That Shakespeare won the battle of Agincourt (1415) was driven home to me when attending, as a guest of the company, the recent Livery Dinner of the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers. In its raftered hall in the City of London, a hall that only survived the Blitz due to the quick-witted action of an unknown fireman (a feat celebrated in the decorations in the roof), the occasion, already splendid and floating on sufficient wonderful wines to keep an aircraft-carrier afloat, came alive when an actor, dressed in chain mail and regalia, entered and declaimed the speech Shakespeare gave the king for the night before the battle. The entire speech is potent and resonant, but the line that captures the heart—“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”—is one that shines down the ages. It was used, and so appropriately, for the brave men who fought the...


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