Home History How ‘St. Crispin’s Day’ Was Shakespeare’s Master Class in Giving Battle Speeches

How ‘St. Crispin’s Day’ Was Shakespeare’s Master Class in Giving Battle Speeches

by Enochadmin

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is universally acclaimed because the English language’s most well-known author and best dramatist, authoring 39 performs and 157 poems (overwhelmingly sonnets). England’s acknowledged nationwide poet, even his performs are judged poetry—written in iambic pentameter, principally clean verse, sprinkled with block prose passages.

An astute observer of the human situation, Shakespeare’s peerless genius brilliantly plumbs its depth and breadth. In his historic play (written circa 1599), King Henry V’s, first line, Shakespeare’s “refrain” invokes “a Muse of fireside” for burning inspiration capturing the play’s drama.

He most famously succeeds in his famend “St. Crispin’s Day speech,” magnificently imagining how Henry should have impressed his drastically outnumbered “band of brothers” (6,000 Englishmen—primarily longbowmen backed by dismounted, armored men-at-arms—dealing with 15,000-20,000 French mounted knights), cut-off and surrounded deep inside France, to disregard the overwhelming odds and seize victory from sure defeat. 

A Battle Speech “Masterpiece”

Shakespeare’s “Henry’s” pre-battle speech is a masterpiece of management and psychological manipulation, taking part in upon all of the feelings and motivations of why males struggle, regardless of dealing with sure demise.

“Henry” first dismisses pleas for extra males by asserting, “The less the lads the larger share of honor.” Subsequent, he appeals to his troopers’ self-importance, assuring them their battlefield heroics will likely be eternally remembered they usually “Will stand a tip-toe when at the present time is nam’d.”

Lastly, he pledges to struggle shoulder-to-shoulder with them, sharing their destiny, since “he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother.”

Shakespeare could by no means have led males in determined battle, however he knew instinctively find out how to do it!

Within the historic Agincourt battle, October 25, 1415, the beautiful against-the-odds English victory (6,000 French useless—10 occasions Henry’s losses—plus 2,000 French knights captured for ransom) was wrought by the lethal effectivity of Henry’s longbowmen (shielded from French cavalry by sharpened stakes) and a well timed downpour making a muddy quagmire “killing floor” on the English battle line’s entrance. 

“Band of Brothers”

King Henry V Act IV, Scene III—The English Camp

Henry responds to his cousin, Earl Westmoreland’s want for extra troopers.

If we’re mark’d to die, we’re sufficient

To do our nation loss; and if to stay,

The less males the larger share of honor,

God’s will! I pray thee, want not one man extra.

O don’t want yet one more!

Relatively proclaim it, Westmoreland, by my host

That he which hath no abdomen for this struggle,

Let him depart; his passport shall be made,

And crowns for convoy put into his purse:

We might not die in that man’s firm

That fears his fellowship to die with us.

He that outlives at the present time, and comes protected residence,

Will stand a tip-toe when at the present time is nam’d,

And rouse him on the identify of Crispian.

He that shall stay at the present time, and see outdated age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,

And say, To-morrow is Saint Crispian:

Then will he strip his sleeve and present his scars,

And say, These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.

This story shall the great man train his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From at the present time to the ending of the world,

However we in it shall be remembered, —

We few, we blissful 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,

At the present time shall light his situation;

And gents in England now a-bed

Shall suppose themselves accurs’d they weren’t right here,

And maintain their manhoods low cost whereas any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

this text first appeared in navy historical past quarterly

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