Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt
Henry V was a famous English ‘warrior’ king. He was both proud and ambitious and had big ideas for his country. Even before he became king in 1413, Henry had fought his first battle at just age 14!
Henry was a brave soldier and despite his short reign, succeeded in making England one of the strongest kingdoms in Europe. His most famous victory however remains at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 where the English beat a much bigger and much stronger French army. 2015 marks 600 years since the famous battle.
Top 10 facts
- Henry V was born on 9 August 1387 in Monmouth, Wales. However there is no record of his birth so we are not absolutely certain of the date!
- Henry was the son of Henry IV and Mary de Bohun.
- Henry V’s father became king in 1399 and as he took the throne, his son received a number of titles. Young Henry became Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, and Prince of Wales!
- Henry V was only a teenager when he fought his first battle! At the age of just 14, he fought with his father at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.
- Henry V carried on his role as soldier as he spent the next five years fighting the Welsh rebels, led by Owen Glendower.
- Henry succeeded to the throne after his father’s death on March 21, 1413. He was crowned King on 9 April 1413 at Westminster Abbey.
- Henry V became well known as a ‘warrior’ king and is most famous for his victory against the French at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
- Henry V was an intelligent man. He was the first King of England to be able to read and write English easily. Many kings before him had all preferred to use French.
- In 1420 Henry married Catherine, daughter of the King of France. They had one son, Henry.
- Henry V was only 35 when he died from dysentry (inflammation of the intestine) in France on 31 August 1422 and was succeeded by his eight-month-old son, who became Henry VI.
- 9 August 1387Henry V was born in Monmouth, Wales
- 1399Henry V’s father became King Henry IV
- 1403Henry V fought with his father at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403
- March 21 1413Henry IV dies
- 9 April 1413Henry V is crowned King at Westminster Abbey
- 25 October 1415The English famously defeat the French at the Battle of Agincourt
- 1420The King of France, Charles VI, signed the Treaty of Troyes, which recognised Henry as heir to the throne of France
- 2 June 1420Henry married Catherine, daughter of the King of France, which helped cement the Treaty of Troyes
- 6 December 1421Henry V’s son Henry was born. He later became King Henry VI
- 31 August 1422Henry V dies of dysentery at Bois de Vincennes, France. He was buried in Westminster Abbey
Did you know?
- Henry V was a proud and ambitious king, who had big ideas for his country.
- Henry V was considered a strong leader who gave his army great confidence in battle.
- Shakespeare’s play Henry V is one of the writer’s best known plays and has helped Henry V remain one of the most famous of our English Kings.
- Shakespeare portrays him as a King very committed to his people and country.
- In one of Henry’s most famous speeches in the play he says “Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more;” which shows Henry V considered himself very much an equal with both his nobles and soldiers.
- Shakespeare’s play, Henry V, mentions the Battle of Agincourt a great deal.
- Henry V was the second English monarch (king or queen) to come from the House of Lancaster.
- Henry V was born in Monmouth in Wales and for that reason was sometimes called Henry of Monmouth.
- During Henry V’s coronation ceremony (where he was crowned king) a terrible snowstorm occurred. Apparently the King’s people couldn’t decide whether this was a good or bad sign!
- During Henry V’s first battle – the Battle of Shrewsbury – the young prince was hit in the face by an arrow.
- On the 25 October 1415, Henry V famously won the Battle of Agincourt. It was the most important battle of the Hundred Years War that took place between England and France between 1337 and 1453.
See if you can spot the following in the gallery below:
- Battle of Agincourt
Henry V was famous as a ‘warrior’ King. He proved himself a brave soldier and despite his short reign, succeeded in making England one of the strongest kingdoms in Europe.
He was perhaps a natural as he fought his first battle as a teenager! Henry V was only 14 when he fought with his father at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.
Henry then went on to command the English army against the Welsh rebels who were led by Owen Glendower and between 1403 and 1408, the young Prince Henry, along with his English army, won a number of victories over the rebels.
Henry was obviously a strong-minded boy. During his teens, he had many disagreements with his father, Henry IV, as the young prince was determined to increase the power of the English throne.
As soon as he became King himself, he put his plans and ambitions into action. Henry V had only been King for two years when he began to set his sights on France.
In 1415, determined to reclaim the French crown, Henry and his army set sail to France. But England were the underdogs. The English had about 8,000 knights, archers and soldiers – the French had about 30,000.
To make matters worse, the English army had little food, many felt ill, some had never been to battle and they had marched about 350 kilometres.
But the English army secured themselves a good position – with a forest on either side of them and against all odds they won the Battle of Agincourt on 25 October 1415.
During the battle around 6,000 French soldiers were killed, and one third of the French nobility was either killed or captured.
Henry V carried on his war with France and conquered even more land. Finally, in 1420, the King of France, Charles VI, signed the Treaty of Troyes, which recognised Henry V as heir to the throne of France.
Henry V also then married Catherine, the daughter of the King of France, securing his position even further. Unfortunately he died just two years later aged only 35, just weeks before he would have become King of France!
But the fact that Henry V died early, at a time when he was very much in charge, meant he would be remembered well.
Just for fun...
- Make your own Henry V notebook
- Commemorate the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt and see a detailed scale model of the battle at a Royal Armouries’ special exhibition in the White Tower of the Tower of London
- Read a comic book version of Shakespeare's Henry V
- There have been two very famous film versions of Henry V (the play): the 1944 film starred Laurence Olivier and the 1989 film starred Kenneth Branagh
Find out more
- Look through a brilliant BBC interactive guide to Agincourt, including a battlefield in numbers infographic, details of the "medieval machine gun", the longbow, and a timeline of the battle
- Read about Henry V and his life and times and read some little-known facts about him
- Find information about the Battle of Agincourt
- Read Agincourt battle tales and find out more on the Agincourt 600 website
- 10 reasons with the French lost at Agincourt (including the weight of their soldiers' armour and the muddiness of the battlefield!)
- A French perspective on Agincourt, 600 years later
- Details of how Henry V kept James I of Scotland captive in order to control the Scots
See for yourself
- Visit the battlefield of Agincourt and the medieval museum
- See images of loads of Agincourt artefacts and a battlefield model as part of the online materials supporting the Battle of Agincourt 600 anniversary Royal Armouries exhibition at the Tower of London
- See where Henry V is buried in Westminster Abbey
- Take part in many of the events taking place to commemorate the 600 year anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt
- The Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Henry V will be broadcast live to UK cinemas and selected countries worldwide on 21 October 2015, the same week as the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt