Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Dublin coronation of 24th May 1487

Exactly 530 years ago at the time of writing this article, a young boy who would become known to history as "Lambert Simnel" was crowned King of England in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. It was a unique event in English history for two reasons: First, because the boy was not crowned in England itself. Secondly, while it was not the first time in English history that a new king had been crowned while another king still sat securely on the throne - Henry II had his oldest son Henry crowned while he was still alive for several reasons - it was the first time and last time that a rebel against the anointed King of England was crowned and anointed while the monarch he was rebelling against was still alive and securely on the throne. (And, in Henry VII`s case, would remain so.)

There are many questions about this rebellion and even about the coronation itself that can no longer be answered, unless new evidence is found. The identity of the boy now known as Lambert Simnel is as much a mystery as his age - which has been given as variously ten, twelve and fifteen in different reports - and even with what regnal number he was crowned has been called into question.
Even more disputed is the question what would have happened to him had the Yorkists won. It is generally assumed that the boy crowned in Dublin was simply a puppet whom the Yorkists, if victorious, intended to push aside to have John de la Pole, the Earl of Lincoln, Richard III`s heir presumptive after the death of his son and de jure king from 22nd August 1485 until 7th November 1485, proclaimed as king. However, there are several problems with this assumption, first and foremost the question of why John - an adult with an undoubted Yorkist claim to the crown - was not crowned in the first place, rather than a young boy with doubtful origins.

Added to that is the problem that the coronation bestowed a legitimacy on the claim of the boy that would have been hard to explain away and shrug aside by those who had actually taken part in it, which John did.

Nor was the coronation a small affair, which could have easily been forgotten. It enjoyed a lot of support from the Irish and was made to be as impressive as possible. Jean Molinet, writing several years later, claimed that not only did the Yorkist rebels take part in it, but that so did the mercenaries hired by Margaret of York and her stepson-in-law, Maximilian. He reports that they went to Ireland "where they found the Duke of Clarence [Simnel], together with the earls of Lincoln and Guldar [Kildare] and the nobles of the country, who, with the agreement of all of the people, did crown him King of England with two archbishops and twelve bishops."

Though Molinet is shaky on details and frequently gets them wrong - in this instance, for example, not mentioning that Lincoln himself, together with Francis, only arrived in Ireland twenty days before the coronation - it is interesting that he reported the coronation ceremony as such a popular and grand affair, which shows that at least gossip must have reported it to be so, which allowing for exaggerations probably means it was at least quite a spectacle, though naturally without some of the usual elements of a "usual" coronation of an English king at the time.

Chief among those were the regalia needed for a coronation. As John Ashdown-Hill points out, such items as the sword, the spurs and the ring could very easily have been found and Margaret of York, in the year leading up the coronation, would have likely seen to it they were there, and records make no mention of them.  There is some information as to the crown used in the coronation though, which appears to have been taken from a valuable statue of the Virgin Mary which stood in a church by the gates of Dublin.

There are few descriptions of what actually happened during the coronation and afterwards. The ceremony seems to have happened without a hitch, though sadly we do not know what parts exactly John, Francis, or the other rebels played in it. In sources such as Vergil, it understandably gets dismissed as no great affair. In fact, Vergil does not even explicitly state that there had been a coronation, instead simply saying that "at Dublin they treated the boy Lambert just as if he were born of the royal blood and deserving of being crowned king in the traditional way."

Despite this, a little tidbit has survived, namely that supposedly, when the coronation ceremony in the cathedral was over, the newly crowned boy was carried back to Dublin Castle on the shoulders of "tall men" so that spectators who had come out to see him could do so. It appears that in Ireland, where the Yorkists were popular, the coronation had a lot of support even by the common people, though how true this is is now impossible to ascertain.

The boy, together with the rest of the rebels, entertained members of the Irish nobility sympathetic to his cause - which most seem to have been - in Dublin Castle after the coronation. Again, that this was meant to resemble a typical post-coronation banquet can be assumed, but we know no details. Francis, like John, was certainly present, but if he played a large role is not possible to say. He was one of the main instigators of the rebellion, but there is no indication he was much involved with the actual details of planning of it, and may have also played a more passive part in the coronation. Once more, this is guesswork.

