English History background for Henry V

(This page is part of a unit in Linguistics 114, A World of Words,
a freshman etymology course at The University of Michigan)

    Notes on the play           Text of the play           Shakespeare on the Web

  1. The Hundred Years' War (1337 - 1453)
    Dynastic war in France, started by Edward III to maintain and enlarge English claims in France.
    • 1346 Battle of Crécy
      Outnumbered English longbowmen under Edward, "The Black Prince",
      wipe out an entire generation of French chivalry
    • 1415 Battle of Agincourt
      A virtual repeat of Crécy by Henry V and a very small English force,
      and the dramatic climax of the play
    • 1420 Treaty of Troyes
      Marriage of Henry V & Catherine of France
        (probably not preceded by Shakespeare's courtship scene)
      Henry acknowledged heir presumptive of France
    • 1422 Henry V dies at the height of his power (see the Epilogue)
    • 1428 [St.] Joan of Arc lifts the English siege of Orleans
    • 1431 Joan of Arc captured by British and burned at the stake in Rouen
    • 1450 English driven out of Normandy
    • 1453 English surrender Bordeaux,
      to end the war and England's pretensions in France

  2. The Wars of the Roses (1399 - 1485)
    Dynastic war in England among the heirs of
    1. Edward III (King of England 1327 to 1377)
      (his son Edward, Prince of Wales, "The Black Prince",
        hero of Crécy, dies in 1376 and is never King)

    2. Richard II (1377 to 1400), son of The Black Prince, deposed & murdered by

      House of Lancaster

      Red Rose badge

    3. Henry IV [Bolingbroke] (1399 to 1413) "that vile politician"
      son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, grandson of Edward III
      succeeded by his son,
    4. Henry V (1413 to 1422) "The mirror of all Christian kings",
      succeeded by his infant son,
    5. Henry VI (1422 to 1471), king of England & France,
      "whose church-like humors fits not for a crown",
      deposed 1461 by

      House of York

      White Rose badge

    6. Edward IV (1461 to 1483) "lustful Edward", son of Richard, Duke of York
      grandson of Richard, Earl of Cambridge (executed for treason by Henry V
      in 1415, and in the play), great-nephew of Edward, Duke of York
      (killed at Agincourt 1415), great-great-grandson of Edward III,
      succeeded by his brother,
    7. Richard III (1483 to 1485) "that foul bunch-backed toad", legendary villain
      killed at Bosworth 1485 by Henry Tudor, founder of

      House of Tudor

      Tudor Rose badge

    8. Henry VII [Tudor] (1485 to 1509), married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV
      of York, uniting the warring factions and ending the Wars of the Roses
      succeeded by his son,
    9. Henry VIII (1509 to 1547), father (with different mothers) of:
    10. Edward VI (1547 to 1553) "the boy king", son of Jane Seymour (third wife),
      died age 16, succeeded by his half-sister,
    11. Mary (1553 to 1558) "Bloody Mary", daughter of Catherine of Aragon (first wife)
      and a Catholic like her mother, attempted to suppress Church of England
      (founded by Henry VIII 1531), succeeded by her half-sister,
    12. Elizabeth I (1558 to 1603) "Good Queen Bess", daughter of Anne Boleyn (second wife),
      in the latter part of whose reign (1599) Shakespeare wrote Henry V.

A World of Words
Last change 8/31/2015 John Lawler