This short post is an uncluttered overview, particularly for students of Shakespeare and history. Henry (b. 1386) was the eldest son of Henry IV. Crowned in 1413, how would Henry V govern and fight as the second Lancastrian king, by the time he died young in 1422?
Shakespeare called him “prince Hal,” but he was first called young lord Henry, then Prince Henry when his father made him Prince of Wales. Finally he became King Henry V.
He wore his hair tonsured to look religious.
Let’s get the big picture.
The Chronicles of the Wars of the Roses: The Turbulent Years of the Last Plantagenets, Seven Kings from Richard II in 1377 to Richard III in 1485:
Dan Jones, Wars of the Roses:
BASIC FAMILY FACTS
Henry was born at 11:22 am on 16 Sep 1386, in a tower above the gatehouse of Monmouth Castle in the Welsh Marches. He was the first child of Henry Bolingbroke, earl of Derby, who was unaware at that time that he would become Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king.
He succeeded his father 21 Mar 1413 and was crowned king on 9 Apr 1413.
He married Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI, King of France (descendant of Henry III) on 2 June 1420 at the Cathedral of St. Jean in Troyes (Aube). She was the daughter of Isabeau (Isabel or Elizabeth) daughter of Stephan III, duke of Bavaria-Ingolstadt (descendant of Henry II). She was born at the Hotel de St. Pol, Paris 27 Oct 1401. She was descended from the second
He died of dysentery at Bois de Vincennes 31 Aug 1422. He was buried at Westminster.
She remarried (secretly) to Owen ap Meredith ap Tudor (ap = son of), clerk of Queen Catherine’s wardrobe. Catherine and Owen had three sons: Edmund (father of future Henry VII), Jasper, and Edward (Benedictine monk).
She died at Bermondsey Abbey, Surrey, 3 Jan 1437 and was at first buried in the Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey. Her coffin was then moved to Henry V’s chantry in Westminster Abbey.
Owen was placed under arrest and sent to Newgate prison from which he escaped in July 1439. He received a royal pardon “for all offences” on 12 Nov 1439. In 1459 he received an annuity of £100 for life by Henry VI.
Child of Henry V and Catherine:
1. Henry will become Henry VI. He was born at Windsor, Berkshire, 6 Dec 1421. He succeeded his father 31 Aug 1422 and was crowned king of England at Westminster on 6 Nov 1429 and as king of France at Notre Dame, Paris 16 Dec 1431, thanks to his father’s conquest of a divided France.
He married at the Abbey of St. Mary at Titchfield, Hampshire, on 23 Apr 1445, Margaret of Anjou. She was daughter of René the Good, duke of Lorraine, titular king of Sicily and Naples, by Isabelle, daughter and heiress of Charles II, duke of Lorraine. She was born at Pont-à-Mousson on 23 Mar 1430 and baptized at Toul.
He died in the Tower of London 21 or 22 May 1471. Richard, duke of Gloucester (future Richard III), was in the tower at the same time, and no doubt he killed the king, so his Yorkist brother Edward IV could remain king without a rival. Henry VI was initially buried at Chertsey Abbey. But when miracles occurred at his tomb King Richard III moved his remains to St. George’s chapel, Windsor.
His wife was imprisoned variously at the tower and at Windsor and Wallingford Castles, but released in Nov 1475 on payment of 50,000 crowns, a ransom demanded by Edward IV.
She died at Dampierre-sur-Loire Castle, near Saumur, France on 25 Aug 1482 and was buried in Angers Cathedral.
BASCI FACTS AND STORIES
- Young Lord Henry was raised mainly by his uncle Henry Beaufort, a son of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III.
- In 1399 he was knighted by King Richard II, shortly before Henry (young Henry’s father) overthrew the king.
- From 1400 to 1408 young Henry got his military training from his father and Sir Henry Percy, who had fought the Welsh.
- During King Henry IV’s (Henry V’s father) declining health, a power struggle broke out in court in two factions: (1) the King and Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury and (2) Prince Henry and Thomas and Henry Beaufort, the sons of John of Gaunt.
- His relations with his father had been strained, because Prince Henry had tried to take power away from his father in 1410, but without complete success. Prince Henry had to wait until his father dies before he took charge.
- In his youth Prince Henry was somewhat of a “Party Animal,” but not as Shakespeare depicts him, but he did pursue pleasures. After 1400, however, he spent most of the time on military campaigns, where he got good training for future conquests.
- After his father took control, he made his first-born son earl of Chester and duke of Cornwall, and Prince of Wales on 15 Oct 1399. He was the first eldest son of an English monarch known to have had a formal investiture as Prince of Wales in parliament (Curry p. 9).
