Sunday, 8 September 2013

End of Edmund de la Pole

Edmund de la Pole did not have the safest upbringing thanks to his family. First, his brother John fought against Henry VII side by side with Richard III but changed allegiance when the battle was over and the victor was found - or so it seemed. John apparently had not given up all hopes of power and joined the short-lived rebellion of Simnel where he died in battle.

This now meant that the 15-year old Edmund de la Pole suddenly found himself the head of the York-family which - unfortunately for him - made him the greatest threat to Henry VII. For the time being Henry VII decided to leave Edmund with the Dukedom that his brother had possessed before he died as well as the title of Earl of Suffolk. In 1501 Edmund dared not stay any longer in England and fled to continental Europe - and then Edmund was stripped of his title as Duke. It seemed that Edmund himself had no intention of taking the throne by force either by an invasion or the threat of civil war. That it why Edmund de la Pole's road to the scaffold seems all the more remarkable and unfair.

Edmund (who was still abroad) went aboard a ship owned by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II which was heading for Spain. As it happens the weather does not always cooperate - something the Spanish Armada would later learn all too well - and the ship had to change course when a storm hit. This was disastrous news for Edmund because the destination was now the England he had fled - and Henry VII was waiting for him. Perhaps Edmund had managed to make friends with the Holy Roman Emperor because the Emperor refused to deliver Edmund to Henry unless he was assured that no harm whatsoever would become him. Henry VII promised so and to be fair he kept his promise. The problem was that Henry VII's health was declining and shortly afterwards he was dead. Sadly for Edmund de la Pole the new King Henry VIII was convinced that he had had no share in the promise and quickly arrested Edmund.

In 1513 Henry VIII signed the order for Edmund de la Pole's execution - the man himself was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Edmund de la Pole was beheaded sometime around April 30th within the Tower of London.

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