Henry VIII,the Reign
March 3 1500 - Nov. 17 1558
Profile Reginald Pole
Reginald Pole was a prelate who broke with King Henry VIII over Henry’s anti-papal policies and later became a cardinal and a powerful figure in the government of the Roman Catholic queen Mary Tudor.
His father, Sir Richard Pole, was a cousin of King Henry VII, and his mother, Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, was a niece of Edward IV.
In recognition of Pole’s royal descent, his cousin, Henry VIII, paid for Pole’s education at Oxford University and at Padua, Italy, and gave him minor offices in the church.
Nevertheless, when Henry’s attempts to obtain an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon met resistance from Pope Clement VII, Pole found himself unable to support the king’s cause. He therefore withdrew to Padua in 1532 and immersed himself in theological studies. In 1536 Pole completed and sent to Henry a long treatise attacking his claim of royal supremacy over the English church and defending the pope’s spiritual authority. The document was later published, without Pole’s consent, as Pro ecclesiasticae unitatis defensione (“In Defense of Ecclesiastical Unity”).
Pole could no longer return to England. Remaining in Italy, he was made cardinal by Pope Paul III in December 1536, and he served on the commission that produced the document Consilium de emendanda ecclesia (1537; “Plan for Church Reform”), a report on abuses in the church with recommendations for reforms.
Between 1537 and 1539 the pope sent Pole on two diplomatic missions to persuade Europe’s Catholic monarchs to ally against Henry. Both endeavours were unsuccessful, and in England Pole’s brother, Lord Montague was executed in 1538 and his mother in 1541.
In August 1541 Pole was appointed papal governor of the Patrimony of St. Peter, the area around Rome. He took up residence at Viterbo and gathered around him a group of humanists.
After the death of Edward VI pole returned to England.