- Soon afterwards, he was named duke of Aquitaine (23 Oct.) and duke of Lancaster (10 Nov.). Aquitaine was a wealthy duchy in southwest France.
- In 1403 he took command in the campaign against the Welsh rebel Owen Glendower.
- On 21 July 1403 he fought in the battle of Shrewsbury, where Sir Henry Percy (Hotspur for his valor in battle) was killed, but not by Prince Henry, as Shakespeare has us believe.
- The Prince of Wales fought bravely and was wounded, taking an arrow to the face. He was honored for inspiring the troops.
- Later Shakespeare will put magnificent speeches in his mouth, notable the Crispin’s Day speech just before the Battle of Agincourt (see below).
- In Jan 1408 he was appointed lieutenant for the whole of Wales.
- In 1408 he took part in politics and the privy council (the king’s closest advisors). He supported the Burgundians rather than the Armagnacs, whom his father favored.
- Clarity: At this time France was divided between Philip the Bold of the Burgundians (of the duchy of Burgundy) and the Louis of Valois, duke of Orleans, the brother of the crazed king Charles VI. Louis formed an alliance with his father-in-law Bernard, count of Armagnac.
- So France was divided between two warring parties: the Burgundians and the Armagnacs.
- As noted, in 1410 he effective took the reins of power and got the dismissal of Arundel from the chancellorship.
- But in 1411 his father reasserted his authority, though ill. He dismissed young Henry from the council, when the king learned that his followers wanted the prince to be declared king immediately.
- However, his father died on 21 Mar 1413 and Prince succeeded and was crowned king on 9 Apr.
- England had been divided for a third of a century; Richard II had been at odds with the parliament, while his father Henry IV suppressed rebellions.
- Henry’s first act was to move the body of Richard II from a humble grave at King’s Langley to Westminster Abbey. Then he dismissed his father’s councilors and replaced him with his own, beginning with his uncle Henry Beaufort.
- He treated Edmund Mortimer, the earl of March, who had been Richard II’s heir apparent, as one of his own family.
- In 1414 he suppressed the Lollards, a sect of proto-Protestant reformers. About them, their founder had been John Wyclif or Wycliffe. He was an Oxford scholar and theologian at this time (d. 1384).
- Wycliffe argued from Scripture that since Christ was poor, the Church should be poor too. All the material wealth belonged to the state and laity. The wealth of immoral clerics could be confiscated. Of course the king and government at the time liked this idea.
- But then Wycliffe argued that some were saved, while others were damned, and no one knew who was of the elect. Even churchmen and the pope could be damned and not realize it. Now he lurched over into heresy (as the officials called it) and challenged the wrong people.
- Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible into the vernacular meant that people could read it on their own and pronounce judgment on the lax morals of aristocrats and the gentry.
- But the Lollards were no pacifists. They even counted knights in their ranks.
- Henry V could not tolerate such a thing, so he suppressed a revolt in 1413, led by Lollard John Oldcastle, a friend and companion of Henry in his younger days.
- Henry reluctantly agreed to a charge of heresy against Oldcastle, who was convicted, but who escaped from the Tower of London. He led revolts against the king. He was eventually captured and then executed in 1417.
- John Oldcastle was the inspiration of Shakespeare’s character John Falstaff.
- In 1415 he suppressed a plot against him by the earl of Cambridge and lord Scrope to place Edmund Mortimer on the throne. However, Mortimer revealed the plot to Henry.
- Now he could look across the Channel. He invaded France on 13 Aug 1415. His casus belli (cause of war) was a treaty signed in 1360 by his great-grandfather Edward III.
- Shakespeare has a humorous-mocking passage in Henry V that discusses French Salic law (only men could inherit the French throne), but France never had a serious problem with finding the right man for the job, even if he was not a son of the king. Lots of dukes. (See the post on the later Capetians, for example, Charles IV, and look at the genealogical tables.)
- The real reason was found in the treaty, which said the French should cede all of Aquitaine and Poitou and other territories. Henry also claimed the territories by his early Plantagenet ancestors, the Angevins (mainly the effective and powerful Henry II).
- The French could not possibly accept these terms, so this gave Henry the pretext to invade.
- His strategy was to take the northern towns, so he can invade deeper into the country. He got taxes from a sympathetic parliament and raised large loans.
- France was divided, and a house divided cannot stand. The French king, Charles VI, suffered from a brain disease, which incapacitated him half the time. Meanwhile, as noted, the dukes of Burgundy and Orleans struggled to fill the void.
- He took the port of Harfleur in Sep 1415, which had held out for five weeks, much longer than Henry expected. This cost Henry 40 percent of his 10,500 men, mostly from dysentery.
