Thomas Bardolf, 5th Baron Bardolf

Born: December 22, 1369

Birling, Kent, England

Died: February 19, 1408

Bramham Moor, Yorkshire, England (Age 38)

Bardolph in History

Thomas Bardolf seems to have led a fairly quiet existence for the first twenty somewhat years of his life. He accompanied King Richard to Ireland in both the successful expedition in 1394 and the failed journey in 1399, that latter of which led to the king being deposed by Henry Bolingbroke upon his return. Similarly to many other nobleman, he seems to have been supportive of Bolingbroke's decision to take the throne as Henry IV. The following years saw Bardolf become dissatisfied with the way Henry ran the country, and he seems to have come under the influence of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, a man who had been instrumental in putting Henry on the throne. It does not appear that Bardolf participated in the Percy rebellion of 1403 that culminated in the death of Northumberland's son Henry "Hotspur" Percy at Shrewsbury. In 1405, however, Bardolf joined forces with Percy and the Welsh in rebellion against the king. At this point, there were even rumors that the Tripartite Indenture (which would have divided the kingdom in three between Northumberland, Owen Glendower and Edmund Mortimer) was the idea of Bardolf. After Archbishop Richard Scrope and Earl Marshal Thomas Mowbray were arrested and executed (they too were in rebellion against the king), the rebellion of 1405 collapsed. Bardolf and Northumberland went into hiding in various places. They were on the verge of being turned over to King Henry by the Scots and were forced to flee to Wales under the protection of Glendower. The two men then attempted to enlist the help of the French, without success, and by 1407, were back in Scotland. Finally, in February of 1408, they invaded England with a small force, proclaiming themselves to be liberators against an unjust king. A number of people joined their army along the way, and they were ultimately confronted by the army of Thomas Rokesby, Sheriff of Yorkshire, at Bramham Moor. The two forces engaged in a battle in the blistering snow. Northumberland was killed during the battle, and Bardolf was severely injured and captured; he died of his wounds that same night at the age of thirty-eight. Despite his earlier accomplishments, Bardolf will most be remembered for his alliance with Northumberland and his death in battle against the king.

Bardolph in Shakespeare

Appears in: Henry IV, Part 2

Bardolph appears in the first scene of 2 Henry IV, where he is used in the role of a messenger to Northumberland, after the Battle of Shrewsbury. He falsely informs the earl that the rebels were successful and that his son Hotspur defeated Prince Hal in battle. It is soon after learned by further messengers that the opposite indeed occurred. Bardolph is shown once more in the play in a conference with Archbishop Scrope, Mowbray and Hastings while they discuss their chances of taking on the royal forces. Later in the play it is announced that he and Northumerland have been defeated in battle, promptly ending the Percy rebellion.


Summerson, Henry. ‘Bardolf, Thomas, fifth Baron Bardolf (1369–1408)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 31 Oct 2009]

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