Henry V. - King of England and France

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Merowinger, Jul 10, 2005.

  1. Merowinger Member

    Aug 7, 2004
    A visit to England in 1421 was interrupted by the defeat of Clarence at Baugé. The hardships of the longer winter siege of Meaux broke down his health, and he died of dysentery at Bois de Vincennes on August 31, 1422. Had he lived another two months, he would have been crowned King of France.

    How would history unfold if Henry V. really was crowned King of France?
  2. Rick Robinson What happened to The Future?

    Jan 4, 2005
    Plantagenet did a TL along those lines a couple of months ago. I'm not sure of the thread title, but maybe "Plantagenet France."

    If Henry V is crowned King, but dies only a few years later, the overall dynamic probably remains much like OTL (though butterflies will gradually accumulate). With a child Henry VI on the double throne, England is still headed for political trouble, and chances of holding France are poor.

    If Henry V lives on for another couple of decades or more, things are different. You still have to wonder if France is too big a morsel for England to swallow, but the possibilities are broader and more varied. For one, the Plantagenet monarchy might "go native," with England ending up as an appanage of the French crown. :eek: (Compare the fate of Scotland after a King of Scots got the English throne.)

    -- Rick
  3. plantagenet Contents Partially Unknown

    Apr 17, 2005
    It seems to me that ultimately, even if Henry V lives 30 more years and carries all before him, the Anglo-French state is not really viable in the long term.

    Under the terms of the Treaty of Troyes, each kingdom will be administered separately with neither realm ever under any circumstances being subject to the other.

    This means that they only share a sovereign, which makes things real dicey. Consider that for the relationship to work, England and France will have to give up part of their national interests. This is if the relationship is consensual on both parts. One could suppose that the outcome would be a long-term military occupation, but that would mean, if it could be worked at all, that England would not be able to do anything else. Further, the direction the Duke of Bedford was taking after the death of Henry V and which Henry might himself have ultimately gone down, was conciliation with the French, which again points to an ultimately voluntary partnership predicated on their common allegiance to the Plantagenet house.

    Perhaps an example will help. Let's say France is having a problem with Burgundy, which is bound to happen sooner or later. France wants to settle things to their satisfaction, but a war with Burgundy would be bad for English business, at least for the wool merchants. So either France surrenders its interests in this case and desists or England is deprived of its interests and the wool market suffers. In either case, one of the two partners is not going to be happy. In the case of England and Scotland, Scotland did not have foreign interests at the same level as England and in any case breaking off the partnership would not really have worked.

    Thus, from a purely economic and nationalistic standpoint, someone in the Anglo-French state would usually be getting a raw deal. Also consider why England was really fighting. Perhaps the royals by the 1420s were buying their own propaganda about how the French throne was rightly theirs, but the English aristos and common soldiers were in France to get paid, pure and simple. Even when Bedford tried to ease up, individual garrisons continued to bleed regions white with the patis, i.e. a protection racket. Long story short, if the English stop receiving their checks, they will check out and that means the Plantagenet hold on the throne is now based solely on the will of the French people.

    This brings us to how Gallicized the English kings of France would be. If they "go native" and return to how the earlier Plantagenets were, culturally, perhaps there would be a coup in England while the king is away, where a more Anglo younger brother or nephew or someone with royal blood is proclaimed and the navy keeps the now only French king from coming back. If he stays English, he needs English troops to keep his throne; thus he needs to pay them for their loyalty in an indefinite occupation, which means heavy taxes on the French, which equals French disaffection, which means probably renewed opposition, possibly military, to English rule.

    All this, of course, assumes that the English even win the war. Henry was down to two brothers - Gloucester, who is pretty much worthless for the war effort, and Bedford, a legend from the last stage of the war, but ultimately even he was unable to defeat the Dauphinists.

    Henry and Bedford together would make a formidable combo, but remember that the Duke of Orleans was in English captivity, IIRC since Agincourt. Thus, if Henry attacks Orleans, while he'll likely take the city (unless that is the siege that breaks his health down), he will, as his brother did in OTL, stir the passions of Burgundy and other nations for such a flagrant violation of the protocols of chivalry, which would weaken the Anglo-Burgundian alliance.

    Joan of Arc. Her contribution to the French war effort was out of all proportion to her skill as a general; this tells me that in the late 1420s, France was an army waiting for a commander. The will was there, but someone had to get the ball rolling – once the French were a cohesive fighting force, the English did not have a prayer in the long term, Henry V notwithstanding.

    Also, once the English get across the Loire, they are in territory which has not really been touched by war since the 1380s and some areas never. These lands are uniformly Dauphinist and as yet strong to fight the English. France is a big country and England would need many men to occupy it behind the lines. Also remember the risings which occurred in Lancastrian France in the 1420s of OTL. These occurred despite the mild policies of the Regent Bedford, and Henry V was way more an uncompromising hardass, so no Mr. Nice English King in TTL. If Charles VII gets his shit together, Henry will have more resistance than he bargained for.

    All things considered, I find it unlikely even a longer lived Henry V could have taken the whole realm, and even if he had and was able to hold it for his lifetime, once Henry VI took over, by which time Bedford is likely in his grave, the edifice comes crashing down immediately.

    Even if Henry VI had been more competent and had inherited all of France in the 1440s, I doubt the long-term feasibility of an Anglo-French state.
  4. Rick Robinson What happened to The Future?

    Jan 4, 2005
    Generally I agree, but a few points that cut various ways:

    Unions of crowns, in which the member states were supposed to remain otherwise separate, often were honored in the breach, particularly when the parties differed in underlying strength. The most obvious example is England and Scotland; another is Castile and Aragon. There are examples that go the other way, though, e.g., Spain and Portugal. Scandinavian unions of crowns also didn't stick, though the power/wealth balance may have been more even.

    France in this era has about 4x-5x the population of England, fairly close to the ratio between England/Scotland and Castile/Aragon. Of course there's the complication of the Channel, plus England and France probably had the most developed proto-nationalism in Europe (apart from city-states).

    As a side note, though, if the Anglo-French union of crowns lasts even a few decades, Scotland is in a world of hurt - the Auld Alliance isn't worth diddly squat. :eek:

    So far as France itself goes, what was the status of the Estates-General in the early 15th century? Its real decline came later (and as a byproduct of the final stage of the Hundred Years' War), but I don't get the impression that it ever had the corporate identity that Parliament had by this time.

    For a union of crowns to last very long, I think that by far the best bet is for the crown to "go native" as Kings of France. The reason is that if the crown can command the revenues of France effectively, it doesn't really need England - and therefore can put relatively limited demands on it. The main reason for calling Parliaments, then and for long after, was to get money, and the main need for money was wars. So long as the crown can "live of its own" with respect to England, fighting its wars on the French denier, it can avoid calling many Parliaments, and the institution may even gradually atrophy.

    If an "English" king were taxing France for his wars, while letting England off the hook, this would cause profound resentment - but much less if le roi is seen as a French king, making war for la gloire de France.

    Well, let's get specific. :D It's fine to say "Plantagenet" kings of France, but we're really talking Lancastrian kings of France. Even if Henry VI is more competent than in OTL, he is still the grandson of a usurper, he's tied down in France, and possibly brought up largely French - nice openings for a Yorkist claimant.

    Even if the union of crowns lasts out the 15th century, the very fact of NOT having the Wars of the Roses, and much less work for the headsman, means that the Yorkists are likely to thrive into the 16th century - the more French les rois lancastriens come to appear, the more opportunities for "mere English" Yorkists to make a play.

    -- Rick