William Shakespeare's King Henry V in the complete original text.
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The Life of King Henry the Fifth

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King Henry V Play

King Henry V, begins with deception. Worried that forthcoming legislation will take much of the power and wealth from the Church of England, The Archbishop of Canterbury connives to manipulate King Henry V (Hal) into a war with France since this will mean he will have to drop the proposed legislative reforms. The church generously even agreeing to help fund this campaign. The Archbishop strengthens his case by producing a legal technicality, allowing Hal to claim France. Now set on France, Hal proceeds, determined to have France. Fortuitously, Hal learns that Richard Earl of Cambridge, Henry Lord Scroop of Marsham and Sir Thomas Grey, Knight of Northumberland had planned to assassinate him. Discovering this, Hal has these men quickly executed as an example despite their repenting.

Meanwhile, Hal's initial legal claim for France meets with little support from the French, the French Regent's son, the Dauphin sending a case of tennis balls as their less than serious response. Hal decides then that it will be war. Worried that his throne is ripe for rebellion when his troops are overseas, Hal leaves sufficient troops behind to protect against an uprising, resulting in a small force to take France. Many of Hal's old friends join the army for France, later sharing their perspectives on the coming battle. Old friend Falstaff is not amongst them, said to be sick from Hal's earlier betrayal of him, later passing away before the English army sets foot in France.

Now fighting in France, the English forces siege Harfleur, taking heavy casualties from the French who still do not take Hal seriously; they see a boy not a ruler. Hal wisely wins the town by appealing to the defender's wish to avoid further bloodshed. During this battle, the boy who accompanies Bardolph, Nym and Pistol, deserts them, disgusted at their cowardice. Meanwhile the Dauphin expresses his desire to fight Hal, but is barred by his father.. . Bardolph steals money from a French church, and when Pistol reports this, old friends Bardolph and Nym are executed, Hal pointing out that his army will not pillage nor take anything that they have not paid for...

Fearing the arrival of winter, Hal wants to retreat his troops but the French threaten to make this impossible, Hal resolving to fight. On the eve of battle, the Hal disguises himself as a lowly soldier, learning their hopes and fears. Not all the men support Hal, but they will fight the French. The French are eager for battle, sensing an easy victory. Outnumbered some five times over, Hal delivers his famous St. Crispin's Day speech foreseeing a victory; the English will tell tales of this battle for years to come. At the Battle of Agincourt the English do just that, soundly defeating the French, helped no doubt by the technical supremacy of the English longbow. At Agincourt the French, breaking all conventions of war, kill boys in an English camp earning English retribution in the form of all French prisoners, many being nobility, being executed. The French, bewildered at their defeat, surrender, Hal marrying Katherine of France and being named heir to the throne of France, uniting the two nations.


Dramatis Personæ

Act I
Chorus, Scene I, Scene II

Act II
Chorus, Scene I,
Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV

Chorus, Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV, Scene V, Scene VI, Scene VII

Act IV
Chorus, Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV, Scene V, Scene VI, Scene VII, Scene VIII

Act V
Chorus, Scene I, Scene II

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