Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Henry V
HENRY V (1387–1422), king of England, eldest son of Henry IV, by his first wife, Mary, second daughter and coheiress of Humphrey de Bohun (d. 1372), last earl of Hereford, was born at Monmouth, according to the most commonly accepted date, on 9 Aug. 1387 (Paolo Giovio, Angl. Reg. Chron. p. 70, in Vitæ Illustrium Virorum, Basle, 1578; William of Worcester ). This is supported by the statements that he was in his twenty-sixth year when he came to the throne, and was born in August (Elmham, p. 17; Versus Rhythmici, 35–7, 59–61, in Cole's Memorials of Henry V). There is, indeed, no exact contemporary record of Henry's birth, but mention is made both of the young prince and of the birth of his brother Thomas in the wardrobe expenses of their father and mother between 30 Sept. 1387 and 1 Oct. 1388 (Tyler, i. 13). According to a local tradition Henry was nursed at Courtfield, near Monmouth, where a cradle alleged to be his was long preserved. His nurse was Johanna Waring, to whom, after he became king, he granted an annuity of 20l. (ib. i. 11–14). The records of the duchy of Lancaster mention that he was ill in 1395, and during the next two years there are notices of payments made for a harp, sword, and books purchased on his behalf. In 1395 there was talk of a marriage between him and Mary, daughter of John IV, duke of Brittany (Lobineau, Histoire de Bretagne, Preuves, ii. 791–3). The tradition that he was educated at Queen's College, Oxford, under the care of his uncle Henry Beaufort, ‘then chancellor of Oxford,’ first appears in the ‘Chronicle of John Rous’ (ed. Hearne, p. 207). Beaufort was chancellor in 1398, and, if the statement be correct, the prince's residence at Oxford must have fallen in this year. There is, however, no record relating to Henry at Queen's College, although a chamber over the gateway facing St. Edmund's Hall, now destroyed, was said to have been occupied by him (Hutten, Antiq. Oxford in Elizabethan Reprints, p. 64, Oxf. Hist. Soc.). That Beaufort was in some way charged with his nephew's education is not improbable, and to this connection Beaufort's subsequent influence over him may be due. Henry's mother died in June 1394. When his father was banished in 1398 the young prince remained in England, and King Richard, who treated him kindly, took him under his own charge. On 5 March 1399 a payment of 10l. was made to the prince, as part of 500l. yearly which the king granted him for his maintenance (Devon, Issues of the Exchequer, p. 269). Two months later Richard took Henry with him to Ireland, and knighted him there (Creton, Histoire du Roy Richard in Archæologia, xx. 299). When (in August) the news that Henry of Lancaster had landed in Yorkshire recalled Richard to England, young Henry and his cousin, Humphrey of Gloucester, were sent for safe custody to the castle of Trim. Otterbourne (i. 205) relates that the king complained to the prince of his father's treachery, but accepted the boy's assurance of his own innocence. Probably Henry joined his father at London towards the end of September (Adam of Usk, p. 28; Tyler, i. 48). On 11 Oct. he was made one of the knights of the new order of the Bath, on the 13th he bore the sword ‘Curtana’ at his father's coronation, and two days later was created Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, and Prince of Wales. He was afterwards declared Duke of Aquitaine, 23 Oct., and of Lancaster, 10 Nov. (Rot. Parl. iii. 426–8). On 3 Nov. the commons petitioned that ‘the prince may not pass forth from the realm,’ and in the same month proposals were made to the French court for a marriage between him and Isabella, the child-wife of Richard II. Together with his father and others of the royal household Henry suffered from an illness which was attributed to poison, and they were still ailing when, early in January 1400, a conspiracy to dethrone the new king was discovered. The king committed his sons to the keeping of the mayor and citizens of London (Gower in Wright's Pol. Songs, i. 452, Rolls Ser.), but the danger was soon over. Elmham (Vita, p. 6) makes the prince take part in the Scottish war in June, but this is unlikely, and he more probably remained at home as his father's representative (cf. Wylie, p. 145; and Ellis, Letters, 2nd ser. i. 1–5, where a letter from Lord Grey of Ruthin is addressed to him).
Henry accompanied his father in September on a rapid raid into Wales to repress the rebellion. The king left the marches in October, and the prince remained at Chester, apparently in a position of authority, for on 30 Nov. all Welsh rebels were summoned to present themselves to him there (Fœdera, viii. 167). On 10 March 1401 pardon was granted to various rebels at his request (ib. viii. 181), and on 21 March the council authorised him to discharge any constables of castles who had not performed their duty. The leading member of the prince's council was Henry Percy, the famous ‘Hotspur,’ with whom he advanced into Wales in April, and after recovering Conway Castle on 28 May, secured the submission of the counties of Merioneth and Carnarvon. But Percy shortly afterwards resigned, and his departure was the signal for a fresh outbreak. On 30 Aug. the prince was ordered to advance again against the rebels (Wylie, p. 242), and in October the king joined him in person (Usk, p. 68). After harrying the country the king (15 Oct.) was back at Shrewsbury, where he arranged for the administration of Wales. The prince was to have Anglesey with 1,000l. yearly out of the estates of the Earl of March, and Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester, was appointed as his tutor (Ann. Hen. IV, p. 361). On 8 May 1402 Henry gave his assent in London to a proposed marriage between himself and Catherine, sister of the young King Eric of Denmark. On the 14th he was at Berkhampstead, and on the 26th at Tutbury. Meantime Owen Glendower [q. v.] had been gathering strength in Wales, and a fresh invasion became necessary in September. Henry commanded one of the three divisions of the English army, but the expedition proved a failure (Usk, p. 76; Ann. Hen. IV, pp. 343–4). On 7 March 1403 the prince was appointed by the council to represent his father in Wales and the marches (Fœdera, viii. 291). He fixed his headquarters at Shrewsbury, and early in May again invaded Wales. The Welsh retired before him, but he burned Glendower's residences at Sycarth and Glyndyvrdwy, and devastated the whole cymmwd of Edeyrnion and part of Powys (Proc. Privy Council, ii. 61–2; a letter from Henry, dated Shrewsbury, 15 May, clearly belonging to 1403, see Wylie, p. 342). On 30 May he wrote to the council that his troops were eager for pay, that the rebels were taking advantage of his difficulties, and that he had been forced to sell his own jewels to meet the most pressing needs (Proc. Privy Council, ii. 62–3). On 16 June the sheriffs of the border counties were ordered to send troops to his assistance (Fœdera, viii. 304), and on 10 July the king ordered 1,000l. to be sent him with all speed, in order that he might keep his troops together (Proc. Privy Council, i. 206–7). Meantime Glendower was very active, but the prince could offer no resistance.
