Another Exercise in Alternate History
A project rather further back in history, beginning in the year 1413 with the Coronation of King Henry V, to study what would happen if Henry did not die in 1422, but lived to become King of France as well as England.
Main Baseline Parameter Variant from the Earth Line
Magic is active, known, and to a degree tolerated on Agincourt. Before the Black Death, roughly one person in ten thousand had the potential for some kind of magic (including folk magic, hedge magic, ‘wise’ folk, etc). Of these, maybe 1% had the potential for full sorcery. However, those with magical potential had a better survival rate during the Black Death, so as of 1413, the proportion of potential users of some kind of magic has risen slightly to about one in seven thousand, with somewhere from 1-2% with sorcerous potential. The Church attempts to control magic in Europe through the Order of the Flame, but their control is far from complete.
For more details about magic on Agincourt, click here.
Ian was introduced to the world that would become Agincourt by his father, shortly after he first walked the Pattern. They travelled Shadow together for some months, with Bleys introducing him to the other worlds out there, and the concept of Alternative History. As part of that process, he felt that his son should spend at least some time in a world of an era not dissimilar to Amber itself. He, himself, had studied on this particular world, and knew a suitable teacher for his son in matters arcane and courtly – magic being known on that world, albeit carefully watched by the Church – and made the introductions. Then he left, saying he would only be about three months. He didn’t return for four years.
By then, Ian and his teacher, one Ermanno Dalmata had made their way to England, and had begun working for one of the Great Magnates of the time, Humphrey de Bohun. Ian used his abilities as a member of the Family and became part of de Bohun’s Household, and the group of followers of the Old Religion which surrounded him, while Ermanno worked on a problem which de Bohun was keen to find a solution to, to whit his desire for a male heir. De Bohun’s wife eventually became pregnant, but around that time de Bohun and Ian had a serious falling out, and Ian, accompanied by Ermanno and a then-returned Bleys, left both his household and England.
Ian returned to Agincourt in time for the Coronation of King Henry V in April 1413. While history had largely carried on unaffected, there were a few ripples by the time he returned. The most notable ones were:
- While Humphrey’s daughter Mary duly married Henry Bolingbroke, she did not die in childbirth 1394, but instead bore him two additional children, a boy and a girl (Edmund and Margaret); lived to be Crowned Queen of England; and in the end survived him.
- Bolingbroke was exiled by Richard II, but he took his wife and family. Margaret was born in France. He returned to England after the death of John of Gaunt and the seizure of his lands, but instead of Richard being arrested and deposed, on Agincourt the cousins met in battle at Conwy Castle, where Richard was killed.
- The wars with the Welsh and the Percy family, shortly after Henry IV was Crowned lasted just five years, instead of eight, with Prince Hal, eldest surviving son of Henry and Joan, leading the campaign after the King returned to London.
- Once he was victorious and he returned to Court, Hal insisted that his father involve him more in the day to day running of England. Henry was unwilling but given that his son was now proven, had little choice. However, it was not a successful partnership.
- About eighteen months after the end of the northern and Welsh troubles, in 1406, Hal was banished from the English Court (although not the land of England), due to a serious disagreement with his father over a potential Regency as Henry was unwell. He and Henry did not reconcile until shortly before Henry’s death in 1413.
Children of Henry IV and Mary de Bohun
Edward of Lancaster, April 1382; buried Monmouth Castle, Monmouth
Henry V of England (born Autumn Equinox 1386)
Thomas, Duke of Clarence (b1387)
John, Duke of Bedford (b1389)
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (b1390–1447)
Blanche of England and France (b1392) married in 1402 Louis III, Elector Palatine
Philippa of England and France (b1394) married in 1406 Eric of Pomerania, King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Edmund, Duke of Monmouth (b1398)
Margaret of England and France (b1400 in France)
Ian started his ‘formal’ alternate history project about three months after Henry V’s coronation. However, he had made contact with Henry around the time of the Coronation, and therefore places at court had been prepared for Ian and his group. The first two years of his reign followed the Earth Prime norm reasonably closely.
After being insulted by the Dauphin of France, the French campaign was planned as per history, although with some magical involvement from his new advisers, which also helped to uncover the Southampton Plot. Without his magical advisers, Agincourt might have gone very differently, as three representatives of the Order of the Flame, a Vatican sorcerous order, fought with the French. However, Henry’s new advisers – including Ian, Earl of Kenilworth and Viscomte de Rouen – magically defended the young King, as well as the baggage train. Therefore, the baggage train wasn’t massacred, and neither were the French prisoners.
