Tuesday, October 25

Saint Crispin's Day

Crispin and his brother Crispinian were Christians who were martyred during the persecution by the Emperor Maximian in Rome. They were humble men who preached Good News to their neighbors during the day and made shoes at night in order to earn their living. Their sterling example provided a model of courage and persistence against overwhelming odds for the generations of Christians who came after them. This day has therefore been celebrated as St. Crispin's Day ever since.

Of course, for many of us St. Crispin's Day does not so much bring to mind Crispin and his brother as it does the Hundred Years War. It was on this day in 1415, during that calamitous war, that England’s King Henry V defeated the overwhelming force of French Army in the fields of Agincourt inspiring Shakespeare’s famous monologue:

"If we are marked to die, we are enough to do our country loss; and if to live, the fewer the men, the greater share of honor. God’s will, I pray thee, wish not one man more. This story shall the good man teach his son, and Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by from this day to the ending of the world but we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today 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 abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us on St. Crispin’s Day."

3 comments:

Amber Benton said...

Yesterday a friend mailed me this speech from Henry V. It was a link to the American Rhetoric movie speeches website. She said it was a good thing to listen to on such a blustery day.

My 8yo and 3yo boys who were in the next room were drawn to the computer as I played it, and wanted to listen to it several times. Then my 8yo wanted me to print it out for him so he can memorize it. Surprisingly he worked his way through reading the whole thing word by word, and is reapeating a few lines that captured him.

Now I come to your blog this morning to this post and to find out that TODAY is St. Crispin's Day! I had no idea, nor did I know about the 100 years war. So I read your post to my son, and he promptly ran to tell his little friend next door that today was St. Crispin's Day (I think he had shared with him yesterday the speech).
He wanted to know who had written this website and when I explained to him that it was the same person whom he had heard sing King Alfred's War Song and speak about King Alfred, he was doubly excited. Thanks for bringing my son heroes, and for allowing him to see a man who loves God, history, literature, and life.

Amber

Chris Yokel said...

I love that Shakespeare monologue. As I read it I can just see and hear Kenneth Brannagh throwing himself into it in his excellent film adaptation.

Jim said...

Funny enough, I still remember the soldier with the Bronx accent reciting it in De Vito's "Renaissance Man."