News of the conspiracy of the Percies reached the king at Lichfield on 11 July 1403, and he at once joined his son at Shrewsbury. Hotspur was close at hand, and on the 21st the decisive battle was fought at Berwick, two miles north of the town. The prince fought bravely; although wounded in the face with an arrow, he charged and broke the opposing line (Ann. Hen. IV, pp. 367–8). Shakespeare's story that he slew Hotspur with his own hand is unauthenticated. On the king's departure to meet Northumberland the prince was left at Shrewsbury with full powers to deal with the rebels in Cheshire, Denbigh, and Flint (Fœdera, viii. 320; cf. Rot. Viag. 27 ap. Wylie, p. 365, where it is stated that ‘the prince is not able to move’). Henry seems to have been absent from the border during part of the winter. In the council held at Lichfield on 29 and 30 Aug. the gentlemen of Hereford requested that the prince might be thanked for the good protection of the county, and at the same time money was granted to pay his troops (Proc. Privy Council, i. 231–2, 235). During October Henry was able to act with vigour, and in November, accompanied by his brother Thomas, attempted to relieve Coyty Castle. On 11 March 1405 he wrote from Hereford that the rebels having burned Grosmont Castle in Monmouthshire, he had sent Lord Talbot against them, who had defeated the Welsh with heavy loss, but he does not seem to have been present in person (ib. i. 248–50; Cont. Eul. Hist. iii. 402). An intended invasion of Wales by the king was delayed, in consequence of Scrope's conspiracy, till September. In that month Coyty Castle was at length relieved, but the expedition was otherwise unsuccessful. On 22 Sept. the king wrote from York that he had left his ‘first-born son in Wales for the chastisement of the rebels’.
Early in 1406 negotiations were opened without result for a marriage between the prince and one of the French king's daughters. On 3 April the commons prayed the king to thank the prince for his services in chastening the rebels, and begged that the command on the Welsh marches should be entrusted to him (Rot. Parl. iii. 569); his appointment as lieutenant in Wales was renewed two days later. On 7 June the commons once more petitioned that the prince might be sent into Wales with all haste (ib. iii. 576), and he accordingly went there shortly after. But in December he was back in London. He took part in the presentation of the great petition against the lollards (ib. iii. 583–4; Stubbs, Const. Hist. iii. 359), and was present in the council on 8 Dec., and again on 23 Jan. 1407. In the summer he was again in Wales and captured Aberystwith. Glendower recovered by a stratagem soon after, but on 1 Nov. the town once more surrendered to the English (Walsingham, Hist. Angl. ii. 277; Fœdera, viii. 419—wrong date—497–9). In November Henry led an expedition into Scotland in such force that the Scots yielded without fighting, and a truce was made for a year (Monstrelet, liv. i. c. 35). He attended the parliament at Gloucester, where he was thanked for his services, and bore witness in favour of his cousin Edward, duke of York, who was still under suspicion (Rot. Parl. iii. 611–12).
Glendower's power was now waning, and Henry took little or no part in such warfare as still went on. Early in 1409 he was made warden of the Cinque ports and constable of Dover. On 31 Jan. 1410 Thomas Beaufort [q. v.] became chancellor, and held the office for nearly two years. During this time it is probable that the prince governed in his father's name. The king was almost entirely disabled by illness, and in the council, which frequently met in his absence, the prince's name appears in the first place; a petition of Thomas of Lancaster in June 1410 was addressed to the prince and council (Proc. Privy Council, i. 339), and a petition granted by the king is endorsed ‘respectuatur per dominum principem et consilium’ (Rot. Parl. iii. 643). In the parliament which met in January 1410 Henry vigorously opposed a proposal to confiscate the temporalities of the church. His strong religious temper at this time is further illustrated by his conduct at the burning of the lollard, John Badby [q. v.], on 1 March. On 18 March Henry was made captain of Calais. At home, besides the religious question, there were difficulties as to the university of Oxford. Arundel claimed the right of visitation, and was opposed by the chancellor, Richard Courtenay [q. v.], who had previously secured the good services of the prince (Wilkins, Concilia, iii. 323; Chr. Giles, p. 58; Munimenta Academica, i. 251). Courtenay had to give way, but the affair led to a breach between Henry and the archbishop, who henceforth absented himself from the council. Thomas of Lancaster about the same time quarrelled with the Beauforts, and as a result with his elder brother also (Chr. Giles, p. 62; Calendar Rot. Pat. p. 259). In 1411 the Duke of Burgundy, being hard pressed by the Armagnacs, applied for help from England; the ‘Brut’ expressly says that the application was made to the prince (Harl. MS. 2248, f. 278 b; cf. also Gregory's Chron. p. 106). Henry overcame his father's reluctance (ib.), and in September an expedition was despatched to the duke's assistance under Gilbert Umfraville, earl of Kyme, who defeated the Orleanists at St. Cloud on 11 Nov. About the same time proposals which came to nothing were made for the prince's marriage with a daughter of Burgundy (Proc. Privy Council, ii. 19–24).
Meantime parliament met at Westminster on 3 Nov. 1410, and the king under Arundel's influence determined to get rid of the Beauforts. On the other hand a proposal was almost certainly made, probably on the first day of the session, to induce the king to resign his crown in the prince's favour. It is significant that when in 1426 Henry Beaufort was charged with having conspired against the prince, and incited him to assume the crown in his father's lifetime, he preserved a discreet silence on the latter point (Rot. Parl. iv. 298; Hall, p. 133; Chr. Giles, p. 63; Cont. Eul. Hist. iii. 421). The king indignantly refused to abdicate, and on 5 Jan. 1412 Thomas Beaufort gave way to Arundel. At the same time the prince withdrew from the council, and on 18 Feb. received payment for his services. His place was taken by his brother Thomas, who became Duke of Clarence; the negotiations with Burgundy were dropped, and a treaty was concluded with Orleans in May, as a result of which an expedition was sent to Guienne under Clarence in August. The Monk of St.-Denys alleges that Henry endeavoured to delay his brother's departure, and only yielded to his father's representations (Rel. St.-Denys, xxxii. 32). Henry's loss of power did not satisfy his enemies, who charged him with having devoted money which was intended for the payment of the garrison of Calais to his own use. The accusation was, however, almost at once disproved (Proc. Privy Council, ii. 34; see Tyler, i. 279–81). In 1412 the prince is hardly mentioned, except as receiving payment for expenses incurred at Calais and in Wales. He was in London in July, and again in September (Chron. London, pp. 94–5). In the spring of 1413 the king was unable, owing to failing health, to transact any business. It is to this time that, if true, the well-known story of the prince coming into the king's chamber and taking away the crown as he lay in a trance belongs; it first appears in Monstrelet (ii. 338–9).
