♛ King Richard III ♛
- MattLewisAuthor (Blog): The Lost Coronation of King Richard III, by Matt Lewis (06.07.2013) – Recommended background reading about King Richard III’s coronation together with his wife Anne Neville.
- South China Morning Post: Finding King Richard III’s body a triumph of science and scholarship, by Angelo Paratico (07.07.2013) – Well deserved praise for Philippa Langley and Dr. Ashdown-Hill for their part in the research about King Richard III. With a well informed excursion about the Venetian writer Catherine de Pizan, who unwittingly helped in King Richard III’s downfall.
- Fly High! (Blog): Richard III and the Other Anne – Author Guest Post by Elizabeth Ashworth (08.07.2013) – Are you of the opinion that not enough misdeeds of King Richard III are known so far? Authors are free to invent new background to his story in novels. Read more about this very interesting way to make King Richard III plausible and a flesh and blood character for current audiences. “By Loyalty Bound” by Elizabeth Ashworth is about King Richard and his lover Anne Harrington (not his wife Anne Neville). The book is presented in a guestpost on the blog Fly High! by Elizabeth Ashworth: “Richard III and the Other Anne”.
With quite interesting arguments for this relationship, but for me exactly the noble lineage of the lady makes the connection somewhat implausible. As for me she would have more likely been a marriage candidate than a ‘silent and forgotten’ lover of King Richard III. Though I don’t want to influence you with my doubts and am looking forward to your comments and what you think about this ‘new’ royal affair.
- LiveScience: New dig at King Richard III’s gravesite turns up medieval pottery, by Megan Gannon (08.07.2013)
- University of Leicester: Public can watch as archaeologists unearth history at Richard III dig site (10.07.2013) – The archaeological digging done currently in Leicester can be viewed and visited from Wednesday, July 10 to the end of July, with opening hours from 9am to 4pm.
- University of Leicester (Flickr): Richard III – The Grey Friars Dig Part 2 (10.07.2013) – With interesting updates from the current digging and excavations in Leicester.
Pictures from the first dig and a good coverage of the crave site where King Richard III was found is in the Richard III gallery.
- University of Leicester: Experts create 3D map of Richard III’s grave (10.07.2013) – More details about the location where King Richard III was found and a method to preserve the gravesite for future generations in a virtual way.
- University of Leicester (Blog): A wonderful section of floor tiling still in tact, by Charlotte Barratt – Richard III Outreach Officer (10.07.2013) – Some colour around King Richard III’s grave.
- Yorkshire Post: Yorkshire discontent as rivals lay claim to Richard, by Paul Jeeves (10.07.2013) – Did you think the battle between the cities was over? Not yet! The next round is about the truth about King Richard III or rather about bending the truth to use him as a means for advertisments.
- redOrbit.com: 3D Map Of Richard III’s Grave Created Using LiDAR, by Lawrence LeBlond (11.07.2013)
- Grantham Journal.co.uk: History buff from Grantham finishes book 20 years on (11.07.2013) – The statement in the article that there are no other books about Francis Viscount Lovel is not correct. Perhaps the wonderful article about Francis Viscount Lovel by Joe Ann Ricca (from the Richard III Foundation) and my comment there together with this new book by Richard Hogg “‘Loyalty in Me Lieth': King Richard III and Francis Viscount Lovel” can get you started with having a closer look at this fascinating friendship surpassing death.
E.g. there are:
Marian Palmer (about 1958)
“The White Boar” and “The Wrong Plantagenet” (Lovell Duo)
Christopher Rae (2011/2012)
has two books from the perspective of Francis Lovell as well:
“G – Loyalty Binds Me” (Part 1)
“G – God and My Right” (Part 2)
- redOrbit.com: Viewing Platform Erected At Richard III, Grey Friars Dig Site, by Lawrence LeBlond (12.07.2013)
- ThisIsLeicestershire.co.uk: Richard III find inspires festival of facts and fun, by Peter Squires (12.07.2013) – In this article a few events centering specially around King Richard III in Leicestershire are presented by Peter Squires out of the range of archaeological events on ArchaeologyFestival.
♛ Richard III – Announcements ♛
- 17th July 2013, 9 p.m. – BBC Two: The Real White Queen and Her Rivals
- 14th July 2013, 2 p.m. – Bosworth Battlefield Centre
Professor Caroline Wilkinson will hold an illustrated talk about her work of the craniofacial reconstruction of King Richard III’s head.
