Henry V - Charles Kingsford - ebook

Henry V ebook

Charles Kingsford



This was the threefold task of the House of Lancaster: to recover prestige abroad, to restore peace at home, to re-establish order in the Church. For Henry of Bolingbroke the crown was to prove a thankless burden; but his labors were not in vain, and his son succeeded to the throne under happier auspices. Henry of Monmouth, deriving his inspiration from the past, was the champion of unity against the forces of disintegration. His aims were to govern England on the principles of the old constitutional monarchy as the chosen representative of his people's will; to maintain his country's place as a part in the whole society of the Western world; and for himself, as became a Christian King, to be the head and leader of a united Christendom.

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THE fourteenth century was an age of outward splendor. But the pomp and show of its chivalry could hardly cover the decay that was fast overtaking the most cherished objects of the Middle Ages. Old faiths had lost their inspiration, old forms of government were breaking down, the very fabric of society seemed to be on the point of dissolution. It is, however, part of the irony of history that a great ideal too often attains its finest expression only when the period of decline has already commenced. So now amidst the wreckage of the Empire, when the Church was rent with schism, and Europe the prey of warring nationalities, the noblest leaders of thought and politics were filled as they had never been before with a persistent longing for unity. Mankind is more prone to look backwards than forwards, and thus the remedy for present evils was sought rather in the restoration of an old ideal than in the creation of a new order. To bring back the Golden Past must be the work of a hero, who could revive in his own person the virtues of the chosen champions of the Middle Ages. Such an one must be like Arthur a national and a conquering king, like Charlemagne the defender and head of Church and State, like Godfrey the captain of Christendom in the Holy War.

In theory at all events it had been the essence of Mediævalism that one divinely ordered Church and one divinely ordered State should exist side by side in harmonious co-operation. In practice no doubt it had been far otherwise, though at the close of the fourteenth century Western Christendom still looked to Pope and Emperor as its necessary and natural heads. There was, however, little prospect that a savior of society could be found in either quarter.

The Empire, it is true, preserved its nominal dignity, and thanks to its union with the German Kingdom, did not lack power. But the Emperor, Wenzel of Luxemburg, was a shiftless drunkard, who possessed neither the talents nor the character that his position required.

The Papacy was in an even worse plight; it had shattered the Empire, but its victory had proved ruinous to its own authority. By aspiring to a secular supremacy, the Popes had been forced to adopt methods that were fatal to their spiritual influence. Their power reached its zenith under Boniface VIII. (294-1304), who asserted his authority with uncompromising boldness. But his pretensions provoked the national spirit both of France and England; and the humiliation which Boniface suffered at the hands of Philip the Fair marks the decline of the Mediæval Papacy. After a brief interval there commenced the Seventy Years Captivity, during which the Popes at Avignon sank to be the tools of French policy. Such a position was disastrous to the influence of the Roman Church in other lands. The mischief was too obvious to be disregarded; and in spite of their French birth, Urban V. and Gregory XI. realized that the interests of their office required the restoration of the Roman tradition.

The death of Gregory at Rome in 1378 was followed by the election of an Italian Pope. The French cardinals, who had acquiesced only through fear of the Roman populace, soon found their opportunity; and the headstrong violence of Urban VI. seemed to justify the choice of an anti-pope in the person of Clement VII. The Great Schism, which was thus due to national feeling, was fed by national jealousy. The French Government, true to its traditional policy of a French Papacy, gave its support to Clement against his Italian rival. That was sufficient to secure Urban's recognition in England and Flanders; whilst Scotland and the Spanish Kingdoms followed the lead of their French ally. For a full generation Western Christendom was divided into two camps in accordance with the needs of national policy. When at last the situation became intolerable, the settlement was dictated rather by reasons of international diplomacy than from any motives of religious expediency.

Though neither of the rival Popes would abate anything of their pretensions, they could not maintain either their spiritual influence or their temporal power. In Italy Urban and his successors lost credit by sharing in the schemes and intrigues of rival princes. In England and in Germany the distant Pope had to be content with bare recognition, whilst his practical authority was less and less regarded. France had aspired to control the Papacy, but found it a costly honor. During the Captivity, and still more during the Schism, the French Popes with diminished resources were confronted with increasing needs. First-fruits and tenths and subsidies were exacted with growing persistence, whilst the encroachments of the Roman Curia on the rights of the national clergy constantly multiplied. Thus the French, who had in the first instance fostered the Schism, became the leaders in the movement for reunion. The University of Paris, which had long been recognized as the fountain of orthodox opinions, and had not feared to withstand even Popes themselves, had accepted reluctantly the choice of their government; but as the abuses of the Schism were made manifest the champions of unity gained strength. Under the guidance of Jean Gerson and Pierre d'Ailly the Doctors of Paris developed the theory of a power that was above the Pope. The head of the Church, argued d'Ailly, is Christ; it is in unity with Him and not with the Pope that the unity of the Church consists; from Christ the Church derived authority to summon Councils for her government; such a Council might call the rival Popes to appear before it, and even remove them from their office.

It was chiefly through the influence of the University of Paris that a General Council at last met at Pisa in 1409. But neither Benedict XIII. (the successor of Clement) nor his Italian rival Gregory XII. would attend. In their absence they were both solemnly deposed, and Alexander V., a man of good repute but little weight, elected in their place. Since, however, the supporters of Benedict and Gregory would not accept the decrees of the Council, the only result was to substitute three Popes for two. Matters changed for the worse when after a year Alexander was succeeded by John XXIII., who had the vices and qualities of an Italian condottiere, but was without the character to command the respect and obedience of Christendom.

