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date: 16 October 2019

Forensic History: and Scotland

Abstract and Keywords

Written at the time of the accession of a Scots king to the English throne, Henry V has been called a ‘succession play’. Yet although critics have discussed the play’s representation of Ireland and Wales, its representation of Scotland goes unmentioned. This chapter argues that Henry V’s chronicle sources and dramatic precursors are profoundly engaged with England’s disputed claim to legal overlordship of Scotland, revived by England’s invasion of Scotland in the 1540s and thereafter by various legal treatises on the Stewart succession. Shakespeare’s success in effacing the Scottish dimensions of his historical sources is a triumph of the dramatic use of forensic rhetoric to shift legal questions of national sovereignty into apparently universal questions of inwardness, conscience, and ‘character’.

Keywords: Scotland, chronicle history, history play, homage, cause, motive, national identity, Shakespeare, Henry V

The King’s Cause

Shakespeare’s Henry V begins obliquely, by way of a dialogue between a couple of politicians who are anxious about a new bill in Parliament.1 They are high-ranking clergymen, and the bill they’re worried about is a proposal to strip the Church of its wealth. One of them, the Archbishop of Canterbury, comes up with a cunning ruse to distract the king: the Church will offer to fund a military campaign in France that will be so rewarding in restoring honour, legitimacy, and territory to the English monarchy, that Henry will have no motive to fleece the clergy. But first, of course, Henry must be persuaded of the righteousness of the casus belli, his ‘cause’ of war. So Canterbury produces a skilful forensic oration on the legitimacy of the English title to France and the justice of invasive war. Henry, he says, has a true claim to the French throne, against which French civilian lawyers have devised historically spurious arguments. Though eager to believe this, Henry has (we gather) the wit and self-knowledge to guard against his own credulous desire. He solemnly warns the Archbishop about the importance of speaking the truth. If the argument is not good in conscience, he insists, they will both be guilty before God of murder on a massive scale.

I have, of course, simplified. Nevertheless, even from this schematic account, it is evident that Shakespeare’s skilful juxtaposition of both acknowledged and unacknowledged (p. 688) motives—the clergy’s avowed political fears, the king’s conjuration and what it suggests about unspoken desires—has the potential to produce uneasy and complex effects, raising immediate questions in an audience’s minds (whether or not that audience knows any history). If the Archbishop’s handling of the forensic issue is correct—if the French Salic law is misapplied to Henry’s title to the French Crown—is this truth affected by the English clergy’s underhand use of the case to promote their own special interests? On the other hand, if the king is persuaded by Canterbury’s legal arguments, does it matter if he also knows what the Archbishop is up to? And, anyway, does he know?

The former (legal) question of whether the case is just tends to morph into the latter (a question of Henry’s ‘character’), with the latter unavoidably dominating critical discussion since commentary on Henry V began. Although, as Joel Altman remarks, ‘ “The King’s Cause” … is never a reticulation of motives originating in Harry’, the resurfacing of the question in Act 4, Scene 1 (where the king, as private person, disputes with soldiers who doubt the justice of his cause) ensures that we never feel it quite distinguishable, either, from these very motives.2 Structurally central to the play, it seems, is a tendency to push inquiry into the justice of the national cause (that is, inquiry into national policy in an international context) in the direction of inquiry into the signs that tell us about Henry’s motives and Henry’s character. A military historian might assess Shakespeare’s account of the justness of the war, and then move on to ask, as a secondary question, whether Henry’s belief in it was ‘genuine’.3 But most audiences or readers will proceed from the opposite direction: they will draw conclusions about the genuineness or otherwise of Henry’s concern with the justice of the national cause from what the performance or text implies about what Henry knows and when he knows it. A. C. Bradley inferred the political quality of Henry’s religious belief from the fact that he ‘knows very well that the Archbishop wants the war’.4 More recently, criticism has been interested in the undecidability of the question, or in the way in which Shakespeare’s depiction of Henry both encourages us to map political or national ‘cause’ onto Henry’s personal feelings and personal motives and, at the same time, makes us sceptical of the naivety of such a project.5

While this oscillation between nation and royal person in Shakespeare’s Henry V has been widely and variously analysed, it has never been remarked that it neatly mobilizes, in the terminology of classical and humanist forensic rhetoric, two distinct meanings of the Latin word causa. The context of this Handbook, devoted as it is to the common ground of literary and legal thinking in early modern England, creates an opportunity (p. 689) to think about how this ambiguity in forensic rhetoric might have been harnessed in Shakespeare’s play. As Kathy Eden explains elsewhere in this volume, English humanist grammar school education in the sixteenth century was centred on an art of rhetoric that had its origins in legal dispute. Within this art, the term causa ‘cause’ or ‘case’—was understood to refer to the oration itself. Whether forensic, deliberative, or epideictic, says Eden, ‘the term causa or cause … applies to any speech dealing with a set of particulars, whether it takes place at an assembly, a festival, or a trial’. Yet, she adds, ‘the term causa never loses its legal pedigree, either in Latin or in English’.6 At the same time, however, causa was the word applied not only to the case being adjudged, but to the motive for the act being adjudicated. In this sense, the term causa takes its place among the important topics or places from which forensic orators invent arguments of proof. Specifically, causa it is one of topics of circumstance—‘causa tempus locus occasio instrumentum modus et cetera’, as Quintilian lists them, ‘motive, time, place, opportunity, means, method and the like’. These were considered the key ‘places of argument’, loci argumentorum; that is, topics from which compelling proofs in the form of arguments of guilt or innocence (rather than proofs such as oaths or witnesses) might be discovered.7 The term causa thus straddles the division between public and private, as well as the temporal division by which we make ‘motive’ anterior to the deed. In oratory causa and ‘cause’ are always constituted as both anterior to any rhetorical enquiry (the question of why something was done) and, at the same time, as the discursive product of rhetorical enquiry (the ‘purpose’ or ‘case’ as argued or justified in speech).8

It seems as though, in Henry V, Shakespeare has seen in the forensic materials of his sources—the Archbishop’s setting out of the legal cause of war as lavishly invented by Edward Hall and repeated in Holinshed—a chance to exploit the ambiguity of causa as the legal case for war and causa as the king’s intention, the question of what the king is thinking. Dramatically speaking, this means a chance to move us, imperceptibly and irreversibly, from asking the nation-imagining question ‘is this cause just?’ to asking the person-imagining question, ‘what does he think?’ This move, as critics have noticed, is repeatedly made at various key moments of the play. Take, for example, the puzzling apparent reversal of act and motive between Act 4, Scene 6 and Act 4, Scene 7. In 4.6, after the battle of Agincourt, King Henry, on hearing that the French are reinforcing, suddenly and unexpectedly gives the order, ‘Then every soldier kill his prisoners!’ (4.6.37). This order is immediately followed by the entrance of Fluellen in the next scene, distressedly exclaiming that the French have killed the boys looking after the English camp, an outrage, ‘expressly against the law of arms’ (4.7.1–2). It would have been easy for Shakespeare to make Henry give the order for the English to kill their prisoners after Fluellen announced this, but he does not. He therefore prompts us to (p. 690) ask, not the legal question: ‘is the English retaliation justifiable? Is it just?’, but rather, the characterological question: ‘what was Henry thinking when he gave that order at that time?’

