The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0923 Thursday, 19 October 2006
From: Harvey Roy Greenberg <
Date: Wednesday, 18 Oct 2006 07:38:46 EDT
Subject: The Archbishop Wasn't There? So Forth.
Still and seemingly forever trying to finish my essay on the dramaturgy
of the Archbishop of Canterbury's oration at the beginning of Act I,
Sc.2, Henry V:
Several questions: One source claims that the Archbishop never gave the
oration at all. Supposedly, someone named Redmond stated that he was
there and gave the speech, assertion made as part of an essay or some
such, in 1540, possibly to curry Tudor favor. Counter claim is that
Henry Chiechele, A of C in 1414, was NOT at the meeting of the
parliament at Leicester, he did not appear in the roles kept, so could
not have made the speech which Holinshed gives at length. So: Is the
assertion that he did not make the speech a canard? Was it given at all?
By someone else. Where did Holinshed get his sources about the speech --
if known? By the by, according to the 'Archbishop never gave it" source,
not only did the Parliament NOT consider the bill to deed Church
property to the crown, the Parliament enacted laws against the Lollards,
who I believe were heretics and didn't care much for Rome.
On a different tack:
The archbishop says the only counterclaim against Henry's claim to the
French throne is 'produced from Pharamond". As far as I can see,
Pharamond was a quasi-mythic King of the Salian Franks, who if he lived
at all, according to Canterbury defuncted -- geez -- at around the time
that's stated in the speech, 4XX. But from what source is the Salic law
cited by the French 'produced' if Pharamond never produced it. . Near as
I can find out Pharamond never wrote down anything which could be
'produced', and the Salic law was issued as part of an overall codex by
King Clovis I several centuries later in aid of governance of the Salian
Franks Clovis ruled over.
Of course, the Archbishop denies the existence of any such law, from
whatever source, prior to Charles the Great -- Charlemagne -- conquering
-- 'subdu'ing' the Saxons in 8xx, after which, according to the prelate,
French settlers thought the Salic/Saxon/German women lewd and
licentious, and thus passed the Salic law against female inheritrixes THEN.
Who in fact were these Saxons, for this is not clarified in the speech
-- can't blaim Shakespeare here, for his version in iambic pentameter in
simply the original oration of 1414, poetized. According to my exhausted
if not exhausting combing through the ins and outs of premedieval German
history, Germany was a big sprawling congerie of warring tribes in 4XX,
Franks, Saxons, Frisians, so forth, some of whom moved into what would
later be French territory. Some Saxons emigrated to England -- hence
Anglo-Saxons, some stayed behind and, I think, became those
German/Saxons 'subdu'd" by Charlemagne. These tribes were the barbarians
who had continued to plague Rome from ancient centuries.
All of this is very unclear, and I am trying to clarify it, at least for
myself, if I don't do a Nahum Tate on the oration. Shakespeare seems to
have condensed an awful lot of history in the Oration. The overall and
most important point, as far as I can see, is that Henry V and Charles
VI according to the prelate BOTH derive their line through the feminine,
only Henry's is pure, unsullied, so forth, while Charles VI lineage is
tainted by sundry abdications, assassinations, plots, conspiracies, so
forth. Yeah right, we will overlook all the sundry knavish stuff before
Henry got the throne, so much for Richard of Bordeaux, etc.
Any help at all on any of these points will, as always, be very greatly
appreciated. What a tangle!
Harvey Roy Greenberg
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