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Navigate this workHenry V
Act 1, scene 2
At the King’s request, Canterbury provides an extensive interpretation of French law to support Henry’s claim to the French throne. After the court discusses ways of preventing a Scottish invasion of England while Henry is in France, Henry decides to go to war against France. The French ambassadors present Henry with a token of the Dauphin’s insulting refusal to take seriously Henry’s claims in France.Enter the King ⌜of England,⌝ Humphrey ⌜Duke of
Gloucester,⌝ Bedford, Clarence, Warwick, Westmoreland,
and Exeter, ⌜with other Attendants.⌝
0140 Where is my gracious Lord of Canterbury?
0141 Not here in presence.
KING HENRY 0142 Send for him, good uncle.
0143 Shall we call in th’ Ambassador, my liege?
0144 5 Not yet, my cousin. We would be resolved,
0145 Before we hear him, of some things of weight
0146 That task our thoughts concerning us and France.
Enter ⌜the⌝ two Bishops ⌜of Canterbury and Ely.⌝
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
0147 God and his angels guard your sacred throne
0148 And make you long become it.
KING HENRY 0149 10 Sure we thank you.
0150 My learnèd lord, we pray you to proceed
0151 And justly and religiously unfold
0152 Why the law Salic that they have in France
0153 Or should or should not bar us in our claim.
0154 15 And God forbid, my dear and faithful lord,
0155 That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your
0157 Or nicely charge your understanding soul
0158 With opening titles miscreate, whose right
0159 20 Suits not in native colors with the truth;
0160 For God doth know how many now in health
0161 Shall drop their blood in approbation
0162 Of what your reverence shall incite us to.
0163 Therefore take heed how you impawn our person,
0164 25 How you awake our sleeping sword of war.
0165 We charge you in the name of God, take heed,
0166 For never two such kingdoms did contend
0167 Without much fall of blood, whose guiltless drops
0168 Are every one a woe, a sore complaint
0169 30 ’Gainst him whose wrongs gives edge unto the
p. 210171 That makes such waste in brief mortality.
0172 Under this conjuration, speak, my lord,
0173 For we will hear, note, and believe in heart
0174 35 That what you speak is in your conscience washed
0175 As pure as sin with baptism.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
0176 Then hear me, gracious sovereign, and you peers
0177 That owe yourselves, your lives, and services
0178 To this imperial throne. There is no bar
0179 40 To make against your Highness’ claim to France
0180 But this, which they produce from Pharamond:
0181 “In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant”
