Viscount Lovell

 

  • Richest of the Rich position: 117
  • Birth/Death: 1454-c1487
  • Origin of wealth: Land
  • Wealth: £25,000
  • Net National Income: £4.6m
  • Net National Income Percent: 0.54%
  • In Today’s Money: £5.993 billion

The beautiful medieval manor at Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire was having a new chimney installed in 1708, when the builders discovered a vault. Upon opening it, they found a skeleton sitting at a table with a book open, pen and paper beside it. The tableau dissolved into dust in minutes. This is how the richest man of his generation died, of starvation in his own house, having fled there over two hundred years earlier to escape a vengeful Henry VII who Lovell had tried to depose in 1487.

Lovell was born to wealth and was a high aristocrat. In 1483, he was Chief Butler of England and a close friend and adviser to Richard III. While he lasted Lovell prospered. He fought at Bosworth in 1485, but escaped when Richard was killed. The remainder of Lovell’s life was spent in revolt against Henry VII. His last battle was at Stoke in 1487, where it was thought that Lovell was killed, until he was spotted swimming the Trent on horseback. He made it back to Minster Lovell, and to the vault.

His capacity to raise revolts and wage war was related to his vast wealth and lands, which peaked at £25,000 at a time when net national income stood at £4.6m. This would be worth £5.9bn in modern money. Most of his assets were attained in 1485, and handed over to Henry VII’s mother.

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