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King Henry the Fifth

Henry’s early life

Henry a son of Henry of Bolingbroke” Henry IV” and marry de bohun was born on either 9 august or 16 September 1387. His father was in exile when Richard II took him and treated him with care and kindness. As per the requirement of the treaty of Troyes, Henry married Catherine who was King Charles IV daughter in 1420. Henry became an outstanding soldier when he was young. As early as fourteen, Henry fought the Welsh forces of Owen ap Glendower. He was a commander by the age of sixteen commanding his father’s forces during the battle of Shrewsbury. Shortly after accession to power he brought down a major Lollard uprising and a plotted assassination by nobles who were still royal to Richard II. His proposal to mary Catherine came in 1415 and demanded Plantagenet lands of Normandy and Anjou as part of his dowry. When Catherine’s father refused this proposal Henry declared war which gave birth to another chapter of the ongoing hundred wars. Henry had two missions in his war with French: to conquer land that was lost in the previous battles and to divert attentions away from all his cousins’ loyal ambitions. Henry was very tactful in fighting and by the time he was winning the battle of Agincourt, he had already conquered many towns such as “Normandy, Picardy and much of the Capetian stronghold of the Ile-de-France”. Due to his defeat which forced a way for the treaty of Troyes in 1420, Charles not only accepted Henry as his son in law but also named him as an heir of France instead of his own son. If only Henry lived two months more he would have been crowned the king of two nations. Due to his hard living as a soldier, Henry prematurely became aged. He became ill and when returning home from another campaign in France he died. He only had one son which Catherine had bore him when he was still away and he died before seeing him. He is praised in many books and plays. Rafael Holinshed a historian termed him as a king of life without spot who was loved by all men and women. Who was never passed by an opportunity or chance and whom all his followers obeyed without questioning, (King Henry V 2010).

Achievements of King Henry the fifth
Henry only died at the peak of his achievements a few months after the death of France king Charles VI and his crowning as a king. He had shown a comprehensive management of the nation through hard work. Henry ruled with a detailed channel of council which helped him improve nationally and internationally. Henry showed a personality which motivated soldiers, balanced justice forgiveness reward and punishment which united the nation and provided a ground for his success and forward movement.  In his era he proved himself as a greatest commander and a planner who would keep his army fighting abroad for three years. Henry benefited greatly from the civil wars which in turn gave way to the signing of treaty of Troyes. This treaty gave him a wife and brought the battle into an end. Henry according to many writers fulfilled every criteria demanded of a good king, (about 1995).

Henry V was one of the greatest English warrior kings of the Middle Ages who led England in the early decades of the 15th and conquered what his ancestors had tried for years. He succeeded in uniting thrones of England and France into one. In England when in power, Henry unified the kingdom which was still suffering from civil wars “the wars of the roses”. He promoted the use of English language in government and became the first king to use the language in his personal correspondence since the Norman conquest of 1006. In an English decisive victory of the Agincourt battle in 1415, King Henry the fifth was the commander of the English forces. For all the hundred years’ wars, this was a crucial one for the England. Henry successfully won the victory over the France following the treaty of Troyes of 1420. At this time France was led by king Charles VI   “the mad”. The treaty signed stipulated Henry as regent over Charles and heir to the French throne. To secure his French throne, Henry married Katherine of Valois a daughter of Charles. In Shakespeare play “Henry the fifth”, Henry is glorified although he was an utterly ruthless man who had no tinge of compassion.Henry began to take a great share of politics in 1408 after his father’s illness. With the help of his uncles, Henry and Thomas the two sons of John of Gaunt he took practical control over the government. By this time he was still a prince but because of his foreign and domestic policies which differed from those of his father, he was discharged from the council by his father. His father, Henry IV died on 20 March 1413 and on the next day Henry V succeeded him and on 9th April, he was crowned the king at Westminster Abbey. During the ceremony, a terrible snow storm happened which confused the common people as to whether it was a bad or a good omen. This man built a wider domestic policy after consolidating all his domestic policies. He made it clear from the beginning that he would rule England as a united nation head. He let the earlier memories be forgotten by honourably reinterring Richard II and took the young Mortimer in his favour. He also took the heirs of those who had suffered in his father’s reign and restored them by giving back their tittles and their estates. To make his position as a ruler secure, he executed Henry’s old friend Sir John Oldcastle. He did this to “nip the movement in the bud”.After securing his domestic policies, he turned into foreign affairs. He was encouraged by ecclesiastical statesman to involve himself with French war so as he could divert his home problems. Emperor Sigimind however requested Henry to modify his demand against France and made it possible when Henry signed the treaty of Canterbury. Henry may have regarded the assertion of his own claims as part of his royal duty, but in any case, a permanent settlement of the national debate was essential to the success of his foreign policy. Henry with the help of his force captured Harfleur in France on 22 September in 1415. After this, he marched with his forces across the French countryside towards calques ignoring the warnings of his council.  On his route he was intercepted by French army on 25th October 1415. Despite the army being so tired and outnumbered they overcame the French, deafened them and left them with severe losses. It is believed that French soldiers were bogged in the muddy battlefield, left out and rained on by heavy rain. This had negative impacts as it gave the English a way forward. They were hindered from going on many of them hacked to death as they stuck in the mud. This victory is viewed as Henry’s greatest ranking.