0182 (No woman shall succeed in Salic land),
0183 Which Salic land the French unjustly gloze
0184 45 To be the realm of France, and Pharamond
0185 The founder of this law and female bar.
0186 Yet their own authors faithfully affirm
0187 That the land Salic is in Germany,
0188 Between the floods of Sala and of Elbe,
0189 50 Where Charles the Great, having subdued the
0191 There left behind and settled certain French,
0192 Who, holding in disdain the German women
0193 For some dishonest manners of their life,
0194 55 Established then this law: to wit, no female
0195 Should be inheritrix in Salic land,
0196 Which “Salic,” as I said, ’twixt Elbe and Sala
0197 Is at this day in Germany called Meissen.
0198 Then doth it well appear the Salic law
0199 60 Was not devisèd for the realm of France,
0200 Nor did the French possess the Salic land
0201 Until four hundred one and twenty years
0202 After defunction of King Pharamond,
0203 Idly supposed the founder of this law,
0204 65 Who died within the year of our redemption
0205 Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the Great
p. 230206 Subdued the Saxons and did seat the French
0207 Beyond the river Sala in the year
0208 Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say,
0209 70 King Pepin, which deposèd Childeric,
0210 Did, as heir general, being descended
0211 Of Blithild, which was daughter to King Clothair,
0212 Make claim and title to the crown of France.
0213 Hugh Capet also, who usurped the crown
0214 75 Of Charles the Duke of Lorraine, sole heir male
0215 Of the true line and stock of Charles the Great,
0216 To find his title with some shows of truth,
0217 Though in pure truth it was corrupt and naught,
0218 Conveyed himself as th’ heir to th’ Lady Lingare,
0219 80 Daughter to Charlemagne, who was the son
0220 To Lewis the Emperor, and Lewis the son
0221 Of Charles the Great. Also King Lewis the Tenth,
0222 Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet,
0223 Could not keep quiet in his conscience,
0224 85 Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied
0225 That fair Queen Isabel, his grandmother,
0226 Was lineal of the Lady Ermengare,
0227 Daughter to Charles the foresaid Duke of Lorraine:
0228 By the which marriage the line of Charles the Great
0229 90 Was reunited to the crown of France.
0230 So that, as clear as is the summer’s sun,
0231 King Pepin’s title and Hugh Capet’s claim,
0232 King Lewis his satisfaction, all appear
0233 To hold in right and title of the female.
0234 95 So do the kings of France unto this day,
0235 Howbeit they would hold up this Salic law
0236 To bar your Highness claiming from the female,
0237 And rather choose to hide them in a net
0238 Than amply to imbar their crooked titles
0239 100 Usurped from you and your progenitors.
0240 May I with right and conscience make this claim?
p. 25BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
0241 The sin upon my head, dread sovereign,
0242 For in the Book of Numbers is it writ:
0243 “When the man dies, let the inheritance
0244 105 Descend unto the daughter.” Gracious lord,
0245 Stand for your own, unwind your bloody flag,
0246 Look back into your mighty ancestors.
0247 Go, my dread lord, to your great-grandsire’s tomb,
0248 From whom you claim; invoke his warlike spirit
0249 110 And your great-uncle’s, Edward the Black Prince,
0250 Who on the French ground played a tragedy,
0251 Making defeat on the full power of France
0252 Whiles his most mighty father on a hill
0253 Stood smiling to behold his lion’s whelp
0254 115 Forage in blood of French nobility.
0255 O noble English, that could entertain
0256 With half their forces the full pride of France
0257 And let another half stand laughing by,
0258 All out of work and cold for action!
BISHOP OF ELY
0259 120 Awake remembrance of these valiant dead
0260 And with your puissant arm renew their feats.
0261 You are their heir, you sit upon their throne,
0262 The blood and courage that renownèd them
0263 Runs in your veins; and my thrice-puissant liege
0264 125 Is in the very May-morn of his youth,
0265 Ripe for exploits and mighty enterprises.
0266 Your brother kings and monarchs of the Earth
0267 Do all expect that you should rouse yourself
0268 As did the former lions of your blood.
0269 130 They know your Grace hath cause and means and
0271 So hath your Highness. Never king of England
0272 Had nobles richer, and more loyal subjects,
p. 270273 Whose hearts have left their bodies here in England
0274 135 And lie pavilioned in the fields of France.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
0275 O, let their bodies follow, my dear liege,
0276 With ⌜blood⌝ and sword and fire to win your right,
0277 In aid whereof we of the spiritualty
0278 Will raise your Highness such a mighty sum
0279 140 As never did the clergy at one time
0280 Bring in to any of your ancestors.
0281 We must not only arm t’ invade the French,
0282 But lay down our proportions to defend
0283 Against the Scot, who will make road upon us
0284 145 With all advantages.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
