“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.”
One of Shakespeare’s most popular histories, Henry V chronicles the coming of age of the once wild and wayward young monarch. His campaign to add France to his kingdom famously culminates in victory at the Battle of Agincourt and marriage to the French Princess Katherine. The play contains some of the Bard’s most rousing and best-known speeches.
The newly crowned King Henry V is eager to gain the respect of his people and to put behind him his unruly adolescent past. Persuaded that he has a rightful claim on France, and provoked by the mockery of the French Dauphin, he decides to raise an army to invade France.
In the Boar’s Head Tavern in Eastcheap, some of the king’s former drinking companions prepare to enlist for the war. Meanwhile, Henry uncovers a plot on his life and shows a new steeliness by ordering the execution of the traitors. Henry’s forces set sail for France and take the town of Harfleur.
At the subsequent Battle of Agincourt, the English forces are heavily outnumbered. The night before battle, disguised as a common soldier, Henry wanders among his troops learning of their thoughts, and privately lamenting his royal responsibilities. In the morning he delivers a rousing speech to his army, before they head into battle…
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