1902 Encyclopedia > Henry V, King of England

Henry V, King of England
(1387-1422)




HENRY V. (1387-1422), king of England, eldest son of Henry IV. and Mary Bohun, was born August 19, 1387. Early bred to arms, his first military effort was not successful, for at the age of thirteen he commanded an expedition to Wales which was defeated by Glendower. Three years later he was present at the battle of Shrewsbury, and in 1408 he revenged himself on Glendower by driving him back to Snowdon. At the same time his position in the council, at the head of which he appears after 1410, gave him experience in affairs, and proves the confidence already felt in his political ability. The stories of his youthful extravagance and dissoluteness are unfounded, and, as the above facts show, improbable. Although his father appears to have been jealous of his popularity, he was practically at the head of affairs for some years before the death of Henry IV. Three weeks after that event he was crowned (April 9, 1413), and entered upon his inheritance with the good-will of all classes of the nation, So unanimous was the support he met with in parliament that constitutional affairs cease to have any interest during his reign. In his ecclesiastical policy he followed the lines laid down in 1401, with much greater heartiness than his father had shown. His persecution of heretics caused a conspiracy to sur-prise him and his brothers, which was discovered and put down with some severity (January 1414). Sir John Old-castle, the head of the Lollards, was condemned to be burnt, and though he escaped for the time, he was again taken in 1417, and put to death. Henry's orthodoxy brought him into connexion with the emperor Sigismund, then engaged in settling the affairs of the church at the council of Constance, and his assistance was very instrumental in the healing of the great schism. But the great work of his life was the conquest of France. It was with this object that he issued a kind of general amnesty on his accession, and appealed to the nation as a whole to support him. War was resolved on by parliament, and Henry laid claim to the French crown. This demand was afterwards -reduced to one for all the districts which the English kings had ever held in France. Such claims as these, of course, precluded all negotiation. The expedition was not delayed by a con-spiracy to carry off the earl of March, which was discovered before it was ripe, and on August 14, 1415, the English army landed at Havre. Harfleur was soon taken, but the English losses were so great that Henry resolved to retreat to Calais. On October 25th the French army that opposed his march was cut to pieces at Agincourt. The next two _ years were spent in preparations for continuing the war. In 1417 Henry again invaded France, took Bouen (1419), and with the assistance of the Burgundian party forced Charles VI. to grant his demands. By the treaty of Troyes (1420) it was arranged that he should marry Catherine, take the government in hand at once, and succeed on Charles's death. This disgraceful treaty had, however, the effect of reviving the national party in ^France, and during Henry's absence in 1421 the English began to lose ground. He hurried back to France, but before he had had time to recover his position, he died at the castle of Vincennes, August 31, 1422. A great soldier, an able politician, a skilful diplomatist, a generous, pure, and high-minded man, he was one of the noblest and most popular of English kings. But these good qualities should not blind one to the fact that he was a religious persecutor, and that he plunged his country into an unjust and hopeless war.







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