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Happy St. Crispin's Day

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On a muddy field in France, this day, St. Crispin's Day, 600 years ago, 6000 English tradesmen and farmers armed with bow, war hammer and knife, and a few men-at-arms, faced 30,000 Frenchmen, among them the finest armored knights in Europe. King Henry sent his horse away so his men knew he would not abandoned them.


The knights charged down a freshly ploughed field. It had rained before. The field was mud. English arrows fell like rain. Horses fell; knights fell. More knights charged down the field, now churned to a wallow. Arrows fell; horses fell; knights fell. The French charged again, men-at-arms wading on foot through knee-deep mud. Some of them reached the English lines, strengthened by sharpened stakes hammered into the grass. They were cut down by the archers and the men-at-arms.


It was one of the greatest English victories of all time; perhaps one of the most astounding victories in the history of war.


The night before the battle, King Henry, fifth of that name, gave a speech, which Shakespeare imagined to go like this:


King Henry:


... 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 to-day 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 a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.



Happy St. Crispin's Day


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