The King: in Control or reacting to Pressure?

Henry as a young man was wild. Long hair, not so intelligent, corrupted his body and he was a happy go lucky, party prince. He took his fathers name, as an advantage to do what he likes. But when his fathers died he was the heir to the throne. From then he had to grow up into a man, who rules an entire kingdom.

King Henry V was crowned king in 1413 after his father Henry IV of Bullingbrook died. Henry V was the eldest of three brothers therefore he was the heir to the throne. From when he was crowned king he had to grow up a lot and but behind him his obnoxious friends and his past. He would have to take on a lot of pressure that he has never experienced before and rule an entire kingdom.

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The first main pressure comes from the threat of war with France. This leads on to many other pressures from the French Ambassador to the financial backing from the church.

A monk from the church called Canterbury comes to see Henry about a bill that would mean that if the war with France would proceed then the church would lose half of its assets, money and land. The money from this bill would fund for the war against France. But the monk has other ideas and doesn’t want to lose half of the churches money, land and assets. Canterbury goes to see Henry about this bill and gives him another way in which Henry can fund for this war with France. Canterbury is offering to fund for the war from the churches money, as long as the church is not stripped from its land and assets. But whilst the king is hearing Canterbury’s proposal the French ambassador walks in. The French ambassador arrived in England with France’s answer to the claim that a war with France is probable.

This would put a lot of pressure on Henry, as he still hasn’t decided whether he will go to war with France or not. Also he still hasn’t answered Canterbury’s proposal of funding the war. The French ambassador would try and persuade Henry not to go to war with his country, as he knows Henry will be ruthless and wants revenge from England’s last defeat by France. This is portrayed in act1 scene 2 when Canterbury continues a detailed explanation on the Salic law, ” In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant”, no woman should inherit the throne in Salic land. Salic land being soil that is concurred by male Kings. In this speech Canterbury is trying to confuse Henry so that he would pass against the bill and agree for the church to fund the war with France. Henry answers to Canterbury’s proposal in way in that can be interpreted in three different ways. He says, “May I with right and conscience make this claim?” The first answer could be that he is baffled or confused with this long speech from Canterbury; this means that the church is making all the decisions.

This would be a lot of pressure on Henry as then the church would take advantage of Henry and the church would be able to rule the country and get there way through Henry making him look bad amongst the other nations and especially his people. Henry could be replying to Canterbury in a sarcastic tone of voice, purely giving a nod to the church men, thus making Henry totally in control and he is just using Canterbury and the church for there financial backing. Also Henry’s reply can be seen as him using his intellect as an advantage. This means that he says to Canterbury, ‘when you say I can I will and it won’t be my fault’. This means that when the church give the go ahead for the war, that Henry will win and any lives that may be costed will not be Henry’s fault and the church will have to take the blame if the French defeat Henry and if any lives are costed. This would be a religious gamble on Henry’s behalf as he is using the church as an excuse if the war is unsuccessful and he comes home to a defeat. This means that Canterbury was at first trying to manipulate Henry but Henry twisted it and manipulates the church right back at them.

After that Canterbury tries even harder to pressure rise by bringing up the last defeat for England by the French. He does this by saying, “Look back into your mighty ancestors.” “…And your great-uncle’s, Edward the Black Prince, who on the French ground played a tragedy.” Here Canterbury is saying that take revenge for your uncle who didn’t succeed and that if he comes back with a defeat the whole society would look even more down on him. As when he was a young party price he was wild using his place in society as an advantage. This made him look bad and with the company of his rude, shallow, low class friends he was portrayed as a fool and not living up to his name as a Prince of England. So he had to prove him self to the public that he wasn’t a fool and could rule his country. He showed this by forgetting his stupid friends whom where a bad influence on him. He started to study and became a scholar. He spoke sweet and honeyed sentences that could influence anyone in to what he was thinking were right. He wasn’t afraid of a fearful battle and his battle plans were like music, as he became an excellent tactician. He was growing widely wise to politics, the running of the commonwealth and can solve the most difficult political problems. He smartened up his act and dress so he was shown to the world as a true King of England. He became religious by taking advice from religious adviser, which could either be good or bad.

His nobles bombard him with emotive language. This occurs when the leaders of the church and state join in urging Henry to claim the throne of France even though it means a bloody war. Henry raises the problem of a possible attack to the north of England by the Scots. He is worried that if he goes and attacks France the Scots will come and attack England, “For once the eagle England being in prey, To her unguarded nest the weasel Scot Comes sneaking, and so sucks her princely eggs.” This was said from King Henry’s cousin Duke of Westmorland. This brings more pressure on Henry as he is stuck in what to do. Go and fight for his country or stay back and protect his country.

To the end of the scene the Dauphin comes in with a present for Henry from the king of France. The present turns out to be tennis balls, which Henry is not very amused. Henry gets his uncle to open the present and he sees there are some tennis balls. Henry is not amused, as he can be judged on his tone of voice when he replies to the Dauphin’s present. His most likely tone of voice would be that he starts of in a sarcastic voice and it turns to a more serious tone. Then it turns into a threatening voice and growing angry. He gets more and more angry to a climax of anger where he is fuming with rage. This is where he talks about “…mock Mothers from their sons, mock castles down…” After this he can be seen as calming down and more controlled. He can be portrayed as confident, strong to the threat of the French King, pitiless about widows and mothers to their sons.

Also he is determined and wants to win. It can also be seen that he is punning out the Dauphin’s joke hence turning the tennis balls into gun-stone. The tennis balls could represent the Henry’s old days as the party prince, swinging back to forth from duties as a prince to England. The gift from the Dauphin is also seen as a mocking gesture towards the Henry, as he used to be a party prince and now he is the King of England. Therefore saying he will be hit around and not know what will be coming next. The tennis balls could also represent the Scottish army invading England whilst the English invade France. Therefore the English will have to swing back to England to save England, and back aging to invade France. King Henry is also standing up for himself showing he is in control over all threats from France.

So far Henry has had a lot to think about and a lot to deal with in this first act. He seems to have handled it well as he is new to the throne of England and is not used too many pressures from all different angles. In this act Henry has handled the pressures well and is in control over his country. But the war with France might be an upset in the coming scenes. As Henry’s religious advisers may be a downfall to his achievements.