A Study Guide
Complete Text of the Shakespeare Play
With Definitions of Difficult Words and
Explanations of Difficult Passages
The text of Henry V on this page is based on the
text in the authoritative 1914 Oxford Edition of
Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig. The text numbers
the lines. Annotations (notes and definitions) appear in
boldface type. In
a prologue that begins each of the five acts, an actor
referred to as "chorus" introduces the action. He also makes
a closing comment at the end of the play.
King of England and great warrior who rallies his
troops with patriotic appeals. He is the
protagonist, or main character. Shakespeare
introduced Henry, a member of the House of
Lancaster, to his readers as Prince Henry (also
known as Prince Hal and simply Harry)
in Henry IV Part I and Henry IV Part II.
Now in his twenties, Henry has abandoned the folly of
his teenage years, when he caroused and womanized, in
favor of concentrating all his energies on being a
wise warrior king. He refuses to associate with his
old drinking friends from the slums of London in order
to preserve the dignity of his office as king.
However, he exhibits great sympathy for his
beleaguered troops, whether noblemen or commoners, in
his struggle to defeat a larger French army at the
Battle of Agincourt in 1415. There, he exhibits
courage tempered with prudence and good judgment, as
well as all of the other leadership qualities required
of a king and leader of armies. Shakespeare may have
concentrated too much attention on Henry V as a heroic
warrior and not enough attention on Henry V as a man.
Unlike Hamlet, Richard III, King Lear, and Othello,
Henry V is almost one-dimensional. His psyche remains
ensconced in his gray matter, unexamined. On the other
hand, Shakespeare's depiction of Henry as a nearly
flawless superhuman established the young king as a
model for monarchs and statesmen of later generations.
The spirit of his fiery, never-say-die patriotism and
echoes of his rousing rhetoric have rallied the
British in times of crisis down through the ages. In
his Second World War speeches, Winston Churchill, an
admirer of Henry, paraphrased Shakespeare's depiction
of him. Americans have been among Henry's admirers,
too, including Presidents Woodrow Wilson and John F.
Gloucester (Humphrey of
Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester): King's brother.
(John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford): King's
Clarence (Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of
Clarence): King's brother.
Exeter (Thomas Beaufort, 1st
Duke of Exeter): King's uncle. He arrests
three traitors (Lord Scroop, Sir Thomas Grey, and
Cambridge) plotting to assassinate the king.
(Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York):
King's cousin. Henry grants his request to lead the
vanguard of troops at the Battle of Agincourt. He
dies at Agincourt.
Suffolk (Michael de la Pole, 3rd Earl of
Suffolk): Nobleman who dies honorably at Agincourt.
(Thomas Montagu, 4th Earl of Salisbury): One of the
noblemen who tried the 3rd Earl of Cambridge for
conspiracy to assassinate King Henry.
Westmoreland (Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of
Westmoreland): One of the noblemen who urge Henry to
go to war against France.
Warwick (Thomas Beauchamp, 13th
Earl of Warwick): Warrior who fought against rebels
at home before going to France to fight valiantly in
Huntingdon (John Holland): Cousin of Henry V
and participant in the Battle of Agincourt.
Archbishop of Canterbury (Henry
Chichele): Clergyman who
advises the king about his right to invade France
and claim the crown.
Bishop of Ely (John Fordham):
Clergyman who joins the archbishop in advising the
king about his right to invade France and claim the
Lord Scroop (Henry Scrope, 3rd
Baron Scrope of Masham): One of three conspirators
in a plot to assassinate King Henry.
Sir Thomas Grey: The second of three
conspirators in a plot to assassinate King Henry.
Cambridge (Richard of Conisburgh,
3rd Earl of Cambridge): Third of three conspirators
in a plot to assassinate King Henry.
Fluellen: Welsh officer who is a courageous
and loyal leader and prides himself on his knowledge
of the history of warfare. He is also a comic figure
who speaks with a heavy Welsh accent.
Captain Gower: English officer.
Captain Macmorris: Irish officer.
Captain Jamy: Scottish officer.
Like Fluellen, Jamy is knowledgeable in the history
Thomas Erpingham: Knight who leads the
archers at the Battle of Agincourt.
John Bates, Alexander Court, Michael
Williams: Soldiers in the king's
Sir John Falstaff
(Offstage Character): Fictional
character who was a bosom pal and drinking companion
of Henry when the
latter was the youthful heir to the throne (Henry
IV Part I and Henry IV Part II).
Falstaff is not listed in
Shakespeare's original character list for Henry
V because he has no lines and does
not appear on the stage. However,
Pistol reports his death from an
illness (2.3.6). In Act 4, Scene 7,
Fluellen and Gower make a brief
reference to Falstaff. In Henry
IV Part II, Prince Henry ends
his friendship with Falstaff before
being crowned Henry V in order to
maintain his dignity as king.
Falstaff, crestfallen and
brokenhearted, begins to decline in
health. His death in Henry V
symbolizes the new king's final
rejection of his former lifestyle as
a carousing mischief-maker. The death of the fictional Falstaff in Henry
V was mourned by no less a personage
than Queen Elizabeth I. His shenanigans in the Henry
IV plays were highly entertaining to
the great monarch. Consequently, Shakespeare
resurrected Falstaff to star in The
Merry Wives of Windsor.
Nym, Bardolph: Fictional
characters who appeared in Henry IV Part I
and Henry IV Part II. In those plays, they
were drinking companions of Falstaff and Henry. In
Henry V, they are soldiers hoping to
practice their trade, thievery, in France. Bardolph
is hanged for stealing a sacred
object from a church. Pistol
helps to verify the king's good qualities for the
audience and readers when he says,
The king's a bawcock
[fine fellow], and a heart of gold,
Friend of Pistol, Nym and Bardolph and onetime page of
Falstaff. Unlike Henry V, Boy exhibits a very human
quality: fear. On the battlefield at Agincourt, he says,
''Would I were in an alehouse in London! I would give all
my fame for a pot of ale and safety'' (3.2.6).
A lad of life, an imp
Of parents good, of
fist most valiant.
I kiss his dirty
shoe, and from heart-string
I love the lovely
Hostess: Pistol's wife. She is a
hostess at the Boar's Head Tavern in London. In Henry IV
Part I and Henry IV Part II, in
which she was unmarried, she was known as
The chorus (one person) recites the famous prologue before
Act 1. The prologue asks the audience to imagine that the
stage of the Curtain Theatre presents a view of the
historical places mentioned in the play, including the
battlefields of France. The chorus actor also introduces
the other acts of the play and presents a conclusion at
the end of the play.
Charles VI: King of France.
Queen of France.
Daughter of the French king and queen. After Henry defeats
the French, he proposes to Katherine.
Attendant of Katharine.
(Lewis, or Louis, Duke of Guyenne): Conceited
son of the King of France.
of Orléans (Charles): Overconfident nobleman in the
French army. He says of Henry, "What a wretched and
peevish fellow is this King of England, to mope with his
fatbrained followers so far out of his knowledge!"
Duke of Bourbon: (Jean de Bourbon): Nobleman who
urges his fellow soldiers to return to the field of battle
at Agincourt after the English gain the upper hands. He
Shame, and eternal
shame, nothing but shame!
Duke of Berri
(John of Berri; also spelled Berry): French nobleman.
Let’s die in honour!
once more back again [to the battle];
And he that will not
follow Bourbon now,
Let him go hence, and with his cap in
Like a base pander
[panderer], hold the chamber-door
Whilst by a slave, no
gentler than my dog,
His fairest daughter
is contaminated. (4.5.13-19)
Duke of Britaine: French nobleman.
Duke of Burgundy (John the Fearless): French
nobleman who helps conduct negotiations with Henry V.
Constable of France (Charles d’Albret,
High Constable of France): Commander of the French army.
The King of France refers to him as Delabreth instead of
Rambures (David de Rambures): French knight and
Nobleman in the French army.
Monsieur Le Fer: French soldier who begs for his
life on the battlefield.
From the Dauphin to the King of England
Minor Characters: Lords,
ladies, officers, soldiers, citizens, messengers, and
Act 1, Prologue.
Act 1, Scene 1: An antechamber
in the King's palace.
Act 1, Scene 2: The presence
chamber [reception room] in the King's palace.
Act 2, Prologue.
Act 2, Scene 1: London.
Act 2, Scene 2: Southampton. A
Act 2, Scene 3: London. Before
a tavern in Eastcheap.
Act 2, Scene 4: France. An
apartment in the French King's palace.
Act 3, Prologue.
Act 3, Scene 1: France. Before
Act 3, Scene 2: France. Before
Act 3, Scene 3: France. Before
the gates of Harfleur.
Act 3, Scene 4: Rouen. A room
in the palace.
Act 3, Scene 5: Rouen. Another
room in the palace.
Act 3, Scene 6: The English
camp in Picardy.
Act 3, Scene 7: The French
camp, near Agincourt.
Act 4, Prologue.
Act 4, Scene 1: The English
camp at Agincourt.
Act 4, Scene 2: The French
Act 4, Scene 3: The English
Act 4, Scene 4: The field of
Act 4, Scene 5: Another part
of the field.
Act 4, Scene 6: Another part
of the field.
Act 4, Scene 7: Another part
of the field.
Act 4, Scene 8: Before King
Act 5, Prologue.
Act 5, Scene 1: An English
court of guard.
Act 5, Scene 2: Troyes in
Champagne. An apartment in the French King's palace.
Act 1, Prologue.
CHORUS: O! for a Muse of fire, that would
The brightest heaven of invention;
[O! . . . invention: O! I wish a muse would inspire our acting
company to perform this play brilliantly. (In Greek mythology,
there were nine goddesses who served as muses that
inspired the work of writers, artists, actors, historians,
mathematicians, and so on.)]
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.
Then should the war-like Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword, and
Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all,
[A kingdom . . . gentles all: I also wish that we could use our
entire kingdom as our stage and that we had real princes, kings,
and queens to star in the roles they played when they were
alive. Then the great warrior-king, Henry V—called Harry by his
friends—could stand here looking like the god of war,
Mars. With him would be the hounds of war—famine, sword, and
fire—ready to pounce. But pardon us, ladies and gentlemen for
not having a muse or a gigantic stage.]
The flat unraised spirits that hath dar’d
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: 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?
[The flat . . . Agincourt: We ordinary folk nevertheless dare
to present warfare on this unworthy stage. Can it hold the vast
fields of France? Can we cram inside this O-shaped theater the
very helmets of the soldiers whose war cries frightened
the air itself at the Battle of Agincourt?]
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
[O . . . work: O, pardon us, but we're going to make a
few men look like gigantic armies. How? Well, we're going to be
a small number to which your imaginations will add several zeroes.
Then we'll be a large number—those thousands of men who fought
Suppose within the girdle of these
Are now confin’d two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
[Suppose . . . asunder: Picture two mighty kingdoms confined
within the walls of this theater, kingdoms whose shorelines—with
their high cliffs—are neighbors, divided only by a narrow strip
of ocean (the English Channel, known as La Manche in
Piece out our imperfections with your
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance;
[Piece out . . . puissance: Form pictures of these imperfect
countries in your mind. Divide one man into a thousand
to make up an imaginary army.]
Think when we talk of horses that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our
Carry them here and there, jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
[For 'tis . . . history: It is your thoughts that must outfit
our kings, transport them to this place or that—and even from
one period of time to another, making events that took place
over many years appear as if they happened in an hour or a day.
Let me, the chorus, help you imagine these things.]
Who prologue-like your humble patience
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play. [Exit.
[Who . . . play: I conclude this introduction by asking you to
be patient as you watch and, I hope, kindly judge our
Act 1, Scene 1
antechamber in the KING’S palace.
Enter the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY and the BISHOP OF ELY.
CANTERBURY: My lord, I’ll tell you; that self [selfsame]
bill is urg’d,
Which in th’ eleventh year of the last king’s [Henry
Was like [likely], and had indeed against us
But that the scambling [confusing; marked by a struggle]
and unquiet time
Did push it out of further question.
ELY: But how, my lord, shall we resist it
CANTERBURY: It must be thought on. If it pass against
We lose the better half of our possession;
For all the temporal lands [private lands; lands owned
by citizens] which men devout [devout men]
By testament [legally] have given to the
Would they strip from us; being valu’d thus:
As much [money] as would maintain, to the king’s
Full fifteen earls and fifteen hundred knights,
Six thousand and two hundred good esquires [country gentlemen];
And, to relief of lazars [lepers] and weak
Of indigent faint souls past corporal toil [poor souls unable
A hundred almshouses right well supplied;
And to the coffers of the king beside,
A thousand pounds by the year. Thus runs the
ELY: This would drink deep.
CANTERBURY: ’Twould drink the cup and all.
ELY: But what prevention?
CANTERBURY: The king is full of grace and fair
ELY: And a true lover of the holy church.
CANTERBURY: The courses of his youth promis’d it
The breath no sooner left his father’s body
But that his wildness, mortified in him,
Seem’d to die too; yea, at that very moment,
Consideration like an angel came,
And whipp’d the offending Adam [sinner; transgressor] out
Leaving his body as a paradise,
To envelop and contain celestial spirits [good thoughts;
Never was such a sudden scholar made;
Never came reformation in a flood,
With such a heady currance [powerful wave], scouring [wiping
Nor never Hydra-headed willfulness
So soon did lose his seat and all at once
As in this king.
[Hydra-headed willfulness: Comparison of Henry V's stubborn
willfulness as a young man to that of the Hydra. In Greek
mythology, the Hydra was a serpent with nine heads. ]
ELY: We are blessed in the change.
CANTERBURY: Hear him but reason in divinity,
[Hear . . . divinity: If you listen to him discuss theology]
And, all-admiring, with an inward wish
You would desire the king were made a prelate [bishop; member
of the church hierarchy]:
Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,
You would say it hath been all in all his study:
[Hear . . . study: Listen to him debate affairs of state and
you would say he had studied government and politics.]
List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
A fearful battle render’d you in music:
[List . . . music: Listen to him talk about war, and he will
describe with enthralling words all the details of a
Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
[Turn . . . unloose: Give him any difficult policy problem and
he will solve it easily. (In ancient Greek legend, the Gordian
knot—tied by King Gordius of Phrygia—was seemingly impossible to
undo. On his march through Asia, Alexander the Great came across
the knot at Gordium, the capital of Phryigia. According to one
story, he untied it without difficulty. According to another
story, he simply cut through the knot with his sword. Over the
centuries, the term Gordian knot came to
symbolize any difficult problem or puzzle.)]
Familiar as his garter; that, when he
The air, a charter’d libertine, is still,
And the mute wonder lurketh in men’s ears,
To steal his sweet and honey’d sentences;
[when he . . . sentences: When he speaks, even the air—which is
free to blow where it pleases—stops to listen in silence,
allowing men's ears to hear his sweet and honeyed sentences.]
So that the art and practic part of life
Must be the mistress to this theoric:
[So that . . . theoric: One may conclude that the art and
practice of everyday living as a youth gave him insight and
wisdom that now guide his thinking as a monarch. You might say
that his earlier experiences serve as the mistress, the
inspiration, of his present thinking.]
Which is a wonder how his Grace should glean
Since his addiction was to courses vain;
His companies unletter’d, rude, and shallow;
His hours fill’d up with riots, banquets,
[Which is . . . sports: It's a wonder how the king learned from
those early experiences. After all, he was addicted to foolish
pursuits with uneducated, rude, and shallow fellows. He led a
riotous life, gorging on food and drink and taking part in all
sorts of wild entertainment.]
And never noted in him any study,
Any retirement, any sequestration
From open haunts and popularity.
[And never . . . popularity: And he never seemed to apply
himself to learning. Nor did seem inclined to keep away, or
separate himself, from places of public revelry and
ELY: The strawberry grows underneath the
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
Neighbour’d by fruit of baser quality:
And so the prince obscur’d his contemplation
Under the veil of wildness; which, no doubt,
Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night,
Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty.
[The strawberry . . . faculty: The strawberry grows beneath
prickly plants with a painful sting. However, strawberries
thrive and ripen best when growing next to such inferior plants.
The prince grew to manhood in the same way, in the company of
wild companions, all the while hiding his superior intellectual
qualities. These qualities were then able to grow prolifically
without being noticed, like summer grass that grows fast overnight—unseen
CANTERBURY: It must be so; for miracles are
And therefore we must needs admit the means
How things are perfected.
[It must . . . perfected: It must be true that he learned
valuable lessons while associating with base and vulgar people.
The change in him couldn't have come about through a miracle,
for the age of miracles ended after Christ left the
earth. So I guess we just have to admit that his unsavory youth
helped to bring out his good qualities.]
ELY: But, my good lord,
How now for mitigation of this bill
Urg’d by the commons? Doth his majesty
Incline to it, or no?
[How . . . no: How do we prevent parliament from passing this
bill? Does the king support it?]
CANTERBURY: He seems indifferent,
Or rather swaying more upon our part
Than cherishing the exhibiters against us;
[He seems . . . us: He seems neutral on the matter, but he
might be leaning a little toward our position on it
rather than the position of our opponents.]
For I have made an offer to his majesty,
Upon our spiritual 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 sum
Than ever at one time the clergy yet
Did to his predecessors part withal.
[For I have . . . withal: You see, after I met with our brother
bishops, I made a proposal to his majesty that has to do with
France. He would stand to receive a greater sum from us than any
previous king received from the clergy.]
ELY: How did this offer seem receiv’d, my
CANTERBURY: With good acceptance of his
Save that there was not time enough to hear,—
As I perceiv’d his Grace would fain [gladly] have
The severals [separate] and unhidden
Of his true titles to some certain dukedoms [in France],
And generally to the crown and seat of France,
Deriv’d from Edward, his great-grandfather.
[With good . . . great-grandfather: He appeared to accept the
offer. However, he didn't have enough time to hear all the
particulars of the deal, which would give him legal rights to
French dukedoms and to the French crown itself. He inherited
these rights from his great-grandfather, King Edward III.]
ELY: What was the impediment that broke this
[What . . . off: What was the reason that he didn't have
time to hear these particulars?]
CANTERBURY: The French ambassador upon that
Crav’d audience; and the hour I think is come
To give him hearing: is it four o’clock?
ELY: It is.
CANTERBURY: Then go we in to know his embassy;
[Then . . . embassy: Then let's go in to hear what the
ambassador has to say.]
Which I could with a ready guess declare
Before the Frenchman speak a word of it.
ELY: I’ll wait upon [go with] you, and I long to
hear it. [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: A stage direction indicating that
actors/characters are leaving the stage.]
Act 1, Scene 2
presence chamber in the KING'S palace.
[presence chamber: Reception room]
Enter KING HENRY, GLOUCESTER, BEDFORD, EXETER, WARWICK,
WESTMORELAND, and Attendants.
KING HENRY: Where is my gracious lord of
EXETER: Not here in presence.
KING HENRY: Send for him, good uncle.
WESTMORELAND: Shall we call in the ambassador, my
KING HENRY: Not yet, my cousin: we would be
Before we hear him, of some things of weight
That task our thoughts, concerning us and
Enter the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY and the BISHOP OF ELY.
CANTERBURY: God and his angels guard your sacred
And make you long become it!
KING HENRY: Sure [be assured], we thank
My learned lord, we pray you to proceed,
And justly and religiously unfold
Why the law Salique that they have in France
Or should, or should not, bar us in our claim.
[And justly . . . claim: And explain, on legal and religious
grounds, why the Salique law in France does or does not grant us
the right to make claims against France.]
And God forbid, my dear and faithful
That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your
Or nicely charge your understanding soul
With opening titles miscreate, whose right
Suits not in native colours with the truth;
[And God . . . truth: And, my dear and loyal lord, God forbid
that you should distort or alter the facts of the case in any
way. Do not burden your soul with using clever arguments to make
false claims against France. I want 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.
[For God . . . us to: For God knows how many men will shed
their blood if what you say incites us to go to war
Therefore take heed how you impawn [put at risk] our
How you awake the sleeping sword of war:
We charge you in the name of God, take heed;
For never two such kingdoms did contend
Without much fall of blood; whose guiltless
Are every one a woe, a sore complaint,
’Gainst him whose wrongs give edge unto the
That make such waste in brief mortality.
[We charge . . .mortality: It is your duty to heed what I say.
Bear in mind that never did England and France go to war without
shedding a lot of blood. If we go to war again, this time for an
unjust cause, every drop of innocent blood will condemn the man
who tried to justify the war with false claims and caused
so many to die an early death.]
Under this conjuration [warning; plea; solemn
appeal] speak, my lord,
And we will hear, note, and believe in heart,
That what you speak is in your conscience wash’d
As pure as sin with baptism.
In lines 38-100 (below) the Archbishop of Canterbury explains
why Henry V has a right to claim French lands and the French
throne itself. Because the lines contain legal jargon and
obscure historical information, they are difficult to interpret.
Therefore, a plain-English interpretation follows line 100.
CANTERBURY: Then hear me, gracious sovereign, and you
That owe yourselves, your lives, and services
To this imperial throne. There is no bar
To make against your highness’ claim to France
But this, which they produce from Pharamond,
In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant,
‘No woman shall succeed in Salique land:’
Which Salique land the French unjustly gloze
To be the realm of France, and Pharamond
The founder of this law and female bar.
Yet their own authors faithfully affirm
That the land Salique is in Germany,
Between the floods of Sala and of Elbe;
Where Charles the Great, having subdu’d the
There left behind and settled certain French;
Who, holding in disdain the German women
For some dishonest manners of their life,
Establish’d then this law; to wit, no female
Should be inheritrix in Salique land:
Which Salique, as I said, ’twixt Elbe and Sala,
Is at this day in Germany call’d Meisen.
Then doth it well appear the Salique law
Was not devised for the realm of France;
Nor did the French possess the Salique land
Until four hundred one-and-twenty years
After defunction of King Pharamond,
Idly suppos’d the founder of this law;
Who died within the year of our redemption
Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the Great
Subdu’d the Saxons, and did seat the French
Beyond the river Sala, in the year
Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say,
King Pepin, which deposed Childeric,
Did, as heir general, being descended
Of Blithild, which was daughter to King
Make claim and title to the crown of France.
Hugh Capet also, who usurp’d the crown
Of Charles the Duke of Loraine, sole heir male
Of the true line and stock of Charles the Great,
To find his title with some shows of truth,—
Though in pure truth, it was corrupt and
Convey’d himself as heir to the Lady Lingare,
Daughter to Charlemain, who was the son
To Lewis the emperor, and Lewis the son
Of Charles the Great. Also King Lewis the Tenth,
Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet,
Could not keep quiet in his conscience,
Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied
That fair Queen Isabel, his grandmother,
Was lineal of the Lady Ermengare,
Daughter to Charles the aforesaid Duke of
By the which marriage the line of Charles the
Was re-united to the crown of France.
So that, as clear as is the summer’s sun,
King Pepin’s title, and Hugh Capet’s claim,
King Lewis his satisfaction, all appear
To hold in right and title of the female:
So do the kings of France unto this day;
Howbeit they would hold up this Salique law
To bar your highness claiming from the female;
And rather choose to hide them in a net
Than amply to imbar their crooked titles
Usurp’d from you and your progenitors.
Explanation: Lines 38-100
The “Salique land” referred to by the archbishop was in
Germany and was occupied by Franks, Germanic people who later
moved westward and established France. Under the Salique law
(also called Salic law), a daughter could not inherit the
property and entitlements of her father. This proscription
applied to all women, including the daughter of a king. Thus,
despite her royal status, a king’s daughter could not pass on
lands and entitlements of the king to her children; she could
not give them what she did not legally possess.
In 805, after Charles the Great (Charlemagne) conquered
the Saxons (another Germanic people), many of his Franks settled
the so-called Salique (or Salic) land, making it—in effect—part
of France. One result of this development was that the Salique
law supposedly became effective for all of France, not just the
Salique portion of it. Therefore, a man descended from the
ruling class on the female side of the family was ineligible to
Because Henry V is the great-great-grandson of the
daughter of a king of France, the French argue, his claim on the
French throne is invalid.
However, the bishop points out, French kings over the
centuries acceded to the French throne even though their claim
to it was based on female ancestry. Apparently, the Salique law
did not apply to France after all. It was a dusty, ancient relic
which could not be applied arbitrarily in opposition to power
politics and ambition. But, the archbishop says, if the Salique
law did not apply to previous kings of France—if it was, in
fact, no longer in force—it should not apply to Henry in 1413.
To contend otherwise was to say that France legitimized
illegitimate kings. Therefore, the archbishop concludes, Henry
has a right to attack France. God will be on his side.
KING HENRY: May I with right and conscience make this
CANTERBURY: The sin upon my head, dread
For in the book of Numbers is it writ:
‘When the son dies, let the inheritance
Descend unto the daughter.’ Gracious lord,
[For in . . . daughter': Reference to the Book of Numbers (27:
8-9) in the Old Testament of the Bible.]
Stand for your own; unwind your bloody flag;
Look back into your mighty ancestors:
Go, my dread lord, to your great-grandsire’s
From whom you claim; invoke his war-like spirit,
And your great-uncle’s, Edward the Black Prince,
[Edward the Black Prince: Edward
Woodstock (1330-1376), oldest son of King Edward III. Called the
Black Prince, Edward Woodstock was a great military leader who
defeated French armies at the French towns of Crécy in
1346 and Poitiers in 1356.]
Making defeat on the full power of
Whiles his most mighty father [Edward III] on a
Stood smiling to behold his lion’s whelp [to behold his son]
Forage in blood of French nobility.
O noble English! that could entertain [fight]
With half their forces the full pride of France,
And let another half stand laughing by,
All out of work, and cold for action.
ELY: Awake remembrance of these valiant
And with your puissant [powerful] arm renew their
You are their heir, you sit upon their throne,
The blood and courage that renowned them
Runs in your veins; and my thrice-puissant liege [thrice-powerful
Is in the very May-morn of his youth,
Ripe for exploits and mighty enterprises.
EXETER: Your brother kings and monarchs of the
Do all expect that you should rouse yourself [get ready for
As did the former lions of your blood.
WESTMORELAND: They know your Grace hath cause and means and
So hath your highness; never King of England
Had nobles richer, and more loyal subjects,
Whose hearts have left their bodies here in
And lie pavilion’d in the fields of France.
[Whose . . . France: Their hearts lie in France in tents
pitched on the battlefield.]
CANTERBURY: O! let their bodies follow, my dear liege [lord],
With blood and sword and fire to win your right;
In aid whereof we of the spiritualty [clergy]
Will raise your highness such a mighty sum
As never did the clergy at one time
Bring in to any of your ancestors.
KING HENRY: We must not only arm to invade the
But lay down our proportions [allocate troops] to
Against the Scot, who will make road upon us [who will invade
With all advantages.
CANTERBURY: They of those marches, gracious
[They . . . marches: The Englishmen who live near the Scottish
Shall be a wall sufficient to defend
Our inland from the pilfering borderers.
KING HENRY: We do not mean the coursing snatchers [thieves
who strike along the border] only,
But fear the main intendment of the Scot,
[intendment: Intention to attack England]
Who hath been still a giddy [unpredictable; dangerous]
neighbour to us;
For you shall read that my great-grandfather [King Edward III]
Never went with his forces into France
But that the Scot on his unfurnish’d kingdom
[on his . . . kingdom: On Edward's undefended kingdom]
Came pouring, like the tide into a breach,
[like . . . breach: Like an ocean tide into a breach in
With ample and brim fulness of his force,
Galling the gleaned land with hot essays,
Girding with grievous siege castles and towns;
That England, being empty of defence,
[Galling . . . defence: Devastating the
unprotected land with fiery attacks and surrounding and laying
siege to castles and towns]
Hath shook and trembled at the ill
CANTERBURY: She hath been then more fear’d than harm’d, my
For hear her but exampled by herself:
When all her chivalry hath been in France
And she a mourning widow of her nobles,
She hath herself not only well defended,
But taken and impounded as a stray
The King of Scots; whom she did send to France,
To fill King Edward’s fame with prisoner kings,
And make your chronicle as rich with praise
As is the ooze and bottom of the sea
With sunken wrack and sumless treasuries.
[She hath . . . treasures: But England was more frightened by
the attacks than harmed, my lord. In fact, our country acted
bravely. At a time when all of England's armies were in France,
a time when England sorely missed the noblemen at war, the
country not only defended itself well but also captured the
Scottish king, David II, and sent him to France. His presence
there enhanced King Edward's reputation, for among his prisoners
was the ruler of a country. These events enriched England's
history as much as sunken treasure ships enrich the
bottom of the ocean.]
WESTMORELAND: But there’s a saying very old and
If that you will France
Then with Scotland
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 tear and havoc more than she can eat.
[But there's . . . can eat: But an old saying says that if you
want to conquer France, you first have to deal with Scotland.
You see, once the mighty eagle England pursues prey in foreign
lands, the weasel Scot sneaks into the eagle's nest and consumes
its eggs. Scotland is like a mouse that does whatever it wants
to when the cat's away.]
EXETER: It follows then the cat must stay at
Yet that is but a crush’d [imposed; forced]
Since we have locks to safeguard necessaries
And pretty traps to catch the petty thieves.
While that the armed hand doth fight abroad
The advised [wise; smart; well-prepared] head defends
itself at home:
For government, though high and low and lower,
Put into parts, doth keep in one consent,
Congreeing [harmonizing] in a full and natural
[It follows . . . music: What you're saying is that the cat
must stay home. But there's no need to keep troops here. After
all, we have locks to safeguard our valuables and necessities.
Moreover, we have traps to catch petty thieves. While our armies
fight abroad, the smart Englishman knows how to defend himself
at home. True, this country is divided into many parts—the
government with all of its officials and departments and
the people with all of their differences of opinion. But in
times of war, all of this diversity comes together, like the
notes in a single musical composition.]
CANTERBURY: Therefore doth heaven
The state of man in divers [diverse]
Setting endeavour in continual motion;
To which is fixed, as an aim or butt,
Obedience: for so work the honey-bees,
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
[Therefore . . . kingdom: That's true. Heaven gave mankind many
moving parts that are in continual motion, like the parts of a
machine. All of these parts work together, obediently, like
honey bees that carry out their task in an orderly
manner. We can learn from them.]
They have a king and officers of sorts;
Where some, like magistrates, correct [uphold the law] at
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad,
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings [armed with
Make boot upon the summer’s velvet buds;
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent-royal of their emperor:
[Make boot . . . emperor: Invade summer's flowers, seize
treasure, and take it home to their emperor.]
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold,
The civil citizens kneading up the honey,
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate,
The sad-ey’d justice, with his surly hum,
Delivering o’er to executors pale
The lazy yawning drone. I this infer,
[Who . . . drone: The emperor busies himself by watching over
the buzzing bees that build the honeycomb, those that make and
store honey, and those that bring in nectar from flowers. The
emperor also watches as the solemn-looking magistrate bee,
humming gruffly, sentences the lazy drone bee to
That many things, having full
To one consent, may work contrariously;
[That many . . . contrariously: Many things may work in
different ways to achieve a common goal.]
As many arrows, loosed several ways,
Fly to one mark; as many ways [roads] meet in one
As many fresh streams meet in one salt sea;
As many lines close in the dial’s [sundial's]
So may a thousand actions, once afoot,
End in one purpose, and be all well borne
Without defeat. Therefore to France, my liege.
Divide your happy England into four;
Whereof take you one quarter into France,
And you withal shall make all Gallia [another name for France]
If we, with thrice such powers left at home,
Cannot defend our own doors from the dog,
Let us be worried and our nation lose
The name of hardiness and policy.
KING HENRY: Call in the messengers sent from the
Dauphin. [Exit an Attendant.
[Dauphin: Title of the oldest son of the French king]
Now are we well resolv’d; and by God’s help,
And yours, the noble sinews of our power [strength of our
France being ours, we’ll bend it to our awe
Or break it all to pieces: or there we’ll sit,
Ruling in large and ample empery [oversight]
O’er France and all her almost kingly dukedoms,
Or lay these bones in an unworthy urn,
Tombless, with no remembrance over them:
[Or lay . . . them: Or burn me and put my ashes in an unworthy
urn, tombless, without any memory of my life.]
Either our history shall with full mouth
Speak freely of our acts, or else our grave,
Like Turkish mute, shall have a tongueless mouth,
Not worshipp’d with a waxen epitaph.
[or else . . . epitaph: Or else our grave shall be like a
Turkish eunuch without a tongue—that is, our tombstone will have
no engraved epitaph to speak of our past deeds. (A eunuch
was a castrated harem attendant whose tongue had been cut out.)]
Enter Ambassadors of France.
Now are we well prepar’d to know the pleasure
Of our fair cousin Dauphin; for we hear
Your greeting is from him, not from the king.
FIRST AMBASSADOR: May ’t please your majesty to give us
Freely to render what we have in charge;
Or shall we sparingly show you far off
The Dauphin’s meaning and our embassy?
KING HENRY: We are no tyrant, but a Christian
Unto whose grace our passion is as subject
[our . . . subject: I am as much a subject in this
As are our wretches fetter’d in our prisons:
Therefore with frank and with uncurbed [unrestrained]
Tell us the Dauphin’s mind.
FIRST AMBASSADOR: Thus then, in few.
Your highness, lately sending into France,
Did claim some certain dukedoms, in the right
Of your great predecessor, King Edward the
In answer of which claim, the prince our master
Says that you savour too much of your youth,
[Says . . . youth: Says you act too much like an
And bids you be advis’d there’s nought [nothing] in
That can be with a nimble galliard won;
You cannot revel into dukedoms there.
[And bids . . . there: And advises you that there's nothing in
France that you can win using the things you're famous
for—lively dances, drinking, and merrymaking.]
He therefore sends you, meeter for your
This tun of treasure; and, in lieu of this,
Desires you let the dukedoms that you claim
Hear no more of you. This the Dauphin speaks.
[He therefore . . . of you: The Dauphin therefore presents you
this chest of treasure as an appropriate gift for a person like
you. In return, give up your claim to dukedoms in France.]
KING HENRY: What treasure,
EXETER: Tennis-balls, my liege.
KING HENRY: We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with
His present and your pains we thank you for:
When we have match’d 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.
[hazard: Term referring to the receiver's side in "real
tennis," a type of indoor tennis in which players use a solid
ball and the roof is part of the playing area. The rules differ
from those in lawn tennis or hard-court tennis.]
Tell him he hath made a match with such a
That all the courts of France will be disturb’d
With chaces. And we understand him well,
[chace: In "real tennis," a ball that bounces twice.]
How he comes o’er us with our wilder days,
Not measuring what use we made of them.
[How . . . them: How he criticizes me for the wildness of my
youth, unaware that it helped make me a better man.]
We never valu’d this poor seat of England;
And therefore, living hence, did give ourself
To barbarous licence; as ’tis ever common
That men are merriest when they are from home.
[We never . . . home: When I was younger, I didn't appreciate
the importance of the English throne. I kept away from it,
maintaining a low profile so I could give free rein to
my vulgar tastes. You see, men are merriest when they are away
from home—out of the public eye and away from a scolding
But tell the Dauphin I will keep my
Be like a king and show my sail of greatness
When I do rouse me in my throne of France:
For that I have laid by my majesty
And plodded like a man for working-days,
[But tell . . . working-days: But tell the Dauphin I will be a
serious-minded king who will show his greatness when I sit on
the throne of France. It was for this reason—to learn how to be
a good king—that I spent my younger days as I did.]
But I will rise there [in France] with so full a
That I will dazzle all the eyes of France,
Yea, strike the Dauphin blind to look on us.
And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his
Hath turn’d his balls [the tennis balls] to gun-stones [cannonballs];
and his soul
Shall stand sore-charged [blameworthy] for the wasteful [ruinous;
That shall fly with them: for many a thousand
Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands;
[Shall . . . husbands: The Dauphin's mockery will turn
many wives into widows.]
Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down;
[Mock . . . down: Take sons from their mothers and knock
And some are yet ungotten and unborn [are not yet conceived or
That shall have cause to curse the Dauphin’s
But this lies all within the will of God,
To whom I do appeal; and in whose name
Tell you the Dauphin I am coming on,
To venge me [to gain revenge] as I may and to put
My rightful hand in a well-hallow’d [blessed; holy]
So get you hence in peace; and tell the Dauphin
His jest will savour but of shallow wit [his jest
won't be funny]
When thousands weep more than did laugh at it.
Convey them with safe conduct. Fare you well. [Exeunt
EXETER: This was a merry message.
KING HENRY: We hope to make the sender blush at
Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour
That may give furtherance to our expedition;
[omit . . . expedition: Take every opportunity to prepare for
our war with France.]
For we have now no thought in us but France,
Save those to God, that run before our business.
[Save . . . business: Except for attention to God, who is
always in the forefront of our thoughts]
Therefore let our proportions [needs, such as troops and
supplies] for these wars
Be soon collected, and all things thought upon
That may with reasonable swiftness add
More feathers to our wings; for, God before,
We’ll chide this Dauphin at his father’s door.
Therefore let every man now task his thought,
That this fair action may on foot be brought. [Exeunt.
[Therefore . . . brought: Therefore, let every man think deeply
about how we may best fight this war.]
Act 2, Prologue
CHORUS: Now all the youth of England are on
And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies;
[And silken . . . lies: And the fancy clothes they wear
to balls and parties hang in their closets]
Now thrive the armourers, and honour’s thought
Reigns solely in the breast of every man:
[Now . . . every man: Now thrive the craftsmen who make armor.
Thoughts of answering the call to duty and
performing honorably on the battlefield occupy every man's
They sell the pasture now to buy the horse,
Following the mirror of all Christian kings,
With winged heels, as English Mercuries.
[They sell . . . Mercuries: They sell farmland to buy a horse
so they can ride speedily into battle, like Christian
kings of the past. They want to be like Mercury, the ancient
Roman messenger god who whisked from place to place in winged
For now sits Expectation in the air
And hides a sword from hilts unto the point
With crowns imperial, crowns and coronets,
Promis’d to Harry and his followers.
[For now . . . followers: Now the prospect of winning
treasures, such as crowns and coronets, supersedes thoughts of
wielding a sword.]
The French, advis’d by good intelligence [reconnaissance;
Of this most dreadful preparation,
Shake in their fear, and with pale policy
[pale policy: Policy motivated by dread]
Seek to divert the English purposes.
O England! model to thy inward greatness,
Like little body with a mighty heart,
What mightst thou do, that honour would thee do,
Were all thy children kind and natural!
[What mightst . . . men: You could accomplish almost anything,
bringing honor upon yourself, if all your subjects were
loyal and true.]
But see thy fault! France hath in thee found out
A nest of hollow bosoms, which he fills
With treacherous crowns; and three corrupted
[But see . . . men: But there's a problem—a nest of English
turncoats whom the French are paying for traitorous activity.]
One, Richard Earl of Cambridge, and the second,
Henry Lord Scroop of Masham, and the third,
Sir Thomas Grey, knight, of Northumberland,
Have, for the gilt of [gold] France,—O guilt [a pun on
Confirm’d conspiracy with fearful France;
And by their hands this grace of kings must
If hell and treason hold their promises,—
Ere [before] he take ship for France, and in
[And by . . . Southampton: And by their hands King
Henry will die in Southampton—if hell and treason get their
way—before he boards a ship for France.]
Linger your patience on; and well digest
The abuse of distance while we force a play.
[Continue to be patient, ladies and gentlemen, while the
action of the play unfolds.]
The sum is paid; the traitors are agreed;
The king is set from London; and the scene
Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton:
There is the playhouse now, there must you sit:
And thence to France shall we convey you safe,
And bring you back, charming the narrow seas
To give you gentle pass; for, if we may,
We’ll not offend one stomach with our play.
[There is . . . our play: Imagine the playhouse you are sitting
in is now in Southampton. From there it will travel to France,
then back, over smooth seas that will not upset your
But, till the king come forth and not till
Unto Southampton do we shift our scene. [Exit.
Act 2, Scene 1
Enter NYM and BARDOLPH.
BARDOLPH: Well met [Good morning], Corporal
NYM: Good morrow, Lieutenant Bardolph.
BARDOLPH: What, are Ancient [Ensign] Pistol and you
NYM: For my part, I care not: I say little; but when time
shall serve, there shall be smiles; but that shall be as it may. I
dare not fight; but I will wink and hold out mine iron [sword].
It is a simple one; but what though? it will toast cheese, and it
will endure cold as another man’s sword will: and there’s an
BARDOLPH: I will bestow a breakfast to make you friends, and
we’ll be all three sworn brothers to France: let it be so, good
NYM: Faith, I will live so long as I may, that’s the certain
of it; and when I cannot live any longer, I will do as I may: that
is my rest, that is the rendezvous of it.
BARDOLPH: It is certain, corporal, that he is married to
Nell Quickly; and, certainly she did you wrong, for you were
troth-plight to her [for both you and Pistol were
engaged to her].
NYM: I cannot tell; things must be as they may: men may
sleep, and they may have their throats about them at that time;
and, some say, knives have edges. It must be as it may: though
patience be a tired mare, yet she will plod. There must be
conclusions. Well, I cannot tell.
[though . . . tell: Though I am almost out of patience, I will
plod on. Eventually, there must be a conclusion to the matter.
What it will be, I cannot tell.]
Enter PISTOL and Hostess.
BARDOLPH: Here comes Ancient Pistol and his wife. Good
corporal, be patient here. How now, mine host
PISTOL: Base tike, call’st thou me host?
Now, by this hand, I swear, I scorn the term;
Nor shall my Nell keep lodgers.
HOSTESS: No, by my troth, not long; for we cannot lodge and
board a dozen or fourteen gentlewomen that live honestly by the
prick of their needles, but it will be thought we keep a
bawdy-house straight. [NYM and PISTOL draw.] O
well-a-day, Lady! if he be not drawn now: we shall see wilful
adultery and murder committed.
BARDOLPH: Good lieutenant! good corporal! offer nothing
here. [Both of you put your swords away.]
PISTOL: Pish for thee, Iceland dog! thou prick-eared cur of
HOSTESS: Good Corporal Nym, show thy valour and put up your
NYM: Will you shog off? I would have you solus.
[Sheathing his sword.
[Will you . . . solus: To the hostess: Lady, will you
just move away? To Pistol: I will fight you when you are alone.]
PISTOL: Solus [alone], egregious dog? O viper
The solus in thy most mervailous face;
The solus in thy teeth, and in thy throat,
And in thy hateful lungs, yea, in thy maw,
[The solus: You can stuff your solus in your marvelous face.
Stuff it in your teeth and your throat, and in your lungs, yes,
and in your stomach, indeed.]
And, which is worse, within thy nasty mouth!
I do retort the solus in thy bowels;
[And which . . . bowels: In fact, stuff it in your nasty mouth
and in your bowels.]
For I can take, and Pistol’s cock is up,
And flashing fire will follow.
[For I . . . follow: For I can take you on, and my gun is
cocked and ready to shoot.]
NYM: I am not Barbason [a demon]; you cannot
conjure [exorcise] me. I have an humour to knock you
indifferently well. [I have a mind to beat you silly.] If
you grow foul with me, Pistol, I will scour you [run you
through] with my rapier [sword], as I may, in fair
terms: if you would walk off [if you would go outside
with me], I would prick your guts a little, in good terms,
as I may; and that’s the humour of it.
PISTOL: O braggart vile and damned furious wight [man;
The grave doth gape, and doting death is near;
Therefore exhale. [Breathe your last.]
BARDOLPH: Hear me, hear me what I say: he that strikes the
first stroke, I’ll run him up to the hilts, as I am a
PISTOL: An oath of mickle [great] might, and fury
[An oath . . . abate: That was a warning of great might, so I
think our quarrel should end.]
Give me thy fist, thy fore-foot to me give;
Thy spirits are most tall.
[Give me . . . tall: Give me your hand. We'll make peace with a
handshake. You have a brave spirit.]
NYM: I will cut thy throat, one time or other, in fair
terms; that is the humour of it.
PISTOL: Couple le gorge! [Incorrect French for cut
That is the word [That is the term you mean]. I
thee defy again.
O hound of Crete [breed of hunting dog], think’st
thou my spouse to get?
No; to the spital [hospital] go,
And from the powdering-tub of infamy
[powdering-tub of infamy: Heated tub used to
treat patients with venereal disease]
Fetch forth the lazar kite of Cressid’s kind,
[lazar kite: Leprous prostitute]
[Cressid: Cressida, a young Trojan woman in classical
mythology. During Troy's war with Greece, she abandoned her
Trojan lover and lavished her affections on the Greeks. She is a
title character is Shakespeare's play Troilus and
Doll Tearsheet [a prostitute] she by name,
and her espouse [and marry her]:
I have [married], and I will hold [hold onto],
the quondam Quickly [the former Mistress Quickly]
For the only she; and—pauca [in a few words], there’s
Enter the Boy.
BOY: Mine host Pistol, you must come to my master [Sir
John Falstaff], and your hostess: he is very sick,
and would to bed. Good Bardolph, put thy face between his sheets
and do the office of a warming-pan. Faith, he’s very
BARDOLPH: Away, you rogue!
HOSTESS: By my troth, he’ll yield the crow a pudding one of
these days. The king has killed his [Falstaff's]
heart. Good husband, come home presently.
Hostess and Boy.
[By my . . . presently: In truth, this boy will end up as food for
BARDOLPH: Come, shall I make you two friends? We must to
France together. Why the devil should we keep knives to cut one
PISTOL: Let floods o’erswell, and fiends for food howl
NYM: You’ll pay me the eight shillings I won of you at
PISTOL: Base is the slave that pays.
NYM: That now I will have [I want that money now];
that’s the humour of it.
PISTOL: As manhood shall compound: push home. [If you're
man enough, draw.] [They draw.
BARDOLPH: By this sword, he that makes the first thrust,
I’ll kill him; by this sword, I will.
PISTOL: Sword is an oath, and oaths must have their course.
[When he says, "by this sword," he's swearing an oath.
And oaths must be kept.]
BARDOLPH: Corporal Nym, an [if] thou
wilt be friends, be friends: an [if] thou wilt not, why
then, be enemies with me too. Prithee, put up.
[Prithee . . . up: I pray you, put away your sword.]
NYM: I shall have my eight shillings I won of you at
PISTOL: A noble shalt thou have, and present
[A noble . . . pay: I'll give you a noble (gold coin
worth about seven shillings) right now.]
And liquor likewise will I give to thee,
And friendship shall combine, and brotherhood:
I’ll live by Nym, and Nym shall live by me.
Is not this just? for I shall sutler be
[sutler: In a military camp, a soldier who provides tools
for eating and drinking.]
Unto the camp, and profits will accrue.
Give me thy hand.
NYM: I shall have my noble?
PISTOL: In cash most justly paid. [Paying
NYM: Well then, that’s the humour of it.
HOSTESS: As ever you came of women [if you were born of
a woman], come in quickly to Sir John. Ah, poor heart! he is
so shaked of a burning quotidian tertian, that it is most
lamentable to behold. Sweet men, come to him.
[quotidian tertian: A quotidian is a fever that occurs every
day. A tertian is a fever that occurs every three days. The
hostess combines these terms out of confusion and
NYM: The king hath run bad humours on the knight; that’s
the even of it. [King Henry's changed attitude toward Sir John
has deeply wounded him. That's what's making Sir John sick.]
PISTOL: Nym, thou hast spoke the right;
His heart is fracted and corroborate.
[corroborate: Wrong word. Corroborate is
an adjective that means confirmed or validated. Pistol probably
thinks corroborate means ruptured,
failing, malfunctioning, or dying.]
NYM: The king is a good king: but it must be as it may;
he passes some humours and careers.
[he passes . . . careers: He is a man of many moods and many
courses of action.]
PISTOL: Let us condole the knight; for, lambkins, we will
[Let . . . live: Let us comfort and sympathize with Sir John. It
is the duty of the living to help the dying, my little lambs.]
Act 2, Scene 2
Southampton. A council
Enter EXETER, BEDFORD, and WESTMORELAND.
BEDFORD: ’Fore [before] God, his Grace is
bold to trust these traitors.
EXETER: They shall be apprehended by and
West. How smooth and even they do bear
As if allegiance in their bosoms sat,
Crowned with faith and constant loyalty.
BEDFORD: The king hath note of all that they
By interception which they dream not of.
[They are unaware that the king has received intelligence
disclosing their traitorous intentions.]
EXETER: Nay, but the man that was his
Whom he hath dull’d and cloy’d with gracious
That he should, for a foreign purse, so sell
His sovereign’s life to death and treachery!
[Nay, but . . . treachery: It's shocking that a man who was
close to the king—a man Henry lavished with favors—would sell
the king's life to death and treachery for a French
Trumpets sound. Enter KING HENRY, SCROOP, CAMBRIDGE, GREY,
Lords, and Attendants.
KING HENRY: Now sits the wind fair, and we will
My Lord of Cambridge, and my kind Lord of
And you, my gentle knight, give me your
[Now . . . thoughts: Henry says the wind is favorable for
sailing to France. He then addresses the three traitors—the Earl
of Cambridge, Lord Scroop of Masham, and Sir Thomas Grey of
Northumberland—who are still unaware that he knows of their plans.]
Think you not that the powers [troops] we
bear with us
Will cut their passage [way] through the force [army]
Doing the execution and the act
For which we have in head assembled them?
[Doing . . . them: Achieving the goal that I have set
SCROOP: No doubt, my liege, if each man do his
KING HENRY: I doubt not that; since we are well
We carry not a heart with us from hence
That grows not in a fair consent with ours;
Nor leave not one behind that doth not wish
Success and conquest to attend on us.
[We carry . . . on us: There's not a man among us who doesn't
support our cause. Everyone who is part of our army wishes only
success and conquest for us.]
CAMBRIDGE: Never was monarch better fear’d and
Than is your majesty: there’s not, I think, a
That sits in heart-grief and uneasiness
Under the sweet shade of your government.
GREY: True: those that were your father’s
Have steep’d their galls in honey, and do serve you
With hearts create of duty and of zeal.
[those that . . . zeal: The enemies of your deceased father
(Henry IV) bear no grudges against you. In fact, they serve you
with hearts full of duty and zeal.]
KING HENRY: We therefore have great cause of
And shall forget the office of our hand,
Sooner than quittance of desert and merit
According to the weight and worthiness.
[And shall . . . worthiness: I would sooner forget how to use
my hand than forget to give my men what they deserve for their
SCROOP: So service shall with steeled sinews
And labour shall refresh itself with hope,
To do your Grace incessant services.
[So service . . . services: We will work hard
on your behalf, and our labor will refresh itself with hope. We
are dedicated to giving you uninterrupted service.]
KING HENRY: We judge no less. Uncle of
Enlarge the man committed yesterday
That rail’d against our person: we consider
It was excess of wine that set him on;
And on his more advice we pardon him.
[We judge . . . pardon him: We know we can count on you. Uncle
of Exeter, free the man imprisoned yesterday for speaking out
against me. Too much wine made him do so. Now that he's learned
his lesson, I pardon him.]
SCROOP: That’s mercy, but too much
Let him be punish’d, sovereign, lest example
Breed, by his sufferance, more of such a kind.
