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