After the coronation, the newly-crowned boy and the rebels stayed in Ireland only for a short while longer, landing in England with their troops on 4th June, there to find defeat, heartbreak and death.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Mythbusting, Part 4: Francis`s marital (in?)fidelity

It is extremely wide-spread in fiction to depict Francis`s marriage with Anne FitzHugh as a bad one, in which the spouses at best don`t have anything to say to each other and do not care about one another, at worst actively dislike each other. In consequence, such fiction usually portrays Francis as unfaithful to her, finding sexual gratification and often also genuine love with mistresses.

In non-fiction, naturally, the marriage between Francis and Anne is hardly ever addressed, given that so little evidence survives about it, so that the picture of the marriage as a bad one and Francis as a notoriously unfaithful husband stands largely unchallenged.

Naturally, it is always extremely hard to say what goes on in a marriage when one isn`t part of said marriage, and more so when both spouses have been dead for 500+ years and never openly said anything about it. However, even so, we do have some indications that suggest the version largely accepted in fiction and hardly to not at all challenged in non-fiction may not actually be truthful.

As I have mentioned in a recent article on Anne FitzHugh herself, there are indications of her being trusted or at least respected by her husband, and her favour being sought to secure his, which does not point to a relationship in which the two were completely indifferent if not downright hostile. We also know that Anne went to the trouble of putting herself in danger to find out what had happened to him after he had vanished, which also contradicts this picture.

None of this, of course, means that Francis could not have been unfaithful. There are many instances of apparently successful marriages in which the husband cheated on his wife, and if the wife ever protested, it is lost to history. The marriage between Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville is one example of such. It is perfectly possible that the union between Francis and Anne was another.

However, there is absolutely no evidence for it, so it is all up for speculation. What we do know, though, is that the lack of evidence of Francis ever cheating makes it unlikely that he flaunted a mistress and treated her almost like a wife as he often does in fiction. While any mentions of this during his time as a simple baron may have been lost, or no one have even cared to remark on it, it would doubtlessly have been remarked upon during his time as Richard III`s lord chamberlain. Richard made a point of condemning the supposed lechery and undoubted adultery at his brother Edward`s court, and spoke out against adultery itself. Had one of his closest men been openly and unrepentantly adulterous, this would have been noticed and commented on by contemporaries, suggesting that if Francis was unfaithful to his wife, he was very discreet about it.

It should also be noted that whatever his fidelity or lack thereof was, there is evidence - which I addressed in an article yesterday - that Anne`s family, most notably her mother Alice and oldest brother Richard, were at least on friendly terms with him. This is perfectly likely to have happened even if Francis was unfaithful to their daughter/sister, but unlikely had he flaunted a mistress and let her take Anne`s place in all but name.

What little we have suggests, therefore, that if Francis was unfaithful, he was discreet about it and did not have a single steady mistress he loved, favoured and gave much attention to, nor was he known to have a string of mistresses like for example William Hastings supposedly did. While there is nothing to contradict the possibility of him having flings or occasional mistresses, there is also no evidence to support it. There is no indication his marriage was a bad one, that he needed to or that he sought solace in the arm of mistresses because of that, as fiction so often presents.

Mythbusting, Part 3: Francis`s (un?)popularity

A claim often made about Francis in literature not sympathetic to his best friend Richard III is that Francis was an unpopular man in his lifetime, hated by the population for usually unspecified reasons and not well-liked by anyone else. This is often made in connection with - equally disputable - similar claims about Richard III himself, but not always. The website of the Ufton Court Educational Trust makes such a claim about Francis as well when giving a short overview of the estate, which used to belong to Francis. In this case, it is based on the (in)famou Collyngbourne rhyme, discussed below.

David Baldwin repeatedly makes a similar claim as well in several of his works. In his case, he bases these claims of some actual rather suspect actions of Francis`s, mainly the claims he made to Katherine Neville, Dowager Baroness Hastings`s and Edward Hastings, 2nd Baron Hastings`s lands some months after William Hastings`s summary execution, and a similar claim he made against William Wayneflete, Bishop of Winchester.