However, Henry made a decision that tarnished his good reputation during the battle. His order that French prisoners be killed including most that were used as ransom tarnished his good name. It is argued that Henry thought that the prisoners would turn on to their captors when his soldiers were out there repelling a third wave of French troops. The victory of Agincourt is argued that it was a first step in the campaign to recover the possens of the French which initially belonged to them, (shakespear 2008).

Henry’s command of the see was secured by driving the Genoese whom were close allies of the French out of his channel. Henry was busy on the ongoing peace negotiations in 1416. French and Genoese took advantage of this and invaded the harbor at English- garrisoned Harfleur. A French army also invaded the city. This made Henry to send his brother “John of Lancaster, the Duke of Bedford” on 14 august to raise a fleet and set sail from Beach. After a seven hour fight which followed the following day, the French-Genoese soldiers were defeated relieving Harfleur. Use of diplomacy by emperor Sigimund from France paved way to end the schism in church. So, with those two potential enemies gone, and after two years of patient preparation following Agincourt, Henry renewed the war on a larger scale in 1417. Lower Normandy was quickly conquered, and Rouen cut off from Paris and besieged. This siege raised a darker shadow on the reputation of the king than his order to slay the French prisoners at Agincourt. Rouen, starving and unable to support the women and children of the town forced them out through the gates believing that Henry would allow them to pass through his army unmolested. Henry refused to allow this and the expelled women and children died of starvation in the ditches surrounding the town. The French were paralyzed by the disputes between Burgundians and Armagnacs. Henry skillfully played them off one against the other, without relaxing his warlike approach. In January 1419, Rouen fell. Those Norman French who had resisted were severely punished: Alan Blanchard, who had hanged English prisoners from the walls of Rouen, was summarily executed; Robert de Livet, Canon of Rouen, who had excommunicated the English king, was packed off to England and imprisoned for five years, (Ian 2009).

Henry’s Victory
As spoken in Shakespeare’s play, English were proud in the memory of the war that they won, that is, the Battle of Agincourt and connected this day with a holy day. This helped them to reinforce their fortunes during this historic war. It was a clash that portrayed divine intervention Henry’s force defeated the French in four times in a row. The hundred year’s war is ranked with the Amanda and the battle of Britain as one of the finest hours. Henry’s force was a threat to the French army than simple numbers would suggest. Following these circumstances the Britons had to win this battle. The battle was fought intermittently from 1337 and 1453 and is connected to the Plantagenet kings' although the French connected it to Edward II's marriage to Isabella, daughter of France's King Philip IV. When Henry got to power, he pressed on this claim through his Army. He conquered much of the France and went ahead to marrying the then king’s daughter. The most decisive battle as discussed earlier was the one at Agincourt which was catalyzed by the French army who tried to block Henry’s advance. The morning of 25th October 1415 dawned wet and cold following a heavy rain the previous night. Both troops were in a terrible condition. The Britons had moved 270 miles moving in an average of 20 miles a day and had almost captured the Harfleur. Following the heavy rains throughout the month of March many of the troops were suffering from dysentery and also their food was running out. The French on the other hand were trying to cope with the situations though they could not make as good as the English did. The French troops hadn’t had enough sleep as they tried to keep their arms in dry and clean condition. The group started to misbehave and by 11.00 it was disorganized. The French were so confidence and sure that they would win over the small English troop. However poor management and leadership was an advantage to the English and when all was not well for them they avoided their responsibilities other than restoring it. Henry was too bright to notice their problem and used it as a weapon taking it upon him and moving so fast. He ordered his troop to fire against the French causing chaos and disrupting them. By contrast, Henry's small army could easily deploy, allowing it to fight at full strength. And Henry had the perfect weapon to use against thickly massed enemy soldiers--one that more than made up for his numerical disadvantage. Agincourt became famous as the greatest victory of British archers.

