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Harry Hotspur Percy

Henry Percy

Sir Henry Percy, also called Harry Hotspur

(May 20, 1364/1366 July 21, 1403)

was the eldest son of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, 4th Lord Percy of Alnwick.

His mother was Margaret Neville, daughter of Ralph Neville, 2nd Baron Neville de Raby (c. 1291 - 1367) and Alice de Audley.

His nickname is suggestive of his impulsive nature. His date of birth is known but not the exact year of birth.


* 1 Early career * 2 Rebellion and death * 3 Marriage and children * 4 Further reading

Early career

Harry acquired a great reputation as a warrior, fighting against the Scots and the French. He fought against the Scottish forces of James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas at the Battle of Otterburn in August, 1388 and was captured, but later ransomed. He went to Calais in 1391 and served as governor of Bordeaux from 1393 to 1395.

After his return from Valois Dynasty France, Harry joined with his father and helped depose King Richard II in favour of Henry of Bolingbroke, who later became King Henry IV.

Rebellion and death

Later with his paternal uncle Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester, he led a rebellion against Henry IV in 1403, forming an alliance with the Welsh rebel, Owain Glyndŵr. Before they could join forces, Hotspur was defeated and killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury when he raised his visor to get some air (as he was wearing plate armour which restricted air circulation) and was immediately hit in the mouth with an arrow and killed instantly.

Henry IV, upon being brought the body, was said to have wept and ordered the body buried. He was buried in Whitchurch, Shropshire, but the king then decided to make an example to all those who would rebel; His body was exhumed, cut up into four quarters and sent around all of England. His head was stuck on a pole at York's gates. He is a major character in William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, though in the play he is portrayed as being of the same age as his main rival Prince Hal (Henry V of England), when in fact Hotspur was considerably older.

Marriage and children

He married Lady Elizabeth de Mortimer, daughter of Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March and Philippa. Philippa was daughter of Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence and Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster. Lionel was son of Edward III of England and his consort Philippa of Hainault.

Harry and Elizabeth had three children:

* Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland (3 February 1392/1393 22 May 1455).

* Lady Elizabeth Percy (d. 26 October 1437). She married Thomas Clifford, 8th Lord Clifford in 1404. They were great-great-grandparents of Jane Seymour, third Queen consort of Henry VIII of England.

* Matilda Percy. Believed to have died young.

Further reading

* Rose, Alexander: Kings in the North - The House of Percy in British History. Phoenix/Orion Books Ltd, 2002, ISBN 1-84212-485-4 (722 pages paperback)

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The Percy family

Henry Percy...did he write Shakespeare?

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