The date of Henry V's birth is said to be either the 9th or the 16th of August in 1386/7 at Monmouth Castle. The baby, so the story goes was placed in this cradle. Sadly tests prove that the cradle dates to a much later century, the cradle posts however are dated to the 15th century. It is linked to the village of Newland in Gloucestershire just a few miles from where Henry was cared for as a baby.
He was born the second son of Henry IV, he had, by the age of seventeen taken part in the Battle of Shrewsbury and topped that with five years fighting against Welsh and the legendary Owen Glendower, the last Welsh leader to be known as the Prince of Wales. Henry also put down a rebellion led by Richard of Conisburgh grandfather to Richard III, Henry Scrope and Thomas Grey and their attempt to put Edmund Mortimer on the English throne. This later became known as the Southampton Plot. We also remember King Henry V for his involvement with France where between 1415 and 1420 he was successful in taking the port of Harfleur, the town of Rouen, and managed to force the French to sign the Treaty of Troyes.
Following his success in France, Henry was recognised as the heir to the French throne which was sealed by his marriage to Charles VI's daughter Catherine of Valois. The couple returned home to England, six months later Catherine was crowned queen and two months later, Henry returned to France. The young queen gave birth to her son Henry, later Henry VI, in the December of 1421, but the of hero of Agincourt lay dying from dysentery at the Chateau de Vincennes, in France, where he died on the 31st of August, leaving his lands and titles in the tiny hands of his nine-month-old son.
Philip the Good, the Duke of Burgundy died on the 5th June in 1467.
Philip was a man who is said to have loved pomp and circumstance, he had many mistresses and three wives, he also had seventeen illegitimate children that he acknowledged as his. His court was a fun place to be it was full of jewel-adorned courtiers, there were banquets, dancing and music, there was jousting and tournaments. No wonder he was called the Philip the Good. Everybody seemed to have a whale of a time!
On a serious note, he was a capable military leader. He allied himself with England in 1420 recognising Henry V as the future king of France, and it was Phillip who handed over Joan of Arc to the English ten years later. In 1435 he rescinded on the 1420 Treaty of Troyes by recognising Charles VII of France as king.
Philip died in Bruges and was succeeded by his son Charles the Bold, who had married Margaret of York in 1468.
On the 9th November in 1841 Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert was born at Buckingham Palace, he would
turn out to be a better king than everybody thought he would be, J B Priestley wrote of him:
"He had a tremendous zest for pleasure but he also had a real sense of duty."
Edward life has been compared to that of Henry V, it was Benjamin Disraeli who seems to be the first to say so. Jane Ridley, in her biography, also links Edward to Henry V suggesting that he even had his own Falstaff in Daisy Warwick, she rejected him when he came to the throne just as he Prince Hal abandoned Falstaff.
The self-indulgence of his younger days has also not gone unnoticed when comparing him with that of the 15th-century king.
By the time both Henry V and Edward VII were kings of England they were popular with their people, and certainly, Edward brought his England out of the darkness into the light. Many may argue that Henry V did just the same, however, I feel that that point is debatable.
Jane Ridley's The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince was published by in 2013
Catherine of Valois, the beautiful and virtuous Kate from Shakespeare's Henry V is defined by the events of her later life, her marriage to Henry V, a suspected relationship with Edmund Beaufort, her affair with Owen Tudor and the ill-treatment of her body by diarist Samuel Pepys. However, little is known of her childhood and early life.
Catherine of Valois was born in Paris on the 27th October in 1401. She was the ninth child and the fifth daughter of King Charles VI of France and his queen, Isabella of Bavaria. Cathrine was born while France was in turmoil - the beginnings of a power struggle at home and the continuing conflict with the enemy over the sea, the English.
It is thought that Catherine had a troubled childhood and indeed she may have witnessed at first hand her father's bouts of mental illness and her mother struggling to come to terms with the situation. History tells us of the poverty ridden French court, but it doesn't tell us how it all affected her, and historians differ in their view of Catherine's upbringing, some suggest that her mother was cold and cruel and openly flaunted her lovers about court, while other say that she was kind, generous and very close to all her children.
By the time Catherine was seven years old, English king Henry IV was looking for peace with France, he considered that a match between his son and a French princess would bring this about and therefore the subject was discussed on and off over the following years, eventually though Catherine was betrothed to the future Henry V.
Shakespeare writes of their meeting
"You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate: there is more eloquence in a sugar touch of them than in the tongues
of the French council, and they should sooner persuade Harry of England than a general petition of monarchs."
These sweet and seductive words to Catherine would succeed where seventy years of battling did not.
Henry and Catherine were betrothed on 21st May 1420, they were married within a few weeks and Catherine would be a widow just over fifteen months later. Catherine son from her marriage to Henry V was Henry VI, his weak rule would bring about the Wars of the Roses and from Catherine's relationship with the son of a Welsh publican the mighty Tudor dynasty sprang.
