Henry v Death : Remembering King Henry V of England.
King Henry V died of dysentery at the age of 36. It was a shocking turn of events for one of the most talented and competent of England’s medieval kings, made all the more calamitous because it left the crown in the hands of his nine-month-old son, Henry VI. The ensuing decades of political turmoil eventually led to the civil war between the Lancasters and the Yorks that we know as the Wars of the Roses.
When Henry V inherited the English crown in 1413, he also continued pressing the claims to the French crown first asserted by Edward III, which led England and France to engage in the conflict known as the Hundred Years War. Consequently, Henry embarked on a set of military campaigns in France to take the French throne. It was on one of these adventures when Henry led English to their famous–and improbable–victory at Agincourt in 1415.
Eventually, Henry V’s military and diplomatic efforts led to the 1420 Treaty of Troyes. In that treaty, Henry agreed to cease further military aggression and marry Catherine of Valois, the daughter of King Charles VI of France. In return, Charles named Henry as the heir to the French throne. It was a stunning and momentous accomplishment for Henry and brought the Plantagent dream of ascending the French throne to the very cusp of reality. Henry would not, however, live to inherit the French crown.
During a siege in 1422, Henry contracted dysentery. He died on this day. Charles outlived him (by 2 months), so Henry never inherited the French throne. The Plantagent dream of reigning in both England and France remained just out of reach.
But for England, Henry’s death was politically calamitous. Henry’s son (Henry VI) was just 9 months old when his father died. This meant that a Regent, along with a governing council of nobles, would rule England for more than 17 years. The rivalries that ensued from the maneuvering among several ambitious nobles lasted for decades even after Henry VI reached majority, leading to the great power rivalry between the Houses of Lancaster and York known as the Wars of the Roses.
But the seeds of that civil war–and the eventual extinction of the Plantagenet Kings of England–were planted on this day in 1422, when Henry V died too young and left the realm in the hands of an infant. Source / Written by Dan Hinde