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SCENE II. The same. The Presence chamber.


K. Hen. Where is my gracious Lord of Canterbury ?

Exe. Not here in presence.

K. Hen.

Send for him, good uncle. West. Shall we call in the ambassador, my liege ?

K. Hen. Not yet, my cousin: we would be

Before we hear him, of some things of weight
That task our thoughts, concerning us and France.


Cant. God and his angels guard your sacred


And make you long become it!

K. Hen.

Sure, we thank you.
My learned lord, we pray you to proceed
And justly and religiously unfold

Why the law Salique that they have in France.
Or should, or should not, bar us in our claim:
And God forbid, my dear and faithful lord,
That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your

Or nicely charge your understanding soul

4. cousin. Westmoreland was a cousin only by marriage. He had married, as his second wife, a daughter of John of


Gaunt, half sister of Henry IV.,
and aunt of the king.
14. bow, warp.

15. nicely, sophistically.

With opening titles miscreate, whose right
Suits not in native colours with the truth;
For God doth know how many now in health
Shall drop their blood in approbation

Of what your reverence shall incite us to.
Therefore take heed how you impawn our person,
How you awake our sleeping sword of war:
We charge you, in the name of God, take heed;
For never two such kingdoms did contend
Without much fall of blood; whose guiltless drops
Are every one a woe, a sore complaint

'Gainst him whose wrongs give edge unto the

That make such waste in brief mortality.
Under this conjuration speak, my lord;
For we will hear, note and believe in heart
That what you speak is in your conscience wash'd
As pure as sin with baptism.

Cant. Then hear me, gracious sovereign, and

you peers,

That owe yourselves, your lives and services,
To this imperial throne. There is no bar
To make against your highness' claim to France
But this, which they produce from Pharamond,
'In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant :'
'No woman shall succeed in Salique land:'
Which Salique land the French unjustly glose
To be the realm of France, and Pharamond
The founder of this law and female bar.
Yet their own authors faithfully affirm
That the land Salique is in Germany,
Between the floods of Sala and of Elbe;

19. in approbation of, in proving, making good.

32. As pure as sin, (concisely expressed for) 'as pure as the heart from sin.'




33 f. The whole of the archbishop's exposition is taken from Holinshed, in parts almost word for word.

40. glose, explain.

Where Charles the Great, having subdued the


There left behind and settled certain French;
Who, holding in disdain the German women
For some dishonest manners of their life,
Establish'd then this law; to wit, no female
Should be inheritrix in Salique land :
Which Salique, as I said, 'twixt Elbe and Sala,
Is at this day in Germany call'd Meisen.
Then doth it well appear the Salique law
Was not devised for the realm of France;
Nor did the French possess the Salique land
Until four hundred one and twenty years
After defunction of King Pharamond,
Idly supposed the founder of this law;
Who died within the year of our redemption
Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the Great
Subdued the Saxons, and did seat the French
Beyond the river Sala, in the year

Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say,
King Pepin, which deposed Childeric,
Did, as heir general, being descended

Of Blithild, which was daughter to King Clothair,
Make claim and title to the crown of France.
Hugh Capet also, who usurp'd the crown.
Of Charles the duke of Lorraine, sole heir male
Of the true line and stock of Charles the Great,
To find his title with some shows of truth,
Though, in pure truth, it was corrupt and naught,
Convey'd himself as heir to the Lady Lingare,

49. dishonest, unchaste.

57, 61, 64. The numbers and the reckoning are from Holinshed. As Rolfe pointed out, he seems to have deducted 405 from 826, instead of 426 from 805.

72. find, furnish, provide.




74. Convey'd himself as, stole into the position of, contrived to pass himself off as.

74. Lingare. Holinshed has 'Lingard.' Her actual name was Liutgard.

Daughter to Charlemain, who was the son
To Lewis the emperor, and Lewis the son
Of Charles the Great. Also King Lewis the Tenth,
Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet,
Could not keep quiet in his conscience,
Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied
That fair Queen Isabel, his grandmother,
Was lineal of the Lady Ermengare,

Daughter to Charles the foresaid duke of Lorraine :
By the which marriage the line of Charles the

Was re-united to the crown of France.

So that, as clear as is the summer's sun,
King Pepin's title and Hugh Capet's claim,
King Lewis his satisfaction, all appear
To hold in right and title of the female:
So do the kings of France unto this day;
Howbeit they would hold up this Salique law
To bar your highness claiming from the female,
And rather choose to hide them in a net
Than amply to imbar their crooked titles
Usurp'd from you and your progenitors.

75. Charlemain, i.e. Carlo-
man (Carlman). Historically
it was Charles the Bold.
76. Lewis (monosyllabic

77. Lewis the Tenth. So Holinshed. Historically it was Lewis IX.

82. lineal of, directly descended from.

88. Lewis his satisfaction, Lewis's conviction, release from uncertainty.

93. a net, i.e. of flimsy sophistries.

94. amply to imbar. F1 F2 'imbarre'; Qq 'imbace,' 'embrace.' Rowe read make bare'



and Theobald 'imbare,' which
has been widely adopted, and
forms a plausible antithesis to
'hide.' But the antithesis in-
tended is not merely between
frankness and subterfuge, but
between an open and a crafty
method of defence. Hence
Knight properly restored
'imbar' from Ff, in the sense
of bar in, fortify,' 'secure.'
The French prefer to shelter
themselves under a delusive
appeal to the Salic law, which
excludes their claim as well as
ours, instead of directly and
unreservedly defending their title
as nevertheless the better.'

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K. Hen. May I with right and conscience make
this claim?

Cant. The sin upon my head, dread sovereign!
For in the book of Numbers is it writ,
When the man dies, let the inheritance
Descend unto the daughter. Gracious lord,
Stand for your own; unwind your bloody flag;
Look back into your mighty ancestors:
Go, my dread lord, to your great-grandsire's tomb,
From whom you claim; invoke his warlike spirit,
And your great-uncle's, Edward the Black Prince,
Who on the French ground play'd a tragedy,
Making defeat on the full power of France,
Whiles his most mighty father on a hill
Stood smiling to behold his lion's whelp
Forage in blood of French nobility.
O noble English, that could entertain
With half their forces the full pride of France
And let another half stand laughing by,

All out of work and cold for action!

Ely. Awake remembrance of these valiant dead
And with your puissant arm renew their feats:
You are their heir; you sit upon their throne ;
The blood and courage that renowned them
Runs in your veins; and my thrice-puissant liege
Is in the very May-morn of his youth,
Ripe for exploits and mighty enterprises.

Exe. Your brother kings and monarchs of the earth

Do all expect that you should rouse yourself,
As did the former lions of your blood.

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114. cold for action, i.e. in respect of action; nearly for want of action; not heated by taking part in the fight.

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