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New theories DO turn up, so there’s hope for some Ricardian mysteries….

Another new theory about the fate of Jimmy Hoffa has raised its head. Hoffa’s disappearance in a Michigan parking lot forty-two years ago has always been a mystery. “. Hoffa was a Detroit labor union leader and activist who was well known for his involvement in the Teamsters’ Union as well as the criminal charges that he faced while president of the organization. ” He was also mixed up in the Mob and various other extremely dubious matters. In short, he was very well known and equally as notorious. Then, he simply disappeared, apparently from the face of the earth.

A new theory seeks to explain what might have happened. Read about it here.

Followers of the case, or mob afficionados, will know there are more theories as to Hoffa’s disappearance, and indeed more books for sale than you can throw a stick at.  He went into hiding.  The union had him killed because he threatened to talk.  The mob had him offed because he threatened to reveal their shady dealings with Teamster pension funds.   For years, the most popular theory was that he was buried underneath the Meadowlands Football stadium in New Jersey, but this has been disproven as the above linked story indicates.  

So despite many concerted attempts by law enforcement and cold case amateurs alike, we still don’t know.  

Which inevitably brings us to similar Ricardian “cold cases”.  The boys in the Tower are usually the first to spring to mind. They too seem to have simply disappeared without trace. And then there’s Richard’s last will and testament, which he must have had drawn up before Bosworth, if not well before even that. It disappeared. Whodunnit? No, I won’t mention the word T-d-r! There are other mysteries, of course. What happened to Francis Lovell? He too seems to have simply vanished from the records. What was Buckingham’s real purpose in rebelling against Richard? His own ambitions? We don’t know. And where did Richard’s crown go after being found at Bosworth? Maybe the latter is known, but not to me. I know there are many, many more unknowns from Richard’s life.

So, all in all, some new theories about these Ricardian mysteries are eagerly awaited. They all happened a lot longer than forty-two years ago, of course, but is there a statute of limitation on these things?

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BREAKING NEWS! TROLL CATS DEMONSTRATE TO THEIR HUMAN COUNTERPARTS HOW ITS DONE.

 

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Cat trolls are credited for being  wiser than human trolls, who are well known for being  wotless, boring and prone to making gaffes…

A group of cats, known as a moggle, have been discovered by their incredulous owners, to have been routinely trolling.  Not only that but the surprised owners discovered that the felines were actually a lot better at it than their human counterparts even though some of them did not have thumbs – well none of them had thumbs actually.  Asked where they liked to troll best they said anything featuring Henry Tudor was fair game.  When they were questioned why, and who their favourite king  was, they all concurred Richard III because it was well known he liked and admired cats as although they were small in stature they had hearts like lions – unlike Henry Tudor  who was a complete waste of a good suit of armour, spending the whole of the Battle of Bosworth behind a pike wall!   Pausing only to regurgitate a fur ball, one of the group, Percy,  explained that Tudor liked nothing better than setting his favorite greyhound, Morton, onto any innocent passing cat just because he could.  However, one of the group, Bowfoot, did demur that he thought Henry, although a coward, was not bad looking as he thought the cross-eyed look very handsome.

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Percy.  Although lacking teeth Percy remains a happy chap unlike Henry who also lacked teeth as well as a sense of humour..

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Jockey,  originally from Norfolk, does share some similarities to human trolls in that he likes to spend his days divided equally between sleeping, eating and trolling in no particular order.

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Tongue protruding in concentration Catesby the Cat demonstrates how easy it is to troll and if one sticks one’s tongue it is easier to hit the correct keys

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Lovell…unique in that he can uses both paws simultaneously..unlike human trolls

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Two of the cats are siblings, and being  identical,  both go under the name Stanley.  When they are not trolling,  Stanley and Stanley like nothing better than  sitting on fences

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Cissie, the matriarch of the group, demonstrates she can type without looking at the keyboard.    Cissie is well known for not being able to tolerate fools easily – human trolls should give this particular cat a very wide berth..

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Bowfoot opined that he thought Henry quite handsome as the cross-eyed look was very fetching indeed.

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Ratcliffe..if only all trolls were as handsome,,.

