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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: October ::
Re: St. Crispin's Day
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2158  Wednesday, 30 October 2002

[1]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 10:36:05 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2145 Re: St. Crispin's Day

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 09:46:09 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2145 Re: St. Crispin's Day

[3]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 11:12:58 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2136 Re: St. Crispin's Day

[4]     From:   Al Magary <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 13:41:01 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2145 Re: St. Crispin's Day


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 10:36:05 EST
Subject: 13.2145 Re: St. Crispin's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2145 Re: St. Crispin's Day

Just on a related note: Henry Sixth Part One is of course full of
Saints: (due we must suppose to the abounding influence of the late to
become St.Joan ...)

St. Martin (obscurely linked with Halcyon Days)
St. Philip (Acts XXI)
St. Denis (French Nat. St.)
St. George (our hero Talbot's St.)

Best,
Marcus

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 09:46:09 -0600
Subject: 13.2145 Re: St. Crispin's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2145 Re: St. Crispin's Day

Robert D. Swets refers to "Noo Yawk accent," but our non-American
colleagues should be advised that the correct pronunciation is Nuh Yuck.
Noo Yawk is how it would be said in, say, Alabama. N'yuckers themselves,
however, usually refer to specific areas, such as Bwooklun, da Bwonx,
Juisey, Lawn Guyland, and so forth.

Cheers,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 11:12:58 -0800
Subject: 13.2136 Re: St. Crispin's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2136 Re: St. Crispin's Day

Alison Anne Chapman addresses the St. Crispin's issue in great depth in
Chapter 3, "Whose St. Crispin's Day Is It?", in her 1996 dissertation,
Reforming Time: Calendars and Almanacs in Early Modern England (U.
Penn.). A (very brief) summary of some of her points:

o Shoemakers and cobblers had some claim to higher social status than
other guilds, and pretensions to greater, including greater ability to
rise to gentility. It was called "the gentle craft."

o The guild also staked a claim to some control over holidays, including
the ability to declare and coopt holidays and some shuffling of saint's
names and dates.

o Shoemakers and the shoemaker's holidays were hence closely associated
with the mixing and reversal of social classes associated with holiday
revels.

o Shoemaker's ability to mend "souls" may also have contributed to their
holiday-making status

o This is all depicted in many writings of the time that treat
shoemakers, cobblers, and the brothers Crispin/Crispianus (the titles
themselves speak volumes): Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday (1599), Match
Mee in London (1631), and If This be not a Good Play, the Divell is in
It (1612), Robert Greene's Quip for an Upstart Courtier (1592), Henry V,
Julius Caesar, Tragedie of Locrine (1595, anonymous), George a Greene,
Pinnar of Wakefield (1599, anonymous), The Cobler Turned Courtier (1680,
anonymous chapbook), Deloney's The Gentle Craft (1597), Rowley's A
Shoemaker, A Gentleman (1609), Ward's Simple Cobler of Aggawam (1647),
and A Knack to Know a Knave (1594, anonymous). Chapman cites several
others.

o By invoking St. Crispin's (repeatedly!) in the place that St. George
occupied earlier in the play and in other accounts of Agincourt, Henry
coopts the holiday-making power for his own, and for the crown. In
Chapman's words:

"Just as Henry forestalls the traitors' challenge to his life and
kingship, on the eve of battle he preempts another threat to his
sovereignity, one that is posed by plebeian shoemakers and that
challenges his control over the calendar and the nation's memory. ...by
linking St. Crispin's Day to a rhetoric of obedience, martial
solidarity, and loyalty to the king, the play neutralizes the tendency
of shoemakers to make subversive holdiays that celebrate their own
material advancement. Henry fastions a shoemaker's holiday that
celebrates monarchical instead of artisinal power, and he insures that
this holiday will celebrate his own apotheosis as England's saint-king
rather than the transformation of shoemakers into gentlemen. ... [he]
rechannels the unruly, upward-thrusting energies of shoemakers into
royal service, figuring the king's war as the shoemaker's primary work
and martial valor as the only lawful means of social and economic
advancement."

N.B.: Chapman acknowledges her debt to Jonathan Baldo's article, "Wars
of Memory in Henry V" [SQ 47, Summer 1996]. I have not read this
article. Chapman says: "Jonathan Baldo has shown how the play repeatedly
manipulates national memory in order to build a sense of nationhood that
serves monarchial interests, and he points to the St. Crispin's Day
speech's appropriation of the ritual calendar as an instance of such
elite configurations of memory."

For those interested in the power of the calendar in early modern
England, I enthusiastically recommend David Cressy's Bonfires and Bells:
national memory and the Protestant calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart
England (London : Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1989). Some of the best
history writing I've come across in a while, enjoyably written and
largely untainted with ideological cant.

Thanks,
Steve
http://princehamlet.com

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Oct 2002 13:41:01 -0800
Subject: 13.2145 Re: St. Crispin's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2145 Re: St. Crispin's Day

Many thanks to those who offered views on why Shakespeare has Henry V
make six references to St. Crispin.  I'm especially persuaded by the
story that Crispin and Crispinian were in Faversham, on the London-Dover
road, and that Deloney and Rowley helped make the shoemaker brothers
local/London favorites among the saints.

BTW standard histories sometimes mention that Agincourt was fought on
that feast day but neither the English nor French planned ahead to
engage that day.  Shakespeare's luck.

Al Magary

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