600 hundred years before this battle, the Welsh had introduced the longbow but this weapon had wrongly been misused and neglected. Before this battle, most of the fighters held their bows horizontally as they drew their arrows back to the waist. However Henry ordered his men to hold their bows vertically and draw the arrows back to the ears. It took the French by surprise as the English could shoot nine arrows per minute and hit targets at 400 yards. As the archers kept the French ranks away, Henry had time to neutralize the French powerful weapon, cavalry. English planned their weapons well having planted into the ground at an angle, wooden stakes which kept French soldiers off allowing the English troops to do their work unobstructed.  By noon the French army stood in despair as they lost to the English. Within a single hour the French had lost almost half of its troop while the English only suffered 500 casualties. Following good plans and natural factors, Henry won the battle. Even though the French were more in number to Henry this didn’t matter as he had strategies. With the French defeated, Henry moved on to dominate in France.

Leadership of Henry
Henry king of England made many decisions during his time which show that he is a good leader. He first decided that he had right of ruling in France and would control the land through invading it. After several wars, his troop suffered from injuries’ and lack of morale in fighting but like any other good leader, he continued encouraging them to fight giving them reasons as to why they should continue fighting. In the above discussed battle the English who were outnumbered five times by the French went ahead to win the battle .this was accomplished through his determination and inspiration. His soldiers had to fight in his reign whether willing or not. As a good manager, Henry new that his soldiers would fight well when they were forced other than when they had good reasons. With the perception connected to the king, Henry made it straight that they had to obey him. He used this as a key strategy in making them fight. He therefore managed his soldiers arguing that his primary objective was the same as theirs as well as for the entire kingdom. To ensure his soldiers loyalty, Henry went in midst of them in disguise to evaluate what they were thinking. He could always put his men’s effort in the same level as his. This aspect motivated the entire force by encouraging them as they compared themselves with the king. Together with his followers he refused defeat and surrender. At the same time Henry ensured that French people were not harassed by his men and injustice from the military were not entertained. He also acted firmly on those who refused to follow his orders. Henry is seen as a leader who had mercy on French people. To him, he was not seeking to conquer France as an outsider but as a rightful king who should be leading the country as he had roots from France. By treating the French fairly even when his men were had not done things right was to show that he would rule the two nations with justice. His good will made him claim his throne and maintain his reign.

 As he died Henry’s last words were wish to rebuild Jerusalem. He is considered as a national king and a hero. His schemes however are seen as if they ended in a failure he died before accomplishing them. He had a constructive idea of a firm central government which would be supported by parliament. He also wanted reforms on the church based on conservative lines, commercial development and the continuation of the national reputation. If only he lived, Henry would have accomplished his aims on medieval lines. His personality was a key value to his success.  Henry could train leaders but at the time of his death, it is believed that nobody could have taken his position as a leader. His guidance led to success of wars, diplomacy and civil administration. It would be right to argue that if Henry was not the main founder of the Britain army, then he is the first to realize its role. If he was not the founder of the English navy he was one of the first to realize its true importance.
Henry required everyone below his power to obey him. It is said that he was merciless to anybody who was merciless to him. As a prince, Henry was opposed to harsh policy of Archbishop Arundel although when he was a king he was moderate although was still charged with cruelty as a religious persecutor. Lollard executions which happened when he was in power are more considered as political other than religious. In his personal conduct he was uncorrupted, moderate and genuinely moral. Henry had a good taste of culture, that is, music and art and also participated in games and exercises. Henry was buried in Westminster Abbey, (Shakespear 2008).

Henry V was one of the gifted men in the world who had a personality that built a self belief and ability to achieve. He is believed to be one of successful army commanders who acted with a sense of right unlike the current politicians. However his ambitions took him to another level of treaties making him forget his ability to achieve such as uniting the nations neighbouring him, initiating harmony and peace between crown and the parliament. Henry left a legacy which cannot be compared to political or military. Within forty years after Henry’s death, Valois re- conquered France and resumed the throne. While England collapsed into civil wars again as Lancastrian line lost their other crown.  Henry is indeed a legend one which the later generations were taught and tried to emu rate. One of the great of all is making Vernacular English into the parliament, (Barker 2020).


Bibliography “Medieval History.” 14 may 1995.

Barker, Juliet. Conquest: The English Kingdom of France in the Hundred Years War . London: Abacus , 2009.

Ian, Mortimer. 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory. London: Bodley Head , 2009.

“King Henry V.” 19 march 2010.

Shakespear, William. Henry V (Oxford World's Classics; the Oxford Shakespeare). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Shakespear, William. Henry V: The Life of King Henry the Fift. New Jersey: Forgotten Books , 2008.


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