 

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Morton VIII.  This chap is a direct descendant of Henry Tudor’s favorite greyhound Morton…but that dear reader, is another story..

 

The story of Richard and Francis as children….

I was there - Richard III

This fictional tale for younger readers, by Stuart Hill, relates the story of the young Richard III and his lifelong friend Francis Lovell when, as boys, they trained to be knights at the castle of the Earl of Warwick, now known as the “Kingmaker”.

I’m told it’s a charming story that introduces a new young audience to what life could be like back in the 15th century. If you have children of the right age, or little relatives and friends, it might be an excellent way to show them our history.

It’s one of a series of books called “I Was There”, so you can pick your period. But you WILL begin with Richard, right?

Available on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com etc.

 

 

 

Hey diddle diddle, it’s Richard III….!

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Sometime ago I read that the words of the old Hey Diddle Diddle nursery rhyme were in fact a reference to the story of Richard III. There are other theories, of course, including this of Elizabeth I:

“The story goes that Elizabeth, was often called a cat for the treatment of her court, the mice. When Elizabeth’s cousin Lady Catherine Grey eloped with Edward Seymour represented by the dish running away with the spoon, Elizabeth was not particularly impressed. The ‘dish’ and ‘spoon’ of the rhyme are sometimes said to be the Queen’s private server and food taster, but this theory too lacks evidence.” (This extract is from https://treasuryislands.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/origins-hey-diddle-diddle/)

The suggestion that the rhyme might be to do with Richard’s so-called usurpation of the throne connects Sir William Catesby with the cat (the fiddle being to kill the boys in the Tower), the Kingmaker with the cow (no idea about the moon!) Francis Lovell with the dog, and Richard himself as the dish running away with the spoon (anointing spoon at his coronation). Why the Kingmaker is in there, I can’t imagine, for he was dead and gone by 1383, which is when the presumed events of the nursery rhyme took place.

Mind you, if you go here, you’ll find Richard’s name cropping up in all sorts of places, including Humpty Dumpty! See also here.

A Google search for Hey Diddle Diddle or Humpty Dumpty with Richard III will bring up numerous sites that repeat/debate/pooh-pooh the likelihood of the rhymes’ origins in Richard’s story.

Humpty Dumpty - RIII

The king in the above illustration is presumably Henry VII?

Anyway, it’s all an interesting theory, but I do not know how much faith to place in it. Take a look, and see what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Francis Lovell lying at rest in Gedling church….?

possible resting place of Francis Lovell - All Hallows, Gedling

There is a theory that Francis Lovell, on fleeing the battlefield at East Stoke in 1487, met with some mishap and ended up buried in the Church of All Hallows, Gedling in Nottinghamshire. Stoke Bardolph Castle (now gone) not far from Gedling, was the seat of the Bardolph family, of whom his mother, Jane, was a member. She still lived there at the time, and maybe he was trying to reach her.*

Gedling, Stoke Bardolph and East Stoke

The ferry at Fiskerton

Francis may have tried to cross the River Trent, which is adjacent to Stoke Field, at a place called Fiskerton, where the water is shallow, especially in summer.

What may have led to his death is not known. He may have been badly wounded during the battle. Whatever, he could well be the anonymous 15th-century knight buried under an alabaster slab at the south end of the altar-table in All Hallows. Or he may not be, of course. I must not lose sight of the fact that this is all supposition.

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The theory about Francis first turned up in the Transactions of the Thoroton Society: “A few lines in black wax constitute the remains of an inscription and effigy of a knight of the 15th century. The late Mr. Lawson Lowe, of Chepstow, said in December, 1882, that when he visited the church in 1865, the date could be made out, and he thought the effigy might be that of a knight who fought at the battle of Stoke, near Newark, in 1487.”

From this has developed the possibility that it is Francis Lovell who lies there. You can read more here, here or here.

I have a vague connection with Gedling church, having attended the nearby grammar school, Carlton le Willows, in 1958-60. In the summer of 1960, after our ‘O’ levels, little trips were arranged, one of which was to the church. I remember climbing the very worn steps in the tower, right to the top. The view was great, but I’m not good with heights, and while it was easy enough to climb, the angle of the worn steps was against me on the way down. The steps were very steep as well, and it was a l-o-n-g way down. Horrible. My legs shook for days afterwards, and I vowed never to climb a church tower again. It is a vow I’ve kept.

