This definitive biography of England's Henry IV reassesses the adversities of his reign, his ruthlessness and extravagance, and his previously unrecognized successes
"This wonderful biography of the first of the Lancastrian kings is no less accomplished than its subject. . . . A vivid and captivating study of England’s most neglected late medieval ruler."—David Green, author of The Hundred Years War
Henry IV (1399–1413), the son of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, seized the English throne at the age of thirty-two from his cousin Richard II and held it until his death, aged forty-five, when he was succeeded by his son, Henry V. This comprehensive and nuanced biography restores to his rightful place a king often overlooked in favor of his illustrious progeny.
Henry faced the usual problems of usurpers: foreign wars, rebellions, and plots, as well as the ambitions and demands of the Lancastrian retainers who had helped him win the throne. By 1406 his rule was broadly established, and although he became ill shortly after this and never fully recovered, he retained ultimate power until his death. Using a wide variety of previously untapped archival materials, Chris Given-Wilson reveals a cultured, extravagant, and skeptical monarch who crushed opposition ruthlessly but never quite succeeded in satisfying the expectations of his own supporters.
Chris Given-Wilson is emeritus professor of medieval history, University of St. Andrews, and author of nine books on medieval history. He lives in Fife, UK.
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