Hotspur and the Percys 1377-1461

Hotspur and the Percys 1377-1461

The Percys were the most powerful Northumberland barons in the Middle Ages, matched only in the north by the Nevilles of Durham and Yorkshire. As Earls of Northumberland, the Percys were the chief defenders of the Scottish Border and they held the great castles at Alnwick, Warkworth, Bamburgh and Prudhoe. The most famous Percy was ‘Harry Hotspur’, who fought against the Scottish Earl of Douglas at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388.

Alnwick Castle and the Lion Bridge. the lion is the symbol of the Percys. Photo: David Simpson.

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June 22 1377 – KING RICHARD II

Richard II, the son of Edward the Black Prince, and grandson of Edward III, becomes the King of England.

July 16 1377 – Percy is Earl of Northumberland

At Richard II’s coronation, the Yorkshire based-baron Henry Percy, becomes ‘first’ Earl of Northumberland, a title revived from Anglo-Saxon times.

Raby Castle
Raby Castle © David Simpson 2018

1378 – Neville builds Raby Castle

John Neville is granted a licence to build a castle at Raby by Bishop Thomas Hatfield. A market and an annual fair are granted to nearby Staindrop.

1378 – Newcastle coal shipments

Newcastle is shipping some 15,000 tons of coal per year with its export market including parts of Europe.

Prudhoe Castle.
Prudhoe Castle. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1381 – Percys of Prudhoe

Last year John of Gaunt, Earl of Lancaster and Lieutenant of the Marches, inherited Dunstanburgh Castle. This year the Percys inherit Prudhoe Castle.

1384 – Scots smash Northumberland castles

Ford Castle is taken by the Scots; Wark and Cornhill Tower are destroyed and the Scots raid Durham and Cumberland.

Brancepeth Castle
Brancepeth Castle. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Aug 6, 1388 – Scots attack Newcastle and Brancepeth

Scots under William Douglas raid Durham as far south as Brancepeth. On return the Scots engage in a skirmish at Newcastle. English forces under Harry ‘Hotspur’ Percy are safe behind Newcastle’s walls.

Redesdale scene
A Redesdale scene near Otterburn © David Simpson 2020

Aug 19, 1388 – The Battle of Otterburn

While the Scots under Douglas encamp at Otterburn on return to Scotland, Harry Hotspur heads north from Newcastle to attack them. Hot-headed Hotspur does not wait for the Bishop of Durham’s troops to join him. In the darkness, his troops attack Scottish servants and camp followers by mistake. This group fights back and alert the main force of Scots. Hotspur loses over 1,000 troops in the battle, Douglas only 200. Hotspur’s men flee but Douglas is killed despite his victory. Hotspur and his brother Ralph Percy are taken prisoner by the Scots and are later released on ransom.

Lumley Castle
Lumley Castle. Photo © John Simpson

1389 – Lumley Castle

Tynemouth priory is plundered by Scots under the Earl of Murray. Meanwhile Lumley castle is being built by Ralph, Lord of Lumley near Chester-le-Street.

1396 – Coal shipped from Sunderland

There is a record of coal shipped from the River Wear at Wearmouth to Whitby Abbey on the Yorkshire coast.

1397 – Raby Nevilles become earls

The Nevilles of Raby Castle gain the title Earls of Westmorland.

1399- 1400 – Richard II imprisoned

Richard II, criticised for ‘favouritism’, is imprisoned by Parliament at Knaresborough Castle and later moved to Pontefract Castle where he is murdered or starved to death. Henry IV, son of John of Gaunt usurps the throne with the support of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. King Henry raids Scotland.

Knaresborough Castle
Knaresborough Castle © David Simpson 2021

Sep 30 1399 – KING HENRY IV

Henry Bolingbroke, the new Earl of Lancaster who is the son of John of Gaunt who died this year, becomes King of England after overthrowing Richard II.

Yarm Bridges

Bridges over the Tees linking Yarm and Eaglescliffe with Victorian viaduct in the background. Photo © David Simpson

1400 – Yarm Bridge

A bridge is built across the Tees by Walter Skirlaw, the Bishop of Durham. Egglescliffe and Yarm had previously been linked by a ford.

1400 – Newcastle a county

Newcastle, within its walls, becomes a county in its own right. The castle remains within the county of Northumberland.

The Bendor Stone
The Bendor Stone near Humbleton Hill. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1402 – Battle of Humbleton Hill

Scots under Earl Archibold Douglas attack Newcastle. They are stopped by the English under Earl Percy at Humbleton Hill near Wooler and are defeated in battle. Later, the Percys fall into disagreement with the English king over Scottish prisoners taken in the battle and rebel against him.

Warkworth Castle
Warkworth Castle, home to Harry Hotspur. It was the principal residence of the Percys from around 1332. Photo © David Simpson 2018

July 21, 1403 – Hotspur killed in battle

Harry Hotspur Percy is killed in battle at Shrewsbury fighting against Henry IV. Hotspur raised a rebellion in Cheshire but the king intercepted him before he could join the forces of his father, the Earl of Northumberland. King Henry orders that Hotspur’s head be sent to his widow. On August 11, Hotspur’s father, Henry Percy, submits to the king at York.

