Thomas de Mowbray, 4th Earl of Norfolk
Born: September 17, 1385
Died: June 8, 1405
York, Yorkshire, England (Age 19)
Mowbray in History
Little is known of the early life of the younger Thomas Mowbray. He was raised in the household of Queen Isabella, the second consort of King Richard II and accompanied the king on his failed expedition to Ireland in 1399. The previous year, Mowbray's father, also named Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, was exiled from England for life for his quarrel with Henry Bolingbroke. In 1399, he died in exile in Venice. Soon after, Henry Bolingbroke returned from his own exile (supposedly only to retrieve his recently deceased father's inheritance, which Richard had used to fund his Irish expedition), deposed King Richard and took the crown for himself. It is not known what Mowbray's opinions were of the man who his father had quarreled with, but it is likely that he was not happy with the fact that he was not awarded the Dukedom of Norfolk that had belonged to his father. The king's reasoning behind not restoring young Thomas to his father's dukedom most likely revolved around the fact that the elder Mowbray had been one of the so-called duketti, a sizable group of Richard II's followers who were, carelessly, awarded the title of duke all at once, severely diminishing the value of the highest title in the feudal system. Henry had vowed to undue his predecessor's inordinate policies and had already stripped the titles from all of the other duketti lords. In addition, the new Henry IV handed out Mowbray lands to his own followers and awarded the Earl of Westmorland with the title of marshal of England, which had previously belonged to the elder Mowbray.
Over the following years Mowbray was gradually restored to his father's lands and possessions, although the king was slow in his actions and put fines and other specifications into effect to complicate matters. Perhaps these actions angered Mowbray and pushed him towards rebellion. It is not known what the exact reason was for Mowbray's rebellion, but in 1405 he joined forces with Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York (another man who had become disgruntled with King Henry's government) in rebellion, along with, to varying degrees, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, Lord Bardolph, the Welshman Owen Glendower and his son-in-law Edmund Mortimer. However, before the rebellion could even properly begin, the forces of Mowbray and the Archbishop were accosted at Shipton Moor by the army of the Earl of Westmorland. The earl assured the men that their grievances would be considered by the king and suggested they dismiss their army. Since they had no reason to distrust the earl, the two men dismissed their armies and joined the opposing forces in a toast. Unfortunately for the rebels, Westmorland arrested them for treason. Mowbray, Scrope and several other of the leaders were sentenced to be executed. Scrope was allowed to comfort Mowbray through his own execution before the archbishop himself met his end. Mowbray was still only a young man of nineteen at the time of his execution. It is likely he would have eventually been fully restored to his father's possessions by the time he reached maturity, but it seemed the young earl (of Nottingham) was intent on bringing about some sort of revenge on the man that had quarreled with his father. Unfortunately, he would pay the ultimate price for attempting to keep his father's good name.
Mowbray in Shakespeare
Appears in: Henry IV, Part 2
Within 2 Henry IV Mowbray is referred to as the Earl Marshal, a title he held only unofficially in reality. He is a participant in the rebellion of Archbishop Scrope, along with Lord Hastings, and is skeptical when Prince John offers to hear their grievances at Gaultree Forest. After the rebels dismiss their army, they are arrested for treason.
Archer, Rowena E. ‘Mowbray, Thomas (II), second earl of Nottingham (1385–1405)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/19460, accessed 31 Oct 2009]