Home Case Studies Overwhelm Henry V. – William Shakespeare: Saint Crispins Day

Henry V. – William Shakespeare: Saint Crispins Day

6 min read

Dominic Turnbull & Charles E. Smith

On the morning of 25 October 1415 (Feast of Saints Crispin and Crispinian), shortly before the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V made a brief speech to the English army under his command, emphasizing the justness of his claim to the French throne and harking back to the memory of previous defeats the English kings had inflicted on the French:

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.

In the face of overwhelming odds, Henry’s army defeated the French and the battle was won. Henry’s troops before the battle were weary, hungry, tired and at the point of giving up. How could such a feat be accomplished in the face of such odds? Was it just about the speech he gave? His speech definitely had an impact, so what could this be? This article analyzes this speech and attempts to uncover the impact of the speech and what it could mean for us today.

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