Henry Percy, 2nd Lord Percy

Born: February, 1301

Died: February 26, 1352

Warkworth, Northumberland, England (Age 51)

Percy in History

Henry Percy, 2nd Lord Percy, was a huge contributor to his family's status as northern border lords, keeping England safe from Scottish invasions, that was established by his father, the 1st lord. The younger Percy seems to have first involved himself in English politics when he was around twenty as an associate of the Earl of Lancaster, a cousin of King Edward II. Despite these associations, Percy remained loyal to the king when Lancaster rose in rebellion (1322) and was subsequently executed for his actions. The move was a wise one because Percy retained his status as a major player in border politics and relations with Scotland for the remainder of Edward II's reign. However, the incompetent king was deposed, and most likely murdered, by his own wife, Queen Isabella, and her lover Roger Mortimer (1327), establishing a regency with Edward II's son and heir, Edward III, as king. Percy continued his services in the north during the early reign of Edward III and negotiated personally with King Robert I of Scotland to attain several territories that had once belonged to his father. He succeeded in doing so, but ultimately gave the lands to the crown in exchange for additional subsidies. After Robert I's death and the accession of his young son David II (1329), a period of disarray broke out in Scotland. By 1333, Percy and the English were throwing their support behind John Balliol, a pretender to the Scottish throne, and throughout the next several years, sporadic battles broke out between the two countries.

Percy certainly stood to gain much through keeping Balliol on the Scottish throne, considering he would be able to keep his lands and additional rewards for helping John remain in his position. David II was removed to France for safe keeping, but Balliol was eventually defeated and forced to flee, courtesy of the Scottish lords who sustained the kingdom while the young king was absent. With his Scottish territories now beyond recovery, Percy continued to serve Edward III in expeditions against Scotland over the following years, but did not achieve his greatest victory until 1346, while the king and his son were away campaigning in France. Taking advantage of Edward III's absence, David II invaded England and began destroying a number of English border towns, with moderate success. When the king persisted in his pillaging, the English army, with Percy as one of its primary commanders, retaliated, and handed the Scots a crushing defeat at the Battle of Neville's Cross. David II was captured, along with several high-ranking members of the Scottish nobility. The significant victory would be Percy's swan-song, and although he remained active in border politics until the very end, he would die just five short years after Neville's Cross (1352) at the age of fifty-one. However, Percy's victory at the battle and his past political achievements cemented the Percy family as wealthy and influential border lords for generations to come. It is a shame that the family would, by the beginning of the next century, resort to rebellion.

Percy in Shakespeare

Appears in: Edward III

Lord Henry Percy appears briefly in Edward III when he is seen, in Calais, announcing to the king and his party that King David II has been taken prisoner after the English defeated the Scots at the Battle of Neville's Cross. Percy's participation in the battle is historically accurate.


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