The King (2019) by Netflix is about king Henry V.

A few aspects of the movie struck me as either unbelievable, or contradicting what little even I know about history.

In no particular order:

  • The king holds the right of life and death over his subjects (sentencing two to death, and killing another without a trial). This is two centuries after Magna Carta.

  • Henry V walks over to the French camp to challenge their leader to single combat (where they could simply take him prisoner)

  • The French commander visits the invading English (where they could take him prisoner)

  • The unimposing size of some knights (including Henry V). For the kind of fighting that's depicted in this movie (MMA in armor, at times), I feel like smaller guys would be at a huge disadvantage.

Are these aspects historically realistic? Is there anything else in the movie that seems wrong?

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    It might be a good idea to split this question into 2 or even 3 separate ones (i.e. 1. your 1st point, 2. your 2nd & 3rd points, 3. your 4th point) as you're covering quite different aspects here. I think that you're likely to get better, more complete, answers that way. – Lars Bosteen Nov 10 '19 at 4:36
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    @LarsBosteen "Is there anything else in the movie that seems wrong?" where would that fit in? – user26470 Nov 11 '19 at 4:52
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    Hmm, not sure as I haven't seen it. I think you might need to leave that bit out as it requires anyone answering to watch the whole thing, and that will really limit the number of people who could provide good answers. – Lars Bosteen Nov 11 '19 at 5:45
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    @MaxB Maybe in the chatroom. I haven't seen the movie either but judging from (2) it seems they may have taken a fair bit of artistic license - AFAIK the historical Henry did issue a challenge for single combat to the Dauphin of France, but by heralds, not in person. – Semaphore Nov 11 '19 at 5:48
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    The movie "The King" is more based on Shakespeare's King Henry V than real life. – ed.hank Mar 2 '20 at 23:50

The fact the king holds the right of life and death is hard to challenge, even after Magna Carta. Kings were supposedly judges, conducts of divine will, Destiny manifested etc etc all in a marvelous package. Thus, the King could sentence people to death, if for good reasons. John the first was notorious for beeing, well, an annoying king, that often abused his position, hence the Magna Carta. For others kings, if they were "good" enough, they wouldn't be as challenged.

At that time in history, pitched battles were the norm, not skirmish. Killing a visiting commander wouldn't be honorable, nor accepted by many. If you consider the war history, the French king was, at one point, held hostage by the English. This king was at one point freed, but before the ransom was paid. He went back to the English to stay until the ransom was paid. So, there's that. The same can be said for challenges, refusing a challenge was dishonorable.

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    This answer feels very incomplete without either a reference to the overall legal structure of England at the time, or of a reference to the apparent need for all Bills of Attainder to be passed by Parliament since about 1321, long before Henry V ascended the throne. – Pieter Geerkens Feb 4 '20 at 1:14
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    @PieterGeerkens I've not seen the movie, thus I couldn't assets how his right to english lives was presented. Nonetheless, it's not known if Henri V did use this bill to kill anyone. My answer is made this way for I do not have enough references on my own, I'd rather edit my answer with all the sources in comments in order to make it better – LamaDelRay Feb 4 '20 at 10:28
  • would benefit from sources / links to the anecdotes mentioned. Also, typos: "be held", "but before"? – user26470 Feb 7 '20 at 23:20