Friday, November 14, 2008

Question from Red Ned - de la Pole family

Hi like your site, very useful for research, I have a question about the de la Pole family. I know that they were attained for treason( well for being 'white rose' claimants really) Having done the usual google searches and trawls through all the books on Henry VIII( Bowle, Weir, Scarisbrick, Erikson) they seem to draw a bit of blank except for very basic details ( ie one died at the battle of Pavia and at the news Henry VIII celebrated). Are there any books or references to their claim or their efforts to led revolts or invasions apart from brief one liners
Thanks for any suggestions


Blogger djd said...

This question is not related to the original post. I haven't figured out how to just ask you a question or make a comment. This is just an FYI. I was at the website of a tudor historian - Charles Bloom I think - and he had links to choose from. One of the links was "David Starky's list of tudor websites". Well, I clicked on it and it took me directly to your website, which I don't believe involves David Starky at all. That is all. Thanks!

November 14, 2008 10:13 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

djd - If you want to just contact me directly just email

I just realized that my contact info is on just about every page on the site except this blog!

November 14, 2008 10:27 AM  
Anonymous PhD Historian said...

There is scholarship on the de la Pole family available, but much of it appears in specialized academic books and journals. Go to the Royal Historical Society Bibliography of British and Irish History Online website (, click on "Search," then "Simple Search," then use the keyword "Pole" and the dates 1400-1600. It should bring up about 450 items. Then scan through the list looking for the majopr names: Cardinal Reginald de la Pole, Edmund de la Pole, Margaret Pole, John de la Pole, etc.

Good luck!

November 15, 2008 12:06 AM  
Blogger Foose said...

I think the de la Poles and the Poles are different families. The de la Poles are descended from Edward IV's sister Elizabeth, who married John de la Pole, the Duke of Suffolk (previously either betrothed or "married" to a prepubescent Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII's mother). Her sons were logical successors to the Yorkist line after Edward's children were bastardized, his brother George's children disqualified by the attainder against their father, and Richard III's son died. Her eldest son John was actually made Richard III's official heir, which caused a great deal of suspicion towards the family after Henry VII succeeded.

John, the Earl of Lincoln, eventually rebelled against Henry VII and was killed at the battle of Stoke. Edmund, a champion jouster at the early Tudor court, became disaffected and fled to the Continent, challenging Henry VII and Henry VIII; he was eventually handed over to England by Philip of Burgundy and executed shortly before Henry VIII invaded France in 1514. William was shut up in the Tower until 1539, when he rather conveniently died (this was also the height of Henry's killing season). Richard was killed at Pavia in 1525, fighting on the side of France against the Emperor.

The Poles were quite a separate family, not anywhere near as exalted as the de la Poles (although the de la Poles came originally from merchant stock, back in the 14th century). Richard Pole was the half-nephew of Margaret Beaufort through her St. John mother and a trusted supporter of Henry VII, which is why he was adjudged safe enough to marry Margaret Plantagenet, only surviving child of Edward IV's attainted brother George. Their children, the Poles, attracted the king's hostility later on, after initial high favor; the eldest son Henry Lord Montagu was sent to the Tower and executed in the 1530s; Reginald Pole, later a Cardinal, angered Henry by his refusal to support the divorce and Henry was still trying to get him assassinated by the time he died; Geoffrey informed on his brother and other connections, while Ursula married the son of one of Henry's other pet hates, the Duke of Buckingham, with his own menacing claim to the throne, producing a connexion between the Poles and Stafford families that really ramped up the king's suspicions. Margaret Plantagenet Pole herself was caught with some embroidery whose symbolism suggested the union of one of her sons with the Princess Mary, something which helped doom her to the block in 1539.

I'm not aware of any modern works that deal specifically with the de la Poles or the Pole family. There are some locally printed pamphlets and 19th-century works that you might be able to obtain through a specialist library. There are a number of books on Cardinal Reginald Pole, however, and at least one biography of Margaret Pole, by Hazel Pierce, which I believe might be out in paperback at Amazon. These would be helpful in researching the Pole family.

November 15, 2008 12:54 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

Foose - Thanks for saving me the trouble of going through all of that... I was going to point out that they were different families, but to make sure I was getting everything right I was going to have to look up some stuff. I have to admit that I was confusing them until just a few years ago!

November 15, 2008 1:33 PM  
Anonymous PhD Historian said...

Foose, the family of Poles pursued and executed in numbers by Henry VII and Henry VIII, descendants of Margaret Plantagenet Pole (aka de la Pole), were an "exalted" family, no less so than the descendants of Elizabeth and John de la Pole, though the "exaltation" derived solely from Margaret's lineage.

Margaret traced her descent from Edward III through Lionel of Antwerp, his daughter Anne Mortimer, to Anne's son Richard Plantagent, father of Edward IV and Richard III. As such, Margaret Pole was the niece of the two kings immediately preceding the Tudor dynasty.