[That's . . . a kind: It's commendable to be merciful,
but it's also risky. He should be punished, sovereign, lest
others imitate his bad example.]
KING HENRY: O! let us yet be merciful.
CAMBRIDGE: So may your highness, and yet punish
You show great mercy, if you give him life
After the taste of much correction.
[You show . . . correction: You would be showing great mercy if
you let him live after severely punishing him.]
KING HENRY: Alas! your too much love and care of
Are heavy orisons [prayers] ’gainst this poor
If little faults, proceeding on distemper,
Shall not be wink’d at, how shall we stretch our
When capital crimes, chew’d, swallow’d, and
Appear before us? We’ll yet enlarge that man,
[If little . . . that man: If small faults resulting from
drunkenness should not be overlooked, how should we respond to
capital crimes (those punishable by death) that were carefully
planned? Anyway, I still think I should free that man who did
wrong under the influence of alcohol.]
Though Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey, in their dear
And tender preservation of our person,
Would have him punish’d. And now to our French
Who are the late [newly appointed]
CAMBRIDGE: I one, my lord:
Your highness bade me ask for it to-day.
SCROOP: So did you me, my liege.
GREY: And I, my royal sovereign.
KING HENRY: Then, Richard, Earl of Cambridge, there is
There yours, Lord Scroop of Masham; and, sir
Grey of Northumberland, this same is yours:
Read them; and know, I know your worthiness.
My Lord of Westmoreland, and uncle Exeter,
We will aboard to-night. Why, how now,
What see you in those papers that you lose
So much complexion? Look ye, how they change!
Their cheeks are paper [white as paper]. Why, what read
That hath so cowarded and chas’d your blood
Out of appearance?
CAMBRIDGE: I do confess my fault,
And do submit me to your highness’ mercy.
GREY & SCROOP: To which we all appeal.
KING HENRY: The mercy that was quick in us but late
By your own counsel is suppress’d and kill’d:
[The mercy . . . kill'd: The mercy that I spoke of just moments
ago is suppressed and killed by your own advice.]
You must not dare, for shame, to talk of mercy;
For your own reasons turn into your bosoms, [your own reasons
turn against you]
As dogs upon their masters, worrying you.
See you, my princes and my noble peers,
These English monsters! My Lord of Cambridge
You know how apt our love was to accord
To furnish him with all appertinents [requirements; recognition
Belonging to his honour; and this man
Hath, for a few light crowns, lightly conspir’d,
And sworn unto the practices of France,
To kill us here in Hampton: to the which
This knight, no less for bounty bound to us
Than Cambridge is, hath likewise sworn. But O!
What shall I say to thee, Lord Scroop? thou
Ingrateful, savage and inhuman creature!
Thou that didst bear the key of all my counsels,
That knew’st the very bottom of my soul,
That almost mightst have coin’d me into gold
Wouldst thou have practis’d on me for thy use!
[Thou . . . use: You were privy to all my policy matters and
ideas, even my inmost thoughts. You could have received any
amount of gold from me if you asked for it.]
May it be possible that foreign
Could out of thee extract one spark of evil
That might annoy my finger? ’tis so strange
That, though the truth of it stands off as gross
As black from white, my eye will scarcely see it.
[May it . . . see it: Is it possible that a foreign country
could find enough evil in you to harm even a single finger of
mine? It is strange that, though your treachery stands out
plainly, I have trouble believing it.]
Treason and murder ever kept
As two yoke-devils sworn to either’s purpose,
Working so grossly in a natural cause
That admiration did not whoop at them:
But thou, ’gainst all proportion, didst bring in
Wonder to wait on treason and on murder:
[Treason and murder always work together as partners. That's no
surprise. But you, of all people, joined them. That was
And whatsoever cunning fiend it was
That wrought upon thee so preposterously
Hath got the voice in hell for excellence:
[And . . . excellence: And whatever cunning demon that
persuaded you to betray your country—well, all hell must be
praising him for his excellent work.]
And other devils that suggest by treasons
Do botch and bungle up damnation
With patches, colours, and with forms, being
From glistering semblances of piety;
[And others . . . piety: And other devils that cause treason
sew together a patchwork of evil motives of the men they
tempted, men who pretend to be glistening with piety.]
But he that temper’d thee bade thee stand
Gave thee no instance why thou shouldst do
Unless to dub thee with the name of traitor.
[But . . . traitor: But the devil who tempered you to
do evil gave you no reason to be disloyal except to earn the
name of traitor.]
If that same demon that hath gull’d [tricked] thee
Should with his lion gait walk the whole world,
He might return to vasty [vast] Tartar [hell]
And tell the legions, ‘I can never win
A soul so easy as that Englishman’s.’
O! how hast thou with jealousy infected
The sweetness of affiance. Show men dutiful?
Why, so didst thou: seem they grave and learned?
Why, so didst thou: come they of noble family?
Why, so didst thou: seem they religious?
Why, so didst thou: or are they spare in diet,
[O! how . . . diet: Oh, how you have infected the atmosphere of
loyalty in this government with suspicion and wariness? If a man
appears dutiful, why so were you? If he seems serious and
competent, why, so were you? If he comes from a noble family,
why, so did you? If he seems religious, why, so did you? If he
seems self-disciplined and not given to extremes,]
Free from gross [excessive] passion or of mirth or
Constant in spirit, not swerving with the blood [unswerving
Garnish’d and deck’d in modest complement [appareled like a
Not working with the eye without the ear [paying close
attention to important matters],
And but in purged judgment trusting neither? [And, keeping an
open mind, not trusting what seems to be so until it is proven
to be so?]
Such and so finely bolted didst thou seem:
And thus thy fall hath left a kind of blot,
To mark the full-fraught man and best indu’d
With some suspicion. I will weep for thee;
[Such and . . . thee: You seemed like a good and honorable man.
That's why your downfall has left a blot that marks other
trusted men with suspicion. I will weep for you.]
For this revolt of thine, methinks, is
Another fall of man [another fall of Adam]. Their
faults are open:
Arrest them to the answer of the law;
And God acquit them of their practices! [May God have
mercy on their souls.]
EXETER: I arrest thee of high treason, by the name of
Richard Earl of Cambridge.
I arrest thee of high treason, by the name of Henry Lord Scroop of
I arrest thee of high treason, by the name of Thomas Grey, knight,
SCROOP: Our purposes God justly hath
And I repent my fault more than my death;
Which I beseech your highness to forgive,
Although my body pay the price of it.
CAMBRIDGE: For me, the gold of France did not
Although I did admit it as a motive
The sooner to effect [carry out] what I
But God be thanked for prevention;
Which I in sufferance heartily will rejoice,
Beseeching God and you to pardon me.
GREY: Never did faithful subject more
At the discovery of most dangerous treason
Than I do at this hour joy o’er myself,
Prevented from a damned enterprise.
My fault, but not my body, pardon, sovereign.
KING HENRY: God quit you in his mercy! Hear your
You have conspir’d against our royal person,
Join’d with an enemy proclaim’d, and from his
Receiv’d the golden earnest [a valuable that binds a contract]
of our death;
Wherein you would have sold your king to
His princes and his peers to servitude,
His subjects to oppression and contempt,
And his whole kingdom into desolation.
Touching our person seek we no revenge;
[Touching . . . revenge: Personally, I seek no revenge.]
But we our kingdom’s safety must so tender,
Whose ruin you have sought, that to her laws
We do deliver you. Get you therefore hence,
Poor miserable wretches, to your death;
[But I so value England's safety—which you tried to ruin—that I
must submit you to the kingdom's laws. Go to your death, you
poor, miserable wretches.]
The taste whereof, God of his mercy give you
Patience to endure, and true repentance
Of all your dear offences! Bear them hence. [Exeunt CAMBRIDGE, SCROOP, and GREY,
Now, lords, for France! the enterprise whereof
Shall be to you, as us, like glorious.
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 beginnings. We doubt not now
But every rub [obstacle] is smoothed on our
Then forth, dear countrymen: let us deliver
Our puissance [army] into the hand of God,
Putting it straight in expedition [sending it straight ahead
in its campaign to defeat the French.]
Cheerly to sea! the signs of war advance:
No king of England, if not king of France. [Exeunt.
[No . . . France: I will be no king of England if I do not
become king of France.]
Act 2, Scene 3
London. Before a
tavern in Eastcheap.
Enter PISTOL, Hostess, NYM, BARDOLPH, and Boy.
HOSTESS: Prithee, honey-sweet husband, let me bring thee to
[Staines: Town southwest of London, on the road to Southampton.]
PISTOL: No; for my manly heart doth yearn [grieve;
Bardolph, be blithe; Nym, rouse thy vaunting
Boy, bristle thy courage up; for Falstaff he is
And we must yearn [grieve] therefore.
BARDOLPH: Would I were with him, wheresome’er he is, either
in heaven or in hell!
HOSTESS: Nay, sure, he’s not in hell: he’s in Arthur’s bosom
[Abraham's bosom, a happy place in the afterlife], if ever
man went to Arthur’s bosom. A’ [he] made a finer end and
went away an [as if] it had been any christom child [infant
wearing a christom, a white baptismal robe]; a’ [he]
parted even just between twelve and one, even at the turning o’
the tide: for after I saw him fumble with the sheets and play with
flowers and smile upon his fingers’ ends, I knew there was but one
way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and a’ [he]
babbled of green fields. ‘How now, Sir John!’ quoth I: ‘what man!
be of good cheer.’ So a’ [he] cried out ‘God, God, God!’
three or four times: now I, to comfort him, bid him a’ [he]
should not think of God, I hoped there was no need to trouble
himself with any such thoughts yet. So a’ [he] bade
me lay more clothes on his feet: I put my hand into the bed and
felt them, and they were as cold as any stone; then I felt to his
knees, and so upward, and upward, and all was as cold as any
NYM: They say he cried out of sack [cried out against sack,
Falstaff's favorite wine].
HOSTESS: Ay, that a’ [he] did.
BARDOLPH: And of women.
HOSTESS: Nay, that a’ [he] did
BOY: Yes, that a’ [he] did; and said they were
HOSTESS: A’ [he] could never abide carnation; ’twas
a colour he never liked.
[The hostess confuses the word incarnation with
BOY: A’ [he] said once, the devil would have him
HOSTESS: A’ [he] did in some sort, indeed, handle
women; but then he was rheumatic [in pain] , and talked of
the whore of Babylon.
BOY: Do you not remember a’ saw a flea stick upon Bardolph’s
nose, and a’ said it was a black soul burning in
BARDOLPH: Well, the fuel is gone that maintained that fire:
that’s all the riches I got in his service.
[fuel: Alcohol in the wine that Bardolph sometimes bought for
NYM: Shall we shog [move on]? the king will be gone
PISTOL: Come, let’s away. My love, give me thy
Look to my chattels and my moveables:
[chattel: Personal property, such as furniture]
Let senses rule, the word is, ‘Pitch and pay’ [accept no
For oaths are straws, men’s faiths are
[For oaths . . . wafercakes: Men's oaths and promises are as
flimsy as straws and wafercakes.]
And hold-fast is the only dog, my duck:
[hold-fast . . . duck: Persevere and hold onto what you have.
That's the best advice I can give you, my dear.]
Therefore, caveto be thy counsellor.
[caveto: An imperative form of the Latin verb caveo:
beware; take precautions]
Go, clear thy crystals. Yoke-fellows in arms,
[Go . . . arms: Go, dry your eyes. Comrades-in-arms]
Let us to France; like horse-leeches, my boys,
To suck, to suck, the very blood to suck!
[like . . . suck: Be like horseleeches, my boys, and suck the
blood of the French.]
BOY: And that’s but unwholesome food, they
PISTOL: Touch her soft mouth, and march.
BARDOLPH: Farewell, hostess. [Kissing
NYM: I cannot kiss, that is the humour of it; but, adieu
[French for good-bye].
PISTOL: Let housewifery [good management of the home]
appear: keep close [stay close to home], I thee
HOSTESS: Farewell; adieu. [Exeunt.
Act 2, Scene 4
apartment in the FRENCH KING’S palace.
Flourish. Enter the FRENCH KING, attended; the DAUPHIN, the
DUKES OF BERRI AND BRITAINE, the CONSTABLE, and Others.
[Flourish: Trumpets blow.]
FRENCH KING: Thus come the English with full power upon
And more than carefully it us concerns
To answer royally in our defences.
Therefore the Dukes of Berri and Britaine,
Of Brabant and of Orleans, shall make forth,
And you, Prince Dauphin, with all swift
To line and new repair our towns of war
With men of courage and with means defendant [defensive
For England his approaches makes as fierce
As waters to the sucking of a gulf.
[as fierce . . . gulf: The approaching English army is as
fearsome as a whirlpool sucking down everything around
It fits us then to be as provident [as careful in our
As fear may teach us, out of late examples [French defeats at
Crécy in 1346 and Poitiers in 1356]
Left by the fatal and neglected English
[Left . . . English: Left by the fatal English, against
whom we neglected to prepare a stout defense]
Upon our fields.
DAUPHIN: My most redoubted [feared; respected]
It is most meet [appropriate] we arm us ’gainst the
For peace itself should not so dull a kingdom,—
Though war nor no known quarrel were in
[For peace . . . question: For in even in peace we should not
let our guard down—even though there are no signs of war are in
But that defences, musters, preparations,
Should be maintain’d, assembled, and collected,
As were a war in expectation.
[As . . . expectation: As if a war will break out at any
Therefore, I say ’tis meet [wise] we all go
To view the sick and feeble parts of France:
And let us do it with no show of fear;
No, with no more than if we heard that England
Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance:
[Whitsun morris-dance: Folk dance that was part
of the celebration of Whitsuntide, the week beginning with
Pentecost, or Whitsunday]
For, my good liege [lord], she is so idly king’d [she
has a weak king],
Her sceptre so fantastically [ridiculously; foolishly]
By a vain, giddy, shallow, humorous youth,
That fear attends her not [that there is no reason to
CONSTABLE: O peace, Prince Dauphin!
You are too much mistaken in this king.
Question your Grace the late ambassadors,
With what great state he heard their embassy,
How well supplied with noble counsellors,
How modest in exception, and, withal
How terrible in constant resolution,
And you shall find his vanities forespent
Were but the outside of the Roman Brutus,
Covering discretion with a coat of folly;
[Question . . . forespent: Your Grace, if you question the
ambassadors who have returned from his court, you will find that
he heard their message with great dignity. They will tell you
that he is well supplied with noble advisors. Though he exhibits
restraint and self-control, he is firm in his resolve. His
vanities and wildness were an outward show. Inside, he is
discrete and wise, like Lucius Brutus, the founder of the
ancient Roman republic.]
As gardeners do with ordure [manure] hide those
That shall first spring and be most delicate.
DAUPHIN: Well, ’tis not so, my lord high
But though we think it so, it is no matter:
In cases of defence ’tis best to weigh
The enemy more mighty than he seems:
So the proportions of defence are fill’d;
Which of a weak and niggardly projection
Doth like a miser spoil his coat with scanting
A little cloth.
[In cases . . . cloth: In cases of defense, it's best to
overestimate the strength of the enemy so that we are assured of
having enough might. If we are stingy in estimating our own
strength, we will be weak. A miser who does not measure
out enough cloth for his coat has a poor defense against
FRENCH KING: Think we King Harry
And, princes, look you strongly arm to meet him.
The kindred of him hath been flesh’d upon us,
And he is bred out of that bloody strain
That haunted us in our familiar paths:
[The kindred . . . paths: His ancestors did battle with us,
eager to spill French blood, and he is born of that same bloody
strain that wreaked havoc upon us.]
Witness our too much memorable shame
When Cressy [Crécy] battle fatally was
And all our princes captiv’d [captured] by the
Of that black name, Edward Black Prince of
Whiles that his mounting sire [King Edward III of England],
on mountain standing,
Up in the air, crown’d with the golden sun,
Saw his heroical seed [son], and smil’d to see
Mangle the work of nature, and deface
The patterns that by God and by French fathers
Had twenty years been made. This is a stem
Of that victorious stock; and let us fear
The native mightiness and fate of him.
[Mangle . . . of him: Run roughshod over the battlefield and
slaughter the young men—aged twenty years or so—made by God and
their French fathers. This English king is a stem of
that same stock, so let us fear his might and the fate he will
impose on us.]
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER: Ambassadors from Harry King of
Do crave admittance to your majesty.
FRENCH KING: We’ll give them present audience. Go, and bring
them. [Exeunt Messenger and certain Lords.
You see this chase is hotly follow’d, friends.
DAUPHIN: Turn head, and stop pursuit; for coward
Most spend their mouths when what they seem to
Runs far before them. Good my sovereign,
Take up the English short, and let them know
Of what a monarchy you are the head:
Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin
[Turn head . . . self-neglecting: Stop their pursuit by
confronting them, for coward dogs bark the most when their prey
is far in front of them. Take the English by surprise by letting
them know what a great kingdom you rule. Self-love is not as
vile as self-neglect.]
Re-enter Lords, with EXETER and train.
FRENCH KING: From our brother England?
EXETER: From him; and thus he greets your
He wills you, in the name of God Almighty,
That you divest yourself, and lay apart
The borrow’d glories that by gift of heaven,
By law of nature and of nations ’long
To him and to his heirs; namely, the crown
And all wide-stretched honours that pertain
By custom and the ordinance of times
Unto the crown of France. That you may know
’Tis no sinister nor no awkward claim,
Pick’d from the worm-holes of long-vanish’d
Nor from the dust of old oblivion rak’d,
He sends you this most memorable line, [Gives a
[He wills . . . line: He orders you to surrender your crown and
give to him and his heirs all the glories and honors that
pertain to it by custom and ordinance. That you may know that he
is not making a false claim dug up from the worm holes
of history, he sends you this record of his bloodline.]
In every branch truly demonstrative;
Willing you overlook this pedigree;
[Willing . . . pedigree: Look over this document.]
And when you find him evenly deriv’d [descended]
From his most fam’d of famous ancestors,
Edward the Third, he bids you then resign
Your crown and kingdom, indirectly held
From him the native and true challenger.
[From him . . . challenger: From Henry V, who is the rightful
heir to the throne of France.]
FRENCH KING: Or else what follows? [What will happen if
we refuse his demand?]
EXETER: Bloody constraint; for if you hide the
Even in your hearts, there will he rake for it:
Therefore in fierce tempest is he coming,
In thunder and in earthquake like a Jove,
That, if requiring fail, he will compel;
[Bloody . . . compel: Bloody war will take the crown
from you. If you hide it, he will find it. Even if you put it in
your heart, he will root it out. He and his army are approaching
in a storm cloud. Like a god, he will bring thunder and make the
earth shake. If you refuse to yield the crown, he will knock it
off your head.]
And bids you, in the bowels of the Lord,
Deliver up the crown, and to take mercy
On the poor souls for whom this hungry war
Opens his vasty [vast] jaws; and on your
Turning the widows’ tears, the orphans’ cries,
The dead men’s blood, the pining maidens’
For husbands, fathers, and betrothed lovers,
That shall be swallow’d in this controversy.
This is his claim, his threat’ning, and my
Unless the Dauphin be in presence here,
To whom expressly I bring greeting too.
FRENCH KING: For us, we will consider of this
To-morrow shall you bear our full intent
Back to our brother England.
DAUPHIN: For the Dauphin,
I stand here for him: what to him from England?
EXETER: Scorn and defiance, slight regard,
And anything that may not misbecome [and any other
revilement which, when spoken, would not dishonor]
The mighty sender, doth he prize you at.
Thus says my king: an if your father’s highness
Do not, in grant of all demands at large,
Sweeten the bitter mock [the box of tennis balls, 1.2.267]
you sent his majesty,
He’ll call you to so hot an answer of it,
That caves and womby vaultages of France
Shall chide your trespass and return your mock
In second accent of his ordinance.
[return your . . . ordinance: Echo back your mock if France
does not meet his demands.]
DAUPHIN: Say, if my father render fair return [return of
It is against my will; for I desire
Nothing but odds with England: to that end,
As matching to his youth and vanity,
I did present him with the Paris [tennis]
EXETER: He’ll make your Paris Louvre shake for
Were it the mistress-court of mighty Europe:
[Louvre: The palace. The Louvre is now one of the
world's foremost museums.]
[mistress-court: Center of government; strongest
And, be assur’d, you’ll find a difference—
As we his subjects have in wonder found—
Between the promise of his greener days
And these he masters now. Now he weighs time
[Between . . . time: Between what he was in his younger
days and what he is now. Now he measures time]
Even to the utmost grain; that you shall read
In your own losses, if he stay in France.
FRENCH KING: To-morrow shall you know our mind at
EXETER: Dispatch us with all speed, lest that our
Come here himself to question our delay;
For he is footed in this land already.
[Dispatch . . . already: Don't delay. Otherwise, the king will
come here looking for me, for he is already in France.]
FRENCH KING: You shall be soon dispatch’d with fair
A night is but small breath and little pause
To answer matters of this consequence. [Flourish.
Act 3, Prologue
CHORUS: Thus with imagin’d wing our swift scene
In motion of no less celerity
Than that of thought. Suppose that you have seen
The well-appointed king at Hampton pier
Embark his royalty; and his brave fleet
With silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning:
[Thus . . . fanning: Imagine now that the action of our play
moves forward at the speed of thought. Suppose that you have
seen our majestic King embark from England with his brave fleet
of ships, their banners fanning Phoebus Apollo. (In Greek
mythology, Apollo was the sun god, depicted as driving his
golden chariot across the sky, from east to west, every day.)]
Play with your fancies, and in them behold
Upon the hempen tackle [rope made from hemp] ship-boys
Hear the shrill whistle which doth order give [which gives
To sounds confus’d; behold the threaden sails [sails sewn or
woven together from pieces of fabric],
Borne with the invisible and creeping wind,
Draw the huge bottoms [hulls] through the furrow’d [well-traveled;
figuratively, having pathways and ruts]
Breasting [staying on top of] the lofty surge. O! do but
You stand upon the rivage [shore] and
A city [the fleet of ships] on the inconstant billows
For so appears this fleet majestical,
Holding due course to Harfleur. Follow, follow!
[Harfleur (ar FLER): Port city in western France.]
Grapple [hook; attach] your minds to sternage [the rear]
of this navy,
And leave your England, as dead midnight still,
Guarded with grandsires, babies, and old women,
Either past or not arriv’d to pith and puissance: [either too
old or too young to protect England adequately]
For who is he, whose chin is but enrich’d
With one appearing hair, that will not follow
Those cull’d and choice-drawn cavaliers to
[For who . . . France: For everyone old enough to grow facial hair
is following the hand-picked knights to France.
Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a
Behold the ordnance [cannons] on their
With fatal mouths gaping on girded [fortified]
Suppose the ambassador from the French comes
Tells Harry that the king doth offer him
Katharine his daughter; and with her, to dowry,
Some petty and unprofitable dukedoms:
The offer likes not [the offer is not acceptable]: and the
With linstock [long stick used to hold a fuse that ignites a
cannon] now the devilish cannon touches, [Alarum; and
chambers go off.
[Alarum . . . off: Offstage rallying cries, sounds of
battle, and gunfire.]
And down goes all before them. Still be kind,
And eke out our performance with your mind.
[Still . . . mind: Continue using your imagination during our
Act 3, Scene 1
France. Before Harfleur.
Alarums. Enter KING HENRY, EXETER, BEDFORD, GLOUCESTER, and
Soldiers, with scaling ladders.
[Alarums: Rallying cries; calls to war]
KING HENRY: Once more unto the breach [opening in a
wall], dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect [glare; look];
Let it pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
[Let it . . . ocean: Let this glare project from the eye like
the barrel of a cannon; let the brow overhang it as fearfully as
does a jagged cliff project over its sea-worn base, with
only the stark and stormy ocean below.]
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril
Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
To his full height! On, on, you noblest English!
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof;
[Whose . . . -proof: Whose blood is fetched from battle-hardened
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
[Alexanders: Reference to Alexander the Great (356-323
BC), the renowned warrior and general from the Greek kingdom of
Have in these parts from morn till even fought,
And sheath’d their swords for lack of argument.
[Have . . . argument: Have fought in this country from morning
till night and sheathed their swords after the enemy
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeomen,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt
[Dishonour . . . doubt not: Don't dishonor your mothers. Prove
that you are warriors like your fathers. Be an example to the
commoners in our army by showing them how to fight. And you good
farmers of England show us how your work in the fields turned
you into strong men; let us swear that you are worth your hardy
upbringing, which I don't doubt.]
For there is none of you so mean and
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips [restraints],
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry! England and Saint George!’ [Exeunt. Alarum,
and chambers go off.
[Saint George: Patron saint of England.]
Act 3, Scene 2
France. Before Harfleur.
Enter NYM, BARDOLPH, PISTOL, and Boy.
BARDOLPH: On, on, on, on, on! to the breach, to the
NYM: Pray thee, corporal, stay: the knocks [jolts
of battle] are too hot; and for mine own part, I have not a
case [a whole lot] of lives: the humour [fury] of
it is too hot, that is the very plain-song [truth] of
PISTOL: The plain-song is most just, for humours do abound:
Knocks go and come: God’s vassals drop and die;
And sword and
BOY: Would I were
in an alehouse in London! I would give all my fame for a pot of
ale, and safety.
In bloody field
PISTOL: And I:
would prevail with me,
should not fail with me,
would I hie.
But not as
As bird doth
sing on bough.
FLUELLEN: Up to the breach, you dogs! avaunt [go on],
you cullions [scoundrels]! [Driving them
PISTOL: Be merciful, great duke, to men of mould [ordinary
men; humble men; men of the earth]!
Abate thy rage, abate thy manly rage!
Abate thy rage, great duke!
