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Word ys commen to Edden-burrowe
To Jamy the Skottishe kyng,
That dougheti Duglas, lyff-tenant of the Merches,
His handdes dyd he weal and wryng,
Worde ys commyn to lovly Londone
As our noble kyng made his a-vowe,
He dyd the battel of Hombyll-down:
V. 146, ye seth. PC. V. 149, cheyff tennante. PC.
God have merci on his soll, sayd kyng Harry,
I have a hondrith captayns in Yynglonde, he sayd,
But Persè, and I brook my lyffe,
Wher syx and thritte Skottish knyghtes
This was the hontynge off the Cheviat;
Old men that knowen the grownde well yenoughe,
At Otterburn began this spurne :
Ther was the dougghtè Doglas slean,
Jhesue Crist our balys bete,
And to the blys us brynge!
Ther was never a tym on the march partes
But yt was marvele, and the rede blude ronne not,
The style of this and the following ballad is uncommonly rugged and uncouth, owing to their being writ in the very coarsest and broadest northern dialect.
The battle of Hombyll-down, or Humbledon, was fought Sept. 14, 1402, (anno 3 Hen. IV.) wherein the English, under the command of the E. of Northumberland and his son Hotspur, gained a complete victory over the Scots. The village of Humbledon is one mile north-west from Wooller in Northumberland. The battle was fought in the field below the village, near the present turnpike-road, in a spot called ever since Red-Riggs. Humbledon is in Glendale Ward, a district so named in this county, and mentioned above in ver. 163.
The Battle of Otterbourne.
The only battle, wherein an Earl of Douglas was slain fighting with a Percy, was that of Otterbourn, which is the subject of this ballad. It is here related with the allowable partiality of an English poet, and much in the same manner as it is recorded in the English Chronicles. The Scottish writers have, with a partiality at least as excusable, related it no less in their own favour. Luckily we have a very circumstantial narrative of the whole affair from Froissart, a French historian, who appears to be unbiassed. Froissart's relation is prolix; I shall therefore give it as abridged by Carte, who has however had recourse to other authorities, and differs from Froissart in some things, which I shall note in the margin.
In the twelfth year of Richard II., 1388, "The Scots taking advantage of the confusions of this nation, and falling with a party into the west Marches, ravaged the country about Carlisle, and carried off 300 prisoners. It was with a much greater force, headed by some of the
principal nobility, that, in the beginning of August, they invaded Northumberland: and having wasted part of the county of Durham,† advanced to the gates of Newcastle; where, in a skirmish they took a 'penon' or colours belonging to Henry Lord Percy, surnamed Hotspur, son to the Earl of Northumberland. In their retreat home, they attacked the castle of Otterbourn; and in the evening of August 9, (as the English writers say, or rather, according to Froissart, August 15,) after an unsuccessful assault were surprised in their camp, which was very strong, by Henry, who at the first onset put them into a good deal of confusion. But James Earl of Douglas rallying his men, there ensued one of the best-fought actions that happened in that age; both armies showing the utmost bravery:§ the Earl Douglas himself being slain on the spot ; the Earl of Murrey mortally wounded; and Hotspur, with his brother Ralph Percy, taken prisoners. These disasters
* Froissart speaks of both parties (consisting in all of more than 40,000 men) as entering England at the same time; but the greater part by way of Carlisle.
And, according to the ballad, that part of Northumberland called Bamboroughshire; a large tract of land so named from the town and castle of Bamborough; formerly the residence of the Northumbrian kings.
This circumstance is omitted in the ballad. Hotspur and Douglas were two young warriors much of the same age.
Froissart says the English exceeded the Scots in number three to one, but that these had the advantage of the ground, and were also fresh from sleep, while the English were greatly fatigued with their previous march.
By Henry L. Percy, according to this ballad, and our old English historians, as Stow, Speed, &c. ; but borne down by numbers, if we may believe Froissart.
+ Hotspur (after a very sharp conflict) was taken prisoner by John Lord Montgomery, whose eldest son Sir Hugh was slain in the same action with an arrow, according to Crawfurd's Peerage, (and seems also to be alluded to in the foregoing ballad, p. 13,) but taken prisoner and exchanged for Hotspur, according to this ballad.
on both sides have given occasion to the event of the engagement's being disputed: Froissart (who derives his relation from a Scotch knight, two gentlemen of the same country, and as many of Foix,*) affirming that the Scots remained masters of the field; and the English writers insinuating the contrary. These last maintain that the English had the better of the day; but night coming on, some of the northern lords, coming with the Bishop of Durham to their assistance, killed many of them by mistake, supposing them to be Scots; and the Earl of Dunbar at the same time falling on another side upon Hotspur, took him and his brother prisoners, and carried them off while both parties were fighting. It is at least certain, that immediately after this battle the Scots engaged in it made the best of their way home: and the same party was taken by the other corps about Carlisle."
Such is the account collected by Carte, in which he seems not to be free from partiality: for prejudice must own that Froissart's circumstantial account carries a great appearance of truth, and he gives the victory to the Scots. He however does justice to the courage of both parties; and represents their mutual generosity in such a light, that the present age might edify by the example. "The Englyshmen on the one partye, and Scottes on the other party, are good men of warre, for whan they mete, there is a hard fighte without sparynge. There is no hoo † betwene them as long as speares, swordes, axes, or dagers wyll endure: but lay on eche upon other: and whan they be well beaten, and that the one party hath obtayned the victory, they than glorifye so in their dedes of armes, and
* Froissart (according to the Eng. Translation) says he had his account from two squires of England, and from a knight and squire of Scotland, soon after the battle.
+ So in Langham's letter concerning Q. Elizabeth's entertainment at Killingworth Castle, 1575, 12mo, p. 61, "Heer was no ho in devout drinkyng."