Last week we looked at the history of the castle between sometime in the mid eleventh century up to 1398, when the castle changed hands. Out with the Umfravilles and in with the Percy’s. So on with the next
History ~ Bit ☕️ 🍪
Firstly though, there are several Henry Percys Earls of Northumberland in this post, we will begin with HP1 for Henry Percy 1st Earl of Northumberland then onwards from there.
And so, in 1398 Prudhoe Castle came into the hands of Henry Percy, the 4th Baron Percy and the 1st Earl of Northumberland. He added a great hall to the castle as soon as he took possession of it. A bit of yoyo~ing then occurred as HP1 rebelled against the King, at the time Henry IV, at the Battle of Shrewsbury. This resulted in him being attainted, which meant losing the castle and his lands in forfeit to the Crown in 1405. The King gave the castle and lands to his son John, the future Duke of Bedford, who hung on to it until he died in 1435.
The Percys were not happy about losing it, and after a prolongued legal battle, in 1440, they got it back. By this time HP3 was head honcho but then he went and fought in the Wars of the Roses for the Lancastrians and was killed at the Battle of Towton in 1461 which we learned about at Lanercost Priory the other week. Edward IV was King by then and in 1462 and he gave Prudhoe Castle to George, Duke of Clarence, who was his younger brother. That didn’t last long though and Eddy then gave it to John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu, the Nevilles being the Percy’s major regional rivals.
By 1470 the castle was yet again in the custody of the Percy’s this time HP4. The Percy’s principle gaff was and still is, (the 12th Duke lives there now) Alnwick Castle, so they rented Prudhoe out to tenants. However in 1528, HP6 was resident at the castle with his bro Sir Thomas Percy. These two were heavily involved in the rebellion of the North against Henery the Eighth’s break with the catholic church along with the dissolution of the lesser monasteries, and the policies of the King’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, as well as other specific political, social, and economic grievances. The revolt began in Yorkshire in 1536 and was known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. The upshot was that HP6 and Tommy were convicted of treason and executed. Yet again the castle was forfeited to the crown. At this point the castle was reported in August 1537 to have habitable houses and towers within its walls, although they were said to be somewhat decayed and in need of repairs estimated at £20, about £12,421.91 in today’s money.
Moving on to 1557 and yet again the Percys held the castle and this time HP7 was the one to go off cock and he took part in the Rising of The North, a rebellion of the Northern Catholic nobles to depose Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary, Queen of Pesky Scots. That went well didn’t it? HP7 was captured, escaped, recaptured and executed in 1572. The castle was let out then to many and various tenants, but not used as a residence after 1660. A hundred and so years down the line in 1776 it was reported to be a ruin.
But then, another Percy to the rescue, this time Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland. He carried out substantial repairs to the ancient fabric and replaced the old dwellings within the walls with a Georgian mansion adjoining the keep. In 1996 the castle was returned to the Crown, and now English Heritage are the custodians.
The Percys eh? A feisty lot to say the least. Let’s have a look at the First of the Feisties, Henry Percy 1st Earl of Northumberland, and his number one son, Henry ‘Hotspur’.
HP1 started out a follower of King Edward III and did well for position at a young age. He was made Warden of the March in 1362 with authority to negotiate with the Pesky Scottish Government and in February 1367 he was entrusted with the supervision of all castles and fortified places in the Scottish marches, where peskiness abounded. He got the Earlship (possibly earldom?) from Richard II on his coronation in 1337 and had the very important title Marshal of England which is a whole other thing which we won’t go into because he only had that for a short time. Between 1383 and 1384, he was appointed Admiral of the Northern Seas. But then he got miffed when King Dicky promoted HP’s rival Ralph Neville to be Earl of Westmoreland in 1397. So he and his son, another Henry who was known as Hotspur, joined a chap called (yet another 🙄) Henry Bolingbroke, the grandkid of King Eddy III, in his rebellion and usurption of the throne in 1399. He was crowned Henry IV. So many Henrys, 😮💨.
