The Unfortunate Countess: Margaret Pole



At Farleigh Castle on the 14th of August 1473, a daughter was born to the Duke and Duchess of Clarence. They called her Margaret, most likely after the Duke’s sister’s Margaret of Burgundy. Margaret was born during the brutal and bloody time of the Wars of the Rose – a powerful family divided by the House of York and House of Lancaster, and each believed the throne of England belonged to them. Margaret Plantagenet was born in the middle of this English chaos. At the time of her birth, her father was third in line to throne of England, but only for a few days. On the 17th of August 1473 was born a son to Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. They called him Richard, presumably after Richard, Duke of Gloucester and future Richard III.

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George, Duke of Clarence was the troubled middle brother of King Edward IV and Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Like his brothers and father he was an excellent warrior but was easily swayed by power. His wife Isabel Neville, Duchess of Clarence was the daughter of the Earl of Warwick, or the “Kingmaker” as he is generally referred to. Warwick was instrumental in placing Edward Plantagenet (Edward IV) on the throne. When the new king, Edward IV chose to secretly wed the widowed Elizabeth Woodville, Warwick was not happy. All the hard work to put together treaties and alliances was all wasted. To make matters worse, Elizabeth Woodville was the widow of John Grey – who fought and died for the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses. She was from the enemy’s side.

Warwick’s anger towards his sovereign grew and grew until he took action – once again to prove that he deserved to be called the “Kingmaker”. The King’s brother George appeared to have been a jealous man, and maybe a paranoid man. Of the three brothers, he was the middle brother. Using that to his advantage, Warwick and George plotted to join their two families in marriage. Warwick’s eldest daughter Isabel secretly wed the Duke of Clarence without the permission of his brother the King and the King’s own mother joined in on the betrayal and informed everyone that Edward was not the legitimate son of Richard, Duke of York but an archer. The plan was to disgrace and remove Edward IV and replace him with George and Isabel at the helm. This plan, too, would fail.



Long story short, the Earl of Warwick was killed in battle, Isabel Neville died and George, Duke of Clarence was executed. By 1478 Margaret Plantagenet and her brother Edward were both orphans.

Life After Death

Life for Margaret and her brother would never be the same. They were taken in by the royal household and by 1485 their uncle Edward IV was dead , as were his two sons the princes in the Tower, not to mention their paternal uncle Richard III and maternal aunt and queen consort Anne Neville. The only people remaining were Elizabeth Woodville and her daughters.

When Henry Tudor became King of England in 1485, some believed that Margaret and her brother Edward had a stronger claim to the throne than Henry – who had won the crown on the battlefield. This resulted in Lambert Simnel being touted as the young Edward, Earl of Warwick as claimant to the throne by means of the House of York. Their plan was to get people to join an army against the Tudor king. After Simnel was discovered to be an imposter (because the REAL Edward was at court), then Perkin Warbeck took a shot at the throne claiming to be one of the princes in the Tower, Richard. Warbeck was eventually arrested and in 1499 both he and the real Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick were executed for plotting treason. Margaret Plantagenet was now the only member of her family alive, but she was not alone.

Marriage

At the age of 14, Margaret was married to Richard Pole, a loyal subject of the king and relative of Margaret Beaufort. The marriage was a good match in the eyes of Henry VII because there was a serious threat of Margaret being a figurehead for further uprisings. A marriage to Pole would make it more difficult for plotters to use Margaret as a figurehead for their Yorkist cause.

Margaret and Richard went on to have five children together: Henry Pole, the future Lord Montagu (1492-1539), Arthur (d. c.1527/8), Ursula (d. 1570), Reginald (1500-1558), and Geoffrey Pole (d. 1558).

At the age of 28 Margaret spent five months in the household of Katherine of Aragon, until the death of the Prince of Wales in April 1502.
Sir Richard Pole died in October 1504. After his death, Margaret was left to raise five children in the difficult financial situation she was left in after her husband’s death. Her jointure was not sufficient for the circumstances she inherited. Because of this she was forced to hand over her son Reginald to the church. She had no other choice.

Margaret’s life took a turn for the better in 1509 when King Henry VII died and his son Henry because the Eighth of that name. Margaret found herself once again in the household of Katherine of Aragon, only this time she was queen consort and not Princess of Wales.
In 1512, at the petition of Margaret, Henry VIII granted her the earldom of Salisbury, making her Countess of Salisbury in her own right. Things were beginning to look up for not only Margaret but also her children as they were in favor of the king.

The fact that Margaret held the peerage title in her own right was a big deal and something rarely heard of in 16th century England. The next notable name to do so was Anne Boleyn in 1532.

The relationship between the King and Margaret wavered a bit in 1518 when Henry repossessed some of her Salisbury lands saying they belonged to the duchy of Somerset.

Princess Mary

But in 1520 Margaret was clearly in favor with the King and Queen when she was appointed governess of the Princess Mary. However, in 1521 she was removed from her position when her sons were implicated the Duke of Buckingham’s treason. Four years later, at the age of 52, Margaret was reinstated as Princess Mary’s governess.

