Michael de la Pole, 1st Earl of Suffolk

Michael de la Pole, 1st Baron de la Pole, later 1st Earl of Suffolk (c. 1330  5 September 1389) was an English financier and Lord Chancellor of England.

Michael de la Pole
Arms of De la Pole: Azure, a fess between three leopard's faces or
Bornc. 1330
Died5 September 1389 (aged 5859)
OccupationLord Chancellor
Spouse(s)Catherine Wingfield
ChildrenMichael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk
Parent(s)William de la Pole
Catherine Norwich


He was the eldest son of Sir William de la Pole (died 1366) and Catherine. His younger brother was Edmund de la Pole.

His father was a wool merchant from Hull who became a key figure during the reign of Edward III: after the collapse of the Bardi and Peruzzi families, he emerged as Edward's chief financier. Michael enjoyed even greater popularity at court than his father, becoming one of the most trusted and intimate friends of Edward's successor, Richard II.

He was appointed Chancellor in 1383,[1] and created Earl of Suffolk in 1385, the first of his family to hold any such title (the earldom had become extinct in 1382 on the death of William de Ufford). However, in the late 1380s his fortunes radically altered, in step with those of the king. During the Wonderful Parliament of 1386 he was impeached on charges of embezzlement and negligence, a victim of increasing tensions between Parliament and Richard.[1][2] He was the first official in English history to be removed from office by the process of impeachment.[3] Even after this disgrace, he remained in royal favour, although soon fell foul of the Lords Appellant. He was one of a number of Richard's associates accused of treason by the Appellants in November 1387. After the Appellants' victory at Radcot Bridge (December 1387) and before the so-called Merciless Parliament met in February 1388, De La Pole shrewdly fled to Paris, thus escaping the fate of Sir Nicholas Brembre and Chief Justice Robert Tresilian. He remained in France for the remainder of his life. Sentenced in his absence, his title and estates were stripped from him.[4]

Jean Froissart's references to de la Pole in the Chroniques (II.173) portray a devious and ineffectual counsellor, who dissuaded Richard from pursuing a certain victory against French and Scottish forces in Cumberland, and fomented undue suspicion of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster.[5]


De la Pole and his wife Katherine Wingfield (1340–1386) daughter of Sir John de Wingfield, had eight children:[6]

De la Pole's descendants were key players in the political life of the next two centuries at Wingfield Castle in Suffolk:

See also


  1. Powicke, F. Maurice and E. B. Fryde Handbook of British Chronology 2nd ed. London: Royal Historical Society 1961 p. 85
  2. J.S. Roskell, The Impeachment of Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk in 1386 in the Context of the Reign of Richard II (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984) ISBN 0-7190-0963-4
  3. MacIntyre, Ben (20 May 2017). "How an English law could topple Trump". Times. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  4. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Suffolk, Earls and Dukes of" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 25.
  5. Jean Froissart, Memoirs of the Life of Froissart: with an essay on his works; and a criticism on his history Archived 2006-12-10 at the Wayback Machine, trans. by Thomas Johnes (London: Nichols and Son, 1801)
  6. http://www.ourfamilyhistories.org/getperson.php?personID=I23893&tree=00
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Braybrooke
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
Thomas Arundel
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Suffolk
Succeeded by
Michael de la Pole
Baron de la Pole
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