He enjoyed hanging out with the commoners and he especially enjoyed being a soldier and he was one of the best England had. As it was in those days, England was constantly engaged in a fight somewhere either protecting their land or going after someone else’s. His father was often sending for him to get him to the palace, but he rarely abided by his wishes always making the excuse that he was needed in battle. King Henry IV was trying to get his son in the graces of the Royal Court so the transition to power when he died would be easier.
Another thing Henry enjoyed doing was complaining about how the country was being run by his father. Being out with the commoners made him more aware of the difficult conditions people were living in. He also didn’t like how his father handled diplomacy. He thought the king did a terrible job of building alliances with other countries. And lastly, he was idealistic about England and France in that it was established years earlier that the King of England was also supposed to be treated as the King of France, a dual monarchy. His father did nothing to assume this crown and France did whatever they wanted and built their own monarchy with eyes on England to conquer.
Henry was summoned to the palace when his father was dying, and the king begged him to take the crown. The greatest reason he decided to do it was that it would give him a chance to implement all the ideas he’d come up with to make England a better place for all their citizens and to build better relationships with other countries so they could look out for each other. In the back of his mind he also wanted to see what he could do to get France under English rule. Henry was just 27 years old at the time.
He wasn’t like a typical king in those days in that he was humble and didn’t act like he knew all the answers. He brought in trusted advisors including a friend of his who was an old war hero and made him his military advisor. He wasn’t Royal Court material as he was a rough and tumbler and a lot of people thought it was funny that he had become Sir John; even him.
King Henry made the decision to go to war with France and he and his army sailed there to take over the country. They encountered an army much larger than theirs and many of his advisors wanted to sail back to England, but Sir John said they could win the battle. The other advisors told King Henry that Sir John had lost his mind and was going to destroy their army and England.
Sir John’s strategy was to draw France into the battle by sending out a smaller force to confront them. He thought that France would send pretty much everyone they had to annihilate England’s first wave of soldiers in hopes of getting England to surrender. France not only had the advantage of the size of their army, but they were also on top of a hill.
Figuring they’d send their entire army into the open field at the bottom of the hill where England positioned their ranks, he had men with longbows ready to unleash a massive number of arrows onto France’s army when they approached. England used longbows while France mostly used crossbows so in this case, England had the advantage of a long-range arsenal.
Then his most strategic move of all was that he knew the ground was muddy and that France’s soldiers would have heavy armor. In order to not make France think there was a problem with the ground, the initial wave England sent also had armor but, he and King Henry, told all the other soldiers to remove their armor so they could be more agile during the fight; these men were hidden on both sides of the hill. King Henry couldn’t help himself and joined in the fight as well.
Sir John was right and France sent about everyone they had and the fight began then all of a sudden England’s soldiers without armor conducted a surprise attack and when everyone was in the trenches sliding around in the mud, the English soldiers could maneuver much easier and began mowing down the French Army. The “Battle of Agincourt,” became a huge win for King Henry and was immortalized in one of Shakespeare’s’ plays.
France surrendered and King Henry agreed to marry the daughter (Catherine), of the King of France as a gentler way of becoming king of their country. Their citizens would be much more receptive to the change in rulers if one of their own was on the Royal Court.
Just a few years later, there was unrest in France and King Henry went there to help squash the rebellion. He didn’t die in battle but presumably died of dysentery or heat stroke. His reign lasted nine years and he died at the age of 35. Out of all the kings England has seen, King Henry V is considered one of the greatest.