Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, was one of few women in Tudor England to wield landed power. Her Plantagenet blood resulted in a life that lurched between the extremes of royal favour and royal wrath.
In the Middle Ages, the Wheel of Fortune was a popular motif, showing the transience of everything – no matter how high you might be today, soon, the Wheel would turn and you too, would be brought low, whilst another took your place. The history of Margaret, Countess of Salisbury can be seen as a perfect example of this mediaeval narrative, as her life moved from wealth and magnificence, to poverty and obscurity, then back to power and influence, before descending into a pit of dishonour and death.
Margaret lived mainly in a broad sweep of land that stretched from the Welsh Borders to London, in many of the royal castles and palaces of southern England, as well as in the great castles of the mediaeval nobility.
She wielded power and influence more commonly in the hands of men, and this made her a political figure, in a way unusual for women of the sixteenth century. This position affected both the way she lived, and the reasons for her death.
Listen to our editor, Melita Thomas, discuss Margaret Pole with Heather Teysko of the Renaissance English History Podcast.