(Tickets cost £ 10,- and include entry into the Bosworth Battlefield Exhibition.
Place is limited and advance booking essential!
Telephone: 01455 290429 – Bosworth Battlefield Centre)
Loyalty is a wonderful thing. It is that precious quality that we all desire in our relationships, but when I think of loyalty, it leads me directly to Francis Lovel.
Every monarch must rule alone, but above all else, kings need someone they can trust, who know their mind, how they will act and react, and still remain loyal. For Richard III, that man was Lovel.
Richard thought that loyalty was a man’s finest gift to others: he must have been pleased and gratified by Lovel’s devotion.
After Bosworth, Lovel stood before Tudor, and by his actions alone, showed him he would never be able to destroy the good name of King Richard III while there was breath in his body.
Lovel represents the Yorkist age in many ways. Bereft of parents at an early age, he was used as nothing more than trading material bringing great value as people used his income to better themselves. He went from a Lancastrian family to a Yorkist one, from a follower of Warwick back to the Yorkist persuasion until he finally shook off the shackles of Edward IV, Richard Neville and the Fitzhughs. He was able to emerge as his own person, and by now in close association with Richard, Duke of Gloucester, he began his own life.
Paul Murray Kendall states
“he was a man whom little is known save he was probably Richard’s oldest and dearest friend.”
Collingbourne’s refers to him as a shadowy figure and in his rhyme, he comments:
The Catte, the Ratte, and Lovel Our Dog
Ruleth all England under a Hogge.
Colyngbourne probably thought that he was very clever, making fun of people’s names and symbols, but what can it really mean? Well, only that Francis Lovel was a close advisor to the king, and that he had a fierce-looking hound on his heraldic shield. I, too, like dogs, and if I had a Garter plate I might show my Maltese on it. But if this was our only knowledge of Lovel, he is falsely described, for there was much more to the man than a shaggy coat of arms.
During my research on him, the one factor that stood out for me was he simply got on well with Richard III. He found his niche in life at the same time that Richard III was taking a dominant role in the north. Once they bonded on the fields in Scotland, they seemed to fit – two people who were separate but complete when they came together. They just enjoyed each others’ company without a lot of thought about other rewards.
Lovel was poorly used in his young life, perhaps no worse than other rich minors, but he must have chaffed while under the control of wards and in-laws, unable to live his own life. Edward IV gave him to Richard Neville as a peace offering, and Neville gave him a Fitzhugh wife in his never-ending search for retainers. Once the Plantagenets and Nevilles parted company, Edward gave the young man to his sister Elizabeth, or at least to her husband. All of this was presumably in Lovel’s interest, to teach him about life, or was it an excuse to use his inheritance to fund his guardians’ whims? Later, under the influence of Richard III, Edward IV made him a Viscount restoring much of property, though it was Edward IV who used Lovel and his wealth without shame.
There are parallels that both men shared. Francis Lovel was born, as was Richard, toward the south of England; Lovel, born in 1456, was four years younger than Richard. Both men lost their fathers at about the same age, but whereas Lovel’s mother remarried, to Sir William Stanley, Richard’ mother began a long widowhood. Lovel’s mother died very soon after her second marriage, and Lovel became the pawn of king and peers. The boys lived in what I think of as idyllic villages at Fotheringhay and Minster Lovel. That soon ended for both and they spent most of their young lives in strange territory, moving from place to place, always attempting to adjust and to be accepted by those native born. Richard was unusually well-accepted in the north, especially after he married Anne Neville. Lovel also married in the north, to Anne FitzHugh, but the FitzHughs could not command the respect that that the Neville name brought to the area of Richmondshire.
Richard and Francis were also familiar with the Neville life: Richard trained at Middleham with other Neville adherents: Francis became a ward of Nevilles. Scofield and Kendall cite £1,000 was given for Richard’s care, but Warwick didn’t receive Lovel’s wardship until November of 1467, and by 1468, Richard left Middleham. Equally novels in particular dramatize they became childhood friends while under the tutelage of the Kingmaker but given they were at Middleham together for months, how much of a friendship was formed is open to conjecture.
Each must have felt that they were political outsiders for most of their years as the pendulum swung from York to Lancaster; they were in opposite camps most of the time, but there’s no record of any face to face confrontation. At some time after the split between Edward IV and the kingmaker Neville, the FitzHughs made their peace with the king. Lovel always seemed to get along well with the FitzHughs, even until the end, so lasting friendships were important to him.
