Born in 1473, Margaret Pole was the 8th Countess of Salisbury and married to Sir Richard Pole. Part of the Royal family, her uncles were Edward IV and Richard III. Her son, Reginald Pole became cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry the VIII considered her to be the saintliest woman in England and appointed her as godmother and governess to his daughter, Princess Mary (later Queen Mary I).
When her son spoke out against the king's divorce from Katherine of Aragon and then married Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII removed Margaret from her post . In 1538 she was arrested following her son's public denunciation of the King's policies and questioned in great detail about her knowledge and involvement in her son's treasonous activities. All examinations proved inconclusive at best.
After nearly two years imprisonment in the Tower of London, another revolt took place in Yorkshire and Henry VIII ordered her execution without a trial using the Act of Attainder. Margaret was informed of her fate just one hour before she was to be beheaded. The execution would be held inside the tower itself and not be a public event.
Margaret refused to identify herself as a traitor and therefore refused to lay her head on the block when commanded to do so. After struggling free from the headsman's assistant, the executioner had to pursue her as she ran around the chamber, striking at her head and shoulders with the heavy axe. It took eleven blows before she finally succumbed.
In 1886 she was declared to be an English Martyr by Pope Leo XIII.
ABOUT THE DOLL
Margaret is a very large reworked vinyl doll that stands approx. 23" high and is very heavy. (She works best when propped up against a wall - it took two doll stands to hold her up for a photograph.) She is dressed in a gold velvet suede gown with gold and brown trimming over a cream-colored silky underskirt and blouse. She wears a beaded pearl ornament on her front bodice. Her mutilated head wears a brocade-trimmed matching headdress with tattered black veil..
Margaret's injuries are very gruesome. Her neck and shoulders have multiple axe cuts of various degrees. The exposed spinal bones are crushed and jagged in the neck stump. Her severed head has clouded eyes and also sports some very nasty gashes on her face. Muscle tissue and splintered bone can be seen in some of the deeper gashes in her body.