— 1.2 —
At the Palace of Westminster in London, several people entered the King’s Presence Chamber, the large room in which King Henry V received official visitors. Those people were King Henry V himself, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Exeter, the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Westmoreland, and several attendants.
King Henry V asked, “Where is my gracious Lord of Canterbury?”
Exeter replied, “He is not here in the Presence Chamber.”
“Send for him, good uncle,” King Henry V said.
“Shall we call in the ambassador, my liege?” Westmoreland asked.
“Not yet, my cousin,” King Henry V replied. He then used the royal plural when he said, “Before we hear him, we want to have some doubts resolved about some matters of importance that burden our thoughts, concerning us and France.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely entered the King’s Presence Chamber.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said to the King, “May God and his angels guard your sacred throne and may you long grace it with your presence!”
“Surely, we thank you,” King Henry V replied. “My learned lord, please proceed and justly and religiously explain why the Salic Law — the law that bars women from inheriting the throne — that they have in France either should, or should not, bar us in our claim to the throne of France.
“And God forbid, my dear Lord of good Christian faith, that you should deliberately misinterpret, wrest, or distort your reading, or lay a burden on your soul — a soul that understands the difference between good and evil — by using sophistry to raise illegitimate claims to the throne. Such illegitimate claims clash with the truth. I wish to know whether my claim to the French throne is legitimate or illegitimate because God knows how many men who are now healthy shall drop their blood in support of what your reverence shall incite us to do. If my claim is illegitimate and you make me believe that it is legitimate, many men shall die for an unjust cause. Should my claim be legitimate, many of our men shall still die, but they will die for a just cause. Therefore take heed how you influence our person and how you awaken our sleeping sword of war. We command you, in the name of God, to take heed because never did two such Kingdoms contend in war against each other without much fall of blood, whose guiltless drops are every one a woe and a sore complaint against him whose wrongdoing gives edge unto the swords that take short human lives and make them shorter. If men die, they should not die for an unjust cause. Their lives should not be wasted. Under this solemn appeal, speak, my lord. We will hear and note what you say and believe in our heart that what you speak is in your conscience as pure as sin after it has been washed with baptism. We will believe that what you say is the truth whether you say that our claim is legitimate or illegitimate.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury did not mention Isabella, the daughter of King Philip IV of France, but it is on her that King Henry V’s claim to the French throne rested.
King Philip III of France fathered King Philip IV of France, who fathered Isabella, who lived the longest of King Philip IV’s four children. If females could inherit the throne, she would have inherited it.
Isabella married King Edward II of England, and they became the parents of King Edward III of England.
King Edward III of England fathered John of Gaunt, who was the Duke of Lancaster.
John of Gaunt fathered Henry Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV of England.
King Henry IV of England fathered King Henry V of England, who now wondered whether his claim to the French throne was legitimate or illegitimate. He was directly descended from King Philip III of France, but through the femaleline.
The then-present King of France, Charles VI, could claim direct descent from King Philip III of France through the maleline.
King Philip III of France fathered King Philip VI of France, who fathered King John II of France.
King John II of France fathered King Charles V of France, who fathered the then-present King of France, Charles VI.
Of course, many people were Kings of France in between King Philip III of France (reigned 1270-1285) and the then-present King of France, Charles VI, whose reign began in 1380:
King Philip III of France reigned 1270-1285. He was also known as Philip III the Bold.
King Philip IV of France reigned 1285-1314. He was also known as Philip the Fair.
King Louis X of France reigned 1314-1316. He was also known as Louis the Quarreler.
King John I of France reigned in 1316. He was alive for only five days and is also known as John the Posthumous.
King Philip V of France reigned 1316-1322. He was also known as Philip the Tall.
King Charles IV of France reigned 1322-1328. He was also known as Charles the Fair.
King Philip VI of France reigned 1328-1350. He was also known as Philip VI the Fortunate.
King John II of France reigned 1350-1364. He was also known as John the Good.
King Charles V of France reigned 1364-1380. He was also known as Charles V the Wise.
The reign of Charles VI of France began in 1380. He was also known as Charles VI the Mad.
The year in which King Henry V of England was inquiring into the legitimacy of his claim to the throne of France was 1414. His claim would be legitimate if the throne could be inherited through the female line; after all, a later age saw England ruled by Queen Elizabeth I. However, his claim would be illegitimate if the throne could NOT be inherited through the female line.
