Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was the leading magnate in the North East and Yorkshire in 1487. He had been present at the Battle of Bosworth on the side of Richard III but, controversially, failed to engage. Following this, he was at first imprisoned in the Tower of London before gradually being rehabilitated. By 1487, he was clearly supportive of the new regime. When the Yorkist invasion landed on the North West coast, he levied his troops and sought to aid in seeing off the army that would eventually be defeated at the Battle of Stoke Field.
The Earl writes to the City of York as both a courtesy and necessity. Whilst York is firmly within his realm of influence, it is not ‘his’ to control and the City was able to respond as it saw fit to situations. With York having been a centre of Power for Richard III as both Lord of the North and King, it was also possibly the case that the Earl was not certain of York’s loyalties at this time.
Earl of Northumberland asks for help against ‘King Edward’ [Lambert Simnel] and the Yorkist invaders.
“Copie of a letter direct from there of Northumberland to maire etc. , as ensuyth:
To the right and worshipful and my right hertly biloved ffrend and right welbiloved frends the maeir of the cities of York, the aldermen and shireffes of the said citie and to the commons of the same
Right worshipful and my right hertly beloved friend and right welbiloved frendes, I commaunde me unto you, and thank you for the constant loving dispositions that I have foundon in you, wherein I pray you to preserver, and where as the king our souverain lordes rebelles bene landed at Fourneys at the pile of Fowdray upon Monday last past, which God helping I entend to resist and for the same extent wolbe in the cities of York toward them upon Sunday next commyng, therefor I desire and pray you to cause provision of vitrull tobe ready ayenst that tyme for such people as shall come and be there with me; also that ye incontinent after the sight suche persons as ye goodly may forebear, the city kept, it it will pleas you, they for thentent afforsaid. And I pray you yeve credence unto my right trusty servaunt Richard Burgh squire concerning the premissez, and to do thing that may be your welez I wolbe as glad as any man doing to my power that knoweth the blessed Trinitie, whom I besuch to send you all good fortunes. Writyn in my maynour of Lekingfeld the vj day of Juyn.
Your loving friend H. Northumberland”
English: Coat of arms of Sir Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, KG<br\ >Quarterly: 1 and 4, or a lion rampant azure (for Percy), quartering gules three lucies argent (for Lucy); 2 and 3, barry of six or and vert, a bend gules (for Poynings)<br\ >
Henry Percy’s mother, Eleanor Poynings, daughter of Sir Richard Poynings, of Poynings, was heir general to her grandfather, Sir Robert Poynings, 4th Baron Poynings.