Henry V

Abridged Henry V/#1/Background/Act 1, Scene 1.1

The play opens with two high-level English clergymen
discussing a proposed action by the Parliament that would seriously impact the
Church, the Bishop of Canterbury saying “if it pass against us, we lose the
better half of our possession.”  A
concern of the clergy is that this bill before Parliament would reduce the
Church’s revenue by taking lands bequeathed to the Church; lands that the
Church now uses to support earls and knights, and to serve the less fortunate.
The bill would also require the Church to provide “a thousand pounds by th’
year to the coffers of the King.”  Ely
asks “But what prevention?”  The
conversation turns to the ‘reformed’ king, Canterbury saying it’s as if “an
angel came and whipped th’ offending Adam out of him.”  Ely asks “But, my good lord, how now for
mitigation of this bill.  Does his
Majesty incline to it or no?”  Canterbury
says “He seems indifferent.  I have made
an offer to his Majesty to give a greater sum than ever at one time the clergy
yet did to his predecessors part withal.”
Ely asks “Did this offer seem received?”
Canterbury answers “With good acceptance of his Majesty.  I perceived his Grace would gladly have the
several unhidden passages of his true titles, generally to the crown and seat
of France, derived from Edward, his great-grandfather.”  Ely asks “What impediment broke this
off?”  Canterbury says “The French
ambassador upon that instant craved audience.
I think the hour is come to give him hearing.  Go in we to know the French Ambassador’s
message.”  They exit.

Abridged Henry V/#2/Persuasion/Act 1, Scene 1.2

The scene opens in the King’s court.  Canterbury and Ely enter.  Henry V says to the Bishop of Canterbury “My
learned lord, we pray you to proceed to unfold why the law Salic that they have
in France should or should not bar us in my claim to the French crown.  We believe what you speak is in your
conscience washed as pure as sin with baptism.”
Canterbury reports that “there is no bar to make against your Highness’
claim to France but this: no woman shall succeed in Salic land. The Salic law
was not devised for the realm of France.
As clear as is the summer’s sun, all appear to hold in right and title
of the female, however much they would hold up this Salic law to bar your
Highness claiming from the female.”
Henry V asks “May I with right and conscience make this claim?”  Canterbury goes on to convolutedly support in
detail that since Henry V’s great-great grandmother (Edward III’s mother) was
heir to the French crown; therefore, he is entitled to it.  Ely supports it all, telling the King that
“You are their heir.  You sit upon their
throne.  The blood and courage that
renowned them runs in your veins.”
Exeter and Westmoreland, uncles to the king, enthusiastically support
the bishops. Canterbury offers the clincher, saying “In aid whereof we of the
spiritualty will raise your Highness such a mighty sum as never did the clergy
at one time bring in to any of your ancestors.”
The King says, yes, but we also must “defend against the Scot, who will
make road upon us with all advantages.”
Speaking of the Scots, Canterbury says “those who live in the
borderlands can defend our island from the pilfering borderers.”  The King notes that whenever his
“great-grandfather went with his forces into France that the Scot came pouring
like the tide into a breach.”  Canterbury
tries to soften any fear of Scotland, saying “England hath been more frightened
than harmed, my liege.”  Ely notes that
there is an old saying that you must first tame Scotland if you are to win
France, noting that mice will play if the cat’s away.  The King’s Uncle Exeter says “It follows,
then, the cat must stay at home.”
Canterbury convincingly says to the King “To France, my liege!  Divide your happy England into four, whereof
take you one quarter into France.  If we,
thrice such powers left at home, cannot defend our own doors from the dog, let
us be worried.”

