Lady Salisbury

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Lady Salisbury (Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury) as played by Kate O'Toole

Born August 4th, 1473 - Executed May 27th, 1541 by order of KIng Henry VIII

Character's backstory: This character is loosely based on Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. She was the last member of the Plantagenet dynasty (by name).

Margaret was appointed Governess of the Princess Mary Tudor and her Household. As the years passed there was talk of a marriage between the Princess and the countess's son (Reginald), who was still a layman. However, when the matter of the king's divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon began to be spoken of, Reginald Pole boldly spoke out his mind in the affair and shortly afterwards withdrew from England. The Princess was still in the Countess's charge when Henry married Anne Boleyn but when he was opposed in his efforts to have Mary illegitimized, he removed the Countess from service, though she begged to be allowed to follow and serve Mary at her own expense.

In November, 1538, her eldest son, Henry Pole, Baron Montagu, another son and other relatives were arrested on a charge of treason, though Sir Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex had previously written that they had "little offended save that he [the Cardinal] is of their kin", they were committed to the Tower, and in January, with the exception of Geoffrey Pole, they were executed. Ten days after the arrest of her sons, Margaret herself, despite her age, was arrested and examined but would "nothing utter", and they were forced to conclude that either her sons had not made her a sharer in their "treason", or else she was "the most arrant traitress that ever lived". She was subjected to all manner of indignity and Cromwell produced a white silk tunic found in one of her coffers, which was embroidered on the back with the Five Wounds, which was held to connect her with the Northern Uprising. She was "attainted to die by Act of Parliament" and also lost her titles. She was removed to the Tower and there, for nearly two years, she was "tormented by the severity of the weather and insufficient clothing".
Because of the popularity of the Countess,Henry stayed the inevitable penalty. By April of the following year there was hope that Margaret would soon be released. But there was another insurrection in Yorkshire, led by Sir John Neville, and it was then determined to enforce without any further procedure the Act of Attainder passed in 1539. In some sense her execution was the continuation by King Henry VIII of his father's programme of eliminating possible contenders for the throne.

Gentility: daughter of the Duke of Clarence, in 1513 Henry VIII reversed her brother Edward's attainder and she became the 8th Countess of Salisbury suo jure.

Position: Countess in her own right of Salisbury, godmother, governess and head of household for Princess Mary Tudor while she was still Princess of Wales.

Personality type:

Signature look:

Endearing trait(s):

Annoying trait(s):

Margaret Pole, Lady Salisbury as played by Kate O'Toole
‘the most saintly woman in England’
~ King Henry VIII

For traitors on the block should die,
I am no traitor, no, not I!
My faithfulness stands fast and so,
Towards the block I shall not go!
Nor make on step, as you shall see,
Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me!
(from a popular ballad at the time)

Her execution:
On the morning of May 27th, 1541 Margaret was told she was to die within the hour. She answered that no crime had been imputed to her; nevertheless she was taken from her cell to the place within the precincts of the Tower of London where a low wooden block had been prepared. As Margaret was of noble birth, she was not executed before the populace, though there were about 150 witnesses. According to some accounts, the countess, who was 67 years old, frail and ill, was dragged to the block, but refused to lay her head on it, having to be forced down. As she struggled, the inexperienced executioner's first blow made a gash in her shoulder rather than her neck. Several additional blows were required to complete the execution. A less reputable account states that Margaret leapt from the block after the first clumsy blow and ran, pursued by the executioner, being struck 11 times before she died.
[Source: Catholic Encyclopedia]

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Family members:
Father: George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence brother of both Kings Edward IV & Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the Roses. He made the mistake of plotting against his brother Edward IV, was imprisoned in the Tower of London and put on trial for treason. Following his conviction, he was "privately executed" at the Tower on 18 Feb 1478.
Mother: Lady Isabella Neville, daughter of 'Warwick, the Kingmaker', the 16th Earl of Warwick and Lady Anne Beauchamp. Her sister was the last Plantagenet queen consort to Richard III. Both sisters were remoted relatives of Queen Catherine Parr.
Cousin: Queen Elizabeth of York (mother of King Henry VIII)
Uncles: Edward IV, Richard III
Nephew once removed: King Henry VIII
Niece once removed: Princess Margaret Tudor

Brother: Edward, Earl of Warwick (the last male representative of the Yorkist line who was seen as a danger to the new Tudor dynasty & was executed on the orders of King Henry VII in 1499)
Son: Reginald Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury
Son: Henry Pole, Baron Montagu
Son: Sir Arthur Pole
Son: Sir Geoffrey Pole
Daughter: Lady Ursula Pole, who married the son of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, Henry and had issue.

Husband: Sir Richard Pole, Knight of the Garter (his mother, Edith St. John, was the half sister of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII)

Queen Katherine of Aragon
Princess Mary Tudor




  • When she and Princess Mary leave court for Wales


Lady Salisbury as played by Kate O'Toole
Margaret Pole, Lady Salisbury
Margaret Pole, Lady Salisbury as played by Kate O'TooleLady Salisbury as played by Kate O'Toole
Margaret Pole, Lady Salisbury as played by Kate O'TooleLady Salisbury as played by Kate O'Toole
Lady SalisburyLady Salisbury

Lady Salisbury

Margaret Pole
Margaret Pole, Lady Salisbury
Lady Margaret Pole accused of treason is condemned to be beheaded without a trial.
by Cruikshank