The Bishop of Canterbury said, “Listen to me, gracious sovereign, and you peers, who owe yourselves, your lives, and your services to this imperial throne. I say ‘imperial’ because you, Henry V, ought to be the King of more than one country. There is no bar against your highness’ claim to France except for this, which the French produce from Pharamond, King of the Salian Franks, a Germanic people: ‘In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant.’ This is Latin for ‘No woman shall succeed in the Salic land.’ In other words, no woman shall inherit the throne in the Salic land.’ The French incorrectly and unjustly interpret ‘Salic land’ to be the realm of France, and they regard King Pharamond as the founder of this law and female bar to the throne. Yet their own French authors affirm that the Salic land is in Germany, between the Sala and the Elbe rivers, where Charlemagne, aka Charles the Great, having subdued the Saxons, left behind and settled certain Frenchmen, who, holding in disdain the German women because of the women’s unchaste conduct, established then this law: To wit, no female should inherit the throne in the Salic land.
“As I said before, the Salic land lies in between the Sala and the Elbe rivers. Today in Germany the land is called Meissen. Therefore, it is certain that the Salic law was not devised for and does not apply to the realm of France.
“In addition, the French did not possess the Salic land until 379 years after the death of King Pharamond, who was falsely supposed to be the founder of this law. King Pharamond died in 426 A.D., and Charlemagne subdued the Saxons and colonized the Salic land with Frenchmen in the year 805 A.D.
“I will now refer to a number of French Kings:
“King Chlothar I, King of the Franks, who reigned 511-561.
“King Childeric III, King of the Franks, who reigned 743-751 or 743-752.
“King Pepin, King of the Franks, who reigned 751-768 or 752-768. He was also known as Pepin the Short and as Pepin the Younger.
“King Charlemagne, aka Charles the Great, who reigned 768-814.
“King Louis I, who reigned 814-840. He was also known as Louis the Pious.
“King Charles II, aka Charles the Bald, who reigned 840-877. He also called himself ‘the Great,’ which has led people to confuse him with Charlemagne. He was King of the Franks (840-877), King of Western Francia (840-877), and the Holy Roman Emperor (875-877).
“King Hugh Capet, King of the Franks, who reigned 987-996.
“King Louis IX, who reigned 1226-1270. He is also known as Saint Louis IX.
“The French writers state that King Pepin, who deposed King Childeric III, was heir general, which means that he inherited the throne — whether through the male or the female line did not matter. As heir general, he made claim and title to the crown of France because he was descended from Blithild, who was the daughter of King Chlothar I. As you can see, the French have used the female line to help determine who shall be King.
“In addition, let us consider Hugh Capet, who usurped the crown that should have belonged to Charles the Duke of Lorraine, who was sole male heir of the true line and stock of Charles the Great, aka Charlemagne. Hugh Capet, to improve his claim to the title of King with some shows of truth, although, to be honest, his claim to the title of King was corrupt and worthless, pretended to be heir to the Lady Lingare, who was the daughter of King Charles II, aka Charles the Bald, who was the son of Louis the Pious. Louis the Pious was also known as King Louis I, King of the Franks, and as Holy Roman Emperor Louis I. Louis the Pious was the son of Charlemagne, with whom he was co-Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. As you can see, the French have used the female line to help determine who shall be King.
“In addition, let us consider King Louis IX, who was the sole heir to the usurper Hugh Capet. King Louis IX felt guilty wearing the crown of France until he was satisfied that beautiful Queen Isabel, his grandmother, was directly descended from the Lady Ermengare, who was the daughter of Charles the Duke of Lorraine. By the marriage of Isabel to his grandfather, King Philip II, the line of Charles the Great, aka Charlemagne, was reunited to the crown of France. As you can see, the French have used the female line to help determine who shall be King.
“This information may be hard to follow, but if you follow it, it will be as clear as the summer Sun that King Pepin’s title, and King Hugh Capet’s claim, and King Lewis IX’s satisfaction, all appear to hold in right and title of the female line. All of them have used the female line to justify their being on the throne of France, and the same is true of other French Kings until this present day. Nevertheless, they use the Salic law to prevent your highness from claiming the throne of France from the female line. Instead, they choose to try to hide their own actions in a net through whose holes they can easily be seen. They choose to try to hide their own actions rather than openly acknowledge that their titles are crooked and stolen from you and your ancestors.”