In July of 1471, Lovel moved on to live in Suffolk with the duke. He most likely met Elizabeth’s son John, destined to be the earl of Lincoln who would later unite with him in revolt. Lincoln was eight years younger than Lovel. There could have been little measuring of each other’s worth at that time. The duke and duchess were almost apolitical compared to Margaret, Edward or Richard, but in living in the same household the youths may have absorbed some common beliefs. In any case, they later worked together in harmony.
Under the terms of his wardship to de la pole, he was deprived of the lands from his grandmother, Alice Deincourt. When she died in 1474, Lovel added the Deincourt and Gray estates to his prime holdings in Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Shropshire. While he was now considered one of the wealthiest barons below the rank of earl, he had little to no control over his property. He should have received £4,000 from the Deincourt and Gray estates, but Edward IV made use of the money by paying a debt he owed to a London merchant. Edward freely dispersed revenues from Lovel’s estates. Over the next four years, his position didn’t change. By January/February of 1477, Lovel received his jaority, but it wasn’t until November that it was declared officially over. He returned to Minster Lovel with Anne, set up his household and Minster Lovel and petitioned Edward IV for the rest of his property. He spent the next few years legally fighting for the return of what was rightfully his. Despite his wardship under such prominent men as Warwick, Suffolk and the King, he had been badly used.
Military service for the Scottish wars that Edward planned was mandatory, especially because it was to be a large operation, land and sea. At 25 years of age, Lovel would be required to fight and rode with Richard, then full commander, in the campaign. If they had not met earlier they would get to know each other now under battle conditions. The Scottish nobles chose to abandon their king. There were no pitched battles except at the storming of the castle at Berwick and some bother at Dumfries. Richard knighted Lovel in 1482 along with his brother-in-law Richard Fitzhugh at Dumfires. Lovel in turn knighted William Hilton and Richard Radcliffe, soon to be one of his co-counselors. This is the first indication that Lovel was considered to be in the close and trusted circle of Richard III. Lovel’s attachment to Richard is indicated in his letter to his neighbor, William Stonor stating he would return south as soon as he could, asked if he could see to his game at Rotherfield, and added that his
“duty and worship lies in the north”.
The year of 1482 saw Francis in the company of Richard and the Earl of Northumberland, and in November accompanied them to Parliament. Lovel was no one’s man but his own and was now legally announced as “Lord Lovel Holand, Deincourt, Burnell and Gray” and witnessed the praise Edward IV bestowed on Richard for the success of the Scottish campaign. The following year, Francis was elevated to Viscount. Richard was influential in Lovel’s elevation which opened the path for him to receive future grants and appointments.
We do not know where Lovel was at the untimely death of Edward IV, but he was not present at his funeral. He may have been in Minster Lovell joining Richard when he entered London. During Richard’s protectorate, Edward V elevated him to Chief Butler of England, and in August, he was reappointed to the same position by Richard III. Lovel was appointed Chamberlain almost as soon as Richard was made king. As such, he was featured at the coronation, but even before that, behind the scenes as usual, Richard allowed him to find a ring for Queen Anne to be used during the ceremony. He found a pearl and sapphire one that pleased Richard; apparently their taste in jewelry was similar and shared by Anne.
After the coronation, Richard set out on his royal progress referring to it as “our great journey”. Among the locations that they stopped at was the tranquil village of Minster Lovell. The manor, not as we view it today, must have been magnificent. Their journey took them to York where Richard’s son was invested as Prince of Wales, and on their journey back to the capital, they stopped in Lincoln on October 11. During his stay there, Richard heard of Buckingham’s betrayal. Francis had lived in so many places, but always under someone else’s rule, therefore he had no power base to command or draw upon, and when he ordered an Oxfordshire lord to meet him for the march south; the lord, Stoner, not only didn’t meet him but joined the enemy.
What kind of man was Lovel?
It seems he had some training though nothing extensive as a knight or soldier. He didn’t fight at Barnet or Tewkesbury, and his first type of military action was during the Scottish campaign. He gave to colleges and churches, he and his wife Anna were both members of the Corpus Christi Guild. He owned an inn in the parish of St. Faith, London simply called “Lovel”. Simply titled, perhaps that tells us something about Lovel.