- Despite this many losses, he defeated much larger force at Agincourt on 25 Oct. 1415, St. Crispin’s Day. He had learned much from the battles in Wales. His choice of terrain, his placement of the archers, and his ability to inspire the troops produced a spectacular victory for the English. Henry’s army: 6000 men. French: 20,000. It lasted only three hours but left 6000 dead Frenchmen and only 300 dead Englishmen. French resistance virtually collapsed for the rest of this campaign.
- In Aug 1416 he defeated a French fleet in the Battle of the Seine R., which goes through Paris and feeds into the Channel. He secured naval supremacy.
- In 1416 he met with Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, and they agreed to help to end the Avignon Schism (1378-1417); there had been two popes, one in Rome and the other in Avignon, France. Security concerns led the popes to prefer to move to Avignon. It became an efficient bureaucratic center for judicial policies and to collect papal funds.
- Henry threw his support behind Martin V, who was elected pope, and this brought to an effective end the Avignon schism.
- In January 1419 Henry captures Rouen, the capital of Normandy. Normandy was his.
- On 10 Sep 1419 the murder of John the Fearless, the duke of Burgundy, by henchmen of the dauphin (Charles VI’s son and heir to the throne) brought the duchy of Burgundy into an alliance with England, which helps Henry’s military strategy.
- On 21 May 1420, Charles VI of France signed the Treaty of Troyes, in which Henry was named his heir and regent. Henry entered Paris.
- Henry married Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI, on 2 June 1420.
- Henry returned to England with his wife Catherine, where they were greeted with much honor. He was considered on the same level as Alexander the Great, as Shakespeare also says through his chorus in his play Henry V that Henry is a second Alexander.
- Saying he was like Alexander is a massive exaggeration, because Alexander penetrated far into India, but at least people enjoyed the myth.
- It is true that he enjoyed the reputation throughout Europe of an effective military commander, but he did not rise even to the level of his ancestor Henry II, who split France in half, north and south.
- His next invasion produced a small series of victories.
- The hard fighting took its toll, and he died of the “bloody flux,” or dysentery at the fortress of the Bois de Vincennes.
- His death happened six weeks before the French king died.
- His dream to be crowned king of France died with him, and so did his wish to go on a crusade to the Holy Land to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
- Yes, he was a wayward and reckless youth, but he soon proved himself an effective administrator, statesman, and military commander.
- He also founded two royal monasteries and encouraged reform among the English Benedictines.
- He died one of the most beloved kings in Medieval England, filling the nation with great pride. He is much admired even today.
- His reign was marked by relative peace and prosperity at home, contrasted with what preceded him and was soon to follow his passing.
The years denote their reigns.
Henry IV (1399-1413)
Henry V (1413-1422)
Henry VI (1429-1461, 1470-1471)
Edward IV (1461-1470, 1471-1483)
Edward V (1483)
Richard III (1483-1485)
Eleanor of Aquitaine (duchess of Aquitaine, queen, and Henry II’s wife)
Eleanor of Provence (wife of Henry III and mother of Edward I)
Eleanor of Castile (married Edward I)
Matilda, Empress (Henry II’s mother). The post has links to her Norman ancestors!
Christine Carpenter, The Wars of the Roses: Politics and Constitution in England c. 1437-1509, Cambridge Medieval Textbooks (Cambridge UP 1997).
Ian Crofton, The Kings and Queens of England (New York: Metro Books, 2006).
The Chronicles of the Wars of the Roses: The Turbulent Years of the Last Plantagenets, Seven Kings from Richard II in 1377 to Richard III in 1485, gen. ed. Elizabeth Hallam (CLB 1997).
Anne Curry, Henry V: Playboy Prince to Warrior King, Penguin Monarchs (Allen Lane Penguin, 2015).
The Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, gen. ed. Norman Cantor (Viking 1999).
John Gillingham, The Wars of the Roses: Peace and Conflict in Fifteenth-Century England (Louisiana State U 1981).
Chris Givens-Wilson, Henry IV, Yale Monarchs (Yale UP 2016).
Michael Hicks, The War of the Roses, 1455-1485, Essential Histories: (Osprey 2013).
Dan Jones, The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors (Penguin 2014).
Charles Philips, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain (New York: Metro Books, 2009).
A. J. Pollard, The Wars of the Roses, 2nd ed. British History in Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan 2001).
The Plantagenet Encyclopedia: An Alphabetical Guide to 400 Years of English History, gen. ed. Elizabeth Hallam, (Crescent Books, 1996).
Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols. (Salt Lake: Published Privately, 2013).
Desmond Seward, The Demon’s Brood: A History of the Plantagenet Dynasty (Pegasus, 2014).