Margaret was very fond of the Princess Mary and protected her like a mother would. Margaret even offered to remain on as Mary’s governess after her household was dissolved in 1533. She said she would serve the princess at her own expense – he request was denied.

Problem Child

It should come as no surprise that after the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536 Margaret was once again back in favor, but it would not last long. The son who she had given to the church denounced, in writing, King Henry’s royal supremacy. By his letter, Reginald Pole had put his entire family in danger. When Margaret was informed of her son’s letter she wrote him and admonished his letter to the king.



The dissolution of the monasteries, as well as the king claiming royal supremacy, led to what was called The Pilgrimage of Grace.

Evidence remains from the imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys that in 1534 there was already whispers of something big happening in England. Margaret’s youngest son, Geoffrey had been in contact with him. Chapuys was more than happy to report this to his master:

Respecting the disaffection (indisposition) of the Welsh country, to which allusion has been made in the said letters, my information is that the inhabitants are really very much concerned and afflicted at the bad treatment of the Queen and Princess, as well as at what is now being done against the Faith; for they (the Welsh) have always been and are still, to a man, good Christians.

…I am informed from a good quarter, this King is exceedingly annoyed. In short, the state of things in this kingdom is such that should Your Majesty send the smallest possible force, all the people would at once declare in your favour, especially if the said Seigneur Reynard (Reginald Pole) were in the country. (fn. n23)

The latter’s younger brother (Geoffrey) is with me, and would visit me almost every day, had I not dissuaded him from doing so, on account of the danger he might run. He, however, ceases not, like many others, to importune and beg me to write to Your Majesty, and explain how very easy the conquest of this kingdom would be, and that the inhabitants are only waiting for a signal. (fn. n24) I have never spoken to him about his brother (Reginald), except warning him that the latter had much better remain where he is now, and beg his daily bread in the streets, than attempt returning here in these troubled times, for fear he should be treated as the poor bishop of Rochester, or worse still. This he assures me he has done, having written to him many a time, and made his mother also write and warn him not to come here. (8 Nov 1534, Wien, Rep. P.C., Fasc.228, No.62)

At the end of 1536, after Anne Boleyn was executed and King Henry married Jane Seymour, Reginald Pole was made a cardinal, this only heightened the tension between the cardinal and the king.

With the Lady Mary back in favor surely those who backed her with the Pilgrimage of Grace were satisfied.

The Beginning of the End

In the summer of 1538 it all began to unravel for Margaret Pole and her children. A servant of her son Geoffrey called Hugh Holland was arrested. Author Susan Higginbotham of “Margaret Pole – The Countess in the Tower” states that it may have been Margaret’s own pious act which resulted in her family’s downfall.

Margaret maintained a ‘surgeon house’ in Warblington and the house surgeon called Richard Ayer claimed that Margaret kept ‘a company of priests [in her] house which did her much harm and kept her [from] the true knowledge of God’s word’. It appeared to Ayer that Margaret was of the old faith and not the new faith like himself. Word had reached Thomas Cromwell, Lord Privy Seal and he sent a spy to collect info for him. The man was Gervase Tyndall and he was a school master. Tyndall lodged at the hospital and Richard Ayer was more than willing to ‘give up the goods’ on Margaret and her family. Ayer told the spy that a servant of Geoffrey Pole called Holland was conveying letters to Reginald Pole and that ‘all the secrets of the realm of England [were] known to the bishop of Rome as well as though he were here.’

Allegedly, when Margaret figured out this Tyndall was of the new religion order Ayer to send him away. Had she been receiving reports that Ayer was spilling the beans? When Tyndall refused to go due to his supposed ‘poor health’ she order Ayer to send all the patients away, but not before it was revealed that Margaret’s council refused to allow her tenants to own an English language bible.

Holland was but a servant and once can assume the man, upon his arrest, was terrified of being tortured. He gave evidence against Geoffrey, which in turn also damned Margaret. Holland stated that he went to Flanders to sell some meat for his master, Geoffrey Pole. While there he was asked to deliver a message to Pole’s brother Reginald. In that letter Geoffrey offered to join his brother – he said, ‘the world in England waxes all crooked, God’s law is turned upside down, abbey and churches overthrown and he [Reginald] is taken for a traiter’, and he also claimed in the letter that assassins had been sent to dispatch Reginald.



In Showtime’s The Tudors, those assassins were Sir Francis Bryan and Sir Thomas Seymour. We don’t know who these assassins but it makes for an interesting story, doesn’t it?

After Reginald read the letter from his younger brother he sent a letter back to his mother, Margaret saying that ‘my hope is in God’ and that he desired her blessing. For his brother Geoffrey he said, ‘meddle little and let all things alone’. But Geoffrey wouldn’t take no for an answer, he clearing wanted to be part of this movement against the King of England. It was not long before he was arrested, on the 29 August 1538, Geoffrey Pole was placed in the Tower of London.

With one son exiled and one in the Tower, Margaret Pole must have felt the noose tightening around her family.