Abridged Henry V/#3/Anger/Act 1, Scene 1.3

Henry V says “Call in the messengers sent from the
Dauphin.”  The Dauphin is the French
Prince, heir to the French throne.  All
the king’s attendants exit.  To himself the
King says, “Since France is mine, we’ll bend it to our awe or break it all to
pieces.  Either our history shall speak
freely of our acts, or else our graves.”
Escorted by Exeter, the French Ambassadors enter.  Henry V says “With frank plainness tell us
the Dauphin’s mind.”  The Ambassador says
“The Prince our master says you savor too much of your youth and bids you
cannot revel into dukedoms there. He sends you this chest of treasure and
desires you let the dukedoms that you claim hear no more of you.”  The King asks “What treasure, uncle?”  Exeter responds “Tennis balls, my
liege.”  Henry V responds ‘When we have
matched our rackets to these balls, we will in France play a set and shall
strike his father’s crown into the hazard.”
The King acknowledges his irresponsible youth, but says “I will rise
there with so full a glory that I will dazzle all the eyes of France, yea,
strike the Dauphin blind to look on us.
Tell the pleasant prince this mock of his hath turned his balls to
gun-stones.  Tell you the Dauphin I am
coming on and that his jest will savor but a shallow wit when thousands weep
more than did laugh at it.”  The
Ambassadors exit.  Exeter says “That was
a merry message.”  The King says “Let a
portion of our troops for these wars be soon collected and all things thought
upon that add more feathers to our wings.
We’ll chide this Dauphin at his father’s door.”

Abridged Henry V/#4/History/Act 2, Scene 1

The scene opens in the Eastcheap Tavern, a favorite
hang-out for Henry V and his buddies when the King was Prince Hal.  We learn that Nym was at one time engaged to
Hostess Nell Quickly, now Pistol’s wife.
Nym and Pistol have become not the best of friends, Bardolph asking Nym
“Are Ancient Pistol and you friends yet?”
Nym replies “For my part, I care not.”
Pistol and Hostess Quickly enter.
Nym and Pistol draw their swords.
The two men share insults with each other, tempered by Bardolph.  They sheathe their swords.  Boy enters and says “Mine host Pistol, you
must come to my master.  Faith, he’s very
ill.  He’s speaking of Falstaff.  Hostess Quickly says “The King has killed his
heart.”  She and Boy exit. Bardolph says
to the two men “Come, shall I make you two friends?  We must to France together.  Why the devil should we keep knives to cut
one another’s throats?”  Hostess Quickly
returns crying “Come quickly to Sir John.
Sweet men, come to him.”  Nym says
“The King hath caused poor health in Falstaff.”
Pistol adds “Nym, thou hast spoke the right.  His heart is broken.”

Abridged Henry V/#5/Awakening/Act 2, Scene 2

The King has just learned that three of his friends have
been bribed “for the gold of France,” and had made plans to assassinate
him.  Exeter and Westmoreland are on
stage discussing the crisis when Richard, Earl of Cambridge, along with Lord
Scroop and Thomas Grey are led onto the stage.
The King addresses the three, saying “Think you not that the armies we
bear with us will cut their passage through the force of France?”  Scroop says “No doubt, my liege.”  Cambridge says “Never was monarch better
feared and loved than is you Majesty.”
Grey adds “True.”  King Henry
tells the men “We have great cause of thankfulness and shall deal with issues
according to their weight and worthiness.”
The King asks Exeter to “set free the man who yesterday railed against
our person.  We consider it was excess of
wine that set him on. We pardon him.”
The three men called before him all suggest that the man should be
punished.  The King suggests little
problems should be dismissed.  The King
hands papers to the three men and asks them to “read them.”  They do.
The King says “Now gentlemen, what see you in those papers that you lose
so much complexion?”  They promptly admit
their guilt and appeal for “your Highness’ mercy.”  The King lays into the three, saying to all
that Cambridge “hath for a few light crowns conspired and sworn unto the
schemes of France to kill us here in Hampton.”
He says to Lord Scroop “thou didst bear the key of all my counsels; thou
knew’st the very bottom of my soul.”  He
really lays into them, saying, for example, “He that tempted thee gave thee no
instance why thou shouldst do treason, unless to dub thee with the name of
traitor.”  He asks all three “Why, so
didst thou?”  He notes that all three are
learned, of noble families, seem religious, had moderate appetites, were
constant in spirit, unswerving with passion, and have been completely
modest.  He says “I will weep for thee.”  Exeter, on the King’s command, says “I arrest
thee of high treason.”  The three men
apologize.  The King showed his
compassion; now he shows his toughness.
He says “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.  Get you
therefore hence, poor miserable wretches, to your death.”  The three men exit under guard.  The King says “Now, lords, for France.  We doubt not of a fair and lucky war, since
God so graciously hath brought to light this dangerous treason lurking in our
way to hinder our beginning.  The signs
of war advance.  No king of England if
not king of France.”

