Monday, 4 May 2015

Fascinating Facts: Henry V

Fascinating Facts: Henry V [1413-1422]

In Shakespeare's quartet of plays, this is the last and most famous, containing the stirring battle speech that ends, “Cry God for Harry, England and Saint George!”

  • Henry was born at a time when his father was at odds with with the king, which eventually led to his father's banishment. He was kept at court as a hostage.
  • When his father usurped the throne and became Henry IV, he suddenly became heir to the throne.
  • Like his father, he was highly skilled in the knightly arts, and was given his first military command in his early teens.
  • He was well educated and may have studied at Queen's College.
  • He played the harp and gittern, an early guitar-like instrument. 

  • He became an expert tactician and skilled at siegecraft.
  • He was seriously wounded by an arrow in the face when he was sixteen.
  • When he relaxed he liked low, loud, raucous company and was often in tavern brawls.
  • As his father's mind became clouded by his illness, it was difficult to get him to make decisions, and the two often quarrelled. In September 1412, Prince Henry went to see his father with a large entourage, poured his heart out to him and then knelt and offered him a dagger: “Father, I desire you in your honour of God, for the easing of your heart, to slay me with this dagger.” The king threw the dagger away and tearfully forgave his son. Six months later, the king was dead.
  • Henry V was crowned in a snowstorm. He spent the night before in confession of all his sins and became a reformed character.
  • He was determined to recapture the French lands and fought the famous battle of Agincourt, which was a huge victory in which he was actively involved. His men were inspired by him.
  • Though brave in battle, Henry was afraid of occult forces and spent many hours each day in religious devotions.
  • By the Treaty of Troyes, in May 1420, he became heir to the throne of France. He married the King of France's daughter Catherine, and their son Henry was heir to both kingdoms.
  • He became ill and eventually died on 31 August 1422. His funeral was more magnificent than that of any king for generations, and his legend continued to grow.

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