For England the great and obvious fact of the fourteenth century was the war with France. In its ostensible pretext the war was purely dynastic; and the brilliant pages of Froissart have made it pre-eminently the conflict of nobles and chivalry. But even in its origin and still more in its ultimate consequences the first period of the Hundred Years War had a very different significance. Commercial interests made the war popular, and gave it a better justification than the King's shadowy claim to the French crown. The sense of national unity was consolidated by the victories of Crecy and Poitiers, which bound King and nobles and people together through pride in their common achievement. The influence of the war extended also to domestic politics. The King's increasing need for money compelled him to summon frequent Parliaments. Nobles and knights and burgesses were thus trained to act together, and parliamentary institutions gained strength at the expense of the Crown. Most important of all was the association of the country gentry and the citizens of the towns in the House of Commons, where they learnt to value a wider patriotism more highly than local or class interests. The people, grown conscious of their national unity, would not tolerate foreign interference. The old standing hostility to Roman pretensions gathered fresh strength from the natural dislike to a Papacy controlled by France. As a direct consequence there came the enactment of the famous Statutes of Provisors and Præmunire, the first step in the long struggle which delivered England from the yoke of Rome. If, however, the French war was stimulating, it was also exhausting. The effort proved too great for the undeveloped resources of the nation, and the tide of war turned inevitably against England. With defeat came disorganization. The finances were embarrassed; the war was badly managed; the difficulties and disasters of the Government furnished domestic factions with a convenient excuse.

The social and political disorder was not due entirely to the war. The ravages of the Black Death, which swept away half the population, involved a social upheaval that could end only in revolution. Though the process was slow, and though the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 failed miserably, the old order was doomed. The grievances of the laboring classes were in England supported by a spirit of independence and a love of freedom unknown elsewhere; from this point dates the gradual decay of villenage and the emancipation of the country folk from feudal tyranny. For the moment, however, the failure of the Peasants' Revolt led to a reaction. For nearly twenty years the political history of England is concerned with the factious strife of an oligarchical nobility. When at last King Richard freed himself from the control of his ambitious kinsmen and their partisans, he endeavored to rule more absolutely than his predecessors had ever claimed to do. Richard failed, because his theory of government ran counter to national sentiment: "The realm was in point to be undone for default of government, and undoing of the good laws." The Revolution of 1399, which placed Henry of Lancaster on the throne, was in truth a popular movement, and for the first time gave to the royal power a parliamentary title. On the other hand, Henry's success was made possible by the support of the great House of Percy, so that the immediate result of the revolution was to threaten the restoration of oligarchical tyranny. To combat this danger was the first task of the new dynasty, and Henry IV. achieved his purpose by the frank acceptance of his position as a constitutional ruler. His policy was continued by his son, the strength of whose position consisted in the fact that he was a national King and the chosen representative of his people's will.

In its outward form the Revolution of 1399 resembled closely that of 1688. Both owed their success to the existence of a genuine national feeling; both were actually the work of an oligarchical party. The earlier movement, was, however, premature; for though the idea of popular government was widely spread, there was no one to give it practical and permanent force. Wycliffe it is true was at once the spokesman of national policy and the prophet of a new order. The first position he held consciously; but into the importance of his other role he had not himself full insight. He had made his entry on a public career as the defender of national rights against papal aggression. When the possession of power becomes a matter for dispute, it is inevitable that men should question also the principles on which that power depends. So by a natural process the great Reformer was led to attack, first the abuses of the ecclesiastical polity, and eventually the doctrinal basis on which that polity rested. The Church in England had grown wealthy and corrupt and had lost its ancient hold on the national affections. It was, however, an essential part of the political and social organization of the time, so that an attack on the Church could not remain simply a question of religion. Though Wycliffe's own teaching was in the first place religious, it lent itself to dangerous social developments, with which he had little personal sympathy. This was at once the weakness and the strength of the Lollard party. If the movement had remained purely religious it might have hastened an ecclesiastical reformation; but doctrinal Lollardy was never really strong in England, and lost more than it gained from the support of its worldly allies. Political Lollardy on the other hand furnished the center for all the forces of social discontent; but from lack of leadership the movement tended to be merely anarchic, and ceased to be dangerous as soon as the central Government showed itself worthy of its trust.

