Medieval Weaponry, King Henry’s War

Watch as Fight Director D.C. Wright explains the history and use of the Medieval Broadsword, and how weapons and armor were used during the time of Henry V and during the famous battle of Agincourt. 

 

 

Henry’s motivation to invade France may certainly be bolstered by the urging of the clergy, who have self-interested motives as evidenced by the parliamentary bill mentioned at the play’s start. But the seed for such action had been planted by his father at the end of 2 Henry IV.

The English army began the invasion with a siege on Harfleur that lasted for 5 weeks. The land on which they were fighting was made of marshes, which were swarmed with flies, and the only available food (rotten fruit and shellfish) led to fever and dysentery. Within a month, some 2,000 English soldiers were dead. Many more were sick enough to be sent home to England.

Though Harfleur was won on September 22, the victory was at a devastating cost. Henry had lost at least a third of his men.

Still, the king made the decision to advance to Calais, 150 miles away. They were met along the way by the French, near Agincourt. It had been raining for a week at Agincourt and rained heavily the night before the battle. This development would soon prove to be the English army’s salvation.

On the morning of October 25, the Feast of St. Crispin, both sides prepared for battle. The English formed three lines across, with archers in between. Henry himself led the center line. Sharpened stakes were set in front of the men as a defense against the French cavalry.

Because the French army was so large and the space was so small, a line formation was impossible. Instead, the French formed a column, deployed in three ranks one behind the other, with cavalry on each side and crossbowmen between.

When the French cavalry and infantry began their attack, their heavy armor began to sink in the mud, making them easy targets for the English archers. The few French who managed to reach the English line were met with short swords, axes and mace clubs.

The second wave of attack met with the same fate, and the third wave fled, leading the English to declare victory at Agincourt. The French losses were extraordinary. Out of approximately 20,000 men, 7,000 were dead. The English had lost around 1,600.

Watch the battle of Agincourt unfold and the story of young King Henry V play out live on stage. Purchase Advance Tickets to Henry V today.

Against Incredible Odds: Henry V

Avery Clark goes to war as King Henry V in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Henry V. Photography by Justin Bolle, ThinkDero Photography. © Copyright 2012 Arkansas Repertory Theatre. All rights reserved.

In a muddy field in northern France, a small group of English soldiers prepare for the battle of their lives. After marching in the rain for days on end, they are sick, soaked, and starving. It is October 25, 1415.

Against incredible odds, outnumbered and depleted, they will fight valiantly and victoriously to triumph in a battle that will become one of the most famous moments in English history. Their leader is King Henry V.

Shakespeare’s Henry V is one of a series of eight plays on medieval English history. We meet Shakespeare’s Henry in the plays which come just before it in sequence – Henry IV, parts 1 & 2 – where he is portrayed as the young, riotous, defiant Prince Hal.

Henry V is where the young king becomes the full-fledged hero of British folklore. He is determined, brave, brilliant, eloquent and charismatic. Henry makes the bold decision to invade France to renew an old claim on the French throne.

Henry is burdened with the task not only of facing the force of the enemy, but of unifying a wide variety of voices and perspectives into one nation. The king is also at war with his own past, mindful of the fact that his father came to the throne by overthrowing the previous king.

Following the astonishing English victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the King of France declared Henry V heir to the French throne and gave him his daughter’s hand in marriage. Princess Katherine of Valois thus became the Queen of England in 1420.

Shakespeare’s stunning play highlights the contradictions of war, its horrors alongside its glories, and creates in the character of Henry V a man who struggles to reconcile the ambiguities of his own existence. The result is a story that is dynamic, thrilling and powerful.

“From his confrontation with the close friends who betray him to his wooing of the French princess, Henry V is such a compelling character,” says Director Bob Hupp. “A young king, untested, driven by ambition, strives for redemption and power through the cauldron of war and redefines his world in the process.”

Learn more about The Rep’s upcoming production of Henry V at our preshow talks, our luncheon panel at the Clinton School of Public Service or our Laman Library series.