Good bawcock [gentleman; fine fellow], bate thy
rage; use lenity [mercy], sweet chuck [man; fellow]!
NYM: These be good humours! your honour wins bad
humours. [Exeunt NYM, PISTOL, and
BARDOLPH, followed by FLUELLEN.
BOY: As young as I am, I have observed these three swashers
[braggarts]. I am boy [a servant] to them all
three, but all they three, though they would serve me, could not
be man to me; for, indeed three such antiques do not amount to a
man. For Bardolph, he is white-livered [cowardly] and
red-faced; by the means whereof, a’ [he] faces it out [pretends
to be a tough guy] , but fights not. For Pistol, he hath a
killing tongue and a quiet sword; by the means whereof a’ [he]
breaks words , and keeps whole weapons. For Nym, he hath heard
that men of few words are the best men; and therefore he scorns to
say his prayers, lest a’ [he] should be thought a coward:
but his few bad words are matched with as few good deeds; for a’ [he]
never broke any man’s head but his own, and that was against a
post when he was drunk. They will steal any thing and call it
purchase. Bardolph stole a lute-case, bore it twelve leagues [36
miles, or 57.9 kilometers], and sold it for three
half-pence. Nym and Bardolph are sworn brothers in filching, and
in Calais they stole a fire-shovel;—I knew by that piece of
service the men would carry coals,—they would have me as familiar
with men’s pockets as their gloves or their handkerchers: which
makes much against my manhood if I should take from another’s
pocket to put into mine; for it is plain pocketing up of wrongs. I
must leave them and seek some better service: their villany [villainy]
goes against my weak stomach, and therefore I must cast it
Re-enter FLUELLEN, GOWER following.
GOWER: Captain Fluellen, you must come presently to the
mines: the Duke of Gloucester would speak with
[mines: In the siege of Harfleur, the English dug tunnels to
undermine the city walls.]
FLUELLEN: To the mines! tell you the duke it is not so good
to come to the mines. For look you, the mines is not according to
the disciplines of the war; the concavities of it is not
sufficient; for, look you, th’ athversary [adversary]—you
may discuss unto the duke, look you—is digt himself four yards
under the countermines; by Cheshu, I think, a’ will plow up all if
there is not better directions.
[Fluellen says digging tunnels to undermine the city walls is a
bad idea, for the French have dug their own tunnels below the
English tunnels to sabotage the latter.]
GOWER: The Duke of Gloucester, to whom the order of the
siege is given, is altogether directed by an Irishman, a very
valiant gentleman, i’ faith.
FLUELLEN: It is Captain Macmorris, is it
GOWER: I think it be.
FLUELLEN: By Cheshu, he is an ass, as in the world: I will
verify as much in his peard: he has no more directions in the true
disciplines of the wars, look you, of the Roman disciplines, than
is a puppy-dog.
[Fluellen says Captain Macmorris is an incompetent ass and will
tell him so to his face. (Peard refers to
the captain's beard; in turn, the beard stands for the captain's
face.) He knows no more about war than a puppy.]
Enter MACMORRIS and JAMY, at a distance.
GOWER: Here a’ [he] comes; and the Scots captain,
Captain Jamy, with him.
FLUELLEN: Captain Jamy is a marvellous
falorous gentleman, that is certain; and of great expedition and
knowledge in th’ aunchient wars, upon my particular knowledge of
his directions: by Cheshu, he will maintain his argument as well
as any military man in the world, in the disciplines of the
pristine wars of the Romans.
[Fluellen says Captain Jamy is a very brave gentleman,
certainly, and has a thorough understanding of ancient
warfare—in fact, he knows as much about the wars of the ancient
Romans as any other military expert in the world.]
JAMY: I say gud [good] day, Captain
FLUELLEN: God-den [good day] to your worship, good
GOWER: How now, Captain Macmorris! have you quit the mines?
have the pioners given o’er? [have the diggers quit?]
MACMORRIS: By Chrish, la! tish ill done:
the work ish give over, the trumpet sound the retreat. By my hand,
I swear, and my father’s soul, the work ish ill done; it ish give
over: I would have blowed up the town, so Chrish save me, la! in
an hour: O! tish ill done, tish ill done; by my hand, tish ill
[Macmorris says the digging has stopped because the work was
FLUELLEN: Captain Macmorris, I beseech you now, will you
voutsafe [vouchsafe: grant] me, look you, a few
disputations with you, as partly touching or concerning the
disciplines of the war, the Roman wars, in the way of argument,
look you, and friendly communication; partly to satisfy my
opinion, and partly for the satisfaction, look you, of my mind, as
touching the direction of the military discipline: that is the
JAMY: It sall be vary gud, gud feith, gud
captains bath: [Aside.] and I sall quit you with gud leve,
as I may pick occasion; that sall I, marry. [I shall be happy
to talk about the Roman wars: [he then speaks to himself] and I
will do so in my own good time; that shall I do, by the Virgin
MACMORRIS: It is no time to discourse [to
have a conversation], so Chrish [Christ] save me:
the day is hot, and the weather, and the wars, and the king, and
the dukes: it is no time to discourse. The town is beseeched [besieged],
and the trumpet calls us to the breach; and we talk, and be Chrish
[by Christ], do nothing: ’tis shame for us all; so God sa’
[save] me, ’tis shame to stand still; it is shame, by my
hand; and there is throats to be cut, and works to be done; and
there ish [is] nothing done, so Chrish sa’ [Christ
save] me, la!
JAMY: By the mess, ere theise eyes of mine take
themselves to slumber, aile do gud service, or aile lig i’ the
grund for it; ay, or go to death; and aile pay it as valorously as
I may, that sal I surely do, that is the breff and the long.
Marry, I wad full fain heard some question ’tween you tway.
[By the . . . tway: By the mass (Roman Catholic Eucharistic
service), before these eyes of mine go to sleep, I'll do good
service on the battlefield—or I'll lie in the ground for
standing idle. Yes, that's what will happen. I will die. And
when I am doing battle, I'll fight as valiantly as I can—that
will I surely do. That is the long and short of it. But, by the
Virgin Mary, I would gladly hear you two talk.]
FLUELLEN: Captain Macmorris, I think, look you, under
your correction, there is not many of your
MACMORRIS: Of my nation! What ish [is] my nation?
ish [it's] a villain, and a bastard, and a knave, and a
rascal? What ish [is] my nation? Who talks of my
FLUELLEN: Look you, if you take the matter otherwise than is
meant, Captain Macmorris, peradventure I shall think you do not
use [treat] me with that affability as in discretion you
ought to use [treat] me, look you; being as good a man as
yourself, both in the disciplines of wars, and in the derivation
of my birth, and in other particularities.
MACMORRIS: I do not know you so good a man as myself: so
Chrish save me, I will cut off your head.
GOWER: Gentlemen both, you will mistake each other. [Now
gentlemen, you are misunderstanding each other.]
JAMY: A! that’s a foul fault. [A parley
[parley sounded: A trumpet blare signals a truce so that
the English and French can parley.]
GOWER: The town sounds a parley.
FLUELLEN: Captain Macmorris, when there is more better
opportunity to be required, look you, I will be so bold as to tell
you I know the disciplines of wars; and there is an end. [Exeunt.
Act 3, Scene 3
France. Before the
gates of Harfleur.
The Governor and some Citizens on the walls; the English forces
below. Enter KING HENRY and his train.
KING HENRY: How yet resolves the governor of the town?
This is the latest parle we will admit.
Therefore to our best mercy give yourselves;
[What has the governor decided to do? Because this is the last
parley I will permit, I suggest you throw yourselves on my
Or like to men proud of destruction
Defy us to our worst: for, as I am a soldier,—
[Or . . . worst: Or, like men too proud to surrender, defy us
and prepare for the worst.]
A name that in my thoughts, becomes me best,—
If I begin the battery once again,
I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur
Till in her ashes she lie buried.
The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the flesh’d soldier, rough and hard of
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass
Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering
[And the . . . infants: And our blood-stained soldiers, rough
and hard of heart, will roam among you with a free hand and
conscience to mow down even your young virgins and flowering
What is it then to me, if impious
Array’d in flames like to the prince of fiends,
Do, with his smirch’d complexion, all fell [deadly]
Enlink’d to waste and desolation?
What is ’t to me, when you yourselves are cause [the cause],
If your pure maidens fall into the hand
Of hot and forcing violation?
[If your . . . violation: If your virginal young girls
fall into the hands of rapists?]
What rein can hold licentious wickedness
When down the hill he holds his fierce career?
[What rein can hold back men bent on committing wicked
deeds when they run down the hill?]
We may as bootless spend our vain command
Upon the enraged soldiers in their spoil
As send precepts to the leviathan
To come ashore. Therefore, you men of Harfleur,
[We may . . . ashore: Trying command such men to stay
put would be as useless as trying to command a whale to come
Take pity of [on] your town and of [on] your
Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command;
Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace
O’erblows the filthy and contagious clouds
Of heady murder, spoil, and villany [villainy].
If not, why, in a moment, look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking
Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
And their most reverend heads dash’d to the
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confus’d
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
At Herod’s bloody-hunting slaughtermen.
[Herod's . . . slaughtermen: The Gospel of Matthew (2:1-23)
says Herod I, King of Judea, ordered the massacre in Bethlehem
of all boys aged two or younger after astrologers (magi)
visiting him inquired about a boy born in Bethlehem who was to
be the new king of the Jews.]
What say you? will you yield, and this
Or, guilty in defence, be thus destroy’d?
GOVERNOR: Our expectation hath this day an
The Dauphin, whom of succour we entreated,
Returns us that his powers are yet not ready
To raise so great a siege. Therefore, great
We yield our town and lives to thy soft mercy.
Enter our gates; dispose of us and ours;
For we no longer are defensible.
KING HENRY: Open your gates! Come, uncle
Go you and enter Harfleur; there remain,
And fortify it strongly ’gainst the French:
Use mercy to them all. For us, dear uncle,
The winter coming on and sickness growing
Upon our soldiers, we will retire to Calais.
To-night in Harfleur will we be your guest;
To-morrow for the march are we addrest. [Flourish.
KING HENRY and his train enter the town.
Act 3, Scene 4
Rouen. A room in
Enter KATHARINE and ALICE.
KATHARINE: Alice, tu as eté en Angleterre, et tu parles bien
le langage. [Alice, you have been in England, and you speak
the language well.]
ALICE: Un peu, madame. [A little, madame.]
KATHARINE: Je te prie, m’enseignez; il faut que j’apprenne à
parler. Comment appellez vous la main en
[I pray you, teach me. I must learn to speak (English).
What do you call the hand in English?]
ALICE: La main? elle est appellée, de hand. [La main? It
is called the hand. (Alice pronounces "the" as "de.")]
KATHARINE: De hand. Et les doigts? [The hand. And
les doigts (the fingers)?]
ALICE: Les doigts? ma foi, je oublie les doigts; mais je me
souviendray. Les doigts? je pense qu’ils sont appellés de fingres;
oui, de fingres.
[Les doight? My faith, I forget what they are called. But I
will remember. Les doigts? I think they are called the fingers;
yes, the fingers.]
KATHARINE: La main, de hand; les doigts, de fingres. Je
pense que je suis le bon écolier. J’ai gagné deux mots d’Anglais
vitement. Comment appellez vous les ongles?
[La main, the hand; les doigts, the fingers. I think I am a good
student. I have learned two words of English quickly.
What do you call les
ALICE: Les ongles? nous les appellons, de nails.
[Les ongles? We call them the nails.]
KATHARINE: De nails. Ècoutez; dites moi, si je parle bien:
de hands, de fingres, et de nails.
The nails. Listen. Tell me if I speak correctly: the
hands, the fingers, and the nails.
ALICE: C’est bien dit, madame; il est fort bon
[It is well spoken, madame; it is very good English].
KATHARINE: Dites moi l’Anglais pour le bras. [Tell me
English for le bras.]
ALICE: De arm, madame. [The arm, madame.]
KATHARINE: Et le coude? [And le coude?]
ALICE: De elbow. [The elbow.]
KATHARINE: De elbow. Je m’en fais la répétition de tous les
mots que vous m’avez appris dès à présent.
[The elbow. I am now going to repeat all the words you
have taught me up to now.]
ALICE: Il est trop difficile, madame, comme je pense. [It
is very difficult, madame, in my opinion.]
KATHARINE: Excusez moi, Alice; ecoutez: de hand, de fingres,
de nails, de arma, de bilbow.
[Excuse me, Alice; listen: the hand, the fingers, the
nails, the arma, the bilbow.]
ALICE: De elbow, madame. [The elbow, madame.]
KATHARINE: O Seigneur Dieu! je m’en oublie; de elbow.
Comment appellez vous le col?
O Lord God! I forgot it; the elbow. How do you say le cou?
ALICE: De nick, madame. [The nick (neck), madame.]
KATHARINE: De nick. Et le menton? [The nick (neck). And
ALICE: De chin. [The chin.]
KATHARINE: De sin. Le cou, de nick: le menton, de sin.
[The sin (chin). Le cou, the nick (neck): le menton, the
ALICE: Oui. Sauf votre honneur, en vérité vous prononcez les
mots aussi droict que les natifs d’ Angleterre.
[Yes. And truly, your highness, you pronounce
the words as correctly as a native of England.]
KATHARINE: Je ne doute point d’apprendre par la grace de
Dieu, et en peu de temps.
[I don't doubt that I will learn (English) by the grace of God,
and in a short time.]
ALICE: N’avez vous déjà oublié ce que je vous ai
Have you forgotten anything that I just taught you?
KATHARINE: Non, je reciteray à vous promptement. De hand, de
fingre, de mails,—
[No, I will recite for you now. The hand, the finger,
ALICE: De nails, madame. [The nails, madame.]
KATHARINE: De nails, de arme, de ilbow. [The nails, the
arme, the ilbow.]
ALICE: Sauf votre honneur, d’elbow. [Correct,
your highness, except for the elbow.]
KATHARINE: Ainsi dis-je; d’elbow, de nick, et de sin.
Comment appellez vous le pied et la robe?
[That's how I said it; d'elbow, the nick (neck), and the sin
(chin). How do you say le pied and la robe?]
ALICE: De foot, madame; et de coun. [The foot, madame;
and the coun. ("Coun" is Alice's pronunciation for "gown.")]
KATHARINE: De foot, et de coun? O Seigneur Dieu! ces sont
mots de son mauvais, corruptible, gros, et impudique, et non pour
les dames d’honneur d’user. Je ne voudrais prononcer ces mots
devant les seigneurs de France, pour tout le monde. Foh! le foot,
et le coun. Néanmoins je reciterai une autre fois ma leçon
ensemble: de hand, de fingre, de nails, d’arm, d’elbow, de nick,
de sin, de foot, de coun.
[The foot, and the coun [gown]? O Lord God! These sound
like bad words: depraved, vulgar, shameful, and not for honorable
women to use. I would not want to pronounce these words in front
of the lords of France for all the world. Bah! the foot, and the
coun (gown). Nevertheless, I will recite one more time my entire
lesson: the hand, the finger, the nails, the arm, the elbow, the
nick (neck), the sin (chin), the foot, the coun (gown).
ALICE: Excellent, madame!
KATHARINE: C’est assez pour une fois: allons nous à
[That's enough for now. Let's go to dinner.]
Act 3, Scene 5
Rouen. Another room
in the palace.
Enter the FRENCH KING, the DAUPHIN, DUKE OF BOURBON, the CONSTABLE
OF FRANCE, and Others.
FRENCH KING: ’Tis certain, he [King Henry]
hath pass’d the river Somme [river in northwestern
CONSTABLE: And if he be not fought withal, my
Let us not live in France; let us quit all,
And give our vineyards to a barbarous people.
[And if . . . people: And if no one confronts him in
battle, we should leave France and give up everything, including
our vineyards, to the barbarous English.]
DAUPHIN: O Dieu vivant! shall a few sprays of
The emptying of our fathers’ luxury,
Our scions, put in wild and savage stock,
Spirt up so suddenly into the clouds,
And overlook their grafters?
[O Dieu . . . grafters: O living God! Is it possible that a few
English descendants of Frenchmen—the wild and savage children of
French fathers—can rise up so suddenly against us? (The
dauphin is referring to the offspring of William the Conqueror
and his men. William, a Norman duke, conquered England in 1066
and ascended the English throne as William I.]
BOURBON: Normans, but bastard Normans, Norman bastards!
[Bourbon is alluding to the fact that William of Normandy was
the bastard son of Robert I of Normandy and his mistress.]
Mort de ma vie! if they march along
Unfought withal, but I will sell my dukedom,
To buy a slobbery and a dirty farm
In that nook-shotten isle of Albion.
[Mort . . . farm: The death of me! If they march along
unopposed, I will sell my dukedom and buy a dirt farm (farm
operated without hired help).
[nook-shotten: Having nooks and crannies, as a cliff along
[Albion: Archaic name for England.]
CONSTABLE: Dieu de battailes! where have they this
mettle? [God of battles! Where do they get their strength and
Is not their climate foggy, raw, and dull,
On whom, as in despite [as if to spite them], the sun
Killing their fruit with frowns? Can sodden
A drench for sur-rein’d jades, their
Decoct their cold blood to such valiant heat?
[Can sodden . . . heat: How can they heat up their blood with
the thin beer they drink, which is no better than the medicine
given to overworked horses?]
And shall our quick blood, spirited with wine,
Seem frosty? O! for honour of our land,
Let us not hang like roping icicles
Upon our houses’ thatch, whiles a more frosty
Sweat drops of gallant youth in our rich fields;
[And . . . fields: And shall our coursing blood, energized with
wine, seem cold? Oh, for the honor of our land, let us not hang
like icicles from thatched roofs while a so-called frosty people
sweat drops of brave youth on our rich fields.]
Poor we may call them in their native
[Poor . . . lords: But what good are rich fields if the lords
who own them protect them poorly?]
DAUPHIN: By faith and honour,
Our madams mock at us, and plainly say
Our mettle [spirit; courage; strength] is bred out;
and they will give
Their bodies to the lust of English youth
To new-store [replenish] France with bastard
BOURBON: They bid us to the English
And teach lavoltas high and swift corantos;
[lavolta: Dance with a turn and a lift]
[Coranto, or courante: Dance with approaches and retreats]
Saying our grace is only in our
And that we are most lofty runaways.
[Saying . . . runaways: They say our only talent is in our feet
and that we are good at running away.]
FRENCH KING: Where is Montjoy the herald? speed him
Let him greet England with our sharp defiance.
Up, princes! and, with spirit of honour edg’d
More sharper than your swords, hie to the field:
Charles Delabreth, High Constable of France;
You Dukes of Orleans, Bourbon, and Berri,
Alençon, Brabant, Bar, and Burgundy;
Jaques Chatillon, Rambures, Vaudemont,
Beaumont, Grandpré, Roussi, and Fauconberg,
Foix, Lestrale, Bouciqualt, and Charolois;
High dukes, great princes, barons, lords, and
For your great seats now quit you of great shames.
[For . . . shames: Put this talk of shame behind you and go
fight for your positions of power.]
Bar Harry England, that sweeps through our land
With pennons [narrow banner attached to a lance] painted
in the blood of Harfleur:
Rush on his host, as doth the melted snow
Upon the valleys, whose low vassal seat
The Alps doth spit and void his rheum upon:
[Rush . . . upon: Rush on his army the way melted
mountain snow rushes on valleys. Be the Alps spitting mucus on
the lowly English.]
Go down upon him, you have power enough.
And in a captive chariot into Rouen
Bring him our prisoner.
[Go down . . . prisoner: Descend upon him and transport
him to us here in Rouen as our captive.]
CONSTABLE: This becomes the great. [This is an order
worthy of the great men of France to carry out.]
Sorry am I his numbers are so few,
His soldiers sick and famish’d in their march,
For I am sure when he shall see our army
He’ll drop his heart into the sink of fear,
And for achievement offer us his ransom. [And he'll offer us a
large ransom to avoid annihilation.]
FRENCH KING: Therefore, lord constable, haste on
And let him say to England that we send
To know what willing ransom he will give.
Prince Dauphin, you shall stay with us in Rouen.
DAUPHIN: Not so, I do beseech your
FRENCH KING: Be patient, for you shall remain with
Now forth, lord constable and princes all,
And quickly bring us word of England’s fall. [Exeunt.
Act 3, Scene 6
The English camp in
Enter GOWER and FLUELLEN.
GOWER: How now, Captain Fluellen! come you from the
FLUELLEN: I assure you, there is very excellent services
committed at the pridge. [I assure you, the men are doing a
good job at the bridge]
GOWER: Is the Duke of Exeter safe?
FLUELLEN: The Duke of Exeter is as magnanimous as Agamemnon
[leader of the Greek armies during the Trojan War];
and a man that I love and honour with my soul, and my heart, and
my duty, and my life, and my living, and my uttermost power: he is
not—God be praised and plessed [blessed]!—any hurt in the
world; but keeps the pridge [bridge] most valiantly, with
excellent discipline. There is an aunchient lieutenant there at
the pridge [there is a flag bearer there at the bridge],
I think, in my very conscience, he is as valiant a man as Mark
Antony [Roman general and friend of Julius Caesar]; and he
is a man of no estimation [little esteemed] in the world;
but I did see him do as gallant service.
GOWER: What do you call him?
FLUELLEN: He is called Aunchient Pistol [Ensign Pistol].
GOWER: I know him not.
FLUELLEN: Here is the man.
PISTOL: Captain, I thee beseech to do me
The Duke of Exeter doth love thee well.
FLUELLEN: Ay, I praise God; and I have merited some love at
PISTOL: Bardolph, a soldier firm and sound of
And of buxom valour, hath, by cruel fate
And giddy Fortune’s furious fickle wheel,
That goddess blind,
That stands upon the rolling restless stone,—
[Bardolph . . . stone: Bardolph, a good soldier of stout valor,
has, by cruel fate and by a turn of the wheel of fortune of the
frivolous goddess of luck and chance, Fortuna, who is
often depicted as wearing a blindfold and standing on a rolling
FLUELLEN: By your patience, Aunchient Pistol [Ensign
Pistol]. Fortune is painted plind [blind], with a
muffler afore her eyes, to signify to you that Fortune is plind:
and she is painted also with a wheel, to signify to you, which is
the moral of it, that she is turning, and inconstant, and
mutability [changeable], and variation [unpredictable]:
and her foot, look you, is fixed upon a spherical stone, which
rolls, and rolls, and rolls: in good truth, the poet makes a most
excellent description of it: Fortune is an excellent
PISTOL: Fortune is Bardolph’s foe, and frowns on
For he hath stol’n a pax, and hanged must a’ [he]
[pax: Metal or ivory plate usually inscribed with a religious
image. In the Roman Catholic Eucharistic celebration (the mass),
it was used to convey the kiss of peace. First, the
priest kissed it. Then members of the congregation kissed it.]
A damned death!
Let gallows gape for dog, let man go free
And let not hemp [the hemp rope] his wind-pipe
But Exeter hath given the doom of death
For pax of little price.
Therefore, go speak; the duke will hear thy
And let not Bardolph’s vital thread [windpipe] be
With edge of penny cord [cheap rope] and vile
Speak, captain, for his life, and I will thee requite [will
FLUELLEN: Aunchient [Ensign] Pistol, I do partly
understand your meaning.
PISTOL: Why then, rejoice therefore.
FLUELLEN: Certainly, aunchient, it is not a thing to rejoice
at; for, if, look you, he were my brother, I would desire the duke
to use his good pleasure and put him to execution; for discipline
ought to be used.
PISTOL: Die and be damn’d; and figo for thy
[figo: Gesture of contempt in which the
thumb is thrust through the index finger and the middle finger;
this gesture has the same meaning as the upthrust of the middle
FLUELLEN: It is well.
PISTOL: The fig of Spain! [Gesture similar to a figo] [Exit.
FLUELLEN: Very good.
GOWER: Why, this is an arrant [complete; thoroughgoing]
counterfeit rascal: I remember him now; a bawd, a cutpurse [pickpocket].
FLUELLEN: I’ll assure you a’ [he] uttered as prave [brave]
words at the pridge [bridge] as you shall see in a
summer’s day. But it is very well; what he has spoke to me, that
is well, I warrant you, when time is serve [What he has spoken
to me, that's all right. I guarantee you that when
the time is right—]
GOWER: Why, ’tis a gull, a fool, a rogue, that now and then
goes to the wars to grace himself at his return into London under
the form of a soldier. And such fellows are perfect in the great
commanders’ names, and they will learn you by rote where services
were done; at such and such a sconce, at such a breach, at such a
convoy; who came off bravely, who was shot, who disgraced, what
terms the enemy stood on; and this they con perfectly in the
phrase of war, which they trick up with new-tuned oaths: and what
a beard of the general’s cut and a horrid suit of the camp will do
among foaming bottles and ale-washed wits, is wonderful to be
thought on. But you must learn to know such slanders of the age,
or else you may be marvellously mistook.
[Why, 'tis . . . mistook: Why, he's a trickster, a fool, a
rogue that now and then goes to war just so he can brag about
being in the thick of battle when he returns to London. Fellows
like him memorize the names of all the great commanders and the
details of great battles fought before bridges, gates, and other
combat sites—even though they themselves stood back from the
action. They can tell you who was brave, who was shot, who was
disgraced, and the terms the enemy proposed. They know how to
speak about war in the proper terminology, using words that
excite people. They can describe a general's beard or a
soldier's uniform in a way that wakes up sleepy drunks.
If you learn how to recognize such fakers, you won't be duped by
FLUELLEN: I tell you what, Captain Gower; I do perceive,
he is not the man that he would gladly make show to the world he
is: if I find a hole in his coat I will tell him my mind.
