Agincourt Day

by admin on 26 October 2016

So its Agincourt Day again.

 One of our most famous victories over the French (in the Hundred Years War anyway).

 Immortalised by Shakespeare in Henry V and subsequently by several ‘based on’ films of varying quality.

 With the greatest respect to those involved in it originally, Shakespeare has done little to further it historically.

 As a piece of political propaganda the play unsurpassed even by the standards of political speech writers of today.

 The ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends’ and more importantly the St Crispin’s Day speech form the icing on the cake to paraphrase Mary Berry of Bake-off fame.

 Shakespeare may be our greatest playwright but he was in the pay of the then current king of England whilst writing it. Hence the total immersion in propaganda and the lack of actual historical accuracy.

 The famous phrase ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends’ is somewhat inaccurate. The English didn’t make a breach in the walls of Harfleur.

Henry’s ‘dear friends’ is a bit of a problem – would any battle leader gently encourage his troops with such a gentle invitation?

Not only that the man himself was by all accounts of the time somewhat of a ‘hard man’ and a bit of a bastard. Not anything like the gentle man and lover of Shakespeare’s creation.

 The St Crispins Day speech is a wonderful bit of writing and one of the best calls to arms ever written. However it was of course never uttered in battle. It was there to shine a rosy light, by reflection on the current King.

 However, One can’t criticise Shakespeare unduly.

 In a much less well known part of the play Shakespeare does, in my opinion, lay out a much fairer and more realistic and personal view of Henry and of war when Henry encounters a soldier called Williams the night before the battle. The arguments Williams puts forward against Henry are some of the most touching thoughts on war and royalty ever penned.


Look it up and have a read please.

 All this gives the modern storyteller (me for instance) an opportunity to look at war and propaganda from an altogether different aspect.

As a writer I know that well written and presented words can have a great effect on how someone sees and reacts to an argument.

 My ‘Agincourt Archer’ incudes the Crispin’s Day speech looked at from one angle.

 It is also part of my ‘Kilted Tommy’ which looks at it from an altogether different perspective.

 Historical interpretation in action!

You can choose, but you need to book my performances to hear the arguments!

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