David Bruce: THE FAMOUS VICTORIES OF HENRY V: A Retelling — Scenes 17-19

— Scene 17 —

John Cobbler and Robin Pewterer talked together.

“Now, John Cobbler, did you see how King Henry V conducted himself?”

“But, Robin, did you see what a military strategy the King had? To see how the Frenchmen were killed with the stakes of the trees!”

“Yes, John, that was a splendid military strategy.”

An English soldier arrived and asked, “Who are you, my masters?”

“Why, we are Englishmen,” John Cobbler and Robin Pewterer said.

“Are you Englishmen?” the English soldier said, “Then change your language because King Henry V’s tents have been set on fire, and all who speak English will be killed.”

The English camp had been lightly defended, and the tents had indeed been set on fire.

The English soldier exited.

“What shall we do, Robin? Indeed, I’ll manage, for I can speak broken French.”

“By my faith, so can I. Let’s hear how you can speak French.”

Commodevales, Monsieur,” John Cobbler said.

The first word was his attempt to say, “Comment allez-vous?” or “How are you?”

“That’s good,” Robin Pewterer said. “Come, let’s go.”

 — Scene 18 —

Derrick walked on the battlefield. A French soldier appeared and took him prisoner.

“Oh, good Mounser,” Derrick said.

He meant Monsieur.

“Come, come, you vigliacco,” the French soldier said.

A vigliaccois a coward.

“Oh, I will, sir, I will,” Derrick said.

“Come quickly, you peasant,” the French soldier said.

“I will, sir,” Derrick said. “What shall I give you?”

“By the Virgin Mary, you shall give me one, two, tre, four hundred crowns.”

“No, sir, I will give you more. I will give you as many crowns as will lie on your sword.”

“Will you give me as many crowns as will lie on my sword?” the French soldier asked.

“Yes, indeed I will,” Derrick said. “Yes, but you must lay down your sword, or else they will not lie on your sword.”

The French soldier lay down his sword, and Derrick picked it up and then knocked the French soldier down.

“You villain,” Derrick said, “do you dare to look up?”

“Oh, Monsieur, comparteve!Monsieur, pardon me.”

The French soldier was so frightened that he did not speak clearly. Perhaps he meant to say, “Monsieur, avoir de la compassion!” This means “Sir, have compassion!”

“Oh, you villain, now you lie at my mercy,” Derrick said. “Do you remember since you beat me with your short ell?”

An ell is a measuring unit. Derrick was referring to the French soldier’s short sword. Derrick being Derrick, he was probably implying that the French soldier was also short in a certain part of his body.

Derrick continued, “Oh, villain, now I will cut off your head.”

He turned his back on the French soldier, who then ran away.

Turning around again, Derrick said, “Has he gone? By the mass, I am glad of it because if he had stayed I was afraid he would have stirred again, and then I should have been destroyed. But I will go away so I can kill more Frenchmen.”

Derrick being Derrick, the number of Frenchmen he had killed was probably zero.

— Scene 19 —

King Charles VI of France and King Henry V of England were parleying. An English secretary and some attendants were present.

King Henry V said, “Now, my good brother of France, my coming into this land was not to shed blood but for the right of my country, which, if you can deny with conclusive proof that I do not have that right, I am content peaceably to leave my siege and to depart out of your land.”

“What is it you demand, my loving brother of England?” King Charles VI of France asked.

“Mysecretary has it written down,” King Henry V said.

He ordered his secretary, “Read it.”

The secretary read out loud:

Item, that immediately Henry V of England be crowned King of France.”

“That is a very hard sentence, my good brother of England,” King Charles VI said.

“No more than what is right, my good brother of France,” King Henry V said.

“Well, read on,” King Charles VI said.

The secretary read out loud:

Item, that after the death of the said Henry V, the crown remain to him and his heirs forever.”

“Why, then, you not only mean to dispossess me but also my son,” King Charles VI said.

