David Bruce: THE FAMOUS VICTORIES OF HENRY V: A Retelling — Scenes 20-12

— Scene 20 —

Derrick, standing on the battlefield with his belt full of shoes and boots, said to himself, “What now? By God’s wounds, it did me good to see how I triumphed over the Frenchmen.”

John Cobbler arrived, carrying a pack full of clothing.

He called, “Whoop,Derrick! How are you?”

“John!” Derrick said. “Comedevales!Still alive!”

“I promise you, Derrick, I barely escaped, for I was within half a mile when someone was killed.”

“Were you now?” Derrick said.

“Yes, believe me, I was close to being slain.”

“But once you are killed, why, it is nothing!” Derrick said. “I was killed four or five times.”

“Killed four or five times!” John Cobbler said. “Why, how can you be alive now?”

“Oh, John, never ask that,” Derrick said, “for I was called the bloody soldier among them all.”

“What did you do?” John Cobbler asked.

“I will tell you, John,” Derrick said. “Every day when I went to the battlefield, I would take a sharp straw stalk and thrust it into my nose and make my nose bleed, and then I would go to the battlefield, and when the Captain saw me he would say, ‘Peace, a bloody soldier,’ and bid me stand aside and not do battle, which I was glad to do and to avoid.

“But hear what happened, John. I went and stood behind a tree — but pay attention then, John. I thought I was safe, but suddenly a vigorous tall Frenchman stepped over to me. Now he drew his sword, and I drew my sword. Now I lay here, and he lay there. Now I set this leg before, and turned this leg backward, and skipped quite over a hedge, and he saw me no more there that day. And wasn’t this well done, John?”

“By the mass, Derrick, you have an intelligent head,” John Cobbler said.

“Yes, John, you may see, if you had taken my counsel — but what have you there in your pack?” Derrick asked. “I think you have been robbing the Frenchmen.”

“Yes, indeed, Derrick, I have gotten some reparel to carry home to my wife,” John Cobbler said.

By “reparel,” he meant “apparel,” but since the clothing had been taken off dead French soldiers, the clothing must have needed some repair.

John Cobbler’s apparel was of greater value than Derrick’s shoes and boots.

“And I have got some shoes and boots,” Derrick said, “for I’ll tell you what I did. When the French soldiers were dead, I would go to them and take off all their shoes and boots.”

“Yes, but Derrick, how shall we get home?” John Cobbler asked.

“By God’s wounds, if they capture you they will hang you,” Derrick said. “Oh, John, never do so. If it is your fortune to be hanged, be hanged in your own language whatsoever you do.”

“Why, Derrick, the war is over,” John Cobbler said. “We may go home now.”

“Yes, but you may not go before you ask King Henry V for permission to leave,” Derrick said. “But I know a way to go home and not have to ask the King for permission.”

“What way is that, Derrick?”

“Why, John, you know that the Duke of York’s funeral must be carried into and held in England, don’t you?”

“Yes, that I do,” John Cobbler said.

“Why, then you know that we’ll go with it,” Derrick said.

“Yes, but Derrick, how shall we meet them?”

“By God’s wounds, if I don’t find a way to meet them, then hang me,” Derrick said. “Sirrah, you know that in every town there will be the ringing of the church bell and there will be cakes and drink. Now, I will go to the priest and the sexton and talk to them, and say, ‘Oh, this fellow rings well,’ and you shall go and take a piece of cake. Then I’ll ring, and you shall say, ‘Oh, this fellow has been working a good long time,’ and then I will go and drink to you all the way. But I marvel what my dame will say when we come home, because we have not a French word to cast at a dog by the way.”

“Why, what shall we do, Derrick?”

“Why, John, I’ll go before you and call my dame a whore, and you shall come after and set fire to the house. We may do it, John, and I’ll prove it, because we are soldiers.”

The trumpets sounded.

John looked in the direction of the trumpets, and Derrick dropped the shoes and boots that were in his belt and picked up John’s pack of clothing.

John Cobbler then looked back again and saw that Derrick had picked up his pack of clothing and that shoes and boots were scattered on the ground.

He said, “Derrick,help me to carry my shoes and boots.”

— Scene 21 —

King Henry V of England, the Earl of Oxford, and the Earl of Exeter, who were all Englishmen, were meeting with King Charles VI of France, the Prince Dauphin, and the Duke of Burgundy, who were all Frenchmen. Also present were Lady Katherine, a French secretary, and some attendants.

“Now, my good brother of France, I hope by this time you have deliberated about your answer,” King Henry V said.

“Yes, my well-beloved brother of England,” King Charles VI said. “We have looked your document over with our learned counsel, but we cannot find that you should be crowned King of France.”

“What, me not be King of France?” King Henry V said. “Then nothing. I must be King. But, my loving brother of France, I can hardly forget the late injuries offered me when I came last to parley. The Frenchmen would have done better to have raked the bowels out of their fathers’ carcasses than to have set fire to my tents, and, if I knew your son the Prince Dauphin to be one of those who set my tents on fire, I would so shake him as he was never so shaken before.”

“I dare to swear that my son is innocentin this matter,” King Charles VI said. “But perhaps this instead would please you: that immediately you be proclaimed and crowned Heir and Regent of France — but not immediately King, because I myself was once crowned King.”

“Heir and Regent of France,” King Henry V said. “That is good, but that is not all that I must have.”

“The rest my secretary has in writing,” King Charles VI said.

His French secretary read out loud:

Item, that King Henry V of England be crowned Heir and Regent of France during the life of King Charles VI and after King Charles VI’s death, the crown, with all rights, to belong to King Henry V of England and to his heirs forever.”

“Well, my good brother of France,” King Henry V said, “there is one thing I desire and must have.”

“What is that, my good brother of England?” King Charles VI asked.

“That all your nobles must be sworn to be true to me,” King Henry V said.

“Because they have not refused to agree to greater matters, I know they will not refuse to agree to such a trifle,” King Charles VI said.

He then said, “You go first, my Lord Duke of Burgundy.”

“Come, my Lord of Burgundy, take your oath upon my sword,” King Henry V said.

“I, Duke Philip of Burgundy, swear to King Henry V of England to be true to him and to become his liegeman, and if I, Philip, hear of any foreign army coming to invade the said Henry or his heirs, then I the said Philip will send him word and aid him with all the soldiers I can raise. And thereunto I take my oath.”

He kissed King Henry V’s sword.

“Come, Prince Dauphin, you must swear, too,” King Henry V said.

The Prince Dauphin kissed King Henry V’s sword.

“Well, my brother of France,” King Henry V said, “there is one thing more I must require from you.”

“In what may we satisfy your majesty?” King Charles VI asked.

“In a trifle, my good brother of France,” King Henry V said. “I intend to make Lady Katherine, your daughter, the Queen of England, if she is willing and you are content with that.”

He then asked Lady Katherine, “What do you say, Kate? Can you love the King of England?”

“How can I love you, who is my father’s enemy?” Lady Katherine asked.

“Tut, stand not upon these picky points,” King Henry V said. “It is you who must make your father and me friends. I know, Kate, that you are not a little proud that I love you. What, wench, do you say to the King of England?”

King Charles VI said, “Daughter, let nothing stand between the King of England and you. Agree to marry him.”

Katherine thought, I had best agree to marry him while he is willing, lest when I would agree, he will not.

She said out loud, “I rest at your majesty’s command. I will do what you advise me to do.”

“Welcome, sweet Kate,” King Henry V said.

He added, “But, my brother of France, what do you say to it?”

“With all my heart I like it,” King Charles VI said. “But when shall be your wedding day?”

“The first Sunday of the next month,” King Henry V said, “God willing.”


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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