King Henry V asked, “May I with justice and a clear conscience make this claim to the throne of France?”
“Yes, dread sovereign,” the Archbishop of Canterbury said. “Should there be any sin, let it fall on my head! I can say that because I know that your claim is not sinful. For in the book of Numbers is written that when the man dies with no male heirs, let the inheritance descend unto the daughter. To be specific, Numbers 27:8 states, ‘And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.’ Gracious lord, stand up for your own rights; unfurl your flag although it means going to war and shedding blood, and remember your mighty ancestors.
“Go, my dread lord, to the tomb of your great-grandfather, King Edward III, from whom arises your claim to the throne of France. Invoke his warlike spirit, and invoke the warlike spirit of your great-uncle, Edward the Black Prince, the son of Edward III. He was called the Black Prince because of his black armor. In 1346, on a French battlefield, he played the role of a hero as he and his soldiers defeated the entire French army in the Battle of Crécy. His most mighty father — a lion, a Monarch — on a hill stood smiling as he beheld his lion’s whelp glut himself on the blood of French nobility. We English were noble on that day! We fought the entire French army with only half of the English army and defeated it. The other half of our army was on the hill with King Edward III. Our soldiers there stood laughing as they watched the battle. They had no work to do and were cold because they needed not exert themselves!”
King Henry V thought, Actually, two-thirds of the English army were fighting. Only one-third of the English army was on the hill with my great-grandfather. The patriotism of the Archbishop of Canterbury has understandably led him to exaggerate.
The Bishop of Ely said, “Remember all these valiant dead and with your powerful arm renew their feats. You are their heir; you sit upon their throne; the blood and courage that made them renowned runs in your veins; and you, my thrice-powerful liege, are in the May morning of your youth — you are ripe for exploits and mighty enterprises. You are triply powerful because you are the heir of these warriors, you sit upon the throne of England, and you have the courage of your warrior ancestors.”
Exeter said, “Your brother Kings and Monarchs of the earth all expect that you will rouse yourself and seek what is rightfully yours, as did the former lions of your blood.”
Westmoreland said, “They know that your grace has a just cause, enough wealth, and enough military strength, as in fact your highness has. Never has any King of England had richer nobles and more loyal subjects, whose hearts have left their bodies here in England and instead are metaphorically inside military tents on the battlefields of France.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury said, “Let their bodies follow their hearts, my dear liege, to win the throne of France, which is rightfully yours, with bloodshed and sword and fire. To aid you in pursuing your claim to the throne of France we of the Church will raise for your highness such a mighty sum as never have the clergy at one time given to any of your ancestors.”
King Henry V said, “We must not only arm to invade France, but we must also calculate the number of troops needed to defend England against the Scots, who will attack our country when they believe it is advantageous for them to do so.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury said, “Those people who live in the Marches — the land bordering Scotland — will serve as a wall that is sufficient to defend the rest of our country from the pilfering borderers. The lords of the Marches have armed men.”
“I am not referring only to the fast-galloping Scottish raiders,” King Henry V said. “I fear the armed invasion of the Scots as a whole. They have always been dangerous and unreliable neighbors to us. You can read in histories that Edward III, my great-grandfather, never went with his armed forces into France without the Scots pouring into his defenseless England like the tide waters pour onto a beach. The Scots would attack with great forces at their full strength the English land whose soldiers had been gleaned from its fields, and they would surround and lay a grievous siege on castles and towns. England was defenseless because so many of its soldiers were fighting in France, and so the English citizens left behind in England shook and trembled because Scotland is such a bad neighbor.”
“England has been more frightened than it has been harmed, my liege,” the Archbishop of Canterbury objected. “Look at English history. When all of England’s chivalrous nobles were in France, and England was like a widow mourning the loss of the nobles, England not only has well defended itself but also captured and imprisoned the King of Scotland as if he were a stray beast. In 1346, while Edward III was in France, King David II of Scotland was captured, and it was thought that he was taken to France and given to Edward III so that his fame could be swelled by making prisoners of the Kings of foreign lands. In addition, the capture of King David II of Scotland has helped to make England’s history as rich with praise as is the oozy bottom of the sea rich with sunken wrecked ships and with immeasurable wealth.”