Two months after his arrest Geoffrey Pole was finally interrogated and asked for names of others involved. He named several people, including his own brother Lord Montagu. Pole insisted his brother only wanted change as far as religious matters and that he did not wish harm to the king. By that time it was already too late – he listed his brother, regardless of any disclaimer and it appears that his was so guilt ridden by it all that John Hussee reported to Lord Lisle that Geoffrey was ‘so in despair that he would have murdered himself and, as it was told me, hurt himself sore’. Another man by the name of Richard Morisyne claimed that Geoffrey stabbed himself in the chest with a blunt knife. Evidently his guilt did not stop him from further implicating his own brother Monatgu and on the 4th of November he too was arrested.

During all of this Margaret was at Warblington. Those around her worried that her loose-lipped son would take her down with him just like he did with his brother, Lord Montagu – to that Margaret said, ‘I trow he is not so unhappy that he will hurt his mother, and yet I care neither for him, nor for any other, for I am true to my Prince.’

Eight days after the arrest of her son Lord Montagu, Margaret was visited by the Earl of Southampton, Thomas Goodrich and the Bishop of Ely for questioning at Warblington. For two days they questioned the stoic Countess. Margaret claimed that her son Reginald had not told her that he went abroad because he disliked the way the kingdom was governed. In addition, she had not received any letter concerning him except one from the king. She also did not know about Hugh Holland being sent to deliver letters to her son.

The plot to assassinate Reginald was something that Margaret was aware of, she stated that her son Geoffrey had told her of the King’s plan and she had hoped to change His Majesty’s mind.

Margaret was asked if she knew that her son Geoffrey and Lord Montagu wished to join their brother and she responded that she ‘prayed God she may be torn in pieces if ever she heard such a thing of her sons’. She also denied in questioning that she wished for Reginald to be made Pope.



Margaret admitted that she was sorry for the destruction of the abbey and religious houses where her ancestors were buried.

After questioning had ceased, her interrogators wrote to Cromwell and told him:

“Yesterday…we travailed with the Lady of Salisbury all day, both before and after noon, till almost night. Albeit for all we could do, though we used her diversely, she would utter and convess little or nothing more than the first day, and that she ‘utterly denieds all that is objected unto her; and that with most stiff and earnest words’.”

Her interrogators believed that either Margaret was a marvelous liar or that her sons did not make her privy to their plans.

Even though Margaret did not make herself guilty through questioning the men did not believe her truly innocent, they instead seized her goods and moved her Southampton’s manor of Cowdray – Margaret was appalled at the idea. They hoped that moving her to a less friendly location would get her to open up and confess.

Southampton and Ely were surprised when even that did not work, noting:

We have dealt with such a one, as men have not dealt withal before us; we may call her rather a strong and constant man, than a woman. For in all behaviour howsoever we have used her, she has showed herself so earnest, vehement, and precise, that more could not be.”

Merely two weeks after Margaret was questioned, her eldest son, Lord Montague was tried before a jury of his peers at Westminster. He was followed by the Marquess of Exeter, Geoffrey Pole, Edward Neville, Hugh Holland, George Croftes and John Collins. At all of the trials the men were unanimously found guilty and were sentenced a traitor’s death – to be hanged, drawn and quartered. But since Margaret’s son, Lord Montagu was of a higher ranking he (along with Exeter and Neville) had his sentence commuted to beheading. The other men were not so lucky – after their execution their heads were placed on London Bridge and their quarters were placed ‘on divers gates about London’ – as a reminder to the King’s subjects what happens when you are involved in treason.

Margaret’s son Geoffrey was more fortunate, he was pardoned – something he clearly could not live with as he attempted to take his life in the Tower for a second time since his arrest. Eustace Chapuys reported that he tried ‘to suffocate himself with a cushion’.

By May 1539, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury was attainded on treason. This meant she would not receive a trial. Higginbotham states in her book that ‘the evidence against her appears to have been quite vague, which was undoubtedly why the government chose this means of proceeding.

Her attainder reads:

“And where also Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, and Hugh Vaughan, late of Beckener, in the County of Monmouth, yeoman, by instigation of the devil, putting apart the dread of Almighty God, their duty of allegiance, and the excellent benefit received of his Highness, have not only traitorously confederated themselves with the false and abominable traitors Henry Pole, Lord Montagu, and Reginald Pole, sons to the said countess, knowing them to be false traitors, but also have maliciously aided, abetted, maintianed, and comforted them in their said false and abominable treason, to the most fearful peril of hi Highness, the commonwealth of this realm, &c., the said marchioness and the said countess be declared attained, and shall suffer the pains and penalties of high treason.”

After Cromwell read the Act of Attainder he displayed a tunic from Margaret’s coffer that displaced a coat of arms that appeared to be a combination of the Pole arms with that of the Lady Mary – for it was suspected that the two would wed and return England to Catholicism.

We don’t know for the date for certain but we know that by the 20th of November 1539 Margaret was a prisoner in the Tower of London. The following month Thomas Cromwell was informed that additional clothing was needed for two ladies and their attendants in the Tower, who were under the charge of Thomas Phillips. Margaret apparently made quite a fuss stating that she was in need of proper clothing to keep her warm and to change. Was this why the order was approved by the King to have clothing made for the Countess? The clothing that Katheryn Howard is often given credit for.

