*Note: This episode may include curse words or statements that may offend you, but let’s be honest, that’s what makes this one the most fun!
This episode is my final episode before I take a brief break from recording – don’t worry, I’ll be back in September. When I made the announcement that I would be switching to seasons in order to be able to spend more time with my family I figured I needed my final episode to be a big one – one to hold you over for two months. I am pleased to announce that (in my opinion) I was able to do that by booking Dan Jones as a guest.
Dan Jones is a historian and author who many of you may recognize without needing an introduction. For those who are not as familiar with Dan you may recognize him as the host of Secrets of Great British Castles on Netflix, or Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty as well as a plethora of Tudor themed programs. Dan has eight books under his belt with his most recent one, Crusaders due out in the US his Fall.
In this episode we really cover a WIDE variety of topics and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed recording it.
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.
If you’d prefer to listen to the podcast that went along with this please click the image below to be directed to it:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
What did Elizabeth know? We love to use the actions of Elizabeth Woodville to support any argument regarding the events of 1483, assuming that she had greater knowledge than we possess and that her actions would be the same as ours in light of it. She went into sanctuary because she knew Richard was a ruthless killer….she left because she knew he was not. She betrothed her daughter to Henry Tudor because she knew her own sons were dead….she supported rebels at Stoke because she knew at least one of them was alive. What did Elizabeth really know?
How I wish that we could ask her! When I decided to write about Elizabeth Woodville in Once a Queen, I decided to explore her predicament through the assumption that she did not know any more than I do over 500 years later. What would it be like to make the decisions that Elizabeth had to make regarding her own life and her children’s futures without the benefit of all the answers that we like to assume she had. What mental anguish would it cause to decide who your eldest daughter should marry if you are uncertain whether or not her brother, who should be king, is even alive?
Did she believe that her sons were dead? If she did, who did she believe killed them? Instead of writing a story filled with anger and vengeance, I decided to explore the anxiety of the unknown. In Once a Queen, Elizabeth has no idea what is true or who she can trust. Yet, time will not stand still for her to discover the answers. The woman who so often comes across as scheming and unsympathetic is suddenly a tragic figure, struggling to secure a future for her remaining children.
We may not be able to surmise the answers to any mysteries by analyzing the actions of Elizabeth Woodville, but we can appreciate her story and her position in history. Sharing the feelings and emotions of those living through historic times has the power to impact us more than knowing all the right answers. That being said, if anyone ever discovers the secret diary of Elizabeth Woodville, I will be among the first to read it!
About the Author
Samantha Wilcoxson is an American writer with British roots. When she is not reading or travelling, she enjoys spending time at the lake with her husband and three teenagers.
The Plantagenet Embers series debuted with ‘Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York’. It has been selected as an Editors’ Choice by the Historical Novel Society and long-listed for the 2016 HNS Indie Award.
‘Faithful Traitor: The Story of Margaret Pole’ is the second novel in the trilogy, continuing the story of the Plantagenet remnant in Tudor times. This novel has received 5-stars from Readers’ Favorite and a Discovering Diamond award.
The recently released final installment in Plantagenet Embers, Queen of Martyrs, features Queen Mary I and her story of the counter-reformation in England.
During the reign of King Henry VII, the “Pretender,” Perkin Warbeck claimed to be Richard, Duke of York, the second son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. At the time it was very significant for Warbeck to come forward as the Duke of York because there were still many Yorkist supporters — Henry VII had only reigned for a short time and some noblemen and subjects alike had hoped for a York resurrection. If he were indeed the son of the late King Edward IV the throne of England should, in many people’s eyes, be his for the taking – regardless of the fact that Henry Tudor won the crown in battle.
When Edward IV died in 1483, his eldest son Edward, Prince of Wales became Edward V. Edward was only a child of twelve at the time and could not rule England outright. His uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester was the only surviving brother of the late King and was named Lord Protector of the realm until Edward came of age.
Unfortunately this would not be enough for Richard. He had placed both Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York in the Tower. Richard, Duke of Gloucester claimed it was in preparation of the coronation of Edward V, but the boys would never leave the Tower. That we know of.
The Duke of Gloucester declared the marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville invalid and therefore their children illegitimate – this meant that Richard, Duke of Gloucester was now the rightful heir to the throne. He became King Richard III (1483-1485) and the boys were never seen or heard from again.
Flash forward to 1490 at the court in Burgundy — Perkin Warbeck claimed to be Richard, Duke of York. At court he was recognized by Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy. Margaret was the sister of the late Edward IV and Richard III. She would surely recognize her nephew, right? That question is one that we will never truly know the answer to.
Hailed as the rightful heir to the throne of England, Richard (aka Warbeck) set out to reclaim his father’s throne. But England already had a king: the first of the Tudors, Henry VII. Henry proclaimed the young man an imposter and nicknamed him “Perkin Warbeck”, but he behaved—not as if the young man was an upstart—but as if he faced the clash of another legitimate claimant. –On the Tudor Trail
Warbeck wrote to Isabella of Castile (mother to Katherine of Aragon) in 1493:
“I myself, then nearly nine years of age, was also delivered to a certain Lord to be killed, [but] it pleased Divine Clemency, that lord, having compassion on my innocence, preserved me alive in safety: first, however, causing me to swear on the holy sacrament that to no one should I disclose my name, origin, or family, until a certain number of years had passed. He then sent me therefore abroad, with two persons, who should watch over and take charge of me; and thus I, an orphan, bereaved of my royal father and brother, an exile from my kingdom, and deprived of my country, inheritance and fortune, a fugitive in the midst of extreme perils, led my miserable life, in fear, and weeping, and grief, and for the space of nearly eight years lay hid…scarcely had I emerged from childhood alone and without means, I remained for a time in the kingdom of Portugal, and thence sailed to Ireland, where being recognised by illustrious lords, the earl of Desmond and Kildare, my cousins, as also by other noblemen of the island, I was received with great joy and honour. -Richard” - British Library MS Egerton 616), as quoted by I. Arthurson in The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy, P. 49-50
Soon Warbeck would gain support from others including King James IV of Scotland. The Scottish King was not exactly on the friendliest of terms with the English King (Henry VII) and would take this opportunity in an attempt to dethrone him and have the presumptive English King (Warbeck) as an ally. In order for James IV to seal the friendship and alliance with Warbeck he betrothed his cousin Lady Katherine Gordon to the young man.
In December 1495, Perkin Warbeck wrote this letter to Lady Katherine Gordon:
Most noble lady, it is not without reason that all turn their eyes to you; that all admire, love, and obey you. For they see your two-fold virtues by which you are so much distinguished above all other mortals. Whilst, on the one hand, they admire your riches and immutable prosperity, which secure to you the nobility of your lineage and the loftiness of your rank, they are, on the other hand, struck by your rather divine than human beauty, and believe that you are not born in our days, but descended from Heaven.
All look at your face, so bright and serene that it gives splendour to the cloudy sky ; all look at your eyes as brilliant as stars, which make all pain to be forgotten, and turn despair into delight ; all look at your neck, which outshines pearls ; all look at your fine forehead, your purple light of youth, your fair hair ; in one word, at the splendid perfection of your person ;—and looking at, they cannot choose but admire you ; admiring, they cannot choose but love you ; loving, they cannot choose but obey you.
I shall, perhaps, be the happiest of all your admirers, and the happiest man on earth, since I have reason to hope you will think me worthy of your love. If I represent to my mind all your perfections, I am not only compelled to love, to adore, and to worship you, but love makes me your slave. Whether waking or sleeping, I cannot find rest or happiness except in your affection. All my hopes rest in you, and in you alone. Most noble lady, my soul, look mercifully down upon me your slave, who has ever been devoted to you from the first hour he saw you. Love is not an earthly thing, it is heaven born. Do not think it below yourself to obey love’s dictates. Not only kings, but also gods and goddesses have bent their necks beneath its yoke.
In 1497 Warbeck traveled again with two or three small vessels – he was accompanied by his wife, Katherine. After departing Scotland Warbeck crossed to Ireland. When he arrived he found no allies and was being pursued by the Earl of Kildare. In a country that had supported the House of York Warbeck was sadly not welcomed, so he sailed to Devon. On 7 September, he was joined by a crowd of people who had recently revolted against excessive taxation. He continued to Exeter, but was unable to master the town. As Henry VII’s troops approached Warbeck deserted his followers and ran for refuge to the sanctuary of Beaulieu in Hampshire where he surrendered.
After Warbeck’s capture his wife Katherine was treated kindly and placed in the household of Queen Elizabeth of York – the queen of Henry VII. Who, if Warbeck was indeed the Duke of York, was her sister-in-law. I often wonder what Elizabeth of York thought of all of this.
“Henry allowed Warbeck to remain at court where he could be watched. However, he foolishly tried to run away which seemed to emphasise his treachery. Warbeck was put in the stocks, humiliated and sent to the Tower. Clearly after being generous to the pretender, Henry’s patience had run out. In 1499, Warbeck was charged with trying to escape for a second time, found guilty and hanged on November 23rd 1499″.– The History Learning Site
The ultimate fate of Perkin Warbeck came about because of his own choice to try to escape. I often wonder what would have happened to him if he had not done so. I tend to romanticize things, and in doing so I honestly believe that Warbeck was indeed Richard, Duke of York. I like to believe that he was who he said he was. That he was sent away from court (and replaced with a local boy) by his mother Elizabeth Woodville so that she could make sure at least one of her sons were safe. We can all understand why Elizabeth wouldn’t trust Richard III after he claimed her marriage to his brother was invalid – oh, and the part where he had her son Sir Richard Grey and brother Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers executed on 25 June 1483.
