Shakespeare's Henry V And Elizabeth Essay

Pages: 2 (849 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

Henry V

Catherine of Valois -- who became queen consort to Henry V of England during the last two years of his reign -- was the direct ancestor of Queen Elizabeth I. However, the line of descent was not as straightforward as it might seem from the earlier queen to the later: between Henry V and Elizabeth I fell the Wars of the Roses, and the jockeying for position of the Houses of York (Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI) and Lancaster (Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III). Elizabeth I was descended from Catherine but not from Henry V -- instead, Catherine and her second husband, the Welshman Owain ap Tudor, begat Edmund Tudor, who begat King Henry VII, the first monarch of the Tudor dynasty. Henry VII was Elizabeth's grandfather -- Catherine of Valois was therefore her grandfather's grandmother.

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The Salic Law discussed in Shakespeare's Henry V was designed by the Frankish monarchs (Clovis, Charlemagne) to prevent females from inheriting a throne. The Salic Law was never uniformly imposed in England, where other medieval systems (Gavelkind, Brehon Law, and others) were active in different regions. In general England exhibited male-preference primogeniture, meaning that female monarchs were not explicitly ruled out, but males were preferred. Before the sixteenth century, there had been only one female monarch in England, Matilda, who ruled during the anarchy of civil war. The distinction between English and Salic inheritance procedures which Shakespeare uses at the opening of Henry V was a real phenomenon. We can see a good example after Shakespeare's time, from the 18th and 19th century Hanoverian monarchs: George I, II, III, and IV of England were also kings of the German state of Hanover, but Queen Victoria of England was barred by Salic Law from inheriting the Hanoverian territory because she was female.

TOPIC: Essay on Shakespeare's Henry V And Elizabeth I Assignment

Since the Salic Laws were primarily about excluding female heirs, it is possible that Shakespeare intended some contemporary resonance with this element of Henry V. After all, Elizabeth's older half-sister Mary I (aka "Bloody Mary") had been the first female monarch in England since the questionable reign of Matilda -- and moreover in 1558, Mary I had lost the city of Calais, England's last remaining territorial possession in France. This is roughly 40 years before Shakespeare wrote Henry V, a play which is focused on territorial squabbling between the thrones of France and England, but shows that this squabble had continued from Henry V's time to Shakespeare's own century.

But was Henry V intended to reflect upon Elizabeth's claims to the throne?… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Shakespeare's Henry V And Elizabeth."  Essaytown.com.  April 4, 2015.  Accessed January 16, 2022.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/shakespeare-henry-elizabeth/3838565.