Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland

Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland

Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, (c. 1449 – 28 April, 1489) 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. Percy was however the only one of the Percy family to appear to take the side of the House of York during the Wars of the Roses.

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 by 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 said title to Percy was delayed by the Parliament of England until 1473.

For the following twelve years, Percy held many of the important government posts in Northern England which were traditional in his family. He commanded the Yorkist reserve at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 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 behavior. Percy was allowed to retain his titles and lands as well as returning to his old posts.

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 protestation of the high taxation. Percy was targeted by the rioters and killed on 28 April.

Yorkshire was formerly a stronghold of support of Richard III. Percy may have been killed in vengeance for Richard.

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 Buckingham [ Several 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) [http://books.google.com/books?id=aB0IAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA490&dq=Alianore+Percy,+Duchess+of+Buckingham&ei=idJER77TBKaI7AKf_7WBBw googlebooks.com] ] (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".
*Allan Percy (born 1479).
*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.

Further reading

*Rose, Alexander "Kings in the North - The House of Percy in British History". Phoenix/Orion Books Ltd, 2002, ISBN 1-84212-485-4 (722 pages paperback)


width="30%" align="center"|Preceded by:
Henry Percy
width="40%" align="center"|Earl of Northumberland
width="30%" align="center"|Followed by:
Henry Algernon Percy

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