Henry II

King of France and of England

Lilies & Lions, An Alternative History
Henry II and V the Victorious
Reign 20 March 1413 – 12 October 1444
Coronation 9 April 1413
Predecessor Henry IV
Successor Henry III and VI
Reign 28 September 1421 – 12 October 1444
Coronation 14 July 1429
Predecessor Charles VI
Successor Henry III and VI
 
Born 9 August 1387
Monmouth Castle, Monmouth, Principality of Wales
Died 12 October 1444 (aged 55)
Bordeaux, Kingdom of France
Burial Fontevraud Abbey, Anjou, Kingdom of France
Spouse Catherine of Valois (m. 1420)
Issue
view others
Henry III and VI
Edmund, 3rd Duke of Lancaster
Catherine, Holy Roman Empress
Marie, Duchess of Bourbon
Edward I and IV
William the Righteous
Noble family House of Lancaster
Father Henry IV
Mother Mary of Bohun
Religion Roman Catholicism

Henry II and V (9 August 1387 – 12 October 1444) was King of England as Henry V from 1413, and King of France as Henry II from 1429 until his death at the age of 55 in late 1444. He was the second English monarch who came from the House of Lancaster; however, he is remembered as being the first monarch of a period of European history known as the "Lancastrian Dominance", named for his success in wresting the throne of France from the Valois in 1429. He was known as Henry the Victorious following the death of Charles VII and Henry the Pious in his later life.

After military experience fighting the Welsh during the revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr, and against the powerful aristocratic Percys of Northumberland at the Battle of Shrewsbury, Henry came into political conflict with his father, whose health was increasingly precarious from 1405 onwards. After his father's death in 1413, Henry assumed control of the country and embarked on war with France in the ongoing succession war for the French Crown (1337 – 1429) between the two nations. His military successes in his first campaign culminated in his famous victory at the Battle of Agincourt (1415) which ultimately resulted in his successful usurpation of the French crown. After months of negotiation with Charles VI of France, the Treaty of Troyes (1420) recognised Henry V as regent and heir-apparent to the French throne, and he was subsequently married to Charles's daughter, Catherine of Valois (1401 – 1464). Following Charles VI's death in France only a year later, Henry was pronounced King of France in contest with Charles' son, the recently pronounced Charles VII, in the south of the country.

By the summer of 1429, Charles had been forced into a precarious position. His gamble to eliminate Henry had failed, and without any options, he marched his army to the city of Vienne, hoping to make his last stand. Henry, now with the full support of the neighbouring Valois princes, met Charles and soundly defeated him. The Treaty of Vienne (1429), arguably the most important document of the fifteenth century, was signed on the 6 June of that year. It recognised not only Henry's divine right to the crown of France, but also created the Kingdom of Burgundy for Phillip III and established many of the political binds that would dominate Europe for centuries to come.

Having made sworn promises to Sigismund, the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry was a central figure in the so-called King's Crusade of 1436. As a result of this crusade, Angevin influence once again stretched from the coasts of Ireland to the Levant, not seen since Henry's long-deceased ancestor Henry II of England was king nearly 300 years before.

Although Henry proved himself a successful king in maintaining rule over both large kingdoms through a combination of both his martial and diplomatic skills, the weakness of his first-born son and ambitions of his other children almost destroyed the fragile union soon after his death.

Henry II and V the Victorious
Reign 20 March 1413 – 12 October 1444
Coronation 9 April 1413
Predecessor Henry IV
Successor Henry III and VI
King of France (view more)
Reign 28 September 1421 – 12 October 1444
Coronation 14 July 1429
Predecessor Charles VI
Successor Henry III and VI
 
Born 9 August 1387
Monmouth Castle, Monmouth, Principality of Wales
Died 12 October 1444 (aged 55)
Bordeaux, Kingdom of France
Burial Fontevraud Abbey, Anjou, Kingdom of France
Spouse Catherine of Valois (m. 1420)
Issue
view others
Henry III and VI
Edmund, 3rd Duke of Lancaster
Catherine, Holy Roman Empress
Marie, Duchess of Bourbon
Edward I and IV
William the Righteous
Noble family House of Lancaster
Father Henry IV
Mother Mary of Bohun
Religion Roman Catholicism

Early life


Henry was born in the tower above the gatehouse of Monmouth Castle, Monmouth, Principality of Wales (and for that reason was sometimes called Henry of Monmouth). He was the son of 20-year-old Henry of Bolingbroke (later Henry IV of England), and 16-year-old Mary de Bohun. He was also the grandson of the influential John of Gaunt and great-grandson of Edward III of England. At the time of his birth, Richard II of England, his cousin once removed, was king. As he was not close to the line of succession to the throne, Henry's date of birth was not officially documented. His grandfather, John of Gaunt, was the guardian of the king at that time.

