Shakespeare’s Greatest Battle

In honor of Memorial Day, here is my look through the dark, intense, passionate world of Shakespeare’s battlefields, as depicted in what I consider to be the absolute best Shakespearean battle. Clips from the 1979 BBC “Henry IV Part I”.

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7 comments on “Shakespeare’s Greatest Battle

  1. daver852 says:

    This is also a fine example of Shakespeare’s willingness to play fast and loose with history in order to create a dramatic scene; in reality, Hotspur was killed when he raised his visor in the heat of battle in order to breathe, and was shot in the mouth with an arrow. One should never allow the facts to get in the way of good theatre 🙂

  2. Yup! Also, Hotspur was older than the king, not an age-appropriate foil for the prince.

    And quick correction – Falstaff’s “honor” speech is actually before the battle, what happens after Blunt’s death is a *callback* to that speech. My bad, should have explained that better!

  3. daver852 says:

    Gentle Cassius, if I may intrude once more upon your blog. Usually, one would have wanted everyone in the battle to know one’s identity. The science of heraldry evolved specifically to this purpose. You could tell who a man was by looking at his arms, which would have been painted on his shield, and embroidered on the surcoat worn over his armor. This served two purposes; it allowed you to tell friend from foe, and ensured that the rich and noble were more likely to be ransomed than having their throats cut if they were captured or defeated. If you were the king, however, you would not want the enemy to know who you were, since everyone would try to kill or capture you. So “decoys” were used; men dressed in rich armor and bearing the king’s arms to confuse the enemy. Shakespeare refers to this practice again in Richard III, Act V, Scene IV, when King Richard says, “I think there be six Richmonds in the field/Five have I slain today instead of him./A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

  4. […] here is my Memorial Day special about Shakespeare’s Shrewsbury: https://theshakespeareminute.org/2012/05/27/shakespeares-greatest-battle/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in The […]

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