Archive for April, 2022

Henry Percy in “Usurper’s Curse”

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

Greetings again and thanks for joining us as we continue examining topics which arise in Usurper’s Curse, the seventh book in my Lady Apollonia West Country Mysteries Series.  In this monthly posting, I am writing of the rebellion of Sir Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, a real person, who makes an appearance in Usurper’s Curse.

Henry Percy had royal blood as a descendant of Henry III.  He was born in 1341 the son of Henry de Percy, 3rd Baron Percy and died in 1408, two years after my novel is set.  He grew up in the reign of King Edward III, becoming the 4th Baron Percy among his other titles and was given considerable authority by King Edward III in handling England’s problems with Scotland.

King Richard II made Percy the 1st Earl of Northumberland in 1377.  The Percy family resided for many centuries in Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.  This ancient castle still stands today and is shown in various pictures in this posting.  The main gateway is shown on the left while the picture at the bottom is one I shot of my husband, Lou, photographing the castle from a distance.  Alnwick Castle has been used as a setting for many television programs and movies including two of the first Harry Potter films as the site of Quiddtich matches.

Sir Henry Percy was a high-ranking nobleman with royal ancestors and title.  As such, he would often support the king but would also challenge the monarch at other times.  In the reign of King Richard II, both Henry Percy and his son, known as Hotspur, were unhappy with Richard II and early on threw their support to Henry Bollingbrook in 1397.  When Henry usurped the crown from Richard in 1399 to become King Henry IV, Henry Percy was appointed Constable of England and granted the lordship of the Isle of Mann.

Sadly, this good relationship between King Henry and the earl did not last long.  After Percy and Hotspur were given the task of finding peace with Welsh rebels such as Owain Glyndwr, they started to disagree with Henry IV.  In 1402 at the Battle of Homildon Hill, they captured many Scottish nobles and then disagreed with Henry IV about whether those nobles should be ransomed.  The following year Henry Percy and Hotspur conspired against Henry IV in favor of Edmund Mortimer.  The Percy Rebellion failed, and Hotspur was killed in the Battle of Shrewsbury.

Percy lost his title as Constable of England and began to conspire with Owain Glyndwr and Edmund Mortimer against the king.  The three of them signed an agreement in 1405 indicating how they would divide up England if the usurper, Henry IV, could be overthrown.  Percy, however, became a fugitive for the rest of his life, and it is in this role that he appears in Usurper’s Curse.  I hope you find of interest how this fugitive encountered my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.