While King Henry V only reigned for nine years from 1413 to 1422, his time on the throne was one of the most influential in England’s history. Henry was one of the most militarily successful kings of England and helped push the tide of the Hundred Years’ War in England’s favor. In fact, it was his fighting prowess that earned him the nickname “Warrior King”. Of course, there is more to him than fighting (though there is quite a lot of it), so join us as we delve into ten interesting facts related to King Henry V.
How Old Are You Again?
So the thing is, no one knows exactly when King Henry V was born. While historians know he was born at Monmouth Castle to Henry Bolingbroke (the future King Henry IV) and Mary de Bohun, the year has been lost to the ages. Most historians choose either September 16, 1386, or August 9, 1387. The September date comes from a horoscope drawn up by a man the French later accused of being an English spy, so it’s possible the horoscope could have just been an excuse to get close to the king.
Though not by choice. Henry V’s father had rebelled against King Richard II (Henry Bolingbroke’s cousin), and the elder Henry was later banished in 1398 when the younger Henry was roughly twelve. Richard took the young boy in and raised him as his ward. After Richard cancelled legal documents that would have let Henry Bolingbroke inherit lands from John of Gaunt, Henry IV returned to England and became swept up in the Lancastrian campaign to unseat Richard.
Ward or Hostage?
Of course, there is a school of thought that Richard taking in the young Henry wasn’t so much about looking after his cousin’s son as it was about keeping the elder Henry in line. However, while Henry IV was on the throne, and Richard was in the Tower of London, Henry IV had a messenger tell Henry V to visit his father, and the young man went to Richard instead.
After Henry IV fell ill in 1410, his son ruled in his stead of the better part of his father’s recovery. However, the young Henry got a bit ahead of himself and instituted several policies his father reversed once the king was better.
Henry’s reputation for battle actually began well before he was king. While still a prince and heir to his father, King Henry IV, Henry V cut his teeth in battle by putting down the Welsh revolt led by Owain Glyndwr. He then fought alongside his father in 1403 at the Battle of Shrewsbury where the young Henry was actually shot in the face with an arrow but was saved with a bit of surgery. He would go on to participate in even more significant battles such as Agincourt.
Henry’s Own Success or a Templar Curse?
There’s an old superstition that says after French King Philippe IV seized the Templars’ property in his country, the last Grand Master of the order put a curse on the royal that Philippe would die within a year. Philippe died eight months later, then his son Louis X died at age twenty-six after a game of tennis, and over the next twelve years, all of his descendants met an early demise. King Edward III was a distant relation, which led to him challenging the French succession and kicking off the Hundred Years’ War that Henry would later lead to much of Henry’s success.
Tennis Balls, My Liege
In Shakespeare’s King Henry V, what finally inspires Henry to go to war against the Dauphin of France is a gift of tennis balls. In the play, it’s a sign that the Dauphin does not take Henry seriously and sees him only as a boy playing at threats of war. Of course, this never actually happened in reality and Henry continued the war begun by his ancestor Edward over the claim to the French throne.
An Offer They Could Refuse
Henry originally tried to end the Hundred Years War by capturing King John II of France and holding him for ransom. However, the French didn’t pay up the full amount, and Henry eventually attempted to negotiate an end to the war saying that he would give up his claims to the French throne if they simply paid rest of the ransom, lands, and the hand of Charles VI’s daughter. His terms were refused, and open warfare resumed.
What Shakespeare portrays as Henry’s wild teenage years in King Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 seems to be almost entirely a work of fiction. It mostly comes from other accounts that could have been politically motivated and doesn’t seem to have much support from Henry’s contemporaries. In fact, most accounts during Henry’s life show that he was a little too busy fighting in wars and learning the politics of court to get involved in any mischief.
English Motherf#$@er, Do You Speak It?!
When King William I conquered England in 1066, French became the primary language of court and remained that way for centuries. And while Henry could speak French, he is thought of as the first English king to actually speak English as his primary language.