June  5, 1405 – Archbishop Scrope executed

Earl Henry Percy joins a rebellion against the king organised by Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York, but Scrope is captured and executed at York. Percy takes refuge in Scotland after the rebellion is defeated.

1406 – Scottish king captured off Yorkshire coast

King James I of Scotland, aged 11, is captured by pirates off Flamborough Head. He was heading to safety in France, but is imprisoned in various parts of England for the next 18 years.

The Medieval bridge at Newcastle
The Medieval bridge at Newcastle

1408 – Percy limbs on Tyne Bridge

Percy is killed at Bramham Moor fighting Henry IV. His limbs are placed on the Tyne Bridge as a warning to rebels. Hotspur’s son Henry succeeds as Earl.

Mar 20 1413 – KING HENRY V

Henry IV dies and is succeeded by his son Henry V.

Yeavering Bell
Yeavering Bell. Northumberland, a battle was fought nearby Photo © David Simpson 2018

July 22, 1414 – Battle at Yeavering

Scots are defeated in a battle at Yeavering, near Wooler, by Sir Robert Umfraville.

1415 – Bishop regains part of Tyne Bridge

The Bishop of Durham obtains a suit from the King’s Court recovering his third of the Tyne Bridge taken from him by the Newcastle mayor. It seems that the bishop had not been properly maintaining his third of the bridge, an annoyance and inconvenience to Newcastle trade.

1416 – Prior Washington

John De Washington become the Prior of Durham, one of the most powerful positions between the Tyne and Tees. His coat of arms features stars and stripes.

1417 – Percy is Border warden

Henry V appoints Earl Henry Percy as Warden of the East and Middle Marches. He will have responsibility for maintaining control in the Northumberland sections of the border.

Durham Cathedral from Gilesgate
Durham Cathedral from Gilesgate. Photo © David Simpson

1417 – Newcastle women arrested for dressing as men at Durham Cathedral

Two Newcastle women were arrested after dressing up as men to visit St. Cuthbert’s shrine at Durham Cathedral. According to Benedictine rules, women are not allowed to approach the shrine. As punishment, Matilda Burgh and Margaret Usher walk in a process ion dressed in men’s apparel.

1419 – Scots capture Wark

Scots capture Wark-on-Tweed Castle from Richard Ogle.

Sep 1  1422 – KING HENRY VI

Henry V dies and is succeeded by his son Henry VI. He is the third monarch from the Royal House of Lancaster.

Elvet Bridge
Durham. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Mar 28, 1424 – Hostages exchanged at Durham

James, King of Scotland, a prisoner since 1406, is given freedom in exchange for English hostages at Durham City. The Treaty of Durham is signed in the hope of bringing peace to the Borders.

1429 – Cathedral hit by lightning

During a dreadful storm, a bolt of lightning hits the belfry tower of Durham Cathedral, causing a fire.

Dec 15, 1430 – Truce renewed at York

The Anglo- Scottish truce is renewed.

The Hotspur gate, Alnwick from Bondgate Within. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1434 – Town walls for Alnwick

Permission is given for town walls to be built at Alnwick

Sep 10, 1436 – Battle of Piper Dene

Scots under William Douglas, Earl of Angus, defeat the English under Henry Percy in a minor skirmish, though the location of the battle is far from certain – possibly a couple of miles to the south of Wark-on-Tweed.

1442 – Guild of Barber Surgeons

The Guild of Barber Surgeons is established in Newcastle.

1446 – King confirms monks’ rights at North Shields

Henry VI confirms the trading rights of the Thnemouth monks at North Shields. For two centuries the monks have been operating a port at North Shields much to the agravation of Newcastle further up stream.

1448 – King Henry visits St Cuthbert’s shrine

Henry VI makes a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Cuthbert .

1448 – Bishop gives Gateshead hospital to Newcastle nuns

The Bishop of Durham has given the hospital of St Edmund at Gateshead to the nuns of St Bartholmew in newcastle after their nunndery was destroyed in a fire. The nuns would use the site until its closure by Henry VIII.

1452 – Keelmen

Keelmen are listed amongst the Newcastle trades. They ferry coal to collier ships on the Tyne in their keel boats.

1455 – Earl of Northumberland killed in battle

Henry Percy is killed in battle at St. Alban’s fighting for the Lancastrian cause, in the first battle in the Wars of the Roses.

Old postcard showing Berwick
Old postcard showing Berwick.

1457 – James fails to take Berwick

James II of Scotland fails in an attempt to take Berwick which has been in English hands since 1333.

1460 – Scottish king killed in Roxburgh accident

James II, King of Scotland, is killed by an exploding cannon at Roxburgh in the Scottish borders.

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