It is the early 1400s. Henry IV has died, and
his son--the young King Henry V--has just taken over the throne. The situation is tense. Several
bitter civil wars have left the people of England restless and dissatisfied.
Furthermore, in order to gain the respect of the English people and the court,
Henry must live down his wild adolescent past.
Because Henry has distant roots in the French royal family, and because the interpretation of ancient land laws varies from country to country, Henry lays claim to certain parts of France. When the young Prince, or Dauphin of France sends Henry an insulting message in response to these claims, Henry decides to invade France. Supported by the English noblemen as well as the clergy, Henry gathers his troops for war.
Henry's decision trickles down to affect the "little people" he rules. On the seedy side of London, some of the king's old friends -- whom he rejected when he rose to the throne -- prepare to leave their homes and families. Bardolph, Pistol, and Nym are common lowlifes and part-time criminals, on the opposite end of society from their royal former companion. As they get ready, they remark on the death of Falstaff, an elderly roustabout who was once King Henry's closest friend.
Just before his fleet sets sail, King Henry learns of a conspiracy against his life and executes three agents for the French, including a former friend, Scroop. The English sail for France, where they fight their way across the country, continuing to win against incredible odds. Among the officers in King Henry's army are men from all parts of Britain, such as Fluellen a Welsh captain. As the English advance, Nym and Bardolph are caught looting and are hanged at the stern King's command.
The final showdown of the war comes at the famous Battle of Agincourt, at which the English are outnumbered by the French five to one. The night before the battle, King Henry disguises himself as a common soldier and talks to many of the soldiers in his camp, learning who they are and what they think of the great battle they have been swept up in. In the morning, he prays to God and gives a powerful, inspiring speech to his soldiers. Miraculously, the English win the battle, and the proud French must surrender at last. Some time later, peace negotiations are finally worked out: Henry will marry Katharine, the daughter of the French King and the two kingdoms will be united.