Henry V

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 4

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So do the kings of France unto this day,
Howbeit they would hold up this Salic law
115To bar your Highness claiming from the female
And rather choose to hide them in a net
Than amply to imbar their crooked titles
Usurped from you and your progenitors.
To this day, the kings of France follow this unspoken rule, even though they point to this Salic law to bar your Highness from inheriting it through the female line. They prefer to obscure matters rather than reveal how corrupt their own claims to the French crown are. They usurped that crown from you and your ancestors.

KING HENRY

May I with right and conscience make this claim?

KING HENRY

Can I justifiably and in good conscience make this claim?

CANTERBURY

120The sin upon my head, dread sovereign,
For in the Book of Numbers is it writ:
“When the man dies, let the inheritance
Descend unto the daughter.” Gracious lord,
Stand for your own, unwind your bloody flag,
125Look back into your mighty ancestors.
Go, my dread lord, to your great-grandsire’s tomb,
From whom you claim. Invoke his warlike spirit
And your great-uncle’s, Edward the Black Prince,
Who on the French ground played a tragedy,
130Making defeat on the full power of France
Whiles his most mighty father on a hill
Stood smiling to behold his lion’s whelp
Forage in blood of French nobility.
O noble English, that could entertain
135With half their forces the full pride of France
And let another half stand laughing by,
All out of work and cold for action!

CANTERBURY

If not, mighty sovereign, let the blame be mine. For it is written in the book of Numbers: “When the man dies, let the inheritance descend unto the daughter.” Gracious lord, claim what is yours. Unfurl your banners of war. Take your mighty ancestors as models. Go to the tomb of your great-grandfather, from whom your own title to the crown derives. Invoke his warlike spirit and that of Edward the Black Prince, your great-uncle, who fought a tragic battle on French soil, routing the French army in full force while his mighty father stood by on a hilltop, smiling to see his son steeped in the blood of French noblemen. O noble English, who could take on the entire French army with only half their forces, leaving the other half to stand by, idle and laughing.

ELY

Awake remembrance of these valiant dead
And with your puissant arm renew their feats.
140You are their heir, you sit upon their throne,
The blood and courage that renownèd them
Runs in your veins; and my thrice-puissant liege
Is in the very May-morn of his youth,
Ripe for exploits and mighty enterprises.

ELY

Awaken the memory of those valiant ancestors and with your own powerful arm make their deeds live again. You are their heir and sit on their throne, and the blood and courage that glorified them run in your veins. You, my most powerful sovereign, are in the very prime of youth, ripe for glorious deeds and great enterprises.