Henry the Fifth
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English Men of Action
HENRY THE FIFTH
HENRY THE FIFTH
THE REV. A. J. CHURCH
MACMILLAN AND CO.
AND NEW YORK
The right of translation and reproduction is reserved
|The Boyhood of Henry||1|
|Prince Henry and Prince Hal||7|
|Prince Henry and the Chief Justice||22|
|The Charges against Prince Henry||30|
|Accession to the Throne||43|
|The French Crown||50|
|Preparations for War||59|
|The Invasion of France||67|
|Henry and the Lollards||97|
|Henry and Queen Joanna||105|
|The Second Campaign in France||109|
|The Siege of Melun||131|
|The Last Campaigns||137|
|The Death of Henry||144|
THE BOYHOOD OF HENRY
Henry was born in the castle of Monmouth on August9th, 1387. He was the eldest of the six children ofHenry of Lancaster by Mary de Bohun, younger daughterand co-heiress of Humphrey de Bohun.1 Humphrey, asthe last male descendant of the De Bohuns, united inhimself the dignities and estates of the Earls of Hereford,Northampton, and Essex. The elder daughter,Eleanor, was married to Thomas of Woodstock, youngestson of Edward the Third. Eleanor’s husband hopedto secure the whole of the Hereford estates, amounting,it is said, to fifty thousand nobles of annual income(not less, it may be calculated, than two hundred thousandpounds of money at its present value). He tookcharge of his sister-in-law, and had her carefully instructedin theology, intending that she should take2the veil in a convent of the Sisters of St. Clare. Johnof Gaunt had other views for her future. He tookoccasion of his younger brother’s absence in Franceto have her removed to Arundel Castle, where shewas very soon afterwards married to his son Henry.She died in 1394 in her twenty-fifth year. She wasbetter educated, it appears, than most of the ladies ofher day, and it would seem that some of her taste forbooks descended to her son. The character of Henryof Lancaster has been variously estimated. He won inhis youth a high reputation for enterprise and courage.We find him fighting against the Mahommedans inBarbary in one year, and in the next against the Pagantribes of Lithuania. His skill in all martial exerciseswas conspicuously great. But, according to one account,he was so stained with crime that his own father wishedhim to be put to death. He was a bold and probablyan unscrupulous man, whom circumstances exposed to avery strong temptation. The weaknesses and vices ofRichard the Second put the throne within his reach. Wecan easily believe that he really felt himself better qualifiedto rule than his feeble and capricious cousin, and itis just possible that he may have persuaded himself orbeen persuaded by others that there was something inhis claim of hereditary right to the throne. The powerunjustly gained was retained by the methods to whichan usurper is commonly driven, by falsehood and bycruelty. Former friends were betrayed—as, for example,the Lollards, who certainly had helped him to the throne—andenemies were ruthlessly crushed. The powerthus won and maintained descended to his son inhappier circumstances. The younger Henry’s title was3not seriously questioned. There was, it is true, a conspiracyagainst him, but it was not supported by anyformidable party in the nation. A great success, wonearly in his reign, made him the object of popular enthusiasm.At the same time he had the advantage of asingularly attractive exterior: the hereditary beauty ofthe Plantagenets was conspicuous in him. And he wasfelix opportunitate mortis: he died before the lustre ofhis achievements and the charm of his personal qualitieswere dimmed by failure and the corrupting influencesthat wait on power. It was with him as it would havebeen with the Black Prince if he had died after Poictiers.Yet, allowing for some differences of a finer organisation,it is not difficult to see some of the main characteristicsof the fourth Henry in his more fortunate son.
If tradition may be trusted, the young Henry was adelicate child, and was put out to be nursed at a villagenear Monmouth. The cradle in which he had lain waslong shown as a curiosity at Bristol, and the name of hisnurse, Joan Waring, appears in the public accounts, fromwhich we learn that an annuity of twenty pounds wassettled upon her after her foster-son’s accession to thethrone.
The household-book of John of Gaunt gives someinteresting glimpses of the lad’s education. We havean item of money paid for strings for his harp, andanother of four shillings expended on seven books ofgrammar for his use. The continued weakness of hishealth may be seen in the payment of a courier whoannounced to his father the fact of his alarming illness.
