While thus active abroad and at sea, Pole was also occupied at home. In 1362 he had livery of the lands of his niece Catherine, who died in that year, and was the daughter and heiress of his brother Thomas. In January 1366 he was first summoned to parliament as a baron (G. E. C[okayne], Complete Peerage, iii. 43). Thus he was already a peer when the death of his father, on 21 April 1366, and the succession to his extensive estates, gave him a still more commanding position. On 10 Feb. 1367 he was appointed one of the commissioners of array for the East Riding of Yorkshire, in which district his influence chiefly lay. In domestic politics he attached himself to John of Gaunt. In the Good parliament of 1376 he stood strongly on the side of the crown and the unpopular duke (cf. Rot. Parl. ii. 327–329 a). Though his relations to John of Gaunt cooled, Pole never swerved for the rest of his career from the policy of supporting the crown. It was doubtless as a reward for his loyalty that he was on 24 Nov. 1376 appointed admiral of the king's fleet north of the Thames (Fœdera, iii. 1065).
The accession of Richard II did not affect Pole's position. On 14 Aug. 1377 his commission as admiral of the west was renewed (ib. iv. 15). However, on 5 Dec. of the same year he and his colleague Robert Hales were superseded in favour of the Earls of Warwick and Arundel (Nicolas, Hist. of Royal Navy, ii. 530; Fœdera, iv. 36). He joined in Lancaster's useless maritime operations against the French; was put on the council of the little king, and, on 18 March 1379, headed an embassy to Milan to negotiate a marriage between Richard II and Catherine, daughter of Bernabò Visconti, lord of Milan (ib. iv. 60). Nothing came of the Milanese negotiation; and Pole, after visiting the papal curia at Rome, went to Wenceslas, king of the Romans and of Bohemia, to suggest Richard's marriage with Wenceslas's sister Anne. He was, however, taken prisoner, though under an imperial safe-conduct, and on 20 Jan. 1380 John Otter and others were despatched from England to effect his ransom (ib. iv. 75). A mysterious entry on the issue roll of 1384 allows Pole his expenses for these expeditions, and also for money paid to ransom the lady, Anne, who also seems to have been taken captive (Devon, Issues of the Exchequer, p. 224; Rot. Parl. iii. 217 a). He returned to England in 1381, and in November was appointed, jointly with Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel [q. v.], counsellor in constant attendance on the king and governor of his person (Rot. Parl. iii. 104 b). Richard II married Anne of Bohemia in 1382.
Michael impressed the young king with his ideas of policy. The retirement of John of Gaunt to Castile removed the only rival counsellor of any influence, and he soon became the most trusted personal adviser of Richard. His attachment to the court involved him in a growing unpopularity, both with the great barons and the people.
On 13 March 1383 Pole was appointed chancellor of England in succession to Robert de Braybroke [q. v.], bishop of London (Fœdera, iv. 162), and opened the parliament of that year with a speech in which he declared his own unworthiness (Rot. Parl. iii. 149 a). It was a stormy session. Pole said that, besides enemies abroad, the king had to deal with enemies at home among his own servants and officials. He especially denounced the fighting bishop of Norwich, Henry Despenser [q. v.], whom he deprived of his temporalities (ib. iii. 153–8; Wallon, Richard II, i. 198–214). In the parliament of 1384 Pole wisely urged the need of a solid peace with France; but the commons, who were anxious enough to end the war, were not prepared to purchase a peace at a high price, and Pole's proposal was ill received. An accident gave his enemies an opportunity. A fishmonger named John Cavendish appeared before the parliament and complained that the chancellor had taken a bribe from him. Cavendish had an action before the chancellor, and had been assured by Pole's clerk, John Otter, that if he paid 40l. to the chancellor and 4l. to Otter himself he would speedily get judgment in his favour. Cavendish had no money, but he sent to the chancellor presents of fish which profited him nothing. In great disgust he brought his grievances before the lords. The chancellor had no difficulty in making a satisfactory answer. As soon as he heard of the presents of fish, he ordered them to be paid for, and compelled his clerk to destroy the unworthy bond he had entered into with the fishmonger. Cavendish, instead of gaining his point, was condemned for defamation, and ordered to remain in prison until he had paid one thousand marks as damage to the chancellor, and such other fine as the king might impose (Rot. Parl. iii. 168–70; Wallon, i. 221–4).
Pole failed to carry out his policy of peace, and was forced to face a vigorous prosecution of the war against both Scotland and France. It was complained that Ghent fell into French hands owing to his want of quickness in sending relief (Knighton apud Twysden, Decem Scriptores, c. 2672; cf. Rot. Parl. iii. 216). In the summer of 1385 he accompanied Richard on that king's only serious military undertaking, the expedition