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Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 - Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership
Hazel Pierce
ISBN: 9780708317839 (0708317839)Dyddiad Cyhoeddi Mawrth 2003
Cyhoeddwr: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru / University of Wales Press, Caerdydd
Fformat: Clawr Caled, 216x138 mm, 278 tudalen Iaith: Saesneg Allan o brint Ein Pris: £55.00   
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Bywgraffiad menyw flaenllaw yn Oes y Tuduriaid ym Mhrydain. Yn cynnwys ymchwil newydd pwysig ar fywyd bonheddig a gwleidyddiaeth llys y cyfnod.

A biography of a significant female figure in the male-dominated world of Tudor politics. Containing important new research on aristocratic life and court politics in the period.
The bare outline of Margaret Pole’s life makes dismal reading. The daughter of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, she was married by order of Henry VII to Sir Richard Pole, a gentleman of Buckinghamshire, in about 1491. She was given the family lands of the earldom of Salisbury by Henry VIII who wished to atone for the execution of her brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, and in 1513, a wealthy widow, she was created Countess of Salisbury.

Appointed governess to Princess Mary, she refused, on the King’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, to give up Mary’s jewels to the new queen and was discharged from her office, though she returned to court after Anne’s fall in 1536. Her position was compromised by her son Reginald Pole’s book, De Unitate Ecclesiastica, for which Henry VIII decided to destroy the whole family. Her son, Henry, was executed for treason in 1538 and she was beheaded at the Tower of London in 1541 on the news of Sir John Neville’s rising in Yorkshire.

This book has little enough to do with Wales, except that the author completed a research thesis at the University of Wales, Bangor.

Margaret Pole was the only woman, apart from Anne Boleyn, to hold a peerage in her own right during the 16th century. A niece of both Edward IV and Richard III, she fell foul of Henry VIII on account of her deep Catholic convictions. In 1886 she was among 63 martyrs beatified by Pope Leo XIII for not hesitating ‘to lay down their lives by the shedding of their blood’ for the dignity of the Holy See.

Although no concrete evidence of her involvement in any Catholic conspiracy was brought before the king, it was thought that the worst of which she could be accused was preventing members of her household and tenants from having the Bible in English. The old lady went to her death without being told of her crime and her head was chopped off not by the professional executioner but by ‘a wretched and blundering youth who hacked her head and shoulders to pieces in the most pitiful manner’.

Hazel Pierce presents Margaret in the setting of the male-dominated world of Tudor politics and against the social background of late Yorkist and early Tudor Britain. Her book contains important new research on aristocratic life and court politics of the period and contains a fresh reappraisal of the Exeter conspiracy.

Meic Stephens

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

Gellir defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Gwybodaeth Bellach:
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, 1473–1541
Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership
Hazel Pierce
pp x273 216 x 138mm March 2003 Hardback £40.000-7083-1783-9
Born in 1473, Margaret Pole was the daughter of George, duke of Clarence, niece of both Edward IV and Richard III, and the only woman, apart from Anne Boleyn, to hold a peerage title in her own right during the sixteenth century. She was restored by Henry VIII to her executed brother’s earldom of Salisbury in 1512. In the 1530s, however, her deep Catholic convictions became increasingly out of favour with Henry and she was executed on a charge of treason in 1541 aged sixty-seven. In 1886, Margaret Pole was among sixty-three martyrs beatified by Pope Leo XIII for not hesitating ‘to lay down their lives by the shedding of their blood’ for the dignity of the Holy See.
In this first biography of a significant female figure in the male-dominated world of Tudor politics, Hazel Pierce presents the life and culture of this propertied titled lady against the social and political background of late Yorkist and early Tudor Britain. Containing important new research on aristocratic life and court politics in the period, including a complete reappraisal of the so-called ‘Exeter conspiracy’, Margaret Pole is a major contribution to our understanding of Henry VIII’s relationship with the nobility, and the political, social and cultural position of women in sixteenth-century England.
‘Hazel Pierce’s study of Margaret Pole brings to life one of the most powerful and tragic women of the age of Henry VIII. With scholarship and sympathy the author sets Margaret in her political context: niece, cousin and godmother to kings and queens, independent landed magnate, but daughter, sister and mother of executed traitors. Meanwhile she evokes the material signs of Margaret’s power, her palaces, gardens, clothes and music, to provide a thorough study of an unduly neglected figure.’ – Steven Gunn, Merton College Oxford, author of Early Tudor Government, 1485–1558.
Hazel Pierce is a historian and taught at the University of Wales, Bangor, where she completed her Ph.D. thesis. She is a member of the Royal Historical Society, and has published widely on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century British history, and on the Pole family in particular.
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