Pole, Reginald

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Pole, Reginald

Reginald Pole, 1500–1558, English churchman, archbishop of Canterbury (1556–58), cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was a cousin of the Tudors, being the son of Sir Richard Pole and of Margaret, countess of Salisbury, who was the daughter of George, duke of Clarence, and the niece of kings Edward IV and Richard III. Although he did not take priestly orders until late in life, he was devout from the first and received many church benefices from Henry VIII. When his benefactor broke with the pope, Pole went abroad. In 1536 he made a formal statement of his views on the king's divorce, attacking the doctrine of royal supremacy. In the same year he accepted Pope Paul III's summons to sit on the commission to reform the pontifical administration and was created cardinal. In 1537 and again in 1538–39, Pole was active in trying to organize a league against Henry, who now was setting out to destroy the Pole family. However, Pole was unsuccessful in this endeavor, and he returned to Rome and received the legatine governorship of Viterbo. He was one of the legates appointed to open the Council of Trent (1545). In 1553, on Edward VI's death, Pope Julius III made him legate to England, and he and Mary I set about restoring the Roman Catholic Church. However, he ran afoul of Mary's husband, Philip II of Spain, and then of Pope Paul IV, and his difficulties were multiplied. He was always a mild man and would have nothing to do with the burning of heretics. In 1556 he was ordained priest and consecrated archbishop of Canterbury. He died the same day as Mary.

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