Agincourt Am g I left my home to take the coin Em Am

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Am G

I left my home to take the coin

Em Am

King Henry's army for to join

Am F

A knightly fee I seek to hold

Em G

A belt to wear, and spurs of gold

Am G

Two accolades had King Henry

Em Am

Just one would be enough for me

Am F

So off we march from keep and town

G Am

To win my King a second crown



For God, Saint George, and King Henry


I've brought my men across the sea

Am G F G

Honor and right we're fighting for

F G Am

I'll win my spurs at Agincourt

I brought in train nine armored men and bowmen steady, ten by ten

We've taken ship and come to land; on Normandy's green earth we stand

A hundred years of war we've known, our King denied his second throne

We'll beard the lion in his den and show the worth of English men! (CH)

To Harfleur Town we laid the siege and little could I serve my liege

My men are sick, the rivers swell; how long must we bide here in Hell?

Then Holland's men essay the gate, defended bravely, but too late

Our guns are brought to breach the walls and by surrender Harfleur falls (CH)

King Henry stands in armor clad and though we fear, our hearts are glad

He calls us brothers, happy few, I may die my liege, but I'll not shame you!

At last the French are camped in sight with battle planned for morning's light

The minstrels sing with all their breath; the priests prepare our souls for death

But defeat I cannot reckon by, a prisoner I, my men to die?

I've asked forgiveness from the Lord, so take my soul and bring my sword! (CH)

The Duke of York my men will guard, my bowmen in the archers' yard

No man may make it back alive-- for each we have, the French have five

The battle's joined, the arrows fly, the French on horse attack hard by

A mighty press, the Duke is down, what price to pay for Henry's crown?

What miracle my eyes have spied! Our valiant archers turn the tide

Before them each a sharpened stave from charging horse their life to save

The charge falls back on their own ranks with arrows in their horses' flanks

The wounded mounts run mad with pain, the French line breaks, their plans

in vain
By English might the French are pressed, King Henry fights like one possessed

The Duke will never rise again; it falls to me to lead our men

Will rallied cry our van attacks, the archers join with sword and axe

With banners high we meet the fray; against all odds we win the day! (CH)

To London Town and songs of praise, in victory we proudly raise

The banner of Saint George's cross to cries of, "Deo Gratias"

But now I ride for my own lands to serve the King as he commands

To keep the faith he placed in me with grace and might of chivalry

For God, Saint George, and King Henry we gained a mighty victory

And I return, a squire no more-- I won my spurs at Agincourt!

Kenneth MacQuarrie of Tobermory

Adelaide de Beaumont

Words by Lisa Theriot

Music by Ken and Lisa Theriot

© 1999 Raven Boy Music, ASCAP


The lyrics are original. The story relates the factual events of Henry V’s French campaign (August-October 1415) which culminated in the battle of Agincourt on October 25, 1415 [1, 2], as told by an unnamed fictional squire taking part in the campaign. Unlike the SCA’s notion of a squire in service to a knight, squires in Henry V’s time were often noblemen in their own right and as such had to provide a specified number of men for the king’s service when called [2].
The following comments relate to specific lines:
“Two accolades had King Henry”: Henry V was actually knighted twice, once by Richard II in 1399 and again by his father Henry IV when he became king later that year [2, 8].
“He calls us brothers, happy few”: William Shakespeare was a terrible historian, but he had some catchy turns of phrase, and as he wasn’t above stealing from others, we aren’t above stealing from him [10].
“To cries of, ‘Deo Gratias’", “With grace and might of chivalry”: both references to “The Agincourt Carol” written in the 15th century to celebrate Henry’s victory [3].
Meter and Structure
The meter is iambic tetrameter, one of the oldest recorded ballad meters [9]. Several 15th century ballads including “Inter Diabolus et Virgo” feature this meter, as does the “Agincourt Carol” [3, 10]. The “Agincourt Carol” also features verses of four lines and a repeated chorus [3]; though the carol’s chorus is only two lines long, we chose to use the same length in both chorus and verse as we felt it kept the story moving better for the audience.
The melody is original. It is written in the Aeolian mode, first codified in 1547 in the treatise “Dodekachordon” (“Twelve Strings”, “The Twelve-Stringed Lyre”) published by Swiss theoritician Heinrich Glareanus [6]. Glareanus attempted to close the gap between the officially recognized church modes and the way people were actually writing music. He recognized two modes not already described by the church: Ionian and Aeolian. (Not a moment too soon: the famous medieval hit “Sumer Is Icumen In”, written in the late 13th or early 14th century, is in Ionian mode. As usual, theory was lagging well behind practice.)
By 1600, British popular music was dominated by the four modes nearest to our modern ideas of “major” and “minor”: Ionian, Dorian, Mixolydian and Aeolian [4]. Though accidentals, or variations from the pure mode, had started to creep in to composed music, traditional music remained almost purely modal [5].
The wood cut depicted below is “Orpheus playing the six-course vihuela" from the frontispiece of Luys Milan's "El Maestro", (a vihuela music book) published in Valencia in 1535.