Richard tried to establish Francis in Oxfordshire with a power base, but he never succumbed to the lure of power. He was more content at court. Lovel didn’t have control of his property long enough for us to decide if he would act as nouveau riche, but he didn’t seem to yearn for power or display, or titles or battles to fight; he simply settled down to become a good servant and better companion. Richard was so confident of Lovel’s honest nature that he even recommended him as an estate manager to his mother to replace none other than poet Colyngbourne who had given Lovel fame. That letter still exists, testimony of one man’s belief in another.
Everything went wrong at Bosworth for all Yorkists, and many lost their lives to the treachery that dominated the field. For Lovel it was a personal defeat of great magnitude. Stationed on the southern coast, his mission was to prevent Tudor from landing there or, if possible, to catch Tudor at sea and destroy him. Tudor had no intention of landing on the southern coast and left France, turning west, and slipped beyond Lovel’s reach. It would have been extraordinary good luck if he had intercepted him at sea, since that seldom happened. Tudor had decided to land in Wales as near as possible to his birthplace at Pembroke where the Tudor name could draw a crowd. There he counted on his Welsh friends, those hardy and determined descendents of the rebel Glendower, to once again have a go at the English crown. There is irony, perhaps, in that the Mortimers had once joined that Welsh rebellion, but now their descendents, sitting on the English throne, were the targets.
As the Welsh revolt spread, Lovel was locked in at Southampton, defending the most vulnerable point of attack until it was too late to rush to the defense of his king as Tudor began his long northern sweep into London and victory. King and pretender met on a field near Sutton Cheney. Traitors ruled the battlefield: Tudor won. Tudor had the pleasure of declaring that all of Colyngbourne’s quartet were dead, but he was premature, for Lovel lived. It is almost certain that he had arrived, perhaps with reinforcements, after that short and bloody battle, only to find that all that he held dear lay in ruins at his feet and that he was a hunted man. In grief, he heard that his step father, William Stanley, had been the instrument of destruction for Richard. He was outraged and probably guilt ridden, but that chapter was closed; the reality was that now he had to survive under a king that he would never recognize.
The first source to disclose Lovel’s whereabouts after Bosworth was Tudor himself. He also listed the earl of Lincoln as dead so who can believe the word of a Tudor. In his proclamation, he lists Lovel as one of the dead; a combination of Tudor propaganda and to discourage any surviving Yorkists to start a rebellion. Perhaps he wasn’t surprised heard of Catesby’s fate, hauled to Leicester and executed. He probably knew, from the proclamation, that Radcliffe was dead on the field along with Brackenbury and Howard. He knew that young Howard, wounded, was thrown into jail along with Northumberland. In the camps of the defeated about him, all of the talk would have been of traitors, of the Welsh invasion, of the triumph of a man who had no claim to the throne. With others, he drifted west and south until he reached Colchester and sanctuary at St. John’s, there to nurse his hatred and to plan his revenge.
Lovel was never in a mood to give up, to seek a pardon as could be expected, then to resume life as a Viscount under the new king. He would never serve under another king, and he no doubt knew, he would nevr survive. Many others, his friends, took oaths or posted bonds, tongue in cheek, to support Tudor. But not Lovel.
Without hesitation he began to organize a revolt, but, of course, the odds were against him, and he was new to the game. The Stafford brothers, previously key to quelling Buckingham, were with him in sanctuary, and most willing to do battle. But others were dazed and defeated by Tudor, cautious, waiting to see what would happen, and Lovel could not be sure of them. Many were ready to pounce given an opportunity, but unwilling to commit suicide for a lost cause. Margaret of York, the most powerful Yorkist left standing, was an obvious one to help, but she was only a Dowager Duchess, unable to commit on her own, dependent upon Mary’s son and Maximilian. Those two, like any rulers, officially began to negotiate with Tudor, trying to find advantage or to ward off trouble. Maximilian was busy trying to become the king of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor, and he was vulnerable in Flanders, and the great and evil shadow of France always blocked his horizon. Since Tudor was a product of French interference in English affairs, it seemed certain that Burgundy would have to side against him, hoping to restore the friendly Yorkists to power one more time.. But Maximilian could not act in 1486, only hint. Lovel could wait in sanctuary or he could go out and sound out his countrymen, organizing a rebel army, dormant but sworn.
