Sir Henry of Northumberland
Defender of the Northern Borders
|Born in the freezing
winter of 1347, Henry was the only son of Sir Montague the Dark and Eleanor
the Fair. Sir Montague had recently returned from crusading across Eastern
Europe and the Middle East, and was fresh from victory against the French
In 1349, soon after Henry's birth, the Black Death was raging through England, and Sir Montague readily accepted King Edward III's commission to protect the remote Northern borders against the heathens of Scotland. It also kept him away from the politics of court and out of the public eye. Rumours of herecy had begun to surround him, and he had enemies, as well as friends, in high places.
Sir Montague died in 1356, again fighting the hated French, this time at Poitiers, where the Black Prince, a close friend, was victorious.
Although only eleven, Henry was already adept with the sword, and was hardened by the tough border existence. He was ready to protect his mother, his father's reputation, the King and England, in that order! By the time he was fourteen, he was fully grown and a feared and respected warrior on both sides of the crumbling Roman wall.
Henry shared his father's inquisitive mind, and reputedly
showed far too much interest in pagan and other non-Christian beliefs.
This was never proved, but was probably instrumental in the delay to
his Knighthood, which might otherwise have been bestowed at an unprecedented