Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
The King is directed by David Michod and stars Call Me By Your Name actor Timothee Chalamet as the monarch in a cast featuring the likes of Robert Pattinson, Sean Harris, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, and Lily-Rose Depp.
But how much in the play and in the film is fictionalised and who was the real Henry V?
Here is what you need to know about the true story behind The King.
The true story behind Netflix historical drama The King
The upbringing of Hal
The future Henry V was not born a prince. Henry was born to Henry of Bolingbroke and his wife Mary de Bohun at Monmouth in Wales, around September 1386.
Henry's paternal grandfather was the powerful nobleman John of Gaunt, making Henry the great-grandson of King Edward III of England.
His cousin King Richard II reigned when he was a baby, with John of Gaunt acting as the King's guardian.
When a dispute saw Richard exile Henry's father, Henry came into the care of the King and was treated well and joined him on expeditions to Ireland.
When John of Gaunt died and an uprising removed the tyrant Richard from power, Henry of Bolingbroke was proclaimed King Henry IV of England, forcing the younger Henry to return from service in Ireland and become the new Prince of Wales and heir to the throne.
He also was educated at The Queen's College, Oxford, under his uncle Henry Beaufort, the chancellor.
As immortalised by William Shakespeare in his "Henriad" plays, Prince Hal was portrayed as a hedonistic and irresponsible heir, who spent more time with the riotous knight known as Falstaff.
In actuality, there is little evidence to suggest that Henry behaved in such a way.
Additionally, Shakespeare's Falstaff is a composite of multiple real-life people – the real veteran of war Sir John Fastolf and a rebellious Lollard named John Oldcastle (a Reformer prior to Protestantism), the latter of whom Henry was believed to have been friends with.
In fact, the real Henry spent his time as heir putting down rebellions.
Henry led an army into Wales to fight off Welsh rebel Owain Glyndwr, before joining with his father to defeat powerful English nobleman Sir Henry 'Hotspur' Percy, who was finally slain at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 after seeking to rebel against the Crown.
The fight against Hotspur saw Henry take an arrow wound to the face which he luckily survived, leaving him with a battle scar thereafter.
Shakespeare also popularised the idea that Henry killed Hotspur himself in single combat, however, the manner of his death is unknown.
Clashes with Henry IV
As a result of Henry IV's poor health and the end of the Welsh revolt, Henry took a great control in domestic and foreign policy.
For eighteen months between 1410 and 1411, Prince Henry had total control of the government, consolidating his power base with his uncles Henry and Thomas Beaufort.
When the King recovered and returned to governing, he removed his son from the council in 1411, mostly due to their huge political disagreements on how to rule the kingdom.
The Beauforts were keen for Prince Henry to succeed as soon as possible, but their enemies at court were keen to remove the Prince from a sphere of influence.
King Henry V
Upon the death of Henry IV on March 20, 1413, Henry became King and was crowned as Henry V of England on April 8, 1413, at Westminster Abbey.
The coronation ceremony was marked by a huge snowstorm that left the public unsure of what omen this represented.
He began his rule with forgiveness and reconciliation. He took Hotspur's nephew Edward Mortimer into his favour, re-interred King Richard as a monarch, and gradually let the families of former enemies get their lands and titles back.
However, he ruthlessly crushed any potential opposition, namely the Lollards, beginning by executing his old friend Sir John Oldcastle.
A plot soon emerged from Henry, Lord Scrope, and Richard, Earl of Cambridge, to replace Henry with Edward Mortimer, prompting their execution in 1415. Mortimer was uninvolved.
Henry V also championed the widespread use of the English language in government and in personal correspondence.
War with France
A major issue for Henry V was his foreign policy, as he sought to reclaim England's traditional right to the throne of France.
With King Charles VI suffering from mental illness and his teenage heir, Louis the Dauphin of France, not a confident prospect to succeed, Henry took the chance to seize back French lands.
Henry sailed for France on August 12, 1415, successfully leading a siege on the fortress at Harfleur by September 22.
Despite the advice from those around him, Henry then led his men across the countryside towards Calais, when the French army intercepted him outside the village of Agincourt.
The legendary Battle of Agincourt was fought, with Henry leading the charge despite his army being in poor condition and outnumbered.
The lashing rain is thought to have led to a muddy battlefield that saw the French stuck and open to being brought down by the English and their Welsh archers.
The huge English victory was a huge win for Henry and his claim to the French throne.
All French prisoners were put to death.
Meanwhile, by sea, Henry's brother John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford had to put down a French-Genoese fleet by sea as they sought to retake Harfleur.
Henry renewed his campaign with the conquering of lower Normandy and then a brutal siege on Rouen which blackened his reputation as women and children starved to death in the ditches outside the town.
Rouen soon fell and French commander Alain Blanchard was executed, while the Canon of Rouen was excommunicated and sent to jail in England.
Marriage to Catherine of Valois
By August, Henry arrived in Paris, where internal divisions ended with the French accepting Henry's rule as regent and his right to succeed the French throne.
The Treaty of Troyes was sealed with Henry's marriage to the beautiful nineteen-year-old French princess, Catherine of Valois, who Henry fell in love with upon meeting her.
They married in Troyes on June 2, 1420, with Catherine returning to England with Henry and being crowned queen at Westminster Abbey on February 23, 1421.
Henry left for France for further campaigns in June 1421 and Catherine never saw him again.
Catherine gave birth to her only child by Henry, also named Henry, on December 6, 1421.
While Henry was in England, his brother Thomas of Lancaster, Duke of Clarence, lost a disastrous battle at Bauge against the French-Scottish army, with Thomas being killed in battle.
Henry arrived back in France and recaptured Dreux before laying siege to Meaux, capturing it on May 11, 1422.
The king, however, died suddenly on August 31, 1422, apparently from dysentery but possibly from heatstroke.
He reigned for nine years and died at the age of 35.
Henry remains a well-remembered English monarch due to his unlikely victory at the Battle of Agincourt, largely due to his representation as a just ruler in the works of William Shakespeare.
His unexpected death led to further issues, however, as various politicians from England and France vied for control over the infant King Henry VI.
Prone to suffering from mental health issues, Henry VI proved to be a king controlled by his courtiers and family members, eventually being usurped by the future King Edward IV.
Meanwhile, Catherine of Valois went on to have a romantic union with Sir Owen Tudor and from this, King Henry VII is descended. He took the throne from Edward's infamous brother Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth.
What does The King change from history?
There are a number of historical inaccuracies with The King:
- Henry's brother Thomas is depicted as dying during the reign of their father and not towards the end of Henry's own reign.
- The hedonistic youth of Henry is a remnant of the Shakespearean plays.
- The Shakespearean character of Falstaff is present and is a fictional creation.
- The Dauphin of France is depicted as the chief nemesis for Henry and is present at the major battles in France and is killed at Agincourt – none of which happened. He was also younger than Henry by about a decade.
- There is also no evidence that the Lord Chief Justice portrayed by Sean Harris conspired to send Henry to war under false pretenses, nor that Henry murdered him as he later discovers the truth following his victory at Agincourt.
The King is available on Netflix now.
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