19th February 1408. Northern Turncoats.

On London Bridge a Keeper of the Heads was employed to ensure replacements as necessary. In 1408 the collection was joined by that of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland.

This followed the defeat of Henry in the Battle of Bramham Moor, Yorkshire, Today in 1408, the final conflict in the Percy rebellion dating from 1402, against the usurper Henry IV.

The problems began in 1399 when Richard II, with no undisputed heir, was deposed by John of Gaunt’s son, Henry Bolyngbroke as Henry IV.

However the King was to come under pressure not from the Yorkist cause, but from that of the northern Percy Family.

Henry Percy originally a follower of Edward III and later of Richard II was favoured by being awarded the title of Marshal of England and created Earl at Richard’s Coronation in 1377.

But when Richard created Percy’s rival, Ralph Neville as 1st Earl of Westmorland in 1399, Percy switched his allegiance to Bolyngbroke.

Then in 1403 with Bolyngbroke now king, Percy and his son Harry ‘Hotspur’ (who had married a Mortimer), swapped sides again, now allying themselves with Yorkist, Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March.

Raising a rebellion in Cheshire, Hotspur was pre-empted from joining his father’s forces and killed at Shrewsbury.(1)

Having submitted to the King in 1403 after Shrewsbury, in June 1405 Henry Percy now joined Richard le Scrope, Archbishop of York, in an effort to place Edmund Mortimer on the throne.

Another defeat saw Percy escape over the Scottish border leaving Scrope to be beheaded at York in June 1405, along with Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham.

Pennon of sir Harry hotspur.

Pennon of Sir Harry Hotspur, captured by James Earl of Douglas

After Percy’s death at Bramham Moor Henry IV survived another five years afflicted with as history says leprosy; some medieval writers felt it was a punishment for the treatment of Richard Scrope.(2)

The conflict for the English throne arose because of disputes arising from sons of Edward III. It was a root cause of the 15thc Wars of the Roses.

(1) Killed on 21.7.1403.

(2)  Scrope born in York was the younger son of 1st Baron Scrope of Masham and before becoming Archbishop in June 1398, was Bishop of Lichfield.

In Shakespeare’s Henry V, Archbishop of York, Scrope is known as Lord Scroop.


The rebellion against Henry IV was recorded in Shakespeare’s, Henry IV (Part 2 Act III Scene ii), where Falstaff raises a force of ‘Shadows’, to fill up the ‘Muster-Book’.

Among the ragged recruits for Falstaff’s inspection were: Mouldy, Shadow, Wart, Feeble and Bullcalf.

In Part 1 (Act IV Scene ii), Falstaff reflects on the misfits which were to battle at Shrewsbury: ‘If I am ashamed of my soldiers I am a soused gurnet. I have misused the King’s Press damnably’.


Falstaff’s scheme of raising a troop of misfits. Francis Hayman.


english_emory.edu. Shakespeare illustrated. National Gallery of Ireland.

wikipedia.org/harry_hotspur and 1st earl of northumberland/ pic of penon.






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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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