Henry V, Holy Warrior

The Reign of a Medieval King in Context


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About the Book

King Henry V saw his reign and military efforts in France as a holy crusade to reclaim the French throne for his ancestors. Almost everything he did was governed by a well-thought-out philosophy that united political power, religious devotion and military success. This book includes the most up-to-date research on Henry V’s reign, with a focus on historiography. His role in English history, as well as his actions as a ruler and military commander, are discussed throughout the text. This approach demonstrates how historians interact with a complicated academic literature that oscillates between hero worship and vilification of Henry. In the end, Henry V is measured by the standards of his day and was unquestionably a successful warrior king. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Timothy M. Thibodeau is professor emeritus of history at Nazareth College of Rochester in New York. He has published extensively on the history of Christianity in the Middle Ages. He also has been a contributor to national and international media outlets, including the History Channel.

Bibliographic Details

Timothy M. Thibodeau

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 197
Bibliographic Info: 6 photos, 3 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8708-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4620-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
List of Maps and Illustrations viii
Timeline ix
The Central Characters xi
Preface 1
Introduction: Constructing and Deconstructing the Legend of Henry V 5
The Measure of Greatness 5  •  Debating Shakespeare’s Warrior King: A Historiographic Overview 8
One. Authority in Crisis: The Valois and Lancastrian Dynasties 19
Christendom in Crisis 19  •  The Valois Dynasty and the Hundred Years War 20  •  The Lancastrian Dynasty: Rebellion, Regicide, and Redemption 25  •  The Mad King and the Warrior King: Charles VI and Henry V 30
Two. The Usurper’s Son: Prince Hal 36
From Prince Hal to King Henry V 36  •  Family Life and the Education of a Prince 38  •  From Hostage to Heir to the Throne 44
Three. The Sins of the Father: Expiation and Restoration 55
A Funeral Fit for a King 55  •  The Enduring Scandal of Usurpation 56  •  Atonement and Reformation 61
Four. Contracting with God for Holy War 68
Penance and Oblations 68  •  Liturgical Quid Pro Quo 70  •  Memento Mori 74
Five. Holy War: The Scourge of God 79
A New Man: The Grace of Coronation and Conquest 79  •  Modeling Holy War 81  •  Waging Holy War 85
Six. Miraculous Victory: Agincourt 93
The Myth of Agincourt 93  •  The Norman Invasion and the Siege of Harfleur 99  •  The Battle of Agincourt 102  •  The Massacre of Prisoners 114  •  “God Fought for Us”: Remembering a Miracle 121
Seven. From Warrior King to Cradle King: The Treaty of Troyes and Henry VI 125
The Treaty of Troyes 125  •  Henry VI and the Dual Monarchy 131
Eight. A Just and Holy Warrior? 135
Romanticism, Revisionism, and Judgment 135
Suggestions for Further Reading 145
Chapter Notes 149
Bibliography 173
Index 183

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “This book is original in its broad overview of the voluminous and contentious scholarship on Henry V and its reasonable perspectives, steering between the romantic hero-worship now more than a century beyond its expiration date and more recent a historical denunciations made without sufficient regard for the fifteenth-century context.”—Richard Kaeuper, University of Rochester