Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blessed Margaret Pole, On the Block

On the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, Judith Arnopp writes about Blessed Margaret Pole, imagining her last moments:
It is May 27th 1541 and an old woman wakes in her prison at the Tower of London. She stretches her limbs and blinks at the early morning light filtering through the high window, and groans as she remembers that today is the day she is to die.

Reluctant to shed the warmth of the furred nightgown sent to her by Queen Katherine just a few weeks ago, she shivers while her woman rolls up her hose, ties her fur lined petticoat and secures her new worsted kirtle. She prays for a while, the familiar rhythm of the words whispering from chapped lips until a footstep sounds. The rattle of a chain, bolts shooting back, the creak of the door.

‘It is time, Madam.’

Outside, the world is calm. The sky is white. Fresh green leaves bright against the sombre walls. A flurry of ravens fly up as the small party passes beneath their roost. There is no scaffold for Margaret, just a block and a terrified executioner about to take his first victim. . . .

As Judith Arnopp notes, Hazel Pierce’s biography Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership, which is now out in paperback, is still the only major biography of this great lady.

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