[Drum heard.] Hark you, the king is coming; and I must speak
with him from the pridge [and I must speak with him about the
Enter KING HENRY, GLOUCESTER, and Soldiers.
FLUELLEN: God pless your majesty!
KING HENRY: How now, Fluellen! cam’st thou from the
FLUELLEN: Ay, so please your majesty. The Duke of Exeter
hath very gallantly maintained the pridge [bridge]: the
French is gone off, look you, and there is gallant and most prave
passages [and there have been gallant and brave deeds].
Marry, th’ athversary was have possession of the pridge, but he is
enforced to retire, and the Duke of Exeter is master of the
pridge. I can tell your majesty the duke is a prave
[Marry . . . retire: By the Virgin Mary, the adversary had
possession of the bridge but was forced to retire.]
KING HENRY: What men have you lost,
FLUELLEN: The perdition of th’ athversary hath been very
great, reasonable great: marry, for my part, I think the duke hath
lost never a man but one that is like to be executed for robbing a
church; one Bardolph, if your majesty know the man: his face is
all bubukles, and whelks, and knobs, and flames o’ fire; and his
lips blows at his nose, and it is like a coal of fire, sometimes
plue and sometimes red; but his nose is executed, and his fire’s
[The perdition . . . fire's out: The enemy's losses have been
very great. But, by the Virgin Mary, the duke hasn't lost a
single man except for one that is likely to be executed for
robbing a church. Maybe you know the man. His name is Bardolph.
His face is full of red spots and pimples and knobs and fiery
inflammation. His lips blow at his nose, which is like a glowing
coal, sometimes blue and sometimes red. But he's singled
out for execution.]
KING HENRY: We would have all such offenders so cut off: and
we give express charge that in our marches through the country
there be nothing compelled [stolen] from the villages,
nothing taken but paid for, none of the French upbraided or abused
in disdainful language; for when lenity [mercy] and
cruelty play for a kingdom, the gentler gamester is the soonest
Tucket. Enter MONTJOY.
[Tucket: Trumpet fanfare.]
MONTJOY: You know me by my habit. [You know me by my
KING HENRY: Well then I know thee: what shall I know of
MONTJOY: My master’s mind.
KING HENRY: Unfold it.
MONTJOY: Thus says my king: Say thou to Harry of England:
Though we seemed dead, we did but sleep: advantage is a better
soldier than rashness.
[Though . . . rashness]: Though we seemed defeated, we were
only holding back. Biding one's time to gain an
advantage is better than acting rashly.] Tell him, we could
have rebuked him at Harfleur, but that we thought not good to
bruise an injury [to open a wound] till it were
full ripe [until it is swollen with pus]: now we speak
upon our cue, and our voice is imperial: England shall repent his
folly, see his weakness, and admire our sufferance.
[England shall regret his folly, recognize his weakness, and
admire us for our delaying tactics.] Bid him therefore
consider of his ransom; which must proportion the losses we have
borne, the subjects we have lost, the disgrace we have digested;
which, in weight to re-answer, his pettiness would bow under. [Ask
him therefore to consider the amount of ransom he is willing to
pay to escape our wrath. This payment must be in proportion to
the losses we have borne, the subjects we have lost, and the
disgrace we have suffered.]
For our losses, his exchequer is too poor; for the effusion of
our blood, the muster of his kingdom too faint a number; and for
our disgrace, his own person, kneeling at our feet, but a weak and
worthless satisfaction. [But he doesn't have enough money to
compensate us for our losses. Even his entire kingdom is not
enough to pay us for the blood we have shed. And if Henry came
and knelt at my feet, that would be a worthless satisfaction for
the disgrace we suffered]. To this add defiance:
and tell him, for conclusion, he hath betrayed his followers,
whose condemnation [death sentence] is pronounced.
So far my king and master, so much my office. [That is the
message of my king and master, so my duty is done.]
KING HENRY: What is thy name? I know thy
KING HENRY: Thou dost thy office fairly. Turn thee
And tell thy king I do not seek him now,
But could be willing to march on to Calais
Without impeachment [without encountering resistance];
for, to say the sooth [truth],—
Though ’tis no wisdom to confess so much
Unto an enemy of craft and vantage,—
[Though . . . vantage: Though it's unwise to confess so much
information to a clever enemy in an advantageous position—
My people are with sickness much enfeebled,
My numbers lessen’d, and those few I have
Almost no better than so many French:
Who, when they were in health, I tell thee,
I thought upon one pair of English legs
Did march three Frenchmen. Yet, forgive me, God,
[one pair . . . Frenchmen: One healthy Englishman was as
good as three Frenchmen.]
That I do brag thus! this your air of France
Hath blown that vice in me; I must repent.
Go therefore, tell thy master here I am:
My ransom is this [my] frail and worthless trunk [body],
My army but a weak and sickly guard;
Yet, God before, tell him we will come on,
Though France himself and such another neighbour
Stand in our way. There’s for thy labour,
Go, bid thy master well advise himself:
If we may pass, we will; if we be hinder’d,
We shall your tawny ground with your red blood
Discolour: and so, Montjoy, fare you well.
The sum of all our answer is but this:
We would not seek a battle as we are;
Nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it:
So tell your master.
[We would . . . shun it: We are not seeking a fight in our
present sickly condition; nor, as we are, we say we would not
shun a fight.]
MONTJOY: I shall deliver so. Thanks to your highness.
GLOUCESTER: I hope they will not come upon us
KING HENRY: We are in God’s hand, brother, not in
March to the bridge; it now draws toward night:
Beyond the river we’ll encamp ourselves,
And on to-morrow bid them march away. [Exeunt.
Act 3, Scene 7
The French camp, near
Enter the CONSTABLE OF FRANCE, the LORD RAMBURES, the DUKE OF
ORLEANS, the DAUPHIN, and Others.
CONSTABLE: Tut! I have the best armour of the world. Would
it were day!
ORLÈANS: You have an excellent armour; but let my horse have
CONSTABLE: It is the best horse of Europe.
ORLÈANS: Will it never be morning?
DAUPHIN: My Lord of Orleans, and my lord high constable, you
talk of horse and armour—
ORLÈANS: You are as well provided of both as any prince in
DAUPHIN: What a long night is this! I will not change my
horse with any that treads but on four pasterns [the part of a
horse's leg between the hoof and fetlock. The dauphin is saying
that he would not trade his horse for any other horse on four
Çà, ha! He bounds from the earth as if his entrails were hairs: le
cheval volant, the Pegasus, qui a les narines de feu! When I
bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth
sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more
musical than the pipe of Hermes.
[Çà . . . soar: He goes from here to there in an
instant. He jumps from the earth as if he were as light as a
feather: a flying horse, like Pegasus, breathing fire from his
nostrils. When I ride him, I soar like a hawk. He walks on air.
The earth sings when he touches it. The sound of his hoof is
more musical than the flute of Hermes.]
[Pegasus: In Greek mythology, a winged horse ridden by
Bellerophon, a hero who slew a fire-breathing monster. In later
times, writers associated the horse with a hero named Perseus, who slew a monster so ugly that
its glance turned men to stone.]
[Hermes: In Greek mythology, the messenger god. His Roman name
ORLÈANS: He’s of the colour of the nutmeg.
DAUPHIN: And of the heat of the ginger. It is a beast for Perseus: he is pure air and fire; and the
dull elements of earth and water never appear in him but only in
patient stillness while his rider mounts him: he is indeed a
horse; and all other jades you may call beasts.
CONSTABLE: Indeed, my lord, it is a most absolute and
DAUPHIN: It is the prince of palfreys [horse with a
smooth gait]; his neigh is like the bidding of a monarch and
his countenance enforces homage.
ORLÈANS: No more, cousin.
DAUPHIN: Nay, the man hath no wit that cannot, from the
rising of the lark to the lodging of the lamb [from dawn
to dusk], vary deserved praise [lavish praise]
on my palfrey: it is a theme as fluent as the sea [a subject
deserving an endless flow of words]; turn the sands
into eloquent tongues, and my horse is argument [a subject]
for them all. ’Tis a subject for a sovereign to reason on, and for
a sovereign’s sovereign to ride on; and for the world—familiar to
us, and unknown—to lay apart their particular functions and wonder
at him. I once writ a sonnet in his praise and began thus: ‘Wonder
ORLÈANS: I have heard a sonnet begin so to one’s
DAUPHIN: Then did they imitate that which I composed to my
courser; for my horse is my mistress.
ORLÈANS: Your mistress bears well [You can ride well on
DAUPHIN: Me well; which is the prescript [right]
praise and perfection of a good and particular
CONSTABLE: Ma foi [In faith], methought yesterday
your mistress shrewdly shook your back.
DAUPHIN: So perhaps did yours.
CONSTABLE: Mine was not bridled.
DAUPHIN: O! then belike [probably] she was old and
gentle; and you rode, like a kern [foot soldier] of
Ireland, your French hose off and in your straight strossers [underwear].
CONSTABLE: You have good judgment in
DAUPHIN: Be warned by me, then: they that ride so, and ride
not warily [carefully], fall into foul bogs [fall into
scandalous situations]. I had rather have my horse to my
CONSTABLE: I had as lief [gladly] have my mistress a
DAUPHIN: I tell thee, constable, my mistress wears his own
hair. [My mistress doesn't wear a wig.]
CONSTABLE: I could make as true a boast as that [I could
say the same thing as that] if I had a sow to my
DAUPHIN: Le chien est retourné à son propre vomissement, et
la truie lavée au bourbier: thou makest use of any
[Le chien . . . bourbier: The dog goes back to its vomit, and
the washed sow to the mud. You would use anything
for a mistress.]
CONSTABLE: Yet do I not use my horse for my mistress: or any
such proverb so little kin to the purpose.
[But I don't use my horse for my mistress, which has nothing to do
with the subject at hand.
RAMBURES: My lord constable, the armour that I saw in your
tent to-night, are those stars or suns upon it?
CONSTABLE: Stars, my lord.
DAUPHIN: Some of them will fall to-morrow, I
CONSTABLE: And yet my sky shall not want.
DAUPHIN: That may be, for you bear a many superfluously, and
’twere more honour some were away.
[for . . . away: For you have too many stars on your armor; you
should remove some of them.]
CONSTABLE: Even as your horse bears your praises; who would
trot as well were some of your brags dismounted.
[Even . . . dismounted: Just as your horse bears so many
decorations praising you. He would trot just as well if
you removed some of them.]
DAUPHIN: Would I were able to load him with his desert! Will
it never be day? I will trot to-morrow a mile, and my way shall be
paved with English faces.
[Would . . . faces: I wish I could load him with more praises!
Will day ever come? I will ride a mile tomorrow, leaving
dead Englishman in my wake.]
CONSTABLE: I will not say so for fear I should be faced out
of my way. But I would it were morning, for I would fain be about
the ears of the English.
[I will . . . way: I will not make such a boast,
for I would have so many of your dead Englishmen to jump over.]
RAMBURES: Who will go to hazard with me for twenty
prisoners? [Let's roll dice for twenty prisoners.]
CONSTABLE: You must first go yourself to hazard, ere you
have them. [You'll first have to capture twenty prisoners
before you can bet them.]
DAUPHIN: ’Tis midnight: I’ll go arm myself.
ORLÈANS: The Dauphin longs for morning.
RAMBURES: He longs to eat the English.
CONSTABLE: I think he will eat all he kills. [He will
eat everyone he kills, which is to say no one.]
ORLÈANS: By the white hand of my lady, he’s a gallant
CONSTABLE: Swear by her foot, that she may tread out the
oath [Swear by her foot, so she can walk on the oath
and wear it away].
ORLÈANS: He is simply the most active gentleman of
CONSTABLE: Doing is activity, and he will still be doing. [That's
because he's an actor who's always performing for the crowd.]
ORLÈANS: He never did harm, that I heard of.
CONSTABLE: Nor will do none to-morrow: he will keep that
good name still.
ORLÈANS: I know him to be valiant.
CONSTABLE: I was told that by one that knows him better than
ORLÈANS: What’s he?
CONSTABLE: Marry [by the Virgin Mary], he told me so
himself; and he said he cared not who knew it.
ORLÈANS: He needs not; it is no hidden virtue in
CONSTABLE: By my faith, sir, but it is [is hidden];
never any body saw it but his lackey [servant]: ’tis a
hooded valour; and when it appears, it will bate [shrink].
ORLÈANS: ‘Ill will never said well.’ [Orlèans is quoting
CONSTABLE: I will cap [top] that proverb with ‘There
is flattery in friendship.’
ORLÈANS: And I will take up that with ‘Give the devil his
CONSTABLE: Well placed: there stands your friend for the
devil: have at the very eye of that proverb, with ‘A pox of the
devil’ [damn the devil].
ORLÈANS: You are the better at proverbs, by how much ‘A
fool’s bolt is soon shot.’
[You . . . shot: You are better at proverbs than I am. Here's
how much better: "A fool is too quick to shoot his arrow—and
overshoots the mark."]
CONSTABLE: You have shot over.
ORLÈANS: ’Tis not the first time you were
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER: My lord high constable, the English lie within
fifteen hundred paces of your tents.
CONSTABLE: Who hath measured the ground?
MESSENGER: The Lord Grandpré.
CONSTABLE: A valiant and most expert gentleman. Would it
were day! Alas! poor Harry of England, he longs not for the
dawning as we do.
ORLÈANS: What a wretched and peevish fellow is this King of
England, to mope with his fatbrained followers so far out of his
[to mope . . . knowledge: To plod along with his fatbrained
troops in a military campaign beyond his capability to
CONSTABLE: If the English had any apprehension they would
ORLÈANS: That they lack; for if their heads had any
intellectual armour [had any brains] they could never wear such
heavy head-pieces [could never be so stupid].
RAMBURES: That island of England breeds very valiant
creatures: their mastiffs are of unmatchable courage.
ORLÈANS: Foolish curs! that run winking into the mouth of a
Russian bear and have their heads crushed like rotten apples. You
may as well say that’s a valiant flea that dare eat his breakfast
on the lip of a lion.
CONSTABLE: Just, just; and the men do sympathize with the
mastiffs in robustious and rough coming on, leaving their wits
with their wives: and then give them great meals of beef and iron
and steel, they will eat like wolves and fight like devils.
[Just . . . devils: That's right. And the Englishmen act just
like their dogs, howling and charging on, leaving their wits
with their wives. If you give them big meals of beef and outfit
them with iron and steel, they will eat like wolves and fight like
ORLÈANS: Ay, but these English are shrewdly out of
CONSTABLE: Then shall we find to-morrow they have only
stomachs to eat and none to fight. Now is it time to arm; come,
shall we about it?
ORLÈANS: It is now two o’clock: but, let me see, by
We shall have each [captured] a hundred Englishmen.
Act 4, Prologue.
Now entertain conjecture of a time
When creeping murmur and the poring dark
Fills the wide vessel of the universe.
From camp to camp, through the foul womb of
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
That the fix’d sentinels almost receive
The secret whispers of each other’s watch:
[The hum . . . watch: The sounds of both armies diminish to a
point that the sentinels of one army think they can hear the
sentinels of the other army whispering secrets to one another.]
Fire answers fire, and through their paly flames
Each battle sees the other’s umber’d face:
Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful
Piercing the night’s dull ear; and from the
The armourers, accomplishing the knights,
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation.
[Fire . . . preparation: Campfires on both sides allow each
army to see the shadowy faces of the enemy. Horses on one side
challenge the horses on the other side with boastful neighs
piercing the air; and from the tents the blacksmiths tap their
hammers to close up the armor that will shield the
knights. These sounds dreadfully forecast the coming of the
The country cocks do crow, the clocks do
And the third hour of drowsy morning name.
Proud of their numbers, and secure in soul,
The confident and over-lusty French
Do the low-rated English play at dice;
And chide the cripple tardy-gaited night
Who, like a foul and ugly witch, doth limp
So tediously away. The poor condemned English,
[The confident . . . tediously away: The confident and
overanxious French throw dice, betting on how many lowly Englishmen
they will capture or kill. They scold the night for passing so
slowly, like a cripple—or like an ugly witch that limps away
ever so slowly.]
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
Sit patiently, and inly ruminate [fret over; think
The morning’s danger, and their gesture sad
Investing lank-lean cheeks and war-worn coats
Presenteth them unto the gazing moon
So many horrid ghosts. O! now, who will behold
The royal captain of this ruin’d band
Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
Let him cry ‘Praise and glory on his head!’
[and their . . . head: And their sadness, their sunken cheeks,
and their war-torn coats make them look like so many horrid
ghosts in the moonlight. Whoever comes upon the leader (Henry V)
of this ruined army should cry out, "Praise and glory on his
For forth he goes and visits all his host [men; troops],
Bids them good morrow with a modest smile,
And calls them brothers, friends, and
Upon his royal face there is no note [sign of]
How dread an army hath enrounded [surrounded]
Nor doth he dedicate one jot of colour
Unto the weary and all-watched night:
[Nor . . . night: Nor does his face lose one jot of color to
the weary vigil he keeps through the night.]
But freshly looks and overbears attaint
With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty;
[But . . . majesty: In fact, he looks fresh, overcoming his
weariness with a cheerful face and a sweetly majestic
That every wretch, pining and pale before,
Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks.
A largess universal, like the sun
His liberal eye doth give to every one,
Thawing cold fear. Then mean and gentle all,
Behold, as may unworthiness define,
A little touch of Harry in the night.
[A largess . . . night: His great generosity is evident in the
way that he looks at all the soldiers, like the sun; his gaze
thaws their cold fear. Then the lowborn and the highborn—the
commoners and the nobles—are uplifted by a little touch
of King Henry in the night.]
And so our scene must to the battle fly;
Where,—O for pity,—we shall much disgrace,
With four or five most vile and ragged foils,
Right ill dispos’d in brawl ridiculous,
The name of Agincourt. Yet sit and see;
Minding true things by what their mockeries be.
[And so . . . mockeries be: And so we move our scene to the
Battle of Agincourt, which we will represent on this stage—O for
pity—with just four or five men fighting with fencing
swords with blunted tips. But sit and watch, imagining that what
you see is a real battle with thousands of combatants.]
Act 4, Scene 1
The English Camp at
Enter KING HENRY, BEDFORD, and GLOUCESTER.
KING HENRY: Gloucester, ’tis true that we are in great
The greater therefore should our courage be.
Good morrow, brother Bedford. God Almighty!
There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
Would men observingly distill it out;
For our bad neighbour makes us early stirrers,
Which is both healthful, and good husbandry:
[There . . . husbandry: In this case, the goodness comes from
our bad French neighbors, for they make us early risers. Getting
up early is healthful and helps us get ready for the
Besides, they are our outward consciences,
And preachers to us all; admonishing
That we should dress us fairly for our end.
[Besides, their presence across the battlefield warns us
that we should prepare our souls for death.]
Thus may we gather honey from the weed,
And make a moral of the devil himself.
Good morrow, old Sir Thomas Erpingham:
A good soft pillow for that good white head
Were better than a churlish turf of France [would be better
than the rough ground of France].
ERPINGHAM: Not so, my liege: this lodging likes me
Since I may say, ‘Now lie I like a king.’
[Not so . . . king: Not so, my lord: Using the battlefield as a
bed enables me to say that I slept like a king, since you
slept on it too.]
KING HENRY: ’Tis good for men to love their present
Upon example; so the spirit is eas’d:
['Tis . . . eas'd: It's good for me to set an example that
helps the soldiers love their pains and ease their anxious
And when the mind is quicken’d, out of doubt,
The organs, though defunct and dead before,
Break up their drowsy grave, and newly move
With casted slough and fresh legerity.
[And when . . . legerity: And when the mind throws off doubt
and comes alive, the body's organs—though defunct and dead
before—rise from their graves, cast off their lethargy, and go
to work with new vigor.]
Lend me thy cloak, Sir Thomas. Brothers
Commend me to the princes in our camp;
Do my good morrow to them; and anon
Desire them all to my pavilion.
[Brothers both . . . pavilion: Both of you men, greet
the princes of our camp on my behalf. Say good morning to them
and then tell them to come to my tent.]
GLOUCESTER: We shall, my liege [lord]. [Exeunt GLOUCESTER and
ERPINGHAM: Shall I attend your Grace?
KING HENRY: No, my good knight;
Go with my brothers to my lords of England:
I and my bosom must debate awhile,
And then I would no other company.
[I and . . . company: I must be alone for a while to
think things over.]
ERPINGHAM: The Lord in heaven bless thee, noble Harry!
KING HENRY: God-a-mercy, old heart! thou speak’st
PISTOL: Qui va là? [Who
KING HENRY: A friend.
PISTOL: Discuss unto me; art thou officer?
Or art thou base, common and popular? [Or are you a
KING HENRY: I am a gentleman of a company.
PISTOL: Trail’st thou the puissant pike? [Do you
carry a deadly spear?]
KING HENRY: Even so. What are you?
PISTOL: As good a gentleman as the
KING HENRY: Then you are a better than the
PISTOL: The king’s a bawcock [fine fellow], and a
heart of gold,
A lad of life [spirit], an imp of fame:
Of parents good, of fist most valiant:
I kiss his dirty shoe, and from my heart-string
I love the lovely bully. What’s thy name?
KING HENRY: Harry le Roy. [The king is playfully
substituting the name "le Roy" for "le roi" (French for "the
PISTOL: Le Roy! a Cornish name: art thou of Cornish
KING HENRY: No, I am a Welshman.
PISTOL: Know’st thou Fluellen?
KING HENRY: Yes.
PISTOL: Tell him, I’ll knock his leek [Welsh national
emblem attached to Fluellen's cap] about his pate [head].
Upon Saint Davy’s day. [Saint David's Day,
March 1. Saint David is the patron saint of Wales.]
KING HENRY: Do not you wear your dagger in your cap that
day, lest he knock that about yours [about your head].
PISTOL: Art thou his friend?
KING HENRY: And his kinsman too.
PISTOL: The figo for thee
KING HENRY: I thank you. God be with you!
PISTOL: My name is Pistol called.
KING HENRY: It sorts well with your fierceness.
Enter FLUELLEN and GOWER, severally.
GOWER: Captain Fluellen!
FLUELLEN: So! in the name of Cheshu Christ, speak lower. It
is the greatest admiration in the universal world, when the true
and auncient prerogatifes and laws of the wars is not kept. If you
would take the pains but to examine the wars of Pompey the Great,
you shall find, I warrant you, that there is no tiddle-taddle nor
pibble-pabble in Pompey’s camp; I warrant you, you shall find the
ceremonies of the wars, and the cares of it, and the forms of it,
and the sobriety of it, and the modesty of it, to be
[So . . . otherwise: In Christ's name, don't talk so loud. It's a
wonder to me why you don't abide by the true and ancient rules of
war. If you would take the pains to study the wars of Pompey the
Great [Roman general], I guarantee you shall discover that
there was no loud talking in his camp. He observed all the
GOWER: Why, the enemy is loud; you heard him all
FLUELLEN: If the enemy is an ass and a fool and a prating
coxcomb [moron], is it meet, think you, that we
should also, look you, be an ass and a fool and a prating coxcomb,
in your own conscience now?
GOWER: I will speak lower.
FLUELLEN: I pray you and peseech [beseech] you that you
will. [Exeunt GOWER and
KING HENRY: Though it appear a little out of
There is much care and valour in this Welshman.
Enter JOHN BATES, ALEXANDER COURT, and MICHAEL WILLIAMS.
COURT: Brother John Bates, is not that the morning which
BATES: I think it be; but we have no great cause to desire
the approach of day.
WILLIAMS: We see yonder the beginning of the day, but I
think we shall never see the end of it. Who goes
KING HENRY: A friend.
WILLIAMS: Under what captain serve you?
KING HENRY: Under Sir Thomas Erpingham.
WILLIAMS: A good old commander and a most kind gentleman: I
pray you, what thinks he of our estate?
KING HENRY: Even as men wracked upon a sand, that look to be
washed off the next tide.
[Even . . . tide: We're like crewmen on a ship that ran
aground, looking to be washed back to sea.]
BATES: He hath not told his thought to the
KING HENRY: No; nor it is not meet he should. For, though I
speak it to you, I think the king is but a man, as I am: the
violet smells to him as it doth to me; the element [weather]
shows to him as it doth to me; all his senses have but human
conditions: his ceremonies [royal clothing] laid by, in
his nakedness he appears but a man; and though his affections [feelings]
are higher mounted than ours, yet when they stoop, they stoop with
the like wing [when they sink, they sink very far].
Therefore when he sees reason of fears, as we do, his fears, out
of doubt [about what will happen next], be of the same
relish as ours are: yet, in reason, no man should possess him with
any appearance of [should give him any reason to]
fear, lest he, by showing it, should dishearten his
BATES: He may show what outward courage he will, but I
believe, as cold a night as ’tis, he could wish himself [he
wished he were] in [the] Thames up to the neck, and
so I would he were, and I by him, at all adventures, so we were
[and so . . . here: And I'd like him to be there in the
Thames with me next to him so we could be away from this
KING HENRY: By my troth, I will speak my conscience of the
king: I think he would not wish himself any where but where he
BATES: Then I would he were here alone; so should he be sure
to be ransomed, and a many poor men’s lives
KING HENRY: I dare say you love him not so ill to wish him
here alone, howsoever you speak this to feel other men’s minds.
Methinks I could not die any where so contented as in the king’s
company, his cause being just and his quarrel
[I dare . . . minds: I don't think you love him so little that
you wish him to be here alone. Your words are meant to provoke
others to speak their minds about the king and our situation].
WILLIAMS: That’s more than we know.
