chapter  3
37 Pages

Unity and honour, 1413–15

What Henry V had not yet gained in terms of glory, he was now well placed to acquire on the back of hard-earned experience and a burning desire to transform both his own and his kingdom’s fortunes. Some chroniclers speak, in fact, of an immediate and lasting change in the new king’s behaviour once the throne was fi nally his. ‘As soon as he was invested with the emblems of royalty’, wrote Thomas Walsingham, ‘he suddenly became another man.’1 In Tito Livio’s account, too, he at once ‘reformed and amended his life and manners so that there was never no youth nor wildness that might have any place in him, but all his acts were suddenly changed into gravity and discretion’.2 On the very night of his father’s death, it was said, Henry sought out a hermit at Westminster Abbey. And here, over the course of several hours, he apparently confessed his sins and pledged himself to the heavy tasks that lay before him – the clearest possible sign of a new intensity and sense of purpose that would characterise the reign to come.3