Essay on Henry V

By | April 28, 2011

Sample Essay

Aquinos leads us to three determinations from these objections to war; First requirement is that of an “authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged, secondly, a just cause… namely because those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault, and thirdly, a rightful intention, so that they (the belligerents) intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil”.

King Henry was indeed the supreme authority of his time, legally entitled to the throne and thus had the rightful command when it came to declaring such a war, thereby satisfying the first determination, since “it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime” (Aquinas). St. Augustine in his reply to Faustus the Manichaean deemed Moses’ killing of the Egyptian justified only because it was authorized by God, the supreme command over all that is good.

Secondly, Henry requires a just cause. In his case, the Archbishop of Canterbury along with the Bishop of Ely advise him of laying claim to the disputed territories of France which are rightfully his, and Henry is quick to point out the severe consequences that may result of his advisor’s claims. “Of what your reverence shall incite us to. Therefore take heed how you impawn our person, How you awake our sleeping sword of war” (Gurr). As such, Henry depicts the cautious approach to waging war that is expected of a great leader, but once satisfied that his cause is just and that he is rightfully entitled to French property as stipulated by Canterbury, “There is no bar to make against your highness’ claim to France” (Gurr), the King is quick to declare his will to invade France, the disputed territory arguably serving as a just cause.

However, what is hard to decipher from Henry’s approach is the right intentions to avert evil and promote good such as specified in the case of Moses by Augustine, where it was just to wage war “with the divine commission to liberate the people of Israel from Egypt” (400).  Henry’s venture seems more personally motivated, as an attempt to prove himself of noble heritage, and capable of handling war like scenarios so as to deem himself a worthy leader, as was the primary aim of kings of that era. Although there may be a subservient intention to avert future disputes of similar kind, for it is hard to say that subsequent kings would not aim to carve a place in history by advancing into enemy territory over a legitimate right themselves. “We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace” (Augustine) puts that intention into perspective.

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