Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Designed specially to meet the requirements of ENGLISH

Schedule II., New Code of 1883.



(All rights reserved.)

1. add: 67.94





THE play of “ Henry V.” begins with the year 1415, continuing the careers of the personages in " Henry IV.” It is written on the lines of an earlier drama, and generally keeps close to history—so far as the poet knew it.

The real history was as follows :--A war with France had been begun before the death of Henry IV., and Thomas Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, his second son, had already led an expedition into Normandy. There was a Parliament held at Leicester, which readily granted supplies to the King, and Henry resolved to assert again the claim of Edward III. to the French crown. That claim was derived through the mother of Edward III., Isabella, daughter to Philip IV. of France, whose three sons had died without male heirs, and had been succeeded by Philip VI., the son of their father's brother. In point of fact, if female inheritance had been permitted, the daughter of the eldest of these three sons should have succeeded, instead of Edward III., the son of her aunt; or, if Edward's succession through heiresses had been acknowledged, it should have passed, not to his direct male descendant, Henry V., but to the Earl of March. However, Henry V. seems to have considered that all rights or claims of Edward III. had descended to him with the crown; and a war with France was always popular in England. Moreover, that unhappy kingdom of France was in a state that almost invited an enemy to fall upon it, and which seems to have

led Henry to think that he had a mission from heaven to interfere, and to reduce it to order. The unfortunate King, Charles VI., who had come to the throne in 1380, had, from his youth up, been subject to attacks of insanity, which gradually weakened his intellect, even during his lucid intervals. His relations, meanwhile, struggled for power, and committed terrible crimes to obtain it. His wife, Isabella of Bavaria, was a vain, selfish, indolent woman, who neglected her husband and her children, and was respected by no one. The two most powerful factions were those of the King's brother, Louis, Duke of Orleans, and of his first cousin, John, Duke of Burgundy. After a pretended reconciliation in 1407, John of Burgundy had caused Louis of Orleans to be murdered in the streets of Paris. The mutual hatred had gone on increasing. Although Charles, the son of the murdered Duke, was not inclined to be a party leader, his brother-in-law, the Count of Armagnac, insisted on revenge, and there was horrible fighting and savage violence in the streets of Paris.

This had gone on for seven years, when Henry V., in 1414, sent to demand the crown of France, offering, however, to make peace and give up his claim if he might take to wife King Charles's daughter Katharine, bringing with her the dukedoms of Maine, Touraine, Anjou, Normandy, and Aquitaine. This was rejected, the King's eldest son, Louis, being now nineteen, and quite old enough to feel justly indignant at this attack on his rights. He was called Dauphin, because his grandfather, the eldest son of King John of France, had bought the district of Vienne of the last of its lords, who were termed Counts Dauphin, probably because they bore a dolphin on their shield. Dauphin then became the title of the heirs apparent of France.

Henry left his brother, John, Duke of Bedford, to act in his place in England, and assembled his forces to embark at Southampton. At that very time a dangerous plot was discovered. The direct heir of Edward III. in the female line was Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March.

[ocr errors]


His sister Anne had married Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cambridge, younger brother to Edward, Duke of York, and as March had no children, her son would be heir to all his rights. This Earl of Cambridge, together with Lord Scrope, Henry's treasurer and great friend and favourite, and Sir Thomas Grey, determined to assassinate Henry V., and set up March as king, with the hope, of course, that the crown would after him descend to Cambridge's son. They told their scheme to March; but he was deeply attached to the King, and at once gave information of the conspiracy. Henry put the matter into the hands of his brother, the Duke of Clarence, and the conspirators confessed their guilt, were tried, and executed.

Henry landed near Harfleur on the 14th of August, 1415, with about thirty thousand men, and besieged the city, which made a brave defence; but in the disorganized state of France, no one came to the rescue, and on the 22nd of September, the Governor, the Sieur d'Estouteville, surrendered. There had been much illness and death in the English camp during the siege, and Henry sent the sick back to England with his fleet, under the care of his brother Thomas, Duke of Clarence; and leaving a garrison in Harfleur, resolved to march across country to his own city of Calais, there to meet reinforcements and supplies from England. He had about nine thousand men and nine hundred horses in condition to set out; and, keeping strict discipline, and forbidding all plunder, he started on his march, with provisions for eight days. convicted of plundering Church plate, was hanged, and, in general, excellent order was kept, though the troops suffered considerably from want of food; for they were delayed much longer than they expected by finding that the French had broken down all the bridges across the river Somme, and had driven stakes into all the fords. Thus they were obliged to march up its banks, through a country whence all the people had fled and driven away their cattle so that no provisions were to be obtained, and the soldiers were reduced to eating asses' flesh, raw chestnuts, and wild

One man,

« PreviousContinue »