Richard Scrope (bishop)

Last updated

Richard le Scrope
Archbishop of York
Appointedbetween 27 February 1398 and 15 March 1398
Term ended8 June 1405
Predecessor Robert Waldby
Successor Thomas Langley
Other post(s) Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield
Consecration19 August 1386
Personal details
Died8 June 1405 (1405-06-09) (aged c. 55)
BuriedYork Minster
Denomination Roman Catholic

Richard le Scrope (c.1350 – 8 June 1405) was an English cleric who served as Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield and Archbishop of York and was executed in 1405 for his participation in the Northern Rising against King Henry IV.



Richard Scrope, born about 1350, was the third son of Henry Scrope, 1st Baron Scrope of Masham, and his wife, Joan, whose surname is unknown. He had four brothers and two sisters: [1]


His father had had a distinguished career as a soldier and administrator, and according to McNiven, Richard's Scrope's first preferments in the church probably owed a great deal to family influence. [5] Scrope was rector of Ainderby Steeple near Northallerton in 1368, warden of the free chapel of Tickhill Castle, and in 1375 official to Thomas Arundel, Bishop of Ely. He was ordained deacon on 20 September 1376, and priest on 14 March 1377. During this time he studied arts at Oxford, and by 1375 became licentiate in civil law. By 1383 he had earned doctorates of canon and civil law at Cambridge, and in 1378 was Chancellor of the University. [6]

From 1382 to 1386 Scrope was at Rome, serving as a papal chaplain and an auditor of the Curia. In 1382 he was instituted Dean of Chichester. Although his election as Bishop of Chichester in September 1385 was blocked by King Richard II, Scrope was made Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield on 18 August 1386, and consecrated by Pope Urban VI at Genoa on the following day. [7] Scrope made a profession of obedience to the Archbishop of Canterbury on 27 March 1387, and was enthroned in his cathedral on 29 June 1387. [8]

Scrope combined his ecclesiastical duties with involvement in secular matters. In 1378 and 1392 he was sent on diplomatic missions to Scotland, and went to Rome in 1397 to further Richard II's proposal for the canonisation of King Edward II. [9] While in Rome he was translated to York between 27 February 1398 and 15 March 1398, and granted the temporalities on 23 June 1398. [10]

Although he did not participate in the factional strife which led up to King Richard II's deposition, on 29 September 1399 Scrope and John Trefnant (d.1404), Bishop of Hereford, headed the commission which received the King's ‘voluntary’ abdication at the Tower. Scrope announced the abdication to a quasi-parliamentary assembly on the following day, and together with Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, escorted Henry Bolingbroke to the vacant throne. [11]


As McNiven notes, the dominance of the Percys, Earls of Northumberland, in the north of England, and the family's pivotal role in putting Henry IV on the throne, as well as family alliances (Richard Scrope's elder brother, John Scrope, had married the widow of the Earl of Northumberland's second son, Thomas Percy, [12] and his sister, Isabel Scrope, had married Sir Robert Plumpton, [13] a tenant of the Percys), meant that Richard Scrope, as Archbishop of York, was bound to become involved with the Percys. However his loyalty was untested until the Percys revolted in the summer of 1403. Even then, although the chronicler John Hardyng, a Percy retainer, claimed that Scrope encouraged the Percys to rebel, there is no other evidence that he did so. [14] The Percys suffered defeat at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, at which Northumberland's son and heir, Henry 'Hotspur' Percy, was slain.[ citation needed ]

Richard Scrope continued in his ecclesiastic duties as Archbishop of York. He, assisted by the Bishops of Durham and Carlisle Cathedrals, officiated at a solemn translation of Saint John of Bridlington, 11 March 1404, de mandato Domini Papae.[ citation needed ]

In 1405 Northumberland, joined by Lord Bardolf, again took up arms against the King. The rising was doomed from the start because of Northumberland's failure to capture Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland. Scrope, together with Thomas de Mowbray, 4th Earl of Norfolk, and Scrope's nephew, Sir William Plumpton, had assembled a force of some 8000 men on Shipton Moor on 27 May, but instead of giving battle Scrope parleyed with Westmorland, and was tricked [lower-alpha 1] into believing that his demands would be accepted and his personal safety guaranteed. Once their army had disbanded on 29 May, Scrope and Mowbray were arrested and taken to Pontefract Castle to await the King, who arrived at York on 3 June.[ citation needed ]