“Why, my good brother of France, you have had it long enough, and, as for the Prince Dauphin, it doesn’t matter that he will not get the crown even though he is sitting beside the saddle, aka throne,” King Henry V said. “Thus I have set it down, and thus it shall be.”

“You are very peremptory and unyielding, my good brother of England,” King Charles VI said.

“And you are as perverse, my good brother of France,” King Henry V said.

“Why, then, perhaps all that I have here is yours,” King Charles VI said.

“Yes, even as far as the Kingdom of France reaches,” King Henry V replied.

“Yes, for judging by this hot beginning we shall scarcely be able to bring it to a calm ending,” King Charles VI said.

“That is as you please,” King Henry V said. “Here is my resolution. You have heard my formal declaration read out loud.”

“Well, my brother of England,” King Charles VI said, “if you will give me a copy, we will meet you again tomorrow.”

“With a good will, my good brother of France,” King Henry V said.

He then ordered, “Secretary, give him a copy.”

King Charles VI of France and all of the French attendants exited.

King Henry V ordered, “My Lords of England, go on ahead of me, and I will follow you in a little while.”

The English lords exited, and King Henry V talked to himself.

“Ah, Harry, thrice-unhappy Harry!” he said, “have you now conquered the French King and begin a fresh assault against his daughter, Lady Katherine? But with what face can you seek to gain her love when your face has sought to win her father’s crown? ‘Her father’s crown,’ said I? No, it is my own. Yes, but I love her and must crave her. Indeed, I love her and I will have her.”

Lady Katherine and her waiting-ladies entered the room.

King Henry V said to himself, “But here she comes.”

He then said out loud, “How are you now, beautiful Lady Katherine of France? What is your news?”

“If it please your majesty, my father sent me to know if you will abate and weaken any of these unreasonable demands that you require,” Lady Katherine replied.

“Now trust me, Kate,” King Henry V said. “I commend your father’s intelligence greatly in this, for none in the world could sooner have made me abate them if it were possible. But tell me, sweet Kate, can you tell me how to love?”

“I cannot hate, my good Lord; therefore, far unfit would it be for me to love, ” Lady Katherine replied.

“Tush, Kate,” King Henry V said. “But tell me in plain terms, can you love the King of England? I cannot do as these countries do that spend half their time in wooing. Tush, wench, I am not at all like that. But will you go over to England?”

“I wish to God that I had your majesty as fast in love as you have my father in wars,” Lady Katherine said. “I would not permit you as much as one look until you had abated all of these unreasonable demands.”

“Tush, Kate,” King Henry V said. “I know you would not treat me so badly. But tell me, can you love the King of England?”

“How could I love a man who has dealt so hard with my father?” Lady Katherine asked.

“But I’ll deal as easily with you as your heart can imagine or your tongue can require,” King Henry V replied. “What do you say? What will it be? What is your answer?”

“If I were of my own direction and free, I could give you an answer,” Lady Katherine said. “But seeing that I stand ready to obey my father’s direction, I must first know his will. I must do what my father wants me to do.”

“But shall I have your good will in the meantime?” King Henry V asked.

“Although I can put your grace in no assurance, I would be loath to put you in any despair,” Lady Katherine replied.

“Now before God, she is a sweet wench,” King Henry V said.

Lady Katherine went aside a short distance, and said to herself, “I think myself the happiest woman in the world because I am loved by the mighty King of England.”

“Well, Kate, are you at home with me?” King Henry V said. “Sweet Kate, tell your father from me that no one in the world could sooner have persuaded me to it than you, and so tell your father from me.”

King Henry V wanted to marry Lady Katherine, and if abating at least some of the demands he had made of her father would help him to do that, he would go easy on her father.

“May God keep your majesty in good health,” Lady Katherine said.

Lady Katherine and her waiting-ladies exited.

“Farewell, sweet Kate!” King Henry V said. “By my faith, she is a sweet wench, but if I knew I could not have her father’s good will, I would so shake the towers over his ears that I would make him be glad to bring her to me upon his hands and knees.”


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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