Henry was born on 3rd April 1367 and was the King of England and France and Lord of Ireland from 1399 to 1413. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence the other name by which he was known, "Henry (of) Bolingbroke". His father, John of Gaunt, was the third and oldest surviving son of King Edward III of England, and enjoyed a position of considerable influence during much of the reign of Richard II. Henry's mother was Blanche, heiress to the considerable Lancaster estates.
Henry's relationship with the Beauforts and their mother is uncertain. Henry was only 2 when his mother died, and his father's second wife was not Katherine but rather Constance of Castile. Gaunt and Katherine did not marry until Henry was an adult and a father himself, only three years before Gaunt's death. Upon his accession, however, Henry revoked the marquessate of his half-brother, John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset and passed further legal measures barring the Beauforts from the throne. However, Thomas Swynford, a son from Katherine’s first marriage to Sir Hugh Swynford was apparently a loyal companion and Constable of Pontefract Castle, where Richard II is said to have died. Eventually, a direct descendant of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford through the Beaufort line would take the throne as Henry VII.
Henry married Mary de Bohun on 27 July 1380 at Arundel Castle. Mary was born c.1369 at Peterborough Castle, Peterborough. She was the first wife of King Henry IV of England and the mother of King Henry V, but was never queen.
Mary was the daughter of Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford, and Joan FitzAlan (1347-1419), the daughter of Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel and Eleanor of Lancaster, she was a great heiress, and her elder sister, Eleanor, became the wife of Thomas of Woodstock, first Duke of Gloucester, the youngest child of Edward III.
Mary married Henry, then known as Bolingbroke and at the time not in direct line of succession to the throne, . It was at Monmouth, one of her father's possessions, that she gave birth to her first two children, both boys. Three more sons and two daughters were born in the years up to 1394. Mary died on 4th June 1394 giving birth to the last child, Philippa of England. She was buried at Church of St Mary de Castro, Leicester. Detalis of the children are as follows:
Upon the exile of Henry's father in 1398, Richard II took the boy into his own charge and treated him kindly. In 1399 the Lancastrian usurpation brought Henry's father to the throne and Henry into prominence as heir to the Kingdom of England. He was created Duke of Lancaster on 10 November 1399, the third person to hold the title that year.
From October 1400 the administration was conducted in his name; less than three years later Henry was in actual command of the English forces and fought against Harry Hotspur at Shrewsbury. It was there, in 1403, that the sixteen-year-old prince was almost killed by an arrow which became lodged in his face. An ordinary soldier would have been left to die from such a wound, but Henry had the benefit of the best possible care, and, over a period of several days after the incident, the royal physician crafted a special tool to extract the tip of the arrow without doing further damage. The operation was successful, and probably gave the prince permanent scars which would have served as a testimony to his experience in battle.
Energetic and dynamic, Henry is perhaps best remembered for his victory at Agincourt, a chapter in his life immortalized in Shakespeare's play. His marriage to Catherine of Valois, daughter of the King of France, was designed to bring peace to the two nations that had been at war for more than 80 years; the couple's firstborn son was named as heir to the throne of France. Unfortunately, Henry V died while his son, Henry VI, was merely an infant, and the power struggle over control of the French throne led to renewed hostilities in the Hundred Years' War.
The Welsh revolt of Owain Glyndŵr absorbed Henry's energies until 1408. Then, as a result of the King's ill-health, Henry began to take a wider share in politics. From January 1410, helped by his uncles Henry and Thomas Beaufort — legitimised sons of John of Gaunt — he had practical control of the government.
Both in foreign and domestic policy he differed from the King, who in November 1411 discharged the Prince from the council. The quarrel of father and son was political only, though it is probable that the Beauforts had discussed the abdication of Henry IV, and their opponents certainly endeavoured to defame the prince. It may be to that political enmity that the tradition of Henry's riotous youth, immortalised by Shakespeare, is partly due. Henry's record of involvement in war and politics, even in his youth, disproves this tradition. The most famous incident, his quarrel with the chief justice, has no contemporary authority and was first related by Sir Thomas Elyot in 1531.
The story of Falstaff originated partly in Henry's early friendship with Sir John Oldcastle. That friendship, and the prince's political opposition to Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, perhaps encouraged Lollard hopes. If so, their disappointment may account for the statements of ecclesiastical writers, like Thomas Walsingham, that Henry on becoming king was changed suddenly into a new man.
Henry tackled all of the domestic policies together, and gradually built on them a wider policy. From the first, he made it clear that he would rule England as the head of a united nation, and that past differences were to be forgotten. The late king Richard II of England was honourably reinterred; the young Mortimer was taken into favour; the heirs of those who had suffered in the last reign were restored gradually to their titles and estates. Henry used his personal influence in vain, and the gravest domestic danger was Lollard discontent. But the king's firmness nipped the movement in the bud in January 1414, and made his own position as ruler secure.
With the exception of the Southampton Plot in favour of Mortimer, involving Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham and Richard, Earl of Cambridge (grandfather of the future King Edward IV of England) in July 1415, the rest of his reign was free from serious trouble at home.
