Henry V: the cruel king

Few English monarchs enjoy a loftier reputation than the 'hero' of Agincourt. Yet, says Ian Mortimer, the real Henry V was a cold, aloof man, prone to acts of breathtaking cruelty and arrogance

Portrait of King Henry V of England (1387-1422), dated 15th century. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the October 2009 issue of BBC History Magazine 

The heavy artillery had damaged the town walls and the moat had been filled with bundles of sticks, ready for the final onslaught. But still the inhabitants of Caen refused to surrender. By 4 September 1417 Henry V and his army had been besieging the Norman town for 17 days.It only remained for the king to launch an all-out attack.

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