John de la Pole, an organizer of rebels and leader of troops at Stoke had good reason to believe that he had a better claim to the crown than Henry VII. At one time named the heir of Richard III, de la Pole was son of Elizabeth, duchess of Suffolk and sister to Edward IV and Richard III. When he was killed, it was believed that the hope of the Plantagenets died with him.
However, a few remained.
At the time of John de la Pole's death, he had two younger brothers, Edmund and Richard. Both were forced into exile by Henry's wrath. Edmund would later be imprisoned and executed, but Henry's assassins failed to rid him of Richard.
|Richard de la Pole|
When Richard de la Pole died, there still remained a Plantagenet remnant. The three de la Pole boys had not managed to leave behind a living male heir, but other families lived on with more than a drop of royal blood in their veins.
George of Clarence, the brother of Edward IV and Richard III who had been executed for treason in 1478, left behind two living children, Edward and Margaret. Edward was executed by Henry VII in 1499 for the crime of having a better claim to the throne than the king and to clear the way for Prince Arthur's marriage to the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon. Margaret, however, had been married to a loyal follower of the Tudors, Richard Pole, with whom she had several sons. When the Battle of Stoke occurred in 1487, they were little more than children but they too would eventually be persecuted for their royal blood.
The eldest of Margaret's children was Henry Pole, Lord Montegu. As the greatest threat to Henry VIII's crown and a staunch Catholic, Henry was executed in 1539 along with Edward Neville and Henry Courtenay, two more men with potential power to give Henry VIII trouble. (Courtenay, as the son of Anne of York, was the last of the male offspring of Edward IV's children, besides Henry VIII.) Henry Pole's young son, another Henry, was also kept in the Tower until his death.
The youngest of Margaret's sons, Geoffrey, was not a threat to Henry VIII, but was his own worst enemy, giving evidence against his brother in order to save his own skin. Feelings of guilt plagued him and sent him to Reginald, begging for forgiveness. He would continue to ride on Reginald's coattails until his death in 1558.
|Cardinal Reginald Pole|
Did the Wars of the Roses end on a bloody battlefield near Stoke? Maybe, but there were a few Plantagenets remaining who would be the bane of the Tudor dynasty for years to come.
For more on the fate of the Plantagenet remnant within the Tudor era, read Desmond Seward's The Last White Rose.