POLE (POOLE), REGINALD: Life Previous to the Cardinalate. English cardinal and statesman; b. at Stourton Castle (13 m. w. of Birmingham), Staffordshire, Mar., 1500; d. in Lambeth Palace, London, Nov. 17, 1558. On his mother's side he was of the blood royal, and, after his father's death, was educated by Henry VIII. In 1517 he obtained the benefice of Roscombe, which was supplemented by other benefices as he rose in the prelacy. In 1521 he went to Italy to complete his studies at Padua. In Paris, at the close of the third decade of the century, he was successful in obtaining an opinion from the University of Paris favorable to the king's divorce. He then returned to England to devote himself to theological studies in the cloister of Sheen. In 1531 he declined the proffered archbishopric of York, and in the following year he returned to Italy by way of Avignon. In Italy he lived a number of years in close friendship with Bembo, Contarini, Matteo Giberti, Alvise Priuli, and Giovanni Morone.
Until 1535 Pole was regarded as neutral in the divorce question, and had received from England the incomes of his benefices. Now, however, the king demanded Pole's opinion in writing, and after considerable delay he complied in his De unitate ecclesi, which brought about a total change in his position, since he became a decided partizan of the opposition. The king demanded that Pole should give an explanation of his treatise in person, but at this juncture he was called to Rome by Paul III., chiefly to take part in preparing the Consilium de emendanda ecclesia.
Pole as Cardinal. Pole was created cardinal of Santa Maria in Cosmedin on Dec. 22, 1536, and now wrote an Apologia ad Angli Parlamentum, firm in substance, but moderate in tone. In 1537 he was sent by Paul III. as legate to the Netherlands, whence he was to fan the insurrection in England. The rebellion, however, was crushed, and the king declared Pole guilty of high treason. The cardinal now left the Netherlands, but neither the emperor nor Francis I. would receive him, and it was only in Italy that he felt safe. But the pope rehabilitated him by again employing him as legate, this time to the emperor; but his family in England suffered heavily, for Henry arrested the cardinal's brothers and mother, and when the younger brother gave evidence against the others, they were brought to the scaffold. Meanwhile, in 1541, Pole had been appointed legate of the patrimony, i.e., governor of the Papal States, and was thus led to fix his residence at Viterbo. There certain colloquies on religious questions were held, the participants including Vittoria Colonna, Pietro Carnesecchi, and Marco Antonio Flaminio. These discussions, however, were afterward deemed heretical by the Inquisition, because both the point of departure and the mainstay of the argument lay in the doctrine of justification by faith, the merit of good works being excluded.
After the death of Edward VI., Pole, in 1554, again beheld his native land, this time as papal legate. He found Queen Mary already married to Philip II., and the reaction in full swing. He took active part in the work and urged the enforcement of the stern ancient laws against the Protestants. But all his zeal could not induce his enemy, Giovanni Pietro Caraffa, who, in 1555, ascended the papal throne as Paul IV. (q.v.), to forget that Pole himself was at one time under suspicion of heresy. The new pontiff recalled the English legation, and summoned Pole before the tribunal of the Holy Office in Rome. Only his procrastination, and then his death, delivered him from appearing there.