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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Re: Shakespeare and Chivalry
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0896  Friday, 25 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Bob Lockhart <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Sep 1998 11:24:39 +0000
        Subj:   Chivalry and Henry V's Orders to Kill His Prisoners

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 Sep 1998 10:57:57 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0891  Re: Shakespeare and Chivalry


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Lockhart <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Sep 1998 11:24:39 +0000
Subject:        Chivalry and Henry V's Orders to Kill His Prisoners

Historically, the slaughter of the French prisoners was ordered by Henry
V as a tactical necessity.  While engaged in battle, goes the
justification, a relatively small number of roaming French soldiers
might free the prisoners and instantly position a formidable force
behind the English fighting positions.  However, the record also shows
that, while Henry ordered the slaughter of prisoners belonging to his
troops, he spared his own prisoners:  even in such critical
circumstances, ransom was paramount to every English soldier.

Bob Lockhart

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Sep 1998 10:57:57 -0400
Subject: 9.0891  Re: Shakespeare and Chivalry
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0891  Re: Shakespeare and Chivalry

I haven't had a chance to read the Meron book yet, but off the top of me
head it seems to me that the endorsement of the chivalric tradition is,
like most other Shakespearean positions, equivocal.  The comedies, in
particular, parody and undercut it in various ways, with particular
references to codes of personal honor-consider the contretemps between
Viola and Sir Andrew/Sir Toby; in the histories, the master-apprentice
duel in 2H6 and the famous soliloquy of Falstaff in 1H4, together with
his "conquest" in 2H4, have the same effect.

I've written about the killing of the prisoners and other pragmatic
actions of Henry V as prince and king, with an eye to the available
models in the Old Testament, in "Types of King David in Shakespeare's
Lancastrian Tetralogy," ShStud 18 (1981), 139-061.

Pragmatically,
David Evett
 

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