Henry IV

Chris Given-Wilson

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April 26, 2016
608 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
16 pp. b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300154191
Cloth

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Henry IV (1399–1413), the son of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, seized the English throne at the age of thirty-two from his cousin Richard II and held it until his death, aged forty-five, when he was succeeded by his son, Henry V. This comprehensive and nuanced biography restores to his rightful place a king often overlooked in favor of his illustrious progeny.
 
Henry faced the usual problems of usurpers: foreign wars, rebellions, and plots, as well as the ambitions and demands of the Lancastrian retainers who had helped him win the throne. By 1406 his rule was broadly established, and although he became ill shortly after this and never fully recovered, he retained ultimate power until his death. Using a wide variety of previously untapped archival materials, Chris Given-Wilson reveals a cultured, extravagant, and skeptical monarch who crushed opposition ruthlessly but never quite succeeded in satisfying the expectations of his own supporters.

Chris Given-Wilson is emeritus professor of medieval history, University of St. Andrews, and author of nine books on medieval history. He lives in Fife, UK.

'At last, the study of Henry IV and his reign, carefully researched and beautifully written, that we have long been expecting. A major contribution to historical scholarship.' - Christopher Allmand, author of Henry V

'Henry IV was described by one chronicler as "elegant, successful and learned". This wonderful biography of the first of the Lancastrian kings is no less accomplished than its subject. In the best traditions of this celebrated series, Given-Wilson offers a picture of the man, his reign and the nation that he seized which is both evocative and richly detailed. It seems most appropriate that in this "age of dysfunctional kingship" the monarch could be both savage and cultured, an arch propagandist with a taste for polyphony, and a man of militant piety given to acts of erratic compassion. Although far from Shakespeare’s vision of the haunted, care-worn king, this is a vivid and captivating study of England’s most neglected late medieval ruler.' - David Green, author of The Hundred Years War

'An extraordinary accomplishment, combining deep scholarship with a strong narrative purpose to provide a compelling and vivid account of Henry IV’s life as noble, prince and king. The reign of Henry IV is pivotal in later medieval English history, and Given-Wilson has given us a properly definitive account both of its events and of its wider significance.' - W. Mark Ormrod, author of Edward III

“This scholarly and readable contributor to Yale’s English Monarchs series fills an important gap… an impressive achievement, a considered and well-rounded account in which youth and old age get their proper share of attention and the darker periods are lit up by the skilful use of published and unpublished records.”—Jonathan Sumption, Literary Review

“Given-Wilson’s very substantial biography brings Henry IV out of the shadows. It is as good a study of an English king as one could desire: deeply researched, admirably comprehensive, well considered and competently told. Without neglecting the details the story requires, the narrative never falters, and the pace is compelling throughout.”—Nicholas Orme, Church Times

‘In a fine-grained account laced with deep scholarship and lucid historical insight, Given-Wilson shows not only the drama of Richard’s fall, complete with greyhounds and golden robes, but the domino-effect destabilization caused by Henry’s pivotal dilemma.’ - Helen Castor, TLS

“In this magnificent new study, Chris Given-Wilson gives us an account of Henry IV’s life rooted in the fullest possible trawl through the sources.”—Nigel Saul, History Today

“[A] clearly written, vivid account . . . A splendid addition to Yale's ‘English Monarchs’ series.”—A. C. Reeves, Choice
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