On 20 March 1413 Henry IV died, and his son succeeded as king. On Passion Sunday (9 April) he was crowned at Westminster, in the midst of a violent snowstorm. Some regarded this as an omen that the new king had put off the winter of his riotous youth (Walsingham, Hist. Angl. ii. 290), and the incident is made the occasion by numerous writers for introducing a reference to a marked change in Henry's character on his accession to the throne. Elmham states that on the night of his father's death the new king visited a recluse at Westminster, and to him made confession of his former life, and promised amendment; but the most specific charges which he brings against him are that ‘he was in his youth a diligent follower of idle practices, much given to instruments of music, and fired with the torches of Venus herself’ (Vita, pp. 12, 15). Another fifteenth-century account says: ‘In his youth he had been wild and reckless, and spared nothing of his lusts or desires, but as soon as he was crowned suddenly he was changed into a new man, and all his intent was to live virtuously’ (Cotton. MS. Claud. A. viii. f. 11; see also Walsingham, u. s.; Livius, p. 4; Capgrave, Chr. p. 303; Hardyng, p. 372; Fabyan, p. 577). It is clear that Henry's conduct as prince was marked by some youthful follies; ‘they were, however, the frolics of a high-spirited young man, indulged in the open air of the town and camp; not the deliberate pursuit of vicious excitement in the fetid atmosphere of a court’ (Stubbs, Const. Hist. iii. 77). His youth was spent in the battle-field and council chamber, and the popular tradition (immortalised by Shakespeare) of his riotous and dissolute conduct is not supported by any contemporary authority. The most striking incident in the tradition, his defiance of Gascoigne and his committal by the judge to prison, first appears in Sir Thomas Elyot's ‘Governour,’ 1531, whence it was borrowed in its main outlines by Hall (Chronicle, p. 46; Holinshed, p. 543, where it is made the occasion of the prince's dismissal from the council). Shakespeare obtained his knowledge of it from Hall. It is impossible that such a story should have escaped notice for over a century, and the addition supplied by Shakespeare (Second Part of Henry IV, act v. sc. 2), that the prince on becoming king bade the chief justice ‘still bear the balance and the sword,’ is contrary to fact, for shortly after Henry's accession to the throne on 29 March Sir William Hankford [q. v.] was appointed to succeed Gascoigne, who naturally vacated his office on the accession of a new king [see under Gascoigne, Sir William].
So far at least as regards his public life, Henry's career was consistent throughout. In the administration of state affairs he had always identified himself with the policy of the Beauforts, as opposed to his father's favourite adviser, Archbishop Arundel. On the day after his accession (21 March) he made Henry Beaufort chancellor; the Earl of Arundel was at the same time appointed treasurer, no doubt with the intention of conciliating his powerful family.
The parliament which had been summoned previous to the death of Henry IV became the first parliament of his successor, but did not meet till 15 May. Supplies were promised to meet the expenses of government, and complaint was made of the weakness of the late reign (Rot. Parl. iv. 3–14). Henry on his part granted a general pardon; negotiations were opened for ransoming the young heir of the Percies from the Scots; the Earl of March was given his liberty, and taken into the royal confidence; while the remains of Richard II, Henry's earliest benefactor, were given honourable burial at Westminster in December. These judicious acts showed that the enmities of the past reign were to be forgotten. The first year of the new reign was chiefly remarkable for the movement among the lollards. The lollard leader, Sir John Oldcastle, on refusing to accept Archbishop Arundel's citation, was arrested by the king, and brought before the archbishop on 23 Sept. His condemnation, after a long discussion, and a fruitless interview with the king himself, was almost immediately followed by his escape from the Tower (Walsingham, Hist. Angl. ii. 291–7; see Pauli, Geschichte von England, v. 81–7). All efforts to recapture him were unavailing, the threatened lollard rising began to take a practical shape, and a conspiracy was formed to seize Henry and his brothers while spending Christmas at Eltham. This was frustrated by the king's hasty removal to Westminster. The lollards then called a great meeting, to be held in St. Giles's Fields on 7 Jan. 1414, but Henry averted the danger by his resolute vigour. The gates of London were closed to prevent any disaffected citizens passing out, while the king in person occupied the fields with a strong force. Some minor actors in the movement were arrested and punished. Oldcastle himself escaped for the time, but was captured and executed during the king's absence in France in 1418 [see under John, Duke of Bedford, and Oldcastle, Sir John].
The parliament of 1414 met at Leicester on 30 April; its chief measures were a new statute against the lollards, and the confiscation of the alien priories. According to one account, Chichele, who had succeeded Arundel as archbishop in February, advocated a war with France as a means of foiling the lollards in their attacks on the church (Hall, Chron. p. 49; a similar statement appears in Cott. MS. Claud. A. viii. f. 11 b, where, however, no date is given, and Chichele's name is not mentioned, but the bishops are alleged to have urged the war as a means of diverting Henry from an intended reform of the church). Hall's statement is undoubtedly inaccurate [see under Chichele, Henry], but it is probable that the king's claims on France were broached, for on 31 May the bishops of Durham and Norwich, with Richard, lord Grey of Codnor, were accredited as ambassadors to negotiate for a peace with France (Fœdera, ix. 131). Negotiations had been opened in the previous year, and proposals had been made for a marriage between Henry and Catherine, daughter of Charles VI (ib. ix. 36–9, 56, 68–9, 91, 103–5), but this embassy was the first definite step taken towards asserting the English king's right to the French throne. The claim to the crown was almost at once waived without prejudice to Henry's rights, but the English still demanded Normandy, Touraine, Anjou, Maine, and Ponthieu, together with all the lands ceded by the treaty of Bretigny in full sovereignty, Catherine's hand in marriage, and a large dower. These demands were too extravagant for the French to accept, even in the then distracted condition of their country, with its mad king and its intestine feuds. Despite the various embassies which went to and fro, no agreement was come to, and the imminence of war was the occasion for summoning the second parliament of the year in November. The estates granted liberal supplies, but urged the king to pursue his endeavours for peace, and the negotiations were accordingly continued during the spring of 1415. The French were anxious to avert the war, and in April a truce was concluded, which was afterwards prolonged till 15 July (on these negotiations see especially Rel. St.-Denys, xxxiv. 45, xxxv. 22, 31, xxxvi. 1–5). Henry clearly expected the war to break out in the summer; on 2 Feb. 1415 measures were taken for the safe-guarding of the seas and the marches of Wales and Scotland during the king's absence (Proc. Privy Council, ii. 146–7); and during the next few months commissions were issued to make all necessary preparations for the intended expedition (Fœdera, ix. 200, 215, 224, 235–8, 248, 250–3, 261). At a council held on 16 and 17 April Beaufort announced the king's intention to make an expedition for the recovery of his inheritance (ib. ix. 222; Proc. Privy Council, ii. 155), and the Duke of Bedford was made regent in his absence. In June Henry left London for Winchester, where at the end of the month he received a final ineffectual embassy from the French king; the well-known story of the dauphin sending him a barrel of tennis balls appears in contemporary authorities (Liber Metricus, c. xii.; Lydgate ap. Chron. London, pp. 216–217), but the occasion to which it should be referred, if true, is uncertain. Save for a short visit to London, Henry spent July on the coast superintending the preparations, and devoting special attention to the fleet. About the middle of the month a dangerous conspiracy was discovered; Richard, earl of Cambridge, Henry, lord le Scrope, and Sir Thomas Grey of Heton had formed a plot to proclaim the Earl of March king immediately on Henry's departure; their intention was revealed, it is said, by the young earl himself (Waurin, ii. 178). The three principal conspirators were executed early in August, but Henry showed no resentment for his cousin March, who at the same time received a general pardon (Fœdera, ix. 303).
