Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury

From Academic Kids


Margaret Pole (August 14, 1473May 27, 1541), Countess of Salisbury, was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and Isabella Neville. Her father was a brother of both Edward IV and Richard III.

Born at Farleigh Castle in Wiltshire, she married Sir Richard Pole in 1494. In 1513, her younger brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, having been executed by King Henry VII of England, she was given the earldom of Salisbury by King Henry VIII.

Margaret was appointed governess to the young Princess Mary, later Queen Mary I of England. However, at the time of the divorce of Mary's mother, Catherine of Aragon, the countess made the mistake of appearing to side with Catherine and Mary against the king, and this was his cue to declare her a traitor. She lost her titles in 1539, following the execution for treason of her eldest son, Henry Pole, Marquess of Montagu.

Eventually she was executed—on May 27 1541 in the Tower of London—by Henry VIII in continuation of his father's program of eliminating possible contenders for the throne.

She refused to acknowledge that she was a traitor. She was not tried. She was not permitted to reply to charge. In a popular ballad at the time reads:

 For traitors on the block should die, 
 I am no traitor, no, not I! 
 My faithfulness stands fast and so, 
 Towards the block I shall not go!   
 Nor make on step, as you shall see, 
 Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me!

She was small, frail, elderly, and ill. She was dragged to the block, but refused to lay her head on the block. She was forced down. The executioner swung his axe as she struggled. However it made a gash in her shoulder rather than her neck. Then she leapt from the block and ran away pursued by the executioner, with his axe. She was struck eleven times before she died. As she was of noble birth she was executed in the privacy of the Tower of London rather than on nearby Tyburn Hill. There were about 150 witnesses to her execution.

Her son, Reginald Cardinal Pole said that he would "...never fear to call himself the son of a martyr".

The feast day of Blessed Margaret Pole is May 28. She was beatified in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII.

She and her husband Richard Pole had one daughter and four sons, one of whom, Reginald, became Archbishop of Canterbury.

Preceded by:
Edward, Earl of Warwick
Countess of Salisbury
1513 - 1539
Succeeded by:

Template:End boxde:Margaret Pole


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