33 Comments

  1. Liam Seamus McDonald

    I was always under the impression that because she denied ever having committed treason, rather than meekly and willingly placing her neck on the block as the article suggests, Margaret resisted and she had to be forced down onto the block as she vigorously shook her head from side to side which is why the executioner made such a mess of it.

    • Tudors Weekly

      This may be the author’s interpretation of what happened. I had also read a different story: “She was dragged to the block and, as she refused to lay her head on it, was forced down. As she struggled, the inexperienced executioner’s first blow made a gash in her shoulder rather than her neck. Ten additional blows were required to complete the execution.”

    • Hannah

      No, Margaret didn’t have to be forced to lie down at the block. That’s a myth that originates back to the Victorians. Eustace Chapuys was an eye witness to Margaret Pole’s execution and he stated that she conducted herself with great dignity and bravery, despite the executioner performing badly.

      Also, Henry VIII did not die of syphilis. That’s another of the oldest myths in the books. He more than likely died of diabetes.

      With regards to Geoffrey Pole, he provided information willingly and later tried to take his own life.

      • Ellie Merritt

        They don’t know for sure what King Henry VIII died of for sure. While the symptoms sound like diabetes I doubt he would have lasted that long without dying or having his leg amputated. He did sleep with many women and there are symptoms that may suggest that was the cause especially his mental state. You don’t go mad from diabetes but his behavior suggests he killed an enormous amount of people with little regret and little evidence. I don’t believe it was diabetes and I don’t think we will ever know. He may have had several diseases as is the problem with such a heavy persons but not all heavy people act crazy as he did. Being king was no excuse for his behavior since he had been brought up to serve in the church before Arthur died.

  2. Sarah Brooks

    Great article on Margaret, Countess of Salisbury and her poor Plantagenet children! My family left England before the Civil Wars for the colonies…I, too, wish sometimes that I had been born in England where history is everywhere and greatly preserved and not knocked down like in the States. 🙂

  3. Cherry Blood

    Richard III did not have Margaret’s brother, Edward of Warwick, “shut up in closer confinement in Sheriff Hutton Castle”. He did have a nursery at Sherrif Hutton for high born children, including Warwick, but records indicate that they were well looked after, eg dressed in expensive fabrics. Warwick was knighted in September 1483 and appointed to the Council of the North, alongside another newphew, John de la Pole. Obviously a nominal appointment, given his young age, but it indicates that he was being groomed to play a part in Richard III’s administration.

    • Dominic Mancini wrote that Richard, on becoming king, “gave orders that the son of the duke of Clarence, his other brother, then a boy of ten years old, should come to the city: and commanded that the lad should be kept in confinement in the household of his wife”. Mancini over estimated Edward’s age by two years. In 1484, Richard established a royal household for the young Edward at Sheriff Hutton Castle. An estate originally held by Edward’s grandfather, the Kingmaker and by then Richard’s land. Richard kept Edward out of the lime light and the public eye. Edward’s father, George, duke of Clarence, had been attained and therefore Edward had no right to the throne and was no legal threat to Richard. It would have been easy for Richard III to dispose of such a young boy but it took Henry Tudor to engineer a charge of treason to get rid of a rival.
      I could go on to say that if Richard killed the Princes in the Tower, removing Edward would be a mere footnote – but that’s a whole new ball game!!!!

  4. Cate

    Love the article and the details that you added. Henry was a dangerous king and the times were perilous.

    • Tudors Dynasty

      She was about 68. Born in 1473, executed in 1541. That was considered elderly in the 16th century.

  5. Maureen

    Excellent article. More than any other judicial killing in Henry’s reign, the gruesome one of Margaret, Countess of Salibury is the most disgraceful and unnecessary. By then he was truly a tyrant.

  6. Tricia Penteny Mancuso

    The article was most interesting. It was a very dangerous age in which to live it you carried royal blood.
    I’m a descendant of William The Conqueror down through the Plantagenet line through both my maternal grandparents. My royal ancestry spreads across Britain, Europe, into Byzantium, Western Russia and throughout Scandinavia. I share much ancestral history with Elizabeth II. I was teacher and have my degree in ancient history and fine art. My greatest interest is British Royal history.

  7. anne pow

    I question the statement about Margaret Beaufort, not Henry VII mother, being descended from John of Gaunt. I was lead to believe that Henry’s mother was descended from John and this was the tenuous claim Henry had to the throne. We’re there 2 Margaret Beauforts ?

    • Tudors Dynasty

      Henry’s mother was Margaret Beaufort and she came from an illegitimate line of John of Gaunt through her father, John Beaufort.

    • Ellen Myers

      Margaret Beaufort (1437-1474) was the daughter of Sir Edmund II “Beaufort” Plantagenet (1406-1455) who was the son of Sir John “Beaufort” Plantagenet (1371-1410) who was the son of John “Gaunt” Plantagenet (1340-1399) so she is his Great Great Great Grandaughter

  8. Jim Pagliaro

    Impressive work, thanks for sharing. I have read of the Countess’s execution many times and the cruelty of it always moved me.

  9. I read that her young grandson, Montagues son,died from neglect/starvation in the Tower after his grandmother was executed. There is a portrait from 1513 accompanying this article stating it is Henry vii, seeing he was dead I’m sure it is Henry VIII.

    • This is correct. Henry Pole’s son, another Henry, is never recorded leaving the Tower and is believed to have died there of unknown causes (could certainly have been illness rather than neglect). What is certain is that in 1553, when Queen Mary released Edward Courtenay, who had also been imprisoned with his father at the same time, he was the last prisoner of the Exeter Conspiracy.

  10. Sabine Forestier-Walker

    Interessiert article. Two little mistakes. It Henry VIII, in 1513 and Charles v, Roman Emperor or charles i of spain.

  11. Kandra M Ayon

    Interesting read, could you tell me the names of the books you’ve written. I find England history interesting. My family comes from Surrey and unfortunately for me, I was born in the U.S. I would love to read more about England.

  12. I have read, all my life, that Margaret Countess of Salisbury refused to lay her head on the block saying, “I am no traitor!” and that she fled and was pursued and was hacked to death as she stood by the executioner with either and axe or a sword while onlookers gazed in horror.
    So which version is correct? I don’t believe she meekly submitted.

  13. Geoffrey Tobin

    Margaret wasn’t the last person surnamed Plantagenet. She may have been the last known to be legitimately in that line (of course assuming no funny-business in earlier generations), but there was also Frances Plantagenet (1519-1568), daughter of Arthur Plantagenet (died 1542), 1st Viscount Lisle, illegitimate son of Edward IV.
    Arthur’s voluminous correspondence when he was Governor of Calais (“the Lisle Papers”) provide much detail about the times and government of Henry VIII.

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