Henry embarked at Porchester in a small vessel on 7 Aug. 1415; on the 10th he went on board his ship, the Trinity, and next day the expedition sailed from Portsmouth (Gesta, p. 13; on these dates see Nicolas, Agincourt, p. 183). The army consisted of 2,500 men-at-arms, with their attendants, and eight thousand archers; there may have been thirty thousand men all told; the fleet numbered about fifteen hundred sail (ib. pp. 47, 49, 184, 333–90). On the 13th the expedition reached the Seine, and next morning the army disembarked without opposition. Henry's first care was to issue a proclamation forbidding all violence on pain of death. After three days spent in reconnoitring, siege was laid to Harfleur on the 17th, Henry taking up his position at Graville; the town surrendered, after an obstinate defence, on 22 Sept. (Gesta, pp. 19–31; Waurin, ii. 180–4). On the 26th a herald was sent to the dauphin challenging him to appear within eight days and decide the dispute by single combat with the king (Fœdera, ix. 313, where it is dated 16 Sept.; but see Nicolas, Agincourt, pp. 71–2). When the time expired without any answer, a council of war was held on 5 Oct. The English had suffered heavily during the siege, chiefly from disease; the majority therefore urged that the army should at once return home by sea. Henry, however, decided on the bold step of marching to Calais by land. Clarence was sent back to England in charge of the fleet and the sick, a garrison was left in Harfleur, and the remainder, numbering perhaps fifteen thousand men in all (Pauli, v. 111; Nicolas, Agincourt, pp. 75–8), started on their adventurous march on 8 Oct.
After some skirmishing at Montivilliers and Fécamp, Arques was reached on the 11th; next day there was an encounter with the garrison of Eu. Henry had intended to cross the Somme at Blanche-tache, as his great-grandfather had done before Creçy, but being falsely informed that the French held that passage in force, decided to march higher up the river (St.-Remy, i. 232). On the 13th the English reached Abbeville, but the bridges were all broken down, and a strong force was assembled on the opposite bank (Gesta, p. 39). Henry accordingly marched on by Amiens and Boves to Corbie, outside which town there was a smart skirmish on the 17th; on the 18th he reached Nesle, and there learnt that there was a ford at Bethencourt. The French had broken up the approaches, but they were repaired without difficulty, and on the 19th the army safely crossed the Somme and encamped for the night near Athies and Mouchy la Gache (ib. p. 43; St.-Remy, i. 235). Next day there came heralds announcing the resolution of the French to fight, and inquiring of Henry by what route he would proceed. ‘Straight to Calais,’ was the king's reply. On the 21st the march was resumed to Doingt, near Péronne, the French retiring as the English army advanced. On the 22nd Henry lodged at Forcheville, and on the 23rd at Bonnières l'Escaillon, the advanced guard, under the Duke of York, being at Frévent on the Canche. On the 24th Henry crossed the Canche and marched to Blangy on the Ternoise, which river was no sooner passed than scouts came in to report that the French were advancing in large numbers (ib. i. 240–2). Henry halted his troops and calmly prepared for battle, rebuking Sir Walter Hungerford, who regretted that they had not here ‘but one ten thousand of those men in England that do no work to-day’ (Henry V, act iv. sc. 3; Gesta, p. 47). But at sunset the French withdrew without fighting to Agincourt, where they passed the night feasting and playing at dice for the prisoners whom they confidently expected to take on the morrow (Lydgate ap. Nicolas, Agincourt, p. 318; Cott. MS. Claud. A. viii. f. 3 b). The English bivouacked in the open air at Maisoncelles, and occupied themselves with prayer and preparation for the battle, Henry being careful to send out scouts to examine the ground.
The next morning at daybreak the French drew up in three divisions, numbering at the lowest estimate fifty thousand men (see Nicolas, Agincourt, p. 109). They were massed in dense columns one behind the other, in a space too narrow for the evolutions of so large an army, while their difficulties were increased by the excessive weight of their armour and the softness of the ground, which was sodden with rain (Juvénal de Ursins, pp. 519–20; St.-Remy, i. 252). On the other side, Henry, mounted on a small grey horse, and wearing a magnificent crown in his helmet, saw to the ordering of his troops in person (ib. i. 244). The English army could occupy the whole width of the field with advantage; in the centre was the king, on the right the Duke of York, on the left Lord Camoys; the archers, provided with stakes to form a palisade, were placed on the wings, while the flanks were protected by woods. When all was ready Henry made a speech to his soldiers; according to one account he declared that ‘for me this day shall England never ransom pay’ (Pol. Songs, ii. 124). For some time neither army made any movement, and several hours were spent to no purpose in negotiations. At length, towards eleven o'clock, Henry gave the order, ‘Banners advance!’ When the English came within twenty paces, the French van rushed forward to meet them; the archers halted, and planting their stakes met the French cavalry with a volley of arrows. For a time the sheer weight of their column gave the French the advantage, but presently their horses became unmanageable through the pain of their wounds, and the confusion was completed by the dense mass which, pressing on from behind, made all attempts to rally impossible. Then as the French line wavered the archers threw aside their bows, and the English, striking right and left with their swords, pierced to the second battle (St.-Remy, i. 254–256). The Duke of Alençon, who commanded this division, endeavoured to restore the day by a furious charge, in which he broke the English line and struck down Humphrey of Gloucester with his own hand. Henry rushed forward to protect his brother, and himself received a blow which brought him to his knees. Alençon was, however, forced to yield, and was slain before Henry could save him. The third division of the French yet remained unbroken, and the English were preparing to renew the battle when a message was brought that a fresh force had attacked the rear; in reality it was only a small body of peasantry who were plundering the English camp, but the danger seemed imminent, and Henry ordered all the prisoners to be slain. Only a few of the more illustrious escaped from the massacre, which was completed before the discovery of the mistake. The French made no attempt to take advantage of this opportunity, and their third line was put to flight after a desultory and disorganised resistance. The victory was complete; the battle had only lasted three hours, but the slaughter was very great. The total French loss may have reached ten thousand, in which were included many persons of eminence; the prisoners were also numerous. On the English side the loss is put by some writers as low as fourteen, by St.-Remy and Monstrelet as high as sixteen hundred; the Duke of York and the Earl of Suffolk were among the slain (see Nicolas, Agincourt, pp. 133–6).
Henry remained on the field till evening; he inquired the name of the neighbouring castle of Agincourt, and ordered the battle to be called after it. The English were too exhausted to attempt a pursuit, and at dusk withdrew again to Maisoncelles. Next morning they resumed their march to Calais, which was reached on 29 Oct.; there Henry remained till 16 Nov., when he crossed to Dover. On the 23rd he entered London, and was received by the citizens with a gorgeous pageant; he himself rode in simple attire to give thanks at St. Paul's and Westminster, and would not let the dented helmet which he had worn at Agincourt be exhibited to the people. Parliament had already met under the regent Bedford on 4 Nov., and marked its gratitude by granting the king the custom on wool, and tunnage and poundage for life, together with a tenth and fifteenth (Rot. Parl. iv. 62).
