This fresh exploration of the life, work and writing of Archbishop Pole, focuses particularly on Pole’s final years (1556-58) as Archbishop of Canterbury. Fully integrating Pole’s English and Continental European experiences, John Edwards places these in their historical context and signposts lessons for contemporary issues and concerns. Stressing the events and character of Pole's 'English' life, up to his exile in the 1530s, as well as in his final years in England (1554-58), this book explores his close relationship, both genealogical and emotional, with Henry VIII and Mary I. Portraying Pole as a crucial figure in the Catholic-Protestant division, which still affects Britain today, this book details the first, and so far last, attempt to restore Roman Catholicism as the 'national religion' of England and Wales by telling the life-story of the hinge figure in forging English religious and political identity for several centuries. The final section of this book draws together important and illuminating source material written by Pole during his years as Archbishop of Canterbury.
John Edwards is a Member of the Faculty of History and a Research Fellow at the Modern Languages Faculty, University of Oxford. He is a fellow of the George Bell Institute at the University of Chichester, and has authored numerous books including The Spanish Inquisition and Mary I.
’Edwards’s biography is without doubt the best introduction to Reginald Pole now available. The Pole who emerges from this book is a genuinely holy (or at least spiritual) man, the greatest pope there never was, a towering figure of Reformation history in England and Europe, and a victim of Carafa’s narrowing of the Catholic mind.’ Reviews in History '...[A] detailed biography, dealing fairly with many complex issues.' Times Literary Supplement ’This excellent book fulfils a major gap in offering a biography of an Archbishop of Canterbury who has probably not received the attention due to him and it sets a high standard for other works in the series.’ Church of England Newspaper