Post-classical history

The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King

The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King

An author with a strong track record now tackles the turbulent reign of Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king.

By 1405, King Henry IV had already survived at least eight plots to dethrone or kill him in the first six years of his reign. Henry had not always been so unpopular. The son of John of Gaunt, he was courteous, confident, well-educated, musical and spiritually fervent. In 1399, at the age of thirty-two, he was enthusiastically greeted as the saviour of the realm when he ousted from power the insecure and tyrannical King Richard II.

Therein lay Henry’s weakness. By making himself King he had broken God’s law and left himself starkly open to criticism. Enemies everywhere tried to take advantage of his questionable right to the crown. Such overwhelming threats transformed him from a hero into a duplicitous murderer: a king prepared to go to any lengths to save his family and his throne.

But against all the odds, what Henry achieved was to take a poorly ruled nation, establish a new Lancastrian dynasty, and introduce the principle that a king must act in accordance with Parliament. He might not have been the most glorious king England ever had, but he was one of the bravest, and certainly the greatest survivor of them all.



Chapter 1. The Hatch and Brood of Time

Chapter 2. All Courtesy from Heaven

Chapter 3. The Summons of the Appellant’s Trumpet

Chapter 4. Iron Wars

Chapter 5. As Far as to the Sepulchre of Christ

Chapter 6. Curst Melancholy

Chapter 7. By Envy’s Hand and Murder’s Bloody Axe

Chapter 8. The Breath of Kings

Chapter 9. The Virtue of Necessity

Chapter 10. High Sparks of Honour

Chapter 11. A Deed Chronicled in Hell

Chapter 12. The Great Magician

Chapter 13. Uneasy Lies the Head

Chapter 14. A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury

Chapter 15. Treason’s True Bed

Chapter 16. Smooth Comforts False

Chapter 17. Golden Care

Chapter 18. In That Jerusalem

Chapter 19. That I and Greatness were Compelled to Kiss

Picture Section



1. Henry’s Date of Birth and the Royal Maundy

2. The Succession to the Crown, 1386–99

3. Henry’s Children

4. Casualties at the Battle of Shrewsbury

5. Henry’s Speed of Travel in 1406 and 1407

6. Henry’s Physicians and Surgeons

7. The Lancastrian Esses Collar


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