Notwithstanding the troubles at home there had been no solution of the quarrel with France. It is easy to argue that a policy of non-interference in European affairs would have been the wise course for English rulers to adopt. But ancient tradition and present opportunity alike pointed in an opposite direction. At the commencement of the fifteenth century the world's horizon was still limited, and it was impossible for England to remain outside continental politics in splendid isolation. In the French war there were involved both national interests and national pride. The skillful policy of Charles V. and the generalship of Du Guesclin had enabled France to recover much that she had lost by the Treaty of Bretigny in 1360. After the death of Charles V. in 1380 the war continued in a desultory fashion without any great advantage to either side, and in spite of frequent truces there had been no settled peace. Richard II. during the short period of his absolute power sought to restore friendly relations, and took for his second wife Isabella, the little daughter of Charles VI. The new policy was rudely interrupted by Richard's untimely end; the French Court sympathized naturally with the fallen King, whilst the disposal of the child-Queen and of her dower added another awkward question for the consideration of the two Governments. The state of affairs in France did not make a definite settlement easier; the war and the plague had disorganized society not less than in England; whilst the long minority of Charles VI., like that of Richard II. in England, opened the door to oligarchical and dynastic feuds. Matters did not mend when Charles VI. grew to manhood and developed a mental weakness which ended in actual insanity. The royal power was in abeyance; whilst the disputes of the King's brother, Louis of Orleans, and his cousin, John of Burgundy, rendered orderly government impossible. Orleans was hostile to England, and though there was no open war, his influence led to a series of petty annoyances, to piracy in the Channel, and secret assistance to Welsh rebels. Thus there was a running sore of enmity between the two nations, and the English Government was furnished with abundant and tangible grievances. Under such circumstances, there could be little prospect of lasting peace. The renewal of the war was inevitable as soon as affairs at home permitted the English King to take advantage of French discord.

This was the threefold task of the House of Lancaster: to recover prestige abroad, to restore peace at home, to re-establish order in the Church. For Henry of Bolingbroke the crown was to prove a thankless burden; but his labors were not in vain, and his son succeeded to the throne under happier auspices. Henry of Monmouth, deriving his inspiration from the past, was the champion of unity against the forces of disintegration. His aims were to govern England on the principles of the old constitutional monarchy as the chosen representative of his people's will; to maintain his country's place as a part in the whole society of the Western world; and for himself, as became a Christian King, to be the head and leader of a united Christendom.


WHEN John of Gaunt espoused his son as a boy of thirteen to the little Mary de Bohun, younger daughter and co-heiress of the last of the old Earls of Hereford, he added yet another to the many ancient titles that found their representation in the House of Lancaster. But otherwise the match was of little public interest; there was no great likelihood that Henry of Bolingbroke would ever ascend the throne, and none could foretell the splendid destiny that awaited the offspring of his marriage. It is not, therefore, remarkable that the birth of Henry of Monmouth passed unnoticed in the records of the time. The very date is indeed uncertain. A late writer and a foreigner is the first to give the exact day, 9th August, 1387. The date thus assigned may, however, be accepted with tolerable confidence; it is in part confirmed by the wardrobe accounts of Henry, Earl of Derby, for the year 1387-88, where mention is made of the purchase of a demi-gown for the young Henry, and also of the birth of his next brother, Thomas.

The barrenness of historical records is compensated for by the traditions that gathered round the birthplace of the future King. At Goodrich it was told how the herald who brought the news from Monmouth was thrown from his horse and killed as he toiled up the rugged hill that leads to the castle; and how Henry of Bolingbroke, -- whom the legend makes already King, -- hurrying from Windsor, learnt the news of his son's birth through the joyous salutation of the boatmen at Goodrich Ferry. At Courtfield another legend finds the home of Henry's nurse, and a cradle traditionally believed to be his was preserved there within the last century.

More authentic history tells us that Henry's nurse was called Johanna Waring, as we learn from the grant of an annuity of £20 which the young King, ever mindful of his friends, made to her in the first year of his reign. His mother, after bearing her husband three other sons and two daughters, died when only four-and-twenty in July, 1394. His father was often absent from England and can have seen but little of Henry and his brothers. So the young Henry's childhood, after the manner of the time, must have been passed chiefly in the care of servants at one or another of his grandfather's manors or castles, at Hertford, Kenilworth, or Tutbury. At the end of 1395 there was some talk of a marriage for the little Prince with Mary, daughter of Duke John IV. of Brittany. But private records have more to tell of the childhood of Henry of Monmouth than can be found in state-papers. The accounts of the Duchy of Lancaster supply us with a variety of details bearing on Henry's boyhood. Thomas Pye has "6s. 8d. for a horse hired at London on 18 March 1395 to go with all speed to Leicester on account of the illness of my lord Henry." Other items are for soap and shoes, for cloaks and mantles, black straw hats, scarlet caps and green russet gowns for the little princes. In February, 1396, there comes "4s. for seven books of grammar bought at London for the young lord Henry." Next year we find "8d. by the hand of Adam Gastron for harpstrings for the harp of the young lord Henry." In the same year Stephen Furbour has 12d. for a new scabbard, and Margaret Stranson of London "1s. 6d. for three quarters of an ounce of tissue of black silk for the sword of the young lord Henry."

These details, trifling in themselves, are enough to show that Henry's education received careful attention. Tradition says that he spent some time at Oxford under the charge of his uncle, Henry Beaufort. The room over the ancient gateway of Queen's College opposite St. Edmund Hall long bore an inscription declaring that it had once been the modest chamber of the future lord of Britain and conqueror of Gaul. It is probable enough that Henry should have been under his uncle's care at Oxford during the year that Beaufort was Chancellor of the University in 1398. But beyond this there is no evidence either to confirm or disprove the tradition. However, Henry was but a boy of eleven at the time; and though in after life he showed some interest in the welfare of the University, his residence at Oxford can have had little influence on his character. It is of more interest to note the probability that the future King had thus early come into close relations with his kinsmen the Beauforts.

