The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise. — Tacitus

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

A Glorious Reign

When Henry of Monmouth, the wild Prince Hal, heard that his father was dead, he went into his own room, and there spent the night in meditation and prayer. He was very sorry for the past, and fully determined to do better in the future. When morning came he put these good resolutions into practice. First, he sent for his former companions and told them that he was going to reform and that he did not wish to see them again until they were willing to follow his example.

Next, he sent for the grave and learned men who had helped his father, and begged them to give him also their advice; and he told Judge Gascoigne—whom he honoured for doing right, regardless of rank—that he hoped his judges would always administer justice in the same way.

Having thus won his greatest victory by conquering himself, the new king set the Earl of March free, restored their estates to the Percys, and buried Richard II. and Henry IV. among the other kings.

Henry V. was able, energetic, and brave, as well as handsome and warm-hearted; so he soon won the affections of his subjects. His greatest fault was that he sorely persecuted the Lollards, whom he had been taught to believe very wicked. By his order, many of them were burned, among others old Lord Cobham, who, because he had once escaped from prison and joined some rebels, was accused of treason and heresy, and was consequently both burned and hanged.

The new king, however, was most anxious to conquer new lands. As the French king was insane, and as his two principal subjects, the Dukes of Orleans and Burgundy, were warring against each other, Henry fancied that it was a good time to invade France. He therefore renewed the claim to the French crown which had already been made by Edward III., and landed at Harfleur with an army of fifteen thousand men.

This city held out four months, hoping the French army would come to its rescue; but the troops could not leave Paris, as there was a quarrel about who should have command. Seeing no help coming, the people of Harfleur were forced to surrender; but by this time the English soldiers were nearly all sick.

Marching at the head of his army, and sharing all their hardships, Henry now set out for Calais; but on the way thither he was met by a French army of fifty thousand men. In spite of the great odds against him, the English king did not lose his presence of mind, and in his address to his troops he said that he intended to win great glory, either by victory or by death. When a soldier remarked that he wished some of his countrymen were there to help them fight, the king cried: "If we are to die, I am glad we are so few; but if we are to conquer, our glory will be all the greater if unshared."


The French army consisted mainly of heavy cavalry, and as the ground was soaked with rain, the horses sank into the mud up to their knees. This fact told greatly in favour of the light-armed English bowmen, who, in spite of the bravery of the French, won a brilliant victory (1415).

Henry himself did wonders, and when the battle of Agincourt was ended, it was found that while the English had lost only forty men, the French slain numbered more than ten thousand. The next day the dead were buried; and when Henry went back to England, his people rushed into the water at Dover to meet him and give him an uproarious welcome.

Two years after this battle Henry went back to France with a new army. He besieged and took Rouen after ten months' effort, and finally became master of the greater part of France. The troubles in that kingdom had by this time grown so serious that many Frenchmen joined Henry, and a treaty was finally signed at Troyes in 1420. It was then agreed that Henry should marry the French king's daughter, and that when the insane monarch died the King of England should reign in France too.

Wooing of Henry V.

So Henry made a triumphal entry into Paris, where he first saw Catherine, his future wife. If you care to know how an English king who knew very little French could make love to a French princess who knew only a few words of English, you can read all about it in one of Shakespeare's plays.

During the next two years Henry and Catherine were very happy. But before their little son was a year old, Henry V. became very ill. He named his brother, the Duke of Gloucester, Regent of England, said the Duke of Bedford must rule France, and gave the guardianship of his little son to another nobleman.

Henry died in France, at the age of thirty-four, and his body was carried home to be buried. His funeral was the grandest that had yet been seen in England, and upon his tomb, in Westminster Abbey, tapers were kept burning constantly for more than a hundred years.

As Henry had to take so many troops over to France, he had many ships built; and he has hence sometimes been called the founder of the English navy. He was a very brave king, but although he won much glory, he burdened England with debt, and by his unjust wars caused the death of about one hundred thousand men.


Front Matter

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee