What mightst thou do, that honour would thee do,
Were all thy children kind and natural!
But see,thy fault France hath in thee found out,
A nest of hollow bosoms. (CHORUS, Henry V: II.0.18-21)
Henry VI II: Act I
It’s a strange thing, patriotism.
I’ll try to make this the final time I mention how I don’t feel especially patriotic towards England as opposed to Britain, but the beginning of the play causes me to examine my attitudes again. It probably says something about my pedantic nature that I can’t simply conflate the two. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that my Welsh girlfriend would probably dump me! Either way, I suddenly became acutely aware of an inchoate fear for the country. Ye-e-es, there was some fear for Henry, about to be eaten alive by his Queen like a hapless spider, but the sympathy I felt for Henry as a child effectively evaporated in the white heat of his ineffectuality. It facilitated of the betrayal of my new Shakespearean heroes, the Talbots, and so isn’t easily forgiven or forgotten. So it wasn’t what Margaret might or might not do to Henry that worried me. It was how she might treat England …