A number of the noblemen were sent to England as hostages and to be kept for ransom, including Charles Duke of Orleans and his brother John of Bourbon. For those prisoners who did ultimately return to France, their return conditional on them recognising Henry’s claim to the French Throne, and agreeing not to take up arms against him when he returned to press his claim.
Harfleur and Calais were successfully defended throughout 1416 and into 1417, during which time other diplomatic negotiations were in hand such that when King Henry returned to France in 1417, he had more men and better alliances on the Continent. English forces reached Rouen in June 1418, and Paris by the end of the 1418 campaign season.
The Treaty of Troyes was therefore concluded a year earlier than normal on the Earth Line, in Spring 1419. Henry became heir to King Charles VI and married his daughter Catherine on Midsummer’s Day, June 1419. As part of the marriage settlement, Charles restored to Henry portions of the old Duchies of Bretagne, Poitou and Aquitaine, giving England unbroken control of France’s Atlantic seaboard, on condition that Henry do homage to him for those lands for the duration of Charles’s lifetime, which he agreed to do, but as Heir to the French Throne.
The next few years were spent imposing the new order, with Henry working to rebuild the old Plantagenet Empire to its extent under his ancestor and namesake Henry II. After all, being granted the coastal lands wasn’t the same as controlling them. This involved frequent battles with the disinherited Dauphin Charles (who was found to be conveniently illegitimate), who was understandably less than happy about the arrangement between his father and Henry, and his supporters.
Henry survived a bout of dysentery in August 1422 during the Seige of Meaux, a pro-Dauphin stronghold, and went on to take that town a fortnight later.
When Charles IV died, seven years to the day after Agincourt, Henry was in Paris and was therefore in a position to formally claim the French Throne. He and his immediate advisers made straight for Rheims, ancestral seat of the Kings of France, where the Archbishop of Rheims agreed to crown him. His French Coronation was held on 1 November 1422.
The other potential claimant, the former Dauphin, tried to disrupt the ceremony, but was removed by King Henry’s advisers, plus a detachment of French Household Knights, which added insult to injury. He fled south to his holdings around Bourges, but by then his supporters were turning against him, and he was forced towards the South-East.
By early-1423, the territory he still held only comprised the south-east between Avignon and Marseilles, and up as far north as Lyon. However, in that region he still had strong support. King Henry sent two of his advisers to negotiate a truce and settlement with Charles. A small magical duel later, Charles agreed to the terms: the formation of the Duchy of Lyon comprising land held by Charles at the time of the truce, on condition that he renounced all claim to the French Throne and came to Paris and did homage for those lands. Given the weakness of his position, Charles had little chance but to agree.
Since the Truce
Henry and Catherine’s first son, Henry Richard, was born on 6 December 1421. There were concerns that the boy might have inherited his maternal grandfather’s mental instability, but Henry’s arcane advisers made sure to ensure that the child is healthy in both mind and spirit. He was followed by a twins, a boy named John and a girl called Joan, June 1423; and another son, Arthur, in February 1426.
The situation in France settle down somewhat after the truce with Charles Duke of Lyon was signed. However, there are still occasional skirmishes fracas. Since becoming King of France, Henry’s priorities has been to secure the boarders of his new territory, and make suitable deals and arrangements with his neighbours.
However, with the improved stability, and trusted advisers who he could charge with the running of the Kingdom, Henry spent much of 1424 on campaign against the Ottoman Empire, first securing Constantinople and Adrianople, and then working back around the Sea of Marmara towards Greece, to relieve Thessaloniki.
King Henry returned from campaign in early-1425, having ridden overland accompanied by a small retinue, and since then has concentrated on domestic affairs in England and France, travelling extensively between the two. He recently celebrated his fortieth birthday, although he is very well preserved for his age.
Ian is also currently undertaking two other Alternative History Projects:
- Dominion: Another variant on Earth Line history, but with the decision point in 1940 when Chamberlain was replaced by the Halifax and the Appeasement Party, rather than Winston Churchill.
- Tenterden: Ian’s home Shadow, and an Alternative History Project in itself.