Historical Inaccuracies

scene depiction reality
I.i “Young Harry Percy” Not even. Hotspur was born in 1364… three years before Henry Bolingbroke (Henry IV) is born. So instead of being the same age as Prince Hal (remember, some fairy, the king wishes, had swapped them in their swaddling clothes), Hotspur was actually older than the king.
I.iii Mortimer as claimant to throne The claimant to the throne was not this Edmund Mortimer. The true claimant was Roger Mortimer, grandson (by Philippa) to Edward III. He had been named by Richard II as the heir presumptive in 1385. He died in 1398, however, four years before the start of his play. His titles and lands (and thus the status as heir presumptive) were passed on to his son Edmund Mortimer. The Edmund Mortimer captured by Glendower was NOT Roger’s son, but Roger’s BROTHER. Cut Shakespeare some slack, though: Holinshed (Shakespeare’s source on all things historical) made the same mistake.
III.iii Hal loses his place in council because of his lifestyle In 1402, Hal had no place on the coucil. It wasn’t until 1409 that he had a seat. When he did lose the place in 1411, it was over political and foreign policy; his popularity, however, forced Henry IV to reinstate him.
V.iv Hal rescues Henry IV at Shrewsbury According to Holinshed, Henry IV did battle Douglas, and did have to be rescued. But the rescuer’s identity was unknown.
Hal kills Hotspur at Shrewsbury Hotspur was killed at Shrewsbury, but the killer’s identity was unknown. Later, though, after he was buried, when there were rumors that Hotspur was still alive (and thus a cause celebre for rebels), Henry ordered the body exhumed. The body was displayed at Shrewsbury (impaled on a spear), and the quartered… the pieces made a kind of tour around England, while his head was put up on gates of the city of York.

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