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Henry IV of England

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Henry IV
16th-century painting of Henry IV
King of England (more...)
Reign 30 September 1399 – 20 March 1413 (&000000000000001300000013 years, &0000000000000202000000202 days)
Coronation 13 October 1399
Predecessor Richard II
Successor Henry V
Spouse Mary de Bohun
m. 1381; dec. 1394
Joan of Navarre
m. 1403; wid. 1413
Henry V of England
Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence
John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford
Humphrey, 1st Duke of Gloucester
Blanche, Electress Palatine
Philippa, Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden
House House of Lancaster
Father John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
Mother Blanche of Lancaster
Born 3 April 1366(1366-04-03)[1][2]
Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshire
Died 20 March 1413[1][2] (aged 46)
Westminster, London
Burial Canterbury Cathedral, Kent

Henry IV (possibly 3 April 1366[1][2] – 20 March 1413) was King of England and Lord of Ireland (1399–1413). He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry (of) Bolingbroke (play /ˈbɒlɪŋbrʊk/). His father, John of Gaunt, was the third son of Edward III, and enjoyed a position of considerable influence during much of the reign of Richard II. Henry IV came to the throne after the deposition of his cousin Richard II. Henry's mother was Blanche, heiress to the considerable Lancaster estates. Henry IV is, therefore, the first King of England from the Lancaster branch of the Plantagenets, one of the two family branches (the other one being the York branch, initiated by his uncle Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York) protagonists of the War of the Roses (see section "Seniority in line from Edward III" below).


[edit] Siblings

One of his elder sisters, Philippa, married John I of Portugal, and his younger sister Elizabeth was the mother of John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter. His younger half-sister Catherine, the daughter of his father's second wife, Constance of Castile, was queen consort of Castile. He also had four half-siblings by Katherine Swynford, his sisters' governess, his father's longstanding mistress and eventual third wife. These four children were given the surname Beaufort after a castle their father held in Champagne, France[3]

Henry's relationship with his stepmother, Katherine Swynford, was a positive one (she was governess to him and his sisters in youth). His relationship with the Beauforts varied considerably. In youth he seems to have been close to them all, but rivalries with Henry and Thomas Beaufort after 1406 proved problematic. His brother-in-law, Ralph Neville, remained one of his strongest supporters. So did his eldest half-brother, John Beaufort, even though Henry revoked Richard II's grant to John of a marquessate. Thomas Swynford, a son from Katherine's first marriage to Sir Hugh Swynford was another loyal companion and Constable of Pontefract Castle, where King Richard II is said to have died.

Eventually, a direct descendant of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford through the Beaufort line would take the throne as Henry VII.

[edit] Relationship with Richard II

Henry of Bolingbroke, flanked by the lords spiritual and temporal, claims the throne in 1399. From a contemporary manuscript, British Library, Harley 1319,f.57

Henry experienced a rather more inconsistent relationship with King Richard II than his father had. First cousins and childhood playmates, they were admitted together to the Order of the Garter in 1377, but Henry participated in the Lords Appellant's rebellion against the King in 1387. After regaining power, Richard did not punish Henry (though executing or exiling many of the other rebellious barons). In fact, Richard elevated Henry from Earl of Derby to Duke of Hereford.

Henry spent a full year of 1390 supporting the unsuccessful siege of Vilnius (capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) by Teutonic Knights with his 300 fellow knights. During this campaign Henry Bolingbroke also bought captured Lithuanian princes and then apparently took them back to England. Henry's second expedition to Lithuania in 1392 illustrates the financial benefits to the Order of these guest crusaders. His small army consisted of over 100 men, including longbow archers and six minstrels, at a total cost to the Lancastrian purse of £4,360. Much of this sum benefited the local economy through the purchase of silverware and the hiring of boats and equipment. Despite the efforts of Henry and his English crusaders, two years of attacks on Vilnius proved fruitless. In 1392/93 Henry undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he made offerings at the Holy Sepulchre and at the Mount of Olives.[4] Later he vowed to lead a crusade to free Jerusalem from the "infidel", but he died before this could be accomplished.[5]

The relationship between Henry Bolingbroke and the King encountered a second crisis. In 1398, a remark by Bolingbroke regarding Richard II's rule was interpreted as treason by Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk. The two dukes agreed to undergo a duel of honour (called by Richard II) at Gosford Green near Coventry. Yet before the duel could take place, Richard II instead decided to banish Henry from the kingdom (with the approval of Henry's father, John of Gaunt) to avoid further bloodshed. Mowbray himself was exiled for life.

