Sunday, October 13, 2013

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (Part III)

Margaret Pole going to her execution
Okay before we begin, I'm sorry for the delay. My schedule got kinda hectic with school and tests and what not so I haven't had time to write my next post. But I have now and I better not keep you waiting any longer!

Once Margaret Pole joined Henry VIII's court, she was given the position as governess to his daughter Mary. She was like a second mother to the Princess and the two became fast friends. Margaret helped the Princess with her education and other things and the two started a life long friendship. It only seemed natural then that her children were friends with Mary also. Especially her son Reginald. Reginald Pole was older than Mary by about 4 or 5 years and nevertheless Mary had a crush on him. She as a child always wanted to marry Reginald, but events later would prevent her from doing some. Sometimes it's interesting to wonder what would've happened if Mary had become Reginald's wife but that, we'll never know.

Even though it had seemed Margaret was a new women and the wounds from the previous civil war forgotten, there was one thing that Henry VIII couldn't over look. The simple fact that Margaret's last name... was Plantagenet.

Now Henry VIII had always been paranoid and recently (1520's) he had beheaded his cousin, the duke of Buckingham since he had royal blood (not to mention some Wydeville blood too, but I don't think Henry cared about that!) Though Margaret was advancing in her years, Henry still stayed suspicious of her. She meant no harm, she wasn't like her ambitious Yorkist relations, but Henry VIII didn't care about that, she was still a Plantagenet.

So Margaret's son Reginald, who opposed the whole "Great Matter" or Henry VIII's divorce of his wife, Catherine of Aragon. Margaret and Catherine had always been friends, it's no surprise that her and her son supported her. But because of there support, Reginald had to flee abroad to the continent for his own safety. Mary missed him greatly, as she as good friends with him and Margaret's grief must've been great. And to make matters worse, Margaret was separated from Mary.

She then lived in rather obscurity and tried to avoid the drama of the court. We can only assume she spent her days in grief and boredom and worry. But she still had her other children to comfort her, especially her daughters (who managed to avoid the disfavour shown to their brother). But, this could not go on forever.

Margaret survived for quite awhile but everyone must come to an end sometime, and after Anne Boleyn found herself on the chopping block and Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour were dead too, it was Margaret's turn next. Though she was almost 70 years old Henry VIII ordered a warrant for her arrest, and beheading. The charge? Treason,  as usual. Was Margaret guilty in anyway? Nope, not at all. She was nevertheless escorted to the tower to await her death.

It's said that when Margaret arrived at the block, she decided to run for it. She took off sprinting (or as fast as a old lady in a Tudor dress can go) the execution chases after her, hacking away until she was finally gone. It's really a sad and undeserved ending to a story that could've had a much happier ending. Margaret's end is tragic. An old, kindly woman who wished no harm was killed because of her last name. Though she is of Yorkist blood, she wasn't a typical Yorkist, she didn't have their unending ambitious. The kindly Margaret is always one of my favourite figures, and I wish her story had only ended on a nicer not.


  1. Oh poor Margaret, I do feel sad for her when I read accounts of her execution. In many ways I hope that the account of her execution given by those who saw it was at least over exaggerated, as it makes me sad to think of someone meeting such a gruesome downfall. It seems Henry's paranoia knew no limits, pursuing an elderly woman like that!

    1. I completely agree! And people of the Tudor age did have a tendency to over-exaggerate things but still, I don't think Margaret deserved her fate at all!