Order to transfer the Earl of Oxford from Calais to London

On 28th October 1484┬áRichard III ordered the Earl of Oxford’s transfer from imprisonment in Calais to the more secure gaol at the Tower of London. By the time the order reaches Calais, the Earl has already escaped.

John de Vere, Earl of Oxford

John de Vere Earl of Oxford, had been a thorn in the side of the Yorkists. He was a proven and capable commander in battle. In 1471, the Earl of Oxford prevented Edward IV from landing in Norfolk, which could quite easily have been catastrophic for the Yorkist cause.

At the battle of Barnet, his battle was, if anything, too successful. His men superbly forced Lord Hastings’ men into retreat, but in the fog, were then mistaken for King Edward’s force and attacked by archers from their own army. Oxford, his brothers, and Lord Beaumont escaped Barnet. They went to France where Oxford orchestrated raids, on Calais and the Essex coast, before capturing and holding St. Michael’s Mount for 22 months.

Imprisonment of the Earl of Oxford at Hammes

He was imprisoned for this in 1474 and attained in 1475. His place of imprisonment was Hammes Castle, part of the English held Calais Pale.

Order to transfer the Earl of Oxford from Calais to London

The risk of an invasion under the banner of Henry Tudor made Oxford a critical prisoner. He could be an asset for the Tudors, so on 28th October 1484, King Richard III ordered his immediate transfer to the Tower of London.

However, Oxford had heard of the invasion plan and persuaded his gaoler to change his allegiance to the Lancastrian cause. By the time the message to transfer the Earl reached Calais, he had already escaped, joining Henry Tudor. Oxford went on to command part of the Tudor army at the Battle of Bosworth.


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