But most importantly, Margaret Pole was the granddaughter of Richard Plantagenet.

The Elizabeth de la Pole that you refer to as marrying John de la Pole and as a separate family line was in actuality the elder sister of George of Clarence, Richard Plantagenet's third son. Elizabeth Plantagent de la Pole was thus Margaret Plantagenet Pole's aunt.

Margaret and Elizabeth Pole/de la Pole shared a common ancestor in Richard Plantagenet and traced the same line of descent from Edward III to Richard Plantagenet.

In actuality, both families can properly be referred to as "de la Pole" or simply "Pole." Historians, however, often distinguish the two lines by eliminating the "de la" from the surname of the descendants of George of Clarence via his daughter Margaret. Nonetheless, the primary sources do often refer to her son Richard, later a Cardinal, as "Richard de la Pole" rather than as simply "Richard Pole." Margaret is also sometimes referred to as "Margaret de la Pole," not simply "Margaret Pole," in the primary sources.

November 15, 2008 5:37 PM  
Blogger Foose said...

I wasn't disagreeing that Margaret Pole was exalted and her children equally so. I was more focused on their surname, derived from their father Sir Richard Pole, who seems to have been perfectly respectable but not of ducal or aristocratic origin. There is some feeling in the sources that Margaret's marriage was a "disparagement," although some historians argue differently.

I didn't think my post suggested that Elizabeth Plantagenet, Edward IV's sister, was somehow not related to George Duke of Clarence or Richard III. My point was that "de la Pole" and "Pole" were different lineages, although related through Margaret's marriage.

It is interesting that there are primary sources that described Margaret Pole and her children as "de la Pole." Perhaps it was just as easy then to confuse the family names as now, particularly as both families were accused of treason and suffered attainder and the ultimate penalty. I don't know where Sir Richard Pole's name came from, but my understanding of the name "de la Pole," was that it was originally "de la Poole" referring to the "Pool" of Hull, where Michael de la Pole, their merchant ancestor, hailed from.

November 15, 2008 7:03 PM  
Blogger Foose said...

Lara, actually I just looked and all the information is posted on your Who's Who! I could have saved myself some time.

phd historian, I have been up and down the de la Pole genealogy and Sir Richard Pole really does not seem to be related to them. For centuries the gossip was that he was a mere "Welsh knight," (which I think was an attempt to transfer Richard III's slur against Henry VII -- an "unknown Welshman" -- to his followers) but recent efforts only trace him to his father, domiciled in Buckinghamshire. There's nothing beyond that that I can find out.

One thing that interested me when I was looking into this is that in order to make John de la Pole his heir, Richard III skipped over 2 people who might have had a better claim under normal rules of inheritance: John's mother Elizabeth Duchess of Suffolk; and the juvenile daughter of his eldest sister Anne (by her second marriage), Anne St. Leger. Obviously the throne is different from real property, and also Richard could hardly afford to name a female heir to his throne in 1485, especially when the choice was between a woman over 40, who would probably have yielded her right to her son anyway, and a child. Moreover, neither of these women had been reared as princesses or recognized and/or educated as heirs to the throne at any point. (Richard also skipped over his nephew the possibly mentally disabled Earl of Warwick and Warwick's sister Margaret Plantagenet, later Pole, who were disqualified by their father's attainder, but that's another story.) However, I am wondering, in view of phd historian's expertise on Edward VI, whether Edward and his council actively utilized Richard's precedent in excluding 3 females (Mary, Elizabeth, Frances Brandon; 5 if you want to count Mary Queen of Scots and Margaret Douglas) from the succession in his Devise?

I don't know whether anyone at the time would have wanted to openly cite the damnosa hereditas of the 15th century, but institutional precedent counted for a lot. It also makes me wonder if Mary and Elizabeth (and Frances, as representative of the Suffolk line) had not been named as Henry VIII's subsequent heirs if Edward died childless, whether Edward might have been able to ensure the success of his Devise. Without the status of heir presumptive, I don't think Mary would have been able to mount her stagey public processions and protests in London on the question of her private worship or push Edward and his Council to be quite as accommodating. She would have been simply the king's subject and not entitled to special treatment from a legal point of view. (As heir presumptive, she was still his subject but there was a lot more wiggle room.) In these circumstances, Edward might have been able to proceed openly with his plan to settle the crown on Jane.

November 15, 2008 9:15 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

Ha! Goes to show you how out of touch I am with my own website these days. :) I'm way overdue to do another round of checks on dates, links, spelling, etc. Not to mention adding new stuff!

November 15, 2008 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Lorraine said...

I have been trying to find out if the Pole's and de la Pole's were indeed the same family. My maiden name is Pole and I have a family tree that was done by an Aunt of mine many years ago. According to this I am related to both the Pole's and the de la Pole's. Incidently I was born in South Africa and as far as I know we came out to South Africa from England in 1820.
Thank you for your most interesting comments.

April 25, 2009 5:30 AM  

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