23 July 1403 – Thomas Percy, 1st Earl of Worcester

Today’s man of the moment was immortalised by Shakespeare no less. Thomas Percy, 1st Earl of Worcester featured heavily in the reign of Henry IV and that’s probably why Shakey wrote him into Part I of his play ‘Henry IV’.

Indeed Percy helped catapult the tenuous monarch into the throne after he teamed up with others to depose the former monarch, Richard II.


Strangely he was later to turn on Henry IV too, when he went into battle alongside his nephew Harry ‘Hotspur’ or Henry Percy to give him his birth name. Indeed it was this turncoat action that was to earn Percy a headless future.

What provoked him to change allegiance? Well, the Percys chose to rebel against Henry under the leadership of the prolific Hotspur – he’d earned the nickname from his renowned reputation on the battlefield and Henry had been profoundly happy that Hotspur was on his side. That is until Henry refused to ransom a prisoner whom Percy wanted to see released.

This sparked animosity between the king and his former loyal subject and Hotspur roped his uncle in, along with others, to fight the battle of their lives as they rose up in rebellion against Henry.

Rebel, rebel

Things came to a head at the Battle of Shrewsbury when the Percys lost and Hotspur’s unc, Percy the elder, Earl of Worcester was caught and beheaded right there in Shrewsbury for his betrayal.

However his head continued its travels – it wound up skewered on London Bridge as a reminder to all of what happens to treasonous rebels. He died aged roughly 59 years old.

You may be wondering what happened to Hotspur. Well, in a cruel twist, old Henry Percy was taking a breather during battle when he fatefully lifted his visor only to cop a mouthful of arrow – the valiant soldier died instantly, two days before his uncle’s neck was up for the chop.

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