Quentin Skinner has recently made a compelling and detailed case for Shakespeare’s familiarity with the compositional techniques of judicial or forensic rhetoric.9 I have argued that we should not just see forensic rhetoric as something Shakespeare’s ‘characters’ are using, but we should, rather, see forensic inquiry itself as having profound affinities with fiction making and character-creation. Techniques for inventing forensic arguments are what give us the sense of people as ‘characters’ who think and feel and inhabit complex, circumstantially realized imaginative worlds.10 In this chapter I want to propose, further, that Shakespeare’s repeated trick of deflecting legal questions (about the justness of the national cause) into characterological questions (about what Henry is thinking) is brilliantly effective in making the English national interest seem supra-nationally inclusive. That is to say, the English national cause comes to be identified, through the mystery of Henry’s unknowable individuality, with the question of what it means to ‘be human’—and this illusion of inclusiveness works to deny the existence of other national causes.

To see how the drama of the forensic question (‘is this cause just?’) mutates into the mystery of character (‘what is he thinking?’), let us look at what Shakespeare does in the opening two scenes of Henry V with his chronicle source material. The source I am going to focus on is Edward Hall’s Chronicle, printed in 1548, which Shakespeare follows especially closely in Act 1. Edward Hall, who was a common lawyer, had already composed this opening episode of Henry V’s reign according to the rules of forensic and deliberative rhetoric, presenting it as a sequence of three orations or ‘causes’ advocating what is best for England as a nation. The first is by Henry Chicheley Archbishop of Canterbury, on England’s title to France, and the next two form a debate by the Earl of Westmoreland and the Duke of Exeter on the question of the conquest of Scotland. I will say more about how Shakespeare adapts this latter debate in due course, but here I want to show how Shakespeare makes a small but effective adjustment to Hall’s forensic scene by introducing the circumstance of time (tempus), or, rather of ‘timing’ as opportunity (occasio).

It was Hall who began the history of Henry V’s reign with Parliament’s bill to strip the Church of half its wealth. Hall tells a satirical story of how worried the clergy were (the ‘fat Abbots swet’ and ‘the sely Nonnes wept’) until the Archbishop of Canterbury hit on the idea of ‘replenish[ing] the kynges brayne with some pleasante study’ that would distract him from the Commons’ petition.11 Then comes the legal oration before the king. The Archbishop argues that Henry V has a lineal right to (p. 691) the throne of France through his grandfather, Edward III. Following the methods of Roman forensic rhetoric, he chooses to base his arguments on the interpretation of the text of a law—the so-called legal issue. 12 French civilian lawyers have argued that Henry’s title is invalid because it comes through Edward III’s mother, Isabella, daughter of Philip IV of France—in other words, through the female line. The French civilians cite the maxim ‘In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant’, ‘let not woman succede in the land Salicque’.13 Canterbury uses chronicle history to prove that the Salic law applied not to France, but to the German lands of Meissen, which did not come into French possession until many centuries after the supposed author of this Salic law—Pharamond—was dead. This summary, which I have taken from Hall’s text, will be recognized by any reader of Shakespeare, because Shakespeare follows Hall so very closely.

Shakespeare, then, was clearly interested in the dramatic potential of the forensic scene. But he doesn’t just versify the arguments he finds in Hall. He sees in the forensic drama—by which I mean, in the drama of the argument itself—a chance to make us imagine the emotion aroused by argument. To give us a sense of the King’s suppressed emotion in response to Canterbury’s case, Shakespeare invents an otherwise unnecessary detail—the detail of the ambassador’s ‘interruption’ of Canterbury’s audience with the king, which, at a moment before the play began, is supposed to have prevented Canterbury from explaining the whole case to him. Canterbury explains to the Bishop of Ely that he has made a large offer of money from the Church ‘in regard of causes now in hand / Which I have opened to his grace at large / As touching France’ (1.1.78–80, my italics). The ‘causes’ or arguments in the case are, in Canterbury’s formulation, presently being handled; he has ‘opened’ them ‘at large’, or sketched them out, but the timing wasn’t right—it seems, he was interrupted.

This fiction of inopportune interruption, of Henry’s attention being diverted, is what gives emotional substance and power to the idea of Henry’s suspense and desire to hear more of the argument:

  • ELY
  •    How did this offer seem received, my lord?
  •    With good acceptance of his majesty,
  •    Save that there was not time enough to hear
  •    As I perceived his grace would fain have done,
  •    The severals and unhidden passages
  •    Of his true titles to some certain dukedoms
  •    And generally to the crown and seat of France,
  •    Derived from Edward, his great-grandfather. (1.1.83–90, my italics)

(p. 692) Shakespeare here invokes a topic of circumstance: the circumstance of opportunity, in the form of thwarted opportunity, an ‘impediment’ that, by momentarily ruining Canterbury’s chance to reveal Henry’s title, allows a glimpse of Henry’s awakened desire—Canterbury perceives ‘his grace would fain’ have heard him finish. The interrupting presence turns out to be that of the ‘French ambassador’ who ‘upon that instant’ apparently ‘craved audience’ and the ‘hour’ of that audience turns out to be this very moment in the dramatic action: ‘The hour I think is come / To give him hearing. Is it four o’clock?’ (1.1.93–5). Yet, as the next scene opens, with the king and his train awaiting (as we think) the ambassador, the device implodes and exposes its fictitiousness as the king refuses to hear the French embassy before the Archbishop is given time to open his cause more fully.

  •    Shall we call in th’ambassador, my liege?
  • KING
  •    Not yet, my cousin: we would be resolved,
  •    Before we hear him, of some things of weight
  •    That task our thoughts concerning us and France. (1.2.3–6)

It’s clear that this detail of the ambassador as ‘impediment’ to Canterbury’s cause has no other purpose that to nudge us towards imagining Henry’s suppressed eagerness to hear. Henry’s conjuration that the Archbishop speak the truth then seems to speak to this very eagerness: we feel, as Norman Rabkin says, that Henry is himself aware ‘that the war is not quite the selfless enterprise other parts of the play tempt us to see’.14

Shakespeare knew that although causa as motive is one of the topics of circumstance, it is usually only made ‘probable’ or intelligible through an invention of one or more of the others—that is, by considering the time, place, opportunity, manner, or instrument involved in the deed. In this instance, Shakespeare psychologizes Hall’s forensic scene by introducing the temporal circumstance of interruption, so that our imaginations are diverted from the question of whether or not the arguments for an English title to France seem just or expedient, to the question of exactly how the king’s eagerness to hear the arguments plays into his readiness to judge them true.

Causes of War, Stakes of Nationhood

Why does this matter? It just seems to be another way of saying what such critics as Norman Rabkin and Claire McEachern have already said: that imagining the nation or body politic in Henry V seems inextricably entwined with imagining the king as a (p. 693) person. Yet there is a more radical analytical potential here, one that is opened up by considering the legal function of chronicle history alongside the forensic dimensions of Renaissance drama. For if it is true to say that forensic rhetoric, in the form of topics of inquiry, helps shape our sense of character and motive in Shakespeare’s plays, it’s no less true that the chronicles on which the history plays of Shakespeare and others are based, were also often forensic, or legal, in their purpose. Critics have been fascinated by Henry V’s concern with nationhood, whether in the form of the imagined fraternal community of the English at Agincourt, or in the strange little scene of the English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish captains having an abortive ‘disputation’ about the just causes and conduct of war.15 But even before we begin to think about how plays based on chronicles invite us to imagine nationhood, we need to think about how chronicles themselves were used to constitute legal evidence for national sovereignty. Chronicles record genealogies, titles to land, causes of disputes, outcomes of battles, the terms of treaties, their observance and breaking, the paying and withholding of tribute, the performance or neglect of homage. The recording of these matters has a forensic purpose. In disputes over sovereignty, chronicles have often been called upon to furnish legal proof.16 Shakespeare was aware of this. In Henry V, as we have seen, he has Canterbury use chronicle history to disprove Pharamond’s authorship of a Salic law application to France. But Shakespeare would also have been aware that, in the case of Anglo-Scots history, the chronicles had, at least since the time of Edward I, recorded disputed proofs in a ‘war of historiography’ that had never been resolved.17 The question of whether or not Scots kings, historically, owed homage to English kings as their overlords, remained central to both English and Scottish historiography of the sixteenth century. The Scots denied that the history of the two nations proved that their kings owed homage; the English insisted it did. At stake, for the Scots, was their national autonomy, their very existence as a nation. The stakes for the English varied over the course of the sixteenth century. In the 1540s, the stakes were imperial: the argument of overlordship supported an invasive war against the Scots.18 In the 1560s–1580s, with fears about a Stewart succession, the dubious ‘history’ of Scots homage was invoked and its implications debated in numerous legal treatises on Mary Stewart’s title to the English throne.19 In the years around James’s accession, historical (p. 694) ‘proof’ of English overlordship was successfully used by the English to preclude plans for any further union between England and Scotland.20 Thus, the Anglo-Scots wars of historiography were no less vital, legally speaking, to the shifting directions of Anglo-Scots relations during the sixteenth century than they had been in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries.

There is no question of Shakespeare being unaware of these debates. Indeed, the fact that a play such as Henry V makes us feel as if the question of Scotland’s nationhood is irrelevant should, I will argue, be seen as a conclusive victory in the Anglo-Scots wars of historiography. I will argue that Shakespeare used his psychologizing of the forensic scene—his deflecting the question of ‘is the cause just?’ to the question of ‘what is Henry really thinking or feeling?’ to give the English nationalism of the play a supra-national, inclusive feeling while, at the same time, very effectively and cleverly denying Scotland the historical status of a nation, just at a point when that historical status mattered a great deal.

Shakespeare’s chief sources for Henry V were: Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (1577) in the edition of 1587, and Edward Hall’s Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancaster and York (1548, revised and enlarged, 1550). As T. W. Craik explains, Holinshed very often follows and condenses Hall. Moreover, though Shakespeare is usually closer to Holinshed than to Hall, the opposite is the case in the opening scenes of the play.21 In Hall, the question of Scotland and the Franco-Scots alliance is central—as it was for the English throughout the Hundred Years War—to Henry V’s determination of the likelihood of military success in France.22 Accordingly, in Hall, as soon as Henry Chicheley, Archbishop of Canterbury, has finished his oration on the justice of Henry’s cause in France, we’re introduced to Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, who argues that there is a greater immediate cause of war against Scotland and that its conquest is ‘more necessary’.23 Westmoreland’s ensuing lengthy oration, refuted by the Duke of Exeter, results not in a decision to disregard the Scottish threat, but rather in the decision to neutralize it by means of attacking France. This debate is central to Hall’s own historical project. For Edward Hall wrote his history in the 1540s in the increasingly desperate context of England’s military effort to conquer Scotland by force.24 From 1543 to 1551, the Scots (p. 695) experienced nine years of continual invasion, destruction and burning of their major cities in a campaign that much later came to be known, with misleading euphemism, as ‘The Rough Wooings’.25

The immediate occasion of the English decision to attempt a military conquest of Scotland in the 1540s was the Scots’ failure to honour their promise to marry James V’s daughter, Mary, to Henry’s son, Edward VI. But though ‘union’ was talked about, especially by Protector Somerset, both Somerset and, before him, Henry VIII were very careful to ground their cause of war on historical evidence for England’s overlordship of Scotland. In 1542, repeating the tactics of Edward I in 1291, Henry’s council had asked the bishops of Durham and York to search their episcopal ‘registers … auncient charters and monuments’ for evidence of the king’s title to the realm of Scotland.26 The result was the publication of a forensic justification of the English invasion, attributed to Henry VIII and entitled A Declaration, Conteynyng the Just Cavses … of This Present Warre with the Scottis, Wherein Also Appereth the Trewe & Right Title, That the Kinges Most Royall Maiesty Hath to the Souerayntie of Scotlande (1542, STC 9179). In the following year, the printer Richard Grafton brought out an edition of the fifteenth-century chronicle of John Hardying, with a dedication to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, urging him to continue the conquest of Scotland.27 In 1548, Protector Somerset employed Sir Thomas Smith, William Cecil, Sir John Mason, and Cuthbert Tunstall to produce further research on England’s overlordship; this time the result was An Epitome of the Title That the Kynges Maiestie of Englande Hath to the Sovereigntie of Scotlande, Continued vpon the Auncient Writers of Both Nacions from the Beginnyng (STC 3196). Though the dedication to Edward VI declares the author to be a young Middle Templar called Nicholas Adams or Nicholas Bodrugan, Dale Hoak has argued that the text was certainly researched, and probably written, by Sir Thomas Smith.28 Its printer was, once again, Richard Grafton. It was Grafton, too, to whom Edward Hall, who died in 1547, bequeathed the text of his chronicle for publication. Grafton accordingly brought Hall’s Chronicle out in 1548, at the height of the military effort to conquer Scotland, also with a dedication to King Edward VI.29

All these texts—Henry VIII’s Declaration, Hardyng’s Chronicle, Smith’s Epitome, and Hall’s Chronicle—either begin with, or elsewhere invoke as origin the mythic history of Brutus, the Trojan Prince, who, in the days of Samuel the prophet, was supposed to have settled and ruled over the island of Albion, later called Britain, and then divided between his sons by his wife, Innogen. These sons were called Locrine, Albanact, and Camber. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae (c.1123–1139), Locrine received Loegria, or England; Camber, the second son, Cambria or Wales (p. 696) and Albanact, the third, Albania or Scotland.30 When, in 1299, Pope Boniface wrote to Edward I, ordering him to abandon the war against Scotland on the grounds that Scotland was not feudally subject to the kings of England, Edward responded with what would become an endlessly reiterated mythic account of England’s foundational sovereignty over Scotland in the myth of Brutus’ division of the kingdom between Locrine, Albanact, and Camber. 31 Edward’s letter to Boniface alters Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account in two significant ways. First, Albanact becomes the second son (in Geoffrey he is ‘Albananctus iunior’, the youngest), and second, the inheritances of the younger sons reserve ‘the royal dignity for Locrine, the eldest’ (‘reservata Locrino seniori regia dignitate’).32 Edward has Anglicized and legally inflected Geoffrey’s text, turning it into an irresistible foundation myth for the feudal overlordship claimed by England, as ‘first-born’ over the younger sons, Wales and Scotland (though, of course, in Geoffrey, the English or Anglo-Saxons, have yet to appear).

