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Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland : biography

- 28 April 1489

Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, KG (c. 1449 – 28 April 1489) was an English aristocrat during the Wars of the Roses. After losing his title when his father was killed fighting the Yorkists, he later regained his position. He led a major portion of Richard III's army at the Battle of Bosworth, but failed to commit his troops. He was briefly imprisoned by Henry VII, but later restored to his position. A few years later he was murdered by citizens of York during an anti-tax riot.

Death

In April 1489, Percy held temporary residence in his estates of Yorkshire. Henry VII had recently allied himself to Anne of Brittany against Charles VIII of France. Taxes rose to finance the military action. Sir John Egremont of Yorkshire led a riot in protest at the high taxation, known as the Yorkshire rebellion. Percy was targeted by the rioters as he approached the city and lynched on 28 April. He was buried at Beverley Minster.

Family

Percy was the son of Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland and his wife Eleanor Poynings, daughter of Richard Poynings, Lord Poynings.

His father was first cousin to (among others) Edward IV of England, Margaret of York, George, Duke of Clarence and Richard III of England. Percy himself was second cousin to (among others) Elizabeth of York, Edward V of England, Richard, Duke of York, Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, Edward, Earl of Warwick and Edward of Middleham. Both Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel were his alleged second cousins.

Bosworth campaign and aftermath

He commanded the Yorkist reserve at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. Percy never committed his forces to the battle. His inactivity played an important part in the defeat and death of Richard III. Historians suspect him of treason in favour of victor Henry VII of England, although there is an alternative theory that his forces, placed behind those of King Richard, were in no position to take part in the battle before Richard was killed.

If the first theory is true, then Henry himself was either unaware or not appreciative of his treasonous intentions. Percy was arrested along with Ralph Neville, 3rd Earl of Westmorland and Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. He was imprisoned for several months but swore allegiance to the new King. Henry VII released him on terms of good behaviour. Percy was allowed to retain his titles and lands as well as returning to his old posts.

Notes

Category:1440s births Category:1489 deaths Category:Knights of the Garter Category:Earls of Northumberland Category:Earls in the Peerage of England Category:People from the East Riding of Yorkshire Category:People of the Wars of the Roses Category:House of York Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland Category:Prisoners in Fleet Prison Category:People of the Tudor period

Marriage and children

Percy was married to Maud Herbert, Countess of Northumberland (1448 – 27 July 1485/1495) after 1473 but before 1476. She was daughter to William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1423-1469) and his wife Anne Devereaux. They had eight children:

  • Henry Algernon Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland (14 January 1478 – 19 May 1527). He was married to Catherine Spencer , Countess of Northumberland.
  • Alianore Percy, Duchess of BuckinghamSeveral occurrences of the alternate spelling of "Alianore" for "Eleanor" have been used for Eleanor Percy in history. See for Alianore: Burke, John. A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerages of England, Ireland, and Scotland, Extinct, Dormant, and in Abeyance. London: H. Colburn and R. Bentley, 1831. (p. 490) (d. 1530). She was wife to Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.
  • Sir William Percy (d. 15 September 1540. He was married first to Agnes Constable and then to a woman only known as "Margaret Percy".
  • Alan Percy (born 1479). Became Master of St John's College, Cambridge
  • Josceline Percy (1480–1532). He was married to Margaret Frost.
  • Arundel Percy (1483–1544).
  • Anne Percy, Countess of Arundel (27 July 1485 – 1552). She was second wife to William FitzAlan, 18th Earl of Arundel.
  • Elizabeth Percy.

Loss and restoration of title

His father was loyal to the House of Lancaster. He was killed in the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461. The earldom of Northumberland was forfeited to the victorious Yorkists. The adolescent Percy was imprisoned in the Fleet Prison. He was transported to the Tower of London in 1464.

In 1465, John Neville was named Earl of Northumberland in his place. Percy eventually swore fealty to Edward IV and was released in 1469. He petitioned for the return of his paternal titles and estates to him. He gained support by Edward IV himself. John Neville had to quit his title and was instead named Marquess of Montagu in 1470. However the restoration of the title to Percy was delayed by the Parliament of England until 1473. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1474.

For the following twelve years, Percy held many of the important government posts in northern England, such as warden of the east and middle marches, which were traditional in his family.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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