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F. Ernest Jackson. Lewis Waller as King Henry V. Drawing, 1904 or 1905

King Henry V needs to decide if he should go to war with France in order to claim the throne. The Bishop of Canterbury explains that Henry’s claim to the throne is legitimate, so Henry and his court decide to invade France. Soon after Henry receives an insulting gift from the Dauphin, the heir to the French throne. This gift strengthens King Henry’s resolve.


At an Eastcheap inn, Henry’s old friends Pistol, Nym, and Bardolph learn that the knight Sir John Falstaff is near death. Meanwhile, three English noblemen— Richard, Earl of Cambridge; Henry, Lord Scroop of Masham; and Sir Thomas Grey, knight, of Northumberland— plot against the King’s life. Henry learns of their plot and asks them whether he should kill a prisoner. When each conspirator says that Henry should show the prisoner no mercy, Henry announces his intent to execute them. Soon after, Falstaff dies in Eastcheap.


After sending the Duke of Exeter to inform the French of his coming, Henry sails to France. Despite Henry’s rousing oration to his troops at the siege of Harfleur, Pistol, Nym, and Bardolph try to desert the army until the Welsh captain Fluellen stops them. After Henry gives a graphic, menacing speech to the enemy, the Governor of Harfleur surrenders.


The royal court of France has promised Henry the French princess Katherine in marriage, so Katherine decides to learn English. Because Henry’s success at Harfleur embarrasses the French court, they send the herald Montjoy to ask what ransom Henry will pay the French if his forces become overwhelmed and he is captured. Henry says that he will offer his body, not money, as ransom.


The night before the battle on the field of Agincourt, the French boast to each other of their superiority over the English. In the English camp, Henry disguises himself and speaks to some of his men. He meets a man named Williams who believes that the English will ransom Henry when the French defeat the English forces and capture the king. The disguised Henry disputes Williams and challenges him to a fight after the battle. They exchange gloves in order to identify one another, and Henry promises to wear Williams’s glove in his bonnet.


Before the battle, Henry delivers an inspirational speech that encourages his men to fight valiantly, despite being heavily outnumbered. The English are victorious. When faced with defeat on the field of Agincourt, the French nobility decide to die fighting. Eventually, however, they send Montjoy to concede defeat to Henry. Henry orders Fluellen to wear Williams’ glove in his cap, but sends men after Fluellen to prevent Williams from fighting with him. Fluellen and Henry find Williams, and instead of punishing him, the king rewards him with a glove-full of crowns. Henry then learns that ten thousand French soldiers died, but only twenty-nine men of his own forces. He attributes his victory to divine powers.


King Henry and his army then return to England, but Henry soon returns to France to woo Princess Katherine while his nobles negotiate a peace treaty. The language barrier between Henry and Katherine is a problem, and Henry also faces the challenge of gaining Katharine’s trust, as she is still suspicious of him. When Henry admits that he cannot flirt with women at all, Katherine agrees to marry him. With this, the French monarchs name Henry the heir to the French throne with Katherine as his queen.


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