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The Tudor Tournament

Mary, Queen of Scots vs. Reginald Pole AND Thomas Wolsey vs. Francis Drake

The Margarets won the day in the last Tudor Tournament, with both Margaret Pole and Margaret Tudor moving on to the second round of competition. Today, Margaret Pole’s son faces off against Margaret Tudor’s granddaughter, and Francis Drake challenges Thomas Wolsey. Who will you vote for in today’s match-ups?

Mary, Queen of Scots vs. Reginald Pole

Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots

Date: December 8, 1542 – February 8, 1587

Strengths: At only six days old, Mary became Queen of Scotland. To safeguard her interests, she spent a large portion of her youth in France while a regent saw to affairs in Scotland. While on the Continent, she learned numerous languages, became skilled in womanly arts such as needlepoint and music, and took up the sport of horsemanship. Her marriage to the Dauphin of France (the soon-to-be Francis II) in 1558 antagonized the English throne, especially after her father-in-law, Henry II declared that his son and Mary were the rightful king and queen of England (and included the royal arms of England on Mary’s own royal arms).

Weaknesses: Mary’s husband died very soon in their marriage, in 1560. After this, she returned to Scotland to take charge as Queen. The Scotland she returned to, however, was almost foreign to her. Plagued by religious and political factions, Mary was not trusted by some who held power in Scotland. Likewise, her second marriage to Henry Stuart did not end well. Indeed, when Henry’s residence was destroyed by an explosion, and he was found murdered, Mary was suspected, along with an earl by the name of James Bothwell. Bothwell and Mary were married not long after the event (whether this was a forced or consensual marriage is one of the great debates of this era), and from here Mary’s life began to spiral. She was forced to abdicate and flee to England. Her cousin, Elizabeth, was none too pleased to learn of her arrival. After being connected to a number of plots to remove Elizabeth from the English throne, Mary was executed after years (eighteen and some change) of house arrest and imprisonment within England.

Manner of death: Beheaded


Reginald Pole

Reginald Pole, Cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury

Date: March 12, 1500 – November 17, 1558

Strengths: Pole received an excellent education at Oxford University. Initially, it would seem that Pole worked to keep Henry VIII happy, as he was one of the representatives who advocated Henry VIII’s break with Catherine of Aragon. After some years spent traveling abroad (in part thanks to a bit of influence and funds from Henry VIII), he returned to England. Henry then offered Pole some choice positions…but only if Pole supported Henry’s divorce. Instead, Pole refused, left England once again, and eventually broke with Henry by speaking out against his marriage to Anne Boleyn. He took things a step further by sending Henry Pro Ecclesiasticae Unitatis Defensione, which condemned Henry’s actions. Oh, and he called for Henry to be deposed. While this made him an absolute enemy of Henry, it also gained him the position of Cardinal within the Church (even though he was not ordained). Upon the accession of Mary I, Pole returned to England, was ordained, and was made Archbishop of Canterbury. In addition to his Church duties, Pole acted as Mary’s primary adviser, and he influenced many policies during her reign.

Weaknesses: Pro Ecclesiasticae Unitatis Defensione, while it was a brave position to take, influenced the decision that Pole’s brother and mother be executed. Additionally, although there is evidence that Pole believed the burnings of Mary’s reign had gone too far (especially as fears grew that the burnings were strengthening the Protestant faith and harming Mary’s public image), the burnings still continued. After his natural death (only hours from Mary I’s own death), public perception of his life would largely be influenced by Foxe’s Acts and Monuments (or, Book of Martyrs), which did not paint a favorable picture.

Manner of death: Natural


Thomas Wolsey vs. Francis Drake

Thomas Wolsey

Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal and Lord Chancellor

Date: 1473 – November 29, 1530

Strengths: Although historians debate the occupation of Wolsey’s father, his rise through both the church and Henry’s court was astounding. Likely, it was due to a high level of intelligence and his ability to satisfy the political needs of those above him. As a result, he grew to great power and wealth, achieving the Lord Chancellorship under Henry VIII, and becoming Archbishop of York, and then Cardinal, within the Roman Catholic Church.

Weaknesses: If Wolsey’s greatest strength was his ability to produce results for Henry VIII, there was bound to come a day when he could not do so. This occurred during the king’s “Great Matter.” Due to Wolsey’s failure to achieve an annulment for Henry, he fell out of favor with the king. He lost properties and titles, and was eventually accused of treason. He might have lost more, but he died of natural causes on the way to London.

Manner of death: Natural (and just in time, too)


Francis Drake

Francis Drake

Date: 1540 – January 27, 1596

Strengths: A successful, legendary privateer, Drake was the bane of Spain, and he relieved numerous Spanish vessels of precious cargo. He sailed the Pacific coasts of the Americas on behalf of Elizabeth I, and successfully delayed the Spanish Armada in 1587 with his raid on Cadiz. When the Armada struck, Drake served as Vice Admiral of the English fleet.

Weaknesses: Drake’s exploits made him one of the most hated men in Spain, and a high price was placed on his head. He was not always successful in his adventures, and he was occasionally defeated. He died of dysentery while abroad in Panama.

Manner of death: Natural



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