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Henry V

Written: 1598-99; Texts: Quarto 1600, First Folio 1623 (History)

Source: Holinshed, Raphael (c. 1528-c. 1580). The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. (2nd ed., 1587); The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth (c. 1586); Robert Fabyan (?-1513). New Chronicles of England and France (1516); Samuel Daniel (c.1562-1619). The Civil Wars between the Two Houses of Lancaster and York (1595-1609)

Characters: The English — ChorusHenry V King of England, Thomas Duke of Exeter and uncle to the King, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester and brother to the King, John Duke of Bedford and brother to the King, Thomas Duke of Clarence, Duke of York and cousin to the King, Earl of Westmoreland and cousin to the King, Earl of Cambridge and cousin to the King, Earl of Warwick, Earl of Salisbury, Earl of Huntington, Lord Scroop of Masham, Sir Thomas Grey, Hostess Quickly, Pistol, Nym, Bardolph, Boy their servant, Sir Thomas Erpingham, Captain Fluellen, Captain Gower, Captain Macmorris, Captain Jamy, officers in Henry’s army, John Bates, Alexander Court, Michael Williams, soldiers in Henry’s army, Bishop of Canterbury, Bishop Of Ely
The French — 
King of France, Queen Isabel of France, Katherine Princess of France, Alice gentlewoman attending on Katherine, Dauphin (i.e., Prince) of France, Duke of Berri, Duke of Brittany, Duke of Orléans, Duke of Bourbon, Duke of Burgundy, Constable of France, Lord Grandpré, Lord Rambures, Lord Beaumont, French nobles, Montjoy a French herald, Monsieur Le Fer a French soldier, Governor of Harfleur

Setting: London, Other English locations, France; Time: AD 1414-1420

Henry V is the third play in what scholars refer to as the Henriad, an allusion to Virgil's Aeneid. The Henriad, Shakespeare's epic account of King Henry V, includes Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V. Those three plays combined with their prequel, Richard II, comprise what is now known as the Second Tetralogy, written between 1597 and 1598. The First Tetralogy, written earlier between 1591 and 1595, comprises Henry VI Part 1Henry VI Part 2, Henry VI Part 3, and Richard III.

Richard Devereux, Earl of Essex, (1565-1601), a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, has interesting political connections with two of these history plays — Richard II and Henry V. In Henry V, Shakespeare directly alludes to Essex's future return to London from Ireland and compares it with Henry V's return from France after his victory at Agincourt. Essex, however, did not return victorious and was not greeted gloriously. In fact, his fortunes went so sour that in 1601 he attempted a coup on Elizabeth. His supporters paid Shakespeare's company to perform Richard II the night before the attempted coup in hopes its abdication scene would incite the audience to support the coup. He also failed at that, and his failure very nearly brought Shakespeare down with him. However, the Chorus's reference in Act 5 to “the general of our gracious Empress,”  may not have been to Essex at all. Some scholars suggest that since Elizabeth also sent Charles Blount, 8th Baron Mountjoy to Ireland, and he was successful, the reference may have been to Mountjoy, which would change the generally accepted dating of the play.

O, for a muse of fire

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O, for a muse of fire that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention!Metaphor

A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!Anapodoton

Can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? Or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
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Act 1
Scene Prologue
Line 1

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The King is full of grace and fair regard

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Bishop Of Canterbury
The King is full of grace and fair regard.
Bishop Of Ely
And a true lover of the holy Church.
Bishop of Canterbury
The courses of his youth promised it not.
The breath no sooner left his father’s body
But that his wildness, mortified in him,
Seemed to die too.
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God and his angels guard your sacred throne

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Bishop of Canterbury
God and his angels guard your sacred throne
And make you long become it.
King Henry
Sure we thank you.
My learnèd lord, we pray you to proceed
And justly and religiously unfold
Why the law Salic that they have in France
Or should or should not bar us in our claim.
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Act 1
Scene 2
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But there’s a saying very old and true

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Bishop of Ely 
But there’s a saying very old and true:
“If that you will France win,
Then with Scotland first begin.”
For once the eagle England being in prey,
To her unguarded nest the weasel Scot
Comes sneaking and so sucks her princely eggs,
Playing the mouse in absence of the cat,
To ’tame and havoc more than she can eat.
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 173

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What treasure, uncle?

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King Henry
What treasure, uncle?
Exeter
Tennis balls, my liege.
King Henry
We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us.
His present and your pains we thank you for.
When we have matched our rackets to these balls,
We will in France, by God’s grace, play a set
Shall strike his father’s crown into the hazard.
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 267

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Now all the youth of England are on fire

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Now all the youth of England are on fire,
And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies;
Now thrive the armorers, and honor’s thought
Reigns solely in the breast of every man.
They sell the pasture now to buy the horse,
Following the mirror of all Christian kings
With wingèd heels, as English Mercurys.

They sell the pasture now to buy the horse,
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Act 2
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The mercy that was quick in us but late

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The mercy that was quick in us but late
By your own counsel is suppressed and killed.
You must not dare, for shame, to talk of mercy,
For your own reasons turn into your bosoms
As dogs upon their masters, worrying you.—

’Tis so strange
That, though the truth of it stands off as gross
As black and white,
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Act 2
Scene 2
Line 85

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God quit you in His mercy

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God quit you in His mercy. Hear your sentence:
You have conspired against our royal person,
Joined with an enemy proclaimed, and from his coffers
Received the golden earnest of our death,
Wherein you would have sold your king to slaughter,
His princes and his peers to servitude,
His subjects to oppression and contempt,
And his whole kingdom into desolation.
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Act 2
Scene 2
Line 173

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Bardolph, be blithe

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Pistol
Bardolph,
be blithe.—Nym, rouse thy vaunting veins.— Boy,
bristle thy courage up. For Falstaff, he is dead, and
we must earn therefore.
Bardolph
Would I were with him, wheresome’er he
is, either in heaven or in hell.

Trust none, for oaths are straws,
men’s faiths are wafer-cakes

Hostess
Nay,
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Act 2
Scene 3
Line 3

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My most redoubted father

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Dauphin
My most redoubted father,
It is most meet we arm us ’gainst the foe,
For peace itself should not so dull a kingdom,
Though war nor no known quarrel were in question
But that defenses, musters, preparations
Should be maintained, assembled, and collected
As were a war in expectation.

For, my good liege,
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Act 2
Scene 4
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