Born on September 16th

Born on September 16th, 1387 (Monmouth, Monmouthshire, Wales), Henry V of the House of Lancaster, was as the eldest son of Henry IV and Mary de Bohun. In 1398 he was taken under the charge of Richard II, who paved the way for his knighting a year later. With the help of his uncle, Henry Beaufort (Duke of Winchester), Henry V was well educated by the standards of his time and through his fondness of music and indulgence of literature Henry V became the first English King who could both read and write with ease in the vernacular English language (www.britannica.com). In the year 1399, October 15th, after the ascension of his father to the English throne, Henry was appointed with various titles: Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Wales, and Duke of Aquitaine and Lancaster. A year later all administration of Wales was done by his name and in 1403, he took command against the Welsh rebels, something that absorbed much of his energy and efforts until 1408. But due to his gambling habits and his entitlement to being Prince, many perceived he would never make a good King. Yet those opinions changed and so did Henry when he took the crown after his father in 1413. A once reckless and dissolute youth, (immortalized by the Elizabethan playwright: Shakespeare) displays no more than the innate ebullience of a young man whose energies found an unsatisfactory vent.
In Shakespeare’s time, it was a necessity to the playwrights for a monarch to approve of their works otherwise there was a possibility that the monarch would shut them down. The crowned monarch during the release of Henry V was Elizabeth I, who was then leading the country in the 9 years war with Ireland. In previous works (Henry IV parts I+II) Shakespeare depicts Henry V as a wild young prince who enjoyed drinking and socializing with the common folk. Conversely, in Henry V, as the young royal goes to war with France, Shakespeare portrays him as a strong and great monarch mainly in the hopes of reflecting well on the monarchy (chiefly at a time of war: the 9 years war).
Henry V investigates the concept that the traits that make one a great King are not essentially ethically venerable ones—in other words what makes a good King is not what makes a good person. The qualities that make this particular British monarch (Henry V) admirable across the world comprise of his bravery, eloquence, ability to appear noble or meek (as situations differ) and his ability to step down from his position and talk to the common soldiers as his equals, (“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,”—speech before the Battle of Harfleur). His less admirable qualities include his refusal to take responsibility for other people’s deaths and his heartless attitude toward his former friends. Whichever qualities may hold more ground, it is important to note that in order to be effective, it is essential for the monarch in question appear to be good. Since he had no legitimate claim to the throne, Henry V had to seem like he had God on his side. Thus, he made sure to have the support of the Arch Bishop of Canterbury for his ‘legal’ claim to the French throne. Throughout Henry V Shakespeare leaves a trail that informs us that Henry somewhat performs the part of a good King. He puts aside personal feelings in order to fulfill that which was required of him as a ruler and achieve the desired results at all cost; and to pacify the demands of his throne Henry was willing to kill his friends in cold blood and slaughter thousands of French people in the heat of battle.
Not much can be said concerning the character of Henry V. As a hard and domineering man, Henry V was vastly intolerant of opposition and could be cruel and ruthless whilst in pursuit of his policy. Deficiencies such as these that clashed with gallant traits robbed him of the regard as “the typical medieval hero;” yet his love of justice gives him the utmost of praise, and the writers in his time regarded him as a brave, loyal, upright man, an honorable fighter, and a commanding personality. Although quiet, personally lacking in warmth and a man who usually preferred his own company rather than one-on-one conversations, Henry V was capable of igniting sparks of devotion within others, an attribute (among many) that made him a good leader. He was genuine and “a true lover of the Holy Church,” full of grace and fair to God. And in respect of his ability, Henry ranks high among other English Kings. His reign brought forth remarkable achievement: “he found a nation weak and drifting and after nine years left it dominant in Europe. Hitherto, a setback surfaced within his rule: him using his gifts to commit his country into a dubious foreign war rather than practical development.