Henry could now turn his attention to foreign affairs. A writer of the next generation was the first to allege that Henry was encouraged by ecclesiastical statesmen to enter into the French war as a means of diverting attention from home troubles. This story seems to have no foundation. Old commercial disputes and the support which the French had lent to Owain Glyndŵr were used as an excuse for war, whilst the disordered state of France afforded no security for peace. The French king, Charles VI, was prone to mental illness, and his eldest son an unpromising prospect.
Henry may have regarded the assertion of his own claims as part of his Kingly duty, but in any case a permanent settlement of the national debate was essential to the success of his world policy.
Henry sailed for France on 11th August 1415 where his forces besieged the fortress at Harfleur, capturing it on 22 September. Afterwards, Henry was obliged to march with his army across the French countryside with the intention to reach Calais. On the plains near the village of Agincourt, he turned to give battle to a pursuing French army. Despite his men-at-arms being exhausted and outnumbered, Henry led his men into battle, decisively defeating the French. With its brilliant conclusion at Agincourt on the 25th October 1415, this was only the first step.
The command of the sea was secured by driving the Genoese allies of the French out of the Channel.(His flagship, Grace Dieu – 1420) A successful diplomacy detached the emperor Sigismund from France, and by the Treaty of Canterbury paved the way to end the schism in the Church.
So, with these two allies gone, and after two years of patient preparation since Agincourt, in 1417 the war was renewed on a larger scale. Lower Normandy was quickly conquered, Rouen cut off from Paris and besieged. The French were paralysed by the disputes of Burgundians and Armagnacs. Henry skilfully played them off one against the other, without relaxing his warlike energy. In January 1419 Rouen fell. By August the English were outside the walls of Paris. The intrigues of the French parties culminated in the assassination of John the Fearless by the Dauphin's partisans at Montereau on 10th September 1419). Philip, the new duke, and the French court threw themselves into Henry's arms. After six months' negotiation Henry was by the Treaty of Troyes recognised as heir and regent of France, and on 2nd June 1420 married Catherine of Valois the king's daughter. From June to July his army besieged and took the castle at Montereau, and from that same month to November, he besieged and captured Melun, returning to England shortly thereafter.
On 10th June 1421, Henry sailed back to France for what would be his last military campaign. From July to August, Henry's forces besieged and captured Dreux, thus relieving allied forces at Chartres. That October, his forces lay siege to Meaux, capturing it on 2nd May 1422. Henry V died suddenly on 31st August 1422 at Bois de Vincennes near Paris, apparently from dysentery, which he contracted during the siege of Meaux. He was 34 years old. Before his death, Henry V named his brother John, Duke of Bedford regent of France in the name of his son Henry VI, then only a few months old. Henry V did not live to be crowned King of France himself, as he might confidently have expected after the Treaty of Troyes, as ironically the sickly Charles VI, to whom he had been named heir, survived him by two months. Catherine took Henry's body to London and he was buried in Westminster Abbey on 7th November 1422.
John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford was born on 20th June 1389, also known as John Plantagenet, was the third surviving son of King Henry IV of England by Mary de Bohun, and acted as Regent of England for his nephew, King Henry VI.
He was created Earl of Kendal, Earl of Richmond and Duke of Bedford in 1414 by his brother, King Henry V. On 14 June 1423, at Troyes, he married Anne, daughter of John the Fearless. After Anne's death in childbirth in 1432, he married Jacquetta of Luxembourg.
When Henry V died in 1422, Bedford vied with his younger brother, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, for control of the Kingdom. Bedford was declared Regent of France, his nephew technically being heir to the throne of that country as well as to England. Bedford defeated the French several times, until the arrival of Joan of Arc rallied the opposition. In 1431, Bedford had Joan tried and executed at Rouen, then arranged a coronation for the young Henry VI at Paris. While negotiating the Treaty of Rouen, he died at his home and was buried at Rouen Cathedral. Bedford had been Governor in Normandy between 1422-1432.
He was an extremely important commissioner of illuminated manuscripts, both from Paris (from the Bedford Master and his workshop) and England. The three most important surviving manuscripts of his are the Bedford Hours (British Library Ms Add 18850) and the Salisbury Breviary (Paris BnF Ms Lat. 17294), which were both made in Paris, and the Bedford Psalter and Hours of about 1420-23, which is English (BL Ms Add 42131). This last is signed in two places by Herman Scheere. All are lavishly decorated and famous examples of the style of the period.
Thomas married Lady Margaret Holland, widow of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset and daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent in November or December of 1411. No children were born from this union, though Thomas was stepfather to her six children from her first marriage.
Thomas fought in the Siege of Rouen from July 1418 until 19th January 1419, where he commanded the sieging force; and in the Battle of Baugé on 22 March 1421, he was killed, by Sir Alexander Buchanan or Sir John de la Croise, during and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral.
