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Shakespeare on Leadership

King Henry V, "Band of Brothers" Speech

St. Crispin's Day, 1415

Shakespeare's Henry V

King Henry's St. Crispin's day speech is one of the most famous passages on leadership in all of literature. For a detailed analysis of what King Henry is doing in this and other excerpts and how it relates to the Charismatic-Transformational model, Click Here.

This is part of a series on Leadership for Lean Manufacturing and the Charismatic-Transformational Leadership Model. Leadership is a common theme in Shakespeare's plays, indeed, in much of literature. 

Leadership of Henry V

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Act 4, Scene 3

WESTMORELAND
O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING HENRY

What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition*:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

--William Shakespeare

* make him a member of the gentry, even if he is a commoner


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