Harry 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.
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 becomes an Earl
At Richard II’s coronation, the Yorkshire based-baron Henry Percy, becomes ‘first’ Earl of Northumberland, a title revived from Anglo-Saxon times.
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 an export market including parts of Europe.
1378 – Crook
Crook in the Wear valley is recorded as ‘le Croke next Brauncepeth’ in 1378. Crook is named from a secluded nook of land that was probably formed by the Beechburn Beck.
1381 – Gaunt owns Dunstanburgh
Last year John of Gaunt, Earl of Lancaster and Lieutenant of the Marches inherited Dunstanburgh Castle. This year the Percys inherited 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.
1386 – Whitton Tower
Whitton Tower, a pele tower near Rothbury is built by the Umfravilles, Lords of Harbottle.
Aug 6, 1388 – Scots raid to 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 (the son of the Earl of Northumberland) are safe behind Newcastle’s walls.
Aug 19, 1388 – 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.
1389 – Lumley Castle
1390 – North Shields
‘Shields’ had begun actively trading as a port again by a this year despite attempts by Newcastle to kerb its trade. It was about this time that it came to be called ‘North Shields’ rather than ‘Shields’ to distinguish it from the other Shields across the river.
1396 – Coal shipped from Sunderland
1397 – Raby Nevilles become earls
The Nevilles of Raby Castle in the County of Durham gain the title Earls of Westmorland.
1399 to 1400 – King Richard II murdered
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.
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.
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
The town of Newcastle enclosed within its walls, becomes a county in its own right. The castle remains within the county of Northumberland.
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.
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. Scrope is captured and executed at York. Percy takes refuge in Scotland after the rebellion is defeated.
1406 – Scottish king captured off 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.
1408 – Percy limbs on Tyne Bridge
Earl Percy is killed at Bramham Moor fighting Henry IV. His limbs are placed on the Tyne Bridge as a warning to rebels. The earl is succeeded by Henry, the son of Harry Hotspur.
1410 – Witton Castle
Sir Ralph Eure is granted retrospective permission by the Bishop of Durham for converting his manor house near Witton-le-Wear into a castle. Sir Ralph had already undertaken the conversion without a licence to crenellate.
Mar 20, 1413 – KING HENRY V
Henry IV dies and is succeeded by his son Henry V as King of England.
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 is claimed 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 becomes the Prior of Durham, one of the most powerful positions between the Tyne and Tees. His coat of arms features Stars and Stripes and today he is recalled by a plaque in Durham Cathedral.
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.
1417 – Women arrested 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 procession at Newcastle dressed in men’s apparel.
1419 – Scots capture Wark
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.
Mar 28, 1424 – Hostages exchanged
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.
1430 – Death of Roger Thornton
Powerful merchant and wool trader, Roger Thornton has died. Later known as Newcastle’s Dick Whittington, he was the mayor of the town nine times and also served as a Newcastle MP.
Dec 15, 1430 – Truce renewed at York
The Anglo-Scottish truce is renewed.
1431 – Bradley Hall
Bradley Hall, a manor house near Wolsingham in Weardale is crenellated (fortified as a castle) by Cardinal Langley, Bishop of Durham, as a defence against the Scots and other raiders.
1434 – Town walls for Alnwick
Permission is given for town walls to be built at Alnwick
1436 – Disobedient nuns
Standards and morals of nuns at the convent of Neasham near Darlington are under investigation by the Rector of Houghton on the instigation of the Bishop of Durham.
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. Barber surgeons are responsible for medical surgery and amputations.
1446 – King confirms North Shields rights
Henry VI confirms the trading rights of the Tynemouth monks at North Shields. For two centuries the monks have been operating a port at North Shields much to the aggravation of Newcastle further up stream.
1448 – King Henry visits Cuthbert shrine
Henry VI makes a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Cuthbert at Durham Cathedral.
1448 – Newcastle nuns’ Gateshead hospital
The Bishop of Durham has given the hospital of St Edmund at Gateshead to the nuns of St Bartholomew in Newcastle after their nunnery was destroyed in a fire. The nuns will use this site up 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
Henry Percy is killed in battle at St. Alban’s in Hertfordshire fighting for the Lancastrian cause. It is the first battle in the Wars of the Roses.
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 accident
James II, King of Scotland, is killed by an exploding cannon at Roxburgh in the Scottish borders.