Abridged Henry V/#6/Departure/Act 2, Scene 3

The scene is the tavern.
Pistol cries “Boy, bristle thy courage up. For Falstaff, he is dead, and
we must grieve therefore.”  They loved
the guy.  Bardolph says “Would I were
with him, wheresome’er he is, either in heaven or in hell.”  Nym says “Shall we go?  The King will be gone from Southampton.”  Pistol cries “Come, let’s away.  My love, give me thy lips.”  He and his wife, Hostess Quickly, kiss.  Pistol says to his wife “Let thrift appear.
Stay in the house, I thee command.”

Abridged Henry V/#7/Challenge/Act 2, Scene 4

The
scene is the king’s court in France.  The
concerned French king tells his son, the Dauphin, to “line and new-repair our
towns of war with men of courage and with means defendant.  It fits us to be provident as fear may teach
us out of late examples left by the underrated English upon our fields.”  The Dauphin replies “My most respected
father, it is most fitting we arm us ‘gainst the foe.  But let us do it with no show of fear, for,
my good liege, she is so idly kinged.”
The Constable of France jumps in, saying “O peace, Prince Dauphin!  You are too much mistaken in this king.”  The Dauphin says “Well, ‘tis not so, my Lord
Constable,” but we still need to be prepared.
The King of France then tells the story of England’s Black Prince of
Wales (Richard II’s father) and how he ran roughshod over the French in the
Cressy battle, while his father (Edward III) “standing on the mountain saw his
heroical seed and smiled to see him mangle” our twenty-year old soldiers.  The King tells his son “This is a stem of that
victorious stock, and let us fear the native mightiness and fate of him.”  A Messenger reports that “Ambassadors from
Harry King of England do crave admittance.”
Exeter enters and gets right to the point, telling France’s King that
“England’s King greets your Majesty and wills you divest yourself and set aside
your crown.”  He offers the King a
paper.  Exeter says “When you find him
derived from his most famed of famous ancestors, Edward the Third, he bids you
resign your crown and kingdom, indirectly held from him, the native and true
challenger.”  The French king asks “Or
else what follows?”  Exeter responds
“Bloody force, for if you hide the crown even in your hearts, there will he
rake for it.  He bids you deliver up the
crown and to take mercy on the poor souls for whom this hungry war opens his
vasty jaws.”  France’s king responds “For
us, we will consider this further.
Tomorrow shall you bear our full intent.”  When the Dauphin asks Exeter what message
Henry V has for him, Exeter replies “Scorn and defiance, slight regard and
contempt.  Do not sweeten the bitter mock
you sent his Majesty.”  The Dauphin
replies “I did present him with tennis balls.”
Exeter replies “He’ll make your Paris shake for it.”  France’s king gets back into the conversation,
saying “Tomorrow shall you know our mind at full.”  Exeter warns the King, saying “Dispatch us
with all speed, for our King is footed in this land

Abridged Henry V/#8/Assault/Act 3, Scenes 1-2

Henry V and his army are at the walls of the city of Harfleur,
ready to scale the ladders.  The King
encourages his men with a heavy and inspiring speech that begins, “Once more
into the breach, dear friends, or close the wall up with our English
dead.”  He continues with “Disguise fair
nature with hard-favored rage. English fathers have in these parts from morn
till even fought.  Dishonor not your
mothers.  I see you stand like greyhounds
in the slips, straining upon the start.
The game’s afoot. Follow your spirit.”
Separately, Nym, Bardolph, Pistol and Boy enter.  Bardolph says “To the breach!”  Nym says “Pray thee, corporal, stay.”  Pistol and Boy say they wish they were back
in London.  Captain Fluellen shouts “Up
to the breach, you dogs!”  Pistol replies
“Be merciful, great duke, abate thy manly rage.”  Boy says “I am a boy to them all three, but
all they do not amount to a man.  They
will steal anything and call it purchase.
I must leave them and seek some better service.”  He exits.
Shakespeare offers more lightness, drawing in Fluellen, Gower, Macmorris,
Fluellen saying Macmorris “has no more discipline than a puppy dog.”  They are Irish and Welsh and their accents
are played up, making their discussion of military tactics appear foolish.