Trial and death

The King denied the rebel leaders trial by jury, and a commission headed by the Earl of Arundel and Sir Thomas Beaufort sat in judgment on the Archbishop, Mowbray and Plumpton in Scrope's own hall at his manor of Bishopthorpe , some three miles south of York. The Chief Justice, Sir William Gascoigne, refused to participate in such irregular proceedings and to pronounce judgment on a Prince of the Church, and it was thus left to the lawyer Sir William Fulthorpe to condemn Scrope to death for high treason. Scrope, Mowbray and Plumpton were taken to a field belonging to the nunnery of Clementhorpe which lay just under the walls of York, and before a great crowd were beheaded on 8 June 1405. Archbishop Scrope requested the executioner to deal him five blows in remembrance of the Five Wounds of Christ, which was a popular devotion in Catholic England. After his execution, Archbishop Richard Scrope was buried in York Minster. [15]


Although Scrope's participation in the Percy rebellion of 1405 is usually attributed to his opposition to the King's proposal to temporarily confiscate the clergy's landed wealth, his motive for taking an active military role in the rising continues to puzzle historians. [16]

Pope Innocent VII excommunicated all those involved in Archbishop Scrope's "trial" and execution. However, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, refused to publish the Pope's decree in England, and in 1407 King Henry IV was pardoned by Pope Gregory XII. [17]

Despite his having been executed for political reasons, Archbishop Scrope was viewed by many in England as a Saint and a martyr. According to historian Eamon Duffy, pictures of the Archbishop are often found in Pre-Reformation English prayerbooks. [18]

Shakespeare and Scrope

Scrope's parley with Westmorland at Shipton Moor, Westmorland's treachery, and Scrope's arrest after the dispersal of his army are depicted in Act IV of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 . In the play, the King's agents are shown persuading the Archbishop and the other rebel leaders to disband their army by promising that their demands will be met and then arresting them for high treason. Every member of their army is then executed without trial. According to historian John Julius Norwich, the actions of the King's agents continue to outrage audiences who watch the play being performed.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edward, 2nd Duke of York</span> 14th-century English noble

Edward, 2nd Duke of York, was an English nobleman, military commander and magnate. He was the eldest son of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, and a grandson of King Edward III of England. He held significant appointments during the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, and is also known for his translation of the hunting treatise The Master of Game. He was killed in 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt, whilst commanding the right wing of the English army.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury</span> 15th-century English noble

Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury was an English nobleman and magnate based in northern England who became a key supporter of the House of York during the early years of the Wars of the Roses. He was the father of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, the "Kingmaker".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March</span> 14th/15th-century English noble

Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, 7th Earl of Ulster, was an English nobleman and a potential claimant to the throne of England. A great-great-grandson of King Edward III of England, he was heir presumptive to King Richard II of England when he was deposed in favour of Henry IV. Edmund Mortimer's claim to the throne was the basis of rebellions and plots against Henry IV and his son Henry V, and was later taken up by the House of York in the Wars of the Roses, though Mortimer himself was an important and loyal vassal of Henry V and Henry VI. Edmund was the last Earl of March of the Mortimer family.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland</span> 14th/15th-century English nobleman

Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of WestmorlandEarl Marshal, was an English nobleman of the House of Neville.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland</span> 14th-century English noble

Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, 4th Baron Percy, titular King of Mann, KG, Lord Marshal was the son of Henry de Percy, 3rd Baron Percy, and a descendant of Henry III of England. His mother was Mary of Lancaster, daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, son of Edmund, Earl of Leicester and Lancaster, who was the son of Henry III.

Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland was an English nobleman and military commander in the lead up to the Wars of the Roses. He was the son of Henry "Hotspur" Percy, and the grandson of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland. His father and grandfather were killed in different rebellions against Henry IV in 1403 and 1408 respectively, and the young Henry spent his minority in exile in Scotland. Only after the death of Henry IV in 1413 was he reconciled with the Crown, and in 1414 he was created Earl of Northumberland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland</span> An English magnate in the 15c

Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland, was an English magnate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland</span>

Henry Percy, 4th Earl of NorthumberlandKG was an English aristocrat during the Wars of the Roses. After losing his title when his father was killed fighting the Yorkists, he later regained his position. He led the rearguard of Richard III's army at the Battle of Bosworth, but failed to commit his troops. He was briefly imprisoned by Henry VII, but later restored to his position. A few years later he was murdered by citizens of York during a revolt against Henry VII's taxation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Earl of Westmorland</span> Title in the peerage of England

Earl of Westmorland is a title that has been created twice in the Peerage of England. The title was first created in 1397 for Ralph Neville. It was forfeited in 1571 by Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland, for leading the Rising of the North. It was revived in 1624 in favour of Sir Francis Fane, whose mother, Mary Neville, was a descendant of a younger son of the first Earl. The first Earl of the first creation had already become Baron Neville de Raby, and that was a subsidiary title for his successors. The current Earl holds the subsidiary title Baron Burghersh (1624).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham</span>

Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham KG, also known in older sources as Lord Scrope was a favourite of Henry V, who performed many diplomatic missions. He was beheaded for his involvement in the notional Southampton Plot to assassinate the king. Some historians believe that the charge was trumped-up to punish him for other acts of disloyalty, and that there may never have been such a plot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Grey (conspirator)</span> English nobleman and co-conspirator in the Southampton Plot (1415)

Sir Thomas Grey, of Heaton Castle in the parish of Norham, Northumberland, was one of the three conspirators in the failed Southampton Plot against King Henry V in 1415, for which he was executed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas de Mowbray, 4th Earl of Norfolk</span> English nobleman

Thomas de Mowbray, 4th Earl of Norfolk, 2nd Earl of Nottingham, 8th Baron Segrave, 7th Baron Mowbray, English nobleman and rebel, was the son of Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, and Lady Elizabeth FitzAlan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jane Howard, Countess of Westmorland</span> English noblewoman

Jane Neville, Countess of Westmorland, was an English noblewoman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John de Mowbray, 4th Baron Mowbray</span> English Baron

John (III) de Mowbray, 4th Baron Mowbray was an English peer. He was slain near Constantinople while en route to the Holy Land.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Margaret de Stafford</span>

Margaret Stafford was the daughter of Hugh de Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford, and Philippa de Beauchamp. She was the first wife of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, and the grandmother of the 2nd Earl.

Events from the 1400s in England.

Thomas Bardolf, 5th Baron Bardolf was a baron in the Peerage of England, Lord of Wormegay, Norfolk, of Shelford and Stoke Bardolph in Nottinghamshire, Hallaton (Hallughton), Leicestershire, and others, and was "a person of especial eminence in his time".

The Unlearned Parliament also known as the Lawless Parliament , Parliament of Dunces or the Parliamentum Indoctorum is the term used for the 1404 parliament called by Henry IV of England at the Great Hall of St. Mary's Priory, the Benedictine monastery in Coventry, Warwickshire, so called because the king refused to allow lawyers to stand as members, with "No Sheriff to be returned, nor any apprentice or other person at law" due to the king claiming that they were "troublesome", although more likely simply because they were familiar with the law.

"Much ado there was; but to conclude, the worthy Archbishop standing stoutly for the good of the Church, preserved it at that time from the storm impending."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elizabeth Mortimer</span> 14th-century English noble

Elizabeth Mortimer, Lady Percy and Baroness Camoys, was a medieval English noblewoman, the granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, and great-granddaughter of King Edward III. Her first husband was Sir Henry Percy, known to history as 'Hotspur'. She married secondly Thomas Camoys, 1st Baron Camoys. She is represented as 'Kate, Lady Percy,' in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, and briefly again as 'Widow Percy' in Henry IV, Part 2.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Willoughby, 5th Baron Willoughby de Eresby</span>

William Willoughby, 5th Baron Willoughby de Eresby KG was an English baron.



  1. Contemporary writers state that Scrope and his allies were tricked into surrendering by Westmorland; however the later Otterbourne chronicler claimed that they had surrendered voluntarily (see Tait 1894, p. 277



  • Cokayne, George Edward (1949). Geoffrey H. White (ed.). The Complete Peerage. Vol. XI. London: St. Catherine Press.
  • Duffy, Eamon (2006). Marking the Hours: English People and Their Prayers 1240-1570. Yale University Press. ISBN   0-300-11714-0.
  • Fryde, E.B. (1996), Handbook of British Chronology (3rd ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN   0-521-56350-X
  • Jones, B. (1964), Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541: volume 10: Coventry and Lichfield diocese, Institute of Historical Research, retrieved 15 November 2009
  • McNiven, Peter (2004). "Scrope, Richard (c.1350–1405)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/24964.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Pugh, T.B. (1988). Henry V and the Southampton Plot of 1415. Alan Sutton. ISBN   0-86299-541-8.
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Vol. I (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN   978-1449966379.
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Vol. III (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN   978-1449966393.
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Vol. IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN   978-1460992708.
  • Tait, James (1894). "Neville, Ralph (1364-1425)"  . Dictionary of National Biography . Vol. 40. pp. 275–280.
  • Tait, James (1897). "Scrope, Richard le (1350?-1405)"  . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography . Vol. 51. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 144–147.

Further reading

  • Ian Mortimer, Henry IV: Self-made King
  • John Julius Norwich, Shakespeare's Kings
  • E.Wylie, Henry IV (London, 1938)
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of York
Succeeded by