The Fears of Henry IV
England 1399: Henry of Lancaster has lost all that he was born to, exiled for life by the increasingly tyrannical and capricious King Richard. Henry, renowned throughout Christendom as champion jouster and crusader against the pagan, a deeply spiritual man who walked in the footsteps of Christ at Jerusalem, now chooses a dangerous path. He returns to England, enforces Richard’s abdication and death. Crowned as King Henry IV, this man of wit, a lover of books and music, has made himself England’s shield at a time of repeated crop failure, chronic money shortage, disaffection of the arrogant nobility and the spectre of civil war. Henry’s suffering in his fatal disease would make the most censorious angels weep but he outlasts the charismatic heroes of the age – Glendower, Hotspur – and his two marriages were exceptionally happy.
Ian Mortimer produces lovely turns of phrase: ‘shades of friendship,’ ‘the dark of enmity,’ and provides eye-opening pictures of furious noblemen hurling their hoods to the ground when challenging one another, or the King. This bold and justifiably confident writer can make tax assessments and declining wood revenue into compelling reading.
A fresh and finely detailed account of late mediaeval England.