The Life of Henry the Fifth
Category: Drama
Level 11.2 3:21 h 89.4 mb
Henry the Fifth is the most celebrated King in English History. He led his armies to countless victories and eventually conquered the French throne. The Life Of Henry the Fifth is the story of this great King as told by Shakespeare, the most renowned writer of all time. The events are unbelievable yet true in this historical work.

Henry the Fifth

William Shakespeare

The Life of Henry the Fifth

Enter Prologue

O! For a Muse of Fire, that would ascend
The brightest Heaven of Invention;
A Kingdome for a Stage, Princes to Act,
And Monarchs to behold the swelling Scene.
Then should the Warlike Harry, like himselfe,
Assume the Port of Mars; and at his heeles
(Leasht in, like Hounds) should Famine, Sword, and Fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, Gentles all:
The flat unraysed Spirits, that hath dar’d,
On this unworthy Scaffold, to bring forth
So great an Object: Can this Cock-Pit hold
The vastie fields of France? Or may we cramme
Within this Woodden O, the very Caskes
That did affright the Ayre at Agincourt?
O pardon! since a crooked Figure may
Attest in little place a Million;
And let us, Cyphers to this great Accompt,
On your imaginarie Forces worke.
Suppose within the Girdle of these Walls
Are now confin’d two mightie Monarchies,
Whose high, up-reared, and abutting Fronts,
The perillous narrow Ocean parts asunder:
Peece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one Man,
And make imaginarie Puissance;
Thinke when we talke of Horses, that you see them
Printing their prowd Hoofes i’th’ receiving Earth;
For ‘tis your thoughts that now must deck our Kings,
Carry them here and there: Jumping o’re Times;
Turning th’ accomplishment of many yeeres
Into an Howre-glasse: for the which supplie,
Admit me Chorus to this Historie;
Who Prologue-like, your humble patience pray,
Gently to heare, kindly to judge our Play.

Actus Primus. Scoena Prima

SCENE I. - London. An Antechamber in the King's Palace.

Enter the Archbishop of CANTERBURY and the Bishop of ELY

Bish.Cant. My Lord, Ile tell you; that selfe Bill is urged,
Which in th’ eleventh yere of y last Kings reign
Was like, and had indeed against us past,
But that the scambling and unquiet time
Did push it out of farther question

Bish.Ely. But how my Lord shall we resist it now?

Bish.Cant. It must be thought on: if it passe against us,
We loose the better halfe of our Possession;
For all the Temporall Lands, which men devout
By Testament have given to the Church,
Would they strip from us; being valu’d thus,
As much as would maintaine, to the Kings honor,
Full fifteene Earles, and fifteene hundred Knights,
Six thousand and two hundred good Esquires:
And to reliefe of Lazars, and weake age
Of indigent faint Soules, past corporall toyle,
A hundred Almes-houses, right well supply’d:
And to the Coffers of the King beside,
A thousand pounds by th’ yeere. Thus runs the Bill

Bish.Ely. This would drinke deepe

Bish.Cant. ‘Twould drinke the Cup and all

Bish.Ely. But what prevention?
Bish.Cant. The King is full of grace, and faire regard

Bish. Ely. And a true lover of the holy Church

Bish.Cant. The courses of his youth promis’d it not.
The breath no sooner left his Fathers body,
But that his wildnesse, mortify’d in him,
Seem’d to dye too: yea, at that very moment,
Consideration like an Angell came,
And whipt th’ offending Adam out of him;
Leaving his body as a Paradise,
T’ invelop and containe Celestiall Spirits.
Never was such a sodaine Scholler made;
Never came Reformation in a Flood,
With such a heady currance scowring faults:
Nor never Hidra-headed Wilfulnesse
So soone did loose his Seat; and all at once;
As in this King.

Bish.Ely. We are blessed in the Change

Bish.Cant. Heare him but reason in Divinitie;
And all-admiring, with an inward wish
You would desire the King were made a Prelate:
Heare him debate of Common-wealth Affaires,
You would say, it hath been all in all his study:
List his discourse of Warre; and you shall heare
A fearefull Battaile rendred you in Musique:
Turne him to any Cause of Pollicy,
The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his Garter: that when he speakes,
The Ayre, a Charter’d Libertine, is still,
And the mute Wonder lurketh in mens eares,
To steale his sweet and honyed Sentences;
So that the Art and Practique part of Life,
Must be the Mistresse to this Theorique:
Which is a wonder how his Grace should gleane it,
Since his addiction was to Courses vaine;
His Companies unletter’d, rude, and shallow;
His Houres fill’d up with Ryots, Banquets, Sports;
And never noted in him any studie,
Any retyrement, any sequestration,
From open Haunts and Popularitie.

