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Henry IV and Personal Piety

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Debbi Codling looks at the beliefs and spiritual life of the man who usurped Richard II, an anointed king.

Henry IV (r.1399-1413) has left only a faint imprint on the historical imagination. Despite being the subject of two plays by Shakespeare, he emerges clearly from neither. In the first play it is Hotspur who dominates, in the second it is the King’s son. Yet Henry was a king whose character is more than usually central to an understanding of his reign. The enigma of his personality is closely connected to the matters of his faith and the validation of his kingship by God.


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