|Cardinal Reginald Pole|
He had the perfect opportunity to do so when Pope Paul III died in 1549. Pole was expected to become the next pope. Vestments were tailor made for him and those who gambled found the odds heavily favored him. However, Reginald Pole refused to press his advantage. As others bribed, schemed, and negotiated, Reginald prayed that God would guide the outcome of the conclave. He fell short by one vote.
The throne of England was another possibility for Reginald Pole. His mother, Margaret Countess of Salisbury, was a friend and confidant of Queen Katherine of Aragon. Both women liked the idea of their children wed to one another. Later, after both women were dead, the idea was considered again by those who looked to the Tudor succession and found only women available. Reginald could be the perfect spouse for Mary, uniting York and Tudor blood and giving Mary an acceptable husband to rule the kingdom.
As far as we know, Reginald never seriously considered this possibility. He considered himself a man of God above all else, and never would marry. Instead, he returned to England when Mary became queen and was invested as her Archbishop of Canterbury.
|Cardinal Pietro Bembo|
Reginald also had a close relationship with Vittoria Colonna who is not as famous as she should be. A devout Catholic who, like Pole, was not afraid to consider the worth of the tenets of faith brought forward by reformers, Vittoria was also a published poet. A feat in itself for her time, she was talented enough to be admired and consulted by the likes of Cardinal Pietro Bembo.
The fact that Pole spent his life surrounded by amazing historical figures is one of the many aspects of his character that made him a joy to write about. In the following excerpt, he shares a quiet evening with a man who was a scholar, Templar knight, poet, and cardinal: Pietro Bembo.
Excerpt from Prince of York
June 1543 - Rome
Reginald released a sigh as tension left his shoulders and the sun cast a riot of color into the sky.
“You have not been reading your Cicero,” Pietro observed.
Reginald had closed his eyes to soak up the peaceful feeling, but he opened them to peer at his friend. “How can you tell?”
“Ha! It is easy to see that you are far too filled with anxiety to have been studying the ancients. You are stuck firmly in the present with all its worries,” Bembo waved his hands as though this was all as clear to see as if Michelangelo had painted it on the wall.
With a grin, Reginald admitted, “As usual, you are correct, Pietro.” He took a deep draught from his glass and refilled it before speaking again. “It is my brother.”
Bembo nodded solemnly. “It can be a heavy burden to be our brothers’ keeper as is commanded by our Lord. Geoffrey has many demons.”
“He does,” Reginald agreed. “I must have greater patience with him.”
“Ah, Reynaldo,” Bembo said affectionately, leaning over to pat Reginald’s knee. “You would take on the world believing it was your duty.” Shaking his head, he continued, “The Bishop of Liege is in need of a man to see to duties of which I believe your brother would be capable.”
“Send him to Flanders?” Reginald asked, sitting upright, his muscles tightening with the discussion of his brother.
Before he could disagree, Bembo cut him off. “Yes, Flanders would be ideal. You may send him an allowance if it eases your conscience, but you are not obligated to keep him at your own table.”
“What if he….” Reginald realized he did not know what he was afraid of Geoffrey doing. Saying the wrong thing? Ending up in prison?
He nodded and lifted his glass to his lips, the matter closed.