For other reasons the year 1398 was a memorable one in the history of the House of Lancaster. On 23rd February the Duke of Norfolk had denounced Henry of Bolingbroke, now Duke of Hereford, as a traitor. A court of chivalry ordered the dispute to be decided by single combat. On the appointed day, 16th September, when the rivals had already entered the lists at Coventry, King Richard stopped all further action and condemned them both to banishment. Norfolk's sentence was for life; Hereford's for ten years. In the following February John of Gaunt, the old Duke of Lancaster, died, and the King, breaking his promise to his cousin, banished him forever, and confiscated his estates. But at the same time a sum of £500 a year was provided for the maintenance of the young Henry of Monmouth. Richard, who, whatever other faults he possessed, was a man of kindly feeling, took the boy under his own care, and kept him about his Court. Policy may have dictated the detention of the young Prince, but a feeling of genuine affection appears to have sprung up between him and the King. Richard was often heard to repeat an old prophecy to the effect that "a prince of the name of Henry will be born in England who, through the nobility of his character and the splendid greatness of his achievements, will illumine the whole world with the rays of his glory." Whether from a spirit of unconscious prescience, or from some peculiar liking that he had for the boy, the King would add: "And verily do I believe that this young Henry here will be he."

On 29th May, 1399, Richard went over to Ireland to quell the insurrection of a chief called MacMurrogh. He took with him his cousins Henry of Monmouth and Humphrey of Gloucester. Humphrey's father was the ill-fated Thomas of Woodstock, his mother was the elder sister of Mary de Bohun. The expedition landed at Waterford on 31st May, and on the morning of St. John's eve marched out against MacMurrogh. The Irish retreated into the woods without fighting, whereupon Richard ordered their villages to be fired. Whilst this was being done he had a space cleared on all sides and his standard erected.

"Then out of pure and entire affection he called to him the son of the Duke of Lancaster, who was a fair young bachelor and handsome. And so he dubbed him knight saying: 'My fair cousin, be henceforth gallant and brave, for little bravery wilt thou have unless thou dost conquer.' And the more to honor and encourage him by adding to his happiness and pleasure, and to the end, that he might remember it the better, he made yet other knights, eight or ten; but indeed I know not their names."

The warfare with MacMurrogh was attended with little success, and after a while Richard went on to Dublin. He could hardly have reached that city, when early in July the news came that Henry of Lancaster had landed at Ravenspur to claim his inheritance. Richard at once sent the Earl of Salisbury back to England, but unhappily for his fortunes delayed his own departure nearly three weeks. Before he left Dublin he called young Henry to his presence and said: "Henry, my boy, see what thy father hath done to me! He hath invaded my land and put my subjects to death without mercy. Certes, am I sorry for thee, since through these unhappy doings thou wilt perchance lose thine inheritance." Henry, though but a boy, replied in a manner beyond his years. "In truth, my gracious lord and King, I am greatly grieved at these rumors. But I believe your lordship understands that I am innocent of my father's deed." "Yes," answered Richard, "I know that thou hast no part in thy father's crime, and therefore I hold thee excused of it."

On Richard's departure Henry and his cousin Humphrey were sent for safe custody to the castle of Trim in Meath. Meantime the King's late coming to England had "robbed him of his friends, his fortune, and his state." On 19th August Richard made his submission to his rival at Flint, and accompanied him as a prisoner first to Chester and then to London. A Parliament was at once summoned in Richard's name to meet at Westminster on 30th September. On the previous day a committee of Henry's supporters obtained from the King his formal renunciation of the crown, and when the Lords and Commons assembled the throne was left vacant. After Richard had been solemnly declared unfit to govern, the Duke of Lancaster claimed the crown as descended in the right line from Henry III. The Estates gave their assent to his election, and Archbishop Arundel, taking him by the right hand, seated him on the throne.

Before the Duke of Lancaster left Chester he had sent one Henry Dryhurst to bring his son over from Ireland. The young Prince probably joined his father in London before the end of September. At all events he was present on 6th October, when the Parliament that had been summoned in Richard's name met for the second time as the Parliament of the new King. On Sunday, 12th October, in preparation for his coronation on the following day, the King made forty-five new knights. At the head of the list were Henry of Monmouth -- in apparent disregard of his previous knighting by Richard -- and his three brothers. In the afternoon the King went in procession from the Tower to Westminster. Before him rode the new-made knights clad in cloaks of green cut after a priestly fashion. On the Monday Henry was solemnly crowned in the Abbey, his son, as representative of the House of Lancaster, bearing the pointless sword Curtana, emblematical of Justice and Mercy. After the ceremonies of the coronation were over, Parliament reassembled, and on 15th October, Henry of Monmouth was with the assent of the Commons created Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and Earl of Chester. His father, seated on the throne, granted him investiture by placing a gold coronet adorned with pearls on his head, and a ring on his finger, and by delivering into his hand a golden rod. Then, after the King had kissed and blessed him, the Duke of York as chief prince of the blood conducted him to his place in Parliament, and the Commons swore to observe the same faith and loyalty, aid, assistance, and fealty towards him as to his father. In the same Parliament, on 23rd October, the young Prince was declared Duke of Aquitaine. On 10th November he was further made Duke of Lancaster, the vast revenues of which duchy were thus attached to the throne; though as a special privilege the duchy was to remain independent of the Crown. A week previously the Commons had begged that they might be entered on the record at the election of the Prince, and petitioned that since "the Prince is of tender age he may not pass forth from the realm." With this formal recognition of his position as heir to the throne, Henry of Monmouth entered on his public career, and young as he was in years the period of his boyhood came to an end.