BATES: Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know
enough if we know we are the king’s subjects. If his cause be
wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of
WILLIAMS: But if the cause be not good, the king himself
hath a heavy reckoning to make; when all those legs and arms and
heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join together at the latter
day [Judgment Day], and cry all, ‘We died at such a
place;’ some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their
wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some
upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well
that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any
thing when blood is their argument [for how can they justify
their lives by ending other lives on the battlefield]?
Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for
the king that led them to it, whom to disobey were against all
proportion of subjection.
[Now if . . . subjection: Now if our soldiers die with sin on
their soul, the king will be responsible. After all, no
soldier can disobey the order of a king.]
KING HENRY: So, if a son that is by his father sent about
merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the imputation of
his wickedness, by your rule, should be imposed upon his father
that sent him: or if a servant, under his master’s command
transporting a sum of money, be assailed by robbers and die in
many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the business of the
master the author of the servant’s damnation.
[So, if . . . damnation: So, if a son on a business mission for
his father commits a sinful deed, his father should be held
responsible, according to your logic. Or suppose a servant with
sin on his soul is transporting money for his master when
robbers attack and kill him. If the servant goes to hell for his
sins, the master is responsible. That's what you're
But this is not so: the king is not bound to answer [answer
for] the particular endings of his soldiers, the father of
his son, nor the master of his servant; for they purpose [intend]
not their death when they purpose [engage] their services.
Besides, there is no king, be his cause never so spotless [no
matter how worthy his cause], if it come to the arbitrement
of swords, can try it out with all unspotted soldiers.
[Besides . . . soldiers: Besides, there is no king who can rely
solely on sinless soldiers, no matter how worthy his cause,
to carry out his orders.]
Some, peradventure [Some soldiers perhaps], have on
them the guilt of premeditated and contrived murder; some, of
beguiling virgins with the broken seals of perjury [some, of
seducing virgins with lies]; some, making the wars their
bulwark, that have before gored the gentle bosom of peace with
pillage and robbery [some, of committing robbery before
going to war].
Now, if these men have defeated the law and outrun native
punishment [if these men have broken the law and escaped
punishment], though they can outstrip [flee from]
men, they have no wings to fly from God: war is his beadle [war
is God's judge and jury], war is his
vengeance; so that here men are punished for before-breach of the
king’s laws in now the king’s quarrel [so that in war men are
punished for previously breaking the king's law]:
where they feared the death they have borne life away [when
they feared the death penalty for their crimes, they ran away to
war], and where they would be safe they perish [and when
they thought they were safe as members of an army, they died].
Then, if they die unprovided [if they die unrepentant and unpunished],
no more is the king guilty of their damnation than he was before
guilty of those impieties [sins] for the which they are
now visited [damned for]. Every subject’s duty is the
king’s [has a duty to the king]; but every
subject’s soul is his own. Therefore should every soldier in the
wars do as every sick man in his bed, wash every mote [stain
of sin] out of his conscience; and dying so, death is to him
advantage [death is an advantage to him because he is
ready for heaven]; or not dying, the time was blessedly lost
wherein such preparation was gained [was blessedly spent
preparing his soul for heaven]: and in him that
escapes, it were not sin to think, that making God so free an
offer, he let him outlive that day to see his greatness, and to
teach others how they should prepare [and as for the repentant
man who survives war, one may assume that God let him escape
harm simply because he was repentant. That
man then can teach others how important it is to prepare for
WILLIAMS: ’Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill [is]
upon his own head: the king is not to answer it.
BATES: I do not desire he should answer for me; and yet I
determine to fight lustily for him.
KING HENRY: I myself heard the king say he would not be
WILLIAMS: Ay, he said so, to make us fight cheerfully [he
said so just to make us fight willingly for him]; but when
our throats are cut he may be ransomed, and we ne’er the
KING HENRY: If I live to see it, I will never trust his word
WILLIAMS: You pay him then. That’s a perilous shot out of an
elder-gun, that a poor and a private displeasure can do against a
monarch. You may as well go about to turn the sun to ice with
fanning in his face with a peacock’s feather. You’ll never trust
his word after! come, ’tis a foolish saying.
[You pay . . . feather: What good is it to say you won't trust
him again? That's just an idle threat. You're only an
ordinary man; he's a king. You have about as much chance of
getting him to notice you as you do of turning the sun into ice
by fanning it with a peacock's feather.]
KING HENRY: Your reproof is something too round [your
rebuttal of what I said is unreasonable and unfair]; I
should be angry with you if the time were
WILLIAMS: Let it be a quarrel between us, if you
KING HENRY: I embrace it.
WILLIAMS: How shall I know thee again?
KING HENRY: Give me any gage [item]
of thine, and I will wear it in my bonnet [hat]: then, if
ever thou darest acknowledge it, I will make it my
WILLIAMS: Here’s my glove: give me another of
KING HENRY: There.
WILLIAMS: This will I also wear in my cap: if ever thou come
to me and say after to-morrow, ‘This is my glove,’ by this hand I
will take thee a box on the ear [I will box your ears].
KING HENRY: If ever I live to see it, I will challenge
WILLIAMS: Thou darest as well be hanged.
KING HENRY: Well, I will do it, though I take thee in the
king’s company. [I will do it even if you're in the king's
WILLIAMS: Keep thy word: fare thee well.
BATES: Be friends, you English fools, be friends: we have
French quarrels enow [enough], if you could tell how to
KING HENRY: Indeed, the French may lay [bet] twenty
French crowns to one, they will beat us; for they bear them [the
crowns of their heads] on their shoulders: but it is no
English treason to cut French crowns, and to-morrow the king
himself will be a clipper. [Exeunt
Upon the king! let us our lives, our souls,
Our debts, our careful wives,
Our children, and our sins lay on the king!
We must bear all. O hard condition!
Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breath
Of every fool, whose sense no more can feel
But his own wringing. What infinite heart’s ease
Must kings neglect that private men enjoy!
[Upon . . . wringing: They would make the king responsible for
everything! Their lives, souls, debts, wives, children, and
sins! I must bear everything! What a hard condition kings
inherit at birth, making them subject to the criticism of fools
who care only about their own problems.]
And what have kings that privates have not
Save ceremony, save general ceremony?
And what art thou, thou idle ceremony?
What kind of god art thou, that suffer’st more
Of mortal griefs than do thy worshipers?
[And . . . worshipers: And what do kings have that private
citizens lack? Ceremonies, just ceremonies. And what is a
ceremony, a god? What kind of god are you that suffer more
griefs than your worshipers do?]
What are thy rents? what are thy comings-in?
O ceremony! show me but thy worth:
What is thy soul of adoration?
Art thou aught else but place, degree, and form,
Creating awe and fear in other men?
[What are . . . men: What are your rents and income? O,
ceremony, show me your value. Tell me why people worship you.
Are you anything other than a palatial setting for a solemn
ritual that instills awe and fear in the king's subjects?]
Wherein thou art less happy, being
Than they in fearing.
What drink’st thou oft, instead of homage sweet,
But poison’d flattery? O! be sick, great
And bid thy ceremony give thee cure.
Think’st thou the fiery fever will go out
With titles blown from adulation?
[What . . . cure: Often, what a king must drink is poisoned
flattery, not sweet homage. And if a king becomes sick, will
ceremony cure him? Will royal titles and compliments
diminish the fiery fever?]
Will it give place to flexure and
Canst thou, when thou command’st the beggar’s
Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream,
That play’st so subtly with a king’s repose;
[Will . . . repose: Will bending knees and curtseys cure the
fever? Can a king heal the sickness of a beggar who kneels
before him? No, a king lacks the power that he might
dream about in his sleep.]
I am a king that find thee; and I
[I am . . . know: I am a king that knows who you are,
ceremony; and I know]
’Tis not the balm, the sceptre and the ball,
The sword, the mace, the crown imperial,
The intertissued robe of gold and pearl,
The farced title running ’fore the king,
The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pomp
That beats upon the high shore of this world,
No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony,
Not all these, laid in bed majestical,
Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave,
Who with a body fill’d and vacant mind
Gets him to rest, cramm’d with distressful
[No, not all these symbols of royal power, gorgeous ceremony,
can make a king sleep as soundly as a wretched slave who, with
an empty mind and a body filled with bread, sleeps peacefully.]
Never sees horrid night, the child of
But, like a lackey, from the rise to set
Sweats in the eye of Phœbus, and all night
Sleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn,
Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse,
And follows so the ever-running year
With profitable labour to his grave:
[Never sees . . . grave: This wretch never has to stay up at
night, which is the child of hell. Like a lackey, he goes
through the day sweating under a hot sun but sleeps in paradise.
The next day, he goes through the same routine—and the next day
and the next, working and then sleeping soundly. Finally he goes
to his grave.]
And, but for ceremony, such a
Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep,
Had the fore-hand and vantage of a king.
[And . . . king: And except for ceremony, such a wretch goes
through his days of labor and restful sleep with more advantages
than a king.]
The slave, a member of the country’s peace,
Enjoys it; but in gross brain little wots
What watch the king keeps to maintain the peace,
Whose hours the peasant best advantages.
[The slave . . . advantages: This wretch enjoys all the
benefits of peace. But in his simple brain, he does not know
about the long and anxious vigil the king keeps to maintain the
peace, which is a greater advantage to the subject than
ERPINGHAM: My lord, your nobles, jealous of your
Seek through your camp to find you.
KING HENRY: Good old knight,
Collect them all together at my tent:
I’ll be before thee. [I'll be there in a short while.]
ERPINGHAM: I shall do ’t, my lord.
KING HENRY: O God of battles! steel my soldiers’
Possess them not with fear; take from them now
The sense of reckoning, if the opposed numbers
Pluck their hearts from them. Not to-day, O
[take from . . . them: Take from them the ability to count the
great numbers of the soldiers opposing them so that they
won't be afraid.]
O! not to-day, think not upon the fault
My father [Henry IV] made in compassing [seizing]
the crown [from King Richard II].
I Richard’s body have interr’d [buried]
And on it have bestow’d more contrite tears
Than from it issu’d forced drops of blood.
Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay,
Who twice a day their wither’d hands hold up
Toward heaven, to pardon blood [to pardon the guilt I
feel for my father's crime against Richard]; and I have
Two chantries [chapels], where the sad and solemn
Sing still [continually] for Richard’s soul. More will I
Though all that I can do is nothing worth [worth nothing],
Since that my penitence comes after all,
GLOUCESTER: My liege [lord]!
KING HENRY: My brother Gloucester’s voice!
I know thy errand, I will go with thee:
The day, my friends, and all things stay for me. [Exeunt.
[The day . . . me: The day of battle has arrived,
and everyone waits for me.]
Act 4, Scene 2
The French Camp.
Enter the DAUPHIN, ORLEANS, RAMBURES, and Others.
ORLÈANS: The sun doth gild our armour: up, my
DAUPHIN: Montez à cheval! [Mount your horses!] My
horse! varlet! lacquais [lackey]!
ORLÈANS: O brave spirit!
DAUPHIN: Via! les eaux et la terre! [We'll go through
the waters and the field.]
ORLÈANS: Rien puis? l’air et le feu. [Nothing more? What
about air and fire?]
DAUPHIN: Ciel! [And heaven,] cousin
Now, my lord constable!
CONSTABLE: Hark how our steeds for present service
DAUPHIN: Mount them, and make incision in their hides [and
spur their hides],
That their hot blood may spin in English eyes,
And dout [infuse] them with superfluous courage: ha!
RAMBURES: What! will you have them weep our horses’
How shall we then behold their natural tears?
Enter a Messenger.
MESSENGER: The English are embattail’d [ready for
battle], you French peers.
CONSTABLE: To horse, you gallant princes! straight to
Do but behold yon poor and starved band [poor and starved
And your fair show [your appearance on the battlefield]
shall suck away their souls,
Leaving them but the shales [shells] and husks of
There is not work enough for all our hands [our task will be
so easy that we won't have enough to do on the
Scarce blood enough in all their sickly veins
To give each naked curtal-axe a stain,
That our French gallants shall to-day draw out,
And sheathe for lack of sport: let us but blow on
The vapour of our valour will o’erturn them.
[Scarce . . . them: There's scarcely enough blood in
their veins to stain our curtal axes (short swords) Our soldiers
may have to sheathe their swords for lack of action. Let us blow
on them. The breath of our valor will knock them down.]
’Tis positive ’gainst all exceptions, lords,
That our superfluous lackeys and our peasants,
Who in unnecessary action swarm
About our squares of battle, were enow
To purge this field of such a hilding foe,
Though we upon this mountain’s basis by
Took stand for idle speculation:
['Tis positive . . . speculation: There's no doubt that all of
our servants and peasants roaming the battlefield could by
themselves rid us of such a wretched enemy while we observe the
action at the base of this mountain.]
But that our honours must not. What’s to
A very little little let us do,
And all is done. Then let the trumpets sound
The tucket sonance and the note to mount:
[But that . . . mount: But honor dictates that we ourselves
must defeat the enemy. If we put forth only a little effort, the
battle will be won. So let the trumpets sound to call us
to our horses.]
For our approach shall so much dare the
That England shall couch down in fear and yield.
GRANDPRÉ: Why do you stay so long, my lords of
Yon island carrions desperate of their bones,
Ill-favour’dly become the morning field:
Their ragged curtains poorly are let loose,
And our air shakes them passing scornfully:
[Why . . . scornfully: What's keeping you, my lords of France?
Yon scrawny Englishmen, mere carrion for the vultures, are
making a desperate march onto the field. With their war-torn
flags and emaciated bodies, they make an unsightly presence that
even the wind scorns as it shakes them in their approach.]
Big Mars seems bankrupt in their beggar’d
And faintly through a rusty beaver peeps:
[Big Mars . . . peeps: The dreaded fervor of the god of war,
Mars, is now no more than timid eyes peeping through the visors
of their helmets.]
The horsemen sit like fixed candlesticks,
With torch-staves [spears] in their hand; and their poor
jades [weary horses]
Lob down their heads, dropping the hides and hips, [hang down
their heads while their bodies slump]
The gum [rheum; slimy mucus] down-roping from their
And in their pale dull mouths the gimmal bit [bit made of
Lies foul with chew’d grass, still and
And their executors, the knavish crows,
[executor: One who disposes of the possessions of a
deceased person. Here, executors is used figuratively to refer
scavenging crows waiting for the horses to die.]
Fly o’er them, all impatient for their
Description cannot suit itself in words
To demonstrate the life of such a battle
In life so lifeless as it shows itself.
[Description . . . itself: No words are adequate to describe
the sorry sight of the lifeless British army.]
CONSTABLE: They have said their prayers, and they stay for [await]
DAUPHIN: Shall we go send them dinners and fresh
And give their fasting horses provender,
And after fight with them?
CONSTABLE: I stay but for my guard: on, to the
I will the banner from a trumpet take,
And use it for my haste. Come, come, away!
[I say . . . away: I was waiting for my standard bearer, but
I'll take one from the trumpeter instead. On, on to the field!
The sun is high, and we outwear the day. [Exeunt.
Act 4, Scene 3
The English Camp.
Enter the English host; GLOUCESTER, BEDFORD, EXETER, SALISBURY,
GLOUCESTER: Where is the king?
BEDFORD: The king himself is rode to view their
West. Of fighting men they have full three-score thousand [sixty
EXETER: There’s five to one; besides, they all are
SALISBURY: God’s arm strike with us! ’tis a fearful
God be wi’ [with] you, princes all; I’ll to my
If we no more meet till we meet in heaven,
Then, joyfully, my noble Lord of Bedford,
My dear Lord Gloucester, and my good Lord
And my kind kinsman, warriors all, adieu [good-bye]!
BEDFORD: Farewell, good Salisbury; and good luck go with
EXETER: Farewell, kind lord. Fight valiantly
And yet I do thee wrong to mind [remind] thee of
For thou art fram’d of the firm truth of valour. [Exit
BEDFORD: He is as full of valour as of
Princely in both.
Enter KING HENRY.
West. O! that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day.
KING HENRY: What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow [enough]
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
[If we are marked to die, our numbers are small enough that our
country will suffer no great loss; and if we live, winning a
battle with so few men will bring us a greater share of honor.]
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
[By Jove . . . alive: By Jupiter, I am not seeking gold, nor do
I care how much I must pay to feed our men; and if they wear my
garments, that's all right. Such outward matters don't concern
me. But if it's a sin to desire honor, I am the most offending
[Jove, or Jupiter: The name of the king of the gods in Roman
mythology; in Greek mythology, his name was Zeus.]
No, faith, my coz [cousin], wish not a man from
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me,
For the best hope I have. O! do not wish one
[No . . . more: No, in faith, my cousin, don't wish we had even
one more man to share the honor of this day. Not even
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
[Rather . . . with us: Instead, Westmoreland, proclaim to the
army that he who has no stomach for this fight should leave. He
will receive a passport and money for his journey back to
England. We don't want to die in the company of a man afraid to
die with us.]
This day [October 25, 1415] is
call’d the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day [survives the battle], and comes
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day [survive today], and see old
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his
And say, ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
[Crispian and Crispin: Twin
brothers who suffered martyrdom in 286 AD.]
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our
[Old men . . . day: Old men tend to be forgetful. But the men
who survive this battle will always remember what
feats he accomplished on this day.]
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile [shall be my brother,
no matter how base he is]
This day shall gentle his condition: [This day shall lift him
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
SALISBURY: My sov’reign lord, bestow yourself with
The French are bravely in their battles [formations]
And will with all expedience [speed] charge on
KING HENRY: All things are ready, if our minds be
West. Perish the man whose mind is backward
KING HENRY: Thou dost not wish more help from England,
West. God’s will! my liege, would you and I
Without more help, could fight this royal
KING HENRY: Why, now thou hast unwish’d five thousand
Which likes me better than to wish us one [than to wish to
have one more man].
You know your places: God be with you all!
Tucket. Enter MONTJOY.
MONTJOY: Once more I come to know of thee, King
If for thy ransom thou wilt now compound,
Before thy most assured overthrow:
[Once more . . . overthrow: Once more I come to ask whether you
wish to negotiate your ransom, for your army will most assuredly
lose the battle.]
For certainly thou art so near the gulf
Thou needs must be englutted. Besides, in mercy,
[For certainly . . . englutted: For certainly you are so near
the chasm of defeat that you without doubt will be swallowed by
The constable desires thee thou wilt mind
Thy followers of repentance; that their souls
May make a peaceful and a sweet retire
From off these fields, where, wretches, their poor
Must lie and fester.
KING HENRY: Who hath sent thee now?
MONTJOY: The Constable of France.
KING HENRY: I pray thee, bear my former answer
Bid them achieve [capture] me and then sell my
Good God! why should they mock poor fellows
The man that once did sell the lion’s skin
While the beast liv’d, was kill’d with hunting
A many of our bodies shall no doubt
Find native graves; upon the which, I trust,
Shall witness live in brass of this day’s work;
[A many . . . work: Many of our dead shall no doubt be buried
in England. On their tombstones will be brass engravings testifying
to their action in this battle.]
And those that leave their valiant bones in
Dying like men, though buried in your
They shall be fam’d; for there the sun shall greet
And draw their honours reeking up to heaven,
Leaving their earthly parts to choke your clime,
The smell whereof shall breed a plague in
[And those . . . France: And those buried in the
dunghills of France shall be famous, for the sun shall
draw their honors reeking to the heavens, leaving their rotting
corpses to breed plague in France.]
Mark then abounding valour in our
That being dead, like to the bullet’s grazing,
Break out into a second course of mischief,
Killing in relapse of mortality.
[Mark . . . mortality: Notice then how abounding in valor are
English soldiers. Though dead, they will break out into a second
offensive against you, like a ricocheting bullet, this
time killing you with disease.]
Let me speak proudly: tell the
We are but warriors for the working-day;
Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch’d
With rainy marching in the painful field;
There’s not a piece of feather in our host—
Good argument, I hope, we will not fly—
And time hath worn us into slovenry:
But, by the mass, our hearts are in the trim;
[Let me . . . trim: Let me speak proudly. Tell the constable we
are like ordinary workingmen who dirty themselves at their jobs.
Our bright colors and shining armor are smudged and rust-ridden
from marching in the rain. There's not a gaudy feather left
among us—which means you don't have to worry that we will fly
away—and time has made us untidy and messy. But all of our
hearts beat with the fervor and passion of warriors.]
And my poor soldiers tell me, yet ere
They’ll be in fresher robes, or they will pluck
The gay new coats o’er the French soldiers’
And turn them out of service. If they do this,—
As, if God please, they shall,—my ransom then
Will soon be levied.
Herald, save thou thy labour;
Come thou no more for ransom, gentle herald:
They shall have none, I swear, but these my
Which if they have as I will leave ’em them,
Shall yield them little, tell the constable.
[And my . . . constable: And my poor soldiers tell me that
before nightfall they will be wearing fresher clothes—or,
failing that, they will seize the coats of your French soldiers
and dismiss them as if they were servants out of uniform. If my
soldiers do what they say they can do, they will be willing to
raise a ransom. Nevertheless, herald, there will be no ransom.
If I die, you can have my bones, which are virtually worthless.]
MONTJOY: I shall [pass on your message], King
Harry. And so, fare thee well:
Thou never shalt hear herald [me] any more.
KING HENRY: I fear thou’lt once more come again for
YORK: My lord, most humbly on my knee I
The leading of the vaward.
[I beg . . . vaward: I beg you to let me lead the troops
at the front of the army.]
KING HENRY: Take it, brave York. Now, soldiers, march
And how thou pleasest, God, dispose the day! [Exeunt.
[And how . . . day: And God, no matter how you do it,
give us victory today.]
Act 4, Scene 4
The Field of Battle.
Alarums: Excursions. Enter French Soldier, PISTOL, and Boy.
[Alarums: Excursions: Loud sounds of battle]
PISTOL: Yield, cur!
FRENCH SOLDIER: Je pense que vous êtes le gentilhomme de
[I think you are a gentleman of good quality.]
PISTOL: Quality? Calin O custure me! Art thou a
[Calen . . . me: These words are from the refrain of an Irish
song. Pistol speaks them to mock the French words that he
does not understand.]
What is thy name? discuss.
FRENCH SOLDIER: O Seigneur Dieu! [O Lord God!]
PISTOL: O Signieur Dew should be a gentleman:— [Pistol
thinks "O Signieur Dew" is the Frenchman's name.]
Perpend [consider; ponder] my words, O Signieur Dew, and
O Signieur Dew, thou diest on point of fox [archaic word for
Except, O signieur, thou do give to me
[thou diest . . . ransom: You'll die on the point of my sword
unless you pay me a huge ransom.]
FRENCH SOLDIER: O, prenez miséricorde! ayez pitié de
moi! [Mercy! Have pity on me!]
PISTOL: Moi shall not serve; I will have forty
Or I will fetch thy rim out at thy throat
In drops of crimson blood.
[Moi . . . blood: One moi is not enough. Give me forty
mois, or I will reach inside your throat and pull out my payment
in drops of your blood. (Pistol thinks moi,
which means me, is a French word for a
unit of currency.)]
FRENCH SOLDIER: Est-il impossible d’échapper la
force de ton bras? [Is it impossible to escape from your
PISTOL: Brass, cur! [Pistol hears the French
word bras (arm) as brass.]
Thou damned and luxurious [lascivious] mountain
Offer’st me brass?
FRENCH SOLDIER: O pardonnez moi! [Oh, pardon me.]
PISTOL: Sayst thou me so? is that a ton of
Come hither, boy: ask me this slave in French
What is his name.
BOY: Ècoutez: comment êtes vous appellé? [Listen: What's
your name? 25
FRENCH SOLDIER: Monsieur le Fer.
BOY: He says his name is Master Fer.
PISTOL: Master Fer! I’ll fer him, and firk [beat]
him, and ferret [expel] him. Discuss the same in French
BOY: I do not know the French for fer, and ferret, and
PISTOL: Bid him prepare, for I will cut his
FRENCH SOLDIER: Que dit-il, monsieur? [What did he
BOY: Il me commande à vous dire que vous faites vous prêt;
car ce soldat ici est disposé tout à cette heure de couper votre
[He asked me to tell you to get ready to die, because
this soldier will at any moment cut your throat.]
PISTOL: Oui, cuppele gorge, permafoy, [Pistol attempts
to respond in French, saying he truly means to cut the
Peasant, unless thou give me crowns, brave
Or mangled shalt thou be by this my sword.
FRENCH SOLDIER: O! je vous supplie pour l’amour de Dieu, me
pardonner! Je suis le gentilhomme de bonne maison: gardez ma vie,
et je vous donnerai deux cents écus.
[O! I beg you for the love of God to pardon me. I am a
gentleman from a good home. Spare my life, and I will give you
two hundred crowns.]
PISTOL: What are his words?
BOY: He prays you to save his life: he is a gentleman of a
good house; and, for his ransom he will give you two hundred
PISTOL: Tell him, my fury shall abate, and
The crowns will take.
FRENCH SOLDIER: Petit monsieur, que dit-il? [Little man,
what did he say?]
BOY: Encore qu’il est contre son jurement de pardonner aucan
prisonnier; néanmoins, pour les escus que vous l’avez promis, il
est content de vous donner la liberté, le
[Although it is against better judgment to pardon any prisoner,
nevertheless for the crowns that you have promised he would be
happy to give you your freedom.]
FRENCH SOLDIER: Sur mes genoux, je vous donne mille
remerciemens; et je m’estime heureux que je suis tombé entre les
mains d’un chevalier, je pense, le plus brave, valiant, et très
distingué seigneur d’Angleterre.
On my knees, I give you a thousand thanks, and I consider
myself happy that I have fallen into the hands of a chivalrous
knight. I think that this man is the bravest, most valiant, and
most distinguished lord in England.
PISTOL: Expound unto me, boy.
