Battle of Shrewsbury

  • Between :
    King Henry IV and Henry Percy (Hotspur)
  • Date :
    1403
  • Location :
    Shrewsbury
  • NGR :
    SJ 512172
  • District :
    Shrewsbury and Atcham
  • Parishes :
    Shrewsbury
  • County : Shropshire

Summary

The rebellion of 1403 arose from deep resentment of the way that King Henry IV had failed to reward the Percy family for securing the northern Border Country. Henry Percy, 'Harry Hotspur'- hatched a scheme to divide England in conjunction with Edward Mortimer and the Welsh patriot Glyn Dwr.

Hotspur rode south early in July 1403 with 160 followers. His ultimate destination was Shrewsbury where he may have arranged to join forces with Glyn Dwr. By 19 July he had recruited an army of 14,000. The King hurried westwards to intercept Hotspur before he and Glyn Dwr could join forces.

Both armies faced each other on 21 July, three miles north of Shrewsbury. Neither side relished the prospect of battle but negotiations failed. Finally, only some two hours before dusk, Henry's troops advanced but were met by a deluge of arrows from Hotspur's Cheshire archers. Bloody hand-to-hand fighting followed in which Hotspur was killed. By dusk the rebels had fled.

The battle was important politically because, with Hotspur's death, the Percy challenge to Henry IV was crushed, biographically in the military career of Prince Henry, later Henry V, victor most notably at Agincourt in 1415, and militarily because it was the first major battle in which English archers had fought against each other on their own soil. As such it provided a brutal lesson in the effectiveness of the longbow in the hands of skilled exponents.

Although the open ploughed fields of 1403 have been enclosed with hedges, the lie of the land allows an appreciation of the course of events. The church within the battlefield was established as a memorial to the dead in 1409.

Amenity Features

The church of St Mary Magdalen is redundant but provides some information and a car park for visitors. The battlefield is crossed by waymarked footpaths giving access to both Royal and rebel positions. The historic Albright Hussey manor house is in use as a hotel.

Other Designations

The church and surrounding earthworks are a scheduled ancient monument. Albright Hussey manor house is listed.

Key Sources

English Heritage, 1995, Battlefield Report: Shrewsbury 1403

Calvert, E (trans.), 'Annales Rich II. Et Hen IV', in Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 2nd Series, 10, 1898, 295-305.

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Battle of Shrewsbury

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