David Bruce: THE FAMOUS VICTORIES OF HENRY V: A Retelling — Scenes 10-12

— Scene 10 —

A military Captain, John Cobbler, and John Cobbler’s wife talked together.

“Come, come, there’s no alternative,” the Captain said to John Cobbler. “You must serve the King.”

“Good Master Captain, let me stay at home,” John Cobbler said. “I am not able to go so far.”

“Please, good Master Captain,” his wife pleaded, “be good to my husband.”

“Why, I am sure he is not too good to serve the King,” the Captain said.

“Alas, no, but I am a great deal too bad to serve the King,” John Cobbler said. “I will be a terrible soldier; therefore, I plead to you to let me stay at home.”

“No, no, you shall go to France,” the Captain said.

“Oh, sir,” John Cobbler said. “I have a great many shoes and boots at home to cobble.”

“Please,” his wife said, “let him stay at home.”

“Tush, I don’t care what you say,” the Captain said to John Cobbler. “You shall go with me. You have been drafted into the King’s army.”

“Oh, wife,” John Cobbler said, “if you had been a loving wife to me, this would never have happened, for I have said many times that I would go away, and now I must go against my will.”

He wept.

Derrick arrived, carrying a pot lid that he pretended was a shield.

“How are you now!” Derrick said. “Ho, basillus manus, for an old codpiece!”

Derrick had perhaps meant to say, “Besa las manos,” which means in Spanish, “Kiss hands” or “Goodbye!”

Of course, Derrick being Derrick, he may have meant to say, “Besa m’ anus,” which means, more or less, “Kiss my ass.”

A codpiece is a sack that holds and covers male genitals; it was a customary article of clothing at the time.

Derrick continued, “Master Captain, shall we leave? By God’s wounds, what is happening? John, are you crying? What are you and my dame there doing?”

He then said to John Cobbler’s wife, “I wonder at whose head you will throw the stools now we are gone.”

“I’ll tell you!” John Cobbler’s wife said. “Come, you blockhead, what are you doing with my pot lid? Listen here! Do you want me to hit your head with it?”

She grabbed the pot lid from Derrick and hit him with it.

“Oh, good dame!” Derrick said.

He shook her and said, “If I had my dagger here, I would strangle you all to pieces, that I would.”

“Would you, now?” John Cobbler’s wife said. “I’ll test whether you mean it.”

She beat him.

“Master Captain, will you allow her to beat me?” Derrick complained.

He said to John Cobbler’s wife, “Damn, dame! I will go back as far as I can, but if you attack me again, I’ll clap the law on your back, that’s flat.”

He then said, “I’ll tell you, Master Captain, what you shall do. Draft her and make her a soldier. I promise you that she will do as much good as her husband and I will do.”

Cutbert Cutler the thief walked toward them.

“By God’s wounds, who is coming yonder?” Derrick asked.

“How are you now, good fellow?” the Captain asked. “Do you want a master — an employer?”

“Yes, and truly, sir,” Cutbert Cutler said.

“Well, then,” the Captain said. “I draft you to be a soldier to serve the King in France.”

“How are you, Gads?” Derrick asked. “Do you know us, do you think?”

Gads was short for Gadshill, Cutbert Cutler’s nickname.

“Yes,” Cutbert Cutler replied, “I knew you long ago.”

“Do you hear this, Master Captain?” Derrick asked.

“What do you mean?” the Captain asked.

“I ask you to let me go home again,” Derrick said.

“Why, what would you do at your home?” the Captain said.

“Indeed, I have brought two shirts with me,” Derrick said, “and I want to carry one of them home again, for I am sure he’ll steal it from me, he is such a filching fellow.”

“I promise you that he will not steal it from you,” the Captain said. “Come, let’s go.”

“Come, Master Captain, let’s leave,” Derrick said. “Come, follow me.”

“Come, wife,” John Cobbler said, “let’s part lovingly.”

“Farewell, good husband,” his wife said.

They embraced tearfully.

“Bah, what a lot of kissing and crying is going on here!” Derrick said.

He said to John Cobbler’s wife, “By God’s wounds, do you think he will never come home again?”

He said to John Cobbler, “Why, John, let’s leave! Do you think that we are so base-minded as to die among Frenchmen?”

He thought a moment and then said, “By God’s wounds, we don’t know whether they will lay us in their church or not.”

He added, “Come, Master Captain, let’s leave.”

“I cannot stay any longer,” the Captain said, “and therefore let’s go.”

— Scene 11 —

King Charles VI of France, the Prince Dauphin, and the Lord High Constable of France talked together.

“Now, my Lord High Constable,” King Charles VI of France said, “what do you say about our embassy we sent to England?”

“If it please your majesty,” the Lord High Constable of France replied, “I can say nothinguntil my Lords Ambassadors have come home,but yet I think that your grace has done wellto get your men in so good a readinessfor fear of the worst.”

“Yes, my Lord, we have some soldiers ready to fight,” King Charles VI of France said, “but if the King of England leads an army against us,we must have three times as many more.”

“Tut, my Lord,” the Prince Dauphin said, “although the King of Englandisyoung and wild-headed, yet never think he will be sounwise as to make battle against the mighty King ofFrance.”

“Oh, my son,” King Charles VI of France said,“although the King of England isyoung and wild-headed, yet never think that he is not ruledby his wise counselors. They give him wise advice, and he takes it.”