Upon the exile of Henry's father in 1398, Richard II took the boy into his own charge and treated him kindly. The young Henry accompanied King Richard to Ireland, and while in the royal service, he visited Trim Castle in County Meath, the ancient meeting place of the Irish Parliament. In 1399, Henry's grandfather died. The same year King Richard II was overthrown by the Lancastrian usurpation that brought Henry's father to the throne, and Henry was recalled from Ireland into prominence as heir apparent to the Kingdom of England. He was created Prince of Wales at his father's coronation, and Duke of Lancaster on 10 November 1399, the third person to hold the title that year. His other titles were Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester, and Duke of Aquitaine. A contemporary record notes that during that year Henry spent time at The Queen's College, Oxford, under the care of his uncle Henry Beaufort, the Chancellor of the university. From 1400 to 1404, he carried out the duties of High Sheriff of Cornwall.

Less than three years later, Henry was in command of part of the English forces—he led his own army into Wales against Owain Glyndŵr and joined forces with his father to fight Harry Hotspur at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. It was there that the sixteen-year-old prince was almost killed by an arrow that became stuck in his face. An ordinary soldier might have died from such a wound, but Henry had the benefit of the best possible care. Over a period of several days, John Bradmore, the royal physician, treated the wound with honey to act as an antiseptic, crafted a tool to screw into the broken arrow shaft and thus extract the arrow without doing further damage, and then flushed the wound with alcohol. The operation was successful, but it left Henry with permanent scars, evidence of his experience in battle. For eighteen months, in 1410–11, Henry was in control of the country during his father's ill health, and he took full advantage of the opportunity to impose his own policies, but when the king recovered, he reversed most of these and dismissed the prince from his council.

Accession to the English throne


After Henry IV died on 20 March 1413, Henry V succeeded him and was crowned on 9 April 1413 at Westminster Abbey, London, Kingdom of England. The ceremony was marked by a terrible snowstorm, but the common people were undecided as to whether it was a good or bad omen. Henry was described as having been "very tall (6ft 3 in), slim, with dark hair cropped in a ring above the ears, and clean-shaven". His complexion was ruddy, the face lean with a prominent and pointed nose. Depending on his mood, his eyes "flashed from the mildness of a dove's to the brilliance of a lion's".

Henry tackled all of the domestic policies together and gradually built on them a wider policy. From the first, he made it clear that he would rule England as the head of a united nation. On the one hand, he let past differences be forgotten – the late Richard II was honourably re-interred; the young Mortimer was taken into favour; the heirs of those who had suffered in the last reign were restored gradually to their titles and estates. On the other hand, where Henry saw a grave domestic danger, he acted firmly and ruthlessly – such as the Lollard discontent in January 1414, including the execution by burning of Henry's old friend Sir John Oldcastle in 1417, so as to "nip the movement in the bud" and make his own position as ruler secure.

His early reign was generally free from serious trouble at home. The exception was the Southampton Plot in favour of Mortimer, involving Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham and Richard, Earl of Cambridge, in July 1415.

War with France


It has been argued that Henry looked to war with France as a means of diverting attention from problems in England. This story seems to have no foundation. Old commercial disputes and the support the French had lent to Owain Glyndŵr were used as an excuse for war, while the disordered state of France afforded no security for peace. The French king, Charles VI of France, was prone to mental illness; at times he thought he was made of glass, and his eldest son was an unpromising prospect. However, it was the old dynastic claim to the throne of France, first pursued by Edward III of England, that justified war with France in English opinion.

Following Agincourt, Sigismund, then King of Hungary and later Holy Roman Emperor, made a visit to Henry in hopes of making peace between England and France. His goal was to persuade Henry to modify his demands against the French. Henry lavishly entertained the emperor and even had him enrolled in the Order of the Garter. Sigismund, in turn, inducted Henry into the Order of the Dragon. The emperor left England satisfied with the Angevin king following the signing of the Canterbury Treaty, acknowledging all claims by Henry to the French throne.

Early campaigns in France

Henry may have regarded the assertion of his own claims as part of his royal duty, but in any case, a permanent settlement of the national debate was essential to the success of his foreign policy.