Except for a few weeks Henry remained in England till July 1417. Various matters both of home and foreign policy required settlement; old enmities were healed by the final restitution of the heirs of Mortimer, Percy, and Holland to their estates and favour; an attempt to pacify the Welsh border was made by appointing Sir Gilbert Talbot to treat with the last of Glendower's supporters (Fœdera, ix. 330); Scotland was to be secured by arranging for the release of her young king James (ib. ix. 417); while negotiations were opened with most of the continental powers and a number of treaties concluded (ib. ix. 364, 410–15). But the chief event of the year (1416) was the visit of Sigismund, king of the Romans. Sigismund's main purpose was to concert means for terminating the schism in the church. With this object Henry was in the fullest sympathy, and Robert Hallam [q. v.], the bishop of Salisbury, who had been sent as the chief English representative to the council of Constance in 1414, had been instructed to conclude a treaty with Sigismund (ib. ix. 167–8), and had acted in unison with him during the earlier sessions of the council in 1414 and 1415. But Agincourt had made Henry the arbiter of western Europe, and the conclusion of peace between France and England seemed essential to a termination of the schism. To promote peace Sigismund had visited Paris in March 1416, and when he came to England in the following month he brought with him an embassy from the French king. On 27 April he landed at Dover, after expressly declaring that he claimed no rights as emperor in England. Negotiations were at once commenced, but there was no actual cessation of hostilities. Dorset, the English commander at Harfleur, made a raid in March, and in May the French retaliated by plundering the southern coast of England, and by laying siege to Harfleur. Henry had proposed to command the expedition which under Bedford relieved Harfleur and defeated the French fleet in July, but was dissuaded by Sigismund. All this time, however, negotiations had been going on; William of Holland came over in May to assist Sigismund, and an envoy of the Duke of Burgundy was also present. Henry was willing to accept the mediation of Sigismund and a truce for three years on condition of retaining Harfleur, but the negotiations proved ineffectual owing to the influence of the Count of Armagnac (Rel. St.-Denys, xxxviii. 3–4). Des Ursins (p. 532) says that the French hoped to reap more advantage from war. Sigismund resented their action and determined on an English alliance, which Henry readily agreed to. A treaty was accordingly concluded at Canterbury on 15 Aug., Sigismund pledging himself to support the just claims of his new ally (Fœdera, ix. 377). The most important result of this agreement was that it led directly to the termination of the schism by the election of Martin V; for Henry it was a further triumph, because it separated Sigismund from his ancient alliance, and secured his influence in inducing the Genoese to withdraw the aid of their fleet from the French (Rel. St.-Denys, xxxvii. 10; cf. Proc. Privy Council, ii. 236). At the end of August Sigismund went over to Calais, where Henry rejoined him on 4 Sept. The negotiations were once more renewed, and ambassadors were despatched by the French king, who concluded a truce to last till 2 Feb. 1417 (Fœdera, ix. 386–7, 397). Burgundy had also sent ambassadors, and on 4 Oct. arrived in person and held a secret conference with Henry and Sigismund. As a result some form of treaty was agreed to on 8 Oct. It was asserted that Burgundy recognised Henry's claims to the French throne, and this was no doubt what Henry tried to obtain (ib. ix. 394); but, though Burgundy's action was regarded with suspicion in France (Bourgeois du Paris, p. 648), it does not appear that the duke consented to anything more than a truce for Flanders and Artois (Barante, iii. 190).
On 16 Oct. Henry returned to England, and three days later met the second parliament of the year at London. The chancellor in his opening speech announced the failure of all attempts for peace and the necessity of a decisive appeal to the sword. The commons in reply granted two aids and authorised the raising of a loan on their security. During the winter Henry was busy superintending the preparations for his second expedition, men were collected and trained, and provision was made for the victualling of the army and for the equipment of a regular medical service (Fœdera, ix. 436–7). Special attention was directed to the navy; ships were built by Henry's direction at Southampton and on the Thames, so that in February 1417 the king had six great ships, eight barges, and ten balingers (Nicolas, Agincourt, App. p. 212; see ‘Libel of English Policye’ in Pol. Songs, Rolls Ser. ii. 199–201; a longer list drawn up in August 1417 is given in Ellis, Letters, 3rd ser. i. 73; cf. also ib. 2nd ser. i. 67–72). These were royal vessels in addition to those supplied by the ports, and it is from this time that the foundation of the navy as a national force most probably dates (Nicolas, History of the Navy, vol. ii. chap. vi.). Furthermore, ordinances were issued for the fleets and armies which entitle Henry to be considered the founder of our military, international, and maritime law (ib. ii. 405–6; Agincourt, App. p. 31; Stubbs, Const. Hist. iii. 77). On 25 April 1417 Henry rode through London to St. Paul's and took his leave of the citizens (Cott. MS. Claud. A. viii. f. 5); he then went to Southampton and busied himself with the final preparations for departure.
On 23 July 1417 Henry's second expedition set sail with an army of nearly fifty thousand men in a fleet of sixteen hundred ships (Puiseux, Siège de Caen, p. 31). On 1 Aug. it disembarked on the south bank of the Seine near Touques. Master of Harfleur and the north of the Seine, a less skilful general might have been tempted to march straight on Rouen as the capital of northern France. Henry, however, displayed his generalship by a very different plan. The first campaign was devoted to securing the towns and castles of central Normandy, by which means the province was cut in half, Brittany and Anjou forced into neutrality (Fœdera, ix. 511–13), and the communications of Rouen with central France severed. The castles of Touques and D'Auvillars surrendered early in August; by a skilful march Henry cut off Caen from Honfleur, Rouen, and Paris, and by the 18th was able to invest the town, which promised to supply suitable winter quarters, and was too important to be left uncaptured in his rear (Puiseux, Siège de Caen, p. 33; Rel. de St.-Denys, xxxviii. 12; Livius, p. 35). On 4 Sept. the town was carried by assault, Henry directing the attack in person; the castle held out till the 19th. The work of conquest proceeded with startling rapidity. Bayeux, Alençon, Argentan, and many smaller places were surrendered after little or no resistance, so that by the middle of October the whole province up to Le Mans was secured. This success was no doubt assisted by the dissensions among the French, the Armagnacs having recalled their men-at-arms to employ them against the Burgundians (Barante, iii. 212; St.-Remy, i. 341). In October Henry went to direct the siege of Alençon, and at the end of the month held a conference there with the Duke of Brittany, who according to one account offered to hold Brittany as his vassal (Walsingham, Hist. Angl. ii. 326–7; Fœdera, ix. 505–6, 511). Towards the end of November he laid siege to Falaise; the town surrendered on 2 Jan. 1418 and the castle a month later. Except for a short visit to Caen in February, Henry remained in the neighbourhood of Falaise till the beginning of March 1418, when he went to Bayeux and spent Easter there; from 21 April till the end of May he was at Caen. During this time he took no active part in the war, which was, however, vigorously prosecuted by his lieutenants. Gloucester was despatched to the Cotentin and besieged Cherbourg in April, Huntingdon captured Coutances and Avranches, Warwick besieged Domfront, and Exeter Evreux, while Clarence was employed in preparing for the advance on Rouen, which was to be the main feature of the year's campaign. Henry, no doubt, gave a general superintendence while occupied at Caen with civil organisation and preparation for the siege of Rouen.