BOY: He gives you, upon his knees, a thousand thanks; and he
esteems himself happy that he hath fallen into the hands of one—as
he thinks—the most brave, valorous, and thrice-worthy signieur of
PISTOL: As I suck blood [As I leech money from
him], I will some mercy show.—
Follow me! [Exeunt PISTOL and French
BOY: Suivez vous le grand capitaine. [You follow the
great captain.] I did never know so full a voice
issue [come] from so empty a heart: but the saying is
true, ‘The empty vessel makes the greatest sound.’ Bardolph and
Nym had ten times more valour than this roaring devil i’ the old
play [than this devil], that every one may pare his nails with a
wooden dagger [whose fingernails anybody could cut with a
wooden dagger]; and they [Bardolph and Nym] are both
hanged; and so would this be if he durst steal anything
adventurously [courageously]. I must stay with the lackeys
with the luggage of our camp: the French might have a good prey of
us, if he knew of it; for there is none to guard it but
[I must stay with the servants guarding the luggage in our
camp. The French could easily make prey on us if they
knew that only boys are guarding the luggage.]
Act 4, Scene 5
Another part of the
Alarums [Sounds of war]. Enter DAUPHIN, ORLEANS,
BOURBON, CONSTABLE, RAMBURES, and Others.
CONSTABLE: O diable! [The devil!]
ORLÈANS: O seigneur! le jour est perdu! tout est
[O Lord! The day is lost! All is lost!]
DAUPHIN: Mort de ma vie! all is confounded,
[The death of me! All is confounded, all!]
Reproach and everlasting shame
Sit mocking in our plumes [feather or feathers in their hats].
O méchante fortune! [O miserable fortune!]
Do not run away. [A short alarum.
CONSTABLE: Why, all our ranks are broke.
DAUPHIN: O perdurable [everlasting] shame! let’s
Be these the wretches that we play’d at dice
ORLÈANS: Is this the king we sent to for his
BOURBON: Shame, and eternal shame, nothing but
Let’s die in honour! once more back again [to the
And he that will not follow Bourbon now,
Let him go hence, and with his cap in hand,
Like a base pander [panderer], hold the
Whilst by a slave, no gentler than my dog,
His fairest daughter is contaminated.
[Bourbon is comparing those who will not follow to a man who
stands by while a ruffian rapes his daughter.]
CONSTABLE: Disorder, that hath spoil’d us, friend [befriend]
Let us on heaps go offer up our lives.
ORLÈANS: We are enough yet living in the
To smother up the English in our throngs,
If any order might be thought upon.
BOURBON: The devil take order now! I’ll to the
Let life be short, else shame will be too long. [Exeunt.
Act 4, Scene 6
Another part of the
Alarums. [Sounds of war.] Enter KING HENRY and Forces;
EXETER, and Others.
KING HENRY: Well have we done, thrice-valiant
But all’s not done; yet keep the French the
EXETER: The Duke of York commends him to your
KING HENRY: Lives he, good uncle? thrice within this
I saw him down; thrice up again, and fighting;
From helmet to the spur all blood he was.
EXETER: In which array, brave soldier, doth he
Larding the plain; and by his bloody side,—
Yoke-fellow to his honour-owing wounds,—
The noble Earl of Suffolk also lies.
Suffolk first died: and York, all haggled [all cut up]
Comes to him, where in gore he lay insteep’d [where he lay
covered in gore],
And takes him by the beard, kisses the gashes
That bloodily did yawn upon his face;
And cries aloud, ‘Tarry [stay awhile], dear cousin
My soul shall thine keep company to heaven [keep company on
the way to heaven];
Tarry, sweet soul, for mine, then fly abreast, [then we'll fly
As in this glorious and well-foughten [fought]
We kept together in our chivalry!’
Upon these words I came and cheer’d him up:
He smil’d me in the face, raught [reached] me his
And with a feeble gripe [grip] says, ‘Dear my
Commend my service to my sovereign.’
So did he turn, and over Suffolk’s neck
He threw his wounded arm, and kiss’d his lips;
And so espous’d [married] to death, with blood he
A testament of noble-ending love.
The pretty and sweet manner of it forc’d
Those waters [tears] from me which I would have
But I had not so much of man in me,
And all my mother came into mine eyes
And gave me up to tears.
KING HENRY: I blame you not;
For, hearing this, I must perforce compound
With mistful eyes, or they will issue too.
[I must . . . too: I must forcibly restrain my misty
eyes, or they will cry too.]
But hark! what new alarum is this same?
The French have reinforc’d their scatter’d men:
Then every soldier [must] kill his
Give the word through. [Exeunt.
Act 4, Scene 7
Another Part of the
Alarums. [Sounds of battle.] Enter FLUELLEN and GOWER.
FLUELLEN: Kill the poys and the luggage! [The French
killed the boys guarding the luggage!] ’tis expressly
against the law of arms: ’tis as arrant [complete] a piece
of knavery, mark you now, as can be offer ’t: in your conscience
now, is it not?
GOWER: ’Tis certain, there’s not a boy left alive; and the
cowardly rascals that ran from the battle have done this
slaughter: besides, they have burned and carried away all that was
in the king’s tent; wherefore [that's why] the king most
worthily hath caused every soldier to cut his prisoner’s throat.
O! ’tis a gallant king.
FLUELLEN: Ay, he was porn [born] at Monmouth,
Captain Gower. What call you the town’s name where Alexander the
Pig [Big] was born?
GOWER: Alexander the Great.
FLUELLEN: Why, I pray you, is not pig [big] great?
The pig [big], or the great, or the mighty, or the huge,
or the magnanimous, are all one reckonings [are all the same
thing], save the phrase is a little variations [phrase
has a few variations].
GOWER: I think Alexander the Great was born in Macedon: his
father was called Philip of Macedon, as I take it.
FLUELLEN: I think it is in Macedon where Alexander is porn [born].
I tell you, captain, if you look in the maps of the ’orld [world],
I warrant you sall [shall] find, in the comparisons
between Macedon and Monmouth, that the situations, look you, is
both alike. There is a river in Macedon, and there is also
moreover a river at Monmouth: it is called Wye at Monmouth; but it
is out of my prains [brains] what is the name of the other
river; but ’tis all one, ’tis alike as my fingers is to my
fingers, and there is salmons in both. If you mark Alexander’s
life well, Harry of Monmouth’s life is come after it indifferent
well; for there is figures in all things. Alexander,—God knows,
and you know,—in his rages, and his furies, and his wraths, and
his cholers, and his moods, and his displeasures, and his
indignations, and also being a little intoxicates [intoxicated]
in his prains, did, in his ales and his angers, look you, kill his
pest [best] friend, Cleitus [Cleitus the Black,
GOWER: Our king is not like him in that: he never killed any
of his friends.
FLUELLEN: It is not well done, mark you now, to take the
tales out of my mouth, ere [before] it is made and
finished. I speak but in the figures and comparisons of it: as
Alexander killed his friend Cleitus, being in his ales and his
cups, so also Harry Monmouth, being in his right wits and his good
judgments, turned away the fat knight with the great
belly-doublet: he was full of jests, and gipes [quips],
and knaveries, and mocks; I have forgot his
GOWER: Sir John Falstaff.
FLUELLEN: That is he. I’ll tell you, there is goot [good]
men porn [born] at Monmouth.
GOWER: Here comes his majesty.
Alarum. Enter KING HENRY, with a part of the English Forces;
WARWICK, GLOUCESTER, EXETER, and Others.
KING HENRY: I was not angry since I came to
Until this instant. Take a trumpet, herald;
Ride thou unto the horsemen on yon hill:
If they will fight with [against] us, bid them come
Or void the field; they do offend our sight.
If they’ll do neither, we will come to them,
And make them skirr [hurry] away, as swift as
Enforced [shot] from the old Assyrian
Besides, we’ll cut the throats of those we have,
And not a man of them that we shall take
Shall taste our mercy. Go and tell them so.
EXETER: Here comes the herald of the French, my
GLOUCESTER: His eyes are humbler than they us’d to
KING HENRY: How now! what means this, herald? know’st thou
That I have fin’d [reserved] these bones of mine for
Com’st thou again for ransom?
MONTJOY: No, great king.
I come to thee for charitable licence,
That we may wander o’er this bloody field
To book our dead, and then to bury them;
To sort our nobles from our common men;
For many of our princes—woe the while!—
Lie drown’d and soak’d in mercenary blood;
So do our vulgar [commoners] drench their peasant
In blood of princes; and their wounded steeds
Fret fetlock-deep in gore, and with wild rage
[Fret . . . gore: Stand fretting with their hooves deep in
Yerk [kick] out their armed heels at their dead
Killing them twice. O! give us leave, great
To view the field in safety and dispose
Of their dead bodies.
KING HENRY: I tell thee truly, herald,
I know not if the day be ours or no;
For yet a many of your horsemen peer
And gallop o’er the field.
MONTJOY: The day is yours.
KING HENRY: Praised be God, and not our strength, for
it! [Praise God, not us, for this victory.]
What is this castle call’d that stands hard by?
MONTJOY: They call it Agincourt.
KING HENRY: Then call we this the field of
Fought on the day of Crispin Crispianus.
FLUELLEN: Your grandfather of famous memory, an ’t please
your majesty, and your great-uncle Edward the Plack [Black]
Prince of Wales, as I have read in the chronicles, fought a most
prave pattle [brave battle] here in
KING HENRY: They did, Fluellen.
FLUELLEN: Your majesty says very true. If your majesties is
remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where
leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which, your
majesty know, to this hour is an honourable badge of the service;
and I do believe, your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek
upon Saint Tavy’s [Davy's] day.
KING HENRY: I wear it for a memorable honour; for I am
Welsh, you know, good countryman.
FLUELLEN: All the water in Wye cannot wash your majesty’s
Welsh plood [blood] out of your pody [body], I can
tell you that: Got pless [bless] it and preserve it, as
long as it pleases his grace, and his majesty
KING HENRY: Thanks, good my countryman [my good
FLUELLEN: By Jeshu, I am your majesty’s countryman, I care
not who know it; I will confess it to all the ’orld [world]:
I need not be ashamed of your majesty, praised be God, so long as
your majesty is an honest man.
KING HENRY: God keep me so! Our heralds go with
Bring me just notice of the numbers dead
On both our parts. Call yonder fellow hither. [Points to
WILLIAMS. Exeunt MONTJOY and
EXETER: Soldier, you must come to the
KING HENRY: Soldier, why wear’st thou that glove in thy
WILLIAMS: An [if] it please your majesty, ’tis the
gage of one that I should fight withal, if he be
KING HENRY: An Englishman?
WILLIAMS: An [if] it please your majesty, a rascal
that swaggered with me last night; who, if alive and ever dare to
challenge this glove, I have sworn to take him a box o’ the ear:
or, if I can see my glove in his cap,—which he swore as he was a
soldier he would wear if alive,—I will strike it out
KING HENRY: What think you, Captain Fluellen? is it fit this
soldier keep his oath?
FLUELLEN: He is a craven [coward] and a villain
else, an [if] it please your majesty, in my
KING HENRY: It may be his enemy [King Henry] is a
gentleman of great sort, quite from the answer of his degree [quite
different from what you'd expect].
FLUELLEN: Though he be as good a gentleman as the devil is,
as Lucifer and Belzebub [Beelzebub: the devil or a
high-ranking demon] himself, it is necessary, look your
Grace, that he keep his vow and his oath. If he be perjured, see
you now, his reputation is as arrant [is that he is as
complete] a villain and a Jack-sauce [bold and impudent
man] as ever his black shoe trod upon God’s ground and his
earth, in my conscience, la [so there!]!
KING HENRY: Then keep thy vow, sirrah, when thou meetest the
WILLIAMS: So I will, my liege, as I live.
KING HENRY: Who servest thou under?
WILLIAMS: Under Captain Gower, my liege [lord].
FLUELLEN: Gower is a goot [good] captain, and is
good knowledge and literatured [educated] in the
KING HENRY: Call him hither to me,
WILLIAMS: I will, my liege. [Exit.
KING HENRY: Here, Fluellen; wear thou this favour [the glove that Williams gave him] for me and
stick it in thy cap. When Alençon and myself were down together I
plucked this glove from his helm: if any man challenge this [glove],
he is a friend to Alençon, and an enemy to our person; if thou
encounter any such, apprehend him, an [if] thou dost me
FLUELLEN: Your Grace does me as great honours as can be
desired in the hearts of his subjects: I would fain see the man
that has but two legs that shall find himself aggriefed [aggrieved]
at this glove, that is all; but I would fain see it once, and
please God of his grace that I might see.
KING HENRY: Knowest thou Gower?
FLUELLEN: He is my dear friend, an [if] it please
KING HENRY: Pray thee, go seek him, and bring him to my
FLUELLEN: I will fetch him. [Exit.
KING HENRY: My Lord of Warwick, and my brother
Follow Fluellen closely at the heels.
The glove which I have given him for a favour,
May haply [perhaps] purchase him a box o’ the
It is the soldier’s [Williams's]; I by bargain
Wear it myself. Follow, good cousin Warwick:
If that the soldier strike him,—as, I judge
By his blunt bearing he will keep his word,—
Some sudden mischief may arise of it;
For I do know Fluellen valiant,
And touch’d with choler, hot as gunpowder,
And quickly will return an injury:
Follow and see there be no harm between them.
Go you with me, uncle of Exeter. [Exeunt.
Act 4, Scene 8
Before King Henry's
Enter GOWER and WILLIAMS.
WILLIAMS: I warrant it is to knight you, captain. [I
think we're here because the king wants to make you a knight.]
FLUELLEN: God’s will and his pleasure, captain, I peseech
[beseech] you now come apace to the king: there is more good
toward you peradventure than is in your knowledge to dream
WILLIAMS: Sir, know you this glove?
FLUELLEN: Know the glove! I know the glove is a
WILLIAMS: I know this; and thus I challenge it.
FLUELLEN: ’Sblood! [By the blood of the crucified
Christ.] an arrant [thoroughgoing] traitor as any’s
in the universal ’orld [world], or in France, or in
GOWER: How now, sir! you villain!
WILLIAMS: Do you think I’ll be forsworn [Do you think
I'll break my oath]?
FLUELLEN: Stand away, Captain Gower; I will give treason his
payment into plows [blows], I warrant you.
WILLIAMS: I am no traitor.
FLUELLEN: That’s a lie in thy throat. I charge you in his
majesty’s name, apprehend him: he is a friend of the Duke
Enter WARWICK and GLOUCESTER.
WARWICK: How now, how now! what’s the matter?
FLUELLEN: My Lord of Warwick, here is,—praised be God for
it!—a most contagious treason come to light, look you, as you
shall desire in a summer’s day. Here is his majesty.
Enter KING HENRY and EXETER.
KING HENRY: How now! what’s the matter?
FLUELLEN: My liege, here is a villain and a traitor, that,
look your Grace, has struck the glove which your majesty is take
out of the helmet of Alençon.
WILLIAMS: My liege, this was my glove; here is the fellow of
it [fellow who had it]; and he that I gave it to in change
promised to wear it in his cap: I promised to strike him, if he
did: I met this man with my glove in his cap, and I have been as
good as my word.
FLUELLEN: Your majesty hear now,—saving your majesty’s
manhood [if you'll pardon me for saying so],—what an
arrant, rascally, beggarly, lousy knave it [Williams]
is. I hope your majesty is [will] pear [bear] me
testimony and witness, and avouchments, that this is the glove of
Alençon that your majesty is give me; in your conscience
KING HENRY: Give me thy glove, soldier: look, here is the
fellow of it.
’Twas I, indeed, thou promisedst to strike;
And thou hast given me most bitter terms [and you spoke to me
in bitter terms].
FLUELLEN: An [if] it please your majesty, let
his neck answer for it [let him be hanged], if there is
any martial law in the ’orld [world].
KING HENRY: How canst thou make me satisfaction?
WILLIAMS: All offences, my lord, come from the heart: never
came any from mine [my heart] that might offend
KING HENRY: It was ourself thou didst abuse.
WILLIAMS: Your majesty came not like yourself: you appeared
to me but as a common man; witness the night, your garments, your
lowliness; and what your highness suffered under that shape, I
beseech you, take it for your own fault and not mine: for had you
been as I took you for I made no offence; therefore, I beseech
your highness, pardon me.
KING HENRY: Here, uncle Exeter, fill this glove with
And give it to this fellow. Keep it, fellow;
And wear it for an honour in thy cap
Till I do challenge it. Give him the crowns:
And, captain, you must needs be friends with him.
FLUELLEN: By this day and this light, the fellow has mettle
[courage] enough in his belly. Hold, there is twelve pence
for you, and I pray you to serve God, and keep you out of prawls [brawls],
and prabbles [brabbles, which are squabbles], and
quarrels, and dissensions, and, I warrant you, it is the better
WILLIAMS: I will none of your money.
FLUELLEN: It is with a good will; I can tell you it will
serve you to mend your shoes: come, wherefore [why] should
you be so pashful [bashful]? your shoes is not so good:
’tis a good shilling, I warrant you, or I will change
Enter an English Herald.
KING HENRY: Now, herald, are the dead number’d?
HERALD: Here is the number of the slaughter’d French.
[Delivers a paper.
KING HENRY: What prisoners of good sort are taken,
EXETER: Charles Duke of Orléans, nephew to the
John Duke of Bourbon, and Lord Bouciqualt:
Of other lords and barons, knights and squires,
Full fifteen hundred, besides common men.
KING HENRY: This note doth tell me of ten thousand
That in the field lie slain: of princes, in this
And nobles bearing banners, there lie dead
One hundred twenty-six: added to these,
Of knights, esquires, and gallant gentlemen,
Eight thousand and four hundred; of the which
Five hundred were but yesterday dubb’d knights:
So that, in these ten thousand they have lost,
There are but sixteen hundred mercenaries;
The rest are princes, barons, lords, knights, squires,
And gentlemen of blood and quality.
The names of those their nobles that lie dead:
Charles Delabreth, High Constable of France;
Jaques of Chatillon, Admiral of France;
The master of the cross-bows, Lord Rambures;
Great-master of France, the brave Sir Guischard
John Duke of Alençon; Antony Duke of Brabant,
The brother to the Duke of Burgundy,
And Edward Duke of Bar: of lusty earls,
Grandpré and Roussi, Fauconberg and Foix,
Beaumont and Marle, Vaudemont and Lestrale.
Here was a royal fellowship of death!
Where is the number of our English dead? [Herald presents
Edward the Duke of York, the Earl of Suffolk,
Sir Richard Ketly, Davy Gam, esquire:
None else of name: and of all other men
But five and twenty. O God! thy arm was here;
And not to us, but to thy arm alone,
Ascribe we all. When, without stratagem,
But in plain shock and even play of battle,
[When, without . . . battle: When, without any special plan but
the shock of hard fighting,]
Was ever known so great and little loss
On one part and on the other? Take it, God,
For it is none but thine!
EXETER: 'Tis wonderful! [That's incredible]
KING HENRY: Come, go we in procession to the
And be it death proclaimed through our host
To boast of this or take the praise from God
Which is his only.
[And be . . . only: Proclaim to our troops that they will face
the death penalty if they boast of their victory to the
townspeople or otherwise take credit for the victory when
it rightly belongs to God.]
FLUELLEN: Is it not lawful, an [if]
please your majesty, to tell how many is killed?
KING HENRY: Yes, captain; but with this
That God fought for us.
FLUELLEN: Yes, my conscience, he did us great
KING HENRY: Do we all holy rites:
Let there be sung "Non nobis" and "Te Deum";
[Non nobis: Latin hymn of praise and thanksgiving that says
God, not men, should receive glory]
[Te Deum: Latin hymn that says, "We give praise to you,
The dead with charity enclos’d in clay. [See that the men
receive a respectable burial.]
We’ll then to Calais; and to England then,
Where ne’er from France arriv’d more happy men. [Exeunt.
Act 5, Prologue
Chor. Vouchsafe [grant] to those that have not read the
That I may prompt them: and of such as have,
I humbly pray them to admit the excuse
Of time, of numbers, and due course of things,
Which cannot in their huge and proper life
Be here presented. Now we bear the king
Toward Calais: grant him there; there seen,
Heave him away upon your winged thoughts
Athwart the sea. Behold, the English beach
[Vouchsafe . . . athwart the sea: For those who
have not read the story of King Henry's exploits in France, I
will now provide information about what happened after the
Battle of Agincourt, omitting details about dates, numbers, and
other matters. It would take too much time to describe all the
specifics here on this stage. Therefore, imagine that the king
has gone to Calais, boarded ship, set sail, and in due time
arrives at the coast of England. Behold that the English
Pales in the flood [is lined] with men, with wives,
Whose shouts and claps out-voice the deep-mouth’d sea,
Which, like a mighty whiffler [blower] ’fore [before]
Seems to prepare his way: so let him land
And solemnly see him set on to London.
So swift a pace hath thought that even now
You may imagine him upon Blackheath [community just southeast
Where that his lords desire him to have borne
His bruised helmet and his bended sword
Before him through the city: he forbids it,
Being free from vainness and self-glorious
Giving full trophy, signal and ostent,
Quite from himself, to God. But now behold,
[Giving . . . God: Giving all credit, honor, and outward show
of glory to God, not himself.]
In the quick forge and working-house of thought,
How London doth pour out her citizens.
The mayor and all his brethren in best sort [in their best
Like to the senators of the antique [ancient]
With the plebeians [commoners] swarming at their
Go forth and fetch their conquering Cæsar in:
As, by a lower but loving likelihood,
Were now the general of our gracious empress,—
As in good time he may,—from Ireland coming,
Bringing rebellion broached on his sword,
How many would the peaceful city quit
[As . . . quit: This is how the people would turn out if the
general now fighting in Ireland for his queen returned home in
To welcome him! much more, and much more
Did they this Harry. Now in London place him;
As yet the lamentation of the French
Invites the King of England’s stay at home,—
The emperor’s coming in behalf of France,
To order peace between them;—and omit
All the occurrences, whatever chanc’d,
Till Harry’s back-return again to France:
[much more . . . him: But the people have much more cause to
welcome home King Henry. Now imagine that he is in
London, where he stays for a time as the emperor of the Holy
Roman Empire comes to England on behalf of France to forge a
peace settlement. Then image that Henry has returned to France.]
There must we bring him; and myself have play’d
The interim, by remembering you ’tis past.
[and myself . . . past: And I have played my part by bringing
you up to date on Henry's movements.]
Then brook abridgment, and your eyes advance,
After your thoughts, straight back again to France.
[Then brook . . . France: So let your
imagination move ahead not to France.]
Act 5, Scene 1
France. An English
Court of Guard.
Enter FLUELLEN and GOWER.
GOWER: Nay, that’s right; but why wear you your leek to-day?
Saint Davy’s day is past.
FLUELLEN: There is occasions and causes why and wherefore in
all things: I will tell you, asse [as] my friend,
Captain Gower. The rascally, scald, beggarly, lousy, pragging [bragging]
knave, Pistol,—which you and yourself and all the ’orld [world]
know to be no petter [better] than a fellow,—look you now,
of no merits, he is come to me and prings [brings] me
pread [bread] and salt yesterday, look you, and pid [bid]
me eat my leek. It was in a place where I could not preed [breed]
no contention with him; but I will be so pold [bold] as to
wear it in my cap till I see him once again, and then I will tell
him a little piece of my desires.
GOWER: Why, here he comes, swelling like a
FLUELLEN: ’Tis no matter for his swellings nor his
turkey-cocks. God pless [bless] you, Aunchient [Ensign]
Pistol! you scurvy, lousy knave, God pless you!
PISTOL: Ha! art thou bedlam? dost thou thirst, base
To have me fold up Parca’s fatal web?
Hence! I am qualmish at the smell of leek.
[art though . . . leek: Are you mad? Are you eager, lowly fool,
to have me tangle you in Parca's fatal web? (In Roman mythology,
a Parca was a goddess of fate. There were three goddesses of
fate, known collectively as the Parcae.) Get out of here!
I am squeamish at the smell of leek.]
FLUELLEN: I peseech [beseech] you heartily,
scurvy lousy knave, at my desires and my requests and my petitions
to eat, look you, this leek; pecause [because], look you,
you do not love it, nor your affections and your appetites and
your digestions does not agree with it, I would desire you to eat
PISTOL: Not for Cadwallader [legendary seventh-century
Welsh king who wore a leek in his hat] and all his
FLUELLEN: [Strikes him.] There is one goat for
Will you be so good, scald [scabby] knave, as eat
PISTOL: Base Troyan, thou shalt die.
FLUELLEN: You say very true, scald knave, when God’s will
is. [Its true, knave, that I will die—but only when God
calls me.] I will desire you to live in the mean time and
eat your victuals [pronounced VITTLES; definition: food];
come, there is sauce for it. [Strikes him again.] You
called me yesterday mountain-squire, but I will make you to-day a
squire of low degree [a squire of the lowlands, below
me]. I pray you, fall to [start eating]: if you can
mock a leek you can eat a leek.
GOWER: Enough, captain: you have astonished [scared]
FLUELLEN: I say, I will make him eat some part of my leek,
or I will peat [beat] his pate four days. Bite, I pray
you; it is good for your green wound and your ploody coxcomb [the
bloody wound on the top of your head].
PISTOL: Must I bite?
FLUELLEN: Yes, certainly, and out of doubt and out of
question too and ambiguities.
PISTOL: By this leek, I will most horribly revenge [I
will work a horrible revenge against you]. [Fluellen
threatens to strike him.] I eat and eat, I
FLUELLEN: Eat, I pray you: will you have some more sauce to
your leek? there is not enough leek to swear by.
