The first of three monarchs from the house of Lancaster, Henry usurped the crown and successfully consolidated his power despite repeated uprisings.
Henry was born in Lancashire in April 1367. His parents were cousins, his father John of Gaunt, third surviving son of Edward III, his mother descended from Henry III. In 1377 Henry's cousin, Richard II became king. In 1386, Henry joined a group of opposition leaders - the lords appellants - who outlawed Richard's closest associates and forced the king to accept their counsel. In 1398, Richard took revenge, banishing Henry after he quarrelled with another member of the court. The following year, John of Gaunt died. Richard seized the family estates, depriving Henry of his inheritance and prompting him to invade England. He met little opposition, as many were horrified by the king's actions. Richard surrendered in August and Henry was crowned in October 1399, claiming that Richard had abdicated of his own free will.
Henry's first task was to consolidate his position. Most rebellions were quashed easily, but the revolt of the Welsh squire Owen Glendower in 1400 was more serious. In 1403, Glendower allied himself with Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and his son Henry, called Hotspur. Hotspur's brief uprising, Henry's most serious challenge, ended when he was killed in battle with the king's forces near Shrewsbury in July 1403.
Northumberland's subsequent rebellion in 1408 was quickly suppressed and was the last armed challenge to Henry's authority. However, he also had to fight off Scottish border raids and conflict with the French. To finance these activities, Henry was forced to rely on parliamentary grants. From 1401 to 1406 parliament repeatedly accused him of fiscal mismanagement and gradually acquired new powers over royal expenditures and appointments.
As Henry's health deteriorated, a power struggle developed between his favourite, Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, and a faction headed by Henry's half brothers and his son, Prince Henry. From 1408 to 1411 the government was dominated first by Archbishop Arundel and then Prince Henry. Argument raged over the best strategy to adopt in France, where civil war had erupted. Prince Henry wanted to resume war in France, but the king favoured peace. Uneasy relations between the prince and his father persisted until Henry IV's death in London on 20 March 1413.