King Henry IV was the King of England from 1399 – 1413. He was the successor of Richard II, and the first king of England since 1066 whose mother was English and not French. John of Gaunt, Henry’s father, established the House of Lancaster 1267.
1380 – Henry married Mary de Bohun; they had two daughters and four sons, including Henry aka Prince Hal ( who became King Henry V)
1399 – Henry banished by Richard II. Henry lands in Yorkshire with an army from the King of France. King Richard caught and usurped, Henry made King using his descent from King Edward III (John of Gaunt was son of King Edward III) to justify his usurpation.
1400 – King Richard dies, suspected murdered. Henry quashed the Welsh rebellion led by Owain Glyndwr who had declared himself Prince of Wales with the help of Prince Hal.
1403 – King Henry married Joanna of Navarre (c. 1370 to 1437). No children. The Battle of Shrewsbury is fought on July 21: King Henry quashed rebellion of Sir Harry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland (Harry Hotspur) once again with the help of Prince Hal.
1413 – King Henry died, suffering recurrently from an unnamed illness since 1405
Shakespeare’s play King Henry IV Part 1 tells the story of Henry’s son, Prince Harry (Hal), the future king, and his heroic rise to power. Shakespeare uses Prince Harry as his characterisation of Henry V to criticise the exaggerations of the real Prince Henry’s supposedly bad behaviour.
The play’s characters are modified versions of their real equivalents.
King Henry was in fear of the threats of rebellion from noblemen during his reign. Sir Henry Hotspur (1364 – 1403) was a significant captain during the Anglo-Scottish wars. He later led successive rebellions against Henry IV of England and was slain at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 at the height of his career.
Who does Prince Hal hang out with, if not with his father?
For example, King Richard II’s death is not definitely known, however he is portrayed to be murdered by a character at the end of King Richard II. This enables the portrayal of King Henry’s unfavourable reaction to the news to extend upon his interesting relationship and perspective of the king he overthrew.
Shakespeare set Henry IV Part 1 mainly in England and partly in Wales, in palaces, inns, and various battlefields.
- Wales – Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, and leader of Henry IV’s army in Wales, is captured by the rebel leader Owain Glyndwr
- Holmedon, England – Harry Percy, nicknamed Hotspur, leader of Henry IV’s army in the north of England, defeats the Scottish rebel Douglas.
- The Palace, London – The Percy’s aided Henry IV in overthrowing Richard II, and now Harry Percy won’t give over his Scottish Noblemen prisoners unless Henry IV pays Welsh rebels the ransom to release Hotspur’s brother-in-law, Edmund Mortimer. Henry IV refuses, knowing that Mortimer has turned traitor and wed the Welsh rebel Owain Glyndwr’s daughter
- Boar’s Head Tavern, London – Henry IV’s son, Prince Hal, avoids the battlefield and carouses with criminals, among them, John Falstaff, a rascal knight who steals and lies for a living
- Castle of Owain Glyndwr, Wales – Hotspur and his uncle, Worcester, form an alliance between their family, the Percys, and the Welsh rebel Owain Glyndwr to overthrow Henry IV. The Scottish rebel Douglas has also allied with the Percys.
- Shrewsbury, Western England – Civil war comes to a head: Prince Hal saves his father from the Scottish rebel Douglas, beating him back. Owain Glyndwr and his Welsh rebels never arrive. Hotspur is there, but his father, the Earl of Northumberland, has also abandoned him. Prince Hal kills Hotspur in single combat, though Falstaff takes the credit. Henry IV wins the battle, but rebellion continues throughout England