son of a martyr…. May God's will be done." Margaretwas included in the decree of beatification of the English martyrs that was approved by Leo XIII on Dec. 29, 1886.
Feast: May 28.
See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.
Bibliography: r. pole, Epistolae…et aliorum ad ipsum, ed. a. m. quirini, 5 v. (Brescia 1744–57). j. s. brewer et al., eds., Letters and Papers…of the Reign of Henry VIII, 22 v. (London 1862–1932) v.3, 11, 13, 14. Calendar of Letters…State Papers…between England and Spain, ed. g. a. bergenroth et al., 13 v. (London 1862–1954). b. camm, ed., Lives of the English Martyrs Declared Blessed by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and 1895, 2 v. (New York 1904–14) v.1; The English Martyrs (Cambridge, England 1929). j. gairdner, The Dictionary of National Biography From the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 1885–1900; repr. with corrections, 21 v., 1908–09, 1921–22, 1938; suppl. 1901–) 16:28–29. j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1934 to the Present Time (London-New York 1885–1902; repr. New York 1961) 5:335–336. j. d. mackie, The Earlier Tudors (New York 1952).
[j. g. dwyer]