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Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Life of King Henry the Fifth Sources
Henry V was entered into the Register of the Stationers Company on August 14, 1600 by the bookseller Thomas Pavier; the first quarto was published before the end of the year—though by Thomas Millington and John Busby rather than Pavier. (The printing was done by Thomas Creede.) Q1 of Henry V is a "bad quarto," a shortened version of the play that might be a pirated copy or reported text. A second quarto, a reprint of Q1, appeared in 1602; another reprint was issued as Q3 in 1619, with a false date of 1608—part of William Jaggard's False Folio. The superior text first saw print in the First Folio in 1623.

Date and text
A tradition, impossible to verify, holds that Henry V was the first play performed at the new Globe Theatre in the spring of 1599; the Globe would have been the "wooden O" mentioned in the Prologue. In 1600 the first printed text states that the play had been played "sundry times." The earliest performance known for certain, however, occurred on January 7, 1605, at Court.
Samuel Pepys saw a Henry V in 1664—but it was written by Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery, not by Shakespeare. Shakespeare's play returned to the stage in 1723, in an adaptation by Aaron Hill.
There is no evidence that Henry V was popular in Shakespeare's own time. However, it is now frequently staged and many of its speeches have passed into popular culture.
The longest running production of the play in Broadway history was the staging starring Richard Mansfield in 1900 which ran for 54 performances. Other notable stage performances of Henry V include Charles Kean (1859), Charles Calvert (1872), Walter Hampden (1928), and Laurence Olivier at the Old Vic Theatre (1937).

Performance history

King Henry the Fifth.
Duke of Gloucester, & Duke of Bedford, Brothers to the King.
Duke of Exeter, Uncle to the King.
Duke of York, Cousin to the King.
Earls of Salisbury, Westmoreland, and Warwick.
Archbishop of Canterbury
Bishop of Ely
Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop, and Sir Thomas Grey, Traitors.
Sir Thomas Erpingham, Gower, Fluellen, Macmorris, Jamy, Officers in King Henry's Army.
Bates, Court, Williams, Soldiers in the Same.
Pistol, Nym, Bardolph.
A Herald.
The King of France, historically Charles VI but never named as such in the play.
Lewis, the Dauphin.
Dukes of Burgundy, Orleans, and Bourbon.
Constable of France
Rambures and Grandpré, French Lords.
Montjoy, a French Herald.
Governor of Harfleur.
Ambassadors to the King of England.
Monsieur le Fer, a French soldier
Isabel, Queen of France
Katharine, Daughter to Charles and Isabel
Alice, a Lady attending on the Princess Katharine
Hostess of the Boar's Head Tavern, formerly Mistress Quickly, and now married to Pistol. Dramatis personae
Elizabethan stages did not use scenery. Acknowledging the difficulty of conveying great battles and shifts of location on a bare stage, Shakespeare uses as narrator a Chorus (a reference to the Greek chorus but played by a single actor), who explains the story to the audience and encourages them to use their imaginations. The chorus calls for a "Muse of fire" so that the actor playing King Henry can "Assume the port of Mars." He asks, "Can this cockpit [i.e. the theatre] hold / The vasty fields of France?" and encourages the audience to use their imaginations to overcome the stage's limitations: "Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts."
The early scenes deal with the embarkation of Henry's fleet for France, and include a real-life incident in which the Earl of Cambridge and two others plotted to assassinate Henry at Southampton. Henry's clever uncovering of the plot and ruthless treatment of the plotters is one indication that he has changed from the earlier plays in which he appeared.
The Chorus reappears. He describes the country's dedication to the war effort - "They sell the pasture now to buy the horse" - and tells the audience "We'll not offend one stomach with our play."
As with all of Shakespeare's serious plays, there are also a number of minor comic characters whose activities contrast with and sometimes comment on the main plot. In this case, they are mostly common soldiers in Henry's army, and include Pistol, Nym, and Bardolph from the Henry IV plays. The army also includes representatives of each of the constituent parts of the British Isles: a Scot, an Irishman, an Englishman and Fluellen (a comically-stereotyped Welsh soldier, whose name is almost certainly an attempt at a phonetic rendition of "Llywelyn"). The play also deals briefly with the death of Falstaff, Henry's one time mentor and another character from the Henry IV plays.
The Chorus appears again, seeking support for the English navy: "Grapple your minds to sternage of this navy" he says, notes that "the ambassador from the French comes back;/ Tells Harry that the king doth offer him / Katharine his daughter."
At the siege of Harfleur, Henry utters one of Shakespeare's best-known speeches, beginning "Once more unto the breach, dear friends...".
Before the Battle of Agincourt, victory looks uncertain, and the young king's heroic character is shown by his decision to wander around the English camp at night, in disguise, so as to comfort his soldiers and find out what they really think of him. Before the battle begins, Henry rallies his troops with the famous speech:
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,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Following the victory at Agincourt, Henry attempts to woo the French princess, Catherine of Valois. The action ends with the French king adopting Henry as his heir to the French throne and the prayer of the French queen "that English may as French, French Englishmen, receive each other, God speak this Amen."
But before the curtain descends, the Chorus re-appears one more time and ruefully notes that Henry's own heir's "state, so many had the managing, that they both lost France, and made his England bleed" - a reminder of the tumultuous reign of Henry VI of England, which Shakespeare had previously brought to the stage.

Views on warfare

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