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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: November ::
Henry V
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1977  Thursday, 18 November 2004


[1]     From:   Sarah Cohen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004 19:19:48 -0800
        Subj:   Henry V: Montjoy, the Constable, and doubles

[2]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Nov 2004 13:18:53 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1970 Henry V

[3]     From:   Al Magary <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Nov 2004 02:19:38 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1970 Henry V


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sarah Cohen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004 19:19:48 -0800
Subject:        Henry V: Montjoy, the Constable, and doubles

I have to agree that Montjoy's second demand for ransom is for form's
sake only. Surely he does not expect Henry to agree to any such thing in
front of his army, especially since he has publicly refused already in
the grandest terms. Rather, it gives Montjoy the excuse to gain fresh
intelligence (including - why not? - how the English king is dressed).
It also allows him to perform one last bit of psychological warfare on
the English troops:

The Constable desires thee thou wilt mind
Thy followers of repentance, that their souls
May make a peaceful and a sweet retire

 >From off these fields where, wretches, their poor bodies

Must lie and fester.

I am not persuaded, though, that Henry's line "It earns me not if men my
garments wear" during the Saint Crispin's Day speech means that some of
the men listening are actually wearing his garments. The line is part of
a larger point Henry makes about being covetous of honor, not "outward
things". I'm sure it's possible that Henry V has doppelganger kings
wandering around the battlefield - after all, the trick worked quite
swimmingly for his father in Act V of Henry IV, Part 1 - but is there
any other evidence of this in the text? What about at the historical
Agincourt?

As for the Dauphin's line to the constable about his stars falling
tomorrow as a reference to the constable's doubles falling in battle, I
am also unconvinced. The line comes in a dialogue between the Dauphin
and the constable where each is constantly baiting the other, and I read
in it the Dauphin's annoyance at the constable's insufferable pride, and
his hope that tomorrow's battle will humble him. If the stars refer to
doubles, why would the Dauphin say "Some of them will fall tomorrow, *I
hope*"? It seems odd that anyone (even one of Shakespeare's perfidious
Frenchmen) would openly wish for his fellow soldiers' deaths in battle.

On a prosaic note, were I staging the play, I would not order extra king
and constable costumes. In particular, I would not choose to dress any
English soldiers like the king. The idea is that Henry wins at Agincourt
by the grace of God (plus one well-timed but straightforward war crime),
not by trickery.

At the same time, I would advise the actor playing Montjoy to be on
constant alert for any tricks the English might throw at him.

Cheers,
Sarah Cohen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Nov 2004 13:18:53 -0000
Subject: 15.1970 Henry V
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1970 Henry V

Some info from the Civil War period goes a way to confirming HRG's point:

At Naseby, Prince Rupert had his 'scoutmaster' Ruce go to find out where
Cromwell/ Fairfax's men lay. Royalist 'intelligence' was, apparently,
notoriously bad owing to many scouts 'scamping' their jobs. On the
morning of the battle of Naseby, Rupert himself rode off with his life
guard to reconnoitre the area surrounding his army encampment. Even
within sight of the enemy its movements were still puzzling to him and
it seems that Fairfax/ Cromwell's army had outmanouevred Rupert even
before the battle began.

All the best,

Marcus

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Nov 2004 02:19:38 -0800
Subject: 15.1970 Henry V
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1970 Henry V

 >With all respect, it was never the task of a herald to engage in
 >espionage. The notion is interesting, but not consistent with chivalric
 >practice at that time, however barbaric wars were then, and now.

If Shakespeare browsed the Hall's Chronicle narration of the battle of
Flodden, 1513, he would have found (growing?) distrust of heralds' going
to and fro before battles.  Here, Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey,
commanding the English, is sending the herald called Rouge Cross to
James IV, King of Scots:

"Yet before the departynge of Rouge Crosse wyth thesayd instruccions and
credence, it was thoughte by the Earle and hys counsayll, that thesayde
kynge woulde fayne and Imagen some other message, too send an Heraulde
of hys wyth thesame, onely to View, and ouer se the maner and order of
the Kynges royall armye, ordinaunce, and artillerie, then beynge wyth
the Earle, wherby myghte haue ensued greate daungier to thesame, and for
exchuynge thereof, he hadde in commaundemente, that yf any such message
were sente, not to bryng any person, commynge therewith, within three or
two myle of the felde at the nyghest, where thesayde Earle woulde come,
and heare what he would saye:  And thus departed Rouge Crosse wyth hys
trumpet apparayled in his Cote of armes."  (Hall's Chronicle, 1550 ed.,
Henry VIII chapter, fol. 39v; Ellis ed., 1809, p. 560)

This caused some extra negotiation and trips, and toward the end James
kept Rouge Cross and Surrey kept the Scottish herald while the armies
made extra maneuvers on hill and in dale.  In fact, the distrust also
extended to the arrangements for the battle, with Surrey, anxious to
engage, put up a bond of ten thousand pounds that he would be at the
battle and challenged James also to honor the appointment, as a matter
of Scottish honor:

"And farthermore the Earle bad the Heraulde for to saye to his maister,
that yf he for his parte kept not hys appoyntmente, then he was content,
that the Scottes shoulde Baffull hym, which is a great reproche amonge
the Scottes, and is vsed when a man is openly periured, and then they
make of hym an Image paynted reuersed, with hys heles vpwarde, with hys
name, wonderynge, cryenge and blowinge out of hym with hornes, in the
moost dispitefull maner they can.  In token that he is worthy to be
exiled the compaignie of all good Creatures."  (fol. 40r)

Alas, King James and the flower of the Scottish nobility were slain that
day, including many gentlemen unnamed for "no officer of armes of
Scotlande woulde come to make serche for them." Counting the dead of the
battle was the last task of heralds.

Cheers,
Al Magary

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