Hall’s dedication to Edward VI invokes Geoffrey of Monmouth’s story of ‘Brute with the sequel of his linage’, but the forensic uses of the post-Edward I version of this history emerge vividly in the debate about war that opens Hall’s and Holinshed’s accounts of the reign of Henry V. Opposing the Archbishop of Canterbury’s case for invading France, Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland, invokes the story of Brutus as part of the case for invading Scotland instead. ‘[T]he hole isle of Britain’, Westmoreland tells Henry V, ‘was one entier Monarchi in the time of your noble auncetor [sic] Kyng Brute first kyng and ruler of your famous Empire and glorious region.’ While the island was thus united, he goes on, the nation was invincible: ‘no nacion durste … inuade.’ However, although when Brutus divided the land between his three sons, he was careful to reserve to Locrine ‘& his heyres homage, lege and fealtie loiall for the same countreis and dominions’, it transpired that:

the Albananctes otherwise called the false fraudulent Scottes… did not alonly withdrawe their fealtie, denie their homage, and refuse their allegiance due to the kynges of this realme, but also made continuall warre’.

‘For the whiche cause’, Neville concludes, ‘diuerse of your noble progenitors haue … made warre and subdewed the Scottes for the deniyng of their homage and stirryng of rebellion.’33 Westmoreland’s version of the Brutus story, gesturing back to the island’s ancient invincibility, insisting on the feudal overlordship of Loegria/England over Albany/Scotland, and its interpretation of all subsequent Anglo-Scots wars as Scottish ‘rebellions’, is identical to the versions that appear in Henry VIII’s Declaration of 1542 (p. 697) and the Epitome of 1548, both of which, of course, are likewise making a case for the legality of an English invasion of Scotland.34 All three texts, moreover, claim to have access not only to narrative proofs but to documentary evidence. As Henry VIII puts it, ‘the instrumentes of homage made by the kynges of Scottis … sealed with theyr seales, and remaynynge in our Treasorye’.35

Where does this documentary evidence come from? It is at this point that the significance of Richard Grafton’s publishing of John Hardyng’s chronicle emerges. Alfred Hiatt’s excellent study of forged documents in fifteenth-century England has given us new insight into the uses of John Hardyng’s chronicle by English historians and policy makers in the sixteenth century.36 Roger Mason’s work on the Scottish historiographical countering of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s tradition of Brutus has been foundational, but it overlooks the legal authority lent by Hardyng’s faked documentation to the Galfridian history.37 In spite of clearly mythic origins, the story of Brutus, combined with the forged ‘instruments of homage’ in the English treasury, was enough, according to Edmund Plowden, to prove England’s sovereignty over Scotland in English common law.38

As John Hardyng (1378–1465) himself tells us in the dedication to Henry VI of the 1457 version of Chronicle, he was commissioned by Henry V to seek legal evidence of England’s title to Scotland, so that Scotland might be invaded, plundered, and burnt.39 Between 1422 and 1463, he presented, to Henry V, Henry VI, and Edward IV at least twenty documents concerning Anglo-Scots relations. Fourteen of the surviving seventeen documents have been discovered to be forgeries, though they were not so identified until 1837.40 Hiatt argues that their fraudulence took so long to identify because their evidential value was, latterly, tied up with the narrative form of Hardyng’s chronicle itself. ‘The contention that underpins Hardyng’s forgeries’, he writes, ‘is that the kings of Scotland were vassals of English kings from the death of Brutus and the division of Britain between his three sons.’ The forged documents, however, did not have to stand by themselves:

The homage of the Scots was, for Hardyng and his audience, a compelling narrative of submission to an overwhelming and legitimate force—the falsity of which (p. 698) was unthinkable. … The documents verify this narrative and, in circular fashion, are themselves verified by the historical narrative presented in the Chronicle.41

In the 1540s, Hardyng’s Chronicle was revived in a number of ways. The documents it referred to guaranteed the narratives of homage presented in Henry VIII’s Declaration, Smith’s Epitome, and Hall’s Chronicle. Protestantized, updated, and put into print by Richard Grafton, Hardyng’s Chronicle was widely disseminated. Sir Thomas Smith’s library contains no edition of Geoffrey of Monmouth, for example, but it does contain a copy of Harding.42 George Puttenham mentions Hardyng several times, praising him as ‘a Poet Epick or Historicall’.43 In his dedication to Norfolk, Grafton describes Hardyng as a ‘true-herted Englishman’ who ‘searched out of chronicles, both late an olde. …How from the beginning, Scotlande dooth reigne / Under kynges of England, as their souereigne’.44

Edward Hall was among Hardyng’s many sixteenth-century admirers. The name ‘Ihon Hardyng’ is cited under the ‘English writers’ Hall consulted.45 However, Hall also paid attention to evidence from the opposite side, from Scots histories. Among the ‘Latin Aucthors’ he has drawn on are ‘Hector Boetius’ and ‘Ioannes Maior’; that is, Hector Boece (1465–1536) author of the Scotorum historia a prima gentis origine (Paris, 1527) and John Mair (1467–1550), author of the Historia Maioris Britanniae (1521). With beautiful anachronism, Hall has the Earl of Westmoreland complain, in his presenting his history of English overlordship of Scotland to Henry V, of ‘Ihon Mayer and other Scottish writers’ who, he says ‘coloure’ (that is, justify) the opposite ‘cause’.46 Mair, though an advocate of Anglo-Scots union, clearly distinguished the union he desired from an English imperial domination justified by a historiography of overlordship. Although responding to Caxton rather than Hardyng, Mair’s history repeatedly refutes claims that Scots kings performed homage for Scotland. Hardyng, for example, forges a document purporting to record Malcolm Canmore’s homage to Edward the Confessor.47 John Mair denies that Canmore ever paid homage for Scotland:

Homage was rendered indeed for the county of Cumberland, which is situated in England, and which the king of Scots held of England, and granted always to their eldest sons, who did homage for that county to the kings of the English. … Now it is a thing unheard of, and among Scots simply inconceivable, that a Scot at peace in his own kingdom ever recognised as his temporal superior either the English or anyone else.48

(p. 699) In sum, then, the difference between Scots and English histories registers a contest over legal title and national sovereignty. The legal character of these histories is paramount. Henry VIII’s Declaration, Smith’s Epitome, and Hall’s Chronicle all follow Hardyng in insisting, by the use of an anachronistic legal vocabulary (‘by Troyan lawe’, ‘homage and feaute’, ‘leege’, ‘excheate’, ‘letters sealed’, ‘letters patent’) that Scotland was always already under English jurisdiction, legally a part of England from time out of mind.49

Understanding this neglected legal dimension of the ‘uses of history’ in sixteenth-century England helps illuminate aspects of the English history play, both at the Inns of Court and on the popular stage.50 Hardyng’s pressing of Geoffrey of Monmouth into service as proof of England’s originary feudal dominion over Scotland helps explain the imaginative hold, on the English stage, of the Galdfridian history of Brutus and his heirs. As well as the plays that have survived (Norton and Sackville’s Gorboduc, Gray’s Inn’s The Misfortunes of Arthur, Greene’s Edward I, the anonymous Locrine, Marlowe’s Edward II, the Queen’s Men’s King Leir, the anonymous Edward III, Shakespeare’s Henry V and many others), the titles of lost plays are immensely suggestive: King Lud, Uther Pendragon, Arthur king of England, the conquest of Brute, Mulmutius Dunwallo, Robert II, King of Scots, Ferrex and Porrex, Malcolm King of Scots.51 In the second place, we are alerted to the ideological importance of certain shaping motifs. The question, for example, of whether or not Scots prisoners of war were treated as enemy prisoners, or as rebels to England, was evidentially important for either side of the argument. In arguing against Mary Stewart’s title to the English throne, for example, John Hales, while maintaining the usual English position that the Scots were always homagers to England, nevertheless rejected the idea that made them anything other than foreign enemies, citing as evidence the fact that ‘they [the Scots] have usually ransomed upon their taking, as enemies, and not been executed, like rebels’.52 How Scots prisoners of war were treated was, then, crucial to whatever argument was being advanced about whether or not history ‘proved’ that Scotland was, historically, within English jurisdiction.

Prisoner Kings

Shakespeare clearly read the debate Hall set out on the causes of war against Scotland. He placed some of the arguments of Westmoreland’s case for war against the Scots in Henry V’s own mouth and had the Archbishop of Canterbury respond, so the audience (p. 700) hears that three-quarters of England’s fighting men are to stay behind to defend England from a Scottish invasion, while a mere quarter is to cross the channel to ‘make all Gallia shake’ (1.2.217, 219). Thereafter, in the Folio text at least, Scotland morphs oddly from a land-border enemy so considerable as to require three-quarters of all England’s fighting forces, into a docile regional accent heard at the siege of Harfleur. A Scots captain in the English army called ‘Jamy’ takes part in one of those ludicrous pub-joke scenes involving an Englishman, a Welshman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman. Critics have been unable to do much with this rather vacuous part, that of ‘the Scots Captain, Captain Jamy’ (3.2.75). They note that Jamy’s speeches could be omitted from the dialogue without making any difference to the flow of the scene at all.53 He is thought to be characterized as generally benign, a peacemaker, and a late addition, one audiences ‘could hardly fail to identify’ with James VI.54

The function of chronicle history as proof of legal title, however, may cast a different light on the relation of the opening scenes’ portrayal of Scots enmity, and the appearance in the English army of ‘Captain Jamy’. English dramatists writing history plays knew what was at stake, legally speaking, in representing Scots in the context of war. Crucial were the signifiers of rebellion—signs that showed that Scots were less like foreign enemies than rebellious vassals. George Peele’s Edward I (c.1590) deploys the double meaning of ‘halter’—a fastener of horses and cattle, but also a noose with which to hang malefactors—in the dramatization of John Balliol’s conflict with Edward I. The audience watches as Edward I, splendidly dressed, sets a ‘golden Diadem’ on John Balliol’s head, invoking the judgement of Paris that links English history to its mythic Trojan pedigree.55 Several scenes later, Balliol, wearing the diadem, announces that ‘Scotland disdains to carrie Englands yoke’ and sends one of his Anglophile noblemen to England with a ‘strangling halter’ round his neck to signify this. Some scenes later, after the stage direction, ‘Alarum, a charge, after long skirmish, assault, florishe’, we have ‘Enter King Edward with his traine and Balioll prisoner.’ Balliol, we must imagine, stands on stage fettered and bound; perhaps Edward even places the same strangling halter on his neck as he chastises him thus:

  • And heifer like sith thou hast past thy bounds,
  • Thy sturdie necke must stoope to bear this yoke.56

The slightly later anonymous play of Edward III is one in which it is thought Shakespeare may have had a hand. Shakespeare certainly knew the play well enough to recall its rhetoric and staging in extensive and subtle detail in Henry V.57 In Edward III, England’s (p. 701) vulnerability and heroic resistance to the invasions of the Scots are intriguingly feminized. In a subplot based on Pierre Boiastuau’s Histoires Tragiques, the Countess of Salisbury chastely resists both the incompetent brusque predations of David II of Scotland and the eloquent love sonnets of Edward III of England. But the play concludes at Calais with the whole English royal family bringing on prisoners to prove the English title to France and to Scotland. Edward’s Queen Phillipa brings, from England, the prisoner she claims as hers, David II of Scotland, who has been captured by the Northern English squire, John Copeland. Copeland yields his prisoner to Edward III as the ‘custom of my fraught’ and ‘wealthy tribute of my labouring hands’ (Edward III, 5.1.79–80). Then a herald announces the arrival of Edward the Black Prince with the king of France a prisoner ‘whose diadem he brings’, to crown Edward III king of France (5.1.181–3). The Scots prisoner king, as tribute, stands in for the homage due to Edward III as Scotland’s overlord; the French prisoner king, by contrast, yields him a crown.

Shakespeare’s Henry V throughout recalls the action and staging of the play, Edward III. If Shakespeare didn’t partly write Edward III, as seems likely, he evidently knew it intimately.58 Yet Henry V departs from both Edward III and the historical chronicles in a most striking way. For the fact is that Shakespeare had, in the chronicle history of Henry V, a ready-made Scots prisoner king, a ready-made proof of Scots vassalage. For when he took ship for France, Henry V was actually holding the Scottish heir to the throne, James I, prisoner. And, when the Scots sent reinforcements to the Dauphin, Henry even took James with him to fight against his own nation, the Scots, so as to prove, as he thought, that he was James’s overlord, and that Scotsmen were his subjects.

The facts were these: James Stewart, the second son of Robert III of Scotland, had been sent by ship to France, ostensibly for his own safekeeping, during the reign of Henry IV of England. English pirates captured the ship and Henry IV illegally took the Scots heir his prisoner. Grief-stricken, Robert III died; so James, at the age of nine, was king of Scotland, but uncrowned and unsworn to his subjects. Though a king, he had no ‘body politic’. He remained in English captivity for eighteen years.59 James, however, did not remain in prison all of Henry V’s reign. Henry realized his value by using the theatre of war to stage the proof of his own overlordship of James and of Scotland. When the Scots began to send military aid to the Dauphin, Henry released James, deploying him on the battlefield to ‘establish moral and legal superiority over his old enemies’ by redefining them as his vassal’s subjects.60 By insisting that the uncrowned Scots king, James I, fight on the English side against the Scots supporters of the Dauphin, Henry could reassert a legal claim of overlordship by treating his Scottish enemies differently from his French enemies—as rebellious subjects, in fact, not as enemies. So James I fought against his own countrymen at the siege of Melun and when the French and Scots were defeated, the Scots were hanged as traitors and the French ransomed.61 This example certainly (p. 702) contradicts John Hales’s later argument that the ransoming of Scots prisoners proves that they are foreigners; but of course, this was Henry V’s symbolic point.

For English chronicle histories and discourses proving English overlordship, such as Henry VIII’s Declaration and Smith’s Epitome, James I’s status as Henry’s prisoner thus fits neatly into Hardyng’s evidential model of Anglo-Scots history as an iteration of Scots allegiance withheld and English chastisement given. Scottish and French historians read the legal implications of events quite differently. They articulate a Scottish ‘monarchical republicanism’, in which they refuse to identify the weal of the kingdom with the natural body of the king. Thus John Mair, following the French historian, Robert Gaguin, notes that Henry V thought he could deploy James to bring the Scots over to the English side, but the Scots saw clearly that their duty was to fight against their king, and he approves their conduct in this matter: ‘for they knew that the stability and permanence of the Scottish kingdom did not depend upon their king, and that though the English king might make a prisoner of their king, he could not, for all that, make a prisoner of the kingdom of Scotland’.62 Interestingly, though, both Hall’s and Holinshed’s accounts register something of the Scots’ point of view, while recording their own.

