Top 10 Things The King Got Factually Right and Wrong



Top 10 Things The King Got Factually Right and Wrong

VOICE OVER: Michael Petel WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
If you're looking for a history lesson, keep in mind there are some facts The King got right and wrong. For this list, we're taking a look at the historical accuracy behind this Netflix drama about Henry V of England. How much is history, how much is Shakespeare, how much is Hollywood? WatchMojo ranks the facts The King got right and wrong.

Top 10 Facts The King Got Right/Wrong

How much is history, how much is Shakespeare, how much is Hollywood? Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Facts The King Got Right/Wrong.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the historical accuracy behind this Netflix drama about Henry V of England. In addition to delving into the film’s plot, we’ll also be touching upon William Shakespeare’s “Henriad” plays that inspired this adaptation. So, spoilers on both fronts.

#10: Henry V’s Relationship with His Father Could Be Difficult

From the very beginning, it’s established that Henry Prince of Wales, or Hal as some call him, has a strenuous relationship with his father, King Henry IV of England. There’s a bounty of bad blood between the two in Shakespeare’s works as well. While neither the film nor Shakespeare got every detail about their dynamic right, it is widely believed by most historians that Prince Hal and Henry IV didn’t always get along. The two shared different outlooks on various political matters, which became more apparent than ever in the final years of Henry IV’s reign. As his father’s health deteriorated, Hal began to enforce his own ideals. What they disagreed about is where “The King” starts to take creative liberties.

#9: There Was Debate About Who Would Succeed Henry IV

Despite not seeing eye-to-eye on certain policies, history suggests that Henry IV and Hal loved each other nonetheless. This isn’t represented through “The King,” however. In the film, Henry IV is so disappointed and distant with his eldest son that he tells him early on that his younger brother, Thomas of Lancaster, will instead be his successor. In reality, Henry IV did discharge Hal from council in November 1411 and replace him with Thomas, who was believed to be his favorite son. Even then, though, Hal remained first in line to inherit the throne, followed by Thomas in the event of his older brother’s demise. Since they were actually quite close, it’s also doubtful that Hal was so cold towards his father on his deathbed.

#8: Henry V Wanted Peace & His Father Wanted War

As mentioned before, Hal and Henry IV had some political differences, but they’re completely backwards in “The King.” The film depicts Henry IV as a stern figure who’s prone to force while Hal would rather find a more peaceful alternative. Hal will do whatever it takes to prevent an all-out battle from breaking out, but is still ready to lead his forces into war if there’s no other option. By consulting a history book, you’ll find that it was really the other way around. Between the two, Henry IV was seen as the peacekeeper while Hal strongly pushed for war with France. Hal ultimately got his way not long after his father died and he was crowned Henry V of England.

#7: Thomas of Lancaster’s Death

“The King” suggests that there was a sibling rivalry between Hal and Thomas, the younger of whom is infuriated when his big brother steals his glory on the battlefield. Thomas is killed while fighting in Wales and Hal is appointed the next king. While Thomas did die in battle, he wasn’t a teenager, but rather a 33-year-old man. His death didn’t take place in Wales, but in Anjou, France at the Battle of Baugé. Thomas was also still alive when his brother inherited the crown. Thomas even took part in several battles against the French under Henry’s V’s rule, including the Siege of Caen and the Siege of Rouen. While he never became king, Thomas was given the title of Duke of Clarence in 1412.

#6: Henry V Was a Reckless Rebel

One of the reasons Henry IV deems Hal unworthy of the throne in this movie is due to his rebellious nature. When Hal isn’t butting heads with his dad, he’s drinking and goofing off with his subjects. After Henry IV dies, the prodigal prince steps up and accepts more responsibility. While this remains faithful to Shakespeare’s portrayal, many historians would debate the notion that Henry V was a party animal. The film’s version of Hal feels like a frat guy who spends less time in class and more time sleeping in after a bender. In real life, much of Hal’s teenage years were spent fighting for and alongside his father. Even by age 16, he was participating in his first major battle at Shrewsbury.

#5: Hal Married Catherine of Valois

Following the film’s climactic battle, King Charles VI of France and Henry V come to a peaceful resolution. As part of England’s newfound union with France, Hal is to wed Charles VI’s daughter, Catherine of Valois. Indeed, Hal and Catherine were married on June 2, 1420. Of course, a few details about their relationship have been omitted and tweaked. For example, Hal actually thought about marrying Catherine much earlier, but Charles VI wouldn’t comply with his demands over territory and 2 million crowns. Where the film implies they were married shortly after the Battle of Agincourt, their union really took place five years down the line. This wasn’t exactly happily ever after either, as Hal died two years later, never meeting their son, Henry VI.

#4: The Dauphin’s Devious Demeanor & Downfall

Most would agree that the most entertaining part of the film is Robert Pattinson as the Dauphin, aka Louis, Duke of Guyenne. Pattinson plays Charles VI’s son almost like a cheeky James Bond villain, but was this true to the real-life figure? Eh, probably not. In “The King” and Shakespeare’s play, “Henry V,” Louis mockingly sends Hal a tennis ball as a coronation gift, although there’s no concrete evidence backing this up. In any case, it’s not like the Dauphin served first, as England’s House of Plantagenet and France’s House of Valois were already engaged in the Hundred Years’ War. Also, the Dauphin didn’t die at the Battle of Agincourt. He wasn’t even present at the battle, most likely dying of dysentery that same year.

#3: Henry vs. Henry

Not wanting to see multiple people give their lives, Hal presents Henry “Hotspur” Percy with a proposition. The two of them engage in a sword fight, one on one. Hal ultimately emerges victorious thanks to his dagger, single-handedly putting an end to Hotspur’s rebellion. If this sounds like something out of a “Game of Thrones” episode, that’s because no such duel took place in real life. Hotspur actually died at the Battle of Shrewsbury. While there’s been some debate over how exactly Hotspur met his end, it’s generally believed that an arrow to the face did him in. Weirdly enough, Henry V was present at that same battle where he was also shot in the face with an arrow, nearly killing him.

#2: Sir John Falstaff

One of the most prominent characters in the film, not to mention Shakespeare’s plays, is Sir John Falstaff. Where Falstaff is a chubby comedic character in the Shakespeare universe, here he’s solemnly played by the hunky Joel Edgerton. “The King” depicts the knight as Hal’s close friend and champion who dies in glorious battle. In “Henriad,” Falstaff is rejected by Hal after becoming king and unceremoniously dies later on. So, which version is more accurate to the real-life Falstaff? Neither because John Falstaff didn’t exist! Although Falstaff isn’t real, Shakespeare initially intended to name the character John Oldcastle, an actual friend of Henry V. When one of Oldcastle’s descendants complained, though, Shakespeare changed the name to Falstaff and the rest is history… well, historical fiction.

#1: Henry V Won the Battle of Agincourt

It only makes sense that a movie entitled “The King” would build to an epic final battle. Despite being vastly outnumbered at the Battle of Agincourt, Hal leads his English forces to victory, triumphing over the French army. While the Hundred Years’ War was still far from over, the English did win this particular battle. Henry really had a disadvantage with only about 5,000 men on his side. The French, meanwhile, had somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 soldiers. Rain had left the ground soggy, however, causing the French to stumble into battle. It didn’t help that the French wore such heavy armor. At the end of the day, the English’s longbow arrows and Henry V’s leadership left the French with mud literally on their faces.