These were doubtlessly sorry interactions, and do not shed the best light on Francis. Nor, however, were they in any way uncommon. To the lands he claimed from the Hastings, he had at least partially if not wholly no right, having quitclaimed one part of it in February 1482. To the manors he claimed from Wayneflete, he was, as noted by G.V.Belenger in her thesis “Francis Viscount Lovel, or the life of a dog, actually entitled. As was very common in the day and age, Francis sent men to take one of the manors he claimed for Wayneflete. The bishop was informed of this a while later, and told that Francis`s men could not be expelled because as he was a lord, he could not be treated thusly. The conflict dragged on a while, but eventually the two came to a compromise in February 1483. This apparently satisfied them both, for they did business again in 1484, apparently with no hard feelings between them, or at least none that were recorded or hindered their working relationship. So while this undoubtedly happened, it cannot be used as evidence for Francis`s unpopularity. In fact, it didn`t even seem to get much attention by contemporaries.

The conflict with the Hastings over the lands he claimed - which claim he seems to have based on the fact that they had used to belong his family once - was said by one source to have caused bad blood between the Hastings and Francis, however without any violence erupting, for example in the form of scuffles between the two party`s retainers (as were for example recorded during the quarrel between Richard of Gloucester and George of Clarence in 1471/2). It was said to have been resolved, and the claim settled, in early 1485, by the intervention of unnamed mutual friends, quite possible Lady Hastings`s sister and Francis`s mother-in-law, Alice FitzHugh. The solution that was finally agreed upon was not fair to the Hastings`, but again there is no evidence that the sordid business damaged any relationships. Baldwin chose to read a mention that the conflict "cannot finally be settled while [Edward Hastings] is underage" as a threat by Francis to make another, yet harsher, claim once Edward came of age, but there is nothing to support this. The statement was a fact - once Edward Hastings came into his properties, legal matters previously arranged with his guardian had to be settled again in many cases, especially disputed ones such as this - and there is no reason why Francis, after having made his claim but committed no violence, would after two years suddenly decide to settle for less than he wanted rather than pushing it all through immediately or, if he was unsure he could manage so immediately but apparently cocksure enough he could once Edward was of age to include it in writing, not simply wait another year until such a time came. 

These episodes are non-flattering and show, from all we know about him, Francis at his worst. They were not, however, signs he was very unpopular, they didn`t even cause too much stir nor were they out of the ordinary at the time. Even if his conflict with the Hastings left them - understandably, though we have no evidence for such, we can only assume - with a strong dislike/hatred for him, it would only make him a normal courtier. Most if not all high-profile courtiers had enemies, much as any high-profile person today has.

In fact, there is remarkably little evidence of Francis having enemies for a man of the standing he had during Richard III`s reign. William Collyngbourne`s rhyme, mentioned above, is often taken as sign of personal hatred against him and the others mentioned - apart from the king himself, William Catesby ("the Catte") and Richard Ratcliffe ("the Ratte"). However, there is no evidence Francis and Collyngbourne ever met or interacted, and the only time their paths would actually cross was when Francis sat on a jury condemning him for treason - a while after the rhyme was written, but while "seditious writings" were a second charge, the first was treason, which he had committed by writing to Henry Tudor in exile, inviting him to invade.

In fact, the Croyland Chronicle - not flattering to Richard III - mentions directly that the rhyme was simply meant to lambast the king and men he heavily/primarily relied on. It was a staple of criticism at the time, and long afterwards, to include the monarch`s councillors in any criticism of him/her, if not downrightshift the blame on them, which is very much what Collyngbourne`s rhyme also implies by saying "[Richard Ratcliffe, William Catesby and Francis Lovell] rule all England under a hogge", indicating he let them rule rather than doing it himself. 

Literary speculation aside, there is another reason why Collyngbourne may have been angry at Francis that had nothing to do with him performing any action that may cause unpopularity in the populance or even other lords: Richard gave the job of manager of some estates for his mother, which had been Collynbourne`s before he was involved in treasonous activity, to Francis.

