Netflix just released its long-awaited historical drama, The King in theaters (to stream it at home, you'll have to wait until Nov. 1). Inspired by Shakespeare’s plays about Henry IV and Henry V, known as the Henriad, The King predominantly focuses on a fictionalized version of Henry V's (Timothée Chalamet) rise to power as one of the most notable monarchs of the 15th century. We follow Henry V’s trajectory from a young prince who reluctantly becomes king after the death of his father to the war-obsessed ruler who would reign over both England and France, however briefly. What the movie doesn't tell us, is what happened at the end of Henry V's reign. And that's probably because his story isn't a very long one after the events of The King are over.
It's worth noting that though the film chronicles key moments in the lives of real people, it’s a stretch to say that this is a true story, just like Shakespeare’s adaptation. It is more of an interpretation of historical events based loosely on the plays.
While many liberties were taken in both Shakespeare’s interpretation of Henry V’s life – the plays were written nearly two centuries after Henry V’s death, after all – and in the film’s adaptation of those plays, one thing is overwhelmingly true: Much of Henry V’s life centered on his unwavering determination to rule France at any cost. The film is consumed by war and military campaigns and so was Henry V’s short time on earth.
Born in 1387, Henry V’s life is defined by overthrow conspiracies, political turmoil, and war. So basically, everything you would expect of being a monarch at the end of the medieval era. The real Henry V took the throne after the death of his father, Henry IV, in 1413, at the age of 26. By 1415, he had gathered his army and sailed for France with the goal of ruling both countries. The apogee of the film is the Battle of Agincourt, one of the most notable English victories against the French during the Hundred Years’ War.
By 1420, Henry V had gotten France to sign the Treaty of Troyes which ensured that he and his descendents would inherit the throne of France after the death of the French king, Charles VI. One year later, Henry V married Charles VI’s daughter, Catherine (played by Lily-Rose Depp in The King) and soon they had a son, Henry VI. The movie ends just before this part, and that's probably because there isn't much story left to tell after that.
While away in France on yet another campaign to address some of the French territories still loyal to Charles VI, Henry V died in 1422 of battlefield dysentery, an infection of the intestines usually spread through contaminated food or water, at the age of 35. The play Shakespeare would write about his life was written 177 years later in 1599 and includes the famous “band of brothers” speech which is helped immortalize the king in history.