Henry IV Conference at Canterbury April 2013

Henry IV has often been overshadowed by his son, Henry V, the victor of Agincourt or his reign eclipsed by focus on the deposition of his cousin Richard II. This conference was an attempt to focus on this king, his reign and the legacy of the dynasty he founded, the Lancastrians. It was organized by David Grummitt and the MEMS centre at the University of Kent, Canterbury. Day one took place at the Cathedral Lodge, overlooking the magnificent cathedral where the king and his consort, Joan of Navarre, are buried.

The first day featured a string of extended lectures by three experts in the field; Ian Mortimer, author of the best-selling book The Fears of Henry IV, Anne Curry, noted expert on Agincourt and Chris Given-Wilson who is currently working on a monograph of Henry IV for the renown Yale English Monarchs series. Mortimer argued that Henry IV’s legacy has been completely shaped by the famous Shakespeare ‘Hollow Crown’ plays and these plays and the often negative perception of his reign has erased the fact that Henry IV was once considered to be the ‘golden boy’ of Europe and the model of the pious knight. Curry focused on Henry’s relationship with his sons, particularly Henry V and Thomas, Duke of Clarence, who may have been considered to be his father’s favourite. Given-Wilson looked at two less obvious reasons why Henry IV was able to retain his throne in difficult circumstances-the support of the towns (particularly key men of influence who remained loyal) and an effective espionage and survillance network. The day rounded off with a double header of papers which focused on Henry’s tomb. The first paper, by Jon-Mark Grussenmeyer, looked at how key facets of Lancastrian dynastic identity can be found in the tomb iconography while Kim Woods argued that the use of alabaster in contemporary tombs was a key Lancastrian signifier which originated in French designs.

Day two took place on the campus of the University of Kent and began with an excellent paper from our very own Michael Hicks on why Henry IV decided to resettle the succession (twice) in 1406.  Michael explored various facets of the changes to the succession from Edward III’s entail of 1376 and analyzed Henry IV’s motivation for his changes to the succession. Michael also examined the delayed marriages of Henry IV’s sons and Henry’s decision not to place one of his four boys in the Church, even though he struggled to find the funds to give them appropriate titles and standing as magnates.  The next panel was a pair on literary themes; Ryan Perry discussed the Lancastrian support for the cult of their ancestor Thomas of Lancaster and a misguided belief that Edmund Crouchback was the elder son of Henry III, which would have given their line precedence in the succession. Jenni Nuttall then evaluated Henry IV’s literary patronage, his deliberate use of English at key moments in his reign and whether he deserved to be considered as the ‘Lord of this Language’.  After lunch, John Milner examined the career of William, Lord Roos as a loyal Lancastrian servant and Tiago Viúla de Faria discussed Henry IV’s Iberian policy, with particular regard to Castile and Portugal where his sisters were queens. The last paper had another Winchester connection-Jessica Lutkin gave a paper on Henry IV’s spending on luxury items, arguing that he ‘carpet bombed’ English courtiers and European royals with the distinctive Lancastrian ‘S’ livery collar.

All in all it was an excellent conference, with thought-provoking papers with closely connected themes which generated lively discussion. This conference has done much to highlight the complex and fascinating reign of a king who is long overdue to come out of the long shadows cast by his successful son and disasterous predecessor.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Henry IV Conference at Canterbury April 2013

  1. Pingback: Henry IV Assassinated | Bite Size Canada

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.