History royal-history-henry

Published on June 3rd, 2015 | by Sarah Jubb

The Three King Henry

On September 9th 2015, Queen Elizabeth II will become Britain’s longest ruling monarch, overtaking her great, great grandmother Queen Victoria. To celebrate this historic achievement, here at the Post Office Shop we shall be taking a look through the history of the Kings and Queens who have ruled in previous centuries.

King Henry IV

We start our series with King Henry IV of England who ruled from 1399 to 1413. Henry IV came to power by taking the crown from King Richard II, Henry’s cousin. He gained power and support that eventually enabled him to imprison King Richard and take the throne for himself.  With the underhanded way that he came to power, it is not surprising then that during his reign there were many rebellions and assassination attempts.

Of particular note is the Percy Rebellion that saw Henry Percy and his allies trying to overthrow him from the throne. Another important rebellion was the Glyndŵr Rising or Welsh Revolt that was led by Owain Glyndŵr who was proclaimed Prince of Wales. It was the last major uprising in Welsh history and it sought for an independent Wales with its own Parliament and Church.

King Henry V

Henry IV died in 1413 and was buried at Canterbury Cathedral along with this second wife Joan of Navarre. After this the crown was taken up by his son, Henry V who managed to quell the final embers of the Welsh rebellion by offering Royal Pardons to leaders of the revolt in a more conciliatory approach.

His short rule was generally trouble free at home but he was mired in foreign policy with wars against France. This was during the Hundred Years’ War and it saw multiple campaigns waged against his southern neighbour in an attempt to regain ancestral lands and lay a claim on the French throne. Henry himself marched with his army, proving himself to be a capable warrior king when he won the Battle of Agincourt, seen as one of his greatest victories.

Henry V managed to get the French to sign the Treaty of Troyes, a huge victory for him as it saw France recognising him as the heir and regent to the French throne. In 1420 he married Catherine of Valois who gave him a son, the future Henry VI. He died in 1422 in France from apparent dysentery at only 36 years old, leaving his nine month old son to be named king.

King Henry VI

Because of his incredibly young age, England was ruled by a regency council until King Henry VI was crowned in 1429. He was also named titular King of France due to the Treaty of Troyes, taking over the role his father had coveted and in 1431 he was finally crowned King of France. Despite being king of two countries, he was only granted authority in 1437 when he was deemed old enough to rule.

His rule of a dual monarchy was troublesome from the start due to England beginning to lose the winning momentum it had gained in the Hundred Years’ War under his father thanks to military victories from Joan of Arc and other losses. King Henry VI was not only plagued with foreign troubles but also saw huge upsets at home, most prominently his mental breakdown in 1453.

This breakdown resulted in the Duke of York, Richard, being made Protector of the Realm and taking over policies that the king could not. In 1454 however, King Henry came back to his senses but found a court that was increasingly supporting the idea of the House of York being placed back on the throne.

As a result of this the War of the Roses began, a civil war between the House of York and the House of Lancaster in 1455. Margaret, King Henry’s wife, led the Lancaster forces and killed the Duke of York but he was imprisoned with Edward of York taking over the throne and becoming King Edward IV. Henry was restored to throne in 1470 for only six months before he was imprisoned back in the Tower of London, eventually dying in 1471.

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