Sir Henry Percy ‘Henry Hotspur’ 1364 – 1403

Henry Hotspur Percy was a notable nobleman in 14th century England.

He was known for his extensive participation in the military expeditions of England at the time and earned the reputation of being a formidable knight on the battlefield.

Henry Hotspur Percy

Henry Hotspur Percy

His prowess in combat and warfare ultimately earned him the title of “Hotspur” as well as other laurels and titles from English monarchs.

However, by 1403, Percy and his family had become estranged from English King Henry IV and launched a rebellion against the King. The rebellion was unsuccessful and Henry Hotspur Percy was killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.

Military Career

In 1385 and over the subsequent years, Percy played a significant role in English campaigns into Scottish border regions.

It was his propensity to launch quick and fierce attacks on Scottish borders that Percy earned the nickname “Hotspur” from his Scottish enemies.

Famous Medieval Knight Henry Hotspur

Henry Percy was named “Hotspur” by the Scots after he successfully launched rapid and fierce raids into Scottish border regions.

In 1386, he went to France to participate in the ongoing Anglo-French military conflict and led many attacks against the French.

Battle of Castillon

The following year, he led another attack against the French as the commander of a naval army trying to relieve the English garrison at Brest. Richard II acknowledged Percy’s military achievements by making him a Knight of the Garter in 1388.

King Richard II Portrait Medieval Kings

King Richard II Portrait Medieval Kings

Political Career

During the reign of Richard II, Percy rapidly rose in political authority on the basis of his military achievements. He represented Richard II in a 1393 expedition to Cyprus and was subsequently granted a governorship in the Duchy of Aquitaine.

Medieval Coat of Arms KIng Richard II

The Coat of Arms of Medieval King Richard II of England

In 1399, Percy made a fateful decision by siding with Henry IV who had returned from exile to lay claim to the English throne and depose Richard II.

After Henry succeeded in gaining the crown, Percy received lands, grants, and other royal favors further augmenting his political power.

Knights of the Garter Coat of Arms

The Knights of the Garter Windsor Castle St George Hall Windsor Castle

Until his rebellion in 1403, Percy received a number of military and political responsibilities along the Scottish border and in Wales, making him a formidable authority in both regions.

‘Henry Hotspur Percy’Interesting Facts

  • Henry Hotspur Percy was one of the most successful English military leaders of the 14th century.
  • He was named “Hotspur” by the Scots after he successfully launched rapid and fierce raids into Scottish border regions.
  • He rebelled against Henry IV in 1403 but the rebellion failed after he was killed on the battlefield.
  • He died at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, fighting against the army of the Prince of Wales.

Rebellion against Henry IV

Although Percy was lavishly granted a number of favors by Henry IV and was one of the most powerful noblemen in England at the time, many vital disagreements between him and the English monarch arose.

These eventually erupted in a rebellion launched by the Percy family in 1403 near Shrewsbury.

Battle of Shrewsbury

Battle of Shrewsbury

Percy led a sizable army together with his uncle but his father’s army was slow to join him. Consequently, he had to face the much larger army of the Prince of Wales. In the ensuing Battle of Shrewsbury, Percy was killed in the thick of combat.

His death struck a critical blow to the morale of his troops who then fled the battlefield, deciding the conflict in favor of Henry IV.

Depiction by Shakespeare

The character of Henry Hotspur Percy was particularly popularized in the subsequent centuries by his portrayal in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV”.

Although embellished with many fictional elements, the character was depicted as being a formidable warrior who fell in 1403 at the hands of the Prince Of Wales, this latter being a fictional invention.

William Shakespeare Portrait