B.Ely. The Strawberry growes underneath the Nettle,
And holesome Berryes thrive and ripen best,
Neighbour’d by Fruit of baser qualitie:
And so the Prince obscur’d his Contemplation
Under the Veyle of Wildnesse; which, no doubt,
Grew like the Summer Grasse, fastest by Night,
Unseene, yet cressive in his facultie.

B.Cant. It must be so; for Miracles are ceast:
And therefore we must needes admit the meanes,
How things are perfected.

B.Ely. But my good Lord,
How now for mittigation of this Bill,
Urg’d by the Commons? doth his Majestie
Incline to it, or no?

B.Cant. He seemes indifferent:
Or rather swaying more upon our part,
Then cherishing th’ exhibiters against us;
For I have made an offer to his Majestie,
Upon our Spirituall Convocation,
And in regard of Causes now in hand,
Which I have open’d to his Grace at large,
As touching France, to give a greater Summe,
Then ever at one time the Clergie yet
Did to his Predecessors part withall.

B.Ely. How did this offer seeme receiv’d, my Lord?

B.Cant. With good acceptance of his Majestie;
Save that there was not time enough to heare,
As I perceiv’d his Grace would faine have done,
The severalls and unhidden passages
Of his true Titles to some certaine Dukedomes,
And generally, to the Crowne and Seat of France,
Deriv’d from Edward, his great Grandfather.

B.Ely. What was th’ impediment that broke this off?

B.Cant. The French Embassador upon that instant
Crav’d audience; and the howre I thinke is come,
To give him hearing: Is it foure a Clock?

B.Ely. It is

B.Cant. Then goe we in, to know his Embassie:
Which I could with a ready guesse declare,
Before the Frenchman speake a word of it

B.Ely. Ile wait upon you, and I long to heare it.


SCENE II. - The Same. The Presence Chamber.


King. Where is my gracious Lord of Canterbury?
Exeter. Not here in presence.

King. Send for him, good Unckle.

Westm. Shall we call in th’ Ambassador, my Liege?
King.  Not yet, my Cousin: we would be resolv’d,
Before we heare him, of some things of weight,
That taske our thoughts, concerning us and France.

Enter the Archbishop of CANTERBURY and the Bishop of ELY

B.Cant. God and his Angels guard your sacred Throne,
And make you long become it!

King. Sure we thanke you.
My learned Lord, we pray you to proceed,
And justly and religiously unfold,
Why the Law Salike, that they have in France,
Or should or should not barre us in our Clayme:
And God forbid, my deare and faithfull Lord,
That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your reading,
Or nicely charge your understanding Soule,
With opening Titles miscreate, whose right
Sutes not in native colours with the truth:
For God doth know, how many now in health,
Shall drop their blood, in approbation
Of what your reverence shall incite us to.
Therefore take heed how you impawne our Person,
How you awake our sleeping Sword of Warre;
We charge you in the Name of God take heed:
For never two such Kingdomes did contend,
Without much fall of blood, whose guiltlesse drops
Are every one, a Woe, a sore Complaint,
‘Gainst him, whose wrongs gives edge unto the Swords,
That makes such waste in briefe mortalitie.
Under this Conjuration, speake my Lord:
For we will heare, note, and beleeve in heart,
That what you speake, is in your Conscience washt,
As pure as sinne with Baptisme.

