Who was Hotspur?
Sir Henry Percy - Hotspur
Sir Henry Percy
Hotspur - Arms
A Statue of Sir Henry Percy - Hotspur, in the centre of Alnwick
A statue of Hotpsur at Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle, Hotspur's Birthplace
Sir Henry Percy (20 May 1364 – 21 July 1403), commonly known as Sir Harry Hotspur, or simply Hotspur, was a late-medieval English nobleman.
Henry Percy was born on 20 May 1364 at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, the eldest son of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, and Margaret Neville, daughter of Ralph de Neville, 2nd Lord Neville of Raby, and Alice de Audley.
He was knighted by King Edward III in April 1377, together with the future Kings Richard II and Henry IV. In 1380, he was in Ireland with the Earl of March and, in 1383, he travelled in Prussia. He was appointed warden of the East March on 30 July 1384 and in 1385 accompanied Richard II on an expedition into Scotland.
"As a tribute to his speed in advance and readiness to attack" on the Scottish borders, the Scots bestowed on him the name 'Haatspore'.
In April 1386, he was sent to France to reinforce the garrison at Calais and led raids into Picardy. Between August and October 1387, he was in command of a naval force in an attempt to relieve the siege of Brest.
In appreciation of these military endeavours he was made a Knight of the Garter in 1388. Reappointed as warden of the East March, he commanded the English forces against James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Douglas, at the Battle of Otterburn on 10 August 1388, where he was captured but soon ransomed for a fee of 7,000 marks.
During the next few years Percy's reputation continued to grow. He was sent on a diplomatic mission to Cyprus in June 1393 and appointed Lieutenant of the Duchy of Aquitaine (1394–98) on behalf of John of Gaunt, Duke of Aquitaine. He returned to England in January 1395, taking part in Richard II's expedition to Ireland and was back in Aquitaine the following autumn. In the summer of 1396, he was again in Calais.
Percy's military and diplomatic service brought him substantial marks of royal favour in the form of grants and appointments but, despite this, the Percy family decided to support Henry Bolingbroke, the future Henry IV, in his rebellion against Richard II. On Henry's return from exile in June 1399, Percy and his father joined his forces at Doncaster and marched south with them. After King Richard's deposition, Percy and his father were “lavishly rewarded” with lands and offices.
Under the new king, Percy had extensive civil and military responsibility in both the East March towards Scotland and in north Wales, where he was appointed High Sheriff of Flintshire in 1399. In north Wales, he was under increasing pressure as a result of the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr.
In March 1402, Henry IV appointed Percy royal lieutenant in north Wales and, on 14 September 1402, Percy, his father and the Earl of Dunbar and March were victorious against a Scottish force at the Battle of Homildon Hill. Among others, they made a prisoner of Archibald Douglas, 4th Earl of Douglas. For this victory, the king awarded him the borough of Tottenham, which is the historical link between Tottenham Hotspur Football club, Hotspur & Alnwick.
He was a significant captain during the Anglo-Scottish wars. He later led successive rebellions against Henry IV of England and was slain at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 at the height of his career.