Heritage > Rulers

Henry V, 1413-1422

Henry was born in 1387, and was the eldest living son of Henry IV. He married Catherine of Valois, and had one child, Henry.

Henry was a favourite of Richard II, even with the strained relations between his father and Richard and he saw to Richard's last wish, that his body was to be re-interred with his wife.

Henry knew that military success overseas often reinforced power at home. In 1415, he crossed the English Channel with ten thousand men and laid siege to Harfleur. Five weeks later the town surrendered and Henry decided to march to Calais to meet his fleet. At Agincourt a vast French army stood in his path, they greatly outnumbered the English knights, foot soldiers and longbowmen. The English were also exhausted and many were poorly equipped. In desperation they goaded the French who started to advance across a muddy field.

Heavily weighed down by their armour, the attack lacked momentum, the closely packed French knights and men-at-arms presented a perfect target for the English archers. It is estimated that six thousand Frenchmen lost their lives during the battle of Agincourt whilst the English deaths amounted to only four hundred.

Henry V returned to London in triumph. In 1417 he led another successful campaign in Normandy and after taking Rouen, forced the French king Charles VI to sign the Treaty of Troyes. Henry had already married the French king's daughter Catherine and by this treaty, he became Regent and heir to the French throne.

The Dauphin ignored the treaty so Henry backed his claim with more military action but he never fulfilled his ambition to sit on the French throne, as he died from dysentery at Vincennes in 1422. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

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