B.Can. Then heare me gracious Soveraign, & you Peers,
That owe your selves, your lives, and services,
To this Imperiall Throne. There is no barre
To make against your Highnesse Clayme to France,
But this which they produce from Pharamond,
In terram Salicam Mulieres ne succedant,
No Woman shall succeed in Salike Land:
Which Salike Land, the French unjustly gloze
To be the Realme of France, and Pharamond
The founder of this Law, and Female Barre.
Yet their owne Authors faithfully affirme,
That the Land Salike is in Germanie,
Betweene the Flouds of Sala and of Elue:
Where Charles the Great having subdu’d the Saxons,
There left behind and settled certaine French:
Who holding in disdaine the German Women,
For some dishonest manners of their life,
Establisht then this Law; to wit, No Female
Should be Inheritrix in Salike Land:
Which Salike (as I said) ‘twixt Elue and Sala,
Is at this day in Germanie, call’d Meisen.
Then doth it well appeare, the Salike Law
Was not devised for the Realme of France:
Nor did the French possesse the Salike Land,
Untill foure hundred one and twentie yeeres
After defunction of King Pharamond,
Idly suppos’d the founder of this Law,
Who died within the yeere of our Redemption,
Foure hundred twentie six: and Charles the Great
Subdu’d the Saxons, and did seat the French
Beyond the River Sala, in the yeere
Eight hundred five. Besides, their Writers say,
King Pepin, which deposed Childerike,
Did as Heire Generall, being descended
Of Blithild, which was Daughter to King Clothair,
Make Clayme and Title to the Crowne of France.
Hugh Capet also, who usurpt the Crowne
Of Charles the Duke of Loraine, sole Heire male
Of the true Line and Stock of Charles the Great:
To find his Title with some shewes of truth,
Though in pure truth it was corrupt and naught,
Convey’d himselfe as th’ Heire to th’ Lady Lingare,
Daughter to Charlemaine, who was the Sonne
To Lewes the Emperour, and Lewes the Sonne
Of Charles the Great: also King Lewes the Tenth,
Who was sole Heire to the Usurper Capet,
Could not keepe quiet in his conscience,
Wearing the Crowne of France, ‘till satisfied,
That faire Queene Isabel, his Grandmother,
Was Lineall of the Lady Ermengare,
Daughter to Charles the foresaid Duke of Loraine:
By the which Marriage, the Lyne of Charles the Great
Was re-united to the Crowne of France.
So, that as cleare as is the Summers Sunne,
King Pepins Title, and Hugh Capets Clayme,
King Lewes his satisfaction, all appeare
To hold in Right and Title of the Female:
So doe the Kings of France unto this day.
Howbeit, they would hold up this Salique Law,
To barre your Highnesse clayming from the Female,
And rather chuse to hide them in a Net,
Then amply to imbarre their crooked Titles,
Usurpt from you and your Progenitors

King. May I with right and conscience make this claim?

Bish.Cant. The sinne upon my head, dread Soveraigne!
For in the Booke of Numbers is it writ,
When the man dyes, let the Inheritance
Descend unto the Daughter. Gracious Lord,
Stand for your owne, unwind your bloody Flagge,
Looke back into your mightie Ancestors:
Goe my dread Lord, to your great Grandsires Tombe,
From whom you clayme; invoke his Warlike Spirit,
And your Great Unckles, Edward the Black Prince,
Who on the French ground play’d a Tragedie,
Making defeat on the full Power of France:
Whiles his most mightie Father on a Hill
Stood smiling, to behold his Lyons Whelpe
Forrage in blood of French Nobilitie.
O Noble English, that could entertaine
With halfe their Forces, the full pride of France,
And let another halfe stand laughing by,
All out of worke, and cold for action.

Bish. Awake remembrance of these valiant dead,
And with your puissant Arme renew their Feats;
You are their Heire, you sit upon their Throne:
The Blood and Courage that renowned them,
Runs in your Veines: and my thrice-puissant Liege
Is in the very May-Morne of his Youth,
Ripe for Exploits and mightie Enterprises.

Exe. Your Brother Kings and Monarchs of the Earth
Doe all expect, that you should rowse your selfe,
As did the former Lyons of your Blood.

West. They know your Grace hath cause, and means, and might;
So hath your Highnesse: never King of England
Had Nobles richer, and more loyall Subjects,
Whose hearts haue left their bodyes here in England,
And lye pavillion’d in the fields of France.

Bish.Can. O! let their bodyes follow my deare Liege
With Bloods, and Sword and Fire, to win your Right:
In ayde whereof, we of the Spiritualtie
Will rayse your Highnesse such a mightie Summe,
As never did the Clergie at one time
Bring in to any of your Ancestors.

King. We must not onely arme t’ invade the French,
But lay downe our proportions, to defend
Against the Scot, who will make roade upon us,
With all advantages.

Bish.Can. They of those Marches, gracious Soveraign,
Shall be a Wall sufficient to defend
Our in-land from the pilfering Borderers.

King. We do not meane the coursing snatchers onely,
But feare the maine intendment of the Scot,
Who hath been still a giddy neighbour to us:
For you shall reade, that my great Grandfather
Never went with his forces into France,
But that the Scot, on his unfurnisht Kingdome,
Came pouring like the Tyde into a breach,
With ample and brim fulnesse of his force,
Galling the gleaned Land with hot Assayes,
Girding with grievous siege, Castles and Townes:
That England being emptie of defence,
Hath shooke and trembled at th’ ill neighbourhood.

B.Can. She hath bin then more fear’d then harm’d, my Liege:
For heare her but exampl’d by her selfe,
When all her Chevalrie hath been in France,
And shee a mourning Widdow of her Nobles,
Shee hath her selfe not onely well defended,
But taken and impounded as a Stray,
The King of Scots: whom shee did send to France,
To fill King Edwards fame with prisoner Kings,
And make their Chronicle as rich with prayse,
As is the Owse and bottome of the Sea
With sunken Wrack, and sum-lesse Treasuries.

West. 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 Weazell Scot
Comes sneaking, and so sucks her Princely Egges,
Playing the Mouse in absence of the Cat,
To tame and havocke more then she can eate.

Exet. It followes then, the Cat must stay at home:
Yet that is but a crush’d necessity,
Since we have lockes to safegard necessaries,
And pretty traps to catch the petty theeves.
While that the Armed hand doth fight abroad,
Th’ advised head defends it selfe at home:
For Government, though high, and low, and lower,
Put into parts, doth keepe in one consent,
Congreeing in a full and natural close,
Like Musicke

Cant. Therefore doth heaven divide
The state of man in divers functions,
Setting endevour in continual motion:
To which is fixed as an ayme or butt,
Obedience: for so worke the Hony Bees,
Creatures that by a rule in Nature teach
The Act of Order to a peopled Kingdome.
They have a King, and Officers of sorts,
Where some like Magistrates correct at home:
Others, like Merchants venter Trade abroad:
Others, like Souldiers armed in their stings,
Make boote upon the Summers Velvet buddes:
Which pillage, they with merry march bring home
To the Tent-royal of their Emperor:
Who busied in his Majesties surveyes
The singing Masons building roofes of Gold,
The civil Citizens kneading up the hony;
The poore Mechanicke Porters, crowding in
Their heavy burthens at his narrow gate:
The sad-ey’d Justice with his surly humme,
Delivering ore to Executors pale
The lazie yawning Drone: I this inferre,
That many things having full reference
To one consent, may worke contrariously,
As many Arrowes loosed severall wayes
Come to one marke: as many wayes meet in one towne,
As many fresh streames meet in one salt sea;
As many Lynes close in the Dials center:
So may a thousand actions once a foote,
And in one purpose, and be all well borne
Without defeat. Therefore to France, my Liege,
Divide your happy England into foure,
Whereof, take you one quarter into France,
And you withall shall make all Gallia shake.
If we with thrice such powers left at home,
Cannot defend our owne doores from the dogge,
Let us be worried, and our Nation lose
The name of hardinesse and policie

King. Call in the Messengers sent from the Dolphin.
Now are we well resolv’d, and by Gods helpe
And yours, the noble sinewes of our power,
France being ours, wee’l bend it to our Awe,
Or breake it all to peeces. Or there wee’l sit,
(Ruling in large and ample Emperie,
Ore France, and all her (almost) Kingly Dukedomes)
Or lay these bones in an unworthy Urne,
Tomblesse, with no remembrance over them:
Either our History shall with full mouth
Speake freely of our Acts, or else our grave
Like Turkish mute, shall have a tonguelesse mouth,
Not worshipt with a waxen Epitaph.

Enter Ambassadors of France.

Now are we well prepar’d to know the pleasure
Of our faire Cosin Dolphin: for we heare,
Your greeting is from him, not from the King

Amb. May’t please your Majestie to give us leave
Freely to render what we have in charge:
Or shall we sparingly shew you farre off
The Dolphins meaning, and our Embassie

King. We are no Tyrant, but a Christian King,
Unto whose grace our passion is as subject
As is our wretches fettred in our prisons,
Therefore with franke and with uncurbed plainnesse,
Tell us the Dolphins minde

Amb. Thus than in few:
Your Highnesse lately sending into France,
Did claime some certaine Dukedomes, in the right
Of your great Predecessor, King Edward the third.
In answer of which claime, the Prince our Master
Sayes, that you savour too much of your youth,
And bids you be advis’d: There’s nought in France,
That can be with a nimble Galliard wonne:
You cannot revell into Dukedomes there.
He therefore sends you meeter for your spirit
This Tun of Treasure; and in lieu of this,
Desires you let the dukedomes that you claime
Heare no more of you. This the Dolphin speakes

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