There is nothing else known of Francis that could support a claim of him being unpopular. On the contrary, for someone so close and powerful, there is very little controversial known about him. He does not seem to have taken part in the events of summer 1483, which ended in Richard III taking the throne, and, curiously, despite him being favoured and rewarded during all of Richard`s lord protectorship, no one at the time nor otherwise suspected him of having done anything wrong, which is rather curious for someone who profitted from it so much. There is no account of him, at the time or later, being included in any of Richard`s supposed nefarious deeds. For example, in the Croyland Chronicle, it are said to have been Ratcliffe and Catesby (again) who advised Richard not to marry Elizabeth of York, fearing her influence should she become queen as they are said to have been the ones to have urged Richard to execute her half-brother Richard Grey and uncle Anthony Woodville (and presumably also the oft-forgotten Thomas Vaughn) two years earlier. The obvious mistakes in this account concerning the marriage have often been pointed out by people smarter than me, but it is another startling instance of Francis, a man of influence who much profitted from Richard`s becoming king, not being included in a retelling of his sketchy deeds.

In fact, it has been remarked by Dr Rosemary Horrox, among others such as J.M.Williams, that Francis, for all the lands he was given by Richard and his clear interest in possessions, see above, seems to have been content with having influence at court and that much of his influence in Richard`s goverment seems to have been due to his personal relationship to Richard and other courtiers. His favour was courted, as he as lord chamberlain was the person to control access to the king, but there is no indication of anyone accusing him of abusing that power. It is possible that the time he spent as chamberlain was too short for this to happen or even for him to develop a taste for doing so, and it would have happened later, but as it is, there is absolutely nothing. Francis seemed mainly to have been regarded as a good, if unremarkable, man.

It is also notable that this seems to have held true for all factions. Not only did Richard`s enemies never assign any horrible actions to Francis, but nor do we have any evidence of anyone trying to win Richard`s favour and trying to become close to the king resenting Francis`s closeness to him and the fact he was sometimes favoured above others, such as when Richard chose Francis`s ancestral manor as the only of his courtiers` home to visit on his first royal progress.

A last point speaking against Francis`s supposed unpopularity is the fact that he was never caught and his whereabouts never betrayed by anyone when he was a rebel in 1486 and possibly again when fleeing after Stoke in 1487. Francis was a hunted man by that time, with a price on his head. When Harry of Buckingham had found himself in a similar situation in 1483, he had been betrayed within two weeks. Francis never was.

It has often been pointed out that this was likely because he was in the north during most of that time, where he had associates and local ties, which is true. However, unlike what has sometimes been claimed, this does not mean he did not have any ties in his own lands, traditionally said to have been in the Midlands. While it is true that he did have extensive lands there, where he seemed to have few ties to, as seen when he failed to realise William Stonor had joined the rebels of 1483, he also had extensive lands in the north. In fact, through his grandmother Alice Deincourt, he had inherited the barony of Bedale, one of four other baronies he held in addition to that of Lovell. Francis, having been brought up in the north for large parts of his childhood and adolescence, simply seems to have chosen to focus on those lands.

Even in the Midlands, however, there is no evidence of any resentment against him personally. It appears he was large absent and therefore unable to foster strong loyalties to him, but nor was there any hard feeling against him.

To sum up, Francis was hardly a saint. He could be greedy, ruthless, act entitled and demand lands that were not his. However, he seems to have also been ready to compromise and had an astonishing lack of recorded enemies during the time he was in power and influence. There are no lurid tales told about him in primary sources of the time or afterwards, nor even in secondary sources, as are about so many of Richard III`s supporters and friends. And there is absolutely no evidence he was unpopular or that people didn`t like him.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Mythbusting, Part 2: Francis`s (bad?) relationship with his in-laws

A persistent myth about Francis in fiction is that not only did he not get along with his wife Anne and had a horrible marriage with her - which is in itself not at all supported by the evidence - but that he equally did not have a good relationship with her family, the FitzHughs. Non-fiction discussing Francis almost never mentions his in-laws in connection with him, so that these portrayals stand largely unchallenged.

Sadly, as with so many questions about Francis`s life, we do not know very much about his feelings about his in-laws and their relationship. What little there is does, however, not suggest that the portrayal wide-spread in fiction has any grounding in historical fact.

As I have mentioned recently in a post about Anne FitzHugh, Francis was, by necessity, closely connected with the FitzHughs growing up after his parents` death. His younger sisters Joan and Frideswide were apparently raised by the FitzHughs together with Anne and her siblings. He himself definitely lived with them in 1470 and presumably all during Warwick`s rebellion and Henry VI`s readaption, and possibly as early as 1469, when Warwick`s immediate family was in Calais to see his daughter Isabel married to George of Clarence.