Margaret would stay in the Tower for as long as her son Reginald was still a threat.

Margaret Pole was executed on the 27th of May 1541.

French ambassador Marillac said this of Margaret’s execution:

‘yesterday morning, about 7 o’clock, beheaded in a corner of the Tower, in presence of so few people that until evening the truth was still doubted. It was the more difficult to believe as she had been long prisoner, was of noble lineage, above 80 years old, and had been punished but the loss of one son and banishment of the other, and the total ruin of her house.’

Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys had this to say:

The very strange and lamentable execution of Mme. de Salisbury, the daughter of the duke of Clarence, and mother of Cardinal Pole, took place at the Tower in the presence of the Lord Mayor of London and about 150 persons more. At first, when the sentence of death was made known to her, she found the thing very strange, not knowing of what crime she was accused, nor how she had been sentenced; but at last, perceiving that there was no remedy, and that die she must, she went out of the dungeon where she was detained and walked towards the midst of the space in front of the Tower, where there was no scaffold erected nor anything except a small block. Arrived there, after commending her soul to her Creator, she asked those present to pray for the King, the Queen, the Prince (Edward) and the Princess, to all of whom she wished to be particularly commended, and more especially to the latter, whose god-mother she had been. She sent her blessing to her, and begged also for hers. After which words she was told to make haste and place her neck on the block, which she did. But as the ordinary executor of justice was absent doing his work in the North, a wretched and blundering youth … was chosen, who literally hacked her head and shoulders to pieces in the most pitiful manner. May God in His high grace pardon her soul, for certainly she was a most virtuous and honorable lady, and there was no need or haste to bring so ignominious a death upon her, considering that as she was then nearly ninety years old, she could not in the ordinary course of nature live long. When her death had been resolved upon, her nephew [sic], the son of Mr. Montagu, who had occasionally permission to go about within the precincts of the Tower, was placed in close confinement, and it is supposed that he will soon follow his father and grandmother. May God help him!”

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury was laid to rest at St. Peter ad Vincula – the same place where many of our Tudor favorites lay.


Sources:

Higginbotham, Susan. Margaret Pole – The Countess in the Tower; Amberley Publishing (August 15, 2016)

Pierce, Hazel. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Pole, Margaret, suo jure countess of Salisbury. (28 May 2015)

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Royal Blood: Deadly Betrayal of Reginald Pole

betrayal of reginald pole
Reginald Pole was born at Stourton Castle, Staffordshire, on 3 March 1500, to Margaret Plantagenet and Sir Richard Pole. Reginald was the grandson of George, Duke of Clarence (Isabel Neville) and great-nephew to both King Edward IV and King Richard III.  To say he had royal blood in his veins would be an understatement. Unfortunately, after the execution of his grandfather, the Duke of Clarence, his family name was severely tarnished and Clarence’s lands and titles were forfeited.

When Reginald’s uncle, Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, Henry VII became King of England. At the time it was imperative for all the Yorkist supporters to move into the shadows and not to interfere with the Tudor reign. With all that being said, Henry VII arranged a marriage for Margaret Plantagenet to Sir Richard Pole. Sir Richard Pole was considered a safe marriage for Margaret — he was related to My Lady, the King’s Mother, Margaret Beaufort through her half-sister (Edith St. John), who was Sir Richard Pole’s mother. By marrying Margaret Plantagenet into the family it would make it more difficult for plotters to use Margaret as a figurehead for their Yorkist cause.

Margaret and Richard went on to have five children together: Henry, Reginald, Geoffrey, Arthur and Ursula Pole. In 1504/5, Sir Richard Pole died. After his death, Margaret was left to raise five children with a limited amount of land inherited from her husband. She had no salary and no prospects.

With Margaret’s limited funds Henry VII was nice enough to pay for the funeral of his cousin, Sir Richard Pole.

Margaret Pole was first cousin to Henry VII’s late wife, Elizabeth of York – in a way, she was family and probably reminded Henry VII of his wife as well.

To ease the financial burden, Margaret devoted her third son, Reginald Pole (age 5) to the Church. Nonetheless, Reginald would bitterly resent her abandonment of him later in life.  Additionally, Margaret, without adequate means to support herself and her children, was forced to live at Syon Abbey among Bridgettine nuns after her husband’s death. She remained at the abbey until her return to favor at the ascension of Henry VIII in 1509.

In 1538, Reginald wrote a scathing letter to his mother. This letter portrays how bitter he was toward her.

