Henry Bollingbroke was born in 1367, to Blanche Plantagenet and John of Gaunt, who was the third son of Edward III.
Under the reign of King Richard II, Henry was one of the five Lords Appellant, a council set up to rule over the king. Henry ended up being banished to France and disinherited at the hands of Richard. As you can imagine, Henry was incredibly angry and returned to England under the guise of redeeming his inheritance. Instead, he imprisoned Richard and seized the throne, becoming King Henry IV.
Was King Henry IV the Heir to the Throne?
The problem was, Henry wasn't really the rightful heir. He spent his reign putting down rebellions and rivals that popped up everywhere, disputing his right to the throne.
King Richard II had no children and his father's line had come to an end. The actual heir to the throne was Edmund, the great-grandson of King Edward's second son – Henry's father, John of Gaunt, was the third son.
King Henry IV's Ill-Fated Reign
Though not the shortest in history, Henry's reign wasn't particularly long. It's fair to say, it was cursed from the start. In fact, it's said that evil omens marred his coronation ceremony when one of his spurs fell off – a sign of rebellion to come.
Throughout his reign, Henry was clinging to power, narrowly avoiding being overthrown. Rebellions were certainly a common occurrence. Anyone who was vocal in their doubt over his right to the crown was brutally murdered. The king dished out countless executions just to keep himself in power. The more worried he got, the more oppressive his rule became – and worry he did, so much so that it made him ill.
Despite all this, King Henry IV was a very capable king. He had an agreeable personality and was brave in battle.
The Big Rebellions
Naturally, Henry became well-practised at shutting down rebels. But there were a few that proved to be a big challenge for the king.
The first was the revolt of the Welsh leader, Owain Glendower. In 1400, Glendower snatched Conway Castle and declared himself the Prince of Wales. In 1403, he joined forces with Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and his son, who was known as Harry Hotspur.
Though the Percys were once King Henry IV's supporters, they now stood against him. The uprising was ended the same year it started, when the king's army defeated them. Harry Hotspur was killed and his father fled and was later killed at the 1408 battle of Bramham Moor.
King Henry hadn't seen the end of the Welsh rebellion, however. Owain Glendower managed to form an alliance with France and rebelled once more. Henry IV's son, also called Henry, the Prince of Wales, fought and defeated them, sending Glendower into hiding. Strangely, there are no records of him after 1412 – his life after this point remains a mystery.
The Fall of King Henry IV
Henry's troubled conscience and lack of money wore him down. From 1405 onwards, his health deteriorated. He contracted a skin disease and is said to have itched until he died.
The Prince of Wales, who'd grown up fighting on his father's behalf, took over the running of Government. King Henry was all too aware his son was waiting for him to die, just waiting to get his hands on the crown. In fact, Parliament even suggested he abdicate in his son's favour, but he refused.
Henry's end came in 1413 at the age of 45. He'd been told by a fortune teller that he'd die in Jerusalem; he hoped it would be in a crusade, one that would redeem his soul. He had no such luck. Instead, he collapsed whilst praying at Westminster Abbey and was taken to the Jerusalem Chamber and it was there that he died.
It was, of course, the 26 year old Henry, Prince of Wales, who became the next monarch: King Henry V.