Friday, 5 June 2009

Harry Hotspur and the Professor Emeritus

Harry Hotspur was a giant of a man who was born in 1364 and died at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. He was the eldest son of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, and his upbringing prepared him for defending the great land holdings of the Percy family against Scottish raids. He was captured and ransomed at the Battle of Otterburn and subsequently appointed as the Governor of Bordeaux. Dissatisfaction with the rule of Henry IV led an ill fated alliance with the Welsh resulting in his death on the battlefield from an arrow through the visor.

These are dry facts and seemingly irrelevant to the 21st Century but here is a thing..

There is a theory, impossible to prove but referred to in Shakespeare, that Harry Hotspur had a speech impediment. He was admired greatly in the North of England because of his status and his reputation as a warrior and it is possible that it became fashionable to copy his style of speech. This might explain the characteristic Northumbrian burr which is still apparent in the local dialect today.

When the Professor Emeritus sits in my office to discuss his expense claim I am distracted by the thought that his speech - so typically Northumbrian - is perhaps what Harry Hotspur, the great medieval warrior, sounded like 600 years ago.

And my mind begins to drift...

12 comments:

peppermintpatcher said...

Harry Hotspur - what a fantastic name. Miss Ashleigh has recently found herself a young man called Harry, so it is a name I'm hearing a lot in this house...

anne bebbington said...

Shame that a man of such stature still let his mum cut his hair with a cereal bowl

MrM said...

from the recent photos I have seen MasterM would be quite envious of HH's barber.

'Sharp' does not quite convey the full impact

Rhiannon said...

That is one cool language fact :D If I was still in lectures, I would be borrowing that to score me some brownie points with the language department!

xxx

Anonymous said...

I too like this name: Harry Hotspur.
And the connection you made is fascintating.
Paola

MrM said...

PS - worth pointing out a full set of the Black Prince's armour (original and replica) can be seen in Canterbury Cathedral - very similar style to Hotspur's.

Black Prince did a number on Limoges in 1377 from memory - had recovered by the time we went there last summer

MrM said...

Correction - it was 1370. 1377 would have been a little challenging even for the Black Prince as he died the previous year.

Spruce Hill said...

Very interesting history fact! And what a great name Harry Hotspur. He almost sounds like he could be a fictional story hero :)

Ali Honey said...

Poor Harry; getting shot in the visor; that's a very painfull spot!

They probably changed his name to Harry Shothead after that!

The Coffee Lady said...

That beard looks pointy. Do you think he fashioned it so deliberately in order to stab people with it?

MR PJ said...

We have a lovely little Harry Hotspur down here in Cornwall and he's a Spurs Fan!

The Marshal said...

Harry "Hotspur" Percy was the foremost knight of his age, renowned by peasant and gentry across both England and Scotland.

I'm a Hotspur scholar, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Cheers,

Bob