Fact of the day: 21st March

On this day in 1413 Henry V became King of England.

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After Henry IV died on 20 March 1413, Henry V succeeded him and was crowned on 9 April 1413 at Westminster Abbey. The ceremony was marked by a terrible snowstorm, but the common people were undecided as to whether it was a good or bad omen.  Henry was described as having been “very tall (6ft 3 in), slim, with dark hair cropped in a ring above the ears, and clean-shaven”. His complexion was ruddy, the face lean with a prominent and pointed nose. Depending on his mood, his eyes “flashed from the mildness of a dove’s to the brilliance of a lion’s.

Henry tackled all of the domestic policies together and gradually built on them a wider policy. From the first, he made it clear that he would rule England as the head of a united nation. On the one hand, he let past differences be forgotten – the late Richard II was honourably re-interred; the young Mortimer was taken into favour; the heirs of those who had suffered in the last reign were restored gradually to their titles and estates. On the other hand, where Henry saw a grave domestic danger, he acted firmly and ruthlessly – such as the Lollard discontent in January 1414, including the execution by burning of Henry’s old friend Sir John Oldcastle, so as to “nip the movement in the bud” and make his own position as ruler secure.

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