Francis Lovell, 1st Viscount Lovell

Born: c. 1457

Died: c. 1488 (Age c. 31)


Lovell in History

Francis Lovell's father John passed away when he was a young boy, and his lands and possessions were left to the charge of the Earl of Warwick, a man who had been instrumental in putting Edward IV on the throne. Warwick, however, was killed at Barnet after turning against the king, and Lovell then became the ward of the Duke of Suffolk, Edward IV's brother-in-law, until he came of age in 1477. By the 1480s he seems to have come under the influence of the king's brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester (who knighted him), and participated in the Scottish campaigns of the early 1480s with him. For this reason, it is by no means a surprise that Lovell's political fortunes rose when Gloucester usurped the throne from his young nephew in 1483 (Edward IV had died suddenly earlier that year). Lovell was made the king's chamberlain, chief butler of England and created a Knight of the Garter all in the first several months of the new king's reign. When the Duke of Buckingham (another close supporter of Richard's accession to the throne) rebelled against the king, Lovell remained loyal and did his part in putting down the rebellion.

His loyalty remained constant throughout Richard III's short reign, but by 1485, a new contender to the throne came to press a claim in the form of the Earl of Richmond. Richard III's forces were defeated at Bosworth, with the king himself being killed in the action. Some accounts claim Lovell was also killed in the battle, but it became clear he had survived and became a wanted man by the new King Henry VII. He was attainted by the king and fled into sanctuary. He and several others of Richard III's former followers attempted to mount a rebellion the year following the new king's accession, but this came to nothing. The real threat came in 1487 when Lovell joined forces with the Earl of Lincoln (a nephew of Richard III who the late king had apparently named as his heir). The two Ricardian loyalists proceeded to champion a young boy named Lambert Simnel as the true King of England. Simnel claimed to be Edward, Earl of Warwick, son of George, Duke of Clarence, an elder brother of Richard III (the real Warwick was actually in prison). The rebels invaded England from Ireland, but Henry VII reacted swiftly and met them at Stoke, where Lincoln's army was soundly defeated and the earl himself killed. Simnel, who was looked at as a mere pawn of Lincoln, was pardoned and given a job in the royal kitchen. Lovell was, once again, forced to flee. By 1488, he is said to have fled to Scotland, where he was allowed entry by James IV, and there is some evidence (although highly inconclusive) that he may have been alive in 1489. The most likely explanation is that Lovell died as a hunted rebel in Scotland in 1488, a man who chose the wrong man to be loyal to.

Lovell in Shakespeare

Appears in: Richard III

Lovell is one of Richard III's henchmen, along with Catesby and Ratcliffe, in the play of the same name; the most significant task he was assigned was the execution of Lord Hastings.


Horrox, Rosemary. ‘Lovell, Francis, Viscount Lovell (b. c.1457, d. in or after 1488)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 5 Jan 2010]

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