Henry IV Part 1

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Hotspur (Henry Percy) Character Analysis

As the son of Northumberland and nephew to Worcester, Hotspur is a rebel and a Percy. He is a hotheaded, bloodthirsty warrior who can’t control his speech or restrain his own rages. Hotspur furiously resents King Henry’s power and proudly looks down on Prince Hal, whom he believes to be a lowlife, dishonorable sissy compared to himself.

Hotspur (Henry Percy) Quotes in Henry IV Part 1

The Henry IV Part 1 quotes below are all either spoken by Hotspur (Henry Percy) or refer to Hotspur (Henry Percy). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Appearances Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Henry IV Part 1 published in 2005.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

…thou mak’st me sad and mak’st me sin
In envy that my Lord Northumberland
Should be the father to so blest a son—
A son who is the theme of honour’s tongue,
Amongst a grove the very straightest plant,
Who is sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride—
Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him
See riot and dishnor stain the brow
Of my young Harry. O, that it could be proved
That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
In cradle clothes our children where they lay,
And called mine Percy, his Plantagenet!

Related Characters: King Henry IV (speaker), Prince Hal (Henry, Prince of Wales), Hotspur (Henry Percy), Northumberland
Page Number: 1.1.77-88
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, King Henry IV criticizes his own child, who shares a first name with the child of Lord Northumberland: Henry. Half-seriously, half-jokingly, Henry IV wishes that his and Northumberland's children had been switched at birth: his own child is a disobedient youth, while Northumberland's child is proud and honorable.

Little does Henry IV that his child, Prince Hal, will grow up to be arguably the greatest of all English monarchs, Henry V. For now, though, Hal appears to be a disgrace to his family--he spends all his time goofing around and getting drunk. Henry IV is understandably upset that his child isn't a more accomplished leader, because he's thinking about his own legacy as a monarch; he needs a suitable male heir to ensure that his "line" will endure.

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Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

With many holiday and lady terms
He questioned me; amongst the rest demanded
My prisoners in your majesty’s behalf.
I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold—
To be so pestered with a popinjay!—
Out of my grief and my impatience
Answered neglectingly, I know not what—
He should, or should not—for he made me mad
To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
And talk so like a waiting gentlewoman

So cowardly, and but for these vile guns
He would himself have been a soldier.

Related Characters: Hotspur (Henry Percy) (speaker), King Henry IV
Page Number: 1.3.47-66
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Henry IV tries to resolve a dispute with Hotspur, the young warrior for whom he has great respect. Hotspur has refused to turn over some prisoners of war to Henry IV. He explains that he's refused to turn them over because the messenger whom Henry IV sent to demand the prisoners was overly effeminate in his manner. Hotspur goes off, criticizing everything about the messenger.

The passage suggests that Hotspur isn't as great and honorable a leader as Henry IV has imagined: on the contrary, Hotspur is easily angered, and he allows his anger to cloud his judgment. Hotspur can't stand being around men who seem effeminate or cowardly--in other words, he's a great soldier but a pretty horrible diplomat. Hotspur is, as his name suggests, too hot-tempered to ever be much of a leader, except perhaps on the battlefield.

But shall it be that you, that set the crown
Upon the head of this forgetful man
And for his sake wear the detested blot
Of murderous subornation, shall it be,
That you a world of curses undergo,
Being the agents, or base second means,
The cords, the ladder, or the hangman rather?

Related Characters: Hotspur (Henry Percy) (speaker), King Henry IV, Northumberland
Page Number: 1.3.164-170
Explanation and Analysis:

Hotspur confirms his status as an uncontrollable "loose cannon." Hotspur has just had a tense argument with Henry IV, the king. Now alone with his father, Northumberland, Hotspur continues to criticize the king, faulting him for being "forgetful" (forgetting how Hotspur's family helped him gain the crown) and traitorous. Hotspur is old enough to know that Henry IV has risen to power by killing the former king, Richard II. Hotspur even faults his own father for allowing himself to be humiliatingly "subordinate" to such a monarch.

In short, Hotspur isn't much of a politician, let alone a rhetorician. His speech is full of elaborate mixed metaphors and angry declarations. Hotspur's behavior illustrates what Henry IV is up against: a nation of unruly citizens who don't trust their new king.

Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

Thy spirit within thee hath been so at war,
And thus hath so bestirr’d thee in thy sleep,
That beads of sweat have stood upon thy brow,
Like bubbles in a late-disturbed stream;
And in thy face strange motions have appear’d
Such as we see when men restrain their breath
On some great sudden hest. O, what portents are these?
Some heavy business hath my lord in hand,
And I must know it, else he loves me not.

Related Characters: Lady Kate Percy (speaker), Hotspur (Henry Percy)
Page Number: 2.3.58-67
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hotspur is preparing to instigate an all-out rebellion against King Henry IV. Hotspur's wife, Lady Kate Percy, notices that Hotspur is preparing for war of some kind, but doesn't understand what Hotspur is planning. Kate is perceptive enough to notice that Hotspur hasn't been himself lately: he's been sweating at all times, and making strange noises in his sleep.

Kate's observations are interesting because they paint a picture of what Hotspur is like when he's not on the battlefield. Hotspur, as we might have guessed, can't turn off his warlike instincts, even when he's around the people he loves. Lady Kate has no problem telling that Hotspur is planning something; a clear sign that Hotspur has no gift for lying or deception. The success of Hotspur's plan depends on his ability to mask his feelings--thus, the passage suggests that Hotspur's plans won't amount to much.

Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

…you are too willful-blame;
And since your coming hither have done enough
To put him quite beside his patience.
You must needs learn, lord, to amend this fault:
Though sometimes it shows greatness, courage, blood—
And that’s the dearest grace it renders you,--
Yet oftentimes it doth present harsh rage,
Defect of manners, want of government,
Pride, haughtiness, opinion and disdain…

Related Characters: Earl of Worcester (speaker), Hotspur (Henry Percy)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 3.1.182-191
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Earl of Worcester confirms what we already knew about Hotspur: his hot-headedness is getting in the way of the group's plan to start a rebellion. Hotspur finds it nearly impossible to control his own warlike instincts. While such instincts may be useful on the battlefield, the Earl acknowledges, they need to be controlled during peacetime. As a result of his hot-headedness, Hotspur has already alerted Henry IV to the possibility of another rebellion--something that Henry wouldn't have been aware of had Hotspur just controlled his temper.

In short, Worcester is trying to act as an informal mentor to Hotspur. Worcester wants Hotspur to be a great politician as well as a great warrior. If the rebellion is to be a success, then Hotspur will have to do a better job of masking his real ambitions and controlling his language.

Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

…the King hath sent to know
The nature of your griefs; and whereupon
You conjure them from the breast of civil peace
Such bold hostility, teaching his duteous land
Audacious cruelty. If that the King
Have any way your good deserts forgot,
Which he confesseth to be manifold,
He bids you name your griefs; and with all speed
You shall have your desires with interest,
And pardon absolute for yourself and these
Herein misled by your suggestion.

Related Characters: Sir Walter Blunt (speaker), Hotspur (Henry Percy), King Henry IV, Earl of Worcester, Earl of Douglas, Sir Richard Vernon
Page Number: 4.3.47-57
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Henry IV sends a messenger to Hotspur and his followers, who by this point in the text have instigated a full-out rebellion against the king. Henry asks Hotspur to reconsider his actions--he promises to forgive Hotspur for his act of rebellion and pay Hotspur's peers well if they declare their loyalty to him. In short, Henry IV is trying to avoid a bloody war--but too late.

Henry IV's actions show that he's generally a good king, and prefers peace to bloodshed, even if it's "honorable" bloodshed. If he were as volatile as Hotspur, he certainly never would have offered any kind of apology or reparations, but would have immediately launched into battle. At the same time, were he as agile as Prince Hal, Henry might have been able to use rhetorical skill and timing in a better way, to actually prevent war.

Disgraced me in my happy victories,
Sought to entrap me by intelligence,
Rated mine uncle from the council board,
In rage dismissed my father from the court,
Broke oath on oath, committed wrong on wrong,
And in conclusion drove us to seek out
This head of safety, and withal to pry
Into his title, the which we find
Too indirect for long continuance.

Related Characters: Hotspur (Henry Percy) (speaker), King Henry IV
Page Number: 4.3.104-112
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hotspur responds to Henry IV's peace offerings. Instead of submitting to Henry IV's authority, as Henry had hoped, Hotspur reiterates his hatred for the king: he explains that Henry IV has always mistreated Hotspur and Hotspur's family, sneakily breaking his promises to them in order to ascend to the throne. Now, Hotspur aims to defeat Henry and claim the throne of England for himself.

Hotspur's response proves that it was perhaps a bad idea for Henry IV to offer Hotspur peace so late in the game. By this point in the text, Hotspur's mind is made up: he thinks he has to follow through with his plan to fight Henry to the death. Therefore, sending a messenger to offer truce accomplishes nothing. Furthermore, the peace messenger only makes Hotspur angrier, and sends the message that Henry IV is frightened and desperate. Hotspur takes an obvious pleasure in listing his "beefs" with Henry IV, and in fact puffs up his own courage and confidence in the very act of rejecting Henry's offer.

Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

Arm, arm with speed: and, fellows, soldiers, friends,
Better consider what you have to do
Than I, that have not well the gift of tongue,
Can lift your blood up with persuasion.

Related Characters: Hotspur (Henry Percy) (speaker)
Page Number: 5.2.78-82
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Hotspur tries halfheartedly to rally his troops with language. Hotspur is a hot-headed youth, and loves a good fight, but he knows that he has no talent for words. Instead of trying to "pump up" his troops with rhetorical flourishes, Hotspur just orders them to go out and fight the enemy.

The passage is another confirmation of Hotspur's weaknesses as a leader. Hotspur is a good warrior, but he doesn't know how to lead other warriors--doing so takes a talent for communication that Hotspur lacks altogether. In Henry V, the sequel to Shakespeare's Henry IV plays, we'll see a masterly example of how to whip a group of soldiers (a "band of brothers") into a frenzy with Hal's "Saint Crispin's Day" speech.

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Hotspur (Henry Percy) Character Timeline in Henry IV Part 1

The timeline below shows where the character Hotspur (Henry Percy) appears in Henry IV Part 1. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
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Westmoreland explains that there’s more bad news to top off the Mortimer tragedy. Hotspur (Henry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland), and Archibald (Earl of Douglas) fought bloodily... (full context)
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...he suddenly grows sad and jealous of Lord Northumberland whose honorable, upright son Henry Percy (Hotspur) puts the King’s own son Prince Henry (Prince Hal) to shame. The king wishes he... (full context)
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Making himself change the subject, King Henry asks Westmoreland what he thinks of Hotspur’s pride, since Percy has sent word that he will keep all his war prisoners for... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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In another room of the London palace, King Henry, Northumberland, Worcester, Hotspur, and Sir Walter Blunt gather with attendants. King Henry announces that he’s been acting too... (full context)
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Northumberland explains that there’s been a misunderstanding and that Hotspur never actually refused to turn over prisoners to King Henry. Hotspur himself chimes in, affirming... (full context)
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King Henry protests that in fact Hotspur still denies the crown his prisoners, since he has only agreed to turn them over... (full context)
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Hotspur protests that Mortimer has always been completely loyal to King Henry and that he has... (full context)
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Worcester returns. To Worcester, Hotspur angrily declares his loyalty to “the down-trod Mortimer” and vows to raise him higher than... (full context)
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King Richard’s proclamation is news to Hotspur, who says that King Henry’s animosity towards Mortimer makes total sense to him now. He... (full context)
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Worcester interrupts Hotspur’s speech, telling him to “say no more” for Worcester wants to tell him a secret.... (full context)
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Worcester tries to explain a plan but keeps getting interrupted by Hotspur’s excited outbursts about his loyalty to Mortimer, his refusal to give up his prisoners, and... (full context)
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Worcester lays out his plot: Hotspur will release his prisoners without ransom, keeping only Douglas’ son as a bargaining chip against... (full context)
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...has always been suspicious of them and is now starting to punish them. He tells Hotspur to wait to act until he receives Worcester’s OK by letter. Hotspur exclaims excitedly that... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
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At Warkworth Castle, Hotspur enters reading a letter from Richard Scroop, the Archbishop of York, that expresses wariness about... (full context)
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Lady Kate Percy enters and Hotspur announces he’ll be leaving her within two hours. Lady Percy, distressed, begs Hotspur to tell... (full context)
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Hotspur calls a servant to prepare his horse. He hasn’t been listening to Lady Percy at... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Hotspur, Worcester, Mortimer, and Glendower gather in a room of the Archdeacon’s house in Bangor, Wales.... (full context)
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...his birth was marked by fiery celestial portents and a great earthquake, signifying Glendower’s power. Hotspur retorts that such “signs” aren’t signs at all, but just common, natural phenomena that would... (full context)
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Mortimer breaks up Glendower and Hotspur’s bickering by calling the men to the map. He shows them the three equal portions... (full context)
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Hotspur and Glendower argue, and Hotspur insults Glendower’s English (Glendower is Welsh). Insulted, Glendower insists he... (full context)
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Mortimer chastises Hotspur for fighting so much with Glendower. Hotspur says he can’t help it, he gets so... (full context)
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Hotspur remarks that Welsh music is played by the devil and that he’d rather listen to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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...more myself.” King Henry continues his long speech, comparing Prince Hal to King Richard and Hotspur to himself. He declares Hotspur a worthier heir to the throne than Hal and lists... (full context)
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...own long speech asking forgiveness for past behavior and vowing to redeem himself by defeating Hotspur, and affirming he is King Henry’s son by achieving glory. Hal says he “will wear... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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Hotspur, Worcester, and Douglas converse at the rebel camp near Shrewsbury. Hotspur and Douglas flatter one... (full context)
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Hotspur dismisses Worcester’s fears, insisting that fighting without Northumberland gives them a chance to win even... (full context)
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...come with even more. Vernon describes Prince Hal as “feather’d Mercury,” magnificently outfitted for battle. Hotspur balks at Vernon’s praise of Hal and declares that all King Henry’s troops “come like... (full context)
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...now have to take on King Henry’s thirty thousand troops at a great numerical disadvantage. Hotspur, though, remains optimistic and keen to charge into battle, calling the others to ride into... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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Back at the rebel camp near Shrewsbury, Hotspur and Douglas want to charge straight into battle that night, hoping to defeat King Henry’s... (full context)
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Hotspur replies that King Henry “knows at what time to promise, when to pay” and launches... (full context)
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Sir Walter Blunt asks whether he should convey their commitment to King Henry, but Hotspur says not to and tells Blunt that he’ll send his uncle with their reply in... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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...the Archbishop’s allegiance with the rebels so the Archbishop fears that, if the king defeats Hotspur at Shrewsbury, he’ll attack the Archbishop next. He sends Sir Michael off with the letters... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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Prince Hal chimes in to praise Hotspur’s famous honor and courage and says that, though he has none of Hotspur’s noble deeds... (full context)
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Prince Hal doubts the rebels will accept peace because Douglas and Hotspur are so hot to fight. King Henry, Sir Walter Blunt, and Prince John exit to... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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...would forever after remain suspicious of the rebels as “interpretation will misquote our looks.” Because Hotspur is just a hot-headed youth, his father Northumberland and Worcester himself would end up paying... (full context)
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Hotspur and Douglas enter with officers and soldiers and Worcester tells Hotspur that, despite his own... (full context)
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Hotspur calls his troops to arms, telling them to put themselves in the mood for battle... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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...bravely all day and says he needs to keep his sword to protect himself from Hotspur. When Hal reaches into Falstaff’s sword sheath to take his sword, he finds a bottle... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
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Hotspur enters and confronts Prince Hal, who tells Hotspur that England isn’t big enough for the... (full context)
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Hotspur falls, wounded, and declares to Prince Hal that his loss of noble honor “wound[s] my... (full context)
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Noticing Hotspur on the ground, Falstaff is frightened, and stabs the body to make sure Hotspur is... (full context)
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...truly him. Falstaff brandishes the corpse on his shoulder, telling the princes he has killed Hotspur. When Hal balks at the story, Falstaff swears on his life that he himself delivered... (full context)