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 a professor 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