Posts Tagged ‘Henry V’

Quiz: What play is this from? Use Comments to answer. I’ll give the answer next post.


Why how now? do you speak in the sick tune?


I am out of all other tune, methinks.

I have been in a sick tune this week. Ok. A timeline for Henry V for reference from http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/timeline-of-king-henry-v.htm

Timeline of Key Dates

Timeline of King Henry V
Key events

1413 – 1422

King Henry V reigned as King of England from March 21, 1413 – August 31, 1422


Henry was born on September 16, 1387 in Monmouth, Wales, he was known as Prince Hal. Henry was the son of King Henry IV (1367-1413) and Mary de Bohun (c. 1369-1394) 


King Henry IV quashed the Welsh rebellion led by Owain Glyndwr who had declared himself Prince of Wales with the help of Prince Hal


The Battle of Shrewsbury was fought on July 21, 1403: The Battle of Shrewsbury  where King Henry quashed the rebellion of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland ( Harry Hotspur) once again with the help of Prince Hal


King Henry IV suffered from an unnamed illness – some believe leprosy, and suffered recurring illnesses up to his death


The health of King Henry IV was so bad that his son, Prince Hal, took over many of his kingly duties


March 20, 1413: King Henry IV died  in Westminster. He was buried at Canterbury Cathedral


March 21, 1413: Prince Hal succeeded his father to the throne of England as King Henry V


9 April 1413: The coronation of King Henry V


Southampton Plot: Henry quashed the Southampton plot which was in favour of Mortimer


The Siege of Harfleur: Henry invaded France and gained a victory at the Siege of Harfleur.  The town surrendered on 22 September


25 October 1415 the Battle of Agincourt: One of the greatest victories in the Hundred Years War against France, famous for the English use of the Longbow


Treaty of Troyes: Henry was recognised by the French in the Treaty of Troyes as heir to the French throne. This was cemented by his marriage to Catherine of Valois, the daughter of King Charles VI.


June 2, 1420: Henry married Catherine of Valois (27 October 1401 – 3 January 1437), the daughter of King Charles VI, thus cementing the Treaty of Troyes


6 December 1421: The only child of Catherine and Henry was born was referred to as Henry of Windsor ( who later became King Henry VI)


August 31, 1422: King Henry V died of dysentery at Bois de Vincennes. He was buried in Westminster Abbey


King Henry V was succeeded by his son who became King Henry VI


Catherine of Valois secretly married a Welsh courtier called Owen Tudor after the death of King Henry V – they became the grand parents of King Henry VII of England.

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Just like I did after Julius Caesar I will take a few weeks posting some interesting things I have found relating to Henry V, before moving on to AS YOU LIKE IT

Where better to start than back at the Prologue.

Here is a video of Thomas Allen delivering the “muse of fire” Speech with the backing of William Walton‘s music for Henry V, conducted by Richard Hickox.

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In France still but some time has jumped since the last scene. The two Kings face each other to negotiate.  The two councils go and debate the terms and conditions of the French surrender and leave Henry alone with Katherine with Alice as her interpreter. Henry woos her modestly

 Henry V

If thou canst love a
fellow of this temper, Kate, whose face is not worth
sun-burning, that never looks in his glass for love
of any thing he sees there, let thine eye be thy

 You wouldn’t think of looking in the History plays for exquisite love poetry but here it is.

 Henry V

. for these fellows of infinite tongue, that
can rhyme themselves into ladies’ favours, they do
always reason themselves out again. What! a
speaker is but a prater; a rhyme is but a ballad. A
good leg will fall; a straight back will stoop; a
black beard will turn white; a curled pate will grow
bald; a fair face will wither; a full eye will wax
hollow: but a good heart, Kate, is the sun and the
moon; or, rather, the sun, and not the moon; for it
shines bright and never changes, but keeps his
course truly.

 There is a lack of understanding of the different languages but Henry woos her and she is “content”   Henry speaks of her giving him a son as part of the condition and hopes that he will be a valiant soldier like himself. We shall see.

The Councils return and Henry has everything he has asked for, including being next in line to the throne. But he will die before that becomes reality, and what of his offspring, the mighty soldier? Let the Chorus have the final word on that.


Thus far, with rough and all-unable pen,
Our bending author hath pursued the story,
In little room confining mighty men,
Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.
Small time, but in that small most greatly lived
This star of England: Fortune made his sword;
By which the world’s best garden be achieved,
And of it left his son imperial lord.
Henry the Sixth, in infant bands crown’d King
Of France and England, did this king succeed;
Whose state so many had the managing,
That they lost France and made his England bleed:
Which oft our stage hath shown; and, for their sake,
In your fair minds let this acceptance take.