THE circumstances of the time are sufficient to explain the early age at which the young Henry of Monmouth began to take his part in public affairs. His father's reign was from the first troubled and broken. At home there was constant sedition and discord; abroad wars or rumors of wars.

The movements of Henry of Bolingbroke during the three months that elapsed between his arrival at Ravenspur as a landless adventurer and his crowning at Westminster as the acknowledged King of England, were attended by a startling rapidity and good fortune which obscured the imperfection of his achievement. Though Richard had fallen, he was not friendless, and his name long furnished a rallying-cry for the enemies of Lancaster. Even when Richard had died in prison and been buried at Langley, there were many who believed that he had escaped and was living in Scotland. Henry's own position was on the other hand not free from question, since his hereditary claim to the throne was inferior to that of his cousin Edmund Mortimer, the young Earl of March. The superior validity of a parliamentary title was not yet fully recognized; and though the new King might rule "not so much by right of blood as by popular election," it was some time before he could feel secure or dispense with the support of the Percies.

Whilst the Parliament that had inaugurated the new dynasty was still sitting there were threatenings of trouble with Scotland and France. But domestic affairs were apparently settled and the King, it may be through over self-confidence, treated his opponents leniently. Richard's chief supporters, his kinsmen the Hollands (Earls of Kent and Huntingdon), and his cousin Edward, Earl of Rutland, son of the Duke of York, escaped with the loss of their recent advancement in rank and title; his most faithful adherent, the Earl of Salisbury, suffered no loss at all. Such treatment did not disarm their hostility to the new order. The Parliament had scarcely been dissolved before they began to scheme for a counterrevolution.

During the month of December King Henry and his children suffered from illness, which rumor ascribed to the effects of poison. The King had not fully recovered his health when he withdrew from London to spend Christmas at Windsor. There the conspirators purposed to surprise and kill Henry and his sons. But at the last moment Rutland's heart failed him, and he revealed the plot through his father to the King. It was late in the afternoon of Sunday, 4th January, 1400, that the news reached Windsor. There was no time to be lost. Henry took horse at once, and rode that same night with his sons and two attendants to London, escaping his enemies by only a few hours. The faithful Londoners kept the young princes safe from harm, whilst the King marched out to deal with his foes. The insurrection was, however, crushed without Henry's actual interference. If the conspirators had counted on a reaction in Richard's favor they had moved too soon. The people rose in arms against them. Kent and Salisbury were beheaded by the mob at Cirencester on 7th January, and Huntingdon met a like fate a week later in Essex. It was scarcely a mere coincidence that the hapless Richard ended his life within a few weeks of the ill-advised rising of his supporters. Fortune had once more favored Lancaster, and the domestic position of the new King was for the time strengthened.

Foreign affairs were more threatening; for the suspicion that attached to Richard's death tended to increase the enmity of the French Court towards Henry. The disposal of Isabella of France, the child-wife of the late King, had been from the first somewhat of an embarrassment. In November, 1399, Henry had sought a solution by proposing marriages between his own children and the children of the French King. After Richard's death this idea took a more definite shape; might not Isabella remain in England as the wife of the young Prince of Wales? To this the French Court was not at all disposed. But the time was not ripe for war on either side; and though the matter was complicated by the question of Isabella's dower, the little Queen was after some negotiation restored to her native country in the summer of 1401.

Whilst the negotiations with France still dragged their course, Henry was able to turn his attention to the settlement of affairs with Scotland. In October, 1399, the Scots had invaded Northumberland and captured Wark Castle. When the news reached London Henry at once declared his intention to march against them in person; but other matters detained him in the South till the following summer. Though at last he crossed the border on 14th August, 1400, he could extort nothing better than fine promises; with these for the time he had to be content, and his own energies were soon absorbed by a more pressing danger.

During Henry's absence an event which was to prove the beginning of serious trouble had occurred in Wales. Though Welsh independence had been brought to an end more than a century previously, the country was still only half subdued. Richard II. had paid some attention to the needs of the principality, and so earned for himself no little goodwill. The prevalent sympathy for his cause, and the hatred of the native Welsh for the great English lords, who held the land like a garrison, together afforded the existing Government sufficient ground for anxiety. But a private quarrel was to be the immediate cause of the outbreak.

One of the greatest lords of the Welsh Marches was Reginald Grey of Ruthin, who had for a near neighbor a Welshman of good family, Owen, Lord of Glyndyvrdwy. In the spring of 1400 a dispute between Owen and Grey as to the ownership of certain lands had led to a kind of petty warfare. The King and his Council were anxious to conciliate the Welsh gentry of the border. Grey, intent on his private interests, failed to carry out their policy, and by a piece of ill-timed harshness set the whole country ablaze. Amongst the followers of Owen was one Griffith ap David, who, trusting to the King's proclamations, came to Oswestry in the belief that he would obtain a charter of protection. When he found himself rather in danger of prison for his share in the late disturbances, Griffith fled to the mountains and openly defied Grey, telling him that: "As many men as you slay, and as many houses as you burn for my sake, as many will I slay and burn for your sake; and doubt not I will have bread and ale of the best that is in your lordship." Grey replied in wrath with a promise of "a rope, a ladder and a ring, high on gallows for to hang"; and wrote off to the Prince, who was nominally regent during his father's absence in Scotland, urging severe measures and the summary arrest of Griffith as the "strengest thiefe of Wales."

