HENRY V: The Cautious Conqueror by Margaret Wade Labarge

HENRY V: The Cautious Conqueror

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This firmly researched account of the career of Henry V of England brings to ground not only Shakespeare's (and Olivier's) gallant Prince Hal but also the historical view of Henry as an intemperate conqueror. Henry was ""astute, controlled, and methodical"" working well within the accepted concept of a late medieval monarch. By the time he was sixteen, he had experienced a full range of military activity and had witnessed the ruin and death of his childhood mentor Richard II and the defection of his model, Henry Percy (Hotspur)--the author feels that the latter could account for Henry's hardness and ""emotional isolation."" After successfully dealing with the Lollard conspiracy (more political than religious) and other domestic threats, inherited from his father Henry IV, the king planned intervention in France, which he shrewdly recognized as fatally divided. Using a policy of negotiation and threat, he set up his ""just war""--to the medieval mind a legal rather than moral concept. The author covers those infamous battles--Shrewsbury, Harfleur, Agincourt, etc.--and Henry's power plays manipulating the Burgundians, Armagnacs and France's weak, mad king. So Henry gained two crowns and died at thirty-five, leaving an infant son who was to lose both. A competent, scholarly book about a clever, tough and efficient king seen in the cold light of day--but it will not dull the legendary gleam of that ""little touch of Harry in the night.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 1975
Publisher: Stein & Day