Sunday, 25 October 2015

530 - "...The Fewer Men, the Greater Share of Honour"

Each Sunday evening, I speak to my salty old sea-dog of a dad, and this evening he pointed out to me that it was the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt - one of the battles I'm most interested in, thanks in no small part to Shakespeare's 'Henry V' being my all-time favourite play (no small deal for an English teacher, that!).
 "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"
My dad was reminded of this fact by the Saturday Torygraph, which ran an article on the Perry Twins' Agincourt installation at the Royal Armouries in London. It looks stonkingly good in the photos, and overhead is a representation of the thousands of deadly longbow arrows arcing towards the flower of French chivalry :
"You may take our lives, but you will never take our--" - Oops. Sorry.
...and here's a link for you: here. [Both of these photos are used without permission from the blog linked.]

It's on until January, I think.

- Drax.

     Enter the KINGWESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
        But one ten thousand of those men in England
        That do no work to-day!
     
    KING. 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 call'd the feast of Crispian.
        He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
        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 Crispian'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.

10 comments:

  1. Those poor French fellows really had it hard. The ground was so muddy and sodden, the Knights wearing that heavy armor really had small chance to get to the English before the rains of arrows took their toll.
    Even read some French Knights drowned in the mud after tripiping or being knocked over by their brothers at arms. Nasty stuff.

    Wonderful set up by the Perrys though. Shame it's so far away that I can't visit.

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    1. Yup. Agree on all points. Cheers, mate!

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  2. I've been following the progress of the diorama's construction on the Perry Brothers' FB page. Awesome stuff.

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    1. Ooh - I've never thought of following...cheers!

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  3. There's a little article in this months Wargames Illustrated. I'll send it down.

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    1. Cool - thank you! The only place I've ever read Wargames Illustrated, as it happens, is on your downstairs bog.

      It's on my list of 'hobby things I'd buy if I were suddenly rich', along with Every Book Ever Published By Osprey...

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  4. Agincourt was the PR victory, thanks in no small part to Mr Shakeaspeare, if you want to read about a real descisive fight and a much better tactical victory, then look to Crecy, its the first real usage of the tactics that won us the campaign, and reports of the casualties range from the outlandish (2 English, to 4k French Knights) to the more plausible but still shockingly asymmetric ( 300 English to 1500+ French knights. (no record of the French peasant dead exists))

    Without Crecy (and arguably Poitiers) we'd never have been placed to win at Agincourt.

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    1. I thoroughly agree on all counts...and it was a blessed relief at the end of a frankly disastrous campaign...but that will in no way diminish my heavily-influenced-by-Shakey love of Henry V and the battle. Sorry!

      I'm a whore for beautiful writing, and there's no denying that Henry the V is one of his best (and not all stolen)!

      Hope all's well, matey - it's been too long.

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  5. Very nice, thanks for pointing out the link. A good example of the selective English memory, recalling the one battle we won in a war with the French we usually lost. A very interesting link.

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    1. Oh yes - you'll get no excuses from me. And again, feel free to thank Shakespeare's spin on things: I'm pretty unashamed.

      And as for our collective selective memory...well, I guess we take what we can get...

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Thanks for taking the time to comment!