Henry secondly married Joanna of Navarre on 7th February 1403. She was the widow of the King of Navarre. They had no children, but she got on well with his children, often taking the side of the future Henry V of England, "Prince Hal," in his quarrels with his father.
Nevertheless, during the reign of Henry V, she was accused of using witchcraft to try to poison him. She was convicted in 1419 and imprisoned for about four years in Pevensey Castle in Sussex, England. After that she lived quietly, through Henry V's reign and into that of his son, Henry VI. She is buried in Canterbury Cathedral next to Henry IV.
Henry experienced a rather more inconsistent relationship with Richard II than his father had. They were first cousins and childhood playmates, they were admitted together to the Order of the Garter in 1377, but Henry participated in the Lords Appellant’s rebellion against the king in 1387. After regaining power, Richard did not punish Henry (many of the other rebellious barons were executed or exiled). In fact, Richard elevated Henry from Earl of Derby to Duke of Hereford.
However, the relationship between Henry and the King encountered a second crisis in 1398, when Richard banished Henry from the kingdom for ten years (with the approval of Henry's father, John of Gaunt) to avoid a blood feud between Henry and Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, who was exiled for life. Henry spent a full year supporting the unsuccessful siege of Vilnius (capital of the Grand duchy of Lithuania) by Teutonic knights with his 300 fellow knights.
The following year, John of Gaunt died, and without explanation, Richard cancelled the legal documents that would have allowed Henry to inherit Gaunt's land automatically; instead, Henry would be required to ask for the lands from Richard. After some hesitation, Henry met with the exiled Thomas Arundel, former (and future) Archbishop of Canterbury, who had lost his position because of his involvement with the Lords Appellant. Henry and Arundel returned to England while Richard was on a military campaign in Ireland. With Arundel as his advisor, Henry Bolingbroke began a military campaign, confiscating land from those who opposed him and ordering his soldiers to destroy much of Cheshire. Henry quickly gained enough power and support to have himself declared King Henry IV, to imprison King Richard, who died in prison under mysterious circumstances, and to by-pass Richard’s seven-year-old heir-presumptive, Edmund de Mortimer. Henry's coronation, on 13 October 1399, is notable as the first time following the Norman Conquest that the monarch made an address in English.
Henry consulted with Parliament frequently, but was sometimes at odds with the members, especially over ecclesiastical matters. On Arundel's advice, Henry passed the De heretico comburendo and was thus the first English king to allow the burning of heretics, mainly to suppress the Lollard movement.
Henry's first problem was what to do with the deposed Richard, and after an early assassination plot was foiled, he may have ordered his death by starvation in early 1400, although there is no firm historical evidence for this. Richard's body was put on public display in the old St Paul's Cathedral, to prove to his supporters that he was dead.
Henry spent much of his reign defending himself against plots, rebellions, and assassination attempts.
Rebellions continued throughout the first ten years of Henry’s reign, including the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr, who declared himself Prince of Wales in 1400, and the rebellion of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland. The king's success in putting down these rebellions was due partly to the military ability of his eldest son, Henry of Monmouth, who would later become king, though the son who had maintained a close relationship with Richard II managed to seize much effective power from his father in 1410.
Early in his reign, Henry hosted the visit of Manuel II Palaiologos, the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England, from December 1400 to January 1401 at Eltham Palace, with a joust being given in his honour. He also sent monetary support with him upon his departure to aid him against the Ottoman Empire.
In 1406, English pirates captured the future James I of Scotland off the coast of Flamborough Head as he was going to France. James remained a prisoner of Henry for the rest of Henry's reign.
The later years of Henry's reign were marked by serious health problems. He had a disfiguring skin disease, and more seriously suffered acute attacks of some grave illness in June 1405, April 1406, June 1408, during the winter of 1408–09, December 1412, and then finally a fatal bout in March 1413. Medical historians have long debated the nature of this affliction or afflictions. The skin disease might have been leprosy (which did not necessarily mean precisely the same thing in the 15th century as it does to modern medicine); perhaps psoriasis; perhaps a symptom of syphilis; or some other disease. The acute attacks have been given a wide range of explanations, from epilepsy to some form of cardiovascular disease.
It is said in Holinshed (and taken up in Shakespeare's play) that it was predicted to Henry he would die in Jerusalem. Henry took this to mean that he would die on crusade, but in fact it meant that, in 1413, he died in the Jerusalem Chamber in the house of the Abbot of Westminster. He died on 20th March 1413 with his executor, Thomas Langley, at his side.
Unusually for a King of England, he was buried not at Westminster Abbey but at Canterbury Cathedral, on the north side of what is now the Trinity Chapel, as near to the shrine of Thomas Becket as possible. (No other kings are buried in the Cathedral, although his uncle Edward, the Black Prince, is buried on the opposite, south side of the chapel, also as near the shrine as possible.) At the time, Becket's cult was at its height, as evidenced in the Canterbury Tales written by the court poet Geoffrey Chaucer, and Henry was particularly devoted to it. He was anointed at his coronation with oil supposedly given to Becket by the Virgin Mary and that had then passed to Henry's father.