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Friday, July 22, 2016

Margaret Pole Loses Governess Post

In July 1521, Margaret Pole received one of increasingly severe blows from her cousin, the king. This was a temporary setback rather than the beginning of her loss of favor that occurred due to the falling out between her dear friend, Catherine of Aragon, and Henry VIII.

Up to this point, Margaret had been consistently shown favor by the second Henry Tudor. He had restored to her the earldom of Salisbury, which had been held by her ancestors until the death of Richard Neville during the Wars of the Roses. This provided her with vast holdings and income, though she was required to pay a large fee for the honor of the title as well.

Not much more than a year earlier, Margaret had been given the position of governess to the precious Princess Mary. The friends, Catherine and Margaret, may have held hopes that their children would be united in marriage, further establishing the unity of the York and Tudor lines. This idea does not seem to have appealed to Henry. However, he was happy to have Margaret in charge of Mary's upbringing and education

Henry and Catherine's problems were in the early stages. Henry had sired a son with Bessie Blount, and doubts about Catherine's ability to give him a legitimate son were held far and wide. There was no talk yet though of an annulment.

Margaret's lost post was the result of another cousin's misstep. Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham and rather proud of it, had voiced his feelings regarding the king and his own royal heritage one too many times. He was arrested in April 1521, despite having served Henry in France the previous year. His execution took place without delay on May 17.

Close ties existed between Margaret and Edward. In fact, their children, Ursula and Henry, were married. This advantageous pairing seemed like a good idea until Edward was convicted of treason. Margaret must have been terrified as the union suddenly appeared to be a plot to unite strong royal bloodlines to compete with the king's.

With anyone close to Buckingham, or those with more distinguished ancestry than Henry VIII's, brought under suspicion, Margaret may have been grateful to only lose her governess post. Princess Mary was her goddaughter, and the two shared a great love for one another. Still, pragmatic Margaret may have been content to bide her time and wait for the dust to settle.

Her patience paid off. In 1525, she was reestablished as Mary's governess. This time she would hold the post until 1533 when fortune's wheel started it's plunge for the Pole family and many others closely connected to the Spanish queen.


  1. I like these insightful historic spotlights. History is so large that it's easy to forget that it is really the sum total of billions of individual life experiences. Every day of the past was filled with the ups and downs of countless ever-changing lives. It's no wonder that history is so rich a mine for study... And fiction!

    1. Thank you, Blair. My goal is to write more posts like this that look at the 'little moments' in people's lives.

  2. Ya, it was disgusting what Henry VIII did to her..............

    1. It was. I like to think that Margaret handled the situation with much more grace and dignity than he did.

  3. Thank you for writing this. I am a descendant of both.