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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: October ::
The Archbishop Wasn't There? So Forth.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0969  Tuesday, 31 October 2006

From: 		Harvey Roy Greenberg <
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Date: 		Sunday, 29 Oct 2006 20:04:20 EST
Subject: 17.0955 The Archbishop Wasn't There? So Forth.
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0955 The Archbishop Wasn't There? So Forth.

I am concerned that somewhere along the way -- regarding my questions 
about various historical reference in the A of C's oration, Henry 5, Act 
1, Sc 2 -- re Saxon and Frankish history, who the devil was Pharamond, so 
forth -- that I am more concerned with 'actual' history than the reception 
of the oration by Elizabethan audiences, which is my first concern in 
approaching the speech dramaturgically. I believe, at least on the basis 
of what I have been able to winkle out, that audience members both 'high' 
and 'low' -- and I gather that a preponderant number were middle to upper 
class, and often not uneducated -- would have closely followed the 
oration, and, at the very least, would have gotten its gist. I surmise 
that dynastic and succession issues were on viewers' minds, at least in 
terms of the Lopez and Babbington conspiracies -- indeed, I would wonder 
if there were more than a few people who saw Lopez' ghastly death and 
applauded it, would several years down the line be applauding H5. The more 
educated, I would guess, would know about the dynastic struggles of the 
War of the Roses. I also would guess that even an illiterate viewer would 
be used to sundry proclamations, sermonizing, et cetera, would have known 
about Lopez, Babbington by oral transmission etc. At least, the 
'groundlings' would have gotten the gist of Canterbury's speech, and 
indeed may have found the tune of his narration quite pleasing, if not 
quite getting the words, in terms of the sermonizing 'begattings' they 
were used to.  Can't forget about the Armada either and the general sense 
of triumphalism, vindication of the Tudor myth otra vez.

As far as whether or not Canterbury was at Leicester to give the speech, 
I've come to the conclusion -- and much helped by various correspondents 
-- that it don't signify ultimately in terms of performance etc. From all 
evidence -- and again -- I am not a Shakespearean scholar -- Holinshed was 
not deceiving anyone: he thought Canterbury was there, and drew the speech 
itself from sources I know not, but which he assumed were reliable.

The real issue for me, is how to perform the oration before a non 
Elizabethan audience, notably of today, not much caring about, or 
certainly informed about hoary dynastic issues, the Law Salique, so forth.

Thanks for the responses; they've been quite helpful.

Harvey Roy Greenberg

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