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Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's LawsPerspectives on the Law of War in the Later Middle Ages$
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Theodor Meron

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198258117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198258117.001.0001

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Agincourt: Prisoners of War, Reprisals, and Necessity

Agincourt: Prisoners of War, Reprisals, and Necessity

(p.154) 9 Agincourt: Prisoners of War, Reprisals, and Necessity
Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's Laws

Theodor Meron

Oxford University Press

The events at Agincourt can only be reconciled after accounting for fear that had accumulated within the English forces as they were greatly outnumbered by the enemy French forces. This fear and other such tensions are made evident through Shakespeare's reference to Warwick or to Westmoreland which he made as he relied on Holinshed's accounts. As a result of the dangers associated with how the captives may have been able to turn forcefully against their captors and other such potential threats, the King proclaimed a relatively unexpected order — the killing of the French prisoners. Shakespeare was able to demonstrate various fundamental points that lead to such an order: the necessity of preparation for another French attack, and revenge towards how the French unlawfully attacked their forces.

Keywords:   Agincourt, Warwick, Westmoreland, Holinshed, captives, French prisoners

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