Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, 1473-1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, 1473-1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership

Article excerpt

Hazel Pierce, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, 1473-1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2003). x + 273 pp. ISBN o7083-1783-9. £40.00.

Hazel Pierce's biography falls into two parts. The first four chapters trace the whirling fortunes of Margaret Pole, daughter to the Duke of Clarence, from the 1470s to the 1530s. They explore several themes familiar to fifteenth-century historians: the career of a magnate; the nobility's relationship to the monarchy; the character and management of an affinity and estate (the latter traced in two admirably set-out appendices). They also introduce another powerful widow, whose life bears comparison to that of Lady Margaret Beaufort. However, although she gives a few intriguing hints of the household women's sewing, the tapestries of Newfoundland, or the family's cultivation of humanist scholars (pp. 3, 41-4), Pierce explains that more personal sources are lacking for Pole; her book cannot say as much about the religious and cultural life of the household as Jones and Underwood's The King's Mother does. Rather Pierce traces Pole's public career, swiftly, clearly, and factually, correcting the presumed dates and interpretations of events such as her marriage and Arthur Pole's death (pp. 12-16, 90f.).

For the second part, the fifth and sixth chapters focus more upon Margaret's wider family during the cataclysmic attack upon it in 153 8-41. This section thus illuminates the intricacies of Reformation policy and its enforcement; like many accounts of these brutal and tense years, Pierce's story is horrifyingly gripping. Then a lengthy analytical chapter argues, against previous scholars, that Henry VIII and Cromwell were in fact reasoned and indeed justified in their arrest of Pole's sons, and the execution of the elder one. …

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