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Shrewsbury, battle of

Shrewsbury, battle of, 1403. Henry IV learned of the rebellion of Hotspur ( Henry Percy), in league with Owain Glyndŵr, Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester, Archibald, earl of Douglas, and Edmund Mortimer, when he was at Burton. A forced march carried his troops westwards to Shrewsbury to join his son Henry, prince of Wales, campaigning in Wales. Possession of the bridges over the Severn would prevent a junction between Hotspur, marching south from Chester, and Glyndŵr, believed to be advancing from south Wales. Hotspur arrived to find the town in royal hands. Glyndŵr did not join him, and his father, the earl of Northumberland, got no nearer than Pontefract. Hotspur was outnumbered and his recruits untrained, but he resolved to give battle rather than risk retreat and disintegration. He chose a small ridge 3 miles north of the town, near the village of Berwick, and dug in. The early exchanges on 31 July went in favour of the rebels but Hotspur was killed and his followers fled. Worcester was captured and executed at Shrewsbury two days later: Douglas was held in prison until 1408. The new Lancastrian dynasty had survived its first major test.

J. A. Cannon

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