At the end of May Henry went to Bernay and joined Clarence, who had by this time captured Lisieux and most of the small towns of the Lieuvin. The capture of Louviers, 22 June, was followed on 20 July by that of Pont de l'Arche, which made the English masters of the Seine above Rouen (cf. Rel. St.-Denys xxxix. 10). After waiting for Warwick and Salisbury to join him, Henry left Pont de l'Arche on 29 July, and marching by the right bank of the Seine appeared before Rouen on the same day. His first task was to provide for the safety of his army by the construction of regular fortified lines. He himself took up his station at the Chartreuse de Notre Dame de la Rose, on the north of the Seine. The next work was to cut off Rouen from the sea, and to secure his own communications with Harfleur. In blockading the mouth of the Seine he was assisted by a fleet sent by his kinsman and ally the king of Portugal. Above the town he constructed a firmly built wooden bridge, a remarkable work, which was completed with great rapidity despite frequent attacks from the enemy. Henry thus secured the position of his own army, which was encamped on both sides of the Seine, while to further obstruct the navigation heavy chains were stretched across the stream. Rouen was still protected by the fortresses of Caudebec below and of St. Catherine above the town; both were captured early in September, and the English fleet was then able to come freely up the river. But on the upper Seine the English had still no ships; to remedy this defect Henry had several vessels brought overland from Moulineaux to Orival, a distance of above three miles. The hostile fleet was then defeated, and to save it from capture was destroyed by the besieged, who at the same time burnt their arsenal of Clos-aux-Galées, on the left bank of the Seine. Thus Rouen was completely invested, while supplies came freely to the besiegers' camp from England (cf. Tyler, ii. 224–7). Early in October Gloucester arrived from Cherbourg, and other reinforcements came over from England and Ireland. The besieged still defended themselves with heroic obstinacy in the vain hope of succour, but Burgundians and Armagnacs alike were intent on their private feuds, which had culminated in the murder of the Count of Armagnac and the Parisian massacres in June and August. This internecine warfare had greatly facilitated the English advance early in the year, and it now deprived Rouen of all assistance from outside.
Towards the end of October an old priest escaped from Rouen, and went to plead the cause of his townsmen in Paris. Burgundy promised to send an army with all speed, but in its stead despatched an embassy to treat with the English king. A similar appeal to the dauphin had met with a like response. Henry made it his policy to negotiate with both parties, while Rouen was being slowly reduced by famine. The dauphin's envoys came to Alençon, Burgundy's to Pont de l'Arche; among the latter was the Cardinal des Ursins, whom the pope had sent to France to endeavour to conclude a general peace (Des Ursins, p. 540; Rel. St.-Denys, xxxix. 1; Fœdera, ix. 558, 578). The negotiations were ineffectual; probably Henry only intended to use them as a means for preventing that union of the two parties against himself which the Duke of Brittany had almost succeeded in securing (Rel. St.-Denys, xxxix. 16). In both cases the conferences were ended by the English envoys declaring that they could not recognise the authority of the other parties to treat (St.-Remy,, i. 348; for the instructions to the ambassadors to the dauphin, see Proc. Privy Council, ii. 350–8).
The negotiations lasted till December, by which time the condition of Rouen had become desperate. As a last resource, twelve thousand useless mouths—probably refugees who had fled to Rouen on the English approach—were expelled from the city. Henry refused them a passage through his lines; the besieged refused them re-entry to the city; and the poor creatures, with only such shelter or food as they obtained from the mercy of the English soldiers, were left to endure all the hardships of winter and famine beneath the walls of Rouen. After an unsuccessful attempt to break through the English lines, the besieged applied once more to Burgundy, who promised to come to their aid by 29 Dec. (St.-Remy, i. 352). The day passed with the promise unfulfilled, and at length the defenders of Rouen offered to treat for a capitulation. Henry would have nothing but unconditional surrender, and the conference was broken off. The besieged, in despair, determined to cut their way out or perish arms in hand. The king, apprised of their intention, allowed the negotiations to be reopened, and a capitulation was agreed to on 13 Jan. 1419. Henry marked the character of his conquest by stipulating for a site on which to build a palace, and by promising security of property and person to all who accepted him as their liege lord. Nine persons were excepted from the capitulation.
Henry entered Rouen in triumph on 19 Jan. 1419; his first care was to provide food for the starving inhabitants, and he then devoted himself to the organisation of the conquered duchy. The nobles of the province were summoned to assemble at Rouen, regulations were made for the government, officers were appointed, an exchequer was established at Caen, and money was struck with the legend, ‘Henricus, Rex Francie’ (cf. Rel. St.-Denys, xl. 9). The conduct of the war was entrusted by Henry to his lieutenants, who prosecuted it with such vigour that by the end of March only five places still held out in Normandy, while the English arms had penetrated beyond its borders to Mantes.
Meantime Henry had once more been busy with negotiations. The fall of Rouen induced both Burgundy and the dauphin to renew their proposals for peace. On 12 Feb. a truce was agreed upon and a meeting arranged to take place between Henry and the dauphin near Evreux on 26 March (Fœdera, ix. 686). For this purpose, Henry left Rouen for Evreux on 25 March, but the dauphin failed to put in an appearance (Ellis, Letters, 2nd ser. i. 76–8). Burgundy had also sent envoys to Rouen without effect, and the Duke of Brittany had come there early in March to conclude a truce on his own behalf and to endeavour to mediate for a general peace. From Evreux Henry proceeded to Vernon-sur-Seine, where he kept Easter; while there negotiations were reopened with Burgundy which eventually led to a truce and a conference, which was arranged to take place between Mantes and Pontoise at the end of May (Fœdera, ix. 717, 734–5, 747–53). Henry accordingly left Vernon for Mantes on the 28th, and next day met Burgundy, the queen of France, and her daughter Catherine. The first meeting was almost purely formal, and seven other conferences were held in June without effect. Henry demanded Catherine's hand in marriage, together with the territory secured by the treaty of Bretigny, Normandy, and his other conquests in full sovereignty; he was ready to renounce his claim on the throne of France (ib. ix. 762–3; Des Ursins, pp. 549–51). Isabella endeavoured to work on his feelings by refusing him a second interview with her daughter. Henry, however, proved inflexible; probably he was aware of the insincerity of the French. Burgundy had all the time been intriguing with the dauphin, and on 3 July, when a ninth conference was to have been held, both queen and duke failed to appear. Eight days later Burgundy met the dauphin near Melun, and agreed upon a peace, which was publicly proclaimed on the 29th (Rel. St.-Denys, xl. 45). Henry remained at Mantes throughout July, and, as soon as the truce expired, planned a skilful surprise on Pontoise, which was successfully executed 30 July. The fall of this town opened the way to Paris. The king wrote that it was his most important capture since the beginning of the war. From Mantes Henry went back to Rouen, and thence to direct the final operations before Gisors, which surrendered, after a six months' siege, on 22 Sept.