The Archbishop of Bruges, who had been the main ambassador of France in the embassy to England, entered the room and said, “May God preserve the life of my sovereign Lord the King.”

“Now, my good Lord Archbishop of Bruges,” King Charles VI of France said, “what news do you bring us from our brother the English King?”

“If itplease your majesty,” the Archbishop of Brugessaid, “his response is very far from what you expected: Nothing will satisfy him but the French crownand French Kingdom itself. In addition, he advised me to hasten quickly to France,lest he be here before me, and, as far as I hear,he has kept his word, for they say that he has already landedat Kidcocks in Normandy, upon the river of Seine,and laid his siege to the garrison town of Harfleur.”

“You have made great haste in the meantime, haven’t you?” King Charles VI of France asked.

“Please, my Lord,” the Prince Dauphin asked, “tell me how the King of England took my presents?”

“Truly, my Lord, in a very ill manner,”the Archbishop of Bruges answered. “For these your tennis balls of leather, he will toss you cannonballs of brass and iron. Trust me, my Lord, I was very afraid of him.He is such a proud and high-minded Prince — he is as fierce as a lion.”

“Tush, we will make him as tame as a lamb,” the Lord High Constable of France said, “I promise you that.”

A messenger arrived and said, “May God preserve the mighty King of France.”

“Now, messenger, what is your news?”King Charles VI of France asked.

“If itplease your majesty,” the messenger replied, “I have come from your poor distressed town of Harfleur, which is so beset on every side that if your majesty does not send immediate aid the town will be surrendered to the English King.”

“Come, my Lords, come, shall we stand still until our country is pillaged under our noses?” King Charles VI of France said.“My Lords, let the Normans, Brabants, Pickardies, and Danes be sent for with all speed.

“And you, my Lord High Constable, I make generalover all my whole army. You shall command Monsieur le Cole, the Master of the Bows,Signor Devens, and all the rest, and appoint them to the positions you wish.”

“I trust that your majesty will bestowsome part of the battle on me,” the Prince Dauphin said. “I hope not to perform in battle otherwise than well.”

“I tell you, my son,” King Charles VI of France said, “even if I would get the victory, if you were to lose your life,I would think myself quite conqueredand I would think the Englishmen to have won the victory.”

“Why, my Lord and father,” the Prince Dauphin said, “I want to have the petty King of England knowthat I dare to encounter him on any ground of the world.”

“I know that well, my son,” King Charles VI of France said, “but at this time I will have it thus: I will keep you safe. Therefore, come away with me.”

They exited.

— Scene 12 —

King Henry V met with his Lords.

“Come, my Lords of England,” he said, “no doubt the good luck of winning this town — Harfleur — is a sign of an honorable victory to come.”

He then said to one particular Lord, “But, my good Lord, go and tell the Captains with all speed to count the soldiers of the Frenchmen, for with that information we may better know how to plan the battle.”

The Lord exited.

“If it please your majesty,” the Duke of York said, “manyof your men are sick and diseased, and many of them die for lack of food.”

“And why didn’t you tell me about this before?” King Henry V said. “If we cannot have food for money, we will have food by force of sword. The laws of arms allow no less.”

King Henry V had attempted to stay on the good side of the French people by paying for the food he needed to feed his soldiers, but he was a realist who knew that his soldiers needed to be fed, and if he and his officers could not buy enough food for them, perhaps because the French people were unwilling to sell food to them, then they would have to take the food by force.

“I beg your grace to grant me a boon,” the Earl of Oxford said.

“What boon is that, my good Lord?” King Henry V asked.

“That your grace will give me the vanguard in the battle,” the Earl of Oxford replied.

The vanguard is the front of the army.

“Trust me, my Earl of Oxford, I cannot,” King Henry V said, “for I have already given it to my uncle the Duke of York. Yet I thank you for your good will.”

A trumpet sounded.

“Listen, what is that?” King Henry V asked.

“I think it announces the arrival of some French herald of arms,” the Duke of York said.

A French herald arrived.

A herald bears messages between the leaders of different countries.

“King of England,” the herald said, “my Lord High Constable and others of the noblemen of France send me to defy you as open enemy to God, our country, and us, and hereupon they invite you to do battle immediately.”

“Herald,” King Henry V replied, “tell them that I defy them as open enemies to God, my country, and me, and as wrongful usurpers of my right to the French crown. And since you say they invite me to do battle immediately, tell them that I think they know how to please me.

“But, I ask you, what place has your Lord the Prince Dauphin here in battle?”

“If it please your grace,” the herald said, “my Lord and King his father will not let him come onto the battlefield.”

“Why, then, he does me a great injury,” King Henry V said. “I thought that he and I should have played at tennis together. For that reason, I have brought tennis balls for him, but a different kind of tennis balls than he sent me. And, herald, tell the Lord Prince Dauphin that I have inured and toughened my hands with other kinds of weapons than tennis balls before this time of day and that he shall find that to be true before much longer. And so adieu, my friend, and tell my Lord that I am ready to do battle whenever he will.”

The herald exited.

“Come, my Lords,” King Henry V said. “I don’t care if I go to our Captains, and I’ll see the number of soldiers of the French army myself. Strike up the drum.”

A drummer played.

They exited.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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This is an easy-to-retelling of The Famous Victories of Henry V, which is an important source for William Shakespeare’s Henry IVand Henry Vplays.





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