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Henry IV
16th century painting of Henry IV
King of England (more...)
Reign 30 September 1399 – 20 March 1413 (&0000000000000013.00000013 years, &0000000000000202.000000202 days)
Coronation 13 October 1399
Predecessor Richard II of Bordeaux
Successor Henry V of Monmouth
Spouse Mary de Bohun
m. 1381; dec. 1394
Joan of Navarre
m. 1403; wid. 1413
Henry V of England
Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence
John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford
Humphrey, 1st Duke of Gloucester
Blanche, Electress Palatine
Philippa, Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden
House House of Lancaster
Father John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
Mother Blanche of Lancaster
Born 3 April 1366(1366-04-03)[1][2]
Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshire
Died 20 March 1413[1][2] (aged 46)
Westminster, London
Burial Canterbury Cathedral, Kent

Henry IV (possibly 3 April 1366[1][2] – 20 March 1413) was King of England and Lord of Ireland (1399–1413). Like other kings of England, at that time, he also claimed the title of King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence the other name by which he was known, Henry (of) Bolingbroke (pronounced /ˈbɒlɪŋˌbrʊk/). His father, John of Gaunt, was the third son of Edward III, and enjoyed a position of considerable influence during much of the reign of Richard II. Henry's mother was Blanche, heiress to the considerable Lancaster estates.



One of his elder sisters, Philippa, married John I of Portugal, and his younger sister Elizabeth was the mother of John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter. His younger half-sister Catherine, the daughter of his father's second wife, Constance of Castile, was queen consort of Castile. He also had four half-siblings by Katherine Swynford, his sisters' governess, his father's longstanding mistress and eventual third wife. These four children were surnamed Beaufort.

Henry's relationship with Katherine Swynford was a positive one (she was governess to him and his sisters in youth). His relationship with the Beauforts varied considerably. In youth he seems to have been close to them all, but rivalries with Henry and Thomas Beaufort after 1406 proved problematic. His brother-in-law, Ralph Neville, remained one of his strongest supporters. So did his eldest half-brother, John Beaufort, even though Henry revoked Richard II's grant to John of a marquessate. Thomas Swynford, a son from Katherine's first marriage to Sir Hugh Swynford was another loyal companion and Constable of Pontefract Castle, where King Richard II is said to have died.

Eventually, a direct descendant of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford through the Beaufort line would take the throne as Henry VII.

Relationship with Richard II

The Coronation of Henry IV of England. From 15th century manuscript of Jean Froissart's Chronicles.

Henry experienced a rather more inconsistent relationship with King Richard II than his father had. First cousins and childhood playmates, they were admitted together to the Order of the Garter in 1377, but Henry participated in the Lords Appellant's rebellion against the King in 1387. After regaining power, Richard did not punish Henry (many of the other rebellious Barons were executed or exiled). In fact, Richard elevated Henry from Earl of Derby to Duke of Hereford.

Henry spent a full year of 1390 supporting the unsuccessful siege of Vilnius (capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) by Teutonic Knights with his 300 fellow knights. During this campaign Henry Bolingbroke also bought captured Lithuanian princes and then apparently took them back to England. Henry's second expedition to Lithuania in 1392 illustrates the financial benefits to the Order of these guest crusaders. His small army consisted of over 100 men, including longbow archers and six minstrels, at a total cost to the Lancastrian purse of £4,360. Much of this sum benefited the local economy through the purchase of silverware and the hiring of boats and equipment. Despite the efforts of Henry and his English crusaders, two years of attacks on Vilnius proved fruitless. In 1392/93 Henry undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he made offerings at the Holy Sepulchre and Mount of Olives.[3] Later he was to vow to lead a crusade to free Jerusalem from the "infidel", but he died before this could be accomplished.[4]

However, the relationship between Henry Bolingbroke and the King encountered a second crisis in 1398, when Richard banished Henry from the kingdom for ten years after a duel of honour was called by Richard II at Gosford Green near Coventry. Before the duel could take place, Richard II banished Henry from the kingdom (with the approval of Henry's father, John of Gaunt) to avoid further bloodshed between Henry and Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, who was exiled for life.