These events took place in June with the result that Henry on his way back from Scotland learnt that North Wales was in open rebellion. After summoning the Prince to join him, the King entered Wales at the end of September. The Welsh retreated to the mountains, whither the English, through the inclement season and lack of supplies, were unable to follow them. Nothing effectual could be done, and by mid-October the King was back at Shrewsbury. Before leaving the Welsh border he made such provision as was possible for the intended suppression of the revolt next year.

The young Henry of Monmouth was left behind at Chester, and in name the government of North Wales and of the Marches was to be administered by him. In reality, of course, authority was not put in the hands of a boy of thirteen, but in those of his Council. Chief of that Council was Henry Percy, the famous Hotspur, who had been appointed Justiciar of North Wales nearly a year previously. Shakespeare, with perhaps less regard for historic fact than usual, has made the association of "Harry Percy and the Prince of Wales" the occasion for a striking contrast between the King's dissolute heir, and the strenuous son of the man to whom the House of Lancaster chiefly owed the throne.

It is important to realize more accurately the relationship that existed between the young Prince and the head of his Council. There was between them nothing of the rivalry of youth; for Hotspur, though still in the flower of his manhood, was "no Mars in swathing clothes, no infant warrior"; he was far deeper in debt to years than the Prince, and was indeed somewhat older than the King himself. But whilst Henry IV. was preternaturally old in mind and body, Hotspur preserved to the last, both in thought and deed, the headstrong and reckless vigor of youth. If he was not by character well fitted to be the governor of a young prince, his long experience of border warfare gave him some special qualifications for the Welsh command. Still, the choice of Hotspur for such a position must have been due rather to the necessity of conciliating the powerful family to which he belonged, than to his own personal qualities. Hotspur can have given Henry of Monmouth no instruction in the mysteries of statecraft, or generalship; nevertheless, he was a doughty soldier, under whose leadership a high-spirited youth was likely to gain a practical acquaintance with the rough-and-tumble side of warfare.

In the autumn of 1400 it was scarcely possible for the King or Council to realize fully the serious character of the Welsh affair. On 30th November, proclamation had been made offering free pardon to all who came to the Prince at Chester before the meeting of Parliament next year. About the same time Glendower's estates were confiscated and bestowed on the King's half-brother, John Beaufort. Owen replied by assuming the style of Prince of Wales; at all events his so-called "reign" dated from now.

The movement which had originated in local disorder and discontent was beginning to take the form of a national uprising. There had been no active effort for independence in Wales for nearly a century, but the tradition was not dead. Only a generation previously a Welsh soldier of fortune in the service of France had claimed to be the heir of Llywelyn; the pretensions of this Owen of Wales to be the rightful prince of his native land, when supported by the French King, were formidable enough to cause Edward III. serious anxiety. Glendower professed that he was the right heir by consanguinity of this former Owen, and on this score appealed for French aid.

Glendower's claim to princely ancestry was not altogether groundless, and whatever its merits may have been, it found substantial support in the patriotism of the Bards. Strange tales floated about of portents that had heralded Glendower's birth. The Bards wandering from village to village stirred up the national sentiment by predictions that the prophecies of old were now to find their destined fulfilment. The whole people were in a ferment; Welsh scholars gave up their studies at Oxford, and Welsh laborers left their profitable employment in England to hurry home and join the standard of the new leader. Many castles and towns in Wales fell into the hands of the rebels, and even places like Shrewsbury were not secure from danger. By the spring of 1401 it was clear that the English Government had to deal with no local disturbance. When Parliament met in February the Commons addressed an urgent representation to the King, with the result that elaborate ordinances were issued for the better government of Wales and the more effectual securing of English authority.

Before the policy of the royal Government could have any effect the Welsh rebels under William ap Tudor and Howel Vaughan captured Conway Castle through the treason of some of the garrison. Hotspur, accompanied by the young Prince Henry, marched promptly into Wales, and laid siege to the Welsh in the castle. When Conway at last surrendered on 28th May, the conditions which Percy thought it wise to concede did not altogether commend themselves to the King or his Council. "My dread Lord the Prince" appears as the figurehead in all Percy's proceedings. But the years and inexperience of the young Henry forbid our supposing that he had any practical voice in the affairs that were conducted in his name. Whatever success was achieved could redound only to Percy's credit and to the increase of his power. The King may well have felt uneasy at the possible growth in a new quarter of the influence of that one too powerful family to which he owed his throne. Hotspur on his part was not without good reasons for complaint; since through the poverty of the English Government, which left him ill-furnished with supplies, he had been forced to conduct the war at his own cost. Of such a position Percy soon wearied, and at the end of August he finally resigned his appointment.

The immediate and ultimate consequences of Hotspur's connection with Wales were alike unhappy. In dudgeon at the inadequate support afforded him he had done nothing since May, and on his departure the rebellion broke out with fresh violence. The King and his son invaded Wales in October with very similar results to those of the previous year. The Welsh again retreated to their mountains, and again the English through bad weather could not pursue them. The harrying of Welsh territory was of no effect for the suppression of the rebellion, and after a raid of less than a fortnight the King returned baffled to Shrewsbury. Glendower had the trophies if not also the substance of victory, since by a stroke of good fortune he captured the horses and baggage of the Prince of Wales himself.

