Henry V

Henry V
1. 1086-1125, king of Germany 1106-25 and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire 1111-25 (son of Henry IV).
2. 1387-1422, king of England 1413-22 (son of Henry IV of Bolingbroke).
3. (italics) a drama (1598-99) by Shakespeare.

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born Sept. 16?, 1387, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, Wales
died Aug. 31, 1422, Bois de Vincennes, Fr.

King of England (1413–22) of the House of Lancaster.

The eldest son of Henry IV, he fought Welsh rebels (1403–08). As king he harshly suppressed a Lollard uprising (1414) and a Yorkist conspiracy (1415). He claimed extensive lands in France and launched an invasion (1415), and his stunning victory at the Battle of Agincourt made England one of the greatest powers in Europe. His continuing victories forced the French to sign the Treaty of Troyes (1420), in which Henry was named heir to the French throne and regent of France. He married Catherine, daughter of the French king, but died of camp fever before he could return home.

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▪ Holy Roman emperor
born , Aug. 11, 1086 [not Nov. 8, 1081]
died May 23, 1125, Utrecht, Friesland
 German king (from 1099) and Holy Roman emperor (1111–25), last of the Salian dynasty. He restored virtual peace in the empire and was generally successful in wars with Flanders, Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland. As son of Henry IV, he continued his father's Investiture Controversy with the papacy.

      Henry was the second son of Henry IV and his first wife, Bertha of Turin. After his father became emperor, Henry's elder brother, Conrad, was elected German king; Henry succeeded him after Conrad had rebelled unsuccessfully against his father, being crowned on Jan. 6, 1099. In 1104, in the conflict between the papacy and his father, he sided with the Bavarians and Saxons against his father. As a promoter of church reform willing to compromise with the papacy, he had the support of the church. He took his father prisoner and forced him to abdicate (Dec. 31, 1105) but was not certain of his throne until his father's death on Aug. 7, 1106. He had already sent messengers to Pope Paschal II inviting him to come to Germany; he was prepared to reach a settlement provided the pope granted him full rights of investiture of bishops. The pope rejected this condition. Henry was still able to consolidate his rule in Germany. Campaigns against Hungary (1108) and Poland (1109) failed, but Henry reasserted German lordship over Bohemia in 1110. In 1110 he became betrothed to Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England, marrying her in 1114.

      An understanding with the pope in the controversy over investiture was essential to Henry. The church possessed not only spiritual rights but secular rights as well. Henry journeyed to Rome in 1110 and again demanded the right of investiture. The pope was willing to command the German churches to give back all lands and rights received from the crown if Henry would renounce the right to investiture, a bargain that was acceptable to Henry but not to the German bishops and princes. Henry then imprisoned the pope, forcing him to grant the right of investiture. On April 13, 1111, the pope crowned him emperor in St. Peter's. In the satisfaction that he had achieved what Henry IV had not, he arranged a memorial ceremony for his father in Speyer on Aug. 7, 1111.

      In Germany, Henry V followed his father's policy of favouring the class of unfree servants known as ministeriales and also the towns, thus provoking the antagonism of the princes. Rebellion soon broke out; Archbishop Adalbert of Mainz fomented unrest in the upper Rhineland, and the revolt of Lothar of Supplinburg (later to become king as Lothar III (Lothar II (or III)) and emperor as Lothar II) in Saxony ended in 1115 in a severe defeat for Henry.

      There was also strong opposition to Henry within the church. While the pope kept to his agreement with Henry, a council in Rome declared the privilege granted to Henry invalid. Papal legates in Germany pronounced Henry's excommunication, and consequently he lost the support of the German bishops. Despite this, he went to Italy in 1116 to take possession of the inheritance of Matilda of Tuscany, who had died in 1115. Further negotiations with the Curia over the investiture question were without success. When, in 1118, Pope Gelasius II was elected successor to Paschal II, Henry set up an antipope, Gregory VIII, but the move failed. Henry was called back from Italy in 1118 by an ultimatum from the German princes, who threatened to dethrone him. He was forced to make political concessions. When Gelasius II's successor, Calixtus II, offered to negotiate with him, Henry was prepared to drop his demand for full rights of investiture, but these negotiations failed. As his domestic difficulties increased, the princes finally took the initiative and negotiated the Concordat of Worms (Worms, Concordat of) (1122). The king had to renounce the right to invest the bishops with ring and crozier and to accede to their canonical election, while the pope granted the king the right to be present at the election, the right to a deciding voice if the election was indecisive, and the right to enfeoff the elected bishop with the temporalities of his see. This arrangement, however, applied only to Germany, whereas in Italy and in Burgundy the enfeoffment was to follow consecration and would therefore be a pure formality.

      Henry's subsequent struggle with the princes and, especially, with Lothar was without success. At the same time he became involved in the conflict between the English and the French. The death of the successor to the English throne had made Matilda, Henry's wife, the heiress and created the prospect of a German-English empire. Henry therefore supported his father-in-law in his conflict with France but could achieve nothing militarily. Henry died childless. His successor was his former enemy Lothar III, duke of Saxony, who was elected king largely through the efforts of the church.