He had just entered on his twelfth year when hisfather was banished. He remained in England, probably4under the care of his grandfather. But John of Gauntdied in the February following his son’s banishment, anda few weeks afterwards Henry of Lancaster’s estateswere seized by the Crown on the ground that he hadslandered the King, and was consorting with his enemiesabroad. The young Henry accompanied Richard toIreland, and was sent to the castle of Trim in Meath,the ancient meeting-place of the Irish Parliament. Heseems to have been kindly treated, and received thehonour of knighthood from the King’s hands. He wasleft behind in Ireland in company with his cousin, theyoung Duke of Gloucester, when Richard returned toEngland in July. On August 18th Richard was madeprisoner. The young Henry was immediately sent for,and was brought to England in a ship furnished by acitizen of Chester. At Chester he met his father, whomhe accompanied to London. On September 29th Richard,who was now in the Tower, signed a deed of abdication:on the 30th Parliament met and declared him to bedeposed; and on the same day the Duke of Lancasterwas seated on the throne by the Archbishops of Canterburyand York.
Henry is said to have been created Prince of Walesby his father on the day of his coronation. At least wefind him in possession of that dignity a fortnight afterwards,when the King grants to his “most dear eldestson Henry, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, andEarl of Chester, the custody and rights of all lands ofheirs under age in the principality of Wales and thecounties of Chester and Flynt,” and also orders him tobe put in possession of the revenues of the duchy ofCornwall. The Council also had to consider where he5should reside, and what establishment should be kept upfor him.
Before long negotiations were entered upon for hismarriage. Towards the end of the year a mission wassent to the King of France, proposing in general termsalliances between the two royal families. The proposalwas rejected contemptuously. The King of Franceknew of no King of England but his son-in-law Richard.Before many weeks were past, Richard was dead—bywhat means it does not belong to our present purposeto inquire—leaving a virgin widow, Isabella of Valois.Isabella, eldest of the five daughters of Charles the Sixth ofFrance and Isabeau of Bavaria, was then in her thirteenthyear. She had all the beauty of her race, and wouldbe a richly-dowered bride. Henry lost no time in askingher hand for his eldest son. The demand was not welcomeeither to the French Court, which was not disposedto recognise Henry’s title, or to the young lady herself,who seems to have cherished a fond recollection of herhusband. It was renewed more than once with the sameill-success. Henry was afterwards to win for himself bya very rough wooing a bride of the same house, theyoungest of Isabella’s sisters.
If we are to believe a local tradition, the young Henrystudied for a time at Queen’s College, Oxford, under thecare of his uncle Henry, afterwards Cardinal Beaufort,whom we know to have been Chancellor of the Universityduring the two years 1397–8. The Chancellor was thena resident officer, performing the functions now delegatedto the Vice-Chancellor.
Queen’s College had been founded in 1341 by RobertEglesfield under the auspices of Philippa, Queen of6Edward the Third, and might therefore be considereda specially appropriate residence for princes of thePlantagenet line. A room in the college over the gatewaythat fronts St. Edmund’s Hall was long shown ashaving been occupied by Prince Henry. His portraitwas to be seen painted on the glass of the window, whilean inscription in Latin recorded (it disappeared withthe gateway early in the last century) the fact that“Henry V, conqueror of his enemies and of himself, wasonce the great inhabitant of this little chamber.” Thisglass is now in the upper library. It is difficult toestimate the precise value of such a tradition. Thereis no documentary evidence to confirm it; on theother hand, it is not intrinsically unlikely. Henryhad some of the tastes of a student. This fact and theacademical standing of his uncle might have suggested aresidence at Oxford as a useful way of employing someof his time. Such a residence, if it ever took place,must be assigned to some time between October 1399and March 1400–1. At the latter date he had begunto take a part in public affairs, for we find on March 10th,1400–1, that King Henry grants, “on the supplication ofhis most dear son, the Prince of Wales,” a pardon to allthe rebels of four counties of North Wales, with threeexceptions, of whom Owen Glendower