Cardinal. Son of Sir Richard Pole and Margaret, niece of King Edward IV, he was always recognized as kinsman by King Henry VIII. Educated at Charter house and Oxford, he became dean of Wimborne collegiate church in 1518, although he had not yet taken orders. With Henry‘s assistance he went to Padua, Italy in 1521 where he was a favourite among scholars, knowing Desiderius Erasmus and Thomas More. Returning to England in 1527, he was elected Dean of Exeter, but to avoid embarrassment after Henry‘s divorce, he went to Paris, only to be recalled by Henry who, crediting him with the Paris university‘s approbation of his divorce, offered him, on Wolsey’s death, important sees. Pole, however, expressed himself unequivocally on the divorce and, Henry allowed him to return to Padua. His uncompromising reply when Henry pressed him for a written defense of the king‘s conduct in 1534, and his courteous disobedience of the summons to England to explain were almost simultaneous with the summons to Rome, where, despite his protestations, Pope Paul III made him, still without orders, a cardinal in 1536. In England, his brothers were arrested and his mother martyred. He was one of three legates at the opening of the Council of Trent in 1542. When Pope Paul III died, Pole might have become pope “by adoration,” but willingly allowed it to pass. The death of King Edward VI in 1553 restored him to active life in England, where, on his arrival as legate, he absolved both Houses of Parliament from schism. He was ordained in 1557, and two days later consecrated archbishop. His royal descent and friendship with the queen made him a considerable power in state affairs, but he was singularly disinterested in material promotion, and had nothing to do with the persecutions of Mary’s reign. He died a few hours after Queen Mary. Pole’s moral life and purpose were above question; his piety, learning, and asceticism the admiration of all.
- “Cardinal Reginald Pole“. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 January 2009. Web. 29 May 2015. <>