As in the previous year, the campaign was followed by a rearrangement of the administration. The Earl of Rutland was made Lieutenant of North Wales, whilst South Wales was entrusted to Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester. The Prince was still the nominal head of the government, and in November the Council advised that to provide for his great expenses in Wales he should receive the Isle of Anglesey, together with £1000 from the estates of the Earl of March. Anglesey had been in the possession of Hotspur, who was to be compensated out of the lands of the Mortimers. The Percy interest was further conciliated by the choice of the Earl of Worcester to be tutor to the young Prince.

It was about this time also that Henry of Mon. mouth was first brought into association with a man who was to play no small part in his history, and an even larger one in the legends that have amplified the story of his youth. In the autumn of 1401 the famous Sir John Oldcastle makes his first appearance in history as Warden of Builth Castle and the valley of the Wye. Later legend, working on the ill-repute of his heresy, and his notorious friendship with the Prince, found in him the prototype of Henry's boon companion, "my old lad of the Castle," "the villainous, abominable misleader of youth, Falstaff, that old white-bearded Satan." In point of fact, Oldcastle was at this time a Herefordshire knight of some local consideration, to whom no taint of Lollardy had yet attached. With the jovial, roystering, but cowardly Falstaff he has nothing in common save his friendship for the young Prince. Through their association in the Welsh war, Henry learned to appreciate the knightly prowess and manly uprightness of Oldcastle at their true value. Oldcastle owed his advancement to the Prince's favor; but it was in vain that he tried to convert his master to his own views. Probably enough their friendship was a scandal to the orthodox; certainly it roused false hopes in the hearts of the reformers. To Henry's own life it contributed a dark shade of tragedy.

With the actual government of Wales the young Prince himself had still little to do. Probably he was not even present on the Welsh border at this season, for during the following spring he was in London, where on May 8, 1402, he gave his assent to a proposed marriage with Catherine, sister of the young King Eric of Denmark. A week later at Berkhampstead he witnessed a like instrument providing for the marriage of his little sister Philippa to Eric. At the end of the month he had gone on to Tutbury in Staffordshire, apparently on his way to the Welsh border.

Meantime affairs in Wales had gone from bad to worse. Owen had been intriguing not only with the Irish and Scots, but even with the more distant though hereditary ally of Welsh pretenders in France. Perhaps also he had begun to work for his threefold alliance with Percy and Mortimer; for Jenkin Tyby had brought him letters out of the North Country, as it was deemed from Henry Percy. In January, 1402, the Welsh made a raid against Ruthin, and Owen had the good fortune to take prisoner his old enemy Lord Grey. It was a sinister circumstance that in this raid the lands of Mortimer were left unharmed. But the time for more open action had not yet arrived, and in the summer Sir Edmund Mortimer, the uncle of the young Earl of March, was actually in chief command on the border. On 17th June the Welsh surprised Mortimer at Brynglas near Knighton, and defeated him with heavy loss. Mortimer himself, whose tenants had joined openly with the Welsh, was taken prisoner. Owen received him with honor and even with kindness, and it was soon alleged that the defeat of the English had been due to the treason of their commander.

For the third summer in succession the crisis in Wales demanded the King's personal attention. On this occasion the war was to be conducted on a large scale. Three armies were ordered to be in readiness by the end of August. The first was to advance from Hereford under the Earls of Arundel, Stafford, and Warwick, and the second under the King from Shrewsbury; whilst the third, which was to start from Chester, was entrusted to the young Prince Henry. The total force is alleged to have numbered over 100,000 men -- doubtless a gross exaggeration -- and it was September before the armies could take the field. Once more the elements fought against the English; the King himself had a narrow escape, his tent was overthrown by a storm in the night, and many of his followers perished from the cold. The Welsh vanished into their impenetrable mountains; and when supplies failed, the English returned home with an insignificant booty. Glendower had good reason to boast:

"Three times hath Henry Bolingbroke made head Against my power; thrice from the banks of Wye, And sandy-bottomed Severn, have I sent him Bootless home, and weather-beaten back."

The King's ill-success was sufficiently disappointing in itself. It was rendered more so by contrast with the good fortune which attended the English arms in another quarter and under other auspices. At the same moment when the King and Prince were raiding haplessly in Wales, the Percies, father and son, had met and routed the Scottish invaders at Homildon Hill. The very completeness of their victory was an embarrassment to the King. The new service which his most formidable subjects had thus rendered him could neither be rewarded nor passed over without danger. Immediately on the receipt of the news Henry ordered the Percies not to ransom any of their prisoners, but to send them forthwith to London. Hotspur refused to surrender his own special prisoner, the Earl of Douglas, unless the King would ransom Sir Edmund Mortimer, whose sister was Henry Percy's wife. But the King would do nothing to further Mortimer's release, and his suspicions were justified presently by the marriage of Mortimer to Owen's daughter.

From this time the plot began to thicken. If, however, the King had any inkling, he found it prudent to dissemble; and even to reward the Percies with substantial grants of conquered lands in Scotland. Still the circle of those who could be trusted grew manifestly narrower, and deliberate policy must have dictated the concentration of important posts in the hands of the King's own family. It was as part of such a scheme that the young Prince Henry was in the early spring of 1403 nominated as the King's Lieutenant in Wales.