It’s possible that we may never know who Perkin Warbeck truly was, and until then we can only speculate. Were the skeletal remains of the two young boys found in the Tower of London indeed the Princes in the Tower? Was Perkin Warbeck really Richard, Duke of York? Did Elizabeth of York recognize her younger brother, and was she unable to do everything in her power to save him from certain death?
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.
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.
“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”
“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.
Europeans were introduced to The Black Death, or “The Great Pestilence” (by sea) in 1347 when twelve trade ships docked at a Sicilian port. Most on board were dead and those who were alive were gravely ill – they would soon die as well. On board were men covered with black boils that oozed blood and pus – it was eventually given the name, “Black Death.”
The Black Death knew no status – when a person became infected with this plague they would die within a few days. It would begin with a persistent fever, followed by blisters and boils on the legs, arm and neck that would weaken the victim due to the immense pain – so much pain they became fatigued and bedridden. The boils would grow and increase in size until they were the size of an egg, oozing and seeping infectious fluids. Within days they would be dead. Very few people actually survived the plague.
The Black Death terrified people so much that they often abandoned family members and loved ones to save themselves from becoming infected.
Many died unseen. So they remained in their beds until they stank. And the neighbors, if there were any, having smelled the stench, placed them in a shroud and sent them for burial. The house remained open and yet there was no one daring enough to touch anything because it seemed that things remained poisoned and that whoever used them picked up the illness.
What is the Black Death and how did it spread?
The bacteria that causes this plague lives in rats – some rats have developed an immunity to it, and the fleas that feed on their blood cannot swallow it – in turn, when the flea jumps to its human victim, it bites the human and leaves behind the unswallowed rat blood in the bite. The human is now infected.
There are three types of this plague:
Pneumonic plague - The virus settles in the victim’s lungs and after four to five days their lungs essentially become liquefied. The victim coughs up their liquefied lungs and dies. Symptoms include: fever, headache, weakness, shortness of breath, chest pain and cough.
Septicemic plague - The virus inhibits the body’s ability to clot – so the outcome is bleeding to death from multiple places at the same time. Symptoms include: fever, chills, weakness, abdominal pain, shock, and bleeding underneath the skin or other organs.
Bubonic plague - The virus attacks the lymph nodes and makes them swell and blacken and their skin decomposes while they’re still alive.
The Black Death, or plague, arrived in England in the Summer of 1348 and by August/September it arrived in London and took hold of the city with brutal force.
‘The pestilence arrived in London at about the feast of All Saints [1st Nov] and daily deprived many of life. It grew so powerful that between Candlemass and Easter [2nd Feb-12th April] more than 200 corpses were buried almost every day in the new burial ground made next to Smithfield, and this was in addition to the bodies buried in other graveyards in the city.‘
In England, the Black Death would claim 1.5 million people out of an estimated 4 million between 1348 and 1350 – almost half of the population. It spared no one. Small villages in England were completely wiped out. When a family member became infected, the rest weren’t far behind. There was no way to stop it. When residents fled their infected villages they were one of the very reasons the plague spread throughout the country so quickly — taking the Black Death with them and not even realizing it. Either they were already infected (and didn’t know it) or they were carrying the infected fleas on their clothing.
“The Black Death had a huge impact on society. Fields went unploughed as the men who usually did this were victims of the disease. Harvests would not have been brought in as the manpower did not exist. Animals would have been lost as the people in a village would not have been around to tend them.”
The Black Death had a huge impact on England and it’s food supply. During the plague there was a huge surplus of food that spoiled because there was no one available to harvest the fields. Those people who either sick, dead or had fled their home. After the plague, many faced starvation because not enough crop had been planted due to dismal labor numbers. Another after effect of the food shortage was inflation, which created even more hardship for the poor. The normal price of items increased four times their normal rate – leaving it nearly impossible for some to eat.
Near the end of 1350 the plague had subsided, but didn’t really die-out in England for a few centuries. Outbreaks occurred in 1361-62, 1369, 1379-83, 1389-93, and throughout the first half of the 15th century. It wasn’t until the late 17th century that England became largely free of serious plague outbreaks.
Did You Know?
Many scholars believe the nursery rhyme, “Ring Around the Rosy” was written about the Black Death (See video below)
King Edward III was the ruling monarch during the outbreak — his daughter, Joan of England died from the plague on 1 July 1348.
Lyrics to Ring Around the Rosy:
Ring around the rosy A pocketful of posies “Ashes, Ashes” We all fall down