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The view from Gedling church tower

To think that I was in the very church where Francis Lovell may be buried….

 

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* There seems some doubt about whether or not Lovell’s mother was still alive in 1487, the consensus being that she was not. So I must adjust my statement above, and wonder if, her death notwithstanding, Lovell may still have turned to Stoke Bardolph as a possibly friendly temporary refuge.

 

 

 

Hostile Historians and Uppity Authors: Never the Twain Shall Meet?

You would have had to have been locked a dark dungeon in the Tower not to have noticed that there is a new TV series out based on a Philippa Gregory bestseller. THE WHITE PRINCESS has hit the screens in the US (no dates for the UK this time; the BBC bailed after The White Queen.) In both book and series, the ravishing Elizabeth of York, here called Lizzie for short (an anachronism right there–girls called Elizabeth were normally called Bess or Bessy, with Lizzie not appearing for several hundred years) fights for the honour of the fallen House of York against the husband she loathes but has been forced to marry, the new King Henry Tudor (here anachronistically bearded and impossibly attractive) and his sinister, lurking mother, Margaret Beaufort (Catelyn Stark in a late medieval version of a Mickey Mouse hat.) The first episode has a brief flash back to Lizzie’s pre-Bosworth on-the-battlefield fling with Uncle Richard, and then much time is spent bemoaning the untimely death of her lost lover and fighting against the dastardly machinations of Henry and his mummy. And then, eventually, Lizzie and Henry fall in lurrrrve.

Now much of this scenario is fantasy, pleasing to neither the Tudorites, who frequently moan that ‘Philippa Gregory is anti-Tudor!’ because, amongst other things, she didn’t make the Henry-Elizabeth alliance an immediate Mills and Boon romance, and equally TWP is not admired by the Ricardians because of Gregory’s overblown use of the discredited idea of an affair between Elizabeth and Richard III, when it is known from existing state documents in Portugal that he planned to marry Joanna of Portugal and at the same time have Elizabeth wed Duke Manuel of Beja.  Certainly it is true that Richard had to deny in public that he wished to marry Elizabeth, but it genuinely appears that this so-called proposed marriage was nothing more than gossip, much of it deliberately malicious, and the other possibly arising from pure misunderstanding. Why should anyone be surprised that courts were full of rumours about sex?- Look at how the modern press pairs celebrities up when they hardly even know each other!

Of course, Philippa Gregory is a fiction author so she is entitled to write whatever floats her boat. The public decides what it enjoys, and with her very hefty bank balance and millions of sales under her belt, people obviously enjoy her writing, accurate in historical content or not. Witchy Woodvilles, whistling down stormwinds isn’t exactly my thing, nor is the repetition of words/phrases and names that seem to be her trademark style, but clearly  the easy to read, first person, female format appeals to many readers.

However, the problem seem to be of late that Ms Gregory has assumed the designation of ‘historian’ in interviews and documentaries, and this self-appointment  has irked a few familiar faces, including the eminently irkable David Starkey and highly successful historical fiction author Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall. Doctor Gregory, as many of her fans call her, indeed has a doctorate …but it is not in history, medieval, Tudor or otherwise. Rather, it is in literature. Certainly many laymen have great knowledge of history and have come up with new discoveries and theories missed totally by accredited historians, but the problem seems to be when the lines of fiction/non-fiction blur due to the author’s own self-promotion and self-accreditation.  This is clear from the comments on the webpages dedicated to the new White Princess series; many viewers/readers are convinced that every word of the novel and the prequels  (and their tv versions) is true because the author ‘researches everything SO thoroughly and is a historian.’

No, she is a fiction writer with a long-term interest in history, using a reasonable amount of historical facts alongside some intriguing historical fictions (and of course history itself is full of myth, rumour and outright lies!) in order to make a rousing story. If Gregory is as well-versed  in history as she claims, she should be honest enough to at least admit that the affair between Richard and Elizabeth, as an example,  most likely never happened. Instead, she points selectively to anything that might ‘back up’ her book and completely ignores any evidence to the contrary. That is just self-promo and is indeed a far cry from what she herself said when TWP was still a work in progress–that of all her books it contained ‘the most fantasy.’

