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Shakespeare’s Harry Hotspur – Historic Britain Weblog


Dispute between Hotspur, Glendower, Mortimer and Worcester by Henry Fuseli – Wikiart

Harry Hotspur (aka Sir Henry Percy) was a serious character in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Half 1 who died by the hands of his nemesis, Prince Hal, on the battle of Shrewsbury. Sadly, we are likely to overlook that though Shakespeare was one in all our biggest bards, he was not a historian and we will’t take his performs at face worth. Sure, Hotspur was killed at Shrewsbury. However no, Hal was on the different finish of the battlefield main a flanking motion, nonetheless preventing with an arrow embedded in his face. I feel that’s an much more dramatic story, however Shakespeare had different concepts (enter Falstaff).

However that’s not all. Hotspur was not Hal’s rival for Henry IV’s affection. Actually, Sir Henry Percy was the king’s age, not the son’s; he was really born three years earlier than Henry IV. He was knighted alongside Henry Bolingbroke by King Edward III in 1377. They traveled collectively to the nice Match at Inglevert in 1390 (Hal would have been 4 years outdated on the time).

In actuality, removed from being the son Henry IV wished he had in distinction to his personal wayward offspring,  Hotspur had been one in all Hal’s early mentors. Within the first few years after the usurpation, Hotspur had been made Constable of Chester, Flint, Conwy, and Caernarfon castles—all along with his different duties as Warden of the East Marches and Justice of North Wales. To say he had his palms full was an understatement! Hal was put underneath his tutelage at Chester, and I don’t assume it will be completely out of line to recommend the prince might need skilled a little bit of hero worship at this stage. He was solely about sixteen, and Hotspur was probably the most well-known knight of the age. He was indefatigable.

Even at Hal’s tender age, he was already being primed to tackle his first accountability in Wales. Sadly, it was unexpectedly thrust upon him on the finish of 1402 when Hotspur grew irritated at his lack of governmental help (and lack of cost) and resigned his command. Leaving younger Hal in cost, he rode off, again to Northumberland. Similar to that. How may the prince not really feel deserted?

The Welsh didn’t want rather more incentive to stand up once more, they usually have been quickly attacking city after city, burning and pillaging. Prince Hal referred to as up troops from close by shires that owed the king service and went after them, holding his personal. He was joined by his father a couple of months later and collectively they superior into the center of Wales. Sadly, their foray changed into a catastrophe and the English have been pressured to withdraw due to the horrible climate; the king was almost killed when a storm blew his tent down on high of him. Henry was solely saved as a result of he wore his armor to mattress. Their ignominious defeat was solely made worse on discovering that the Percies had simply gained an incredible battle at Homildon Hill, and got here dwelling loaded with hostages, amongst them the Scottish Earl of Douglas.

As depicted in Shakespeare, King Henry demanded that Hotspur flip over his prisoners and Harry angrily refused, precipitating the battle that drove him to insurgent. That a lot corresponds to historical past. Within the play, there’s a scene the place he conspired with Owain Glyndwr, Mortimer, and his uncle the earl of Worcester. This in all probability didn’t occur, although it’s potential some communication came about between them. The Welsh didn’t take part within the battle of Shrewsbury, although it’s potential they have been making a diversion by a really profitable assault on Carmarthen in South Wales. Or the timing may have been a coincidence. Historians simply don’t know, however since Glyndwr was occupied at Carmarthen, he couldn’t have been anticipated at Shrewsbury.

Loss of life of Henry “Harry Hotspur” Percy, from a 1910 illustration by Richard Caton Woodville Jr. – Wikipedia

One can solely think about the shock and betrayal Hal should have felt to find that his former buddy and tutor had declared himself his enemy. I doubt he even knew bother was brewing—it definitely caught his father unexpectedly. King Henry moved at his standard unpredictable pace and confirmed up with a military actually within the nick of time. Hotspur withdrew from besieging the city and ready for battle.

Shrewsbury was a close-fought contest, and Hotspur was in the course of the motion. Shakespeare has him assembly Prince Hal seemingly alone, they usually struggle a duel the place Hal slays his antagonist. And Falstaff takes credit score for the killing after Hal walks away—apparently to get assist. However in fact, that’s all made up. The battle was complete chaos and solely the shouts of “Henry Percy useless!” turned the tide. His males panicked and fled, and later the path of our bodies stretched as much as two miles away, with most of them fatally wounded within the again. Nobody is aware of exactly what occurred to Hotspur, however after a search his physique was discovered the place the preventing was fiercest. Though the king supposedly shed a couple of tears over his corpse, he didn’t have any downside ordering that Hotspur’s bare physique be propped up between two millstones so everybody knew he was actually useless.

Whereas Hotspur fought valiantly, Prince Hal was main a cost on the enemy flank; he wreaked havoc on the leaderless rearguard. It wasn’t till the preventing was over that Hal collapsed into the arms of his companions. Possibly he was unconscious for days—if not longer. Underneath virtually every other circumstances his wound would have been deadly, for the arrowhead was embedded six inches into his cranium subsequent to his eye. It was solely underneath the sensible ministrations of John Bradmore, probably the most progressive surgeon within the kingdom, that Hal survived. It was in all probability a very long time after the battle earlier than he realized of Hotspur’s dying.

You may be taught extra concerning the Battle of Shrewsbury and occasions main as much as it in my novel, THE USURPER KING.

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