Reginald Pole to his mother (1538):

“that ever you had given me utterly unto God. And though you had so done with all your children, yet in me you had so given all right from you and possession utterly of me that you never took any care to provide for my living nor otherwise, as you did for other, but committed all to God, to whom you had given me. This promise now, Madam, in my [Maister]es name I require of you to maintain, [the wh]iche you cannot keep nor make good if y[ou] now beginne to care for me. [–] I mean this, not intermit the least care of mind for me, knowing to what master you have given me; but both touching yourself and me both, commit all to His goodness, as I doubt not your ladyship will, and shall be to me the greatest comfort I can have of you.” Venge (Venice), 15 July”

Possibly Margaret Pole
Portrait said to be Margaret Pole (note the barrel charm on her bracelet)

From Margaret, Countess of Salisbury to Reginald Pole:

“Son Reginald,” I send you God’s blessing and mine, though my trust to have comfort in you is turned to sorrow. Alas that I, for your folly, should receive from my sovereign lord “such message as I have late done by your brother.” To me as a woman, his Highness has shown such mercy and pity as I could never deserve, but that I trusted my children’s services would express my duty. “

Reginald Pole was once a favorite of his cousin, Henry VIII. The king even paid for half of Reginald’s schooling at one time. However, when Reginald rejected any divorce discussion regarding Katherine of Aragon, spoke poorly of Anne Boleyn and then refused to sign the Oath of Supremacy, he enraged Henry. Henry turned on Reginald and attacked his family in England instead — since Reginald was out of the king’s reach.

Between 1537 and 1539 the Pope ordered Reginald on two diplomatic missions to persuade Europe’s Catholic monarchs to ally against Henry VIII. Both of his missions were unsuccessful, and Henry, in revenge for Pole’s treasonous activities, executed Pole’s brother, Henry Pole, Lord Montagu at the end of 1538, and his cousin Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter in the beginning of 1539. In 1541 he also executed Margaret Pole, Reginald’s mother.

Having royal blood during the Tudor reign was a dangerous thing, especially if you were related to a York.

Here is a list of family members were all executed for treason between the reign of Edward IV and Henry VIII:

George, Duke of Clarence (grandfather) – by Edward IV
Edward, Earl of Warwick (uncle) – by Henry VII
Henry Pole, Baron of Montague (brother) – by Henry VIII
Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter (1st cousin) – by Henry VIII
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury (mother) – by Henry VIII

Reginald Pole died 17 November 1558, the same day as Queen Mary I of England.

Reginald_Pole_cardinal
Cardinal Reginald Pole
by Unknown artist, oil on panel, after 1556
Reginald Pole became a cardinal in 1537; he was ordained in 1556
NT; (c) Shute Barton; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
NT; (c) Shute Barton; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) National Trust, Hardwick Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) National Trust, Hardwick Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://tudortimes.co.uk/people/margaret-plantagenet-where-she-lived
http://under-these-restless-skies.blogspot.com/2014/05/lady-margaret-pole.html
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol11/pp30-45
http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/plantagenet_43.html
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2281.2005.00254.x/abstract;jsessionid=42C0BE193BF4A337CEDC9D29876A7409.f03t04

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The Tower of London – the Most Haunted Castle in England

The Tower of London could be called the most haunted place in London as it has seen hundred of executions. Some justified, some not.

Many of the prisoners who entered the Tower only left to go to their execution. Most executions were public events and were well attended. Seems a little morbid now. Traitors could expect to be hung, drawn and quartered – the most inhumane of executions – the prisoner was hung and cut down still alive, their heart and entrails removed and burnt – then their body was divided into four parts and displayed publicly to warn others of what happens when you commit treason.

Yet, when we think of the Tower and executions, the most well-known execution is by beheading…with an axe. This was generally reserved for more important and distinguished prisoners. It was considered a more merciful death.

Public executions took place on Tower Hill, however more important figures like Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Jane Grey were executed within the Tower in a more private execution. This was done to avoid public attention and outcries for mercy. 

 

The following people were imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed (or vanished):

George Plantagenet
George Plantagenet
702px-King_Edward_V_from_NPG
Edward V
Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick
Edward Plantagenet
Perkin Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck
1 Hans Eworth (Dutch artist, c.1525-a 1578) An Unknown Lady, called Anne Ayscough or Askew, Mrs Thomas Kyme (1521-1546) National Trust Collections Tatton Park, Cheshire 1560
Anne Askew
Thomas More
Thomas More
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Jane Boleyn
Jane Boleyn
Katherine Howard
Katherine Howard
Thomas Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell
Jane Grey
Jane Grey
Margaret Pole
Margaret Pole

George, Duke of Clarence – Arrested for plotting against his brother Edward IV, he was found guilty of treason and executed in secret at Bowyer Tower in 1477. Rumors spread that he had been drown in a butt of malmsey.

Edward V – Son of Edward IV, only 12 years old when he was brought to the Tower for his coronation. His uncle, Duke of Gloucester declared he and his brother illegitimate and crowned himself Richard III. The young princes vanished at the Tower and were never seen alive again. Last seen at the Bloody Tower.

Richard, Duke of York - Brother to Edward V, one of the Princes in the Tower. Vanished from the Tower along with his brother, never to be seen again.

The story of the little princes is still to this day a heartbreaking story that brings tears to ones eyes. They are “among the most poignant ghosts” in the Tower. Their disappearance in 1483 is very suspicious of wrong doing, but by whom? The ghost of the twelve-year-old, King Edward V, and his nine-year old brother, Richard, Duke of York, can been seen in the Bloody Tower, they are still wearing the white night shirts they had on the night they disappeared. They stand silently, hand in hand, before fading back into the stones of the Bloody Tower. – Source

Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick - On 28 November 1499, Edward Plantagenet, earl of Warwick, was executed by beheading on Tower Hill for treason. The son of George, Duke of Clarence, and the nephew of both Edward IV and Richard III.

