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Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

by Chauncey Tinker – 26 Oct 2019

Image By Unknown - This image comes from Gallica Digital Library and is available under the digital ID btv1b105380390/f33, Public Domain, Link

As yet another Brexit deadline looms next week I was reminded of the words of Henry V in Shakespeare’s play:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;

Henry V

Image By Unknown miniaturist - This file has been provided by the British Library from its digital collections. It is also made available on a British Library website.Catalogue entry: Arundel MS 38, Public Domain, Link

Quite what it will take to revive the spirit of our island nation that was once so fiercely independent I don’t know. Perhaps reminding our fellow citizens of our historical and cultural achievements, that are these days so often besmirched and belittled by the traitorous far left, might do a little to help though. In this series I have therefore been taking a look at some of the rather forgotten aspects of our cultural past.

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, the term “the Middle Ages” was invented by the Italian Humanists as a slur against the period before their revival of classical learning. Quite when the Medieval period is supposed to end and where the Renaissance period begins depends on who you ask and also what part of Europe you are referring to, but certainly some aspects of the Renaissance (particularly the architectural trends) took longer to arrive on our shores. What is certain though is that polyphonic music (more generally associated with the Renaissance) was already a highly developed art form in England in the time of Henry V. Here is a splendid example from the period by the English composer John Dunstable (aka John Dunstaple), who lived from c. 1390 – 1453:

Unfortunately many other works from the period were destroyed during the English Reformation, perhaps our view of the Middle Ages would be somewhat different if they had survived.

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Henry V of England

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