Henry IV was so chuffed with HP1 that on his coronation day he made him Constable of England, an even more important position than Marshal of England. Though I think Marshal sounds better than Constable, well I’d rather wear a stetson than a British bobby helmet anyhoo. HP was also given the Lordship of the Isle of Man. At this point the Pesky Welsh were doing the rebellion thingy, led by a chap called Owain Glyndŵr, who sounds like he should have been in Lord of the Rings, and King HIV ( 🙄 not the best initialism I’ve ever come up with) asked HP1 and Hotspur to go and sort it out. He wasn’t best pleased with their attempts to make peace though.
In 1402 HP1 and Hotspur took part in the Battle of Homildon Hill. Now that’s a whole nother post so we’ll just say the battle was against the Pesky Scots and resulted in the capture of very many Pesky Scottish Nobles. The policy back then was to ransom the nobles for money, but Henry IV was very worried that releasing all these captives back to Scotland would cause him future trouble so just wanted them kept imprisoned. Plus he was a bit broke. The Percy’s were not happy about this so they joined forces with Owain Glyndŵr and went into open rebellion. Hotspur defied the King and released all his prisoners anyway as he wasn’t going to get remuneration for them, and many of them joined him in the rebellion. A Pesky Scottish & Feisty English fusion no less! Happy Days!
Unfortunately it all fell apart at the Battle of Shrewsbury. Hotspur died whilst doing a charge to kill the king, reputedly shot in the face with an arrow when he opened his visor. Stupid boy. Anyhoo this battle was a bit all over the shop, no-one really won it, the King’s forces sustained greater losses than the rebels, and Henry IV very nearly lost both his life and his throne. But, that was that and King Henry prevailed.
Henry Hotspur was initially buried next to his maternal first cousin,with honours, but rumours soon spread that he was not really dead. In response the King had him disinterred. His body was salted, set up in Shrewsbury impaled on a spear between two millstones in the marketplace pillory, with an armed guard. Later it was quartered and put on display in Chester, London, Bristol and Newcastle Upon Tyne. His head was sent to York and impaled on the north gate, looking toward his own lands. In November his grisly remains were returned to his widow Elizabeth.
HP1 had not been directly involved with that rebellion so wasn’t tried for treason, though he did lose the Constable of England position. He did rebel though in 1405, signing The Tripartite Indenture which was an agreement made in February 1405 among Owain Glyndŵr, Edmund Mortimer VI, and himself, agreeing to divide England and Wales up among them at the expense of Henry IV. And again in 1405 he supported the Archbishop of York – Richard Scrope in the Northern Rising after which HP1 fled to Scotland, and his estates were confiscated by the king.
He still didn’t give up, our HP was nothing if not tenacious. In 1408 attempting one last time to seize the throne, he gathered together an army of lowland Scots and loyal Northumbrians and marched south once more toward York. At Bramham Moor, south of Wetherby, (which has an excellent service station on the A1 motorway), HP1’s army was met by a force of local Yorkshire levies and noble retinues which had been hastily assembled, led by the High Sheriff of Yorkshire Sir Thomas Rokeby. HP1was defeated, and he died fighting a furious rearguard action as his army was routed. Very few of his soldiers escaped the pursuit and returned to Scotland and surprise surprrise, HP1’s body was hanged, drawn, and quartered; his head was placed on London Bridge, with other parts of his anatomy displayed elsewhere.
Gone but not forgotten, you can find him in Shakespeare’s Richard II, Henry IV, part 1, and Henry IV, part 2 and he inspired the character of Lord Percy Percy, heir to the duchy of Northumberland in the historical sitcom The Black Adder.
Phew! Well done if you actually read all through that, and I forgive you skimmers. 😊
Some Photos then! Last time we looked at the Castle itself and this time we’ll look at a few details
So that’s it for this time, but
for wherever next!
No apostrophies were harmed in the making of this post, but some may have gone out to play, and others could be playing somewhere they’re not supposed to be.
All pictures embiggenable with a click.
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