[MR] Wikipedia: Agincourt and St. Crispin's Day Speech

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 25 05:28:41 PDT 2023

Noble friends,

October 25 is the feast day for Saint Crispin-Crispian.

Saint Crispin and his twin brother Saint Crispian were Christian converts
living at Soissons in Belgic Gaul around 286. [They may have actually been
the same person, and yes, I too am confused by the variant
spellings]. After conversion they engaged in missionary activities, posing
as shoemakers for their cover. Eventually exposed, both were beheaded on
the orders of the Roman governor Rictus Varus.

Crisipin and Crispian are patron saints to cobblers and other leather
workers, lace makers and weavers. The lads were dropped from the Catholic
liturgical calendar by the Second Vatican Council, but they are still in
the Roman Church's official list of martyrs.

Saint Crispin's Day is the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, one of
the greatest English victories during the Hundred Years War. In 1415, Henry
V led some 1,000 dismounted knights and heavy men-at-arms, and 5,000
archers, on a chevauche into northern France. He was eventually trapped by
a French army of some 30,000, including many of the finest knights of the
realm. Two hours later, at least 6,000, and maybe as many as 10,000
Frenchmen lay dead, including the flower of their chivalry.

Shakespeare, never one to miss a dramatic opportunity, put the famous "Band
of Brothers" speech into Henry's mouth. Here is a slightly edited text, at
least close to the lines uttered by Kenneth Branagh in his 1989 portrayal:

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here but one ten thousand of those men in
England that do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so? My cousin, Westmoreland? No, my fair
cousin; If we are mark'd to die, we are enough to do our country loss; and
if to live, the fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more . . . No, faith, my coz,
wish not a man from England . . . O, do not wish one more! Rather proclaim
it, Westmoreland, through my host, that he which hath no stomach to this
fight, let him depart; his passport shall be made, and crowns for convoy
put into his purse. We would not die in that man's company that fears his
fellowship to die with us.

This day is call'd the feast of Crispian. He that outlives this day, and
comes safe home, will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d, and rouse him
at the name of Crispian. He that shall live this day, and see old age, will
yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, and say "To-morrow is Saint
Crispian.” Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, and say "These
wounds I had on Crispin's day."

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, but he'll remember, with
advantages, what feats he did that day. Then shall our names, familiar in
his mouth as household words—Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick
and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester—be in their flowing cups freshly

This story shall the good man teach his son; and Crispin Crispian shall
ne'er go by, from this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall
be rememrèd—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 accurs'd they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap
whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day!

So after that rousing interlude, more about Saint Crispin-Crispian is here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crispin_and_Crispinian .

Another Crispin site is at https://catholicsaints.info/saint-crispin/ .

More about the Battle Agincourt is found at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Agincourt .

A clip of the Kenneth Branagh speech is at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-yZNMWFqvM . The sharp-eyed will note a
Scottish Lochabar axe and its distinctive hook (known as a "cleek") carried
by a man passing from left to right near the end of Henry's speech. Not
something you would expect to see in an English army. Many an English
hoblar was jerked from his saddle by that hook, then dealt "no good" by the
blade or point.

Yours Aye,

Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge  🦆
Continuing a crusade to keep Merry Rose relevant and in business.

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