He and the Staffords left sanctuary in 1486 and went north and west to try to raise support. The Staffords overreached and actually took control of an area, forcing Tudor into a pitched battle which they lost, then rushing back into sanctuary at Cullum. But Tudor was having none of this; he yanked them out of sanctuary and executed one of the brothers, Humphrey. He went further; many times before, people had been taken from sanctuary, but always as a sort of last resort, with apologies all around, not as royal policy. Tudor changed the law; sanctuary was not available to traitors, and those who left and returned to sanctuary were traitors by definition. Meanwhile Lovel, working more to the north, was spawning rumors of revolt as he was gathering pledges and seeking allies. As Tudor went north on his first progress he worried, even though Lovel did not seem to be seeking a confrontation. Tudor gathered an army about him and resolutely went on to York, driving Lovel before him. There were those who might have fought at this moment, but they were scattered and hesitant, while Tudor was at his military best. Lovel was a much-sought-after fugitive now, with sanctuary a death trap that Tudor would snap shut without mercy. The only possible way to continue resistance was to go abroad. He left England with promises of support from many of the lords of the north, but clearly not enough support for an internal revolt. He had to go to Maximilian to ask for military might if he wished to upset Tudor.
It was accepted military philosophy that 2000 stout-hearted rebels could come to England and change the crown from one head to another. Richard II had been deposed with less, Edward IV, Neville and Tudor had done it with so few. Iron will, luck, professional soldiers – that was all it took. Lovel now had these. Certainly the iron will to avenge Bosworth, As for luck, hadn’t he risen from Tudor’s death proclamation and escaped the hunt for him in England? And weren’t Maximilian and Margaret of York willing to give him money, ships and soldiers? This was his moment in history.
It is quite obvious that if Margaret of York had not married into the ducal family of Burgundy that the Yorkist regime might have ended many years before, and that the triumph of Richard III might never have occurred. Now, post-Bosworth, Margaret and Burgundy were to assume a major role in the attempt to again restore the Mortimer line to the throne. If Lovel had any moment of true greatness it was after he left the northwest with his 1486 rebellion in tatters. Lovel, had convinced Gerald FitzGerald, the earl of Kildare and the real ruler of Ireland, to join the conspiracy. Ireland was considered ’Yorkist’ in some respects even as it was anti-English in all respects, and perfidious George, the Duke of York’s son, had been popular there, even being born on the island. The idea of his son, Edward, earl of Warwick, becoming king appealed to FitzGerald just as it did to Margaret of York. An agreement was reached. The real Edward of Warwick languished in the Tower, entirely at Tudor’s disposal, and there was real fear that his life would be in jeopardy. Lovel had a priest from Oxford bring a suitable young proxy to Ireland so that they could pretend that the real Edward was free, that he had escaped to Jersey, where the rebel Richard Harliston held sway, and that Edward was therefore under the protection of Margaret of York.
If this seems improbable, consider that there really was a plot to liberate Edward of Warwick from the Tower, and that John Sant, the man who tried to help the Staffords to sanctuary, and Edward Franke and Henry Davy, retainers of Lovels, were accused of being involved. It came to nothing. As far as contacting a priest from Oxford, it must be remembered that Lovel lived close by, had visited there with Richard III, and had once put some property in trust for Anne if she would find two priests from Oxford to pray for his soul for thirty years after his death. As far as finding acceptable young men to go to Ireland, Oxford was probably a good hunting ground. It is nonsense to think that they tutured a proxy that everyone knew was a proxy in all of the life of the earl; all that he really had to do was avoid dropping the crown or insulting the earl of Kildare. The ceremony could not have been taken seriously as the crowning and anointing of an unknown; think how hard it might be to get rid of him later if he took a liking to Dublin and decided to move the capital there.
Lovel either went on then to Burgundy or returned there to get agreement on money, ships, and soldiers. The plot was accepted immediately, and 1487 was a better year for Maximilian to become involved in a sub-rosa war with England. He was still negotiating with the new king, stalling and hoping, and he was deeply involved in becoming the king of Germany, but there was a lull that he could use. It seems certain that by January of 1487 at the latest, planning turned to action. The money was supplied, the military assembled, and the proxy arrived in Ireland. In February the priest who had brought him to Ireland was induced by Tudor to confess his role, and the real Warwick was taken from the Tower and paraded in London by an irate Tudor. For whatever reason he also arrested Thomas, the Dowager Queen’s son, and deprived Elizabeth Woodville of her property and put her in a nunnery. The fact that Henry had married her daughter, but not crowned her as promised, may have made Henry suspect that they would join rebels, although by now the best bet for the Woodvilles was Tudor.
