Sunday, 5 Feb 2023

Harry says ‘kindred spirit’ is ex-King who ‘annihilated everything’

Top 10 Facts About Henry IV

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Since stepping down from his senior royal role, Prince Harry has frequently been compared to his great-great uncle King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne after an 11-month reign to marry an American divorcee. Subsequently, Edward and his wife Wallis Simpson spent the majority of their lives in exile, forging new lives in Paris that saw them sit down for television interviews and publish tell-all memoirs. However, while the similarities between the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are clear, Harry has suggested a different distant relative who could be called his “kindred spirit”.

King Henry IV, also known as Henry Bolingbroke, reigned as King of England from 1399 to 1413.

In Harry’s words, the 14th-century royal “got himself exiled, then came back and annihilated everything and everyone in sight”.

“My distant kin,” the Prince writes. “My kindred spirit, some would claim. If nothing else, my namesake.”

While the Duke is almost exclusively known as Harry, he was born Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, named after his father King Charles III and other historic royals whose names have been established as tradition. It is understood that Harry’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales, chose his first name, but whether she took into account his royal relatives, is unknown.

The Duke is one of many Henrys who have made their name within the British monarchy, dating back to 1100 when Henry I assumed the throne as King of England, and seeing the likes of Henry VI — who played a key role in the Wars of the Roses — and Henry VIII whose infamous and brutal love life has become the subject of theatre productions and TV programmes.

But Harry names Henry IV as his “namesake”, a King who was banished from England — with the approval of his father — in a bid to avoid further acrimony.

Born at Bolingbroke Castle to John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster, Henry was a grandson of King Edward III and cousin of Richard II.

While Henry and Richard were once childhood playmates, the former participated in the rebellion of the Lords Appellants — a disgruntled group of noblemen who devised a plan to take power away from Richard.

Having led a successful rebellion in 1387, the group maintained Richard as a figurehead with very little real power. But, in 1389, following the return of his uncle from Spain, Richard was able to rebuild his authority, ultimately destroying the principal three among the Lords Appellant.

Richard, however, did not punish his cousin, and in fact, elevated Henry from Earl of Derby to Duke of Hereford.

While it seemed Henry had survived the King’s purge, a quarrel between him and Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk — the other surviving Lords Appellant — saw Richard engineer a medieval joust between the pair.

But before the duel could take place, the King decided to banish his cousin from the kingdom for 10 years, a decision made with the approval of John of Gaunt, his uncle and Henry’s father. The Duke of Norfolk was exiled for life.

In 1399, following the death of John, Henry became the Duke of Lancaster and therefore had an excuse to return to England. Having spent his exile in Paris, he was now able to claim the Lancaster family’s land that Richard had taken for himself.

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He returned while the King was on a military campaign in Ireland. With the advice of the exiled Thomas Arundel, former Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry began his own military campaign, confiscating land from those who opposed him and ordering his soldiers to destroy much of Cheshire.

While his initial intention was to reclaim his rights as Duke of Lancaster, Henry quickly gained enough power and support to declare himself as King Henry IV, imprison Richard II, and bypass his predecessor’s heir-presumptive. His coronation was held on October 13, 1399, at Westminster Abbey.

A few months later, in February 1400, Richard died — some suspect murdered. His death came after minor efforts by those loyal to the former king to set him back on the throne.

Henry even publicly displayed Richard’s body in a bid to negate the chance of a coup by would-be rebels who thought he might still be alive.

Ruling for 14 years, Henry spent a large portion of his reign defending himself against rebellions. Battles ensued in which the King’s forces emerged victorious but serious health problems would come to dominate his later years, proving fatal in March 1413.

Henry was succeeded by his 25-year-old son, Henry V of England who was crowned at the Abbey on April 9, 1413.

However, having defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt and become one of the great fighting monarchs in European history, his reign was cut short by illness.

And his father’s ousting of Richard II came back to haunt the Lancaster descendants in what became known as the Wars of the Roses — a conflict fought between the houses of Lancaster and York for control of the English throne

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