John of Gaunt died in 1399. Without explanation, Richard cancelled the legal documents that would have allowed Henry to inherit Gaunt's land automatically. Instead, Henry would be required to ask for the lands from Richard. After some hesitation, Henry met with the exiled Thomas Arundel, former Archbishop of Canterbury, who had lost his position because of his involvement with the Lords Appellant. Henry and Arundel returned to England while Richard was on a military campaign in Ireland. With Arundel as his advisor, Henry began a military campaign, confiscating land from those who opposed him and ordering his soldiers to destroy much of Cheshire. Henry quickly gained enough power and support to have himself declared King Henry IV, to imprison King Richard, who died in prison under mysterious circumstances, and to bypass Richard's seven-year-old heir-presumptive, Edmund de Mortimer. Henry's coronation, on 13 October 1399, is notable for being the first time following the Norman Conquest that the monarch made an address in English.

Henry consulted with Parliament frequently, but was sometimes at odds with the members, especially over ecclesiastical matters. On Arundel's advice, Henry passed the De heretico comburendo and was thus the first English king to allow the burning of heretics, mainly to suppress the Lollard movement.



The previous ruler

Henry's first problem was what to do with the deposed Richard. After an early assassination plot (The Epiphany Rising) was foiled in January 1400, he ordered his death (very probably by starvation). The evidence for this lies in the circulation of letters in France demonstrating prior knowledge of the death.[5] Richard died on 14 February 1400, after which his body was put on public display in the old St Paul's Cathedral to prove to his supporters that he was dead. He was 33 years old.


Henry spent much of his reign defending himself against plots, rebellions and assassination attempts.

English Royalty
House of Lancaster
England Arms 1405.svg
Armorial of Plantagenet
Henry IV
   Henry V
   John, Duke of Bedford
   Thomas, Duke of Clarence
   Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

Rebellions continued throughout the first ten years of Henry's reign, including the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr, who declared himself Prince of Wales in 1400, and the rebellion of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland. The king's success in putting down these rebellions was due partly to the military ability of his eldest son, Henry of Monmouth, who would later become king (though the son managed to seize much effective power from his father in 1410).

In the last year of Henry's reign, the rebellions picked up speed. "The old fable of a living Richard was revived", notes one account, "and emissaries from Scotland traversed the villages of England, in the last year of Henry's reign, declaring that Richard was residing at the Scottish Court, awaiting only a signal from his friends to repair to London and recover his throne."

A suitable-looking impostor was found and King Richard's old groom circulated word in the city that his master was alive in Scotland. "Southwark was incited to insurrection" by Sir Elias Lyvet (Levett) and his associate Thomas Clark, who promised Scottish aid to carry out the insurrection. Ultimately, the rebellion came to naught. The knight Lyvet was released; his follower thrown into the Tower.[6]

Foreign relations

Early in his reign, Henry hosted the visit of Manuel II Palaiologos, the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England, from December 1400 to January 1401 at Eltham Palace, with a joust being given in his honour. He also sent monetary support with him upon his departure, to aid him against the Ottoman Empire.

In 1406, English pirates captured the future James I of Scotland off the coast of Flamborough Head as he was going to France.[citation needed] James remained a prisoner of Henry for the rest of Henry's reign.

Final illness and death

The later years of Henry's reign were marked by serious health problems. He had a disfiguring skin disease, and more seriously, suffered acute attacks of some grave illness in June 1405, April 1406, June 1408, during the winter of 1408–09, December 1412, and then finally a fatal bout in March 1413. Medical historians have long debated the nature of this affliction or afflictions. The skin disease might have been leprosy (which did not necessarily mean precisely the same thing in the 15th century as it does to modern medicine), perhaps psoriasis, or some other disease. The acute attacks have been given a wide range of explanations, from epilepsy to some form of cardiovascular disease.[7] Some medieval writers felt that he was struck with leprosy as a punishment for his treatment of Richard le Scrope, Archbishop of York, who was executed in June 1405 on Henry's orders after a failed coup.[8]

According to Holinshed, it was predicted that Henry would die in Jerusalem; Shakespeare's play repeats this. Henry took this to mean that he would die on crusade. In reality, he died at the house of the Abbot of Westminster, in the Jerusalem chamber. His executor, Thomas Langley, was at his side.


Unusually for a King of England, he was buried not at Westminster Abbey but at Canterbury Cathedral, on the north side of what is now the Trinity Chapel, as near to the shrine of Thomas Becket as possible. (No other kings are buried in the Cathedral, although his uncle Edward, the Black Prince, is buried on the opposite, south side of the chapel, also as near the shrine as possible.) At the time, Becket's cult was at its height, as evidenced in the Canterbury Tales written by the court poet Geoffrey Chaucer, and Henry was particularly devoted to it. (He was anointed at his coronation with oil supposedly given to Becket by the Virgin Mary and that had then passed to Henry's father).[9]

Henry was given an alabaster effigy, alabaster being a valuable English export in the 15th century. His body was well-embalmed, as an exhumation in 1832 established.[10]

Titles, styles, honours and arms


  • Henry Bolingbroke


Before his father's death in 1399, Henry bore the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label of five points ermine. After his father's death, the differenced changed to a label of five points per pale ermine and France.[11] Upon his accession as king, Henry updated the arms of the kingdom to match an update in those of royal France — from a field of fleur-de-lys to just three.

Seniority in line from Edward III

When Richard II resigned the throne in 1399, there was no question of who was highest in the order of succession. The country had rallied behind Henry and supported his claim in parliament. However, the question of the succession never went away. The problem lay in the fact that Henry was only the most prominent male heir. This made him heir to the throne according to Edward III's entail to the crown of 1376[12] but, as Dr. Ian Mortimer has recently pointed out in his biography of Henry IV, this had probably been supplanted by an entail of Richard II made in 1399 (see Ian Mortimer, The Fears of Henry IV, appendix two, pp. 366-9). Henry thus had to remove Richard II's settlement of the throne on their uncle York (Edmund of Langley) and Langley's Yorkist descendants and overcome the superior claim of the Mortimers in order to maintain his inheritance. This fact would later come back to haunt his grandson, Henry VI of England, who was deposed by Edward IV, son of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, during the Wars of the Roses.

The following are the senior descendants of Edward III. The descendants that were alive at the death of Richard II are in bold.

  • Edmund Mortimer (1376-1409?)
  • Lady Elizabeth de Mortimer (1370/1371-1417)
  • Lady Philippa de Mortimer (1375-1401)
  • Henry IV of England (1367-1413)


Marriage and issue

In 1381 at Rochford Hall, Essex, Henry married Mary de Bohun and had six children by her:

