This essay is an analysis of the War in Henry V.
As far as leadership skills are concerned, Henry displays commendable drive and inspiration through his words, such as the much acclaimed speech prior to the battle of Agincourt labeled as the Saint Crispian’s Day speech, “And gentlemen in England now-a-bed, 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”. Indeed such words are enough to instigate a fighting spirit within anyone, and they do, for the demoralized soldiers it was a great step up right when they needed it, as Westmoreland pointed out that he wished “we had more men”. Henry V’s ensuing speech in reply to that instantly transformed his status from Prince to a heroic King, “The fewer men, the greater share of honour. God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more. By Jove, I am not covetous for gold, Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost; It yearns me not if men my garments wear; Such outward things dwell not in my desires. But if it be a sin to covet honour, I am the most offending soul alive” (Gurr). Despite losing Edward the Duke of York (his cousin) in battle, Henry leads the English to victory.
However, the more pressing question is whether Henry was justified in waging the war. In St. Thomas Aquinas’s Of War, many previously raised objections were justified by Aquinas that will be applied in context of Henry V. At first instance, the notion whether ‘it is always sinful to wage war’ was discussed. “All that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthews, 26:52). The bible also says, “But I say to you not to resist evil” (ROM, 12:19), thereby rendering any resistance in the shape of war sinful. Another point of contention relates to how war is against peace, and thus should not be endorsed by any means. In those days, war-related trials for soldiers used to be common practice, and victors from those trials would have their opponents denied an “ecclesiastical burial” (Aquinas), which was wholly against the teaching of the Church. Therefore, by divine interpretation, war is sinful.
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