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Edward III Scenes

Scene 3

Picardy. The fields near Cressy.

(King Edward; Earl of Derby; Soldiers; Gobin de Grey; Artois; Prince Edward; Lord Audley; King John; Charles of Normandy; Duke of Lorraine; King of Bohemia; Philip; First Herald; Second Herald; Third Herald; Fourth Herald)

King Edward rewards a French prisoner who led his army across the river Somme. Prince Edward arrives with his army, reporting his great successes in campaigning but also that the French, in general, would not submit. The Prince also tells his father that King John and his army are nearby. This is confirmed when John himself arrives to challenge Edward. The two kings exchanges insults, John refusing to give up his crown and Edward refusing to give up his claim. It becomes clear that battle is the only solution, and both kings rally their troops. John and his men leave to prepare for the fight. Edward knights his son. The English then prepare for battle. (228 lines)

Enter King Edward, and the Earl of Derby, with Soldiers, and Gobin de Grey.


Where’s the Frenchman by whose cunning guide

We found the shallow of this river Somme,

And had directions how to pass the sea?


Here, my good lord.


How art thou called? Tell me thy name.


Gobin de Grey, if please your excellence.


Then, Gobin, for the service thou hast done,

We here enlarge and give thee liberty;

And, for recompense beside this good,

Thou shalt receive five hundred marks in gold.—

I know not how, we should have met our son,

Whom now in heart I wish I might behold.

Enter Artois.


Good news, my lord; the prince is hard at hand,

And with him comes Lord Audley and the rest,

Whom since our landing we could never meet.

Drums sound. Enter Prince Edward, Lord Audley, and Soldiers.


Welcome, fair prince! How hast thou sped, my son,

Since thy arrival on the coast of France?


Successfully, I thank the gracious heavens:

Some of their strongest cities we have won,

As Harfleur, Lo, Crotay, and Carentigne,

And others wasted, leaving at our heels

A wide apparent field and beaten path

For solitariness to progress in:

Yet those that would submit we kindly pardoned,

But who in scorn refused our proffered peace,

Endured the penalty of sharp revenge.


Ah, France, why shouldest thou be thus obstinate

Against the kind embracement of thy friends?

How gently had we thought to touch thy breast

And set our foot upon thy tender mould,

But that, in froward and disdainful pride,

Thou, like a skittish and untamed colt,

Dost start aside and strike us with thy heels!

But tell me, Ned, in all thy warlike course,

Hast thou not seen the usurping King of France?


Yes, my good lord, and not two hours ago,

With full a hundred thousand fighting men—

Upon the one side of the river’s bank

And on the other both, his multitudes.

I feared he would have cropped our smaller power:

But happily, perceiving your approach,

He hath with drawn himself to Cressy plains;

Where, as it seemeth by his good array,

He means to bid us battle presently.


He shall be welcome; that’s the thing we crave.

Drums. Enter King John, the Dukes of Normandy and Lorraine, King of Bohemia, young Prince Philip, and Soldiers.


Edward, know that John, the true king of France,

Musing thou shouldst encroach upon his land,

And in thy tyrannous proceeding slay

His faithful subjects and subvert his towns,

Spits in thy face; and in this manner following

Obraids thee with thine arrogant intrusion:

First, I condemn thee for a fugitive,

A thievish pirate, and a needy mate,

One that hath either no abiding place,

Or else, inhabiting some barren soil,

Where neither herb or fruitful grain is had,

Doest altogether live by pilfering:

Next, insomuch thou hast infringed thy faith,

Broke league and solemn covenant made with me,

I hold thee for a false pernicious wretch:

And, last of all, although I scorn to cope

With one so much inferior to myself,

Yet, in respect thy thirst is all for gold,

Thy labour rather to be feared than loved,

To satisfy thy lust in either part,

Here am I come, and with me have I brought

Exceeding store of treasure, pearl, and coin.

Leave, therefore, now to persecute the weak,

And armed entering conflict with the armed,

Let it be seen, ’mongst other petty thefts,

How thou canst win this pillage manfully.


If gall or wormwood have a pleasant taste,

Then is thy salutation honey sweet;

But as the one hath no such property,

So is the other most satirical.

Yet wot how I regard thy worthless taunts:

If thou have uttered them to foil my fame

Or dim the reputation of my birth,

Know that thy wolvish barking cannot hurt;

If slyly to insinuate with the world,

And with a strumpet’s artificial line

To paint thy vicious and deformed cause,

Be well assured, the counterfeit will fade,

And in the end thy foul defects be seen;

But if thou didst it to provoke me on,

As who should say I were but timorous.

Or, coldly negligent, did need a spur,

Bethink thyself how slack I was at sea,

How since my landing I have won no towns,

Entered no further but upon the coast,

And there have ever since securely slept.

But if I have been other wise employed,

Imagine, Valois, whether I intend

To skirmish, not for pillage, but for the crown

Which thou dost wear; and that I vow to have,

Or one of us shall fall into his grave.


Look not for cross invectives at our hands,

Or railing execrations of despite:

Let creeping serpents, hid in hollow banks,

Sting with their tongues; we have remorseless swords,

And they shall plead for us and our affairs.

Yet thus much, briefly, by my father’s leave:

As all the immodest poison of thy throat

Is scandalous and most notorious lies,

And our pretended quarrel is truly just,

So end the battle when we meet today:

May either of us prosper and prevail,

Or, luckless, curst, receive eternal shame!


That needs no further question; and I know,

His conscience witnesseth, it is my right.—

Therefore, Valois, say, wilt thou yet resign,

Before the sickles thrust into the corn,

Or that inkindled fury turn to flame?


Edward, I know what right thou hast in France;

And ere I basely will resign my crown,

This champion field shall be a pool of blood,

And all our prospect as a slaughter house.


Aye, that approves thee, tyrant, what thou art:

No father, king, or shepherd of thy realm,

But one, that tears her entrails with thy hands,

And, like a thirsty tiger, suckst her blood.


You peers of France, why do you follow him

That is so prodigal to spend your lives?


Whom should they follow, aged impotent,

But he that is their true borne sovereign?


Obraidst thou him, because within his face

Time hath ingraved deep characters of age?

Know, these grave scholars of experience,

Like stiff grown oaks, will stand immovable,

When whirl wind quickly turns up younger trees.


Was ever any of thy father’s house

King but thyself, before this present time?

Edward’s great linage, by the mother’s side,

Five hundred years hath held the sceptre up:

Judge then, conspirators, by this descent,

Which is the true borne sovereign, this or that.


Father, range your battles, prate no more;

These English fain would spend the time in words,

That, night approaching, they might escape unfought.


Lords and my loving subjects, now’s the time,

That your intended force must bide the touch.

Therefore, my friends, consider this in brief:

He that you fight for is your natural King;

He against whom you fight, a foreigner:

He that you fight for, rules in clemency,

And reins you with a mild and gentle bit;

He against whom you fight, if he prevail,

Will straight inthrone himself in tyranny,

Makes slaves of you, and with a heavy hand

Curtail and curb your sweetest liberty.

Then, to protect your country and your King,

Let but the haughty courage of your hearts

Answer the number of your able hands,

And we shall quickly chase these fugitives.

For what’s this Edward but a belly god,

A tender and lascivious wantoness,

That thother day was almost dead for love?

And what, I pray you, is his goodly guard?

Such as, but scant them of their chines of beef

And take away their downy featherbeds,

And presently they are as resty stiff,

As ’twere a many over ridden jades.

Then, Frenchmen, scorn that such should be your lords,

And rather bind ye them in captive bands.


Vive le Roy! God save King John of France!


Now on this plain of Cressy spread yourselves,—

And, Edward, when thou darest, begin the fight.

Exeunt King John, Charles, Philip, Lorraine, Boheme, and forces.


We presently will meet thee, John of France:—

And, English lords, let us resolve this day,

Either to clear us of that scandalous crime,

Or be intombed in our innocence.

And, Ned, because this battle is the first

That ever yet thou foughtest in pitched field,

As ancient custom is of martialists,

To dub thee with the tip of chivalry,

In solemn manner we will give thee arms.

Come, therefore, heralds, orderly bring forth

A strong attirement for the prince my son.

Enter four Heralds, bringing in a coat-armor, a helmet, a lance, and a shield.

The first Herald delivers the armor to King Edward, who puts it on his son.


Edward Plantagenet, in the name of God,

As with this armor I impale thy breast,

So be thy noble unrelenting heart

Walled in with flint of matchless fortitude,

That never base affections enter there:

Fight and be valiant, conquer where thou comest!

Now follow, lords, and do him honor to.


Edward Plantagenet, prince of Wales,

As I do set this helmet on thy head,

Wherewith the chamber of thy brain is fenc’d,

So may thy temples, with Bellona’s hand,

Be still adorned with laurel victory:

Fight and be valiant, conquer where thou comest!


Edward Plantagenet, prince of Wales,

Receive this lance into thy manly hand;

Use it in fashion of a brazen pen,

To draw forth bloody stratagems in France,

And print thy valiant deeds in honor’s book:

Fight and be valiant, vanquish where thou comest!


Edward Plantagenet, prince of Wales,

Hold, take this target, wear it on thy arm;

And may the view thereof, like Perseus’ shield,

Astonish and transform thy gazing foes

To senseless images of meager death:

Fight and be valiant, conquer where thou comest!


Now wants there nought but knighthood, which deferred

We leave, till thou hast won it in the field.


My gracious father and ye forward peers,

This honor you have done me, animates

And cheers my green, yet scarce appearing strength

With comfortable good presaging signs,

No other wise than did old Jacob’s words,

When as he breathed his blessings on his sons.

These hallowed gifts of yours when I profane,

Or use them not to glory of my God,

To patronage the fatherless and poor,

Or for the benefit of England’s peace,

Be numb my joints, wax feeble both mine arms,

Wither my heart, that, like a sapless tree,

I may remain the map of infamy.


Then thus our steeled battles shall be ranged:

The leading of the vaward, Ned, is thine;

To dignify whose lusty spirit the more,

We temper it with Audley’s gravity,

That, courage and experience joined in one,

Your manage may be second unto none:

For the main battles, I will guide myself;

And, Darby, in the rearward march behind,

That orderly disposed and set in ray,

Let us to horse; and God grant us the day!



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