With the exception of friction pegs rather than modern machined pegs, this instrument is indistinguishable on casual inspection from a modern 12-stringed guitar. It was normally tuned GCFADG, which is modern standard guitar tuning (EADGBE) raised to the third fret, except for the third string (which becomes Bb rather than A, off a half step, just as period lute tuning is off a half step on that string from modern lute tuning).

Guitars were originally smaller cousins of the vihuela; early on, there was a plucked guitar and a strummed guitar (guitarra morisca 'moorish guitar' and guitarra Latina 'Latin guitar', both depicted in the Cantigas de Santa Maria, 13th c.; guitarra from Latin/Greek 'lyre'), but the plucked guitar eventually died out as it wasn't much different from the lute. Simultaneously in Spain there were two vihuelas ("vihuela" from Latin 'strings', whence vielle, etc.), a vihuela de mano (played by hand, plucked) and a vihuela de arco (bowed). The vihuela had a much larger body, like modern dreadnought guitars, and more strings. The bowed vihuela died out, too. The vihuela was tuned just like a six-course lute (most of the time), GCFADG; the guitar was tuned like the inner four courses of a six-course vihuela/lute.

As craftsmanship improved and the neck of the guitar could take greater stress, the guitar was tuned up a tone and both single (chanterelle) and double courses were tacked on, and as the guitar body grew to accommodate the extra strings it became difficult to tell the guitar from the vihuela [7].

By the end of the 16th c., the "standard" Spanish guitar had nine strings, four double-courses and a high chanterelle, tuned Aa/Dd/Gg/Bb/E, basically standard modern tuning minus the low E. A treatise discussing this tuning and the positions for "standard" chords was published in Madrid by Joan Carles y Amat in 1596. The debate between single and double courses raged throughout the 17th c. with treatises featuring diagrams for standard chord finger positions appearing for both. Obviously, the debate was never settled, since we still have 12-stringed guitars, though the single courses became more popular eventually, probably due to the relative ease of tuning.
The guitar became popular throughout Europe; the "Premier Livre de Chansons, Gaillardes, Pavannes, Bransles, Almandes, Fantaisies, reduictz en tabulature de Guiterne" was published in Paris in 1552 for a seven-stringed (three double courses and chanterelle) instrument.

Only the English stood by the lute until post-period, though the Globe Theatre in London records a guitar in its instrument inventory prior to 1600. The European sentiment was eloquently expressed by Luis de Briceno in 1626:
"There are many, my lady, who make fun of the guitar and its sound, but if they would consider carefully they would find that the guitar is the most suitable instrument for our time one could imagine, for nowadays one looks for savings of purse and trouble. The guitar is a veritable theatre of savings. And furthermore it is convenient and appropriate to singing, playing, ballet-dancing, jumping, running, folk-dancing and shoe-dancing. I can serenade with it, singing and expressing with its help a thousand amorous passions... It has none of the inconveniences to which the lute is subject; neither smoke nor heat nor cold nor dampness can incommode it. It is always fresh as a rose. If it gets out of tune easily, it is just as easy to tune it again... In my and many other people's opinion, the guitar has a great advantage over the lute, which requires many attentions to be properly maintained: it has to be a good instrument, well played, well strung, and listened to carefully, in silence. But the guitar, my lady, whether well played or badly played, well strung or badly strung, is pleasant to hear and listen to; being so easy to learn, it attracts the busiest of talented people and makes them put aside loftier occupations so that they may hold a guitar in their hands. They desert the lute, mandora, harp, violin, sinfonia, lyre, theorbo, cittern, and clavichord, all for the guitar. Many things could be said in favor of these instruments, but here one consideration is paramount: two thousand people now entertain themselves and express their thoughts and troubles through the guitar. And as further proof of the value of my guitar ask yourself whether kings, princes and gentlemen lay aside the guitar for the lute as they now leave the lute for the guitar?"
[1] “Agincourt.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001–04.
[2] Bennett, M. Agincourt 1415. London: Osprey, 1995.
[3] Bodleian Library MSS. Selden, B 26, “The Song of Agincourt”, 15th c.
[4] Bronson, Bertrand Harris.  The Singing Tradition of Child’s Popular Ballads, paperback, Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1976.
[5] Chappell, William. _Old English Popular Music_ (a new edition, with a preface and notes and the earlier examples entirely revised by H. Ellis Wooldridge), New York, 1961 [originally published 1838].

[6] Glareanus, Henricus Loritus. Dodekachordon, published 1547 in Basel.

[7] Grunfeld, Frederic V.. The Life and Times of the Guitar, New York, 1969.
[8] "Henry V." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2004.  Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
[9] Perrine, Laurence. Sound and Sense, An Introduction to Poetry, 4th edition, New York, 1973.
[10] Shakespeare, William. Henry V, first published 1600.

[11] Rawlinson MS.D. 328, Bodleian Library, 15th century. The work “Inter Diabolus et Virgo” is the earliest recorded version of the ballad Child numbered his #1 and referred to by the title “Riddles Wisely Expounded”.

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