      As a ruler, Henry V showed political skill, but his reach exceeded his grasp. He had dethroned his father by allying himself with the princes and presenting himself as a champion of the church's rights. Once in power, he took up his father's cause but was unable to force the church to grant him his demands. The settlement of 1122, which secured the king's influence over the German church, was brought about mainly by the German princes. By intervening in the conflict between the king and the church, they won a victory for themselves against the king, a fact that dominated the subsequent history of Germany.

Franz-Josef Schmale

Additional Reading
General introductions to Henry and his age are Stefan Weinfurter, The Salian Century: Main Currents in an Age of Transition (1999; originally published in German, 1991); and Ute-Renate Blumenthal, The Investiture Controversy (1988, reissued 1991; originally published in German, 1982).

▪ king of England
born Sept. 16?, 1387, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, Wales
died Aug. 31, 1422, Bois de Vincennes, Fr.
 king of England (1413–22) of the House of Lancaster, son of Henry IV. As victor of the Battle of Agincourt (1415, in the Hundred Years' War with France), he made England one of the strongest kingdoms in Europe.

Early Life.
      Henry was the eldest son of Henry, earl of Derby (afterward Henry IV), by Mary de Bohun. On his father's exile in 1398, Richard II took the boy into his own charge, treated him kindly, and knighted him in 1399. Henry's uncle, Henry Beaufort (Beaufort, Henry), bishop of Winchester, seems to have been responsible for his training, and, despite his early entry into public life, he was well educated by the standards of his time. He grew up fond of music and reading and became the first English king who could both read and write with ease in the vernacular tongue. On Oct. 15, 1399, after his father had become king, Henry was created earl of Chester, duke of Cornwall, and prince of Wales, and soon afterward, duke of Aquitaine and Lancaster. From October 1400 the administration of Wales was conducted in his name, and in 1403 he took over actual command of the war against the Welsh rebels, a struggle that absorbed much of his restless energy until 1408. Thereafter he began to demand a voice in government and a place on the council, in opposition to his ailing father and Thomas Arundel (Arundel, Thomas), archbishop of Canterbury. The stories of Prince Henry's reckless and dissolute youth, immortalized by Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William), and of the sudden change that overtook him when he became king, have been traced back to within 20 years of his death and cannot be dismissed as pure fabrication. This does not involve accepting them in the exaggerated versions of the Elizabethan playwrights, to which the known facts of his conduct in war and council provide a general contradiction. Probably they represent no more than the natural ebullience of a young man whose energies found insufficient constructive outlet. The most famous incident, his quarrel with the chief justice, Sir William Gascoigne, was a Tudor invention, first related in 1531.

      Henry succeeded his father on March 21, 1413. In the early years of his reign his position was threatened by an abortive Lollard rising (January 1414) and by a conspiracy (July 1415) of Richard of York, earl of Cambridge, and Henry, Lord Scrope of Masham, in favour of Edmund Mortimer, earl of March. On each occasion Henry was forewarned and the opposition was suppressed without mercy. Neither incident long distracted him from his chief concern: his ambitious policy toward France. Not content with a demand for possession of Aquitaine and other lands ceded by the French at the Treaty of Calais (1360), he also laid claim to Normandy, Touraine, and Maine (the former Angevin holdings) and to parts of France that had never been in English hands. Although such demands were unlikely to be conceded even by the distracted government of France under King Charles VI, Henry seems to have convinced himself that his claims were just and not a merely cynical cover for calculated aggression. Yet if “the way of justice” failed, he was ready to turn to “the way of force”; and warlike preparations were well advanced long before the negotiations with Charles, initiated during the reign of Richard II, were finally broken off in June 1415.

The French Wars.
      Henry V's true genius is revealed in the planning and execution of his subsequent campaigns for the conquest of France. Before hostilities began, his diplomatic skill was exerted in an effort to secure the support or at least the neutrality of John the Fearless, duke of Burgundy. His attempts to deprive France of maritime assistance show an awareness of the importance of sea power unusual in medieval kings, and after the Battle of the Seine (August 1416), England's naval mastery of the Channel was not seriously disputed. At home, Henry turned to the systematic financing of his projected invasion, partly through large-scale borrowing, partly through parliamentary taxation, the generosity of which reflects his success in arousing national enthusiasm for the war. Henry began the struggle with the wholehearted support of the magnates and the backing of a united nation. His military strategy was conceived with equal ability. It stands in marked contrast with the haphazard and spasmodic operations of the English in France in the previous century. His main objective, to which the winning of battles was largely irrelevant, was the systematic reduction of the great towns and fortresses of northern France. These, kept as headquarters of permanent English garrisons, would become focal points for the subjection of the surrounding countryside; behind the soldiers were to come administrators and tax collectors, who would make the war pay for itself. Despite the forethought and grasp this plan displayed, its execution took longer than Henry had anticipated. It absorbed his energies for seven years and brought him to an early grave.

