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Famous Men of the Middle Ages

Henry V
King from 1413-1422
Of all the kings that England ever had Henry V was perhaps the greatest favorite among
the people. They liked him because he was handsome and brave and, above all, because
he conquered France.
In his youth, Prince Hal, as the people called him, had a number of merry companions
who sometimes got themselves into trouble by their pranks. Once one of them was
arrested and brought before the chief justice of the kingdom.
Prince Hal was not pleased because sentence was given against his companion and he
drew his sword, threatening the judge. Upon this the judge bravely ordered the prince to
be arrested and put into prison.
Prince Hal submitted to his punishment with good grace and his father is reported to have
said, "Happy is the monarch who has so just a judge, and a son so willing to obey the
One of Prince Hal's companions was a fat old knight named Sir John Falstaff. Once
Falstaff was boasting that he and three men had beaten and almost killed two men in
buckram suits who had attacked and tried to rob them. The prince led him on and gave
him a chance to brag as much as he wanted to, until finally Falstaff swore that there were
at least a hundred robbers and that he himself fought with fifty. Then Prince Hal told their
companions that only two men had attacked Falstaff and his friends, and that he and
another man who was present were those two. And he said that Falstaff, instead of
fighting, had run as fast as his legs could carry him.
There was real goodness as well as merriment in Prince Hal. And so the people found; for
when he became king on the death of his father he told his wild companions that the days
of his wildness were over; and he advised them to lead better lives in future.
As Henry V, Prince Hal made himself famous in English history by his war with France.
Normandy, you remember, had belonged to Henry's ancestor, William the Conqueror. It
had been taken from King John of England by the French king, Philip Augustus, in 1203.
Soon after his coronation Henry sent a demand to the French king that Normandy should
be restored, and he made the claim which his great-grandfather, Edward III, had made
that he was by right the king of France.
Of course, the king of France would not acknowledge this. Henry therefore raised an
army of thirty thousand men and invaded France.