The Rat, the Cat, and Lovell the Dog....

The old ditty goes:
The Rat, the Cat, and Lovell the Dog
Ruled all of England under the Hog.

OK, so the Hog is Richard III (The one in the tank, did you see the movie?), The Rat and Cat are two ministers.

Lovell the Dog is Francis, the First Viscount Lovell, who may have died in 1488. OK, so I was picking through some literary stuff and this doggrel was mentioned. It said that Lovell seems to have starved to death as his body was found sealed in a vault many years after his disappearance.

WTF? Who did this and why? It is not one of the standard crimes Richard III is accused off. Did he do it, or was it the Lancastrians? Where the heck was this vault? When was the body discovered? Was Geraldo Rivera there to cover the opening?

Oddly, I can find nothing of this on the net. (Well, I only looked for half an hour, but still.)

William Catesby and (IIRC Thomas) Ratclyffe were “the Cat and the Rat” respectively, for reasons that I think are adequately clear. The three of them were among Richard’s most loyal retainers.

“The Hog,” by the way, has nothing to do with Richard’s habits but references his badge of the white boar passant.

(“The one in the tank”? That was Edward and Richard’s brother George of Clarence, if “the tank” is the big butt of wine in which he was drowned.)

Surprising in itself, as he was accused of causing damn near every bad thing in England. (That said, IMO he was guilty, guilty, guilty of having the princes killed, but not guilty of most of the things Tudor propagandists pinned on him later.)

Lovell being imprisoned and starving to death, by the way, would have been Henry Tudor’s little effort at Schrechlichkeit – Lovell was very loyal to Richard, right up until the end.

IIRC, Francis Viscount Lovell participated in the Battle of Stowe in 1487, the last gasp of the Wars of the Roses, supporting a Yorkist pretender to the throne almost two years after Richard’s death.

He was (according to my spotty memory of the period; it’s amazing how things fade after 500 years…) either killed in battle (The Yorkists lost.) or captured and put in the custody of Henry Tudor. I hadn’t heard of his body having been discovered later…but it wouldn’t surprise me that Henry put him in an oubliette. Henry was like that.

“Oubliette” is my new word of the day. I will try to use it at every chance.
So the way Lovell died is at least unclear?

A link to more data on Lovell’s death is clearly needed here.

(There was a movie version of Richard III made few years ago set in a 1930s Fascist England. Richard was the one who was in front of the tank in the opening sequence.)

Yeah. Ian McKellan was Richard.

Recommended novel: Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, in which a hospitalized detective, bored out of his wits, is convinced by a friend to “investigate” the death of the Princes in the Tower, using what materials she can provide him from history sources.

Rosemary Horrox’s entry on him in the Oxford DNB is dismissive of the claim that he was captured and walled up. She points to the fact that he is known to have been granted safe conduct by James IV in June 1488, over a year after the battle of Stoke, making it likely that he had fled to Scotland. It is certainly evidence that he was then still free. That’s the last confirmed reference to him.

Thank you. Good information. What is the Oxford NDB?

National Dictionary of Biographies?

With the caveat that it’s extremely Ricardian.

Oxford DNB

And rather dated. The scholarship on the subject has moved on. Even most hardline Ricardians would now agree that she points the figure at the wrong person. Which is rather ironic after all her indignation about historians unfairly blaming Richard.

It’s been a while since I’ve read it Does she say the murderer was Henry VII?

Current Ricardian thought blames it on Buckingham, doesn’t it?

Correct and correct, mostly.

There are still widely varying opinions on the whole mess but the thought that the culprit was the Duke of B has been gaining wider support. I think it very unlikely that scholars and amateur historians will ever agree more than 60% on one person.
One interesting footnote to the situation is that, some years later, Henry Tudor’s court historian Polydore Virgel, was accused of having burned wagonloads of documents from the critical years in order to ensure that his own version of history, a Tudor hagiography, would prevail.

Because of that, it is extremely unlikely that we’ll ever know exactly what happened to whom in detail.

And APB, thanks for the correction. That’s the battle of Stoke, not Stowe.

Yes, and the reason for the shift in opinion since Tey published The Daughter of Time in 1951 is that informed opinion on both sides now mostly agrees that the princes were probably dead by the end of 1483. Not unaminity, of course, but that is certainly now the most favoured view. Once you accept that, Tey’s candidate begins to look particularly implausible.