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Sir Henry Percy

Percy, Sir Henry, 1366–1403, English nobleman, called Hotspur or Henry Hotspur; son of Henry Percy, 1st earl of Northumberland. In 1388 he participated in the famous battle of Otterburn, or Chevy Chase, against the Scots; he was captured but later ransomed, and he returned to his post of warden of Carlisle and the West Marches. He went to Calais in 1391 and served (c.1393–95) as governor of Bordeaux, but by 1398 he was back on the Scottish border. He and his father joined the cause of Henry of Lancaster. After Henry's accession as Henry IV, Hotspur was called upon to take command of the Welsh border. Sent once again to the defense of the Scottish border, he helped to win (1402) a notable victory over the Scots at Homildon Hill, capturing the Scottish leader, Archibald Douglas, 4th earl of Douglas. A bitter quarrel between Hotspur and Henry IV ensued when Hotspur refused to turn Douglas over to the king except in exchange for the ransom of Sir Edmund de Mortimer, Hotspur's brother-in-law. In 1403, Hotspur and his father planned with Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester, Owen Glendower, and Sir Edmund de Mortimer to dethrone Henry and crown Edmund Mortimer, 5th earl of March, the nephew of Hotspur's wife. Henry anticipated the move, and in a battle near Shrewsbury (1403) the king was victorious and Hotspur was slain. Hotspur was an important character in Shakespeare's Henry IV.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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