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England-Henry of Lancaster

1023

You would think that such evidence could not be questioned, but a good many believed the body shown was not that of Richard. Among these was Owen Glendower, a prominent Welshman, who had been a devoted friend of Richard, and who proved his sincerity by gathering a large number of men to make a fight for the restoration of Richard's rights. King Henry led his forces in vain against Glendower, who was soon aided by still more powerful friends. Henry never would have obtained the throne but for the help of the wealthy and influential Percy family. They spent immense sums to aid him, and naturally expected a royal recognition of their services. This being denied, they turned against the King and joined Glendower in the attempt to win the crown for Richard, if still alive, or else for the Earl of March. What specially angered Sir Henry Percy was the refusal of Henry to ransom the brother-inlaw of Percy, who was a prisoner of Glendower. This relative was Sir Edmund Mortimer, uncle of the boy of the same name, who was the hereditary heir to the English throne. Young Sir Henry was such a fiery fighter against the Scots that they nicknamed him "Hotspur." You can understand what a formidable alliance was made by this impetuous youth, his father, and his uncle the Earl of Worcester, when they joined Glendower and the Scotch Earl Douglas in the resolution to dethrone Henry IV.

The two armies met at Shrewsbury, on the border of Wales, July 23, 1403, and fought an obstinate battle. It is said that Henry was told that a number of his enemies had sworn to seek him out and slay him. To baffle the plot several knights donned armor like the King's, and every one paid with his life. for the chivalrous act. The revolutionists, however, were routed, Hotspur was killed, and Worcester taken prisoner and executed as a traitor, as were a number of his leading companions. The elder Percy, who was not present, declared that his son had acted contrary to his orders, and he thus escaped punishment, only to lose his life in a subsequent rebellion. Although the power of Glendower was broken, he never made submission, and there were continual insurrections in Wales.

A statute was passed in 1401 against the heretics, which decreed that all who refused to abjure their heresy, or, after abjuration, relapsed, should be delivered to the secular authorities to be burned. The first Wycliffite martyr was William Sawtry, a London clergyman, who was burned at Smithfield, in London, February 12, 1401. A poor tailor, John Badbee, was the second. He remained true to his belief, though offered his life and a yearly pension if he would recant.

Henry's health broke before he was fifty. It is said that he often suffered from the reproaches of his conscience, and had arranged to go on a Crusade, but while praying at the tomb of Edward the Confessor, in Westminster Abbey,

he was stricken with a fatal illness, and, being carried to an adjoining room, died a few days later, on March 20, 1413.

The son of the dead king reigned from 1413 to 1422, as Henry V. While Prince of Wales he was a wild, roistering fellow, the jolly "Prince Hal" of Monmouth, who was continually drinking, carousing, and misbehaving himself, though his geniality of manner, kindness to all, devotion to his father, and freedom from small vices, made him the most popular young man in the kingdom. The thoughtful ones felt misgiving when he came to the throne, but the responsibility sobered him, and he turned his back forever upon his swag. gering, loud-mouthed comrades in revelry, and gave his energies to his new duties.

The opportunity for attacking France was too good to be lost, for its king was the insane Charles VI., its queen-regent was vicious, and the country torn by the intriguing and ambitious dukes, who hated one another more than they hated the English. So Henry raised an army and invaded the distracted country. He sailed from Southampton in August, 1415, followed by the blessings of his people and the Church. With hardly eight thousand troops he reached a point halfway between Crecy and Calais. The French troops were six or eight times as numerous as the English, but a drenching rain fell during the night, and made the ground so soggy that the land which the French had to cross became a mass of mud, into which the horsemen floundered helplessly. A great advantage rested with the English bowmen, who, being dismounted, could move readily, while sharpened stakes were driven deep into the earth in front of each archer, effectually checking the charges of the cavalry. The English gained a striking victory, which is known in history as Agincourt, because of the name of the castle standing near the battle-ground.

Great was the rejoicing in England over this wonderful triumph of her yeomen. King Henry was received on his return with the most extravagant outbursts of joy, and there was no longer any question of his right to sit upon the throne. Ballads were sung:

"Agincourt, Agincourt,

Know ye not Agincourt?

When our best hopes were nought,

Tenfold our foemen,

Harry led his men to battle,

Slew the French like sheep and cattle

Huzza, our bowmen!"

The memory of Henry's great deeds lingered long in popular memory. Shakespeare has made the King's victories in France the subject of one of his finest plays, a pæan of rejoicing over England's greatness.

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