About this artwork

Reginald Pole was born in 1500, the son of Sir Richard Pole and Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. He was made a cardinal of the Catholic Church in 1536, during the break of the Church of England from Rome by Henry VIII. His position and the role he played in opposing Henry’s reforms resulted in the arrest and execution of most of his family, under suspicion of plotting to overthrow Henry in 1539. He returned to England during the reign of Henrys daughter Mary I (1553-1558), who appointed him as Archbishop of Canterbury. The last Catholic to hold the position, he oversaw the revival of England’s heresy laws under Mary and the consequent burning of at least 300 Protestants, including the previous archbishop, Thomas Cranmer.

Updated before 2020

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