Henry (IV, King of England 1399-1413)

 Born  Apr 1367   Born At  Bolingbroke Castle
 Died  20 Mar 1413   Buried At  Canterbury Cathedral
 Father  John (of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster)   Mother  Blanche (of Lancaster)
Preceded by  Richard (II, King of England 1377-1399) Succeeded by  Henry (V, King of England 1413-1422)
 Royal House   Lancaster

Titles Include

King of England from 1399

Origins

enry was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire in April of 1366/67 and was the grandson of Edward III. He is commonly known as Henry Bolingbroke due to his association with the castle in which he was born. Henry was the only son of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster. Both of his parents were descended from Henry III and were distant cousins. Blanche died from the Black Death when Henry was very young and his upbringing was left to other Lancastrian supporters. Henry married Mary Bohun, the daughter of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford in 1381 when he was fourteen years old. Henry and Mary's first son was born at Monmouth Castle in September 1387. His name was Henry and he would become Henry V.

Lords Appellant

In 1387 Henry joined the Lord Appellants who opposed King Richard II's court favourites and took part in the battle of Radcot Bridge where Robert de Vere, Richard's favourite was defeated. A year later Henry returned to the king's side possibly because his father, John of Gaunt, had returned from Spain. In 1390 Henry took part in an expedition to Lithuania where he joined the Teutonic Knights in a local conflict. He later took a Grand Tour of Europe on his way to Jerusalem, visiting the important European states and their leaders.

Banished

In 1397 several of the Lords Appellants were arrested and convicted of treason. Henry was not included, but in 1398 Henry was involved in a dispute with Thomas Mowbray. Mowbray, as one of the Appellants, spoke to Henry of his concerns that the King would convict him of treason as well. Henry informed the King but Mowbray denied speaking to Henry. The dispute was to be settled by a duel at Coventry in September 1398 but the King decided to banish both men, Henry for ten years and Mowbray for life.

King

John of Gaunt died in 1399. King Richard then banished Henry for life and confiscated Gaunt's property and Henry's inheritance. Richard's actions were worrying for many Earls and Barons who relied on their inheritance to retain power and status. Henry decided to take matters into his own hands and claim the English throne for himself. Henry saw his chance when Richard left England for Ireland to put down a revolt. Henry landed in Yorkshire in July. He marched south collecting Lancastrian supporters as he went. By the end of July Henry had the support of key Barons and when Richard returned from Ireland the King was captured. Henry was not the true heir to the throne. The next in line was the Earl of March who was only eight years old. Henry convinced Parliament that the country needed strong leadership and on October 13, 1399, Henry was crowned at Westminster Abbey.

Murder

While Richard was imprisoned his supporters plotted to return the old King to the throne by killing Henry and his family. Henry dealt with the rebellion and Richard was murdered in Pontefract Castle.

Rebellions

What started as a land dispute between Owain Glyndwr, a wealthy land owner in Wales and his rival Lord Grey of Rutin quickly escalated into a revolt when Henry sided with Rutin and awarded him the land. Glyndwr's revolt spread and he proclaimed himself the Prince of Wales. He was joined by the Tudor brothers from Anglesey and began guerrilla warfare against the English in the North of Wales and the Marcher Lords in the centre. Henry IV moved into North Wales to try and stop the rebellion but he was not able to deal with the Welsh rebels who were more skilled at fighting in the terrain. The conflict widened when Edmund Mortimer was captured by Glyndwr and when Henry refused to pay a ransom to get him freed, Mortimer sided with the Welsh rebel and even married his daughter. Henry put Hotspur (Henry Percy) in charge of subduing the Welsh in North Wales, but Hotspur developed several complaints against the king and joined the rebellion. At the battle of Shrewsbury on 21st July 1403 Henry managed to defeat and kill Hotspur before his army could join up with Mortimer. The rebellion was joined by others in the north including Archbishop Scrope, but Henry dealt with them all and when Mortimer was killed at the Harlech Castle in 1408 the rebellion was over.

Illness

Henry suffered from a skin complaint similar to eczema and this became so severe in 1408 and 1409 that he was immobilised. Henry trusted Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, to act as Chancellor and run the country while he was unable to, but pressure was put on him to resign. Prince Henry took his place. Arundel returned in 1411 during a serious dispute between the king and his son. It was suggested that the king should abdicate but Henry refused. The king died from the illness on 20 March 1413.

Explore

Do you want to explore a Saxon Hall, a medieval church or a large stone keep? Click the images below to enter a medieval world.

Partial Personal Timeline

YearMonthAgeEvent
1367 Mar  Henry (IV) future king of England in born
 Henry was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire. 
1387 Apr  20yrsFuture Henry V born
 It is believed that Henry, the future king of England Henry V, was born at the gatehouse tower of Monmouth castle in late summer. His father was Henry Bolingbroke the future Henry IV king of England and his mother was Mary de Bohun. Mary was seventeen when Henry was born.[1] 
 Dec  Invasion threat from France
 During the winter months of 1387 and spring months of 1388, Henry Bolingbroke prepared defences along the south coast.[1]

Episode: Richard II - The Hundred Years War  
1398 Sep 16  31yrsBolingbroke exiled
 Richard II had executed or exiled other members of the Lords Appellant the previous year and now Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray were concerned that their turn was next. Mowbray confided these concerns with Bolingbroke. Bolingbroke informed the King of Mowbray's treasonable words and Mowbray was arrested. Mowbray denied the accusations and that he ever talked to Bolingbroke. To bring the dispute to an end, a duel between Bolingbroke and Mowbray was arranged. But before the duel took place Richard changed his mind and banished Bolingbroke for ten years and Mowbray for life.[1] 
1399   32yrsTreasure found at Beeston Castle
 In this year Beeson Castle, which had belonged to Richard II, was handed over to Henry IV. In the castle a hoard of Richard's treasure was found. 
 Mar  Bolingbroke's land confiscated
 Bolingbroke should have inherited the lands from his father, John of Gaunt, but Richard had other ideas. The king confiscated Bolingbroke's inheritance and increased his term of exile to life.[1] 
 Jul  Bolingbroke returns to England
 Landing at Ravenspur in Yorkshire, Bolingbroke returned to England intent to taking the throne from Richard. He marched south to Bristol taking control of Lancastrian castles on route, all of which welcomed his return.[1] 
 Sep  Bolingbroke accepted by Parliament
 Parliament accepted Bolingbroke's claim to the throne. He was to become Henry IV, king of England.[1] 
 Oct 13  Henry IV becomes king
 Henry IV is crowned king of England after the abdication of Richard II. He was crowned at Westminster Abbey. 
Please note that this area should be showing an interactive map of events. This area will not show if you are currently using an older version of web browser. The map viewer viewer has been tested on IE9 and the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome.