Henry abandoned his early recklessness (celebrated and probably exaggerated by Shakespeare) and ruled with justice and industry. He lifted England from the near anarchy of his father's reign to civil order and a high spirit of nationalism. His main interest, however, was in gaining control of lands in France—lands that he sincerely believed to be his right. He exhibited military genius, characterized by brilliant daring, patient strategy and diplomacy, and attentiveness to detail. His strong personality, his military successes, and his care for his less fortunate subjects made him a great popular hero. The wars, however, placed the crown further in debt and left the nation with economic and military problems that could not be met in the reign of his son, Henry VI.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.