(That said, I don’t 100% agree with Hilary Mantel, either, who said she thought historical fiction writers should not add bibliographies into their novels as it implied they were non-fiction and the contents therefore  ‘true’. I believe a brief list should be included, in order to have the readers (hopefully) study more of the time periods involved and make up their own minds. )

So, dear viewers,  please take the White Princess with a pinch of salt – the Bosworth night fling, the rather aged and silent Francis Lovell, who now appears mysteriously in the story after being completely invisible in The White Queen, a letter of Buckingham (who is long dead) and other gaffs, along with Ms Gregory’s amazing claim in the article linked below that Richard III was ‘terrified’ of Elizabeth Woodville (Awk, say what? Why, did her weird whistling magic bother him that much?) Enjoy it, if it’s your thing, but  forget the ‘history’ part.

Fiction brings the past alive for many of us, me included, but let’s remember that’s what  it is. Fiction. However, I fear this plea will be in vain. After all, look how many people still think Shakespeare was  a historian and not a playwright!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/event/article-4406136/Historial-novelist-Philippa-Gregory.html

https://thecreationofanneboleyn.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/fact-fiction-and-philippa-gregory/

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Views over the site of Stoke Field….

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Oh, the penalty of working my way through the documentaries available on BBC iPlayer! I keep finding little nuggets of Ricardian interest. Tonight I chose “Crossing England in a Punt: River of Dreams”, the title of which is rather self-explanatory. Explorer Tom Fort punts his way from the birth of the River Trent in Staffordshire to its mouth in the Humber Estuary. Imagine how I sat up when right at the beginning, in the trailer, I spotted a portrait of Henry Tudor . What had he to do with the Trent, I wondered?

Then – ha! Of course. The Trent passes the site of Stoke Field, 1487, when the Earl of Lincoln’s Yorkists were defeated by Henry’s forces. Well, by the Earl of Oxford, actually, Henry didn’t arrive until it was virtually over.

The programme commenced, and was very enjoyable and interesting, but you can imagine how I was filled with eager anticipation when mention was made of Staythorpe Power Station. The Yorkist rebels under John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, and the banners of the so-called Lambert Simnel, were believed to have camped at Staythorpe before the battle, crossing the Trent in the early morning. Surely Tom Fort would mention the battle? After all, he’d mentioned Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Vikings. But no, not a word.

Hope faded as the punt moved on downstream, and I decided that Stoke Field was going to be overlooked. Then, suddenly, there it was. A large chunk of the programme was devoted to the story of the battle, with views over the field. We were shown where the Yorkists took up their positions along a low hill that stretched above the riverbank. When defeat was inevitable, the fleeing Yorkists were so crammed into a gully, pursued by the merciless enemy, that the place ran with blood and is still known as the Red Gutter. Mr Fort didn’t mention Francis Lovell, who is is said to have escaped by swimming his horse across the Trent. Nor the Earl of Lincoln, who was slain in the battle. It is said that Henry had him buried ignominiously and anonymously under a willow tree, with a willow stave through his heart.

So, my friends, if you want to sit in your armchairs and see where the last battle of the Wars of the Roses took place, go to iPlayer and take a look at this documentary. Tom Fort’s words were that it was where the White Rose of York had one final throw of the dice.

Several years ago, when I was researching for chapters of a book that concerned the battle of Stoke Field, I learned that the spring and area of the willow trees where Lincoln, his Landsknecht commander and others were buried so unceremoniously, has now been destroyed to make way for the new A46. There are still pictures of the spring, just before it vanished forever.

For further information about the battle and the area where it took place, the following links are useful:-

https://content.historicengland.org.uk/content/docs/battlefields/stoke.pdf

http://legacy.newarkadvertiser.co.uk/articles/news/Spring-that-ran-red-runs-dry

http://meanderingthroughtime.weebly.com/wars-of-the-roses-blog/battle-of-stoke-16th-june-1487

http://nottsvillages.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/east-stoke.html

Richard & Co on Facebook….!