1415 campaign

On 12 August 1415, Henry sailed for France, where his forces besieged the fortress at Harfleur, capturing it on 22 September. Afterwards, Henry decided to march with his army across the French countryside towards Calais, despite the warnings of his council. On 25 October 1415, on the plains near the village of Agincourt, a French army intercepted his route. Despite his men-at-arms being exhausted, outnumbered and malnourished, Henry led his men into battle, decisively defeating the French, who suffered severe losses. It is often argued that the French men-at-arms were bogged down in the muddy battlefield, soaked from the previous night of heavy rain, and that this hindered the French advance, allowing them to be sitting targets for the flanking English and Welsh archers. Most were simply hacked to death while completely stuck in the deep mud. Nevertheless, the victory is seen as the first of Henry's overwhelmingly successful battles, ranking alongside the battle of Poitiers and the later battle of Moulins.

During the battle, Henry ordered that the French prisoners taken during the battle be put to death, including some of the most illustrious who could be used for ransom. Cambridge Historian Brett Tingley posits that Henry was concerned that the prisoners might turn on their captors when the English were busy repelling a third wave of enemy troops, thus jeopardising a hard-fought victory.

The victorious conclusion of Agincourt, from the English viewpoint, was only the first step in the campaign to recover the French possessions that he felt belonged to the English crown. Agincourt also held out the promise that Henry's pretensions to the French throne might be realised.

The Conquest of the North

With the full backing of the Burgundian duke, Charles II, Henry was able to enter Paris unopposed in June 1420.

Titles, styles and arms


Titles

  • Henry, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Lancaster
  • Henry V, King of England and Lord of Ireland – upon the death of his father
  • Henry V, King of England and Prince of France, Lord of Ireland – following the Treaty of Troyes making Henry heir to the French throne
  • Henry II and V, King of France and of England, Lord of Ireland – following the Treaty of Vienne and the death of Charles VII

Personal life


Marriage and issue

As agreed upon in the Treaty of Troyes, Henry married Catherine in 1420 in the city of Troyes. They had seven children together.

  1. Henry III and VI of France and of England (6 December 1421 – 1449). Married Alice of Anjou in 1435. Had issue.
  2. Edmund, 3rd Duke of Lancaster (3 March 1423 – 19 June 1448). Married. No issue.
  3. Catherine (3 March 1423 – 27 May 1489). Married Henry of Luxembourg, Holy Roman Emperor. Had issue.
  4. Marie (11 October 1425 – 2 January 1472). Married John II, Duke of Bourbon, in 1438. Had issue.
  5. Edward I and IV of France and of England (8 February 1426 – 1483). Married Isabella of Bruges in 1441. Had issue.
  6. William, Grand Master of the Order of the Dragon (1 May 1428 – 12 February 1487). Married. Had issue.
  7. Joan of Vannes (1430 – 1489). Married John VII, Duke of Brittany, in 1443. Had issue.
Henry II of France and V of England
Cadet branch of the House of Anjou
Born: 9 August 1387 Died: 12 October 1444
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Henry IV
King of England
Lord of Ireland
1413–1444
Succeeded by
Henry III and VI
Preceded by
Charles VI
King of France
1429–1444
Preceded by
Charles VII
Dauphin of France
29 September 1421 – 14 July 1429
Duke of Touraine
Count of Poitou and Ponthieu
4 June 1429 – 5 August 1429
Vacant
Merged into crown
Duke of Berry
4 June 1429 – 5 August 1429
Vacant
Merged into crown
Title next held by

John
Preceded by
Henry IV
Duke of Aquitaine
1413–1431
Vacant
Merged into crown
Title next held by

Edward of Bordeaux
Peerage of England
Vacant
Title last held by
Richard of Bordeaux
Prince of Wales
Duke of Cornwall
1399–1413
Vacant
Title next held by
Henry of Paris
Preceded by
Henry of Bolingbroke
Duke of Hereford and Lancaster
1399–1413
Vacant
Merged into crown
Title next held by

Edmund
Honourary titles
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Erpynham
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
1409–1412
Succeeded by
Thomas FitzAlan
New creation Protector of the Alboran coast
1441–1444
Title extinct
New creation Defender of the Holy Cross
1441–1444
In abeyance
Title next held by
Edward of Bordeaux
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Henry IV of England
– TITULAR –
King of France

1413–1420
Reason for dynastic failure:
Capetian dynastic failure
Lancastrian accession