John of Gaunt died in 1399. Without explanation, Richard cancelled the legal documents that would have allowed Henry to inherit Gaunt's land automatically. Instead, Henry would be required to ask for the lands from Richard. After some hesitation, Henry met with the exiled Thomas Arundel, former Archbishop of Canterbury, who had lost his position because of his involvement with the Lords Appellant. Henry and Arundel returned to England while Richard was on a military campaign in Ireland. With Arundel as his advisor, Henry began a military campaign, confiscating land from those who opposed him and ordering his soldiers to destroy much of Cheshire. Henry quickly gained enough power and support to have himself declared King Henry IV, to imprison King Richard (who died in prison under mysterious circumstances) and to bypass Richard's seven-year-old heir-presumptive, Edmund de Mortimer. Henry's coronation, on 13 October 1399, marked the first time following the Norman Conquest when the monarch made an address in English.

Henry consulted with Parliament frequently, but was sometimes at odds with the members, especially over ecclesiastical matters. On Arundel's advice, Henry passed the De heretico comburendo and was thus the first English king to allow the burning of heretics, mainly to suppress the Lollard movement.

[edit] Reign

The Coronation of Henry IV of England. From 15th century manuscript of Jean Froissart's Chronicles.

[edit] The previous ruler

Henry's first problem was what to do with the deposed Richard. After an early assassination plot (The Epiphany Rising) was foiled in January 1400, he ordered his death (very probably by starvation). The evidence for this lies in the circulation of letters in France demonstrating prior knowledge of the death.[6] Richard died on 14 February 1400, after which his body was put on public display in the old St Paul's Cathedral to prove to his supporters that he was dead. He was 33 years old.

[edit] Rebellions

Henry spent much of his reign defending himself against plots, rebellions and assassination attempts.

English Royalty
House of Lancaster
Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg
Armorial of Plantagenet
Henry IV
   Henry V
   John, Duke of Bedford
   Thomas, Duke of Clarence
   Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
   Blanche, Princess Louis of Germany
   Philippa, Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden

Rebellions continued throughout the first ten years of Henry's reign, including the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr, who declared himself Prince of Wales in 1400, and the rebellion of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland. The king's success in putting down these rebellions was due partly to the military ability of his eldest son, Henry of Monmouth, who would later become king (though the son managed to seize much effective power from his father in 1410).

In the last year of Henry's reign, the rebellions picked up speed. "The old fable of a living Richard was revived", notes one account, "and emissaries from Scotland traversed the villages of England, in the last year of Henry's reign, declaring that Richard was residing at the Scottish Court, awaiting only a signal from his friends to repair to London and recover his throne."

A suitable-looking impostor was found and King Richard's old groom circulated word in the city that his master was alive in Scotland. "Southwark was incited to insurrection" by Sir Elias Lyvet (Levett) and his associate Thomas Clark, who promised Scottish aid to carry out the insurrection. Ultimately, the rebellion came to naught. The knight Lyvet was released; his follower thrown into the Tower.[7]

[edit] List of rebellions

[edit] Foreign relations

Early in his reign, Henry hosted the visit of Manuel II Palaiologos, the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England, from December 1400 to January 1401 at Eltham Palace, with a joust being given in his honour. He also sent monetary support with him upon his departure, to aid him against the Ottoman Empire.

In 1406, English pirates captured the future James I of Scotland off the coast of Flamborough Head as he was going to France.[8] James remained a prisoner of Henry for the rest of Henry's reign.

[edit] Final illness and death

The later years of Henry's reign were marked by serious health problems. He had a disfiguring skin disease, and more seriously, suffered acute attacks of some grave illness in June 1405, April 1406, June 1408, during the winter of 1408–09, December 1412, and then finally a fatal bout in March 1413. Medical historians have long debated the nature of this affliction or afflictions. The skin disease might have been leprosy (which did not necessarily mean precisely the same thing in the 15th century as it does to modern medicine), perhaps psoriasis, or some other disease. The acute attacks have been given a wide range of explanations, from epilepsy to some form of cardiovascular disease.[9] Some medieval writers felt that he was struck with leprosy as a punishment for his treatment of Richard le Scrope, Archbishop of York, who was executed in June 1405 on Henry's orders after a failed coup.[10]

According to Holinshed, it was predicted that Henry would die in Jerusalem; Shakespeare's play repeats this. Henry took this to mean that he would die on crusade. In reality, he died at the house of the Abbot of Westminster, in the Jerusalem chamber. His executor, Thomas Langley, was at his side.

