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 Countess of Salisbury

Countess of Salisbury

Original Name Margaret Plantagenet Pole
Birth
Farleigh Hungerford, Mendip District, Somerset, England
Death 27 May 1541 (aged 67)
Tower Hamlets, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England
Burial London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 18701 · View Source
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English Aristocracy. Born at Farleigh Castle, Bath, Wiltshire, England, the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and Isabel Neville. She was niece to both Edward IV and Richard III. Orphaned by the age of six, she and her brother were brought up with Edward IV's children. Under Richard III, her brother, Edward, became heir presumptive and she, the Princess Royal. After the Tudor usurpation of the throne in 1485, however, Edward was imprisoned and like most Plantagenets under the new regime, was eventually judicially murdered. Margaret was given in marriage to Sir Richard Pole, a relative of Henry VII's mother. The couple would have five children. On his accession, Henry VIII reversed her brother's attainder; and, in 1513, made her Countess of Salisbury in her own right, making her one of only two women of the time to hold their own titles. She served Catherine of Aragon as Lady in Waiting. With the birth of the Princess Mary, Margaret was her baptismal sponsor and served as her godmother. She was Princess Mary's first Lady Mistress and oversaw the princess' household and served as her governess. In 1531, Princess Mary was removed from her charge. They were reunited briefly four years later, but her opposition to divorce for the royal couple caused Henry to again removed Margaret as a partisan of the queen. Her son, Cardinal Reginald Pole, published numerous papers in support of Queen Catherine and Princess Mary. In exile on the continent, he could not be touched by the English King, but his mother made a handy scapegoat and she was duly arrested. Margaret was released and returned to court only after Anne Boleyn's dramatic fall from grace. Unfortunately, Reginald Pole then sent King Henry a copy of his treatise ‘Pro ecclesiasticae unitatis defensione,' which included a denunciation of the king's policies. In November, 1538 the vengeful king arrested Henry Pole, Baron Montagu, Geoffrey Pole, the Marquis of Exeter, Edward Neville and Sir Nicholas Carew on a charge of treason, and they were committed to the Tower. Ten days later, Margaret was arrested as well. She denounced Reginald as a traitor and even expressed regret that she had given birth to him. In January, Montagu, Exeter, and Carew were executed. In May an Act of Attainder was issued against Margaret and she was removed to the Tower and held there for nearly two years. On the morning of May 27, 1541 she was suddenly told she was to die within the hour. When she was removed to the place of execution, the elderly and infirm lady declared she was no traitor and refused to lay her head on the block. One version of her death has the inexperienced executioner cutting her down where she stood; another has the lady making a run for it, pursued by the axe wielding executioner. In any event, Margaret died hard, hacked to death in the yard by an inept executioner. Margaret was buried in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula within the Tower. In 1886 she was beatified as a Roman Catholic martyr by Pope Leo VIII.


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 3 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 18701
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Countess of Salisbury (14 Aug 1473–27 May 1541), Find A Grave Memorial no. 18701, citing Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-Vincula, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .