Facts and Events
His father was first cousin to (among others) Edward IV of England, Margaret of York, George, Duke of Clarence and Richard III of England. Percy himself was second cousin to (among others) Elizabeth of York, Edward V of England, Richard, Duke of York, Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, Edward, Earl of Warwick and Edward of Middleham. Both Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel were his alleged second cousins. Percy was however the only one of the Percy family to appear to take the side of the House of York during the Wars of the Roses.
His father was loyal to the House of Lancaster. He was killed in the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461. The earldom of Northumberland was forfeited by the victorious Yorkists. The adolescent Percy was imprisoned in the Fleet Prison. He was transported to the Tower of London in 1464.
In 1465, John Neville was named Earl of Northumberland in his place. Percy eventually swore fealty to Edward IV and was released in 1469. He petitioned for the return of his paternal titles and estates to him. He gained support by Edward IV himself. John Neville had to quit his title and was instead named Marquess of Montagu in 1470. However the restoration of the title to Percy was delayed by the Parliament of England until 1473. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1474.
For the following twelve years, Percy held many of the important government posts in northern England , such as warden of the east and middle marches, which were traditional in his family. He commanded the Yorkist reserve at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. Percy never committed his forces to the battle. His inactivity played an important part in the defeat and death of Richard III. Historians suspect him of treason in favour of victor Henry VII of England, although there is an alternative theory that his forces, placed behind those of King Richard, were in no position to take part in the battle before Richard was killed.
If the first theory is true, then Henry himself was either unaware or not appreciative of his treasonous intentions. Percy was arrested along with Ralph Neville, 3rd Earl of Westmorland and Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. He was imprisoned for several months but swore allegiance to the new King. Henry VII released him on terms of good behaviour. Percy was allowed to retain his titles and lands as well as returning to his old posts.
In April 1489, Percy held temporary residence in his estates of Yorkshire. Henry VII had recently allied himself to Anne of Brittany against Charles VIII of France. Taxes rose to finance the military action. Sir John Egremont of Yorkshire led a riot in protest at the high taxation, known as the Yorkshire rebellion. Percy was targeted by the rioters as he approached the city and lynched on 28 April. He was buried at Beverley Minster.
Yorkshire was formerly a stronghold of support of Richard III. Percy may have been killed in vengeance for Richard.