The Conscience of a King
Imprint: Yale University Press
Shakespeare’s centuries-old portrayal of Henry V established the king’s reputation as a warmongering monarch, a perception that has persisted ever since. But in this engaging study a different view of Henry emerges: that of a multidimensional ruler of great piety, a hands-on governor who introduced a radically new conception of England’s European role in secular and ecclesiastical affairs, a composer of music, an art patron, and a dutiful king who fully appreciated his obligations toward those he ruled.
Historian Malcolm Vale draws on extensive primary archival evidence that includes many documents annotated or endorsed in Henry’s own hand. Focusing on a series of themes—the interaction between king and church, the rise of the English language as a medium of government and politics, the role of ceremony in Henry’s kingship, and more—Vale revises understandings of Henry V and his conduct of the everyday affairs of England, Normandy, and the kingdom of France.
“By giving greater authority to the archival record than most previous historians have done, and by adopting a thematic rather than a chronological approach to his subject, Malcolm Vale has succeeded in penetrating, as never before, the mind and intentions of Henry V. As this highly recommended study develops, the reader is presented with a king no longer primarily a soldier but a much more rounded, multifaceted figure who leads his country through a time of uncertainties social, political, military and religious, justifying the author’s claim to have revealed ‘another Henry V’ in the process.”—Christopher Allmand, author of Henry V
“A highly original study of Henry V. It is difficult these days to say anything new about the king: Malcolm Vale manages it.”—Nigel Saul, author of For Honour and Fame: Chivalry in England, 1066–1500