0285 They of those marches, gracious sovereign,
0286 Shall be a wall sufficient to defend
0287 Our inland from the pilfering borderers.
0288 We do not mean the coursing snatchers only,
0289 150 But fear the main intendment of the Scot,
0290 Who hath been still a giddy neighbor to us.
0291 For you shall read that my great-grandfather
0292 Never went with his forces into France
0293 But that the Scot on his unfurnished kingdom
0294 155 Came pouring like the tide into a breach
0295 With ample and brim fullness of his force,
0296 Galling the gleanèd land with hot assays,
0297 Girding with grievous siege castles and towns,
0298 That England, being empty of defense,
0299 160 Hath shook and trembled at th’ ill neighborhood.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
0300 She hath been then more feared than harmed, my
0302 For hear her but exampled by herself:
0303 When all her chivalry hath been in France
p. 290304 165 And she a mourning widow of her nobles,
0305 She hath herself not only well defended
0306 But taken and impounded as a stray
0307 The King of Scots, whom she did send to France
0308 To fill King Edward’s fame with prisoner kings
0309 170 And make ⌜her⌝ chronicle as rich with praise
0310 As is the ooze and bottom of the sea
0311 With sunken wrack and sumless treasuries.
BISHOP OF ELY
0312 But there’s a saying very old and true:
0313 “If that you will France win,
0314 175 Then with Scotland first begin.”
0315 For once the eagle England being in prey,
0316 To her unguarded nest the weasel Scot
0317 Comes sneaking and so sucks her princely eggs,
0318 Playing the mouse in absence of the cat,
0319 180 To ’tame and havoc more than she can eat.
0320 It follows, then, the cat must stay at home.
0321 Yet that is but a crushed necessity,
0322 Since we have locks to safeguard necessaries
0323 And pretty traps to catch the petty thieves.
0324 185 While that the armèd hand doth fight abroad,
0325 Th’ advisèd head defends itself at home.
0326 For government, though high and low and lower,
0327 Put into parts, doth keep in one consent,
0328 Congreeing in a full and natural close,
0329 190 Like music.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY 0330 Therefore doth heaven divide