What Francis thought of these developments and of his time with the family is naturally unknowable, but whatever it was, he did not let it stand in the way of at least polite relations, such as when he together with his wife, mother-in-law Alice and brother-in-law Richard joined the Corpus Christi Guilt in York in 1473.

There is some other evidence that Francis was on good terms with his in-laws. Some of the only mentions we have of them are only conventional - for example, Francis calling his sister-in-law Elizabeth`s husband (Sir William Parr) his "broder Parr" in a letter to William Stonor - but others suggest a somewhat closer relationship. Notably, said letter was written in the manor of Tanfield, which belonged to his mother-in-law Alice and where the letter, in which Francis`s regret he could not return south to be "with the king [Edward IV]" yet, suggests he had been staying for a while. This seems to indicate that he and Alice FitzHugh had at least a cordial enough relationship for prolonged visits to each other, be they personal or for business.

This is equally suggested by the fact that the two shared associates and men working for them. One such man was Richard Rugge, who was, as J.M.Williams points out, Francis`s known associate and deputy as chief butler in Richard III`s reign and is known to have served Alice FitzHugh in 1481. 

Another indication of such a good working, and possibly even friendly, relationship with a member of his wife`s family is Francis including his brother-in-law George as one of his feofees for several of his estates. The other men he chose, such as Edward and Geoffrey Franke, show the selection was at least partially based on his trust in the men and included mainly those he worked together with a lot and who were close to him, which suggests that his relationship to George was at least a fruitful one.

Slightly more conclusive evidence survives for the connection between Francis and his wife`s oldest brother, Richard FitzHugh. The two are known to have fought together under Francis`s friend Richard of Gloucester in the skirmishes with the Scots from 1480 to 1482, and both were knighted by the duke, though it was Francis, not Richard who was the duke`s first cousin once removed, who received a special honour. Whether this caused resentment or whether Richard FitzHugh understood or simply not cared, we do not know. Of their work together their, no evidence survives.

We do know, however, that Richard was one of Francis`s sponsors when he was made a viscount in January 1483 (the other one being Francis`s cousin, Lord Morley), which shows support of him. We do know that during Richard III`s reign, Francis and his oldest brother-in-law often spent time together at court functions, but again, no evidence survives as to their interactions with one another. However, after Richard III`s death, another very telling connection between them survives. Richard FitzHugh had accepted Henry VII as his new king after Bosworth, but was suspected of being involved in Francis`s rebellion - being ideally placed as he had been given control over some northern lands and manors closely associated with Richard III - and having aided and abetted him. In consequence, as Joe Anne Ricca points out in "Francis, Viscount Lovell. Time Reveals All Things", he lost his offices in May 1486, though he was eventually restored to them and showed no more sign of rebelling until his death one and a half years later.

The fact that Richard FitzHugh was willing to help Francis in his rebellion in 1486 shows not only an at least latent discontent with the new reign but also that the two men must have had trust between them. Francis would have had to be very careful at this time, as he would have had to fear being sold out to the new king, which would have ended in certain death for him. For Richard FitzHugh the involvement in the rebellion could have ended far worse than in the temporary loss of office he experienced. That Francis chose to involve him in the rebellion and that Richard chose to become involved shows that the two men must have had a fairly good relationship.

In the end, what little evidence we have about Francis`s relationships to various members of the FitzHugh family does not all support the claim that there was bad blood between them. On the contrary, lots of hints seem to point to an at least cordial relationship with his brothers-in-law and his mother-in-law, and perhaps a downright friendly one.

Mythbusting, Part 1: Francis`s (lack of?) fighting prowess

This is the first of a series of posts I have decided to make, addressing claims and myths about Francis, which are often repeated in fiction and non-fiction alike. Since the 530th anniversary of the Battle of Stoke is coming up soon, I have decided to speak about his fighting abilites, or lack thereof, first.


