The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.159  Friday, 13 April 2012


From:        John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 12, 2012 4:58:23 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Henry V, Act 3, Scene 4


Richard Waugaman wrote:


>Alan Stewart of Columbia recently gave an excellent talk on “The 

>French Shakespeare.” During the discussion afterwards, we 

>pondered the question of Henry V, Act III, scene 4, being 

>entirely in French. How would early audiences have reacted? 

>Professor Stewart found the following surmise to be

plausible—this scene was performed at court, with its 

>French-speaking audience, but was perhaps omitted 

>during public performances.


>If this hypothesis also strikes you as plausible, are the other 

>such scenes extant, that may have been written solely for 

>court performance?


No, it does not strike me as remotely plausible. (Did the Tudors also speak Welsh at Court?)


Two pointers:


1. Act 3, Scene 4 is present (severely mangled) in the “Bad Quarto”. Now, say what you like about Bad Quartos, but no-one has ever accused them of representing court performances.


2. The only recorded court performance of Henry V was at Whitehall on 7 January 1605. (The Bad Quarto of 1600 omits the choruses, and it is possible that these were added for that court performance, especially as it probably took place in the Cockpit—which held the vasty fields of France?)


John Briggs


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