Portrait of Cardinal Reginald Pole, 1540,
The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg
In his lifetime, he was a highly controversial figure. Even today, his memory can still arouse deep passions and hot debate.
Reginald Pole (1500-1558) was one of the leading figures of the sixteenth-century Reformations. Throughout his life he served as a diplomat, cardinal, papal legate and archbishop. Pole, though, is probably best remembered for his prolific and often inflammatory writing.
He is buried in the Corona of the Cathedral at Canterbury, close to the chair of St Auustine. Cardinal Pole, was the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of England.
He was described by his successor as Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker,(non Roman Catholic) as the first ‘inglese italianato, diavolo incarnato’.
Pole was made cardinal under Pope Paul III in 1536, over Pole's own objections. In 1542 he was appointed as one of the three papal legates to preside over the Council of Trent, and after the death of Pope Paul III in 1549 Pole at one point had nearly the two-thirds of the vote he need to become Pope himself at the papal conclave, 1549-1550
He died the same day as his protector, Queen Mary. At his death, as well as being out of line with Elizabeth, Mary`s successor, was also out of favour with the then reigning Pontiff.