The New International Encyclopædia/Pole, Reginald
POLE, REGINALD (1500-58). The last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury. He was born at Stourton Castle, Staffordshire, in March, 1500, the son of Sir Richard Pole, by Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, daughter of the Duke of Clarence, the brother of Edward IV. His early education was received from the Carthusians at Sheen, whence, being liberally provided for by Henry VIII., he passed to Magdalen College, Oxford, and although still a layman, received several valuable preferments through the favor of the King. For the further prosecution of his studies he went, in 1521, to the University of Paris, and thence to Padua, where he formed the friendship of a distinguished group of scholars and friends, all of whom subsequently took a leading part in public affairs — Contarini. Bembo, Sadoleto. and others. In 1527 he returned to England, where the highest ecclesiastical dignities awaited his acceptance. In 1529-30 he was in Paris, where he collected opinions favorable to Henry VIII.'s divorce from Catherine of Aragon, but on his return he courageously endeavored to dissuade the King. In 1532 Pole was again on the Continent, whence he issued his Pro Ecclesiasticae Unitatis Defensione (1536), taking strong grounds against the divorce. At the end of 1536 he went to Rome, where he was ordained deacon and made a cardinal. In February, 1537, be was appointed Papal legate to England, but his commission was not then discharged. His position had greatly enraged Henry, whose resentment fell upon Pole's elder brother, and upon his aged mother, the Countess of Salisbury. During the rest of Henry's reign Pole remained in exile. The Papacy, for the maintenance of whose authority in the cause of the injured Catherine Pole was regarded as a martyr, treated him with distinguished favor. He was employed in many affairs of the highest importance, being sent as legate, in 1537, to France and the Low Countries, from both which States Henry VIII. in vain demanded his extradition. He also took an active part in the discussion on the Interim, and when the Council of Trent was opened, he was appointed one of the three legate-presidents who acted in the name of the Pope, Paul III. On this pontiff's death in 1549, Pole was all but elected to succeed. For some time after this he resided chiefly in a monastery, near Verona, in comparative retirement, until the accession of Mary called him back to active life, as the main instrument of the reconciliation of England with the Papacy. On November 24, 1554, Pole solemnly entered London as legate, possessing in equal degree the confidence of the Queen. In the arduous charge thus intrusted to him he acquitted himself with much prudence, and, considering the circumstances of the time, with singular moderation. In the severities which marked the later history of Mary's reign it is all but certain that Pole had no share. He was ordained priest March 20, 1557, and consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury two days after, and later made chancellor of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. On the difficult and critical question of the disposal of the Church property confiscated by Henry VIII, Pole, who saw the necessity of moderation, was for a time at issue with the Pope; but his representations were successful in producing a more moderate policy, and the work of reunion appeared to proceed with every prospect of a complete and permanent issue, when it was interrupted by the death of the Queen, November 17, 1558. Pole died within twelve hours afterwards. Besides the treatise De Unitate, already mentioned, he is also the author of a book De Concilio, and of other treatises on the authority of the Roman pontiff and the reformation of England, and of many important letters, full of interest for the history of the time. Consult his Life by A. Zimmermann (Regensburg, 1893); also a study of the first and last parts of his life by F. G. Lee (London, 1887).