0331 The state of man in divers functions,
0332 Setting endeavor in continual motion,
0333 To which is fixèd as an aim or butt
0334 195 Obedience; for so work the honeybees,
0335 Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
0336 The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
p. 310337 They have a king and officers of sorts,
0338 Where some like magistrates correct at home,
0339 200 Others like merchants venture trade abroad,
0340 Others like soldiers armèd in their stings
0341 Make boot upon the summer’s velvet buds,
0342 Which pillage they with merry march bring home
0343 To the tent royal of their emperor,
0344 205 Who, busied in his ⌜majesty,⌝ surveys
0345 The singing masons building roofs of gold,
0346 The civil citizens kneading up the honey,
0347 The poor mechanic porters crowding in
0348 Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate,
0349 210 The sad-eyed justice with his surly hum
0350 Delivering o’er to executors pale
0351 The lazy yawning drone. I this infer:
0352 That many things, having full reference
0353 To one consent, may work contrariously,
0354 215 As many arrows loosèd several ways
0355 Come to one mark, as many ways meet in one town,
0356 As many fresh streams meet in one salt sea,
0357 As many lines close in the dial’s center,
0358 So may a thousand actions, once afoot,
0359 220 ⌜End⌝ in one purpose and be all well borne
0360 Without defeat. Therefore to France, my liege!
0361 Divide your happy England into four,
0362 Whereof take you one quarter into France,
0363 And you withal shall make all Gallia shake.
0364 225 If we, with thrice such powers left at home,
0365 Cannot defend our own doors from the dog,
0366 Let us be worried, and our nation lose
0367 The name of hardiness and policy.
0368 Call in the messengers sent from the Dauphin.
0369 230 Now are we well resolved, and by God’s help
0370 And yours, the noble sinews of our power,
p. 330371 France being ours, we’ll bend it to our awe
0372 Or break it all to pieces. Or there we’ll sit,
0373 Ruling in large and ample empery
0374 235 O’er France and all her almost kingly dukedoms,
0375 Or lay these bones in an unworthy urn,
0376 Tombless, with no remembrance over them.
0377 Either our history shall with full mouth
0378 Speak freely of our acts, or else our grave,
0379 240 Like Turkish mute, shall have a tongueless mouth,
0380 Not worshiped with a waxen epitaph.
Enter Ambassadors of France, ⌜with Attendants.⌝
0381 Now are we well prepared to know the pleasure
0382 Of our fair cousin Dauphin, for we hear
0383 Your greeting is from him, not from the King.
0384 245 May ’t please your Majesty to give us leave
0385 Freely to render what we have in charge,
0386 Or shall we sparingly show you far off
0387 The Dauphin’s meaning and our embassy?
0388 We are no tyrant, but a Christian king,
0389 250 Unto whose grace our passion is as subject
0390 As is our wretches fettered in our prisons.
0391 Therefore with frank and with uncurbèd plainness
0392 Tell us the Dauphin’s mind.
AMBASSADOR 0393 Thus, then, in few:
0394 255 Your Highness, lately sending into France,
0395 Did claim some certain dukedoms in the right
0396 Of your great predecessor, King Edward the Third;
0397 In answer of which claim, the Prince our master
0398 Says that you savor too much of your youth
0399 260 And bids you be advised there’s naught in France
0400 That can be with a nimble galliard won;
0401 You cannot revel into dukedoms there.
0402 He therefore sends you, meeter for your spirit,
p. 350403 This tun of treasure and, in lieu of this,
0404 265 Desires you let the dukedoms that you claim
0405 Hear no more of you. This the Dauphin speaks.
0406 What treasure, uncle?
EXETER 0407 Tennis balls,
0408 my liege.
0409 270 We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us.
0410 His present and your pains we thank you for.
0411 When we have matched our rackets to these balls,
0412 We will in France, by God’s grace, play a set
0413 Shall strike his father’s crown into the hazard.
0414 275 Tell him he hath made a match with such a
0416 That all the courts of France will be disturbed
0417 With chases. And we understand him well,
0418 How he comes o’er us with our wilder days,
0419 280 Not measuring what use we made of them.
0420 We never valued this poor seat of England,
0421 And therefore, living hence, did give ourself
0422 To barbarous license, as ’tis ever common
0423 That men are merriest when they are from home.
0424 285 But tell the Dauphin I will keep my state,
0425 Be like a king, and show my sail of greatness
0426 When I do rouse me in my throne of France,
0427 For that I have laid by my majesty
0428 And plodded like a man for working days;
0429 290 But I will rise there with so full a glory
0430 That I will dazzle all the eyes of France,
0431 Yea, strike the Dauphin blind to look on us.
0432 And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his
0433 Hath turned his balls to gun-stones, and his soul
0434 295 Shall stand sore chargèd for the wasteful vengeance
0435 That shall fly with them; for many a thousand
0437 Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands,
p. 370438 Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down;
0439 300 And some are yet ungotten and unborn
0440 That shall have cause to curse the Dauphin’s scorn.
0441 But this lies all within the will of God,
0442 To whom I do appeal, and in whose name
0443 Tell you the Dauphin I am coming on,
0444 305 To venge me as I may and to put forth
0445 My rightful hand in a well-hallowed cause.
0446 So get you hence in peace. And tell the Dauphin
0447 His jest will savor but of shallow wit
0448 When thousands weep more than did laugh at it.—
0449 310 Convey them with safe conduct.—Fare you well.
Ambassadors exit, ⌜with Attendants.⌝
EXETER 0450 This was a merry message.
0451 We hope to make the sender blush at it.
0452 Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour
0453 That may give furth’rance to our expedition;
0454 315 For we have now no thought in us but France,
0455 Save those to God, that run before our business.
0456 Therefore let our proportions for these wars
0457 Be soon collected, and all things thought upon
0458 That may with reasonable swiftness add
0459 320 More feathers to our wings. For, God before,
0460 We’ll chide this Dauphin at his father’s door.
0461 Therefore let every man now task his thought,
0462 That this fair action may on foot be brought.
Flourish. They exit.