      His first campaign brought the capture of Harfleur (September 1415) and the great victory of Agincourt (Agincourt, Battle of) (Oct. 25, 1415). This resounding triumph made Henry the diplomatic arbiter of Europe: it won him a visit (1416) from the Holy Roman emperor Sigismund, with whom he made a treaty of alliance at Canterbury (1416) and whose influence was used to detach Genoa from its naval alliance with France. The cooperation of the two rulers led directly to the ending of the papal schism through the election of Martin V (1417), an objective that Henry had much at heart. Thereafter he returned to the long, grim war of sieges and the gradual conquest of Normandy. Rouen, the capital of northern France, surrendered in January 1419, and the murder of Duke John of Burgundy in September 1419 brought him the Burgundian alliance. These successes forced the French to agree to the Treaty of Troyes on May 21, 1420. Henry was recognized as heir to the French throne and regent of France, and Catherine (Catherine Of Valois), the daughter of Charles, was married to him on June 2. He was now at the height of his power: but his triumph was short-lived. His health grew worse at the sieges of Melun and Meaux, and he died of camp fever at the château of Vincennes in 1422.

Character and ability.
      Henry's character is by no means wholly admirable. Hard and domineering, he was intolerant of opposition and could be ruthless and cruel in pursuit of his policy. His lack of chivalrous qualities deprives him of any claim to be regarded as “the typical medieval hero.” Yet contemporaries united in praising his love of justice, and even French writers of his own day admired him as a brave, loyal, and upright man, an honourable fighter, and a commanding personality in whom there was little of the mean and the paltry. Although personally lacking in warmth, he had the capacity to inspire devotion in others, and he possessed high qualities of leadership. His piety was genuine, and on his deathbed he expressed a last wish that he might live to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in a new crusade. In respect of ability, he must rank high among English kings. His achievement was remarkable: it has been rightly observed that “he found a nation weak and drifting and after nine years left it dominant in Europe.” The tragedy of his reign was that he used his great gifts not for constructive reform at home but to commit his country to a dubious foreign war. His premature death made success abroad unlikely and condemned England to a long, difficult minority rule by his successor.

C.D. Ross

Additional Reading
C.L. Kingsford, Henry V: The Typical Mediaeval Hero, 2nd ed. (1923), the first modern scholarly biography; J.H. Wylie and W.T. Waugh, The Reign of Henry the Fifth, 3 vol. (1914–29), vol. 1 and 2 minutely detailed, vol. 3 more judicious; E.F. Jacob, Henry V and the Invasion of France (1947) and The Fifteenth Century, 1399–1485 (1961), critical of Henry's achievements; H.F. Hutchinson, Henry V (1967), a popular account, mostly about the French War; C.T. Allmand, Henry V (1968), a useful, short, modern reappraisal; R.A. Newhall, The English Conquest of Normandy, 1416–1424 (1924), the best assessment of Henry V as a soldier.

▪ work by Shakespeare
      chronicle play in five acts by William Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William), first performed in 1599 and published in 1600 in a corrupt quarto edition; the text in the First Folio of 1623, printed seemingly from an authorial manuscript, is substantially longer and more reliable. Henry V is the last in a sequence of four plays (the others being Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, and Henry IV, Part 2) known collectively as the “second tetralogy,” treating major events in English history of the late 14th and early 15th centuries. The main source of the play was Raphael Holinshed (Holinshed, Raphael)'s Chronicles, but Shakespeare may also have been influenced by an earlier play about King Henry V called The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth.

      In keeping with his father's advice (Henry IV, Part 2) to seek foreign quarrels, Henry V, formerly Prince Hal, resolves to subjugate France and retake the lands in France previously held by England. His political and military advisers conclude that he has a rightful claim to the French crown and encourage him to follow the military exploits of his royal ancestors. The action of the play culminates in Henry's campaign in France with a ragtag army. The depiction of the character of Henry dominates the play throughout, from his nervous watch before the Battle of Agincourt, when he walks disguised among his fearful soldiers and prays for victory, to his courtship of Princess Katharine, which is romantic and tender despite the marriage's having been arranged by the duke of Burgundy.

      Although almost all the fighting occurs offstage, the recruits, professional soldiers, dukes, and princes are shown preparing for defeat or victory. Comic figures abound, notably the Welsh captain, Fluellen, and some of Henry's former companions, notably Nym, Bardolph, and Pistol, who is now married to Mistress Quickly. Falstaff (Falstaff, Sir John), however, dies offstage, perhaps because Shakespeare felt his boisterous presence would detract from the more serious themes of the play.

      Shakespeare hedges the patriotic fantasy of English greatness in Henry V with hesitations and qualifications about the validity of the myth of glorious nationhood offered by the Agincourt story. The king's speech to his troops before battle on St. Crispin's Day is particularly famous for its evocation of a brotherhood in arms, but Shakespeare has placed it in a context full of ironies and challenging contrasts. In the end the chorus reminds the audience that England was to be plunged into civil war during the reign of Henry V's son, Henry VI.

      For a discussion of this play within the context of Shakespeare's entire corpus, see William Shakespeare: Shakespeare's plays and poems (Shakespeare, William).

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Universalium. 2010.

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