[edit] Burial

Unusually for a King of England, he was buried not at Westminster Abbey but at Canterbury Cathedral, on the north side of what is now the Trinity Chapel, as near to the shrine of Thomas Becket as possible. (No other kings are buried in the Cathedral, although his uncle Edward, the Black Prince, is buried on the opposite, south side of the chapel, also as near the shrine as possible.) At the time, Becket's cult was at its height, as evidenced in the Canterbury Tales written by the court poet Geoffrey Chaucer, and Henry was particularly devoted to it. (He was anointed at his coronation with oil supposedly given to Becket by the Virgin Mary and that had then passed to Henry's father).[11]

Henry was given an alabaster effigy, alabaster being a valuable English export in the 15th century. His body was well-embalmed, as an exhumation in 1832 established.[12]

[edit] Titles, styles, honours and arms

[edit] Titles

  • Henry Bolingbroke

[edit] Arms

Before his father's death in 1399, Henry bore the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label of five points ermine. After his father's death, the differenced changed to a label of five points per pale ermine and France.[13] Upon his accession as king, Henry updated the arms of the kingdom to match an update in those of royal France — from a field of fleur-de-lys to just three.

See adjacent text
Coat of Arms of King Henry IV (France Ancient) 
See adjacent text
Coat of Arms of King Henry IV (France Modern) 

[edit] Seniority in line from Edward III

When Richard II was forced to abdicate the throne in 1399, Henry was not next in line to the throne; the heir presumptive was Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, who descended from Edward III's second son, Lionel of Antwerp. Bolingbroke's father, John of Gaunt, was Edward's third son. The problem was solved by emphasizing Henry's descent in a direct male line, whereas March's descent was through his grandmother. The official account of events claims that Richard voluntarily agreed to resign his crown to Henry on 29 September. The country had rallied behind Henry and supported his claim in parliament. However, the question of the succession never went away. The problem lay in the fact that Henry was only the most prominent male heir, the most senior in terms of agnatic descent from Edward III. This made him heir to the throne according to Edward III's entail to the crown of 1376[14] but, as Dr. Ian Mortimer has recently pointed out in his biography of Henry IV, this had probably been supplanted by an entail of Richard II made in 1399 (see Ian Mortimer, The Fears of Henry IV, appendix two, pp. 366–9). Henry thus had to remove Richard II's settlement of the throne on their uncle York (Edmund of Langley) and Langley's Yorkist descendants and overcome the superior claim of the Mortimers in order to maintain his inheritance. This fact would later come back to haunt his grandson, Henry VI of England, who was deposed by Edward IV, son of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, during the Wars of the Roses.

The following are the senior descendants of Edward III. The descendants that were alive at the death of Richard II are in bold.

  • Edmund Mortimer (1376-1409?)
  • Lady Elizabeth de Mortimer (1370/1371-1417)
  • Lady Philippa de Mortimer (1375-1401)
  • Henry IV of England (1366-1413)

[edit] Ancestry

[edit] Marriage and issue

The date and venue of Henry's first marriage, to Mary de Bohun, are uncertain but her marriage licence, purchased by Henry's guardian, John of Gaunt, in June 1380 is retained in the Public Record Office. The accepted date of the ceremony is 5 February 1381, at Mary's family home of Rochford Hall, Essex.[15] However the near-contemporary chronicler Jean Froissart reports a "gossipy" tale that Gaunt's sister kidnapped Mary from Pleshey Castle, Essex, where her family was holding her cloistered as a novice nun in order to keep her fortune for themselves, and took her to her own castle at Arundel.[16][17] There Mary was persuaded to marry Henry. They had six children:[18]

