1500 (12th March)
Reginald Pole was born to Margaret
and Richard Pole at Stourton Castle, Staffordshire. His mother was the daughter of George Duke of Clarence
, who had been executed for treason in 1478, and the niece of King Edward IV
and Richard III
. Reginald was the couple’s third son, his brothers Henry and Arthur had been born earlier.
1501 (14th November)
Reginald’s brother Geoffrey, was born to Margaret and Richard Pole at Stourton Castle, Staffordshire.
1502 (2nd April)
Prince Arthur died leaving Catherine of Aragon a widow. Margaret Pole lost her position when Catherine’s household was disbanded but she remained close to the Spanish princess.
Reginald’s sister, Ursula, was born to Margaret and Richard Pole.
Reginald’s father, Richard Pole, died. Shortly after his father’s death, Reginald, who his parents had determined would have a life in the church, was sent to the Chaterhouse at Sheen where he began his education.
Reginald transferred to Christ Church, Canterbury, to further his education.
1509 (11th June)
married Catherine of Aragon and Margaret Pole resumed her position as a member of her household.
King Henry VIII restored the Earldom of Salisbury to Margaret Pole and she became known as Countess of Salisbury. She also now owned all the lands that had been owned by her father, George, Duke of Clarence. This made Reginald’s mother one of the richest women in the land.
Pole entered Magdalen College, Oxford. He was tutored by William Latimer and Thomas Linacre.
1515 (27th June)
Reginald Pole graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford.
1518 (12th February)
Pole was appointed Dean of Wimborne Minster, Dorset.
Reginald went to Italy to study at the University of Padua. There he met many champions of the Renaissance.
1523 (14th February)
Pole was elected a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford the position allowed him to continue his studies abroad for a further three years, partly financed by the College. Henry VIII also contributed a substantial amount to pay for his continued study.
Reginald visited Rome.
Pole began a correspondence with the Humanist scholar, Desiderius Erasmus.
Pole returned to England from the continent.
1527 (12th August)
Although he had still not taken holy orders, Reginald Pole became Dean of Exeter and Prebendary of Salisbury.
Arthur Pole, Reginald’s brother, died of sweating sickness.
Reginald Pole and Edward Foxe were sent to Paris to meet theologians at the Sorbonne to discover their opinions on the validity of the marriage of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. When he returned to England he moved to the charterhouse at Sheen.
King Henry VIII was determined to divorce Catherine of Aragon. He desperately wanted Pole’s support and offered him the Archbishopric of York, vacant following Wolsey’s death, or the Diocese of Winchester if he would pronounce the marriage invalid.
Pole had continued to avoid supporting the King’s divorce, he now took himself into exile in France to avoid the issue.
Pole returned to Padua in Italy.
The Act of Supremacy declared Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church in England. All English subjects were required to swear the Oath of Supremacy accepting Henry’s position.
The Treasons Act made it a treasonable offence to deny any of the King’s titles.
1535 (29th April)
A number of Carthusian monks were found guilty of treason for denying the King’s supremacy. They were sentenced to a traitor’s death.
1535 (22nd June)
, aged 76 years, was beheaded on Tower Hill for refusing to swear the Oath of Supremacy. Fisher was the first bishop to be executed since Thomas Becket
in 1170 and the people were deeply shocked.
1535 (6th July)
was executed by beheading for refusing the Oath of Supremacy.
Pole was deeply upset by the executions of the Carthusian monks, John Fisher and Thomas More.
1536 (27th May)
Henry continued to press Pole for his views. Pole decided to declare his position and sent Henry a copy of ‘Pro ecclesiasticae unitatis defensione’ (Defence of the Unity of the Church). This placed him in direct opposition to the King of England. Pole’s mother wrote to him complaining of his folly in declaring his position.
1536 (8th June)
Act of Suppression
Using information gathered in surveys the previous year, Cromwell persuaded Parliament to pass this act. All monasteries worth less than £200 per year were to be closed and their properties be placed at the King’s disposal. All displaced abbots and abbesses were to receive a pension and monks and nuns could either take up residence in larger houses or renounce their vows and join the outside world.
1536 (22nd December)
Against his wishes, Reginald Pole was created a cardinal. Pope Paul III then sent him to England where he was ordered to organise resistance to Henry VIII’s closure of the monasteries and give support to the Pilgrimage of Grace
and other uprisings that would return Catholicism to England.
Having been created Papal Legate, Pole returned to England to help the Pilgrimage of Grace protest against the dissolution of the monasteries.
1538 (29th August)
Geoffrey Pole, who had been in communication with Reginald, was arrested on a charge of treason and sent to the Tower of London.
Margaret and Henry Pole were arrested on charges of treason and sent to the Tower of London.
1538 (4th December)
Geoffrey Pole pleaded guilty to treason, for supporting the Catholic Church.
The Pope sent Pole to effect a peace between Charles V and Francis I. The mission was unsuccessful but earned Pole the reputation as a peacemaker.
1539 (4th January)
Geoffrey Pole was pardoned by Henry VIII.
1539 (9th January)
Henry Pole, Reginald’s brother and his mother’s cousin Henry Marquess of Exeter were executed for treason.
An act of attainder removed Margaret Pole’s titles and lands and placed them in control of the Crown. Reginald was also attainted in absentia.
1541 (27th May)
Margaret Pole was executed in the Tower of London. The executioner was inexperienced and botched the execution hacking her shoulders and head several times before severing her head. There is also a story that she refused to lay her head on the block and kept moving her head around to make the executioner’s job as difficult as possible. Reginald declared his mother a martyr to the Catholic faith.
Pole was one of three legates sent to preside over the Council of Trent which was held to determine the Catholic response to the Protestant Reformation.
1547 (28th January)
King Henry VIII died at Whitehall Palace. He was succeeded by his 9 year old son, Edward VI. The government of the country was in the hands of a Regency Council headed by Edward Seymour.
1549 (10th November)
Pope Paul III died. Pole was one of the favourites to be elected Pope. However, he did not campaign the Cardinals arguing that the best candidate for Pope was one who did not want the position. He failed to gain a majority and Pope Julius III was elected.
1553 (6th July)
King Edward VI died. He named Protestant Jane Grey
his successor rather than his Catholic sister, Mary.
1553 (19th July)
As soon as Jane Grey had been proclaimed Queen, Mary had raised her standard and amassed forces. Jane was removed and Mary proclaimed Queen. She vowed to return England to Rome.
Reginald Pole returned to England from exile.
The Heresy Acts, which had been repealed by Henry VIIII and Edward VI, were re-enacted.
1555 (13th November)
was removed from his position as Archbishop of Canterbury.
1556 (20th March)
Reginald Pole was finally ordained as a priest and then consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury. He also served as Queen Mary’s chief minister and advisor.
1558 (17th November)
Reginald Pole died of influenza at Lambeth Palace. His death came just 12 hours after the death of Queen Mary I.