chapter  1
24 Pages

The making of a Lancastrian prince

When England’s very own ‘celestial knight’ and ‘princely hero’ slipped into the world largely unnoticed in the late summer of 1386, there was little to suggest the enduring fame that lay ahead. According to astrological evidence contained in a treatise on his birth written after he had become king, Henry V was born on 16 September at 11.22 a.m. But no fanfares greeted him, no exultant crowds thronged the streets in his honour and no chronicler even troubled to report the event for posterity. Nor, it seems, was the place of his birth any more auspicious, for he drew his fi rst breath within the cheerless stone walls of Monmouth Castle’s gatehouse tower, as far away from London and the centre of political gravity as he was from the thoughts of his future subjects.