Wednesday 25 October 2017


Hey Folks, almost forgot: today 25th October is the feast day of Sts Crispin and Crispinian, Patron saints of cobblers, tanners and allied trades including  curriers; glove makers; lace makers; lace workers; leather workers; saddle makers; saddlers; shoemakers; weavers. These guys are not real saints like St Francis of Assisi (1181–1226) or Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) for whom we have data like birth and death dates and contemporary records of their miraculous doings. C & C au contraire are sort of lost in the mists of time, having lived in Gallia before the fall of the Roman Empire. Any miracles they have wrought will have been due to the placebo effect.

When I was in school in England we learned about the Battles of Crécy 1346, Poitiers 1356 and Agincourt 1415 when the Brits won, usually against fearful odds against the upstart French. The anglophone history books a strangely silent about all the battles of the Hundred Years' War which were won by the French: of the decisive battles of Pontvallain 1370,  Patay 1429 and Formigny 1450, we heard not a word. Be that as it may, Agincourt was famously fought on St Crispin's Day 1415. Famously? yea and forsooth, because it inspired a brilliant harangue by Henry V in the Shogsporian play of the same name. I've cited Kenneth Branagh's version before but let's hear that again, because for many it sets the recent standard for Band-of-brothersness:

  • Kenneth Branagh. You might think it don't get better than that but hark:
  • Richard Burton. Even without the moving image it is just The Voice. As I said before Burton's Under Milk Wood is pure poetry.
  • Young Master Hatch gives it socks. Of course the music (ripped from Branagh's film) helps; but this kid has Presence
  • Laurence Olivier does his best in the WWII propaganda film but credibility is diminished by having Oliver clanking about the [rather obvious] set on a pair of legs borrowed from C3PO.
Enough already?  Now here's the sciency bonus. Turns out that Henry, then Prince of Wales and only 16, was struck in the face by an arrow at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.  Surgeon John Bradmore invented a novel tool for extracting the arrowhead from inside the Prince's skull and the patient survived. Indeed the young chap turned over a new leaf "For whereas aforetime he had made himselfe a companion unto misrulie mates of dissolute order and life, he now banished them all from his presence . . ."

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