Pole, English noble family

Pole, English noble family. The first member of importance was William de la Pole, d. 1366, a rich merchant who became the first mayor of Hull (1332) and a baron of the exchequer (1339). His oldest son, Michael de la Pole, 1st earl of Suffolk, 1330?–1389, fought in France in the Hundred Years War under Edward the Black Prince. He became the trusted adviser of Richard II, who made him chancellor (1383) and earl of Suffolk (1385). In the Parliament of 1386 his enemies forced his dismissal, and he was impeached and imprisoned. Richard soon released and reinstated him, but when the baronial opposition again demanded his arrest, De la Pole fled (1387) to France. “Appealed” of treason and sentenced to death in the Merciless Parliament of 1388, he died in exile. His grandson, William de la Pole, 4th earl and 1st duke of Suffolk, 1396–1450, played an active role in the later stages of the Hundred Years War and for a time held the chief command. He arranged the marriage (1445) of Margaret of Anjou to Henry VI and rose to a position of great political authority, reaching the peak of his power in 1448 when he was made duke. His persistent efforts to gain peace with France enabled his enemies to accuse him of treason, especially after disastrous losses in Normandy. His long record of service, his eloquent appeal to Parliament, and even the favor of the king could not save him from impeachment. When setting out for a five-year exile he was abducted from his ship and beheaded in a boat off Dover. His wife was the granddaughter of Geoffrey Chaucer. His son, John de la Pole, 2d duke of Suffolk, 1443–91, married Edward IV's sister Elizabeth and held offices under that king. He later supported Richard III, yet was favored by Henry VII. Of his sons, the eldest was John de la Pole, earl of Lincoln, 1464–87, who was recognized by Richard III as his heir presumptive. At first he appeared to accept Henry VII, but he soon joined the rebellion in favor of Lambert Simnel. He led an invading army from Ireland and was killed at the battle of Stoke. The second son, Edmund de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, 1472?–1513, agreed to the wish of Henry VII that he forego the ducal title in return for some of the property forfeited as a result of his brother's treason. Later he declared his ambition for the throne and tried to get help on the Continent. He was eventually delivered (1506) as a prisoner to Henry VII by the Burgundians. He was imprisoned for years and finally executed by Henry VIII. The fifth son, Richard de la Pole, d. 1525, took over Edmund's claim to the throne and received intermittent support from the French. He was killed in the battle of Pavia fighting for Francis I of France. He was the last of his line.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies