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Young Folks' History of England

20. Henry V, Of Monmouth, A.D. 1413—1423
The young King Henry was full of high, good thoughts. He was devout in
going to church, tried to make good Bishops, gave freely to the poor, and was
so kindly, and hearty, and merry in all his words and ways, that everyone
loved him. Still, he thought it was his duty to go and make war in France. He
had been taught to believe the kingdom belonged to him, and it was in so
wretched a state that he thought he could do it good. The poor king, Charles
VI., was mad, and had a wicked wife besides; and his sons, and uncles, and
cousins were always fighting, till the streets of Paris were often red with
blood, and the whole country was miserable. Henry hoped to set all in order
for them, and gathering an army together, crossed to Normandy. He called on
the people to own him as their true king, and never let any harm be done to
them, for he hung any soldier who was caught stealing, or misusing anyone.
He took the town of Harfleur, on the coast of Normandy, but not till after a
long siege, when his camp was in so wet a place that there was much illness
among his men. The store of food was nearly used up, and he was obliged to
march his troops across to Calais, which you know belonged to England, to
get some more. But on the way the French army came up to meet him—a
very grand, splendid-looking army, commanded by the king's eldest son the
dauphin. Just as the English kings' eldest son was always Prince of Wales, the
French kings' eldest son was always called Dauphin of Vienne, because
Vienne, the country that belonged to him, had a dolphin on its shield. The
French army was very large—quite twice the number of the English— but,
though Henry's men were weary and half-starved, and many of them sick,
they were not afraid, but believed their king when he told them that there
were enough Frenchmen to kill, enough to run away, enough to make
prisoners. At night, however, the English had solemn prayers, and made
themselves ready, and the king walked from tent to tent to see that each man
was in his place; while, on the other hand, the French were feasting and
revelling, and settling what they would do the English when they had made
them prisoners. They were close to a little village which the English called
Agincourt, and, though that is not quite its right name, it is what we have
called the battle ever since. The French, owing to the quarrelsome state of
the country, had no order or obedience among them. Nobody would obey any
other; and when their own archers were in the way, the horsemen began
cutting them down as if they were the enemy. Some fought bravely, but it
was of little use; and by night all the French were routed, and King Henry's
banner waving in victory over the field. He went back to England in great
glory, and all the aldermen of London came out to meet him in red gowns
and gold chains, and among them was Sir Richard Whittington, the great silk
Henry was so modest that he would not allow the helmet he had worn at
Agincourt, all knocked about with terrible blows, to be carried before him
when he rode into London, and he went straight to church, to give thanks to