To add to Henry VII’s woes, his new ‘friend’, the earl of Lincoln, slipped out of England along with Thomas Broughton and joined the conspiracy in Burgundy. Lincoln’s role was probably twofold; to bring in other supporters within England and to serve as Protector during the minority of Edward. And, if Tudor should suddenly execute the real Edward of Warwick, Lincoln would provide a back-up pretender. Lovel, as always, seemed willing to share power and didn’t consider at any time that the revolt was in his favor, despite being the major conspirator. Had he been successful he would have remained in the background, perhaps on council, but more likely returning to a job such as chamberlain.
Lovel’s immediate success in bringing together Burgundy, Ireland and the English rebels was really quite a coup. He could not have done it without Margaret’s help, but the actual fabric of the scheme may well have resided only in Lovel’s mind. He had risked his life after 1486 when Tudor would almost certainly have snuffed him out as he had Stafford, and it is never easy to convince a FitzGerald or a Maximilian to throw the dice when the out come could be disaster, but Lovel did it. The outcome did turn out to be a disaster for the rebels, of course, but for those who abhor the injustice done to Richard III, Lovell can only be applauded. Naturally, not all of the participants were Yorkists pure of heart as Lovel was; FitzGerald wanted to rule Ireland unfettered, Maximilian wanted to thwart France in any way he could, Margaret, we find out later, was perhaps overly concerned about her perks from the English crown, although we should never doubt her intense interest in destroying Tudor.
All of the rebels met in Ireland for the grand gamble of war. The Burgundian army was professional, professionally led, and FitzGerald was willing to supply double their number in Irish troops. This was a welcome addition, although the Irish were not professional soldiers and were poorly equipped. As an added token of FitzGerald support, the earl’s brother, Thomas, would lead those troops. If the Welsh could seat an English king, so could the Irish! Not all of Ireland agreed, but with most everyone assembled the proxy coronation took place smoothly, never mind about any thoughts that Tudor had thoroughly trounced the Yorkists once. Spirits were up; the rebels had an army of 6000, a legitimate king in the real Edward VI, and many supporters in England who would join at the right moment. The rebels boarded ships and sailed to Foulney Island in Furness, then rapidly marched to Yorkshire, where their greatest strength lay. They route took them into Wensleydale passing through Hawes, Castle Bolton and Middleham, Jervaulx Abbey before reaching Masham on June 8th. Recruits did join, but not in the numbers expected. Lincoln’s estates lay in East Anglia and the Thames Valley and Lovel, now attainted, was landless. They pinned their hope on the old loyalties of the men in the area. The city of York would not open their gates when requested to do so, nor would they yield when Lords Scrope appeared and demanded entrance. The rebels could easily beat of a clumsy attack by Lord Clifford, but in the background those old warhorses of Tudor, his uncle Jasper and John, the earl of Oxford, were gathering a large force. And the Stanleys, under the leadership of the new Lord Stanley, George, even sent an armed audience to observe the proceedings. Tudor and the Yorkists clashed at Stoke; with huge losses on both sides. Tudor won again. There were rumors of Tudor’s death in battle, although he had not personally been near the fighting, and there were riots in London because of this, but the real losers were Yorkists. Lincoln, Martin Schwartz, the military leader, and Thomas FitzGerald, the Irish soldier, all died.
Some of Lovel’s associates such as Maximilian, FitzGerald, Margaret of York and many others continued their lives after Stoke with not much changed. The real Edward, earl of Warwick, stayed put in prison for many more years until Tudor finally executed him when he had reached maturity. Some, like the Scropes, were fined and restricted, and eventually Tudor brought FitzGerald, the earl of Kildare, to heel, although he remained a power in Ireland. Those who suffered the worst were undoubtedly the poor Irish troops, who were slaughtered almost to a man; unprotected skin is no match for a longbow and many of the Irish were hit repeatedly. In terms of casualties, Stoke was far, far worse than Bosworth.
Stoke had one curious similarity to Bosworth in that neither Tudor nor Lord Strange did any fighting. At Bosworth, Northumberland is always criticized for not attacking someone from his rear guard position, but, since Tudor and the Stanleys were the winners, we hear little criticism of their lack of support. While they watched, Oxford’s troops suffered horrendous losses, almost half being cut down. Tudor himself, directly behind Oxford’s men, apparently did not reinforce him with the main battle, but simply watched as Oxford bled. It’s hard to criticize the winner.