PISTOL: Quiet thy cudgel: thou dost see I
FLUELLEN: Much good do you, scald knave, heartily [It's
good for you, scabby knave, so eat heartily]. Nay, pray you,
throw none away; the skin is good for your broken coxcomb. When
you take occasions to see leeks hereafter, I pray you, mock at ’em
[I dare you to mock them]; that is all.
FLUELLEN: Ay, leeks is good. Hold you, there is a groat [coin
worth four pence] to heal your pate.
PISTOL: Me a groat!
FLUELLEN: Yes, verily and in truth, you shall take it; or I
have another leek in my pocket, which you shall
PISTOL: I take thy groat in earnest of revenge. [I take
your groat as a reminder to get revenge on you.]
FLUELLEN: If I owe you anything I will pay you in cudgels [blows
from my wooden club]: you shall be a woodmonger [wood
peddler], and buy nothing of me but cudgels. God be wi’ [with]
you, and keep you, and heal your pate.
PISTOL: All hell shall stir for this [I'll raise all
hell against you].
GOWER: Go, go; you are a counterfeit cowardly knave. [Get
going, you cowardly knave and liar.] Will you mock at an
ancient tradition, begun upon an honourable respect, and worn as a
memorable trophy of predeceased valour, and dare not a vouch in
your deeds any of your words? [Will you mock the honorable
tradition of wearing a leek in memory of men who died bravely?
Will you fail to live up to your vow?] I have seen
you gleeking and galling at [I have seen you mocking and
irritating] this gentleman twice or thrice. You thought,
because he could not speak English in the native garb [accent],
he could not therefore handle an English cudgel: you find it
otherwise; and henceforth let a Welsh correction teach you a good
English condition. Fare ye well. [Exit.
PISTOL: Doth Fortune play the huswife with me
News have I that my Nell is dead i’ the spital
Of malady of France:
And there my rendezvous is quite cut off.
[Doth . . . France: Is Dame Fortune nothing but an unfaithful
hussy? Now I have news that my Nell has died in the hospital of
venereal disease. I was looking forward to going home to her,
and now she's gone.]
Old I do wax, and from my weary
Honour is cudgelled. Well, bawd I’ll turn,
And something lean to cutpurse of quick hand.
[Old . . . hand: I'm getting old, and honor has been beaten out
of my weary limbs. Well, I'll become a pimp and a pickpocket.]
To England will I steal, and there I’ll steal:
And patches [bandages] will I get unto these cudgell’d
And swear I got them in the Gallia [French] wars.
Act 5, Scene 2
Champagne. An apartment in the FRENCH KING’S palace.
Enter, from one side, KING HENRY, BEDFORD, GLOUCESTER, EXETER,
WARWICK, WESTMORELAND, and other Lords; from the other side, the
FRENCH KING, QUEEN ISABEL, the PRINCESS KATHARINE, ALICE and other
Ladies; the DUKE OF BURGUNDY, and his train.
KING HENRY: Peace to this meeting, wherefore we are
[Peace . . . met: Let peace reign over this meeting of
all of us.]
Unto our brother France, and to our sister [Queen Isabel],
Health and fair time of day; joy and good wishes
To our most fair and princely cousin Katharine;
And, as a branch and member of this royalty,
By whom this great assembly is contriv’d,
We do salute you, Duke of Burgundy;
And, princes French, and peers, health to you
FRENCH KING: Right joyous are we to behold your
Most worthy brother England; fairly met:
So are you, princes English, every one.
Q. Isa. So happy be the issue [results], brother
Of this good day and of this gracious meeting,
As we are now glad to behold your eyes;
Your eyes, which hitherto have borne in them
Against the French, that met them in their bent,
The fatal balls of murdering basilisks:
[Your eyes . . . basilisks: Before this peaceful time, when our
French soldiers met you on the battlefield, they beheld those
eyes of yours which could kill with a glance, like the murdering
basilisks. (In ancient myth and legend, a basilisk was a serpent
that could kill with its glance and breath.)]
The venom of such looks, we fairly
Have lost their quality, and that this day
Shall change all griefs and quarrels into love.
KING HENRY: To cry amen to that, thus we appear. [That's
why I appear here—to cry amen to peace and love between us.]
Q. Isa. You English princes all, I do salute
Bur. My duty to you both, on equal love,
Great Kings of France and England! That I have
With all my wits, my pains, and strong
To bring your most imperial majesties
Unto this bar and royal interview,
Your mightiness on both parts best can witness.
[Great kings . . . witness: Great Kings of France and England,
both of you can attest that I have labored with all my wits,
pains, and strong endeavors to bring you together here.]
Since then my office hath so far
That face to face, and royal eye to eye,
You have congreeted [greeted one another], let it
not disgrace me
If I demand before this royal view,
What rub [obstacle] or what impediment there
Why that the naked, poor, and mangled Peace,
Dear nurse of arts, plenties, and joyful births,
Should not in this best garden of the world,
Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage [show her lovely
[Burgundy is saying that no obstacle stands in the way of
allowing peace, which nurtures the best that society has to
offer, to restore France.]
Alas! she [peace] hath from France too long been
And all her husbandry [crops] doth lie on
Corrupting in its own fertility.
Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart,
Unpruned dies; her hedges even-pleach’d
Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair,
Put forth disorder’d twigs; her fallow leas
The darnel, hemlock and rank fumitory
Doth root upon, while that the coulter rusts
That should deracinate such savagery;
[her hedges . . . savagery: Her evenly trimmed hedges now grow
this way and that, like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair;
her unseeded meadows are giving way to rough grass and poisonous
plants while the plow that should uproot such savagery sits
The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth
The freckled cowslip, burnet, and green clover,
Wanting the scythe, all uncorrected, rank,
Conceives by idleness, and nothing teems
But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies,
Losing both beauty and utility;
[the even . . . utility: The even meadow used to bring forth
sweet flowers and clover. Now, unattended and rank, it needs a
scythe to cut down all the ugly weeds that have sprung up.]
And as our vineyards, fallows, meads, and
Defective in their natures, grow to wildness,
Even so our houses and ourselves and children
Have lost, or do not learn for want of time,
The sciences that should become our country,
But grow like savages,—as soldiers will,
That nothing do but meditate on blood,—
To swearing and stern looks, diffus’d attire,
And every thing that seems unnatural.
[That nothing . . . unnatural: That do nothing but think
about war and blood. They swear and cast stern glances, wear
disheveled clothes, and do everything that seems
Which to reduce into our former
You are assembled; and my speech entreats
That I may know the let why gentle Peace
Should not expel these inconveniences,
And bless us with her former qualities.
[Which to . . . qualities: You are assembled here to restore
all these things to their prewar state. My speech asks you whether
there is any reason that gentle peace cannot do so.]
KING HENRY: If, Duke of Burgundy, you would the
Whose want gives growth to the imperfections
Which you have cited, you must buy that peace
With full accord to all our just demands;
Whose tenours and particular effects
You have, enschedul’d briefly, in your hands.
[If, Duke . . . hands: If, Duke of Burgundy, you want the peace
that will correct the imperfections you cite, you will have to
buy that peace by agreeing to our just demands, whose details appear
in the proposed treaty.]
Bur. The king hath heard them; to the which as
There is no answer made.
KING HENRY: Well then the peace,
Which you before so urg’d, lies in his answer.
FRENCH KING: I have but with a cursory eye
O’erglanc’d [look over] the articles: pleaseth your
To appoint some of your council presently
To sit with us once more, with better heed
To re-survey them [to review them again], we will
Pass our accept and peremptory answer.
KING HENRY: Brother, we shall. Go, uncle
And brother Clarence, and you, brother
Warwick and Huntingdon, go with the king;
And take with you free power to ratify,
Augment, or alter, as your wisdoms best
Shall see advantageable for our dignity,
Anything in or out of our demands,
And we’ll consign thereto. Will you, fair sister,
[And take . . . thereto: And feel free to approve the treaty as
it stands. You may also add to or alter it if the changes are to
Go with the princes, or stay here with us?
Q. Isa. Our gracious brother, I will go with
Haply [perhaps] a woman’s voice may do some
When articles too nicely urg’d be stood on [when the men are
having trouble agreeing on a point].
KING HENRY: Yet leave our cousin Katharine here with
She is our capital [main] demand,
Within the fore-rank of our articles.
Q. Isa. She hath good leave. [Exeunt
all except KING HENRY, KATHARINE, and ALICE.
KING HENRY: Fair Katharine, and most fair!
Will you vouchsafe [agree] to teach a soldier
Such as will enter at a lady’s ear,
And plead his love-suit to her gentle heart?
KATHARINE: Your majesty sall [shall] mock at me; I
cannot speak your England.
KING HENRY: O fair Katharine! if you will love me soundly
with your French heart, I will be glad to hear you confess it
brokenly with your English tongue. Do you like me,
KATHARINE: Pardonnez moi [pardon me], I cannot tell
vat [what] is ‘like me.’
KING HENRY: An angel is like you, Kate; and you are like an
KATHARINE: Que dit-il? que je suis semblable à les anges?
[What did he say? That I am like an angel?]
ALICE: Oui, vraiment, sauf votre grace, ainsi dit-il. [Yes,
truly, with all due respect, he said so.]
KING HENRY: I said so, dear Katharine; and I must not blush
to affirm it.
KATHARINE: O bon Dieu! les langues des hommes sont pleines
des tromperies. [O good Lord! The tongues of men are
full of deceit.]
KING HENRY: What says she, fair one? that the tongues of men
are full of deceits?
ALICE: Oui, dat de tongues of de mans is be full of deceits:
dat is de princess.
KING HENRY: The princess is the better English-woman [The
princess is speaking like an Englishwoman]. I’ faith, Kate,
my wooing is fit for thy understanding: I am glad thou canst speak
no better English; for, if thou couldst, thou wouldst find me such
a plain king that thou wouldst think I had sold my farm to buy my
crown. I know no ways to mince it in love [no way to
mince my words], but directly to say ‘I love you:’ then, if
you urge me further [if you ask me any other question]
than to say ‘Do you in faith?’ I wear out my suit [I'll be
finished with my wooing]. Give me your answer; i’ faith do:
and so clap hands and a bargain. How say you,
KATHARINE: Sauf votre honneur [with all due
respect to you], me understand vell.
KING HENRY: Marry [by the Virgin Mary], if you would
put me to verses [if you wanted me to express my
feelings in poetry], or to dance for your sake, Kate, why
you undid me: for the one, I have neither words nor measure [meter],
and for the other, I have no strength in measure [dance
steps], yet a reasonable measure in strength. If I
could win a lady at leap-frog, or by vaulting into my saddle with
my armour on my back, under the correction of bragging be it
spoken [forgive me if I seem to brag], I should quickly
leap into a wife. Or if I might buffet [box] for my love,
or bound my horse for her favours [or make my horse prance to
win my love's favors], I could lay on like a butcher and sit
like a jackanapes, never off [I could do those things
easily]. But before God, Kate, I cannot look greenly nor
gasp out my eloquence [I cannot change my appearance
on command, like a magician, or speak fancy words],
nor I have no cunning in protestation; only downright oaths [nor
do I soften the blow of my words but instead bluntly speak my
mind, especially when swearing an oath] which I never
use till urged, nor never break for urging [nor never break
when someone urges me to do so]. If thou canst love a fellow
of this temper, Kate, whose face is not worth sun-burning, that
never looks in his glass for love of anything he sees there [never
looks in his mirror to admire himself], let thine eye be thy
cook [then, like a cook, add to me the ingredients that will
turn me into a dish worthy of you]. I speak to thee [as
a] plain soldier: if thou canst love me for this,
take me; if not, to say to thee that I shall die, is true; but [not]
for thy love, by the Lord, no; yet I love thee too. And while thou
livest, dear Kate, take a fellow of plain and uncoined constancy [of
plain and sincere devotion] , for he perforce must do thee
right, because he hath not the gift to woo in other places [to
woo other women]; for these fellows of infinite
tongue, that can rime themselves into ladies’ favours, they do
always reason themselves out again [for these glib fellows
that sweet-talk themselves into ladies' favors always do
something that puts them out of favor]. What! a speaker is
but a prater [yacker]; a rime is but a ballad. A good leg
will fall [wither], a straight back will stoop, a black
beard will turn white, a curled pate [a head of curly hair]
will grow bald, a fair face will wither, a full eye will wax [become]
hollow, but a good heart, Kate, is the sun and the moon; or,
rather, the sun, and not the moon; for it shines bright and never
changes, but keeps his course truly. If thou would have such a
one, take me; and take me, take a soldier; take a soldier, take a
king. And what sayest thou then to my love? speak, my fair, and
fairly, I pray thee.
KATHARINE: Is it possible dat I sould [should] love
de enemy of France?
KING HENRY: No; it is not possible you should love the enemy
of France, Kate; but, in loving me, you should love the friend of
France; for I love France so well, that I will not part with a
village of it; I will have it all mine: and, Kate, when France is
mine and I am yours, then yours is France and you are
KATHARINE: I cannot tell vat is dat.
KING HENRY: No, Kate? I will tell thee in French, which I am
sure will hang upon my tongue like a new-married wife about her
husband’s neck, hardly to be shook off. Je quand sur le possession
de France, et quand vous avez le possession de moi [when I possess
France and you possess me],—let me see, what then? Saint
Denis be my speed!—donc votre est France, et vous êtes mienne [France
is yours, and you are mine]. It is as easy for me, Kate, to
conquer the kingdom, as to speak so much more French: I shall
never move thee in French, unless it be to laugh at
KATHARINE: Sauf votre honneur, le Français que vous parlez
est meilleur que l’Anglais lequel je parle. [With all due
respect, the French you speak is better than the English I
KING HENRY: No, faith, is ’t not, Kate; but thy speaking of
my tongue, and I thine, most truly falsely, must needs be granted
to be much at one [to be on the same level in terms of
skill]. But, Kate, dost thou understand thus much English,
Canst thou love me?
KATHARINE: I cannot tell.
KING HENRY: Can any of your neighbours tell, Kate? I’ll ask
them. Come, I know thou lovest me; and at night when you come into
your closet [private chamber] you’ll question this
gentlewoman about me; and I know, Kate, you will to her dispraise
[criticize] those parts in me that you love with your
heart: but, good Kate, mock me mercifully; the rather [do so],
gentle princess, because I love thee cruelly. If ever thou beest [be]
mine, Kate,—as I have a saving faith within me tells me thou
shalt,—I get thee with scambling [I'll have to struggle to win
you over], and thou must therefore needs prove a good
soldier-breeder. Shall not thou and I, between Saint Denis and
Saint George, compound a boy, half French, half English, that
shall go to Constantinople and take the Turk by the beard? shall
we not? what sayest thou, my fair flower-de-luce [fleur-de-lis,
a drawn or engraved image of the iris flower]?
KATHARINE: I do not know dat.
KING HENRY: No; ’tis hereafter to know, but now to promise:
do but now promise, Kate, you will endeavour for your French part
of such a boy, and for my English moiety [part] take the
word of a king and a bachelor. How answer you, la plus belle
Katharine du monde, mon très cher et divine déesse? [the most
beautiful Katherine in the world, my very dear and divine
KATHARINE: Your majesté ave fausse French enough to deceive
de most sage demoiselle dat is en France. [Your majesty has
enough false French to deceive the wisest young lady in France.]
KING HENRY: Now, fie upon my false French! By mine honour,
in true English I love thee, Kate: by which honour I dare not
swear thou lovest me; yet my blood begins to flatter me that thou
dost, notwithstanding the poor and untempering effect of my visage
[in spite of the imperfection of my face]. Now
beshrew [curse] my father’s ambition! he was thinking of
civil wars when he got me [when I was conceived]:
therefore was I created with a stubborn outside, with an aspect of
iron, that, when I come to woo ladies I fright them. But, in
faith, Kate, the elder I wax [the older I get] the
better I shall appear: my comfort is, that old age, that ill
layer-up of beauty, can do no more spoil upon my face: thou hast
me, if thou hast me, at the worst; and thou shalt wear me, if thou
wear me, better and better. And therefore tell me, most fair
Katharine, will you have me? Put off your maiden blushes; avouch [express]
the thoughts of your heart with the looks of an empress; take me
by the hand, and say ‘Harry of England, I am thine:’ which word
thou shalt no sooner bless mine ear withal, but I will tell thee
aloud—‘England is thine, Ireland is thine, France is thine, and
Henry Plantagenet is thine;’ who, though I speak it before his
face, if he be not fellow with the best king, thou shalt find the
best king of good fellows. Come, your answer in broken music; for
thy voice is music, and thy English broken; therefore, queen of
all, Katharine, break thy mind to me in broken English: wilt thou
KATHARINE: Dat is as it sall [shall] please de roi
mon père [please my father, the king].
KING HENRY: Nay, it will please him well, Kate; it shall
please him, Kate.
KATHARINE: Den it sall [shall] also content
KING HENRY: Upon that I kiss your hand, and I call you my
KATHARINE: Laissez, mon seigneur, laissez, laissez! Ma foi,
je ne veux point que vous abaissez votre grandeur, en baisant la
main d’une vostre indigne serviteure: excusez moi, je vous
supplie, mon très puissant seigneur.
[Leave off, my lord, stop, stop! My faith, I do not wish you to
diminish your grandeur by kissing the hand of your lowly
servant. Please forgive me for stopping you, my very powerful
KING HENRY: Then I will kiss your lips,
KATHARINE: Les dames, et demoiselles, pour être baisées
devant leur noces, il n’est pas la coutume de France. [It is
not a custom in France for ladies to be kissed before their
KING HENRY: Madam my interpreter, what says
ALICE: Dat it is not be de fashion pour les ladies of
France,—I cannot tell what is baiser in English.
KING HENRY: To kiss.
ALICE: Your majesty entendre bettre que moi. [Your
majesty understands better than I do.]
KING HENRY: It is not a fashion for the maids in France to
kiss before they are married, would she say?
ALICE: Oui, vraiment [yes, truly].
KING HENRY: O Kate! nice customs curtsy to great kings. Dear
Kate, you and I cannot be confined within the weak list of [cannot
be restrained by] a country’s fashion: we are the
makers of manners, Kate; and the liberty that follows our places
stops the mouths of all find-faults [and the freedom we are
entitled to exhibit stops the mouths of fault-finders], as I will
do yours, for upholding the nice fashion of your country in
denying me a kiss: therefore, patiently, and yielding
[Kissing her]. You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate: there
is more eloquence in a sugar touch of them, than in the tongues of
the French council; and they should sooner persuade Harry of
England than a general petition of monarchs. Here comes your
Re-enter the KING and QUEEN, BURGUNDY, BEDFORD, GLOUCESTER,
EXETER, WARWICK, WESTMORELAND, and other French and English
Bur. God save your majesty! My royal cousin, teach you our
KING HENRY: I would have her learn, my fair cousin, how
perfectly I love her; and that is good English.
Bur. Is she not apt?
KING HENRY: Our tongue is rough, coz, and my condition is
not smooth [My French is rough, cousin, and my manner is plain and
blunt; so that, having neither the voice nor the heart of flattery
about me, I cannot so conjure [stir] up the spirit of love
in her, [so] that he [that love] will appear in
his true likeness.
Bur. Pardon the frankness of my mirth if I answer you for
that. If you would conjure in her, you must make a circle; if
conjure up Love in her in his true likeness, he must appear naked
and blind. Can you blame her then, being a maid yet rosed over
with the virgin crimson of modesty, if she deny the appearance of
a naked blind boy in her naked seeing self? It were, my lord, a
hard condition for a maid to consign to.
[Pardon . . . consign to: Allow me to comment on what you said.
If you are going to make Love appear in his true likeness, he
must appear naked and blind—like the mythological god of love,
Cupid. Can you blame her, a modest virgin, for refusing to
picture in her mind the likeness of a naked blind boy. It's a
hard thing to get a maiden to do such a thing.]
KING HENRY: Yet they do wink and yield, as love is blind and
enforces. [Yet they close their eyes and surrender, for
blind love rules their hearts.]
Bur. They are then excused, my lord, when they see not what
KING HENRY: Then, good my lord, teach your cousin to consent
winking. [Then, my good lord, tell your cousin to
agree to close her eyes.]
Bur. I will wink on her to consent, my lord, if you will
teach her to know my meaning: for maids, well summered and warm
kept, are like flies at Bartholomew-tide, blind, though they have
their eyes; and then they will endure handling, which before would
not abide looking on.
[I will . . . looking on: I will tell her to do so, my lord, if
you will teach her more on this subject. By the time of
Bartholomew-tide (August 24), she will allow you to handle her
even though she would not even look at love earlier in
KING HENRY: This moral ties me over to time and a hot
summer; and so I shall catch the fly, your cousin, in the latter
end, and she must be blind too.
[This moral . . . too: Your strategy will make me wait through a
hot summer until your cousin is reads, but she will still be
Bur. As love is, my lord, before it loves.
KING HENRY: It is so: and you may, some of you, thank love
for my blindness, who cannot see many a fair French city for one
fair French maid that stands in my way.
FRENCH KING: Yes, my lord, you see them perspectively, the
cities turned into a maid; for they are all girdled with maiden
walls that war hath never entered.
[Yes . . . entered: In a manner of speaking, my lord, you do
see the cities, for they appear as a maiden. After all, they are
all enclosed in maiden walls that war has never
KING HENRY: Shall Kate be my wife?
FRENCH KING: So please you.
KING HENRY: I am content; so the maiden cities you talk of
may wait on her: so the maid that stood in the way for my wish
shall show me the way to my will.
[I am . . . will: I am content as long as the maiden cities are
part of the deal—that is, that they come along
with her. In such a way, the maiden who is shy about yielding to
me will not only yield herself but also the cities that
I will rule.]
FRENCH KING: We have consented to all terms of
KING HENRY: Is ’t so, my lords of England?
West. The king hath granted every article:
His daughter first, and then in sequel all,
According to their firm proposed natures [according to the
firm conditions of the treaty].
EXETER: Only he hath not yet subscribed this: Where your
majesty demands, that the King of France, having any occasion to
write for matter of grant, shall name your highness in this form,
and with this addition, in French, Notre très cher filz Henry roy
d’Angleterre, Héretier de France; and thus in Latin,
Præclarissimus filius noster Henricus, Rex Angliæ, et Hæres
[Only he . . . France: However, the French king has not yet
agreed to address your highness in the following way: "Our very
dear son Henry, king of England, Inheritor of France."]
FRENCH KING: Nor this I have not, brother, so
But your request shall make me let it pass.
[Nor . . . pass: But I have not refused the condition. If you
wish, I can keep it in the treaty.]
KING HENRY: I pray you then, in love and dear
Let that one article rank with the rest;
And thereupon give me your daughter.
FRENCH KING: Take her, fair son; and from her blood raise
Issue [children] to me; that the contending
Of France and England, whose very shores look
With envy of each other’s happiness,
May cease their hatred, and this dear
Plant neighbourhood and Christian-like accord
In their sweet bosoms, that never war advance
His bleeding sword ’twixt England and fair
KING HENRY: Now, welcome, Kate: and bear me witness
That here I kiss her as my sovereign queen. [Flourish. [Trumpets
Q. Isa. God, the best maker of all
Combine your hearts in one, your realms in one!
As man and wife, being two, are one in love,
So be there ’twixt your kingdoms such a spousal [marriage]
That never may ill office, or fell [deadly]
Which troubles oft the bed of blessed marriage,
Thrust in between the paction [unity] of these
To make divorce of their incorporate league;
That English may as French, French Englishmen,
Receive each other! God speak this Amen!
KING HENRY: Prepare we for our marriage: on which
My Lord of Burgundy, we’ll take your oath,
And all the peers’, for surety of our leagues.
[on which . . . leagues: On that day, my Lord of Burgundy, I
will take your oath of loyalty and that of all the peers to
guarantee the implementation of the treaty.]
Then shall I swear to Kate, and you to
And may our oaths well kept and prosperous be! [Sennet. [Trumpets
blow as all the characters leave the stage.]
Thus far, with rough and all-unable pen,
Our bending author hath pursu’d the story;
In little room confining mighty men,
[with . . . story: With a less-than-adequate pen, our
struggling author has written the story and staged it in this
small room that confines mighty men.]
Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.
[Mangling . . . glory: Condensing the full history of the
events to fit in the time allotted for the play.]
Small time, but in that small most greatly liv’d
This star of England: Fortune made his sword,
By which the world’s best garden [France] he
And of it left his son imperial lord.
Henry the Sixth, in infant bands crown’d King
Of France and England, did this king succeed;
[Henry the . . . succeed: This lord was crowned King of
England and France as Henry VI, succeeding his father
when he was only an infant.]
Whose state so many had the managing,
[Whose . . . . managing: So many men of opposing views tried to
rule the boy king's government]
That they lost France and made his England bleed [and
embroiled England in civil war]:
Which oft our stage hath shown; and, for their
In your fair minds let this acceptance take.
[Which oft . . . take: This stage has depicted the events of
the boy king's reign in other plays. With those plays in your
fair mind, please accept this play as a production that is as
worthy as the others.]
About the Author
Michael J. Cummings, a
native of Williamsport, Pa., was a public-school teacher,
journalist, freelance writer, author, and college instructor
before retiring and devoting his time to writing. He graduated
from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and undertook
additional studies at Elmira (N.Y) College and Lycoming College
in Williamsport. He also underwent training at the American
Press Institute. Mr. Cummings is the author of five print books,
thirteen e-books, and more than 2,500 newspaper and magazine
articles. Among those he interviewed over the years were actors
Peter Ustinov and Dennis Weaver, Merrill-Lynch chairman William
Schreyer, Indy race-car champion Rick Mears, and George W. Bush
(while he was running for vice president on Ronald Reagan's
ticket). Mr. Cummings continues to reside in his hometown.