Hall includes an anecdote from Hector Boece’s Scotorum historia, according to which James I was asked by Henry V to persuade the Scots who were aiding the Dauphin to ‘return into their countree and natiue region’. James, according to Hall, replied that he could not do this because as a prisoner, ‘I haue no possession of my realme, secondairely that I am as yet nether sworne to my subiectes, nor they by no oth of allegeance are bound to obey my commaundementes.’ James concludes that, were he so sworn, he would first take counsel (‘forese’) what was best for his realm. Boece, that is, articulates the principle of the king as servant of the ‘commonweal’ created by his coronation oath, rather than as absolute monarch.63 Holinshed, describing the siege of Melun, writes how the Scots responded to ‘yoong Iames of Scotland’ that ‘they could not take him for a king, that was in the power of another’, so that Henry ordered that ‘for their rebellion against their prince, which they would haue to be counted constancie … twentie of the proudest’ were ‘to be hanged at once’.64 Holinshed’s account nicely captures the ambiguity around who is giving the orders, who is ‘liege lord and king’; James orders the Scots to yield, but when they deny that they are James’s subjects it is Henry who orders the death that will prove them his subjects.

Shakespeare, of course, was dramatizing Agincourt, not the siege of Melun. His suppression of his sources’ discussion of Henry V’s imprisonment of James I can be therefore be explained in terms of dramatic economy, or, indeed, political discretion in the final years of Elizabeth’s reign, while the succession question remained ‘doubtful and dangerous’.65 What cannot follow from this, however, is the argument—common in criticism (p. 703) of the play—that the insertion of ‘Captain Jamy’ in a revised text of the play represents a compliment to James VI and I and an optimism about ‘Britain’.66 Such an argument fails to take account of the strenuous ideological work performed by the play in effacing the idea of Scotland as a nation, and replacing it with the imaginatively central figure of the ‘perilous narrow ocean’ that, in distinguishing the ‘two mighty monarchies’ portrayed as at war with one another, conveniently associates the English audience with the whole island, and their enemy with ‘overseas’ (1.0.20–2). Peter Womack has written brilliantly of the Chorus’s feigned apology for the deficiencies of theatre as the harnessing of the audience to ‘conceive of a positive imaginary entity’ that ‘can … be named very simply: it is England’. Of course, England, as Womack goes on to show, is not ‘a thing but a mode of connectedness’—a point I will come back to shortly—but in figuring the actors’ dependence on the audience’s ‘imaginary forces’, the Chorus, as Womack also observes, repeatedly associates the activity of the imagination with the crossing and re-crossing of the Channel, ‘Grapple your minds to sternage of this navy’; ‘Heave him away upon your wingèd thoughts / Athwart the sea’ (3.0.18; 5.0.8–9).67 Understanding the English assumption of what the imprisoned James I signified—that is, the historical ‘truth’ of Scotland’s status as England’s homager—helps us understand just what was being achieved by reducing the three-nation war described by Hall’s Chronicle into the constitution of ‘England’ as an imagined community of theatre-goers whose only historical enemies were ‘overseas’.

Tact had its own ideological work to do in ensuring the continued currency, in England, of the historical argument that Scotland had never been a nation and the Scots had always been homagers to the English. Scots homage had been, in the 1540s, alleged as a ‘cause’ to justify invasive war. But—as the plays Edward I and Edward III make evident—the idea that Scotland was really a fiefdom of England did not cease to function with the failure of the English attempt to conquer Scotland in 1551. The argument for the historical vassalage of the Scots’ Crown continued to be made, with great discretion and tact, in private political deliberations and in manuscript legal opinions, to prove the case for the English military aid to the Scots, and to prove the right of Scottish succession. Thus, for example, William Cecil, argued in his private memoranda in 1559, that ‘The Crowne of england hath both a iust and vnfeyned title of longer durance, than the frendshipp, betwixt scotland and france, vnto the superiority of Scotland’, a title proved by ‘good and habundant storyes’, so that England ought to defend Scotland.68 In 1566, Edmund Plowden wrote discreetly in manuscript that Mary Queen of Scots could not be barred from the succession by the argument of foreign birth, for the Scots were not a separate nation:

yt is written and beleeued certainly that Scottland is holden of the kinge of England. And yt is taken that yt was first yeven to Albanacte second son of Brute the first kinge (p. 704) that possessed this realme to holde of Locrine his oldest brother kinge of Englande. And ever sithens yt hath bene holden of England, as by the Cronicles and recordes & other testimonies yt maye appeare.69

Once these arguments had done their work, and James VI of Scotland was actually on the English throne, the historical evidence for Scotland’s always having been a homager to England was trotted out again, this time to do duty by way of managing the trauma of regnal union for the English, ensuring against detrimental effects that Scotland might have on the integrity of England and its political and legal institutions. Sir Henry Spelman argued that there was no need with James’s accession to change the name of the kingdom to ‘Britain’, for kings of England had always been implicitly been kings of Scotland without bothering to mention it. ‘[T]he kinges of England’, he maintained, always concluded ‘the kingdomes of Scotland and Wales … to be of the fee and homage of their crowne of England, and to be conteyned under that title.’70 Henry Savile, writing at James’s request, thought the union of Scotland and English ought to be classified as the ‘consolidation’ of a seignory with a state holding its suzerainty, since ‘Scotland hath of long time been homager to England’ (my italics).71

I want to come back, now, to my opening comments on the radical analytical potential of our paying attention to the affinities between forensic rhetoric and fiction making. I showed how Shakespeare psychologized Hall’s forensic scene, shifting the focus of inquiry from the rights and wrongs of England’s title to France, to the question of what the king, in his conscience, might really think. As many critics have pointed out, it is this very tendency—the tendency to transform proof of a heroic English victory into nagging questions of conscience about the justifiability of war—that makes the play’s ostensible nationalism seem to subvert and question itself. ‘The heart of the play’, as Richard Dutton puts it, ‘is not the battle of Agincourt, which is textually almost a non-event: it is the night before the battle, where the hopelessly outnumbered English army from Henry down looks into its soul’.72 It is clear that the ‘Englishness’ of this play thus has an inward, sceptical dimension that seems to belie the idea of English nationalism, but actually, brilliantly, defines it. As Womack puts it,

[T]he inward England which is greater than its outward appearance, is graspable not in spite of the disjunctions between stage and kingdom, but through them. In piecing out the imperfections of the performance with their thoughts, the spectators are at the same time piecing out the imperfections of historical events.73

(p. 705) Part of what we ‘piece out’ in supplementing performance with our thoughts is, of course, the unknowability of causa, or motive. Inviting us to be dubious about The King’s ‘cause’ both as legal title and as personal motive, questions of national identity and of the ethics of war (was Henry right to give the command to kill the French prisoners? should Bardolph have been hanged for stealing a pax?) seem supra-nationally inclusive, not narrowly English.

Nevertheless, by giving England this ‘inward’ dimension, the play also works very effectively—and far more effectively, in fact, than more overtly anti-Scottish plays like Edward I and Edward III—to efface the historical idea of Scotland as a nation. Shakespeare did not forget the figure of the ‘prisoner king’ as a proof of England’s legal title to Scotland. What he did was to produce the figure of the Scottish ‘prisoner king’ not as a staged reality or even part of the implied off-stage world of Henry’s reign, but as a metaphor for the richness of English chronicles as discourses proving an English overlordship of the whole island. This he did this by including a very telling reminiscence from the play Edward III.