ON 7th March, 1403, by the recommendation of the Council, Henry of Monmouth was appointed to be his father's Lieutenant on the Marches of Wales. On the same day the Earl of Worcester resigned his command as Lieutenant of South Wales, whilst retaining his position as the Prince's governor. It is not, however, clear that Worcester accompanied the Prince to Wales, and we are justified in assuming that the Welsh command was henceforth Henry's in fact as well as in name.

Henry was to enter on his duties from the 1st of April. His orders were to prosecute the war with vigor; and he had authority both to punish those who abetted the rebellion and to pardon those who made their submission. On reaching his headquarters at Shrewsbury the Prince at once prepared to take the field. Owen was rumored to be mustering his forces for a raid, and the English garrisons at Harlech and Aberystwith were known to be hard pressed.

About the end of April Henry left Shrewsbury, and marching through Denbighshire and the valley of the Dee, returned to his headquarters by way of Montgomery on 15th May, when he reported his progress to the Council. The letter which he wrote on this occasion may fairly be regarded as the first document of importance for which Henry was personally responsible.

To the Council: --

"From the Prince. Very dear and entirely well-beloved, we greet you well and from the bottom of our heart, thanking you very dearly for the good consideration that you have for the needs that touch us in our absence; and we pray you effectually for your good and long continuance as our trust is in you. And in the matter of news from these parts, if you would know it, amongst other things we were lately informed that Oweyn de Glyndourdy had assembled his power with other rebels of his adherents in great number, purposing to raid and eke to fight, if the English folk should resist his purpose; for so he boasted himself amongst his own people. Whereupon we took our men and marched to a well-built place of the said Oweyn called Sycharth, that was late his chief mansion, where we thought to have found him if he wished to fight in such manner as he said. But on our coming thither we found not a soul, so we burnt all the place, and several other dwellings of his tenants thereabout. And next we marched straight to his other place of Glyndourdy for to seek him; and there we burnt a fair lodge in his park and all the country roundabout. And we ourselves lodged therein all that night, and certain of our men went out thence into the country, and took prisoner a great gentleman of the country, that was late one of the chieftains of the said Oweyn. This gentleman offered £500 for his ransom to have his life, and swore to pay the said sum within two weeks. Howbeit this was not accepted, but he had the death, as did divers others of his companions that were taken on the same day. And after that we marched on to the cymmwd of Edeyrnion in [the county] of Merioheth, and there we wasted a fair land and one well-inhabited. And thence we marched on into Powys and [by reason of the scarcity] of fodder for horses in Wales we made our people carry oats with them. Our hosting lasted [ . . ] days. And to inform you more fully of this march and of all other news from this quarter we are sending to you our trusty squire, John de Waterton, in whom you may put firm faith and credence in all that he shall report on our behalf touching the news aforesaid. And may Our Lord have you always in His holy keeping.

"Given under our signet at Shrewsbury the 15th day of May."

The expedition had been so far successful that it had checked the threatened counter-raid of Owen. But the castles of Harlech and Aberystwith (or Llampadarn) were still hard pressed. Moreover, if the rebellion was to be crushed, it was useless for the English to confine their efforts to one or two isolated raids in the course of each summer as had been the case so far. If their warfare was to be successful, it must be continuous and systematic. Henry recognized to the full the requirements of the situation; but he was hampered by lack of means, and such allowances as had been made to him were in arrear. Without money he could make no head against the rebellion, and his private resources were quite inadequate to supplement the deficiency of public funds. Thus he was compelled to remain inactive at Shrewsbury, whence on 30th May he wrote again to the Council representing in strong terms the dangers of his position.

"Very dear and entirely well-beloved, we greet you well. Forasmuch as our soldiers desire to know of us whether they will be paid for the third month of the present quarter, and tell us that they will not wait here without they be paid shortly their wages according to their agreement, we pray you very effectually that you will ordain our payment for the said month, or otherwise furnish us and make ordinance in time for the safekeeping of these Marches. For the rebels hear each day whether we shall be paid, and they know well that without payment we cannot abide. They are laboring to raise all the power of North Wales and of South Wales to raid and destroy the March and the adjoining counties. There will be no resisting them here, if only they can accomplish their malice. And when our men be withdrawn from us, we must ourselves withdraw into England, or else be put to shame for ever; since any man hath wit enough to know that without power of men we could do no more than could another man of less estate. And at present we have great charges, and have made all the provision for them that we can from our small jewels. For our castles of Harlech and Llampadarn have been besieged this long time, and we must relieve and revictual them within ten days; besides which we have to guard this March about us with a third of our power against the rebels. Nevertheless if the war could but be continued, the rebels were never so like to be destroyed as they are at this present. And now that we have shown you fully the state of these parts, may you ordain in such manner as seemeth you best for the safe-keeping of the same, and of this part of the Kingdom, which God preserve, and grant you grace to ordain as is best for the time. Our Lord have you in His keeping. Given under our signet at Shrewsbury this 30th day of May.

"And be you well-advised that we have shown you fully the peril that may befall these parts hereafter, if no remedy be taken in time."

The Council reported the difficulty to the King, who on 10th July wrote from Higham Ferrers directing that payment of £1000 should be made to his son: "So that he may continue the work he has so well begun, the which he cannot do if he have not the wherewithal."