Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 May 2014
The name of Katherine de la Pole holds little resonance today, despite the fact that she was born into a family whose dynastic ambition and ability to exercise and manipulate political power in the fifteenth century were, and remain, notorious. Born c. 1416, Katherine was the only daughter of Thomas de la Pole of Grafton Regis in Northamptonshire, younger brother of Michael, the second Earl of Suffolk, who died at Harfleur at 1415. She was thus first cousin to William de la Pole, the fourth Earl and first Duke of Suffolk, husband of Alice Chaucer. The dela Pole affinity was to remain important to her throughout her life, but to the eyes of the historian and literary historian, more important were her marriages, particularly her first. This was in 1438, when Katherine married Miles Stapleton of Ingham in Norfolk, who was knighted in 1444/5; he was some eight years her senior, and she was his second wife. As Lady Stapleton, Katherine was to achieve a unique position: she was, with Sir Miles, the joint dedicatee of a Middle English romance – John Metham's Amoryus and Cleopes – the only woman known to have held this position within the genre of romance. Within the text itself she is the subject of an encomium describing her lineage(somewhat inaccurately), and eulogizing her as ‘Modyr off norture’ (line 2161).