In Hall, the Archbishop of Canterbury insists that Henry is entitled to France because of his lineal descent from ‘the high and most noble prince of famous memory kyng Edward the third your great grandfather’ (50). Taking his cue from this, Shakespeare’s Archbishop winds up his refutation of the Salic law with a peroration urging Henry to go to Edward’s tomb, and:

  • invoke his warlike spirit,
  • And your great uncle’s, Edward the Black Prince,
  • Who on the French ground played a tragedy
  • Making defeat on the full power of France. (1.2.104–7)

It is at this point that Henry puts the qualification, made in Hall by the Earl of Westmoreland, that French invasion advantages the Scot, against whom military provision must be made:

  • We must not only arm t’invade the French,
  • But lay down our proportions to defend
  • Against the Scot. (1.2.136–8)

When Canterbury proposes that the marches, or borderlands, are defence enough, Henry carefully clarifies that he’s not referring to border rebels but to national policy—‘the main intendment of the Scot’—which he goes on to describe, from having read chronicles of Edward III: ‘For you shall read’, he says,

  • that my great-grandfather
  • Never went with his forces into France,
  • But that the Scot on his unfurnished kingdom
  • Came pouring like a tide into the breach. (1.2.146–50)

(p. 706) Henry’s response to the Archbishop at first attempts to distinguish between border raiders—‘the coursing snatchers’—and the whole of Scotland as a nation with a national cause (their ‘main intendment’) which, historically speaking, was the Franco-Scots alliance, as Shakespeare perfectly well knew. As Henry goes on to describe what happens when he ‘reads’ the chronicle histories of Edward III, however, the distinction between Scots as border raiders and the causa of the Scots as a nation collapses. John Mair explains, ‘When Edward the Third was laying siege to Calais, Philip of Valois, the French king, sent to David Bruce, and urged him to invade England, in the hope that Edward would then desist from siege.’74 In other words, Henry reading about his great-grandfather going with his forces into France, would also have read that David II responded by invading England, because he felt oath-bound by the terms of his alliance with France. Shakespeare replaces this perfectly transparent national cause with the image of a tide, so that Edward, ‘Never went with his forces into France, / But that the Scot … came pouring like the tide into a breach’ (1.2.147–8). This enables the absurdity of comments likes that of the Arden editor, T. W. Craik, who writes of ‘the Scots habit of invading whenever the English army goes overseas’, as if the English army were planning a seaside holiday rather than invading Scotland’s ally. But Craik is responding to the play’s carefully achieved identification of ‘foreign’ with ‘overseas’, and carefully crafted suggestion that the Scots, rather than being a foreign nation with a cause of war, are simply bad neighbours who have a ‘habit of invading’ or who are, rather than a foreign nation, merely the oceanic medium, the tide, that might enable a truly foreign nation to invade.

Henry’s mention of English chronicles of Edward III prompts, from Canterbury, a no less potent image of the undefended England as a ‘mourning widow’ who, nevertheless, manages to both to repel unwanted Scottish attentions and even corral the Scottish monarchy itself. When all England’s ‘chivalry hath been in France’, declares the Archbishop,

  • And she a mourning widow of her nobles,
  • She hath herself not only well defended,
  • But taken and impounded as a stray
  • The King of Scots; whom she did send to France
  • To fill King Edward’s fame with prisoner kings
  • And make her chronicle as rich with praise
  • As is the ooze and bottom of the sea
  • With sunken wrack and sumless treasuries. (1.2.156–65)

The Archbishop’s dismissal of the Scots is, clearly, a recollection not of chronicle histories but of the staging and rhetoric of the earlier play. It is only in the play Edward III that David, king of Scots, is ‘sent to France’ to be paraded at ‘Calais’—that is, onstage with the French king. In remembering Edward III with its climactic tableau of Edward III’s (p. 707) receiving the ‘inland’ king from his wife (personified here as ‘England’ herself ‘a mourning widow’, with menfolk in France) and the ‘overseas’ king from his son, Shakespeare shows that he knows exactly what the scene’s legal and imaginative significance is. Just as Edward I yoked John Balliol like a ‘heifer’ for straying his bounds, so here David is imagined as ‘impounded as a stray’. Though jocularly mock-heroic, the terms imply that the Scottish polity or political body only moves within a superior English jurisdiction.75 Equally telling is Shakespeare’s play with the idea of the example’s generative plurality. Edward’s fame was filled with ‘prisoner kings’ in the plural, because both the French and the Scottish kings became his prisoners; the idea, however, of this amplitude becoming that of ‘England’s chronicle’ made ‘rich with praise’ turns towards the value of chronicles like Hardyng’s, Hall’s, and Holinshed’s as forensic proof of sovereignty, or title—of arguments in the national cause of war.

The implication here is that the value of Scots kings imprisoned by the English lies in their accumulated potential for the future—Edward III’s David II, Henry V’s James I—so enriching English chronicles with proof that, as Savile claimed, ‘Scotland hath of long time been homager to England’. It is not, in other words, that Shakespeare’s ‘Captain Jamy’ stands in for the figure of James VI and I as the voice of England’s hegemonic power over a united British kingdom, but that, rather, Captain Jamy stands as a reminder that, though a James may be the monarch of England, Scotland itself moves, and should always have moved (but for its straying), within England’s jurisdiction.


Adams, N. alias Brodrugan. An Epitome of the Title that the Kynges Maiestie of Englande Hath to the Sovereigntie of Scotlande, Continued vpon the Auncient Writers of Both Nacions from the Beginnyng (London: 1548).Find this resource:

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Galloway, Bruce and Brian Levack, eds. The Jacobean Union: Six Tracts of 1604 (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 1985).Find this resource:

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(1) A note on the title: ‘Forensic history’ is a term that has been used by John Phillip Reid, The Ancient Constitution and the Origins of Anglo-American Liberty (Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005) to describe the doctrine of the ‘ancient constitution’ as a method of legal argumentation rather than as defective historiography. I invoke the term rather to draw attention to the medieval and early modern use of historical chronicles as evidence of legal agreements, titles, charters, and homage.

(2) Joel Altman, ‘ “Vile Participation”: The Amplification of Violence in the Theater of Henry V’, SQ, 42.1 (1991): 1–32, 23.

(3) For example, John Mark Mattox, ‘Henry V: Just Warrior’, War, Literature and the Arts, 12.1 (2000): 30–53, 32–3.

(4) A. C. Bradley, The Rejection of Falstaff’, in Oxford Lectures on Poetry (London: Macmillan, 1909), 257.

(5) The classic study is Norman Rabkin, ‘Rabbits, Ducks and Henry V’, SQ, 28.3 (1977): 279–96. See also Claire McEachern, ‘Henry V and the Paradox of the Body Politic’, SQ, 45.1 (1994): 33–56; and David Quint, ‘Alexander the Pig: Shakespeare on History and Poetry’, Boundary 2, 10.3 (1982): 49–67.

(6) Kathy Eden, ‘Forensic Rhetoric’, 000.

(7) Quintilian, Institutio oratoria, ed. and trans. Donald A. Russell, 5 vols (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001) 5.10.23; see Lorna Hutson, Circumstantial Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) 1–3, 59–62, 76–86.

(9) Quentin Skinner, Forensic Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); see also Skinner’s chapter in this volume.

(11) Edward Hall, Hall’s Chronicle containing the History of England [1548] (New York: AMS Press, 1965), 49.

(12) On the different kinds of issue or constitutio (conjectural, juridical, and legal), see Quentin Skinner’s chapter in this volume.

(13) Hall, Chronicle, 50.