Westmoreland, who was Warden of the northern Marches, knew much about the military threat of Scotland. He said to the King, “Remember this very old and true saying, ‘If you want to win France, / Then with Scotland first begin.’ Once the eagle warriors of England leave to seek prey, to England’s unguarded nest the weasel Scot comes sneaking and so breaks into and sucks the protein out of her Princely eggshells. The Scot plays the mouse when England the cat is absent, acting in accordance with the proverb ‘While the cat’s away, the mice will play.’ Like mice, the Scots will break into and ruin more food than they can eat.”
“It follows then the cat must stay at home,” Exeter said, “but yet that is distorted logic — that particular conclusion does not necessarily follow. After all, we have locks to safeguard necessaries, and we have ingenious traps to catch the petty thieves. While the armed hand fights abroad, the cautious and prudent head defends itself at home. Government and society are like music. Government has high and low and lower positions and social classes, and music has high and low and lower notes and harmonies. If the parts of government and society work together properly, and the parts of the music work together properly, the result is harmonious and agreeable. If all of the citizens remaining in England work together while Henry V is in France with his army, England shall be safe.”
“That is why Heaven has divided the body politic of Humankind into different positions performing different functions,” the Archbishop of Canterbury said. “Human effort is continual, and it has as its target obedience to the will of God and the will of their King.
“Look at how the honeybees work. They have an instinctive government that can teach us, the citizens of a human Kingdom, orderly action. Honeybees have a King — actually, a Queen — bee. Honeybees also have various kinds of officers. Some bees are like magistrates who administer justice at home. Other bees are like merchants who venture to trade abroad. Other bees are like soldiers, and their stings are their weapons. They plunder the summer’s velvet buds, and they merrily march with their plunder home to the royal tent of their Emperor, who busily surveys the singing masons as they build roofs of gold, the civil citizens molding the cells of the honeycombs, the poor working bees crowding in with their heavy burdens at his narrow gate, the serious-eyed justice with his surly hum or hmm as he hands over to threatening executors the lazy yawning drone.
“I infer from all of this that many people, all of whom work toward one target, may work at various jobs to achieve a single goal.
“They are like many arrows, shot by many archers standing in different places, that fly toward one target.
“They are like many roads around one town that go toward and meet in that town.
“They are like many fresh-water streams that flow toward and run into the same salt sea.
“They are like the lines of a Sun-dial that all run toward and meet in the center of the Sun-dial.
“So may a thousand actions done by different groups of people, once begun, end by achieving one goal with great success and without defeat.
“Therefore, go to France, my liege. Divide your happy English soldiers into four armies. Take one army with you to France, and with them you shall make all France shake. If we, with three such armies left at home, cannot defend our own doors from the dog of war, let us be torn to pieces and let our nation lose its reputation for hardiness and statesmanship.”
King Henry V said, “Call in the messengers sent from the Dauphin, who is the son of the King of France and the supposed heir to the throne.”
A few attendants exited the Presence Chamber.
King Henry V said, “Now the doubts we had concerning our claim to the throne of France have been resolved, and I have decided to pursue our claim. By God’s help, and yours, you nobles who are the noble sinews of our power, France being ours because of our legitimate claim to the throne, we will bend France so that it respects the authority of England, or if it will not bend, we will break it all to pieces. Either we will sit on the throne of France and rule with complete sovereignty both it and all her almost Kingly Dukedoms, or these bones of mine will lie in an unworthy grave, without a monument, with no memorial inscription over them. Either our history — the biography of King Henry V — shall with full mouth speak freely of our acts in acquiring the throne of France and ruling as King of France, or else our grave will be like a Turkish slave whose tongue has been cut out to stop the spreading of state secrets. Unless we become King of France, our grave shall have a tongueless mouth and lack accomplishments to boast about. Unless we become King of France, our grave shall not even be honored with an epitaph made of perishable wax.”
The French ambassadors entered the King’s Presence Chamber.
King Henry V said, “Now we are well prepared to know what our fair kinsman the Dauphin has to say to us, for we hear that this greeting is from him, not from the King of France.”
In fact, King Henry V and the Dauphin were kinsmen; they were distantly related.
The first ambassador asked, “Will your majesty give us permission to state clearly the message we bring to you from the Dauphin, or shall we use diplomatic language to indirectly and tactfully state what the Dauphin wants us to tell you?”
