The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1032 Wednesday, 1 June 2005
Date: Wednesday, 01 Jun 2005 00:24:41 -0700
Subject: Not so few
Item from History News Network (http://hnn.us/articles/4480.html):
Henry V/Agincourt: The "happy few" who, in Shakespeare's words, beat a
French army 30 times its size at the Battle of Agincourt may not have
been so few after all. "The figures have been exaggerated over the
centuries for patriotic reasons," said Anne Curry, a professor of
medieval history [at the University of Southampton], who is about to
publish a new history of the 1415 battle. She claims tales of the
lopsided victory were a myth constructed around King Henry V "to build
up his reputation as a king." The story also proved a useful
morale-builder in the Second World War, when Laurence Olivier played the
role of Henry in the movie of Shakespeare's drama. Ms. Curry has worked
out from enrollment and pay records that there were at least 8,000 men
in Henry's army, compared with 12,000 on the French side.
Anne Curry's book, to be published in July, is _Agincourt: A New
History_ (Tempus; 320 pp; hardcover, list $35, Amazon $23.10). She
previously edited _The Battle of Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations_
(Warfare in History series; Boydell, 2000; 490pp; hardcover, list $90)
I would add that Kenneth Branagh also found "happy few" a useful
interpretation--to keep the cast and payroll small in his 1989 version.
October 25 will be the 590th anniversary of the battle.
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