Advance Tickets to Henry V are on sale through Sept. 7 and can be purchased here.

Soldier, Hooligan, Hero: Henry V

At the time of his death in 1422, King Henry V of England had been a serious soldier and a hopeless hooligan, a model of piety and a maker of history, an ambitious king and a beloved hero. He was only 35 years old.

Henry V was the second English monarch who came from the House of Lancaster. After his father’s death in 1413, he rapidly assumed control of the country and embarked on an ambitious expedition to claim his right to the French throne.

Avery Clark as King Henry V.

His military successes in the Hundred Years’ War and his famous victory at the Battle of Agincourt led Henry V close to conquering France. After a peace treaty was negotiated between England and France during the Hundred Years’ War, King Charles acknowledged Henry V as his heir. Henry was subsequently married to Charles’ daughter, Katherine of Valois.

Katherine of Valois was the daughter of King Charles VI of France and his wife Isabelle of Bavaria. After marrying Henry at Troyes Cathedral in 1420, Katherine went to England with her new husband and was crowned queen in Westminster Abbey.

Nikki Coble as Katherine of Valois.

In June 1421, Henry returned to France to continue his military campaigns. Katherine gave birth to Prince Henry later the same year. Sadly, the boy and his father would never see each other. During the siege of Meaux, Henry V contracted dysentery and died on August 31, 1422.

Before she was 21, Katherine was a widow and the Dowager Queen of England. Three years after the death of Henry V, she remarried and had a son who would become the father of the first Tudor king, Henry VII.

Learn more about The Rep’s upcoming production of Henry V at our preshow talks, our luncheon panel at the Clinton School of Public Service or our Laman Library series.

Advance Tickets to Henry V are on sale through Sept. 7 and can be purchased here. The production opens in two weeks.

Photography by Justin Bolle, ThinkDero Photography. Avery Clark as King Henry V. Nikki Coble as Princess Katherine. © Copyright 2012 Arkansas Repertory Theatre. All rights reserved.

Avery Clark Returns to Arkansas Rep as King Henry V

“From his confrontation with the close friends who betray him to his wooing of the French princess, Henry V is such a compelling character,” says Rep Producing Artistic Director and Henry V Director Bob Hupp. “A young king, untested, driven by ambition, strives for redemption and power through the cauldron of war and redefines his world in the process.”

Avery Clark as Hamlet

Arkansas native Avery Clark most recently appeared in The 39 Steps in 2011 and as Hamlet in 2010, and will portray the young King Henry V in The Rep’s season opening production.

With the death of his father, young King Henry casts off the trappings of youthful misadventures and transforms into a leader of men. With his country wracked by strife, mocked by the French and eager to assert his birthright, Henry launches a rash invasion that culminates in the fateful battle of Agincourt. Weary and grossly outnumbered, the English face near certain defeat, but Henry’s inspirational leadership turns the tide of war and turns a man into a legend.

“The power of Henry V lies in its contradictions,” says Hupp. “Valor and cruelty, greed and generosity, honor and treachery. These contradictions make the play immediately accessible to a modern audience and help bring the characters to vivid life on the stage.”

NEA GRANT FOR HENRY V TO BENEFIT ARKANSAS STUDENTS

Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the only performing arts organization in Arkansas to receive this year’s Shakespeare for a New Generation grant from Arts Midwest. The Rep will offer its production of Henry V to more than 20 schools through student matinee performances over a three-week run, reaching more than 1,500 students across Arkansas. The Rep reached more than 5,000 students last season through its Student Matinee Program.

Henry V is politics, it is history, it is the human condition in extraordinary circumstances,” says Hupp. “To be able to explore these ideas with students across central Arkansas is a central objective of our work this fall. We look forward to bringing The Rep’s first foray into Shakespeare’s history plays to vivid life for audiences of all ages, and especially, with the help of this important grant, to enriching the experience for young audiences through a greater understanding of the creative, historical and cultural context of the play.”