fact no. 42
On this day, 477 years ago, Lady Margaret Pole (Countess of Salisbury) was executed at the Tower aged 67 years.
Lady Margaret Pole was one of King Henry VIII’s ladies in favour, allowing her the title of “Countess of Salisbury”. She was the godmother and governess to the King’s first daughter the Lady Mary, however, Margaret’s position in court was jeopardised by her son Reginald Pole when he chose to speak out on the King’s annulment to the Lady Mary’s mother, Catherine of Aragon. Reginald went on to publish a booked called “Pro ecclesiasticae unitatis defensione”, denouncing the King’s policies causing him to want revenge on the Pole’s for their deceit. Margaret also had Plantagenet blood flowing through her veins, causing her to be even more of a threat at this time.
November 1538 saw the arrest of a wide range of the Pole family members and them being taken to the Tower for treason. The Countess being as elderly as she was (65 at the time) was taken to Cowdray House in Midhurst to be questioned. In 1539 she was stripped of her titles and sent to the Tower. In 1541 Margaret had been imprisoned for 2 years and was now considered a traitor of the Tower but, being a woman of noble birth the Plantagenet heiress was given a private execution. There are two accounts of how her execution went.
- She was beheaded by an inexperienced axeman missing her neck the first time round, hitting her shoulder and taking a further 10 more hits on her neck till she was finally beheaded.
- She managed to escape the block! But was taken down by her executioner trying to get away, furthermore backing up the allegations of the 11 blows she had to endure during her death.
Either way, Margaret had a lot of anger from the King taken out on her, regardless of how old she was at the time. Proving just how serious and angry the king truly was with the Poles.
With love, Charlotte x