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Henry V – ACT FIVE – Prologue & Scene 1

The Chorus fills in the blanks for us. He brings us back to England for the triumphant return of King Henry. Then back to France again for the final scenes


Vouchsafe to those that have not read the story,
That I may prompt them: and of such as have,
I humbly pray them to admit the excuse
Of time, of numbers and due course of things,
Which cannot in their huge and proper life
Be here presented. Now we bear the king
Toward Calais: grant him there; there seen,
Heave him away upon your winged thoughts
Athwart the sea. Behold, the English beach
Pales in the flood with men, with wives and boys,
Whose shouts and claps out-voice the deep mouth’d sea,
Which like a mighty whiffler ‘fore the king
Seems to prepare his way: so let him land,
And solemnly see him set on to London.
So swift a pace hath thought that even now
You may imagine him upon Blackheath;
Where that his lords desire him to have borne
His bruised helmet and his bended sword
Before him through the city: he forbids it,
Being free from vainness and self-glorious pride;
Giving full trophy, signal and ostent
Quite from himself to God. But now behold,
In the quick forge and working-house of thought,
How London doth pour out her citizens!
The mayor and all his brethren in best sort,
Like to the senators of the antique Rome,
With the plebeians swarming at their heels,
Go forth and fetch their conquering Caesar in:
As, by a lower but loving likelihood,
Were now the general of our gracious empress,
As in good time he may, from Ireland coming,
Bringing rebellion broached on his sword,
How many would the peaceful city quit,
To welcome him! much more, and much more cause,
Did they this Harry. Now in London place him;
As yet the lamentation of the French
Invites the King of England’s stay at home;
The emperor’s coming in behalf of France,
To order peace between them; and omit
All the occurrences, whatever chanced,
Till Harry’s back-return again to France:
There must we bring him; and myself have play’d
The interim, by remembering you ’tis past.
Then brook abridgment, and your eyes advance,
After your thoughts, straight back again to France.


We are in back in France. Fluellen and Pistol meet and argue. Fluellen forces Pistol to eat a leek that he keeps in his cap.


if you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek.

Pistol is humiliated by Fluellen and Gower. Left alone he gives this warning


Doth Fortune play the huswife with me now?
News have I, that my Nell is dead i’ the spital
Of malady of France;
And there my rendezvous is quite cut off.
Old I do wax; and from my weary limbs
Honour is cudgelled. Well, bawd I’ll turn,
And something lean to cutpurse of quick hand.
To England will I steal, and there I’ll steal:
And patches will I get unto these cudgell’d scars,
And swear I got them in the Gallia wars

The end of a wonderful, if minor, character through the Henry IV plays and Merry wives of Windsor. I wonder what happens to him after this play has finished?

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Henry V – Act Four – Scene Seven and Eight

As the battle draws to a close the English find a terrible site in their camp


Kill the poys and the luggage! ’tis expressly
against the law of arms: ’tis as arrant a piece of
knavery, mark you now, as can be offer’t; in your
conscience, now, is it not?


‘Tis certain there’s not a boy left alive; and the
cowardly rascals that ran from the battle ha’ done
this slaughter:

Henry is furious at this slaughter of the boys.


I was not angry since I came to France
Until this instant. Take a trumpet, herald;
Ride thou unto the horsemen on yon hill:
If they will fight with us, bid them come down,
Or void the field; they do offend our sight:
If they’ll do neither, we will come to them,
And make them skirr away, as swift as stones
Enforced from the old Assyrian slings:
Besides, we’ll cut the throats of those we have,
And not a man of them that we shall take
Shall taste our mercy. Go and tell them so.

The French Herald returns in less confident mood


I tell thee truly, herald,
I know not if the day be ours or no;
For yet a many of your horsemen peer
And gallop o’er the field.


The day is yours.


Praised be God, and not our strength, for it!
What is this castle call’d that stands hard by?


They call it Agincourt.


Then call we this the field of Agincourt,
Fought on the day of Crispin Crispianus.

The King sees the soldiers who challenged him the night before. He gives Fluellen the glove, claiming it’s a Frenchman’s and bids him to wear so if any man challenge him then he is a traitor. He then tells Warwick and Gloucester to watch them and make sure no harm comes to either from his prank.


Fluellen and Williams meet and argue until Henry and other lords turn up and the jest is revealed, much to the embarrassment of Williams.

Then comes the sober news of the Battle.


This note doth tell me of ten thousand French
That in the field lie slain: of princes, in this number,
And nobles bearing banners, there lie dead
One hundred twenty six: added to these,
Of knights, esquires, and gallant gentlemen,
Eight thousand and four hundred; of the which,
Five hundred were but yesterday dubb’d knights:
So that, in these ten thousand they have lost,
There are but sixteen hundred mercenaries;
The rest are princes, barons, lords, knights, squires,
And gentlemen of blood and quality.

Here was a royal fellowship of death!
Where is the number of our English dead?

When told the number of the English casualties he can hardly believe it

Edward the Duke of York, the Earl of Suffolk,
Sir Richard Ketly, Davy Gam, esquire:
None else of name; and of all other men
But five and twenty.

Henry gives praise to God.


O God, thy arm was here;
And not to us, but to thy arm alone,
Ascribe we all! When, without stratagem,
But in plain shock and even play of battle,
Was ever known so great and little loss
On one part and on the other? Take it, God,
For it is none but thine!

Do we all holy rites;
Let there be sung ‘Non nobis’ and ‘Te Deum;’
The dead with charity enclosed in clay:
And then to Calais; and to England then:
Where ne’er from France arrived more happy men.

The battle of Agincourt is over and the English are victorious

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Henry V – Act Four, Scenes 4, 5 & 6





The Battle of Agincourt commences

Chorus – Act Four Prologue

   And so our scene must to the battle fly;
Where–O for pity!–we shall much disgrace
With four or five most vile and ragged foils,
Right ill-disposed in brawl ridiculous,
The name of Agincourt.

Pistol challenges a French soldier. He bids the Boy to translate for him as he speaks no French


Say’st thou me so? is that a ton of moys?
Come hither, boy: ask me this slave in French
What is his name.


Ecoutez: comment etes-vous appele?

French Soldier

Monsieur le Fer.


He says his name is Master Fer.


Master Fer! I’ll fer him, and firk him, and ferret
him: discuss the same in French unto him.


I do not know the French for fer, and ferret, and firk

Pistol accepts money to save the French soldiers life. The Boy alone lamants the company he keeps.


I did never know so full a voice issue from so
empty a heart: but the saying is true ‘The empty
vessel makes the greatest sound.’ Bardolph and Nym
had ten times more valour than this roaring devil i’
the old play, that every one may pare his nails with
a wooden dagger; and they are both hanged; and so
would this be, if he durst steal any thing
adventurously. I must stay with the lackeys, with
the luggage of our camp: the French might have a
good prey of us, if he knew of it; for there is
none to guard it but boys.


The French are defeated on the field and over-run by the smaller English army


The devil take order now! I’ll to the throng:
Let life be short; else shame will be too long


In the English camp the troops regroup where Exeter has sad news for Henry


The Duke of York commends him to your majesty.


Lives he, good uncle? thrice within this hour
I saw him down; thrice up again and fighting;
From helmet to the spur all blood he was.


In which array, brave soldier, doth he lie,
Larding the plain; and by his bloody side,
Yoke-fellow to his honour-owing wounds,
The noble Earl of Suffolk also lies.
Suffolk first died: and York, all haggled over,
Comes to him, where in gore he lay insteep’d,
And takes him by the beard; kisses the gashes
That bloodily did spawn upon his face;
And cries aloud ‘Tarry, dear cousin Suffolk!
My soul shall thine keep company to heaven;
Tarry, sweet soul, for mine, then fly abreast,
As in this glorious and well-foughten field
We kept together in our chivalry!’
Upon these words I came and cheer’d him up:
He smiled me in the face, raught me his hand,
And, with a feeble gripe, says ‘Dear my lord,
Commend my service to me sovereign.’
So did he turn and over Suffolk’s neck
He threw his wounded arm and kiss’d his lips;
And so espoused to death, with blood he seal’d
A testament of noble-ending love.
The pretty and sweet manner of it forced
Those waters from me which I would have stopp’d;
But I had not so much of man in me,
And all my mother came into mine eyes
And gave me up to tears.


I blame you not;
For, hearing this, I must perforce compound
With mistful eyes, or they will issue too.

 Truly heartbreaking

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Henry V – Act Four Scene Two & Three

Scene Two

In the French camp the over confidence of the French is evident as they face the English


To horse, you gallant princes! straight to horse!
Do but behold yon poor and starved band,
And your fair show shall suck away their souls,
Leaving them but the shales and husks of men.
There is not work enough for all our hands;
Scarce blood enough in all their sickly veins
To give each naked curtle-axe a stain,
That our French gallants shall to-day draw out,
And sheathe for lack of sport: let us but blow on them,
The vapour of our valour will o’erturn them.
‘Tis positive ‘gainst all exceptions, lords,
That our superfluous lackeys and our peasants,
Who in unnecessary action swarm
About our squares of battle, were enow
To purge this field of such a hilding foe,
Though we upon this mountain’s basis by
Took stand for idle speculation:
But that our honours must not. What’s to say?
A very little little let us do.
And all is done. Then let the trumpets sound
The tucket sonance and the note to mount;
For our approach shall so much dare the field
That England shall couch down in fear and yield.


The English, more modestly and fearfully await the battle. Henry gives a stirring speech to his troops


O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!


What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

 Who isn’t stirred by this speech and I’m sure the effect in the theatre is electric. unfortunately I haven’t seen it live yet.

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