In his Henry V, Shakespeare presents (in Henry) what he believes to be the ideal King. Ultimately, Henry is what can be defined as a hero. His story is one that epitomizes the English idea of a good and fair King. And to take it up a notch and emphasize the importance of a fair and humble King, Henry calls his fellow soldiers his, “brothers.” He sets the precursor for the necessity for moral traits and justifications in all people, especially the ruler of a country. Shakespeare presents Henry as the image for future Kings and the values and ideals they should hold. To exactly perceive how Shakespeare presents Henry V as an ideal King, it is important to define the characteristics that compose one. Essentially, what makes Kings great are three basic rudiments: nobility, humility and strength. Nobility, in itself covers a vast number of traits, and an important part of it is morality. A good King is one with good morals, but a great King is one who adheres to his morals and has the ability to use them as building blocks within his rule. Moreover, nobility consists of kindness and forgiveness, for a King cannot be cold and ruthless without reason. Though it may not be the prime quality for a great King, Henry makes excellent use of humility. He enables realization in his people: that they too can be as their King for in all matters present he is human as well. The most obvious of the qualities is strength. This is a necessity for the ideal-King because when both his leadership and courage to rally up troops is in question, no one will think highly of him. A weak King finds shelter in civil destruction for there will always be a rebellious faction that needs to be kept in check by a King who isn’t afraid to use force: a strong King. Said qualities are the epitomes of the ideal King and Shakespeare makes sure to let us know throughout Henry V that Henry V possessed all of them and many more. Apart from his qualities, the greatest of his achievements as a ruler was his transition from an irresponsible teenager to a grown, mature, and fitting ruler; phenomenal as it may be, it was not a simple task. This accomplishment was made light when he parted ways with his friends from the tavern mainly Falstaff who considered the monarch as an adopted son. Henry gave up his relations to the latter in order to better establish himself as a noble King. With strict morals to which to he abode, for Henry V, there was no room for compromise: just because he wanted to be with his friends.
With a clear conscience and the Lord by his side, Henry V had the Divine Right of Kings and is accountable only to God. However, he believed that his license of rule is not, merely based on his status as King, but equally on his ability to shoulder the requirements that came with his appointment: leading of the English people through shrewd and calculated decision making. A combination of both Richard II and Henry IV (his father) is displayed in the leadership ability of Henry V as he ascends to the throne. Richard mainly used his power for his own personal use, regardless of the state of the realm; while Henry IV in contrast, made all his decisions based on what he saw was best fit for his nation: wholly sure that he alone was capable of shaping England’s destiny. Hence when the young Henry V receives the English crown after his father in 1413, he has a blend of both Richard II’s divine right and his father’s political complexity and is the embodiment of the perfect monarch that ruled over England. A combination of two different political philosophies is also put on display; a combination of the rigid Tudor doctrine (emphasis on the ruler’s accountability to God) and the Machiavellian theory (only an exemplary statesman has the right to govern). Their synthesis makes the tetralogy: a political theory, a work of genius.
In the course of , King Henry persistently considers the position of God in his comings and goings of war. His constant meditation of God’s perspective had incessantly guided his decisions and methods as ruler. The King’s consideration of God eventually brings forth success for the English even though Providence may not have had the same effect as the soldiers and King perceived it to be. And although many have been argued that Henry often acted foolishly and impetuously when it came to war, it is also known that he also searched for God’s wisdom whilst making decisions for his men and country. Henry V’s faith in God uplifted his men to a certain extent that he was able to influence their hearts and thus securing his success in war.
The Webster Dictionary defines leadership as, “the power or ability to lead other people.” And according to former Allied commander and former U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, “leadership is a power or ability: it includes the qualities of ‘vision, integrity, courage, understanding, articulation and profundity of character’ that make a great leader. Shakespeare’s protagonist in Henry V, the monarch Henry V obtains greatness from said qualities which in turn inspired his men to follow him regardless, even when faced with difficult odds. His strong sense of duty, commitment to his men and a burning desire to win enabled King Henry’s victory over the French. Henry V was one of the renowned kings in English history: an icon of chivalry, a conquering hero, an exemplar of kingship and supreme self-publicist whose image has always owed a debt to the one he encouraged; King Henry V is among the hallowed triumvirate of incredibly famous English monarchs. Unlike his two famous contemporaries, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, he forged his legend over a mere nine years with few long term effects of victory which led to many seeing something objectionable in the arrogantly determined and charismatic young king. He was undoubtedly a gifted man, one of few to shape history to his design, but his self-belief and ability came at the expense of personality. He was one of the great military commanders who acted from an authentic sense of right and not a cynical position but his aspiration may have dedicated him to treaties beyond his capability to put into effect. Although he didn’t leave any long-term political or military legacy (despite all his achievements: uniting the nation around him, creating peace between crown and parliament and winning the French throne) what Henry did leave was a legend – one which later royals were taught to (and tried to) follow, and one which gave the public a national champion and a greatly improved general consciousness, credit in great part to his overture of the vernacular English into government. Even without Shakespeare’s attention toward Henry V, he would still have fascinated modern readers; for even his childhood was highly eventful.
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