In several works of fiction and non-fiction, it is postulated that Francis was not much of a fighter, that he was more an administrative type of guy, given to organisation and not fighting. For example, Joe Ann Ricca`s "Francis, Viscount Lovel. Time Reveals All Things." mentions this theory.
While his feelings about the fighting he did are unknowable, there is indeed a small piece of evidence that suggest Francis did not have much of a natural inclination to fight. It is found in one of only two letters he wrote that survive to this day. Writing to William Stonor on the 24th June 1482 from his mother-in-law`s manor of Tanfield, Francis mentioned that he had meant to come back south already but could not due to the rumours of imminent war with the Scots such as had happened in the previous two years, which meant that if he left the north he would be said to have "withdrawn" himself from the fighting. He added that he would return as soon as he could, which suggests he was not particularly happy with the thought of the upcoming conflict.

However, even if so, there is enough evidence that once he did fight, he did it well, and that he did quite a bit of fighting in his life. Claims to the contrary, that he did not fight a lot or deliberately avoided it, are usually "supported" by the fact that Francis did not do much fighting in his life, that he did not fight at Barnet and Tewkesbury.

The latter is a completely correct observation; however, it is often seen in the wrong context, with the underlying assumption that Francis was born in 1454. This would have made him sixteen or possibly just seventeen by the time of the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury. However, since Francis was only born in late 1456,  he was in reality only fourteen when these battles happened, and therefore too young to get involved in the fighting. This is also noted by J.M.Williams in her essay "The Political Career of Francis Viscount Lovell (1456-?)".

Between the Battle of Tewkesbury until 22nd August 1485, there were no more major battles fought in the conflicts which have become known to history as the Wars of the Roses. Therefore, Francis had obviously no chance to take part in any but the very last stages of these conflicts.

The occasions on which Francis was old enough to be expected to (be ready to) fight were in 1475 when Edward IV raised men to fight in France with him, where a battle, however, never happened, in the series of skirmishes with the Scots 1480 until 1482, the Battle of Bosworth and the Battle of Stoke.

There is no evidence as to whether Francis was present in France in 1475. Aged eighteen, he was still technically the king`s ward and considering that and the fact he was only a baron at that point, he was perhaps thought too insignificant to be mentioned. If he was present, he did not receive any of the presents and annuities given out so lavishly by the French king, though of course, this again would probably be due to his insignificance at the time. It is, however, equally possible that he was not even present in France, for a multitude of possible reasons, such as the fact that he was still not of age and therefore didn`t have the funds for many men of his own to bring, or even that he had made his excuses somehow. Since no evidence exists, the French campaign of 1475 does not disprove the idea that Francis was an administrator rather than a fighter and did not usually fight nor want to. However, nor does it prove it.

Moving on to the next conflicts in which he could have played a part, the skirmishes with the Scots from 1480 to 1482, led by his friend Richard of Gloucester. During these, Francis was definitely present. He was knighted - coincidentally on the 22nd August - in 1481 by Richard during one such campaign, and given the honour of knighting two other men himself immediately afterwards. Though Francis was close to Richard, this honour at such a time suggests that he had comported himself well during the fighting, whatever his opinion on doing it might have been.

Francis was, therefore, not an inexperienced fighter by the time of the Battle of Bosworth. It has often been disputed whether or not Francis was present at the battle, and his clearly faulty inclusion in the first lists of casualties issued after it has sometimes been taken to have been political rather than an honest mistake caused by confusion of who had survived the battle. However, there would have been no obvious benefits to announcing Francis`s death - unlike there were in announcing John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln,`s death - and there are some other indications he was present, such as the fact he seems to have sought sanctuary afterwards with the brothers Stafford, who definitely did fight at Bosworth.

Even in the unlikely chance he did not fight, in this case we know for a fact that this would have been due to unlucky timing, not reluctance to fight or lack of belief in his fighting prowess. If he did not fight, this would have been because he did not arrive in time from Southampton, where he had been trying to (unsuccessfully) guard the coast against the invader. 

He was officially charged with this on 26th June 1485, his tasks including outfitting the ships and doing all that needed to be done for them to be able to engage in battle, as well as actually taking command of the fleet. Since it was expected to possible have to see action, it is most unlikely that this task would have been given to someone who showed no ability to fight. Certainly it was a task that required a great amount of organisatorial skill, but at the same time, it was one that would quite possibly require him to fight. Francis himself was obviously aware of this, for on 10th June 1485, undoubtedly already knowing what he would have to do, he made arrangements for his wife Anne in the event of his death and gave instructions for masses to be read if he died. 

