Jane Austen on Henry V




When she was fifteen Jane Austen wrote a satirical history of England.  Here is her passage on Henry V and his son:


Henry the 5th 

This Prince after he succeeded to the throne grew quite reformed and amiable, forsaking all his dissipated Companions, & never thrashing Sir William again. During his reign, Lord Cobham was burnt alive, but I forget what for. His Majesty then turned his thoughts to France, where he went & fought the famous Battle of Agincourt. He afterwards married the King’s daughter Catherine, a very agreeable Woman by Shakespear’s account. Inspite of all this however, he died, and was succeeded by his son Henry.

Henry the 6th

I cannot say much for this Monarch’s sense. Nor would I if I could, for he was a Lancastrian. I suppose you know all about the Wars between him & the Duke of York who was of the right side; if you do not, you had better read some other History, for I shall not be very diffuse in this, meaning by it only to vent my Spleen against, & shew my Hatred to all those people whose parties or principles do not suit with mine, & not to give information. This King married Margaret of Anjou, a Woman whose distresses & misfortunes were so great as almost to make me who hate her, pity her. It was in this reign that Joan of Arc lived & made such a row among the English. They should not have burnt her – but they did. 



Now if she had only turned to History as her muse in adult life instead of wasting her time with novels.  (I swiftly run from the stones aimed my way!)


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One Comment

  1. The Archbishop’s guess as to the meaning of the “terra vero salica” (in the MS published by Herold) or the “terra autem salica” (in the MS published by the Abbé Piuthou) is as good as any.

    No one really knows what it meant and “if it is to be guesswork, let us all guess for ourselves. To be guided by second-hand conjecture is pitiful,” as Henry Tilney observess in Northanger Abbey; a caution that deserves to be heeded by the whole tribe of textual critics, historians – and jurists.

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