William le Scrope, 1st Earl of Wiltshire

Born: c. 1351

Died: July 29, 1399

Bristol, England (Age c. 48)

Scrope in History

William Scrope began his service to the crown under the leadership of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and third surviving son of Edward III, whom he accompanied on the French expeditions of 1369 and 1373. It was not until the accession of Richard II that Scrope really came into his own though. By 1384, Scrope was steward of Aquitaine and Calais and was awarded with vast lands and riches by the king. Scrope became under-chamberlain of the royal household (1393) and accompanied Richard II on the successful Irish expedition the following year, all the while continuously receiving lucrative posts which made him a very wealthy man. By 1397, Scrope was at the height of his power, and much of the day to day governing of England was left to him and a few other select favorites. Scrope played a large role in the destruction of the lords appellant and shared in the spoils of their downfall. Most significantly, Scrope was created Earl of Wiltshire for his loyalties. Unfortunately, Scrope and other men such as William Bagot, John Bushy and Henry Greene became extremely unpopular and were an unwanted reminder of the king's first round of favorites which the appellants had eliminated in 1387-88. In 1399, Richard II embarked on another expedition to Ireland which would have fatal consequences for himself and his favorites. While he was away, Henry Bolingbroke (son of the late John of Gaunt) returned from his unjust exile to ultimately seize England's throne from his tyrannical cousin. Scrope was one of the first men he went after; the royal favorite was captured, along with Bushy and Greene, at Bristol, where all three men were promptly executed.

Scrope in Woodstock

William Scrope is a minor character in Thomas of Woodstock and appears as one of the king's favorites under the name "Thomas Scrope." While he does not appear as a character within the play, it is mentioned within Shakespeare's Richard II that Scrope has been executed under orders from Henry Bolingbroke.


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