Henry V

Henry V #

Many scholars believe Henry V as the model of a good king. Michael Bogdanov, has a disobliging view, seeing in Shakespeare’s Prince Hal the archetype of the Machiavellian political animal.

John Bell on the other hand says he learned a lot from Henry V as a leader:
• Be a team player, play low status and don’t pull rank.
• Lead by example.
• Listen to everyone in the team.
• Be an innovator; be bold, take risks, calculated risks.
• Be affable, good-natured.
• Be grateful.
• Be decisive, don’t prevaricate.
• Have a vision and a plan and know how to articulate them.
• Learn how to delegate; don’t be a one-man band.
• Be kind, be generous, be forgiving, be humble.
• Humility isn’t a passive or craven thing, it is just the understanding that every life has the same value.

Those last qualities have meant more to me the older I get, the more I see of life. And I note they are the qualities Shakespeare seems most to advocate in his final plays,

For a view of all monarchs see: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Kings-and-Queens-of-Britain-1856932

A public speaker today might take note of the oratorical skills of Henry V, he knows how to read the state of play. Unlike most politicians, he knows more than one tune. He can urge his troops over the top with stirring jingoism: ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, Or close the wall up with our English dead.’

Or he can speak to them in a homely informal way before the fateful Battle of Agincourt, to allay their fears and reassure them that their actions will be the stuff of legend: ‘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 remember’d— We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today 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 abed 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.’