October 25, 2006


Today is the 591st Anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, in which British King Henry V and his ragtag bunch of archers, knights, thieves, and fools stomped the everloving crap out of the army of the King of France.

Agincourt serves as the center of one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, Henry V.

I'm sure Robbo will do the full monty Gratuitous Historikal Rounduppe(TM), but I'll get the ball rolling:


O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!


What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
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.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
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 more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
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.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
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 remember'd;
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.

Unfortunately, no one has put the Laurence Olivier version up yet on You Tube.

This clip was great for two reasons: whoever captured it did so in widescreen, and they also made sure to include the speech of the Herald, and Henry's reaction.

One note on the Brannagh version: the role of "Boy" is played by Christian Bale, who later becomes American Psycho and, of course, Badass Batman.

And Brannagh was robbed for Best Actor and Director. I mean, seriously, who still watches My Left Foot? Daniel Day Lewis? Hello?

Yips! from Robbo: He tasks me. He tasks me! And I shall have him! Here is what I wrote about Brannagh's version a couple years back. I still stand by my opinion that, although beautifully acted, Ken's take suffers for his efforts to infuse an Everyman's War-Is-Hell message into it. And here are my favorable thoughts about the music of William Walton in Olivier's version, one of the very few times you will ever see me praising a 20th Century composer.

Posted by Steve-O at October 25, 2006 08:49 AM | TrackBack

My favorite Christian Bale part, though, is Grammaton Cleric John Preston in the cult classic Equilibrium.

A must, must rental, if you like wire-fu and gunfights. The gunfights are spectacular and worth the price of admission alone.

Posted by: The Colossus at October 25, 2006 09:24 AM

What about the Charge of the Light Brigade? 25 Oct, 1854.

Posted by: rbj at October 25, 2006 12:15 PM

The New Editor has a nice little piece showing how the news from Agincourt was reported in one of the early (very early) editions of the Guardian.

Posted by: utron at October 25, 2006 02:41 PM

See the Danny DeVito movie "Renaissance Man" for a great version of this speech - if slightly edited at the outset.

Probably one of the better DeVito movies.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at October 25, 2006 03:33 PM