Perkin Warbeck - On November 23rd, 1499, Perkin Warbeck was drawn on a hurdle from the Tower to Tyburn to be hanged. He died, not for his imitation of a Yorkist prince, but because of a plot to overthrow Henry VII. A plot which also cost the life of the last Plantagenet, Edward, Earl of Warwick.

Anne Askew – Persecuted for her religious beliefs under Henry VIII’s rule, Anne was sent to the Tower and tortured on the rack. Women had never been racked before Anne. She refused to give up her faith and was burned at the stake at Cradle Tower as a heretic.

Thomas More – Refused to accept his friend, Henry VIII as the head of the Church of England. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but the King commuted his sentence to execution by beheading. The execution took place on 6 July 1535. When he came to the scaffold, he is widely quoted as saying (to the officials): “I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lieutenant, see me safe up and for my coming down, I can shift for myself”; while on the scaffold he declared that he died “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Anne Boleyn - The second wife of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn was arrested and accused of adultery and incest by a king anxious to remarry and produce an heir. On 19 May 1536 she was beheaded by sword within the walls of the Tower.

The most persistent ghost in the Tower of London is the ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn, and rightly so. Witnesses describe a female figure identified only by her dress. Queen Anne appears near the Queen’s House, close to the site where her execution was carried out. She can be seen leading a ghostly procession of Lords and Ladies down the aisle of the Chapel Royal of St. Peter and Vincula. She floats down the aisle to her final resting place. Queen Anne is buried under the Chapel’s altar. Her headless body has also been seen walking the corridors of the Tower.Source

George Boleyn - the brother of Queen Anne Boleyn who had been executed on the trumped-up charge of incest with his sister.

Jane Boleyn – Wife of George Boleyn, the brother of Queen Anne Boleyn. Her marriage to George Boleyn was an arranged and a very unhappy one. She was instrumental in the arrest of her sister-in-law, Anne and her husband George. Jane provided damning evidence against them to Thomas Cromwell. She later became a Lady of the Privy Chamber to Katherine Howard. Jane Rochford encouraged the young queen in her affair with Thomas Culpeper with whom she helped organize secret meetings. Her part as a go-between was discovered and Jane Rochford was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. She was interrogated and lost her sanity. A new law which allowed the execution of the insane was passed in order to have her condemned to death. She confessed before her death, “God has permitted me to suffer this shameful doom as punishment for having contributed to my husband’s death. I falsely accused him of loving in an incestuous manner, his sister, Queen Anne Boleyn. For this I deserve to die.” She was executed immediately after Katherine Howard.

Katherine Howard – The fifth wife of King Henry VIII and the cousin of Anne Boleyn. Katherine was arrested at Hampton Court for adultery and tried in vain to reach the King. She was dragged screaming back to her apartments. Her lovers were executed and she passed their gruesome, impaled heads on London Bridge on her way to Traitor’s gate, the entry to the Tower of London. Katherine asked William Kingston for a block so that she could practice her execution. Legend has it that her last words were: “I die a queen, but would rather die the wife of Culpeper.”

Katherine Howard escaped from her room in the Tower. “She ran down the hallway screaming for help and mercy. She was caught and returned to her room.” The next day she was beheaded. Her ghost has been seen sill running down the hallway screaming for help.Source

Thomas Cromwell - Cromwell was arrested on 10 June 1540 and imprisoned in the Tower. He was imprisoned for not pleasing the king – to be so blunt. The king deferred the execution until his marriage to Anne of Cleves could be annulled. Hoping for clemency, Cromwell wrote in support of the annulment, in his last personal address to the King. He ended it with the plea “Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy.” Mercy did not come and Cromwell was condemned to death without trial and beheaded on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540, the day of the King’s marriage to Catherine Howard.

Jane Grey - Queen for just nine days, Lady Jane Grey was found guilty of high treason and sent to the Tower. On 12 February 1554 she watched her husband go to his death before she too was beheaded on Tower Green, aged 16.

 Lady Jane watched as her husband was taken to Tower Hill where he was beheaded. She saw his body being carried back to the chapel, after which she was taken to Tower Green where she was beheaded. Lady Jane Grey’s ghost was last seen by two Guardsmen on February 12, 1957, the 403rd anniversary of her execution. She was described as a “white shape forming itself on the battlements”. Her husband, Guildford Dudley, has been seen in Beauchamp Tower weeping.Source

Margaret Pole - The Countess of Salisbury was the last direct descendant of the Plantagenet line – her father was George, Duke of Clarence who was drowned for treason in 1477 and her brother Edward, Earl of Warwick was beheaded in 1499. She was arrested two years before her execution and treated poorly – neglected as a prisoner in the Tower of London. She was not given a trial. She was small, frail and ill. But she was a proud noble. She was dragged to the block, but refused to lay her head on the block. She was forced down and struggled. The inexperienced executioner made a gash in her shoulder rather than her neck. She leapt from the block and was chased by the executioner, with his axe. She was struck eleven times before she died. There were 150 witnesses to her execution. She was the oldest woman executed at 68 years of age.

