Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Raphael Holinshed
Editor: James D. Mardock
Not Peer Reviewed

Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland 1587 (Selection)


Along with the anonymous play The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles provided Shakespeare his chief source for Henry V. The playwright followed the Chroniclesnearly verbatim in parts, as with Canterbury's "Salic law" speech, which Shakespeare changed little more than versifying it into pentameter lines, even preserving the source's error in arithmetic and its misidentification of Louis IX as Louis X. While Raphael Holinshed was the chief author, or arranger, of the 1577 edition of the Chronicles, and while for convenience's sake he is referred to as the author of the three-volume 1587 edition excerpted here, the work was the product of about a dozen authors and compiled after Holinshed's death from a wide range of sources, mostly meticulously cited in marginal notes. As a result of this multivocality, the Chronicles present a range of sometimes-conflicting interpretations of the events they describe -- most evident here in the presentation of the build to war and the discussion of Henry's order to kill the prisoners -- and this multivalence of voice may be one reason for the famously ambiguous nature of Shakespeare's play (Patterson, Reading Holinshed's Chronicles, 3-31); see the discussion of Holinshed's treatment of the killing of the French prisoners at TLN 2520-22.

The following modernized selections are based on facsimiles of the Huntington copy of the 1587 edition (vol. 3, pp. 543-85) provided by Early English Books Online. For the sake of easy comparison with Shakespeare's play, numbers of analogous lines from the play appear in the text; unless otherwise specified, Through Line Numbers refer to Henry V.