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Henry V

(1387—1422) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine

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king of England (1413–22). Eldest son of Henry IV and his first wife Mary Bohun, Henry was born at Monmouth, most probably on 9 August or 16 September 1386 or 1387. He was thrust into prominence by his father's usurpation of the throne in 1399. From then on Henry took a prominent part in affairs. Between 1400 and 1408 he was mostly in the west, concerned with the war against the Welsh. On 21 July 1403 he was with his father at the battle of Shrewsbury, where the English rebels under Henry Percy, ‘Hotspur’, were defeated. Between 1410 and 1413 there seems to have been tension between the king and the prince. It is possible that the king was asked to abdicate in favour of the prince on the grounds of ill‐health, but refused to do so. In the last fifteen months of the reign the prince seems to have taken little part in government. Henry succeeded his father on 20 March 1413.

The start of Henry's reign was seen by contemporaries as a new beginning. Henry lived up to these expectations, providing dynamic leadership that fired widespread enthusiasm, and appealed to feelings of nationalism and nationhood. Henry encouraged the keeping of the festivals of English saints and promoted the use of English. He used the war with France to promote the idea that England was a nation blessed by God. The general enthusiasm for the war is evidenced by the large number of the nobility who followed him to France, and by the generous grants of taxation made by Parliament before the first campaign. The contemporary Agincourt carol commemorated the battle as a famous English victory.

Henry did not at first claim the French throne but began by pressing for the implementation of the treaty of Calais of 1360 in which the French had ceded Aquitaine, and to which he added further claims to Normandy, Touraine, and Maine. It is not clear whether Henry really expected to gain his ends by diplomacy, for he had made extensive preparations for war. The subsequent campaigns for the conquest of France were well organized. Henry's diplomacy secured the early neutrality of John, duke of Burgundy, and after Agincourt the whole‐hearted support of the Emperor Sigismund. The first campaign brought the capture of Harfleur in September 1415, and victory at Agincourt on 25 October 1415. Further campaigns were aimed at the conquest of Normandy, during which Rouen fell in January 1419. Henry's success forced the French to agree to the treaty of Troyes in May 1420, by which Henry was recognized as heir to the throne of France. The treaty was cemented by Henry's marriage to the Princess Catherine, which took place on 2 June. After this Henry continued his campaigns to reduce areas of the country still loyal to the deposed dauphin, Charles. During the sieges of Melun and Meaux his health began to fail and he died, probably of dysentery, at Bois de Vincennes on 31 August 1422, leaving, as his heir to both crowns, his son Henry, less than a year old.


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