Henry 'Hotspur' Percy

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Sir Henry Percy, also called Harry Hotspur (20 May 1364/1366 – 21 July 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 and Alice de Audley. His nickname, 'Hotspur', is suggestive of his impulsive nature. His date of death is known but not the exact year of birth.

Contents

Early career

There are rumours that Harry was born at Spofforth Castle in Yorkshire, Alnwick Castle in Alnwick, Northumberland, and Warkworth Castle in Warkworth, Northumberland.[1] He early 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 midnight 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. He also was the co-commander with his father in the Battle of Humbleton Hill.

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 after the battle, was said to have wept and ordered the body buried. Hotspur was buried in Whitchurch, Shropshire, but was later exhumed, by order of the same king, when rumours circulated that he was still alive. His body was first displayed in Shrewsbury, impaled on a spear, but was later cut up into four quarters and sent around all of England. His head was stuck on a pole at York's gates.

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