The Reputation and Legacy of Henry IV

by Ian Mortimer

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Henry IV is not famous except for the plays that bear his name: he is not even a 'much-maligned' king. He is normally overshadowed by his far more famous son, Henry V, despite his many achievements. Shakespeare is partly to blame for Henry's diminution and his son's exaggerated stature but not completely; we just don't know what to make of a man who took the throne from the rightful king.

In this keynote lecture, delivered at Canterbury Cathedral on the 600th anniversary of his death, Dr Mortimer traces his reputation from his youth (when he was prasied and revered far and wide) to his later years, when he was feared and disliked and seen as a disappointment. The resons for that decline are explained and a new, more posiitive view taken of his resilience. In conclusion, we have to see something deeply distinguished and 'Churchillian' in the way he weathered the storm of his later years and prepared the way for his son's martial reign.