The most grisly execution and thus haunting is that of the old Countess of Salisbury, the last of the Plantagenets.  Her ghost has been seen reliving this truly gruesome act. Also the shadow of a great axe has been seen falling across the scene of her murder.Source

Other notable executions:

  • John Fisher Bishop of Rochester (1534)
  • Implicated with Anne Boleyn (1536)
    • Mark Smeaton
    • Sir Henry Norris
    • Sir Francis Weston
    • William Brereton
  • Implicated with Catherine Howard (1542)
    • Thomas Culpepper
    • Henry Mannox
    • Francis Dereham
  • Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1546)
  • Thomas, Duke of Norfolk (1546)
  • Thomas Seymour, High Admiral of England (1549)
  • Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector (1552)
  • Guildford Dudley – husband of Lady Jane Grey (1554)

The Legacy of the House of York

200px-White_Rose_Badge_of_York.svgRichard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York was the great-grandson of Edward III. He was next in line to the throne of Henry VI and often stepped in and ruled when Henry VI was incapacitated.

Things would not turn out well for Richard, Duke of York and his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland – they were killed in the Battle of Wakefield in 1460.

With the welfare of Henry VI still an issue, Richard’s eldest son Edward, Earl of March, who had inherited the title Duke of York after his father’s death, continued the fight to take the throne from Henry VI. With the help of his cousin Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (also known as The Kingmaker) they were able to defeat the Lancastrians, and in March 1461 Edward was declared King.

In May 1464 Edward secretly married the beautiful Elizabeth Woodville who was the widow of a Lancastrian soldier. This greatly upset his cousin The Kingmaker because he was working on a marriage alliance with France and his marriage to Elizabeth added nothing to the security of England. His choice of wife would cause more fighting and battles during his reign, but he would not back down for he truly loved Elizabeth.

From History Today – read full article here.

The story of Edward IV’s marriage is that in 1464 the twenty-four-year-old king stopped at Stony Stratford on a march north to counter Lancastrian threats. Very early on May Day he slipped away to the manor of Grafton, five miles away and there in secrecy married Elizabeth Grey, née Woodville, the beautiful but impoverished widow of a knight killed fighting against the Yorkists three years earlier. Edward consummated the marriage immediately and then returned to his entourage. Then, before continuing northwards, he took up residence at Grafton for three days during which time Elizabeth was brought to him secretly each night. Edward kept his horrendous mésalliance secret for five months, allowing the Earl of Warwick to continue discussions about a possible royal bride from France. – See more at: http://www.historytoday.com/eric-ives/marrying-love-experience-edward-iv-and-henry-viii#sthash.ciQFIbGI.dpuf

Edward and Elizabeth would have many children. When he died in 1483, his eldest son would become Edward V of England. His Uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester would become Lord Protector over young Edward until he became of age to reign on his own. Edward was brought to the Tower of London to prepare for his coronation.  Instead, Richard held him in the Tower of London along with his brother, Richard, Duke of York and took the throne for himself after claiming Edward and Elizabeth’s marriage null since Edward was already betrothed to another before marrying Elizabeth.

On 22 August 1485 Richard lll died in the Battle of Bosworth. Henry Tudor claimed the throne of England as Henry VII and eventually married Elizabeth of York – daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. The legacy of Richard Plantagenet, and the House of York were carried on through her children with the Lancastrian, Henry VII.

Patriarch - Richard, 3rd Duke of York
Patriarch – Richard, 3rd Duke of York
Matriarch - Cecily Neville, Duchess of York
Matriarch – Cecily Neville, Duchess of York

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter
Anne, Duchess of Exeter
Edward_IV_Plantagenet
Edward IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edmund, Earl of Rutland
Edmund, Earl of Rutland
Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk
Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy
Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy
George, Duke of Clarence
George, Duke of Clarence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

o-RICHARD-III-SKELETON-facebook
Richard III

Edward lV – via Royal Family History

Edward lV signature
Edward lV signature

Name: King Edward IV
Born: April 28, 1442 at Rouen, France
Parents: Richard, Duke of York, and Cecily Neville
Relation to Elizabeth II: 14th great-grandfather
House of: York
Ascended to the throne: March 4, 1461 aged 18 years
Crowned: June 28, 1461 at Westminster Abbey
Married: Elizabeth, Daughter of Richard Woodville
Children: Three sons including Edward V and Richard Duke of York (the Princes in the Tower), Seven daughters and four illegitimate children
Died: April 9, 1483 at Westminster Abbey, aged 40 years, 11 months, and 11 days
Buried at: Windsor
Reigned for: 21 years, 5 months, and 18 days, Deposed October 3, 1470, Restored May 21, 1471
Succeeded by: his son Edward V