Meanwhile the fall of Pontoise, which some, without justice, ascribed to treachery on the part of Burgundy, had struck a severe blow at the agreement between the two French parties (ib. xl. 5 and 11; St.-Remy, i. 368). The dauphin's supporters determined to rid themselves of their rival, and the duke was treacherously murdered during a conference at Montereau on 11 Sept. The union of Henry's opponents was thus shattered, and Philip, the new duke of Burgundy, at once began to treat for an English alliance. It was not, however, till 2 Dec. that an agreement was made, under which Philip recognised Henry as heir of France, and promised to use his influence in procuring for him the hand of the Princess Catherine (Fœdera, ix. 816). Burgundy's adhesion did not go alone, for the city of Paris, after the murder of Duke John, had sent envoys to treat with Henry (ib. ix. 797), and Isabella, who controlled her mad husband, felt no sympathy for her son the dauphin. A general truce, from which the dauphin was excepted, was concluded on 24 Dec., and was renewed from time to time (ib. ix. 818, 857, 874). The negotiations were very prolonged, and the preliminaries for the treaty of peace were not signed till 9 April 1420 (ib. ix. 877). Meantime, however, the war was prosecuted with activity and success by the English and Burgundians acting in unison against the dauphin. On the other hand, an English fleet was defeated off La Rochelle by the combined forces of the Spaniards and French (Des Ursins, p. 556). Henry himself remained at Rouen from the beginning of December 1419 till 18 April 1420, when he left for Mantes on his way to the final conference at Troyes. At the beginning of May he was at Pontoise; thence he marched, by way of Brie, Charenton, Provins, and Nogent, to Troyes, where he arrived on 20 May with his brothers Clarence and Gloucester and a force of seven thousand men. The betrothal of Henry and Catherine took place forthwith, and next day the treaty of Troyes was formally ratified; by its terms Henry was recognised as heir to the French kingdom on the death of Charles VI and as regent during the king's life; he was to govern with the aid of a council of natives and to preserve all ancient customs; he undertook to recover for Charles all the territory then held by the dauphin; Normandy was to be his in full sovereignty, but on his accession to the French throne was to be rejoined to France; during the life of Charles his title was to be ‘Henricus rex Angliæ et hæres Franciæ.’ On the same day Burgundy renewed his alliance with the English king (see treaties in Fœdera, ix. 895; Rel. St.-Denys, xli. 1–3).
Henry and Catherine were married in the church of St. John at Troyes on Trinity Sunday, 2 June (Journal d'un Bourgeois, p. 664; Chron. Lond. p. 108; Fœdera, ix. 910). Only two days later Henry was on his way with Burgundy to lay siege to Sens, which was captured after a short resistance; thence the allies went to Montereau, which surrendered 23 June, though the castle held out a little longer. Bedford now came to join his brother with reinforcements, and Gloucester was sent back to act as regent in England. Early in July siege was laid to Melun; the town was stoutly defended, and Henry not only directed the operations himself, but took a practical part in them, meeting the governor, the Sire de Barbazan, in single combat. Melun resisted till 18 Nov.; those of its defenders who had been concerned in the murder of John of Burgundy were excepted from the surrender, together with a number of Scots, whom Henry had executed as traitors to their young king, then present in his own camp. On leaving Melun, Henry joined the French court at Corbeil, and on 1 Dec., accompanied by Charles and Burgundy, entered Paris in triumph (Journal d'un Bourgeois, pp. 665). The French estates had been summoned to meet there, and the treaty of Troyes was publicly ratified before them, and Henry was acknowledged as heir. Christmas was kept by the English king at the Louvre in great state, and on 27 Dec. (ib. p. 666) he left with his queen for England, in answer to an urgent request from the commons (Rot. Parl. iv. 125). After a sojourn of some days at Rouen, where ordinances were made for the government of Normandy and to prevent undue oppression of the conquered people (Fœdera, x. 35–56), Henry and Catherine crossed over from Calais to Dover on 3 Feb. (Monstrelet, liv. i. cc. 134–5). During Henry's long absence the country had been quietly and efficiently governed, and little of importance had occurred save some trouble with Scotland and the obscure intrigues of his stepmother, who was accused in 1419 of using sorcery against the king [see under Joanna of Navarre].
On 24 Feb. Catherine was crowned at Westminster, and a great feast and pageant was held in honour of the event (Chron. Lond. p. 108; cf. Fœdera, x. 63). The court now made a progress through England, visiting Coventry, Kenilworth, and Leicester, where they kept Easter. From Leicester they went to York, but before reaching the northern capital the festivities were cut short by the news of the defeat and death of Clarence at Beaugé. After a pilgrimage to Beverley and Bridlington, Henry came south towards the end of April to meet his parliament and prepare for his third expedition to France. Parliament assembled 2 May 1421; the commons were in a generous mood, and besides granting a fifteenth, showed their confidence in the king by empowering the council to give him security for all debts contracted on account of the intended expedition. In the midst of his preparations Henry found time to direct a reform of the Benedictine monasteries (Walsingham, Hist. Angl. ii. 337–8). He also endeavoured to secure peace with Scotland by sending back the young King James with an English bride.
On 10 June Henry left England for the last time, and landed at Calais with a large force. Twelve hundred men were hastily despatched to relieve Exeter, who was hard pressed at Paris, while Henry himself followed at greater leisure, and reached the capital on 4 July (Douët-d'Arcq, Choix de pièces inédites, &c., i. 410). Thence he marched on the 8th to relieve Chartres, which was besieged by the dauphin. The French fell back across the Loire, whither Henry, after capturing Dreux (20 Aug.), Vendôme, and Beaugency, followed them; but the king felt that Orleans was too strong for an immediate attack, and contented himself with ravaging the country, after which he fell back towards Paris, and prepared to besiege Meaux. This town was invested on 6 Oct., but was stoutly defended by its skilful though cruel commander, the Bastard of Vaurus. The pressure of the war was beginning to tell on English resources, and Henry had to apply to his allies in Germany and Portugal for assistance in men-at-arms and archers (Fœdera, x. 168; cf. Rot. Parl. iv. 151, 154–5; Gregory, Chron. p. 142). During the winter Henry was constantly at Paris, busy with civil matters and with negotiations (Fœdera, x. 185–94). Meaux capitulated after a fierce assault on 11 May 1422, and the Bastard of Vaurus was hanged. At the end of the month Henry was joined at Paris by his queen with her infant son, born at Windsor on 6 Dec. 1421. After a short stay in the capital the court went to Senlis on 22 June, and thence to Compiègne. News of a conspiracy to surrender Paris to the dauphin soon recalled Henry to the capital, but after a short visit he went back to Senlis. Cosne-sur-Loire was at this time besieged by the dauphin, and Burgundy appealed to Henry for assistance. The king promised to come to his aid in person, although his health was manifestly failing; still, despite great weakness, he rode as far as Melun, but there had to take to a litter, and at last was compelled to abandon the command to Bedford. He was carried to Bois de Vincennes, where it soon became evident that his illness would prove fatal. The disease was probably dysentery, aggravated no doubt by the hardships of war. Basset, his chamberlain, calls it a pleurisy (Hall, p. 113; see Goodwin, p. 337). Henry's last days were spent in arranging for the government after his death, and for the education of his infant son. As the end drew nigh the physicians warned him that he had but two hours to live, and Henry, devout to the last, after receiving the sacrament, bade his confessors read the penitential psalms. When they came to the words ‘Build thou the walls of Jerusalem,’ the king interrupted them saying, ‘Good Lord, Thou knowest that mine intent hath been, and yet is, if I might live, to re-edify the walls of Jerusalem’ (Cott. MS. Claud. A. viii. f. 10 b). Then as the priests continued their prayers he breathed his last about two o'clock on the morning of 31 Aug. 1422. The body was embalmed, and after a solemn service at Paris was removed to England. The funeral procession was very magnificent, and passed slowly through France, only reaching London on 11 Nov. Henry was buried in the chapel of the Confessor at Westminster Abbey. A chantry was endowed in his honour, and on his tomb was placed a recumbent effigy carved in oak, and covered with silver-gilt, the head being of solid silver. The precious metal was stolen in 1545, and the figure now remains bare and headless (Stow, Annals, p. 362, ed. 1615; Acts of the Privy Council, new ser. i. 328). Above it hang the shield, helmet, and saddle, which were part of the original funeral equipment.
