Henry IV: The Righteous King

Henry IV: The Righteous King

Ian Mortimer

Language: English

Pages: 473


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The talented, confident, and intelligent son of John of Gaunt, Henry IV started his reign as a popular and charismatic king after he dethroned the tyrannical and wildly unpopular Richard II. But six years into his reign, Henry had survived eight assassination and overthrow attempts. Having broken God’s law of primogeniture by overthrowing the man many people saw as the chosen king, Henry IV left himself vulnerable to challenges from powerful enemies about the validity of his reign. Even so, Henry managed to establish the new Lancastrian dynasty and a new rule of law—in highly turbulent times.

In this book, noted historian Ian Mortimer, author of The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan London, explores the political and social forces that transformed Henry IV from his nation’s savior to its scourge.


Ian Mortimer is a British historian and historical fiction author. He holds a PhD from the University of Exeter and a Master’s degree from the University of London, and is currently a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is the author of the Sunday Times best-selling book A Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan London, as well as detailed biographies of Roger Mortimer, First Earl of March, Edward III, Henry IV, and Henry V. He is well known for developing and promoting the theory that Edward II did not meet his end in Berkeley Castle in 1327, as is held by conventional theory. His historical fiction novel, the first book in the Clarenceux Trilogy, was published under the alias of James Forrester.

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of the whole Catholic Church? And what should he do with him? He could hardly excommunicate him, for, by definition, this man would not care whether he was excommunicated or not. He decided to refer the matter to his superior, Archbishop Arundel. On 1 March Badby was brought into a hall in the London house of the Dominican friars. Never before in his life could he have been confronted by so many great men of the realm. Both archbishops—Arundel and Henry’s old friend, Henry Bowet, now archbishop

secular authorities for punishment under the law, expressing his wish that he should not suffer death by burning. Did Arundel really want the man spared the flames? Or was his intention all along that he would be burned to death, like William Sawtre, a terrible example to the faction in parliament which had dared to suggest the disendowment of the Church? We cannot know. Nevertheless, the warrant for his execution by burning alive was obtained very rapidly, so fast in fact that we must suspect

parliament that his youthful successor’s ruling abilities might be no greater than his own. Following the success of the Appellants in 1387, Richard was forced to accept the terms of Edward III’s entail. Evidence from the charter rolls’ witness lists for 1394 shows that Richard gave precedence to the heirs male of Edward III’s fourth and fifth sons (John of Gaunt and Edmund of Langley) over the heir general of his third son (Lionel of Antwerp). However, in that same year Richard resisted John of

the livery collar, and is connected with an exhortation by Blanche (Henry’s mother) to her children and husband to remember her. Such an explanation would explain why Henry particularly was described as ‘the one who wears the S’, and it fits with the fact that John chose to be buried by her side, not beside his other wives. Alternatively we might suggest these were final words spoken to John of Gaunt by Edward III or the Black Prince. Further research might clarify the date at which the motto

award, suggests that parliament tried to stop his elevation. See Palmer, ‘Parliament of 1385’, pp. 478–9. He achieved the dukedom of Ireland the following year. 74. Goodman, John of Gaunt, p. 106. 75. CB, p. 1. 76. CCR 1385–9, p. 56. 77. The date of John’s departure is given as 9 July in WC, p. 165, and 8 July in KC, p. 341. 3: The Summons of the Appellant’s Trumpet 1. For example, in November 1386, Richard invited the Lords Appellant to drink wine with him in a private chamber at the

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