On 19th June 1488, James IV of Scotland granted a safe passage to Lord Lovell.
Francis Lovell had been one of King Richard IIIs closest friends and advisors. He served under Richard on the Scottish campaigns and within his household. When Richard was Lord Protector he appointed Lovell as Constable of Wallingford Castle. Upon his accession to the throne King Richard brought Lovell into the higher positions of government, appointing him as Lord Chamberlain and making him a Knight of the Garter. His closeness to King Richard was such that his influence was ridiculed in a contemporary rhyme:
The Catte, the Ratte and Lovell our dog,
Rulyth England under a Hogge.
The insinuation being that Lovell was King Richard’s lapdog (Richard being the hog in the rhyme on account of his White Boar symbol).
Lovell and the Tudor Invasion
Lovell was so trusted by Richard that he was placed in command of defences along the south coast to fend off the expected invasion of Henry Tudor. As Tudor landed at Milford Haven, Lovell’s strategy was not put to the test and he joined with Richard and the royal army once the news reached him. He fought at Bosworth and escaped, though some contemporary accounts had believed him to have died on the field of battle.
Sanctuary at Colchester
In the immediate aftermath of Bosworth, Lovell sought sanctuary at Colchester before heading north to Yorkshire where sympathies for the Yorkist cause were strong. Here he had a plot foiled but was soon alerted to a new plan, that of placing the pretender, Lambert Simnel, on the throne. Lovell joined with the Earl of Lincoln in organising the venture. As one of the senior commanders of the army, he helped to recruit and, knowing the north of England well, was ideally placed to advise on routes, areas most sympathetic and potential areas where the marching Yorkist army may face stiff resistance.
He fought at the Battle of Stoke Field and reports show that he survived and escaped. Curiously, nobody knows where to. On 19th June 1487, a safe-conduct in his name was issued in Scotland. Yet there is no evidence that he ever travelled to Scotland to make use of it. Indeed, he vanishes from the historical record. One legend has it that he lived out his final years as a hermit in a cave.