Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Henry V: A Cold Monster of a King

How many people have read Henry V by Shakespeare. How many more have read of the legendary battle of Agincourt and how six thousand English soldiers took on sixty thousand French. Did you think it was all remarkable. Guess what:
Henry was not the cheerful Prince Hal or the glorious Henry V. He was a brute, overly prideful and ambitious, started a war for himself, and was capable of acts of horrible cruelty. When, in 1417, he laid siege to the city of Caen, he ordered that every male over the age of twelve be put to the sword. 1,800 men and boys were killed. When a friar asked how Henry could perpetrate such a crime, Henry responded 'I'm the scourge of God sent to punish people for their sins against him.'
It is very hard to accept this image of Henry. Shakespeare's portrait of him was of a kind man who cared for his soldiers and was pious to God. Henry was certainly pious, but he was more of a religious fanatic, who believed that he could kill large numbers of people in God's name. God will never approve of that. Nevertheless, Henry was a warrior of God, be it a brutal one.
Henry was also never on friendly terms with women. He never slept with a woman between the year 1413 to 1420, the year he married the French Princess Katherine. He was fearful of women, probably because of a bad experience with one. He was reputed to have 'sown his wild oats' when he was Prince of Wales.
It is far to say Henry had some good qualities: tenacious, courageous, pious, series, faithful, chaste when he became king, and shrewd. However he has more bad qualities than good ones. Ruthless, cruel, severe, and unfriendly towards most. He was a monster of a king.
P.S. For more information on the true Henry V, read 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory by my favorite historian, Dr. Ian Mortimer