Almost eighty years into the Hundred Years War, on Friday, October 25, 1415, Saint Crispin's Day, Henry V of England met the French army led by the Constable Charles d'Albret in Northern France, near the present-day town of Agincourt.
Estimates are that the English were outnumbered from 2 to 1 to as much as 4 to 1. Most of the English were archers and dismounted knights, while most of the French were mounted knights. Some crossbow mercenaries were part of the French force too. But they had a limited range compared to the long bow, and also took a lot longer to reload and re-shoot their weapon.
Before the battle, which Henry was actually trying to avoid, he ordered the archers to find and sharpen both ends of a six-foot wooden stick. These were then hammered into the soft ground of the plain where the battle ultimately took place. It rained the night before the battle, and there was mud and soft earth all throughout the battleground. The wooden stakes were pointed outwards, towards the French lines. When the French knights on horseback charged the English archers, many of the horses would not advance through the thicket of sharpened points. Archers picked off horses and knights from a distance and at close range. French knights and men at arms were trapped by their heavy armor in the mud, becoming easy prey for the outnumbered English. the French who had not been killed or stuck in the melee fled.
Some say that the French knights had issued threats that, if they caught any archers from the English side, they would cut off their inside fingers, so they could not pull back a bow string. To taunt these French knights, the English archers held up their middle fingers to show they still had them.
Noble French prisoners, who could have been sold for rich ransoms, were ordered killed after the French retreat. Henry was worried these prisoners would rise up and attack the English from behind if, or when, another wave of French knights appeared to engage his forces.
The coronation of King Henry V on the 9th April 1413 in Westminster Abbey, according to chronicler Adam of Usk was
"marked by unprecedented storms, with driving snow which covered the country's mountains, burying men and animals and houses and, astonishingly, even inundating the valleys and fenlands, creating great danger and much loss of life."
People at the time could not decide whether this was good or bad and history has asked the same question.
So was Henry V, history's golden boy, an amiable and pious king or was he arrogant and cruel?
Henry is mostly remembered for his involvement with France between 1415 and 1420 where he was successful in taking the port of Harfleur, the town of Rouen, and managed to force the French to sign the Treaty of Troyes after which he was recognised as the heir to the French throne, which was sealed by his marriage to Charles VI's daughter Catherine of Valois.
Following their marriage the couple returned home to England, six months later Catherine's coronation took place and two months after that, Henry returned to France. The young queen gave birth to her son Henry, later Henry VI, in the December of 1421, but that day the of hero of Agincourt lay dying from dysentery at the Chateau de Vincennes, in France, where he died on the 31st of August, leaving his lands and titles in the tiny hands of his nine month old son.
Interestingly, one of the stones that is set into the Imperial State crown, that was worn by the queen after her coronation and at the state opening of Parliament, is said to have been in Henry's helmet at Agincourt.
On the 3rd January 1437 occurred the death of Catherine of Valois, Queen to Henry V, and after his death to Owen Tudor. Catherine's marriage to Tudor is not documented, but from their relationship the mighty Tudor dynasty sprang.
Catherine is often referred to as rather amorous or 'over sexed,' a derogatory term often thrown at women, which, it seems, is okay behaviour if you're a male!
Catherine is thought to have died whilst in Bermondsey Abbey and was buried in the old Lady chapel of Westminster Abbey. In 1503 Catherine's body had been was found 'loosely wrapped in lead' From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century her remains were often displayed as a curiosity.
One of the saddest things I've read about Catherine was written by Samuel Pepys in his diary in 1660.
"I now took to Westminster Abbey, it being Shrove Tuesday;and here we did see, by particular favour, the body of
Queen Katerine of Valois; and I had the upper part of her body in my hands, and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it that I
did kiss a Queen, and that this was my birthday, thirty six years old, that I did first kiss a Queen. When Henry the Seventh
built his chapel, it was taken up and laid in this wooden coffin; but I did there see that, in it, the body was buried in a leaden
one, which remains under the body to this day"
Not the actions of a normal man surely? Somebody ought to have given him a clip round the ear!
Sadly, Catherine's remains were still left unburied and available to view at Westminster until 1793! It was not until the late
19th century that it was removed to Henry V's chantry.
After ten years in the workplace I became a mother to three very beautiful daughters, I was fortunate enough to have been able to stay at home and spend my time with them as they grew into the young women they are now. I am still in the position of being able to be at home and pursue all the interests I have previously mentioned. We live in a beautiful Victorian spa town with wooded walks for the dog, lovely shops and a host of lovely people, what more could I ask for.
All works © Andrea Povey 2014. Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of Andrea Povey.
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