12th July 1403. A Decisive Battle.

Sir Henry (Harry) Hotspur had supported Henry Bolingbroke in the deposition of Richard II, but later changed sides.

Death of Hotspur. Douglas Archives.

No doubt a surprise to the now Henry IV as he was heading north to aid Hotspur against the Scots, as it was Today when he received news in 1403 at Burton on Trent, Staffordshire, that in fact Harry was heading west to meet up with the Welsh to unseat the king. Not surprisingly at this point Henry himself, now diverted to Shrewsbury.

In the event the rebel and turncoat Hotspur was defeated at Shrewsbury on the 21st, the ‘vigil of St. Mary Magdalene’, the site of which is now included in the Register of Historic Battlefields.

The battle was significant as firstly it broke the might of the Percy Family of Northumberland, and confirmed Henry, of the House of Lancaster, as King. Also it was the first major battle when English archers had fought each other on their own soil and showed the effect of the Longbow later to be employed at Agincourt.

Shakespeare recognised the importance of the conflict as in Henry IV (Part 1), the last two Acts are concerned with the battle.

Panorama of Shrewsbury. The rebels were on the ridge on the horizon whilst Royalists starting position was around the line of trees and hedges in centre.

Two local Staffordshire lords were involved in the conflict, Mavesyn on his way to Burton to join the King and Handsacre on his way to meet Percy at Shrewsbury, but these militant neighbours met before the main battle with Handsacre being slain. Mavesyn was to die in the Battle of Shrewsbury.

Both families are commemorated in Staffordshire villages: Mavesyn Ridware, one of the many Ridwares, and Handsacre.(1) 

Another casualty at Shrewsbury was Richard Vernon, of another local family who was captured and later executed for treason, the barony dying with him.

However with most aristocratic families of the time, their fortunes were to improve, by judicious marriage.

(1) Many of these medieval families were little more than bandits for in 1342 another Ridware, Robert de Ridware, whose kinsman was Walter de Ridware and Lord of nearby Hamstall Ridware, set upon some merchants at nearby ‘Cannock Wood’. When the merchants went to Stafford to plead their case they were confronted by Robert’s men.




wikipedia.org/battlefield picture.

militaryhistoryonline.com/Pic of battlefield.


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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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