To the Jury
To the Jury, I would like to address that King Henry V is portrayed as the ideal king and one of the world’s greatest leaders. King Henry is what could be defined as the ultimate hero. King Henry V symbolises England’s idea of a good and fair king. Henry even calls his fellow soldiers his “brothers” to further emphasise the importance of a fair and humble king. He sets the model for the need for moral values and justifications in all people, especially a ruler of a great country.
King Henry V seems to be a perfect leader – brave, modest, and fiercely determined, but with a sense of humour. Although his intentions may be honourable, the motives for them may not. He may be acting upon a purse offered by the church, and only undertaking the campaign for his own financial gain. Henry is greatly respected and followed in his religious devotion. His general attitude to religion makes him an effective leader. He is a true believer in God and he conveys this very well by being so sincere throughout the play. He always turns to God when in need for help, and thanks God when he achieves something. This is shown before and after the battle of Agincourt. The night before the battle King Henry V prays “O God of battles, steel my soldiers’ hearts.” King Henry V feels God is there to help whenever he calls upon him. He also passes his glory on to God after winning the battle for when Montjoy tells him the day is his, Henry replies “Praised be God, and not our strength, for it”. This also shows how Henry feels God is always there for him, and he truly and sincerely depends on him. In these religious times, the fact that the King was a strong believer of God was good, for it influenced and helped his people’s faith.
Also a good King must be able to engage and understand the will of the common man and others and Henry shows this talent. When Henry passes himself off as an officer and a soldier when he walks among his troops. Henry speaks of his right to start this war and of his determination. “I myself heard the king say he would not be ransomed.” this shows an example of Henry’s determination. Henry speaks so convincingly and with passion that he manages to turn a character named Bates, from questioning the king, to being willing to fight for him in battle. Also when Richard Earl of Cambridge (Cambridge), Lord Scroop of Masham (Scroop), and Sir Thomas Gray (Gray) are found to be traitors, a great aspect of Henry’s behaviour and character is shown as Henry feels deeply betrayed and feel he has to question all loyalties. The King’s intelligence and cunning is shown when he sets a trap for the traitors, he asks them what they would do to punish a traitor, “Enlarge the man committed yesterday, That railed against our person”. To which Scroop replies, “That’s mercy, but too much security. Let him be punished…”.
Another important insight is when the Dauphin disrespects King Henry V when he sends tennis balls as a tribute to keep peace with France. Although deeply insulted by the Dauphin, King Henry V remains calm. His speech tells the audience of what is intended for France. The speech shows a king that is calm and does not make decisions rashly, a king with control. King Henry V is sure not to appear insulted as to show his power, by showing France may not effect the King no matter how deeply it insults him. A metaphor is used in his speech, “We will in France, by God’s grace, play a set.”
King Henry V feels very strongly about how his decision to attack France could affect his subjects – even when Pistol offends the King, Henry says “God be with you” just so that he doesn’t lose his support. We see Henry personally caring about his subjects when he walks around the camp on the night before the battle of Agincourt. His men are downhearted and expecting to die on the next day. Henry tries to urge his people on to have faith in God and be courageous in battle.
So King Henry V wants his subjects to have faith in him and he actually cares what they feel. This is also shown when he prays to God to get his soldiers to be brave – “O God of battles, steel my soldiers’ hearts. Possess them not with fear”. Henry possesses most of the characteristics of an effective leader. He is merciful and merciless, expresses fear and love, and he is portrayed as the archetype for future English kings and the values they should hold.
King Henry V is a good Christian, from how he addresses others to how he prays to god before battle and ascribes the victory to him. He is also shown as a good leader, through his speeches before and during the battle, to his decisiveness when having to punish old friends and colleagues for wrongdoings. However, most importantly, he is also shown to be human. Henry possesses the characteristics of an effective leader which these attributes when alone would not create a good leader, but when put together into one person creates a great leader.