Abridged Henry V/#9/Threat/Act 3, Scenes 3-5

Henry V is on stage, continuing to threaten the men of
Harfleur.  He tells them “This is the
last conference we will grant.  Therefore
to our mercy give yourselves or defy us to our worst.  If I begin bombardment once again, I will not
leave the half-achieved Harfleur till in her ashes she lie buried.  What is it then to me if through impious war
all falls into waste and destruction.”
He ends his threat with “What say you?
Will you yield and thus avoid or, being guilty for defending yourselves,
be thus destroyed?”  The French Governor
replies “Great king, we yield our town and lives to thy soft mercy.  Enter our gates for we no longer are
defensible.”  Henry V cries “Open your
gates.”  The Governor exits.  Henry V says “Uncle Exeter, go you and enter
Harfleur.  We will retire to Calais, but
tonight in Harfleur will we be your guest.”
Separately, Alice, a gentlewoman, begins to teach English to Katherine,
the Princess of France.  Scene Five opens
with the King of France and his key aides on stage.  All of the French King’s men are
discouraged.  The Constable says “Where
have they this mettle?  Is not their
climate foggy, raw, and dull, on whom the sun looks pale, killing their fruit
with frowns?  O, for honor of our
land.”  The Dauphin says “Our wives mock
at us and plainly say our mettle is exhausted.”
Brittany says “They bid us to the English dancing-schools.”  The King of France steps up, saying “Where is
Montjoy the herald?  Speed him
hence.  Let him greet England with our
sharp defiance.  Bar Harry England, that
sweeps through our land with lances painted in the blood of Harfleur.  Bring him our prisoner.”  The Constable changes his message, saying
“His numbers are few, his soldiers sick and famished in their march, for, I am
sure, when he shall see our army, he’ll offer us his ransom.”  The King of France says “Let Montjoy say to
England that we send to know what willing ransom he will give.  Now forth, Lord Constable and princes all,
and quickly bring us word of England’s fall.”

Abridged Henry V/#10/Defiance/Act 2, Scene 6

Captains Gower and Fluellen along with Corporal Pistol
are on stage.  Fluellen moralizes, saying
to Pistol that “Fortune is painted blind and with a wheel to signify that she
is turning and inconstant.”  Pistol
replies that “Fortune is Bardolph’s foe and frowns on him, for he hath stolen a
gold tablet and hanged he must be. Speak captain, for his life.”  Fluellen responds, saying “I would desire he
be put to execution, for discipline ought to be used.”  Pistol cries ‘Die and be damned,” and
exits.  Henry V enters, and asks Fluellen
“What men have you lost?”  Fluellen
replies “I think the Duke hath lost never a man but one that is life to be
executed for robbing a church, one Bardolph, if your Majesty knows the
man.”  Bardolph was one of Prince Hal’s
friends when they were youths; when the king was the prince.  The King says “We would have all such
offenders so cut off.”  Montjoy
enters.  Henry V says “Unfold what you have
from your king.”  Montjoy begins, saying
(on behalf of the French King) that we could have rebuked him at Harfleur, but
we thought not good to bruise an injury till it were full ripe.  Bid him consider his ransom, which must
proportion the losses we have borne, the subjects we have lost, the disgrace we
have digested.”  The King says to Montjoy
“Thou dost thy duty fairly.  Tell thy
king I could march on to Calais for, to say the truth, my people are with
sickness much enfeebled.  My ransom is
this frail and worthless trunk, my army but a weak and sickly guard, yet tell
him we will come on through France.”  He
gives Montjoy money, saying “There’s for thy labor, Montjoy.”  King Henry goes on to say “If we be hindered,
we shall your tawny ground with your red blood discolor. And so, Montjoy, fare
you well.”  Montjoy exits.  Gloucester says “I hope they will not come
upon us now.”  Henry V says “We are in
God’s hand, brother, not in theirs.”