Mary died in 1394, and on 7 February 1403 Henry married Joanna of Navarre, the daughter of Charles d'Evreux, King of Navarre, at Winchester. She was the widow of John V of Brittany, with whom she had four daughters and four sons, but she and Henry had no children. The fact that in 1399 Henry had four sons from his first marriage was undoubtedly a clinching factor in his acceptability for the throne. By contrast, Richard II had no children, and Richard's heir-presumptive Edmund Mortimer was only seven years old. Henry's six children produced only one child that survived to adulthood, and the line of Henry IV expired in 1471 with the deaths of grandson Henry VI and his son Edward, Prince of Wales.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Biography of HENRY IV - Retrieved 30-11-2009.
  2. ^ a b c - Person Page 10187. Retrieved 30-11-2009.
  3. ^ Bevan, Bryan (1994). Henry IV. London: Macmillan. p. 32. ISBN 0948695358. 
  4. ^ Bevan (1994: 1)
  5. ^ Mortimer, Fears of Henry IV, pp. 211-7
  6. ^ The Book of the Princes of Wales, Heirs to the Crown of England, Dr. John Doran, London, Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty, 1860
  7. ^ Peter McNiven, "The Problem of Henry IV's Health, 1405–1413", English Historical Review, 100 (1985), pp. 747–772)
  8. ^ Swanson Religion and Devotion p. 298
  9. ^ Debbi Codling, "Henry IV and Personal Piety", History Today, 57:1 (January 2007), pp. 23-29.
  10. ^ ANTIQUARY s9-IX (228): 369. (1902).
  11. ^ Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
  12. ^ Given-Wilson, Chris (2004). Alfonso Antón, Isabel. ed. Building Legitimacy: Political Discourses and Forms of Legitimacy in Medieval Societies. Boston, MA: Brill. pp.  90. ISBN 9004133054. 


  • Ian Mortimer, The Fears of Henry IV: the Life of England's Self-Made King (Jonathan Cape, 2007)
  • Peter McNiven, "The Problem of Henry IV's Health, 1405–1413", English Historical Review, 100 (1985), pp 747–772
  • ANTIQUARY s9-IX (228): 369. (1902)
  • Swanson, R. N. (1995). Religion and Devotion in Europe, c. 1215-c. 1515. Cambridge Medieval Textbooks. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-37950-4. 

External links

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Henry IV of England
Cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet
Born: 15 April 1366 Died: 20 March 1413
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Richard II of Bordeaux
King of England
Lord of Ireland

Succeeded by
Henry V of Monmouth
Peerage of England
New title Duke of Hereford
Merged in Crown
Preceded by
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke
Duke of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Henry V of Monmouth, King of England
In abeyance
Title last held by
Humphrey de Bohun, 2nd Earl,
7th Earl of Hereford
Earl of Northampton
Succeeded by
Anne of Gloucester, 3rd Countess
French nobility
Preceded by
John of Gaunt,
1st Duke of Lancaster
Duke of Aquitaine
Succeeded by
Henry V of Monmouth, King of England
Political offices
Preceded by
The 1st Duke of Lancaster
Lord High Steward
Succeeded by
The Duke of Clarence
Political offices
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Richard II of Bordeaux
King of France

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HENRY IV. (1367-1413), king of England, son of John of Gaunt, by Blanche, daughter of Henry, duke of Lancaster, was born on the 3rd of April 1367, at Bolingbroke in Lincolnshire. As early as 1377 he is styled earl of Derby, and in 1830 he married Mary de Bohun (d. 1394) one of the co-heiresses of the last earl of Hereford. In 1387 he supported his uncle Thomas, duke of Gloucester, in his armed opposition to Richard II. and his favourites. Afterwards, probably through his father's influence, he changed sides. He was already distinguished for his knightly prowess, and for some years devoted himself to adventure. He thought of going on the crusade to Barbary; but instead, in July 1390, went to serve with the Teutonic knights in Lithuania. He came home in the following spring, but next year went again to Prussia, whence he journeyed by way of Venice to Cyprus and Jerusalem. After his return to England he sided with his father and the king against Gloucester, and in 1397 was made duke of Hereford. In January 1398 he quarrelled with the duke of Norfolk, who charged him with treason. The dispute was to have been decided in the lists at Coventry in September; but at the last moment Richard intervened and banished them both.