Henry was deservedly more loved by his subjects than any English king before or since. All writers, whether French or English, are singularly united in his praise. In private life he was temperate, chaste, and frugal; sincere and consistent in his devotions, generous and courteous in his dealings with others, making it a point of honour to be affable to all men. He spoke little, but when he did straightforwardly and to the point, never giving any answer but ‘It is impossible,’ or ‘It shall be done.’ Despite his early entry into public life, his education had not been neglected. He was fond of music and reading. In notices of books lent to the king occur the ‘Romance of Guyron le Courtois,’ ‘The Chronicles of Jerusalem,’ ‘Voyage of Godfrey of Bouillon,’ and St. Gregory's ‘Works’ (Fœdera, ix. 742, x. 317). He is said to have been the friend at Oxford and patron in later life of John Carpenter [q. v.], bishop of Worcester, and Thomas Rudborn [q. v.], warden of Merton College, and is credited with the wish to found a great college at Oxford (Rous, p. 208). This intention was frustrated by his death, and his only foundations were the three religious houses erected at Sheen early in his reign. Lydgate translated the ‘Siege of Troy’ at his request, and Hoccleve dedicated his ‘De Regimine Principum’ to him. Henry's own letters are good specimens of the English of the time; an autograph written in a fine clear hand is in Cotton. MS. Vesp. F. iii. f. 5.
As a ruler he chiefly impressed his contemporaries with his inflexible justice. No king had a higher conception of his rights, or was more stern in their enforcement, but he showed at the same time scrupulous regard for those of all classes among his subjects. His treatment of the lollards and of such Frenchmen as offered him a stubborn resistance may seem to have erred on the side of harshness. But the defence of the catholic religion and the maintenance of his claims on the French throne were to Henry matters of sacred duty; he was never needlessly cruel, nor did he act out of a mere wish for revenge. In war he was full of consideration for his soldiers, and was merciful towards defenceless opponents; all plundering and violence to women were strictly forbidden, and as sternly punished (see, for some remarkable instances, Livius, p. 13, and Monstrelet, i. c. 226). As a general he far surpassed all of his own time; his plans were laid with care and forethought, and executed with patient strategy or brilliant daring as the occasion required; no detail was too slight for his personal superintendence (cf. Livius, pp. 10, 63; Elmham, pp. 46, 103, 136, 160; Proc. Privy Council, ii. 290). He shared all the hardships of his soldiers, and encouraged them by the example of conspicuous valour. As a diplomatist he was able, firm, but conciliatory, and even in the midst of his busy warfare found time to form and maintain a system of alliances which included almost all the states of Western Europe, and of which he was himself the centre. In the work of civil administration he was less engaged, yet in England he healed the animosities which had distracted the two previous reigns, and even when abroad gave constant attention to the affairs of the realm, frequently corresponding with his representatives at home; while in France he went far to reconcile the people to his rule by the contrast between the justice and firmness of his government and the turbulent violence which had gone before (Fenin, pp. 182, 187; Des Ursins, p. 567).
Of Henry's plans it is not altogether easy to speak. His great war, although unprovoked and unjustifiable, was undertaken from a firm conviction of his own rights. It was not a war of idle conquest. Henry's first aim may indeed have been to provide an outlet for the turbulent spirits which had vexed his father's reign, or to secure in Normandy a refuge for his own family. Some colour is given to the latter theory by his special attention to Normandy; but more probably this was due to the fact that it was the only conquest which he had attempted to organise thoroughly. The inducements held out to Englishmen who would settle at Harfleur, Caen, Honfleur, and Cherbourg (Puiseux, L'Emigration Normande, &c.; Cott. MS. Claud. A. viii. ff. 2 b, 3; Leland, Coll. ii. 487) only aimed at securing these points of entry, and there were no further attempts at anything like an English settlement. At the same time it is clear that Henry would at first have been content with very much less than the throne of France (Fœdera, vol. ix. 762–3). The reality of Henry's intention, after restoring peace in France, to undertake a new crusade, is beyond doubt. A short time before his death he despatched Gilbert de Lannoy, a Burgundian knight, to inquire into the state of the East and the practicability of a war for the recovery of the Holy Land (Lannoy's report is printed in Archæologia, xxi. 221–444; cf. Cott. MS. Claud. A. viii. f. 11). Such a crusade could only have been attempted by Henry as the head of the united west, and to effect such a union seems to have been the object of his system of alliances. The termination of the schism formed an essential feature in such a policy (cf. his letter ap. Rel. de St.-Denys, xxxvi. 2). Later on in 1418 he writes of his wars with France, Spain, and Scotland, the three powers which had supported the schism, as undertaken in the interest of the pope (Goodwin, pp. 209–10). With the other states of Western Europe Henry established friendly relations, and when he died it appeared as if these three also were on the point of passing under his influence. But whatever Henry's ultimate designs may have been, the conception and the power of execution alike perished with him.
Henry's personal appearance was comely; his face was oval, with a long straight nose, ruddy complexion, dark smooth hair, and bright eyes, mild as a dove's when unprovoked, but lionlike in wrath. His frame was slender, but his limbs well proportioned and stoutly knit, so that he was very active, and took a keen pleasure in all manly sports (Versus Rhythmici, pp. 69–88; Elmham, Vita, p. 12). There are portraits of Henry V in the hall at Queen's College, Oxford, in the National Portrait Gallery, at Eton College, and at Windsor. The last is engraved as a frontispiece to the first volume of Tyler's ‘Memorials of Henry V.’ A portrait contained in a contemporary missal, now at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, is described in ‘Archæologia,’ ii. 194. Another portrait, which dates from 1430, is in Cotton. MS. Julius E. iv. f. 8 b.