Mary died in 1394, and on 7 February 1403 Henry married Joanna of Navarre, the daughter of Charles d'Évreux, King of Navarre, at Winchester. She was the widow of John V of Brittany, with whom she had four daughters and four sons, but she and Henry had only one son Edmund, called Labourde, who was born and died in 1401. The fact that in 1399 Henry had four sons from his first marriage was undoubtedly a clinching factor in his acceptability for the throne. By contrast, Richard II had no children, and Richard's heir-presumptive Edmund Mortimer was only seven years old. The only two of Henry's six children that produced children to survive to adulthood were Henry V and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Henry IV's male Lancaster line ended in 1471 during the War of the Roses, between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists, with the deaths of his grandson Henry VI and his son Edward, Prince of Wales. Henry IV's son Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, is an ancestor of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, queen consort of George VI and mother of their daughter Elizabeth II. Provided the monarchy remain within Elizabeth II's descendants, all future monarchs will also be descendants of Henry IV.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b c Biography of HENRY IV - Archontology.org. Retrieved 30-11-2009.
  2. ^ a b c thePeerage.com - Person Page 10187. Retrieved 30-11-2009.
  3. ^ Armitage-Smith, Sydney. John of Gaunt, King of Castile and Leon, Duke of Lancaster, &c.. Constable, 1904.
  4. ^ Bevan, Bryan (1994). Henry IV. London: Macmillan. p. 32. ISBN 0948695358. 
  5. ^ Bevan (1994: 1)
  6. ^ Mortimer, Fears of Henry IV, pp. 211-7
  7. ^ The Book of the Princes of Wales, Heirs to the Crown of England, Dr. John Doran, London, Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty, 1860
  8. ^ E W M Balfour-Melville, James I King of Scots, London 1936
  9. ^ Peter McNiven, "The Problem of Henry IV's Health, 1405–1413", English Historical Review, 100 (1985), pp. 747–772)
  10. ^ Swanson Religion and Devotion p. 298
  11. ^ Debbi Codling, "Henry IV and Personal Piety", History Today, 57:1 (January 2007), pp. 23-29.
  12. ^ ANTIQUARY s9-IX (228): 369. (1902).
  13. ^ Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
  14. ^ Given-Wilson, Chris (2004). Alfonso Antón, Isabel. ed. Building Legitimacy: Political Discourses and Forms of Legitimacy in Medieval Societies. Boston, MA: Brill. pp.  90. ISBN 9004133054. 
  15. ^ Brown, A. L.; Summerson, Henry (January 2008). "Henry IV (1366–1413)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/12951. 
  16. ^ Johnes, Thomas; Froissart, Jean (1806). Chronicles of England, France and Spain. 5. London: Longman. p. 242. OCLC 465942209. 
  17. ^ Strickland, Agnes (1840). Lives of the queens of England from the Norman conquest with anecdotes of their courts. 3. London: Henry Colborn. p. 144. OCLC 459108616. http://books.google.com/books?id=KwY-AAAAcAAJ&pg=PA144&sig=DE0UJCLyOAUoGK8IQJtsy2nvECk#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  18. ^ Note: The idea that he and Mary had a child in 1382 (Edward of England (born and died April 1382 retrieved from http://genealogy.euweb.cz/anjou/anjou6.html#H4) is based on a misreading of an account which was published in an erroneous form by JH Wylie in the 19th century. It missed a line which made clear that the boy in question was the son of Thomas of Woodstock. The attribution of the name Edward to this boy is conjecture based on the fact that Henry was the grandson of Edward III and idolised his uncle Edward or Woodstock yet did not call any of his sons Edward. However, there is no evidence that there was any child at this time (when Mary de Bohun was twelve), let alone that he was called Edward. See appendix 2 in Ian Mortimer's book The Fears of Henry IV.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

Henry IV of England
Cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet
Born: 15 April 1366 Died: 20 March 1413
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Richard II of Bordeaux
King of England
Lord of Ireland

Succeeded by
Henry V of Monmouth
Peerage of England
New title Duke of Hereford
Merged in Crown
Preceded by
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke
Duke of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Henry V of Monmouth, King of England
In abeyance
Title last held by
Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl,
7th Earl of Hereford
Earl of Northampton
Succeeded by
Anne of Gloucester, 3rd Countess
French nobility
Preceded by
John of Gaunt,
1st Duke of Lancaster
Duke of Aquitaine
Succeeded by
Henry V of Monmouth, King of England
Political offices
Preceded by
The 1st Duke of Lancaster
Lord High Steward
Succeeded by
The Duke of Clarence
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Richard II of Bordeaux
King of France
Succeeded by
Henry V of Monmouth, King of England
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