When John of Gaunt died in February 1399 Richard, contrary to his promise, confiscated the estates of Lancaster. Henry then felt himself free, and made friends with the exiled Arundels. Early in July, whilst Richard was absent in Ireland, he landed at Ravenspur in Yorkshire. He was at once joined by the Percies; and Richard, abandoned by his friends, surrendered at Flint on the 19th of August. In the parliament, which assembled on the 30th of September, Richard was forced to abdicate. Henry then made his claim as coming by right line of blood from King Henry III., and through his right to recover the realm which was in point to be undone for default of governance and good law. Parliament formally accepted him, and thus Henry became king, "not so much by title of blood as by popular election" (Capgrave). The new dynasty had consequently a constitutional basis. With this Henry's own political sympathies well accorded. But though the revolution of 1399 was popular in form, its success was due to an oligarchical faction. From the start Henry was embarrassed by the power and pretensions of the Percies. Nor was his hereditary title so good as that of the Mortimers. To domestic troubles was added the complication of disputes with Scotland and France. The first danger came from the friends of Richard, who plotted prematurely, and were crushed in January 1400. During the summer of 1400 Henry made a not over-successful expedition to Scotland. The French court would not accept his overtures, and it was only in the summer of 1401 that a truce was patched up by the restoration of Richard's child-queen, Isabella of Valois. Meantime a more serious trouble had arisen through the outbreak of the Welsh revolt under Owen Glendower. In 1400 and again in each of the two following autumns Henry invaded Wales in vain. The success of the Percies over the Scots at Homildon Hill (Sept. 1402) was no advantage. Henry Percy (Hotspur) and his father, the earl of Northumberland, thought their services ill-requited, and finally made common cause with the partisans of Mortimer and the Welsh. The plot was frustrated by Hotspur's defeat at Shrewsbury (21st of July 1403); and Northumberland for the time submitted. Henry had, however, no one on whom he could rely outside his own family, except Archbishop Arundel. The Welsh were unsubdued; the French were plundering the southern coast; Northumberland was fomenting trouble in the north. The crisis came in 1405. A plot to carry off the young Mortimers was defeated; but Mowbray, the earl marshal, who had been privy to it, raised a rebellion in the north supported by Archbishop Scrope of York. Mowbray and Scrope were taken and beheaded; Northumberland escaped into Scotland. For the execution of the archbishop Henry was personally responsible, and he could never free himself from its odium. Popular belief regarded his subsequent illness as a judgment for his impiety. Apart from ill-health and unpopularity Henry had succeeded - relations with Scotland were secured by the capture of James, the heir to the crown; Northumberland was at last crushed at Bramham Moor (Feb. 1408); and a little later the Welsh revolt was mastered.

Henry, stricken with sore disease, was unable to reap the advantage. His necessities had all along enabled the Commons to extort concessions in parliament, until in 1406 he was forced to nominate a council and govern by its advice. However, with Archbishop Arundel as his chancellor, Henry still controlled the government. But in January 1410 Arundel had to give way to the king's half-brother, Thomas Beaufort. Beaufort and his brother Henry, bishop of Winchester, were opposed to Arundel and supported by the prince of Wales. For two years the real government rested with the prince and the council. Under the prince's influence the English intervened in France in 1411 on the side of Burgundy. In this, and in some matters of home politics, the king disagreed with his ministers. There is good reason to suppose that the Beauforts had gone so far as to contemplate a forced abdication on the score of the king's ill-health. However, in November 1411 Henry showed that he was still capable of vigorous action by discharging the prince and his supporters. Arundel again became chancellor, and the king's second son, Thomas, took his brother's place. The change was further marked by the sending of an expedition to France in. support of Orleans. But Henry's health was failing steadily. On the 20th of March 1413, whilst praying in Westminster Abbey he was seized with a fainting fit, and died that same evening in the Jerusalem Chamber. At the time he was believed to have been a leper, but as it would appear without sufficient. reason.

As a young man Henry had been chivalrous and adventurous, and in politics anxious for good government and justice. As king the loss and failure of friends made him cautious, suspicious and cruel. The persecution of the Lollards, which began with the burning statute of 1401, may be accounted for by Henry's own orthodoxy, or by the influence of Archbishop Arundel, his one faithful friend. But that political Lollardry was strong is shown by the proposal in the parliament of 1410 for a wholesale confiscation of ecclesiastical property. Henry's faults may be excused by his difficulties. Throughout he was practical and steadfast, and he deserved credit for maintaining his principles as a constitutional ruler. So after all his troubles he founded his dynasty firmly, and passed on the crown to his son with a better title. He is buried under a fine tomb at Canterbury.

