St Crispin's Day Speech from William Shakespeare's "Henry V, Act IV Scene iii 18–67"
at the Battle of Agincourt, on St. Crispin's Day, Oct. 25, 1415
|Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland|
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work today!
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 call’d the feast of Crispian.
|"Morning of the Battle of Agincourt, 25th October 1415,"|
painted by Sir John Gilbert 1884
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
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 rememb’red.
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 remembered-
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 accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
leads his forces to victory at the Battle of Agincourt in northern France.
Two months before, Henry had crossed the English Channel with 11,000 men and laid siege to Harfleur in Normandy. After five weeks the town surrendered, but Henry lost half his men to disease and battle casualties. He decided to march his army northeast to Calais, where he would meet the English fleet and return to England. At Agincourt, however, a vast French army of 20,000 men stood in his path, greatly outnumbering the exhausted English archers, knights, and men-at-arms.
The battlefield lay on 1,000 yards of open ground between two woods, which prevented large-scale maneuvers and thus worked to Henry’s advantage. At 11 a.m. on October 25, the battle commenced. The English stood their ground as French knights, weighed down by their heavy armor, began a slow advance across the muddy battlefield. The French were met by a furious bombardment of artillery from the English archers, who wielded innovative longbows with a range of 250 yards. French cavalrymen tried and failed to overwhelm the English positions, but the archers were protected by a line of pointed stakes. As more and more French knights made their way onto the crowded battlefield, their mobility decreased further, and some lacked even the room to raise their arms and strike a blow. At this point, Henry ordered his lightly equipped archers to rush forward with swords and axes, and the unencumbered Englishmen massacred the French.
Almost 6,000 Frenchmen lost their lives during the Battle of Agincourt, while English deaths amounted to just over 400. With odds greater than three to one, Henry had won one of the great victories of military history. After further conquests in France, Henry V was recognized in 1420 as heir to the French throne and the regent of France. He was at the height of his powers but died just two years later of camp fever near Paris.
|The Kingdom of France|
|Charles I d'Albret's arms|
- Charles I d'Albret, Count of Dreux, the Constable of France
- Jacques de Châtillon, Lord of Dampierre, the Admiral of France
- David de Rambures, the Grand Master of Crossbowmen
- Guichard Dauphin, Master of the Royal Household
- Antoine of Burgundy, Duke of Brabant and Limburg, and consort Duke of Luxembourg (a brother of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy)
- John I, Duke of Alençon-Perche, the second-in-command after d'Albret.
- Edward III, Duke of Bar (along with his brother and nephew)
Seven counts (eight with d'Albret):
- Philip of Burgundy, Count of Nevers and Rethel (another brother of John the Fearless)
- Frederick of Lorraine, Count of Vaudémont (brother of Charles II, Duke of Lorraine)
- Robert of Bar, Count of Marle and Soissons (nephew of Edward III, Duke of Bar).
- John VI, Count of Roucy
- Waleran III of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny and Saint-Pol (called "Count of Fauqemberg" in the chronicles)
- Edward II, Count of Grandpré
- Henry II, Count of Blâmont
Some 90 bannerets and others, including:
- Jean de Montaigu, Archbishop of Sens
- John of Bar, Lord of Puisaye (brother of Edward III of Bar)
- Jean I de Croÿ, Lord of Croÿ-d'Araines and two of his sons, John and Archambaud
- Jean de Béthune, Lord of Marueil
- Gallois de Fougières, Provost Marshal, commemorated as the first French gendarme to lose his life in battle.
Among the circa 1,500 prisoners taken by the English, were the following French notables:
- Jean Le Maingre ("Boucicaut"), the Marshal of France.
- Charles of Artois (Count of Eu), the French Lieutenant of Normandy and Guyenne.
- John of Bourbon (Duke of Bourbon-Auvergne-Forez), probably the greatest lord of southern France
- Charles of Orleans (Duke of Orleans-Blois-Valois), a great lord of central France, titular head of the "Armagnac" party. (his brother, John of Orleans (Count of Angoulême-Périgord), another great lord, had been in English captivity since 1412).
- Louis de Bourbon (Count of Vendôme)
- Arthur de Richemont, brother of John VI, Duke of Brittany, step-brother of Henry V (he was the son of Joan of Navarre, dowager-queen of England).
|The Kingdom of England|
|King Henry V's arms|
- Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York
- Michael de la Pole, 3rd Earl of Suffolk
- Dafydd Gam (Davy Gam) Welsh hero who reputedly saved Henry V's life at Agincourt
- Jan I van Brederode