(15) See, for example, Peter Womack, ‘Imagining Communities: Theatres and the English Nation in the Sixteenth Century’, in Culture and History, 1350–1600, ed. David Aers (London: Harvester, 1992); David J. Baker, ‘ “Wildehirishman”: Colonialist Representation in Shakespeare’s Henry V’, ELR, 22.1 (1992): 37–61; Philip Schwyzer, ‘ “I Am Welsh, You Know”, The Nation in Henry V’, in Literature, Nationalism and Memory in Early Modern England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 126–50.

(16) In 1291, Edward I asked various monasteries to search their chronicles for evidence of English overlordship of Scotland. See E. L. G. Stones and Grant Simpson, Edward I and the Throne of Scotland 1290–1296, 2 vols (Oxford University Press, for the University of Glasgow: 1978), 1.137–44.

(17) See R. James Goldstein, The Matter of Scotland: Historical Narrative in Medieval Scotland (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993), 57–103.

(18) Dale S. Hoak, ‘Sir William Cecil, Sir Thomas Smith, and the Monarchical Republic of Tudor England’, in The Monarchical Republic of Early Modern England, ed. John F. McDiarmid (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), 37–54.

(19) Mortimer Levine, The Early Elizabethan Succession Question 1558–1568 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1966), 121–5.

(20) Bruce Galloway, The Union of England and Scotland, 1603–1608 (Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers, 1986), 11: ‘The average Englishman saw the old assertions of suzerainty over Scotland as simple fact.’

(21) King Henry V, ed. T. W. Craik (London: Bloomsbury, 1995), 6–7.

(22) For a modern account of the decisive effect of Scottish military aid to the French in the Hundred Years War, see Jonathan Sumption, Trial By Battle: The Hundred Years War (London: Faber, 1990), 1.59–65.

(23) Hall, Chronicle, 52.

(24) For the increasingly desperate state of Somerset’s war against the Scots, see The Letters of William, Lord Paget of Beaudesert, 1547–1563, ed. Barrett L. Beer and Sybil M. Jack, Camden Miscellany, Vol. XXV (London: Royal Historical Society, 1974), 21–5, 30–2, 75–7. I am grateful to Dale Hoak for bringing Paget’s letters to Somerset to my attention and for sharing with me his knowledge of the 1540s.

(25) See Marcus Merriman, The Rough Wooings: Mary Queen of Scots, 1542–1551 (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 2000).

(26) Hoak, ‘Sir William Cecil’, 49.

(27) STC 12766 and 12767.

(28) Hoak, ‘Sir William Cecil’, 50–1.

(29) Edward Hall, ODNB.

(30) Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain, Latin text ed. Michael D. Reeve and trans. Neil Wright (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2007), 30–1.

(31) See nos. 28 and 29 in Anglo-Scottish Relations 1174–1328, ed. E. L. G. Stones (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), [81–97], 162–194–5.

(32) Geoffrey, History, 30–1; Anglo-Scottish Relations, [97], 194–5.

(33) Hall, Chronicle, 53.

(34) A Declaration, sigs B4v–C1r; An Epitome, sigs A6r–A7v.

(35) A Declaration, sig. B4r.

(36) The following paragraphs on Hardyng follow Alfred Hiatt, The Making of Medieval Forgeries: False Documents in Fifteenth-Century England (London: British Library and University of Toronto Press, 2004).

(37) Roger A. Mason, ‘Scotching the Brut: Politics, History and National Myth in Sixteenth-Century Britain’, in Scotland and England, 1286–1815 (Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers, 1986), 60–84.

(38) Plowden writes, BL MS Don. c. 43, fol. 54: ‘I heare there be many recordes extant in the Exchecker testifyinge this homage, and other matters prouinge Scottland to be wthin th’obedience of England’; ‘For Scottland was first lawfully geven to Albanacte first kinge of Scottes, to holde of Locrine, his Eldest brother kinge of England by homage & seruice thereto due. and so doth kinge Henrie th’eight affirme in his said booke, and the Chronicles of England also’, fol. 56r.

(39) Hiatt, Medieval Forgeries, 104.

(40) Hiatt, Medieval Forgeries, 104–5.

(41) Hiatt, Medieval Forgeries, 106–7.

(42) John Strype, The Life of the Learned Sir Thomas Smith (London: 1698), 141.

(43) George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie, ed. Gladys Doidge Willcock and Alice Walker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1936; rpt 1970), 62, 245–6.

(44) The Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng (London: Richard Grafton, 1543), sig. 2r.

(45) Hall, Chronicle, viii.

(46) Hall, Chronicle, 54.

(47) Hiatt, Medieval Forgeries, 106–8; The Chronicle of Iohn Hardyng, ed. Henry Ellis [London: 1812] (New York: AMS Press, 1974), 228–9, 236.

(48) John Major, History of Greater Britain [1521], trans. Archibald Constable (Edinburgh: 1892), 127–8.

(49) See Hardyng, ed. Ellis, 41–2, 45, 61–2, 120, 126, 207, 211, 228, 239–40 and passim; Epitome, sig. A7r, sig. b1r–v and passim.

(50) The Uses of History in Early Modern England, ed. Paulina Kewes (San Marino: Huntington Library, 2006) does not mention this use of history.

(51) For a list, see Gordon McMullan, ‘The Colonisation of Early Britain on the Jacobean Stage’, in Reading the Medieval in Early Modern England, ed. Gordon McMullan and David Matthews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 138–40.

(52) Levine, Early Elizabethan Succession, 121.

(53) Keith Brown, ‘Historical Context and Henry V’, Cahiers Élisabéthains, 29 (1986): 77–81, 78–9.

(54) Richard Dutton, ‘ “Methinks the Truth Should Live from Age to Age”: The Dating and Contexts of Henry V’, HLQ, 68.1–2 (2005): 173–204, 188.

(55) George Peele, Edward I, ed. Frank S. Hook, in The Life and Works of George Peele, 3 vols (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961), 2.95–6.

(56) Peele, Works, 2.122–3, 153–4.

(57) See Edward III, ed. Giorgio Melchiori (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 1–17; E. Pearlman, ‘Edward III in Henry V’, Criticism, 37.4 (1995): 519–36.

(58) Pearlman, ‘Edward III in Henry V’, 524.

(59) See Michael Brown, James I (Edinburgh: Canongate Academic, 1994), 1–24.

(62) Mair, History, 344.

(63) Hall, Chronicle, 109.

(64) Raphael Holinshed, Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, 6 vols [1808] (London: AMS Press, 1976), 3.123.

(65) Susan Doran and Pauline Kewes, Doubtful and Dangerous: The Question of Succession in Late Elizabethan England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014).

(66) See, for example, Neil Rhodes, ‘Wrapped in the Strong Arms of the Union: Shakespeare and King James’, in Shakespeare and Scotland, ed. Willy Maley and Andrew Murphy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), 37–52, 48–9; John Kerrigan, Archipelagic English: Literature, History, and Politics, 1603–1707 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 15.

(67) Womack, ‘Imagining Communities’, 91–3.

(68) BL Cotton Caligula B. 10, fol. 33v–34r.

(69) BL MS Don. c. 43, fol. 44v.

(70) The Jacobean Union: Six Tracts of 1604, ed. Bruce R. Galloway and Brian P. Levack (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 1985), 165.

(71) Jacobean Union, 190–2.

(72) Dutton, ‘ “Methinks the Truth Should Live” ’, 192.

(73) Womack, ‘Imagining Communities’, 95.

(74) Mair, History, 292.

(75) Hall, Chronicle, 53.