By Mary Bohun Henry had four sons: his successor Henry V., Thomas, duke of Clarence, John, duke of Bedford, and Humphrey, duke of Gloucester; and two daughters, Blanche, who married Louis III., elector palatine of the Rhine, and Philippa, who married Eric XIII., king of Sweden. Henry's second wife was Joan, or Joanna, (c. 1370-1437), daughter of Charles the Bad, king of Navarre, and widow of John IV. or V., duke of Brittany, who survived until July 1437. By her he had no children.

The chief contemporary authorities are the Annales Henrici Quarti and T. Walsingham's Historia Anglicana (Rolls Series), Adam of Usk's Chronicle and the various Chronicles of London. The life by John Capgrave (De illustribus Henricis) is of little value. Some personal matter is contained in Wardrobe Accounts of Henry, Earl of Derby (Camden Soc.). For documents consult T. Rymer's Foedera; Sir N. H. Nicolas, Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council; Sir H. Ellis, Original Letters illustrative of English History (London, 1825-1846); Rolls of Parliament; Royal and Historical Letters, Henry IV. (Rolls Series) and the Calendars of Patent Rolls. Of modern authorities the foremost is J. H. Wylie's minute and learned Hist. of England under Henry IV. (4 vols., London, 1884-1898). See also W. Stubbs, Constitutional History; Sir J. Ramsay, Lancaster and York (2 vols., Oxford, 1892), and C. W. C. Oman, The Political History of England, vol. iv. (C. L. K.)

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Simple English

Henry IV
King of England; Lord of Ireland (more...)
File:King Henry IV from NPG (2).jpg
16th century painting of Henry IV
Reign 30 September 1399 – 20 March 1413
Coronation 13 October 1399
Predecessor Richard II
Successor Henry V

Mary de Bohun
m. 1369; dec. 1394
Joanna of Navarre
m. 1403; wid. 1413
Henry V
Thomas, Duke of Clarence
John, Duke of Bedford
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
Blanche, Electorial Princess Palatine
Philippa, Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden
Royal house House of Lancaster
Father John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster
Mother Blanche of Lancaster
Born 3 April 1366(1366-04-03)
Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshire
Died 20 March 1413 (aged 46)
Westminster, London
Burial Canterbury Cathedral, Kent
[[File:|thumb|Henry IV of England]]

Henry IV (April 3 1367March 20 1413) was a king of England. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, which is why he was often called "Henry Bolingbroke".

Rise to power

His father, John of Gaunt, was the third son of King Edward III, and had a lot of power in the reign of King Richard II.

Henry and Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk argued in 1398. King Richard ordered Henry to live outside England for ten years (with the approval of Henry's father, John of Gaunt) but Thomas de Mowbray was exiled from England for life.

The next year John of Gaunt died, and Richard would not allow Henry to inherit Gaunt's land. Instead, Henry had to ask for the lands from Richard.

Henry met with the exiled Thomas Arundel, former Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry and Arundel returned to England while Richard was on a military campaign in Ireland.

With Arundel as his advisor, Henry Bolingbroke began a military campaign, took land from those who opposed him and ordering his soldiers to destroy much of Cheshire.

Henry gained enough power and support to have himself declared King Henry IV. He imprisoned King Richard (who mysteriously died in prison) and by-passing Richard’s seven-year-old heir presumptive Edmund de Mortimer.

Henry was crowned on 13 October, 1399. It was the first time since the Norman Conquest in 1066 that the monarch made a public speech in English. Henry consulted with Parliament frequently, but was sometimes at odds with them, especially over religious matters. On Arundel's advice, Henry was the first English king to allow the burning of heretics, mainly to suppress the Lollard movement.


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