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Published September 27th 2015
'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'
This October marks the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt (25 October 1415). The battle was part of a long period of sustained conflicts during the Hundred Years' War, but is notable as a major English victory over superior French forces. The battle was immortalized in Shakespeare's Henry V (1598) and the St Crispin's Day speech with the memorable words: 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; / For he to-day that sheds his blood with me / Shall be my brother' (Act 4, Scene 3). There are numerous events taking place as the anniversary draws near. The following list provides a selection of diverse activities specific to the UK. For events taking place in France, see Le Centre Historique Médiéval d'Azincourt.
1. The Dark Sky, Leeds Castle
Photo courtesy of Leeds Castle (via Agincourt600.com)
The use of the longbow at Agincourt was a key factor in the English victory. Leeds Castle has recently opened 'The Dark Sky' to recreate the experience of thousands of English longbow arrows reigning down from the sky as it would have been at Agincourt in 1415. The event occurs daily and lasts for about eight minutes. The price is included with an admission ticket.
2. Exhibition at the Royal Armouries, Tower of London
Photo by Erin Connelly
The exhibition will display medieval arms and armour from the Royal Armouries collection and a scale model of the battlefield, as well as iconic objects from the collections of other institutions, such as a portrait of Henry V from the National Portrait Gallery, a fifteenth-century manuscript of the Agincourt Carol from the Bodleian Library, and the costume (1951) worn by Richard Burton as Henry V from the Victoria & Albert Museum. Beyond the exhibition, the programme includes educational talks, storytelling, arms demonstrations, and child-friendly activities
When: 23 October 2015 – 31 January 2016
Where: Tower of London, London , EC3N 4AB Cost: £24.50 adult; £18.70 concession; £11.00 children (under 5s free) Contact: 44 (0)20 3166 6000 Website
3. Henry V by the Royal Shakespeare Company
This production of Henry V is directed by Gregory Doran, who is perhaps most famous for his interpretation of Hamlet (2008) starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart.
When: 12 September – 25 October 2015
Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6BB
Contact: 0844 800 1110 Website
4. Henry V Live Broadcast
If you're unable to attend Henry V at the RSC, on 21 October the performance will be broadcast live to UK cinemas and select countries worldwide. Screenings in the USA commence on 18 November. Participating cinemas are available here.
The Plantagenet Medieval Society is sponsoring a celebratory event in honour of Agincourt at Caldicot Castle of medieval dancing and music, archery, and a tournament of knightly skills.
When: 24 October 11.00am – 25 October 4.00pm
Where: Caldicot Castle, Church Road, Caldicot, Gwent NP26 4HU
Cost: See website
Contact: 07999 551247
6. The Sinews of War: Arms and Armour from the Age of Agincourt at The Wallace Collection
This exhibition at The Wallace Collection presents a selection of early fifteenth-century weapons and armour from the Age of Agincourt. These weapons reflect the hand-to-hand combat that characterized medieval warfare. The exhibition also features rare books from the Collection's library intended to illustrate the various perspectives of Agincourt through the centuries.
When: 1st September 2015 – 1st December 2015
Where: The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN
Contact: 44 (0)207 563 9500 Website
7. Agincourt Memorial Talk, Canterbury Cathedral
As part of the Canterbury Festival (17-31 October), the Principal of Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Richard Baker, will be speaking about the heraldry and significance of Agincourt in a lecture entitled: 'Canterbury Cathedral's South Porch – An Agincourt Memorial?'
8. Beyond Agincourt: The Funerary Achievements of Henry V, Westminster Abbey
Photo courtesy of Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is the final resting place of Henry V. The Abbey will commemorate the anniversary of Agincourt with a conference entitled: 'Beyond Agincourt: The Funerary Achievements of Henry V.' The conference will feature a range of speakers from The Wallace Collection, The Royal Armouries and Westminster Abbey who will discuss the significance of Henry V's shield, saddle, sword, and helm, which were carried at his funeral. The conference is open to 'Henry V academics, students, and enthusiasts.'
There will also be a service to commemorate the 600th anniversary at the Abbey on 29 October 2015.
When: 28 October 2015, 9.30am – 5.00pm
Where: Westminster Abbey, Lecture Theatre of Westminster School , Dean's Yard, London SW1P 3PA
Cost: £65 and £4.56 fee; £50.00 and £3.65 fee (concession)
Contact: 44 (0)20 7222 5152 Website