Timeline for King Edward IV
 1461  Edward, son of Richard of York, is declared king by the Earl of Warwick following the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Towton.
 1464  Warwick defeats Lancastrians at Battle of Hexham; Henry VI is captured and brought to the Tower of London.
 1464  Edward marries Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of a commoner, offending Warwick.
 1469  Warwick falls out with Edward IV, and defeats him at Edgecote. They are later reconciled but Warwick is banished. He makes peace with Margaret, returns to England with an army, and Edward flees to Flanders. Henry VI is restored to the throne.
 1471  Edward returns to England from Flanders and defeats and kills Warwick at the Battle of Barnet.
 1471  Margaret is defeated at the Battle of Tewkesbury and the Lancastrian heir, Prince Edward, is killed. Soon after, Henry VI is murdered in the Tower of London.
 1474  Edward grants privileges to the Hanseatic League of North German trading cities to conduct trade in England.
 1476  William Caxton sets up a printing press in Westminster, London
 1478  Edward falls out with his brother George, Duke of Clarence, who is then murdered in the Tower, supposedly in a butt of malmsey wine.
 1483  Death of Edward.
Edward V
Edward V
Richard, Duke of York
Richard, Duke of York
Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

My fascination with Margaret Pole began after watching The Tudors television series.  Margaret Pole’s role in the show was minimal and only emphasized her death.  I immediately started to do research on Margaret Plantagenet – to learn about her life. I also thoroughly enjoyed Philippa Gregory’s book, The King’s Curse, which is historical fiction about her life.

Unknown woman thought to be Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

Margaret Plantagenet was born in August 1473, to George Plantagenet, Duke Clarence and his wife Isabel Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick – the “Kingmaker.”

Edward IV, Margaret’s uncle, had a complicated relationship with his brother the Duke of Clarence; George attempted to usurp the throne from his brother with the help of the “Kingmaker” – they would not succeed. After several acts against his brother and his reign, the King could no longer ‘turn a cheek’ to his brother’s actions and had his brother executed. George was privately executed at the Tower of London in 1478. The story goes that he was drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine – his choice of execution.

I often ask myself, why would a son of York switch sides in the Wars of the Roses to take the throne from his brother? The only answer I can come up with is jealously. If the historical fiction book, The White Queen has any truth to it it probably didn’t help that his mother, Cecily Neville hated Elizabeth Woodville and wanted to name her son Edward illegitimate. This would open the throne for George.

Two years prior to the execution of her father, at the age of three, Margaret lost her mother Isabel who was thought to have died from child bed fever. The Duke of Clarence blamed a lady in waiting (Ankarette Twynyho) of murdering his wife by poison and had her executed.  Edward IV would later give a full pardon to her because of the unjust execution.

Ankarette’s grandson Roger Twynyho petitioned Edward IV:

“That whereas the said Ankarette on Saturday, 12 April, 17 Edward IV (i.e.1477), was in her manor at Cayford (i.e. Keyford, Somerset) and Richard Hyde late of Warwick, gentleman, and Roger Strugge late of Bekehampton, co. Somerset, towker, with divers riotous persons to the number of fourscore by the command of George, duke of Clarence, came to Cayforde about two of the clock after noon and entered her house and carried her off the same day to Bath and from thence on the Sunday following to Circeter(i.e. Cirencester), co. Gloucester, and from thence to Warwick, whither they brought her on the Monday following about eight of the clock in the afternoon, which town of Warwick is distant from Cayforde seventy miles, and then and there took from her all her jewels, money and goods and also in the said duke’s behalf, as though he had used king’s power, commanded Thomas Delalynde, esquire, and Edith his wife, daughter of the said Ankarette, and their servants to avoid from the town of Warwick and lodge them at Strattforde upon Aven that night, six miles from thence, and the said duke kept Ankarette in prison unto the hour of nine before noon on the morrow, to wit, the Tuesday after the closing of Pasche [i.e. Easter], and then caused her to be brought to the Guildhall at Warwick before divers of the justices of the peace in the county then sitting in sessions and caused her to be indicted by the name of Ankarette Twynneowe, late of Warwick, widow, late servant of the duke and Isabel his wife, of having at Warwick on 10 October, 16 Edward IV., given to the said Isabel a venomous drink of ale mixed with poison, of which the latter sickened until the Sunday before Christmas, on which day she died, and the justices arraigned the said Ankarette and a jury appeared and found her guilty and it was considered that she should be led from the bar there to the gaol of Warwick and from thence should be drawn through the town to the gallows of Myton and hanged till she were dead, and the sheriff was commanded to do execution and so he did, which indictment, trial and judgment were done and given within three hours of the said Tuesday, and the jurors for fear gave the verdict contrary to their conscience, in proof whereof divers of them came to the said Ankarette in remorse and asked her forgiveness, in consideration of the imaginations of the said duke and his great might, the unlawful taking of the said Ankarette through three several shires, the inordinate hasty process and judgement, her lamentable death and her good disposition, the king should ordain that the record, process, verdict and judgement should be void and of no effect, but that as the premises were done by the command of the said duke the said justices and sheriff and the under-sheriff and their ministers should not be vexed. The answer of the king was: Soit fait come il est desire (“Let it be done as the petitioner requests”)”.

Isabel Neville
George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence