“The Battle of Otterbourne” Summary


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Battle of Otterbourne (from 1803 edition)

About August, the Earl of Douglas goes on a plundering expedition into England. He is accompanied by the Gordons, the Graemes and the Lindsays but the Jardines refused to ride with him and they still regret it. Douglas burns Tynedale, part of Bamburghshire and three towers on Roxburgh fells and then marches on Newcastle which is in the charge of Lord Percy.  Douglas calls out a challenge to Percy saying one of them will die before he returns to Scotland. Percy and Douglas charge each other on horseback and Percy falls, struck by Douglas’s spear.  Douglas spares him since Percy’s lady is watching in agony from the castle wall, but takes his sword. Percy pledges his word to meet Douglas at Otterburn before the end of  three days and Douglas promises to await him there. The Scots make camp at Otterburn and before daybreak a page wakens Douglas and tells him Percy is nearby.  Douglas exclaims first that the page is lying since Percy had not had enough men the previous day to meet with him, but he then speaks of a dream he had had about a dead man winning a fight and of his feeling that he is fated to die. In his haste, Douglas rushes to the battlefield without his helmet and Percy wounds him on the brow when they meet in single combat. Douglas sends his foot-page to fetch his sister’s son, Sir Hugh Montgomery, and tells Montgomery that he had had a dream that foretold that he would die and that, as a dead man, he would win the battle. He asks Montgomery to hide him by a bracken bush and keep his death a secret and Montgomery does so. The fight continues and eventually Percy and Montgomery meet in single combat and Montgomery forces Percy to yield.  When Montgomery demands that he should yield to the bracken bush that he points out, Percy says he will not yield to a bracken bush or a brier but would yield to Douglas or Montgomery, and when Montgomery identifies himself, he does yield and is led away as a captive. Douglas is buried at the bracken bush as he had requested.