Two years later, before and during the Battle of Stoke, Francis showed again that despite quite possibly not by nature being inclined to enjoy fighting, he could and did do it quite well when he had to. He led a successful night raid on the Earl of Oxford`s camp five days before the battle took place, and during the battle itself led part of the army. He was also the only Yorkist of any standing to survive the battle, though naturally if this was due to luck, good personal fighting skills allowing him to defeat enough enemies by himself to run once the battle was lost, or a mixture thereof is impossible to say.

In short, all evidence we have shows that Francis may possibly not have been a particularly delighted fighter, but someone who could fight well when he did and did not hesitate to do so when he thought he had to.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Anne Lovell and her marriage to Francis

In or around 14th February 1465, the third daughter and fourth child of Henry FitzHugh, Baron FitzHugh and Alice Neville, Baroness FitzHugh, Anne FitzHugh, was married to Francis Lovell, Baron Lovell.

Their marriage lasted for 22 years, until Francis vanished after the Battle of Stoke on 16th June 1487. Anne was around 27 at that point.

Sadly, not much evidence survives about her and her marriage to Francis, though what little there is suggests that unlike what is often suggested in fiction, she was a confident woman who had at least a cordial and respectful relationship to her husband.

Anne was probably born in 1460, around a year after her oldest brother Richard. Apart from him, she had two older sisters and four younger brothers. Through her mother, she was related with some of the highest and mightiest in the realm - Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, was her uncle, and when Anne was around a year old, her first cousin once removed, Edward of March, became king as Edward IV.

As mentioned above, when Anne was four or just turned five, she was married to her uncle of Warwick`s new ward, Francis Lovell, who had recently become Baron Lovell after his father`s death. Around four years older than her, he was eight at the time.

We do not know much of Anne`s childhood. In the summer of 1466, her father spent several months in Middleham with her uncle of Warwick. It is possible that Anne and her mother and siblings joined him there - after all, it was her mother who was Warwick`s sister, and since Anne was already married to his ward, there may have been an effort made to get the children to know each other, as sometimes happened with such matched. There is no certainty about this, however.

We do know, though, that by 1470, when Warwick was in open rebellion for the first time, Anne`s father supported him, rising up against his wife`s cousin Edward IV himself. Like Warwick, he was defeated and pardoned. At that time, Anne`s husband was living with her family - he, like Anne herself, then ten years old, was included in the pardon Edward IV issued to the entire family and all those living with them. Interestingly, the pardon also included her husband`s younger sisters, Joan and Frideswide, suggesting that after their mother`s death in summer 1466, Anne`s mother had started taking care of them and Anne grew up with them.

Sadly, we do not know anything about their relationship nonetheless. After her uncle of Warwick was defeated again, and killed, in 1471 and Edward IV retook the throne, Anne`s husband was given into the wardship of Edward IV`s sister Elizabeth and her husband John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, and probably moved into their household. Shortly afterwards, in 1472, Anne`s father Henry died, and her brother Richard became Baron FitzHugh. Anne was twelve, Richard was thirteen.

Anne seems to have continued living with her mother and brother for a while afterwards, and it is possible that when, in the same year, Edward IV took her husband`s wardship from his sister for himself, Francis also moved in with them again. Certainly, we know that he spent some time with them. In summer 1473, he and Anne together with her mother and brother joined the Corpus Christi Guild in York, of which the king`s mother Cecily was also a member, and which Francis`s friend Richard of Gloucester and his wife would also join four years later.

There is no telling when Anne started living with her husband as man and wife, though it is possible that it was in around 1476 and they moved to his ancestral home of Minster Lovell Hall then. In 1477, they had apparently started establishing themselves there, for a letter from Elizabeth Stonor to her husband from that time survives from March 1477, in she reports that like he had instructed her to, she had made presents to Lord and Lady Lovell, which, from the context, clearly were to win their favour. That Anne was given her own present suggests she had some influence over her husband and/or that her being given a present would please Francis. It also suggests that they had been living there for a while for their favour to mean something, yet not longer than perhaps around a year, for otherwise the Stonors would be rather late in trying to secure it.

