The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1546 Friday, 1 August 2003
From: D. Bloom <
Date: Wednesday, 30 Jul 2003 14:27:54 -0500
Subject: 14.1541 Re: NT Henry V
Comment: Re: SHK 14.1541 Re: NT Henry V
Does anyone know enough history to speak authoritatively on reactions to
the killing of the prisoners in H5? That is, it's easy for us to huffy
(and/or) queasy about it (assuming, as we always do, that our reaction
is the only proper one), but when did such reactions begin to appear?
I have the idea -- derived from God knows where -- that the rationale
behind the killing was that prisoners (all nobles) were being held on
their honor (they would make no further effort to fight, the captors
would treat well until ransomed, but when the English baggage train was
attacked, all bets were off. Hal could only assume that an attempt was
being made to rescue the prisoners which would leave him with a powerful
enemy force sitting in his rear capable of annihilating him.
1) Is this an accurate assessment of the rationale?
2) Was it accepted at the time (early 15th century), or was it instead
criticized outside England as unchivalrous?
3) Was it accepted in Shakespeare's time?
and, on another tack,
4) Is it possible for a modern reader / audience member to understand
and accept it?
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