Now we come to the question that is always asked: but what happened to Lovel? The theories are many. The Great Chronicle of London and the York City archives claim Lovel died at Bosworth. We know that is not true. Some claim he died in battle, his body overlooked and is among the others in the mass grave at St. Oswald’s church in East Stoke. Others claim he drowned while swimming his horse across the River Trent. The summer of 1487 was unusually hot and dry with the River Trent being 50 yards wide with reeds, but if the water was shallow, and the hooves of his horse became entangled in the reeds, could he have drowned? We can disclaim this theory too.
He most definitely escaped Stoke. The unnamed herald of Tudor along with the MS 2M6 from the College of Arms indicate “The Viscount Lord Lovel was put to flight” while the latter states “with money many other gentilemen too. Both documents name the leading rebels were either captured or slain in battle, but the inference is Lovel made good his escape. So where did he go? His manor at Stoke Bardolf was nearby and it could have offered him a brief respite before he continued on.
There is the popular tradition that Lovel escaped to Minster Lovel. In 1728, William Cowper, clerk of the Parliament to Francis Peck, an antiquarian records that in 1708, they were laying a new chimney in Minster Lovel and discovered a room underground. A skeleton of a man with a cup, book, prayer, pen etc. was discovered. The problem with this theory is that Minster Lovel had no basement. Lovel would have known his property would be forfeit to Tudor so why risk going there? We know his connections in Oxfordshire were not strong so who would he have to trust?
What was the role of the Fitzhugh’s? During the Neville revolt FitzHugh received a safe passage into Scotland for his entire family, including Francis Lovel. This was issued by James III, and some suspect that there were similar negotiations in 1485. In February of 1488, Alice Fitzhugh wrote to Sir John Paston. Her letter indicates that Anne Lovel knew her husband survived the battle, but she had no contact with him for a considerable period. She had sent Edward Franke, his right hand man, north in search of him, but he returned with no news. Did Franke go north to help Lovel? On June 19 of 1488 James IV actually issued a safe conduct for several rebels, among them Frank, Hartilton, Lovel and Broughton. Alice Fitzhugh wrote to Sir John Paston in FebruaryThere is reasonable evidence that Broughton took advantage of this and lived in Scotland until May, 1492, when he returned to Cumbria. By late 1492 there were reports that Lovel had died in Scotland, and this does coincide with Broughton’s return. Broughton returned to live among his tenants in Witherstack in Westmoreland.
In the 1490’s when Perkin Warbeck circled around Scotland and England like a persistent horse fly, Lovel did not emerge. Even if Lovel did not believe in the prince, their mutual association with Margaret would almost assure his appearance. This seems positive proof that Lovel was either dead or so badly injured and discouraged that any career as a rebel was impossible. At no time did Perkin Warbeck acknowledge him.
In 1510 there was a property dispute that hinged on whether Lovel or Lord Beaumont died first. Beaumont died in 1508. The jury decided that Lovel outlived Beaumont, that the property was therefore his and was forfeit. This seems like excellent testimony until it is realized that the man who benefited from all this was Tudor. It seems improbable that Lovel was alive then, now age 54.
What are we to make of Lovel’s life? He was not a fighting man; there is no record of his knightly training, and none of battle experience. He seems more to have been an administrative type, an executive, a friend and advisor. After the death of Richard III, he emerged as the avenging rebel. He was outraged enough to organize a revolt. He seemed to do this for no other reason than to right a wrong. He easily could have made his peace, like his peers, with the new king living a safer, richer life. But, instead, he did his best to organize a counter invasion that would drive Tudor out of England, back into exile and into the obscurity that he deserved.
He was transformed from a wealthy peer to a fugitive dependent on the good-will and favors of others. Francis demonstrated that precious quality of loyalty to a man and a dream of better government. We know of no instance of simple greed or avarice, of false loyalty, of uncontrolled egotism. He made the history books as a failure, surrounded by failure, but we also see him as a success in one value that we admire, loyalty. Lovel simply honored Richard III in the most dramatic and selfless way, and if we reflect on that, how fortunate Richard III was to have such a friend.
Transcript of a presentation by Joe Ann Ricca (Richard III Foundation, Inc.)