“We are no tyrant; instead, we are a Christian King,” King Henry V replied. “I keep even my strongest emotions under control; they are under control as much as are the wretched inmates of our prisons. Therefore with frank and uncurbed plain language, tell us the Dauphin’s message to us.”
The first ambassador said, “Briefly and with few words, I say this: Your highness recently sent ambassadors to France to claim some certain Dukedoms, which you believe are yours because of your great predecessor King Edward III. In answer to your claim, the Dauphin our master says that you have not yet grown out of your youth, that you are still the immature youth that you were, and he tells you that there is nothing in France that can be won by performing the fast and nimble dance that is known as the galliard. You cannot revel yourself into any French Dukedoms. The Dauphin therefore sends you something that he thinks is more suitable for you, this container of treasure. He insists that you accept the treasure and give up your claim to the French Dukedoms. This is the message that the Dauphin required us to bring to you.”
King Henry V said to Exeter, “What is the treasure, uncle?”
“A container of tennis balls, my liege.”
The tennis balls were made of leather and stuffed with horsehair. The game of royal tennis was played on a paved oblong court that was surrounded by walls. Between the two longer walls, a rope or low net was stretched. The two shorter walls had holes that were called hazards; a ball hit into a hazard scored a point. A point was also scored when a ball bounced twice before the opposing player could hit it. The opposing player would chase after the ball to hit it with a stringed racket.
King Henry V said to the French ambassadors, “We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us, and we thank you for his present and your pains.
“When we have marched our rackets to these balls, we will, in France, by God’s grace, play a set that shall strike the Dauphin’s father’s crown into the hazard. Tell the Dauphin he has made a match with such a wrangler that all the courts of France will be disturbed with chases.
“We intend to march our army to the place from where these tennis balls came: France. There, the game that we will play is called war. We intend to play so well that we will strike the Dauphin’s father’s crown from off his head and onto ours. Tell the Dauphin he has made a match with such a warrior that all the noble courts will be disturbed by English soldiers chasing fleeing French nobles.
“We admit that we well understand the Dauphin’s reference to our younger, wilder days. He does not understand how useful they were to us. When we were young, we never valued this poor seat — the throne — of England; therefore, living away from the court, we gave ourself to barbarous license and behaved riotously, as is common: Men are merriest when they are away from home.
“But tell the Dauphin that I will keep my throne and I will act like a King and show my sail of greatness — my military banners and coat of arms — when I rise up out of my throne in France.
“So that in the future I could appear to be more glorious, in my youth I set aside my majesty and plodded like a working man, but I will rise from my throne in France with so full a glory that I will dazzle all the eyes in France. I will strike the Dauphin blind when he attempts to look at me.
“Tell the pleasant Prince — the Dauphin — this joke of his has turned his tennis balls into cannonballs. His soul shall be charged with the wasteful vengeance that shall fly with the cannonballs — his joke will create many thousands of widows. He will fail to cheat me out of my French throne, but he will succeed in cheating many French wives out of their dear husbands and he will succeed in cheating many French mothers out of their sons. He will be responsible for the deaths of thousands and for the tearing down of French castles. Some are not yet begotten and not yet born who shall have cause to curse the Dauphin’s scorn.
“But all this lies within the will of God, to Whom I do appeal, and in Whose name you shall tell the Dauphin I am coming to get revenge — I will put forth my effort in a righteous cause that is approved by God. So leave from here in peace and tell the Dauphin that his jest will be shown to be of only shallow wit when thousands more weep at it than ever laughed at it.”
Henry V said to some attendants, “Escort these French ambassadors away from here. Give them safe conduct.”
He said to the French ambassadors, “Fare you well.”
Some English attendants and all the French ambassadors exited.
Exeter said, “This was a merry message.”
Henry V replied, “We hope to make the sender blush at it. We want to make the Dauphin ashamed of it, and we want his cheeks and face to be red with blood.”
He added, “Therefore, my lords, take every opportunity to advance our expedition against France. For we have now no thought in us but thoughts about France, save those thoughts we have about God — our thoughts about God are more important than any other business.
“Therefore, let our army for these wars be soon collected and gathered together and all things thought upon that may with reasonable swiftness add more feathers to our wings. We wish to start this action in France quickly.
“With God to guide us, we will chide this childish Dauphin at his father’s door.
“Therefore, let every man now employ his thoughts in setting our noble enterprise into action.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved