Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Hall's Chronicle (Selection)
  • Editor: James D. Mardock

  • Copyright James D. Mardock. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Edward Hall
    Editor: James D. Mardock
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Hall's Chronicle (Selection)


    Edward Hall's history provided the primary source for the chronicle later assembled by Holinshed and his collaborators, although Shakespeare seems to have encountered it only indirectly through Holinshed and through The Famous Victories. Though Hall's account of Henry V's life -- titled in Hall's text "The victorious acts of King Henry the Fifth" -- is echoed, sometimes nearly verbatim, by Holinshed, there are intriguing points of divergence: Henry and Catherine are married before the treaty of Troyes in Hall, but only after the French swear fealty to Henry in Holinshed; the hungry soldier who robs a church is executed in Hall for irreverently eating the host, while the more reformed history of Holinshed has him killed for mere theft; Hall is less sure than Holinshed about the veracity of anecdotal tennis ball embassy.

    Hall, as his title suggests, sees the history of the English monarchy as providentially-directed and culminating in the divinely sanctioned Tudor monarchy, but he also reads history as a series of instructive vignettes. Hall's narrative voice is unrelentingly didactic, and each of the speaking characters in the chronicle is himself a "chronographer," a studious interpreter of history. Hall assumes that later monarchs -- those he describes and those he intends as his reading audience -- have read history didactically and will continue to do so; thus Henry V, he argues, must have learned a moral lesson from the unfortunate reigns of Edward II and Richard II, and Agincourt becomes a "mirror to Christian princes" demonstrating proper humility before God's power.

    The selections below provide some sense of these attributes of Hall's text, and are useful for comparison with Holinshed, particularly the accounts of the parliamentary speeches of Canterbury, Westmorland, and Exeter and the pre-battle orations by the Constable of France and King Henry, all fuller and substantially different from the records of the speeches in Holinshed.

    The excerpts below have been modernized from the Huntington Library copy of the 1548 text, accessed via Early English Books Online.