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Home :: Archive :: 2011 :: July ::
More on Archbishop's Oration, Act 1, Sc 2, H 5


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0153  Wednesday, 13 July 2011

From:         HR Greenberg < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         July 12, 2011 11:36:27 PM EDT
Subject:      More on Archbishop's Oration, Act 1, Sc 2, H 5

Since I have not corresponded with SHAKSPER for a while, a bit about bona fides. I am a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst/film scholar, no Shakespearean credentials but have written a bit here and there. (See if interested a review of the MERCHANT OF VENICE film at the InternationalPsychoanalysis website, and a piece on Hamlet's Pirates, online at the PSYART website -- Journal for the Study of Psychology and the Arts).
 
At any rate, I have been involved for the last 5 years or so in an attempt to parse and present the Archbishop of Canterbury's long, long oration justifying Henry's right to the French throne, in Act I, Sc 2 H5.

I am interested in the actual historical background for the speech, and have found through several sources that the Archbishop -- Henry Chichele or Chicheley -- was in fact not present at Henry's High Parliament in Leicester when Chichele supposedly gave the speech. According to some sources, Chicheley was not present, there was no hanky-panky by the Church in aid of urging a French war upon Henry, and that the entire tale of the supposed speech was invented to support the Tudor founding myth sometime around 1540 -- can't remember the actual person who wrote about this, or rewrote about this, in a book about the Tudors at that time.
 
Is this fabrication in fact true? Who was the alleged fabricator? It's said that Shakespeare derived the speech from the Hall and Holinshed chronicles, which I gather were written after 1540. Can anyone tell me what the 'historical' or 'pseudohistorical' grounds for the Chronicles' account of the never-actually-given speech? Who provided Holinshed and Hall's sources? Can we know or not know that the Holinshed et al. knew they were spreading a lie, if indeed it was a lie, regarding the speech's not ever having been actually spoken -- if indeed this was the case? Can anyone say or guess whether Shakespeare knew that what he was writing was in fact a fabricated speech in aid of furbishing the Tudor myth -- it would seem that he took the prose oration from the Chronicles and pretty much rendered it whole into choice verse.
 
My overall argument about the speech in fact has nothing to do with the 'true' history, but is solely based on what Shakespeare has written for Chichele, and how this huge arcane oration can be rendered comprehensible and interesting to a modern audience. But I would like to set forth the truth or falsehood behind the speech, whether indeed there had ever been a bill introduced some years before but set aside because of the 'scambling times' et cetera.
 
Any help would be greatly appreciated. HR Greenberg MD

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