This would mean that perhaps Francis and Anne moved there and started living together as man and wife when she was around 16 and he around 20.

Sadly, we know nothing of her movements until 1483. A letter from Francis to William Stonor survives from June 1482, which he wrote from one Alice FitzHugh`s manors in the north. It is possible that Anne was there together with him, but since the letter makes no mention of her or of why Francis went to be with Richard, we cannot say.

Anne was presumable present when her husband was made a viscount by Edward IV on 4th January 1483, her brother Richard being one of his sponsors, but again there is no mention of her. We do know, however, that when her first cousin once removed Richard was crowned king some months later after Edward IV`s sudden death in April 1483 and the following sudden succession crisis in June 1483, she was present in his wife the queen Anne`s train, and given gifts of two dresses like her mother Alice and sister Elizabeth.

Like them, she also seems to have been one of the queen`s ladies-in-waiting, though she is mentioned less often than them in many accounts. Her husband`s position high in favour of the new king meant he was almost always at court, though if Anne often joined him there, or if she was with the queen when she was not at court, or if she was often absent from court altogether, we simply don`t know.

We have a few mentions of her by Francis dating from 1483 to 1485. As was traditional, Francis had her included in a request for annual prayers for the good of their souls he arranged in February 1483. On 10th March 1484, he made provisions for her in the event of his death, such as seeing to it she would be given the manor of Thorpe Waterville. In June 1485, probably anticipating the possibility of his death in the upcoming battle, he charged her with having prayers said for him for thirty years after his death by "two good priests" in the University of  Oxford or the University of Cambridge.

Francis did not die at Bosworth, but his fortunes took a sharp turn for the worse with Richard III`s death there, and Anne`s own position took a sharp drop from the wife of the king`s best friend and one of the highest and mightiest men in the realm to a traitor`s wife. If she resented her husband not accepting the new king, we again don`t know, but there is some evidence against it, as detailed below.

There is no telling if Anne ever saw her husband Francis again after Bosworth Field, though her brother Richard, who had sworn alliance to the new king after his victory, may have secretly helped Francis in his rebellion.

Anne could have tried to use her relation to the new queen Elizabeth of York to secure a better position for herself, and distanced herself from her husband. Instead, she chose to associate with Edward Franke, one of Francis`s associates, to try and find Francis, which, given that Franke was an outlaw, was treason. We know of this from a letter of her mother`s to John Paston, a letter in which it is also mentioned that despite Franke`s best efforts, Francis`s whereabout and fate remained unknown to him and therefore Anne.

Anne would have known she was risking a lot by associating with him, and while women were not, at that time, executed for treason, it could have made her situation far worse. Anna, whose grandmother was the first woman to have been attainted in England, would have known this - the best she could have hoped for would have been house arrest. This suggests she had at least a strong interest in Francis`s fate, if not affection for him.

So does, in my opinon, her decision not to ever marry again and take a religious vow before she was thirty. In December 1489, Henry VII granted her an annuity of 20 pounds, and in the grant, she is refered to as "our sister in God", meaning she had either taken a vow or joined a convent. This was quite a common course for noble widows, but again suggests she knew her mind well and had by the age of twenty-eight or twenty-nine already decided she did not want to marry another time and with that, gave up the chance to have children as well. Admittedly, as a traitor`s widow, which she seemed to think she was at that point - her value in the marriage market was significantly lower than it would have been as the widow of one of the king`s men, but she was still of high birth and a relative of the queen. Not to mention that she could have chosen to marry for her own pleasure.

This would seem to suggest that she either had had a horrible marriage and didn`t want a repetition of that - which evidence, see above, does not support at all - or that she simply did not want to be anyone but Francis`s wife. Again, it could suggest affection, although it is less definite than the above point of her committing treason to find out what had happened to her husband. Maybe Anna was simply pious and while not having minded being married, prefered life as a lay sister or in a convent.

What her actions from 1488 definitely show is that she was fearless, and that she knew her own mind very well.

Sadly, the only mention of her after that is in her husband`s second attainder of 1495, in which her rights were protected, though as was usual, this was only theoretical. It shows she was still alive at the age of 35. We know no more of the rest of her life, nor even if she was a lay sister or had entered a convent.