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Don’t worry about not being able to read the letter that’s illustrated, just have a darned good laugh at Michi’s Blog, which is a hoot about how, among other things, Richard, his friends and enemies might communicate on Facebook. It’s mainly concerned with poor old Francis Lovell, so be warned. But well done, Michi!

Read, laugh and enjoy!

 

 

SIR WILLIAM STANLEY – TURNCOAT OR LOYALIST

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It is well documented how, through the treasonable and treacherous actions of Sir William Stanley at Bosworth, Richard lost his crown and his life. He was hacked to death after Stanley, who brought 3000 men with him, intervened at the crucial point when Richard, with his household cavalry in a heroic charge, came within a hair’s breadth of reaching Tudor and despatching him.  There is a story that after Richard’s crown was found under a hawthorn bush, it was Stanley who crowned him.

Sir William seems to have been one of those people who can run with the hounds and play with the foxes, doing well under Edward IV, who made him Chamberlain of Chester and, interestingly, Steward of the Prince of Wales’ Household(1).  Later Richard made Stanley Chief Justice of North Wales and finally Tudor made him Lord Chamberlain and Knight of the Garter.  It is said that Stanley – step-uncle to Tudor and brother-in-law to Margaret Beaufort – was one of the richest men in England.  Bacon estimated his income at 3000 pounds a year.  Stanley was also step-father to Francis Lovell, having married Lovell’s mother, Joan Beaumont,  widow of John Lovell, 8th Baron Lovell, but I digress!

Fast forward 10 years and it all ended ignominiously at Tower Hill, where Stanley was beheaded on 16 February 1495 for the treasonable act of communicating with Perkin Warbeck.  Stanley was accused of telling Robert Clifford, who informed on him, that if he was sure Perkin was indeed Edward’s son ‘he would never take up arms against him’.

The question I am raising here is not so much about Stanley’s interminable fence-sitting, which is common knowledge  – and a penchant he shared with his brother Thomas – but rather, did Sir William, an apparent dyed-in-the-wool turncoat, capable of the greatest untrustworthiness, actually possess a latent streak of honour, perhaps dating from the time when he was Steward to the Princes of Wales’ Household?  Did his time there give birth to a fierce loyalty to Edward’s sons, that later emerged with such a passion that he risked all, absolutely all,  when he joined the Perkin Warbeck plot?  Did he grow fond of young Edward, later focusing this affection on Edward’s brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, whom Warbeck purported to be?  OR, was he, as the historian Gairdner (2) suggested, merely attempting to secure his position in the event of an invasion?

(1)  Ramsay, Lancaster and York, ii 482

(2) W A J Archbold ‘Sir William Stanley and Perkin Warbeck’ English Historical Review 14( 1899) pp 529-534. ‘On 14 March (year unknown) Gairdner suggested in a note to Archbold that Stanley may ‘simply have wanted to secure his position with both sides in case of an invasion’.  I am grateful for this information which I have gleaned from Helen Maurer’s ‘Whodunit – The Suspects in the Case’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Book Released About ‘Dickon’!

I and my friend, Susan Lamb, have just released our first (but hopefully not last) collaboration, ‘Dickon’s Diaries’ – a collection of anecdotes from our favourite king about his life in ‘Muddleham’ with Anne, his ‘quene’, and his ‘loyalle servaunt’, Lovell. It is based on the popular Facebook page, ‘Dickon for his Dames’, but is 95 percent new material and takes the form of a diary recounting humorous anecdotes and scrapes that he, Anne and Lovell (mainly Lovell) get into while living part in mediaeval times and yet interacting with modern technology.

Dickon is very popular with his ‘Dames’, who tend to swoon when in his presence and try their utmost to get closer to him. He finds some technology – his boxe of movyng pictures, YeBay and his boxe of coloured lights very helpful, but others are a problem, such as his ‘pingyng flashbox’ by which he sends texts to Lovell to remind him to fetch Jaffa Cakes from Tess-co.

If you would like to see some examples of the type of humour, ‘like’ our page, ‘Dickon for his Dames’ and take a look. Or ‘Look inside’ on Amazon by clicking on the picture below:

Cover of 'Dickon's Diaries'

 

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