Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Love & The Throne #3 - Henry IV usurps the throne

By Stephanie Burkhart

Ah, what a tangled web we weave when we USURP the throne!

Henry IV was born in April 1367 to John of Gaunt and his wife, Blanche. He was generally known a Henry Bolingbroke because he was born at Bolingbroke castle in Lincolnshire.

Growing up, he distinguished himself as a knight and devoted himself to one o adventure after another. Heck, life was good for him. He married his first wife, Mary and had four sons with her. (including the future Henry V)

As for any mistresses, I'm sure he had a few, but history has not recorded their names. After all, this guy saw the world before he became king.

Henry went with the Teutonic Knights to Lithuania for a couple of years. He visited Venice, Cyprus, and even went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Mount of Olives. Ultimately, he wanted to lead a crusade to Jerusalem, but had life had other plans. As a young man, he had a reputation for being chivalrous and adventurous. He advocated good government and justice. He doesn't sound too naughty, does he?

Here's where it gets ugly.

Henry grew up alongside his cousin, Richard II. Heck, they were admitted into the Order of the Garter together, but in 1377, Henry participated in a rebellion against Richard. Richard forgave him, but it seems he didn't forget.

In 1398, Henry was banished from the kingdom for 10 years. Henry was supposed to fight a duel with the Duke of Norfolk, but Richard intervened and kicked him out of England for 10 years. Henry went to the continent. A year later, in 1399, Henry's father, John of Gaunt died. Richard said Henry had forfeited his father's land and that it had reverted back to the crown.

Henry was pissed. Richard had just USURP'd his inheritance. Henry teamed up with Thomas Arundel and landed in England. Richard was Ireland at the time. Henry rounded up the nobles and then went after Richard, forcing his abdication. After all, the nobles thought if Richard could take Henry's lands, he would take theirs and they didn't want that.

Now Henry's in a pickle. Richard's mismanagement of government turned the nobles on him. They forced his abdication. Who was going to be king NOW?

Richard's legitimate heir was a 7 year old boy, Edmund Mortimer. (He was Lionel's grandson – Remember Lionel? He had a daughter named Philippa? Well, Philippa was Edmund's mother.)

The nobles weren't up for a regency. Think of the fighting! It was bad enough as it was – they didn't know who they could trust – a regency would only further that. They feared civil war. Guess what – Henry was the perfect candidate to be king. He was chivalrous, adventurous, just, and fair. The nobles approved of Henry as the next king of England. They voted on it even. He was crowned on 13 Oct 1399.

Now Henry's got a problem. Richard was still alive and everyone knows that Henry USURP'd the throne from young Edmund Mortimer.

Let the lying, thieving, and conniving begin.

Richard died in 1400 in Pontefract Castle under "mysterious" circumstances. History reveals that Henry basically approved of Richard's death. After Richard died, Henry fought pretenders, challenges, and rebellions to keep his throne. It made him sick – literally. As for Edmund Mortimer? He grew up alongside Henry's boys and took up his family's place in Ireland.

History thinks Henry contracted leprosy, but that's hard to confirm. Possible, but hard to confirm since medical records just weren't that great back then. He died in March 1413, a sick old man, a fragile opposite to the strong adventurous man he was in his youth. History believes Henry's USURPATION weighed heavily on his mind, also contributing to his health problems.

What resonates: Henry hosted Manuel II, the Byzantine Emperor. Manuel II was the only Byzantine Emperor to visit England.

NEXT: Henry V – A man with his heart set on Katherine of Valois, daughter to the king of France. Is it love, or lust for anything French, that captures Henry's heart?


Lindsay Townsend said...

Fascinating as ever, Steph!

Savanna Kougar said...

Fascinating how the worm turns... and so much of it is on personal relationships.