Revisionists Attacking Good King Hal


Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 7.56.20 PMI originally punished on October 25, 2013, but this year, maybe we need it a little.  Let’s face it, if you are a Republican, we’re a little down right now, and battered apparently facing the same organized and professional opposition that Good King Hal faced.  I suspect we need a pep talk.  There is nothing better than the St. Crispin’s Day Speech.

Revisionist historians are at the top of the list of things that frosts my cookies, even more so than Democrats. I always try to remember St. Crispin’s Day because I had an Clements ancestor (I share with Sam, Mannen, Jep, and Wes Hardin) who was knighted that day, by Henry, for saving his life! The usual Henry Haters are at it again.  Anne Curry, who has made a career out of damning Henry V, says the French did not have all that many troops, and the lopsided battle was all a lie.

I’m a huge fan of Henry V.  He’s one of my favorite kings.  Maybe because of the family connection, but I also find him an interesting person.  He was someone was basically a spoiled brat, a total bum, who did nothing but party and hang out in pubs.  Then he grew up and became a legend. Perhaps his is a cautionary tale, about what can happen with a spoiled brat.

“…On 25th of October, 1415, the feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian, Henry led his small, exhausted English army against the might of the French chivalry at Agincourt. An estimated 5,000-6,000 English troops opposed a massive French army of 50,000-60,000.

The English advanced first, Henry’s strategy was to fight where the field narrowed between two woods, to prevent the French from outflanking and surrounding him. It was said among the English archers that the French intended to cut off the first and second right hand fingers of every captured archer to prevent him from again being able to use a bow. The English archers raised those two fingers to the advancing French as a gesture of defiance. English archers showered the French with repeated volleys of arrows. The French chivalry then advanced through the muddy ground. The English archers planted six-foot stakes in the ground before them, the French chivalry were forced to retreat in front of their own men-at-arms, who were struggling across the muddy field.

The massive French army were hemmed into a small space, having no room for manoeuvre, with disastrous results. Unable to rise in heavy armour, men who went down in the crush were suffocated in their own armour. French casualties were enormous. The French knights tried to rally and attempt a further charge but realised further resistance was hopeless….”

Fortunately, cooler heads prevail.

“…nd if that hasn’t got you lot choking on your beef and oyster pie of Merry Olde England, it turns out that the lone authority coming to the defence of Shakespeare’s Band of Brothers is an American – one professor Clifford Rogers of the US Military Academy at West Point.

He estimates Hal’s men at 6,000 troops, “consisting of 1,000 men-at-arms in heavy steel armour and 5,000 longbowmen”.

The French, meanwhile, were packing 10,000 troops, each with “an attendant servant who would also fight, along with 4,000 crossbowmen and other troops”. Total: 24,000.

The opposing forces do agree on one point, though: that the French were defeated by Henry’s “superior positional sense”, which obliged their heavily-armoured nobles to attack across a narrow, muddy field where they got bogged down and slaughtered by the longbowmen (all 11 of them, against 430,000 knights, according to new El Reg research)…”

What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
(IV, iii)