Agincourt 603

Happy 603rd Agincourt Anniversary and St. Crispins’ Day! It’s once again time for my yearly medieval history lecture about why you should care as much about Henry V as I do.

Other notable events today:

  • 164th anniversary of the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War which was immortalized by Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘Charge of the Light Brigade.’  If you haven’t read the poem the basic takeaway is: there are somethings bigger than yourself.
  • 154th anniversary of the Battle of Marais de Cygnes one of three battles fought in Kansas to end Price’s Raids, a series of Confederate offensives spurred by Major Gen. Sterling Price to re-establish Confederate control in the Mississippi Valley prior to the 1864 Presidental Election.
  • 3rd Year Anniversary of the Misery Meet.  For those who know, you know.  For those who don’t just imagine 25km, trench foot, a false sense of security upon arriving at a bothy that wasn’t your bothy, and walking all the way around a sea loch with your bothy in sights.

But, anyway.  I’m not going to bore you with the specifics of Agincourt… you can read the Wikipedia article for that.  In fact, I’m not really even going to write a new post because basically this post doesn’t really change year to year.  Don’t tell the Uni, but, I’m going to self-plagiarize some quotes still relevant stuff from I wrote in 2016.  So please excuse 19-year-old Kennedy, but I still think she’s pretty clever and has a lot to say.

Today is St. Crispin’s day aka the 601st anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt.

But, Kennedy! That happened soooooo long ago!! Why should we care?!?!

Glad you asked.

I believe that part of the reason a lot of people find history boring is because they cannot place themselves in ‘the world’ in which is happened.  It becomes disconnected, people lose interest, the actions of the past are forgotten.  But, by creating a relationship between the past and the present, history becomes accessible and in a lot of ways, lives again.  Keeping history alive requires people to continue this dialogue keeping it relevant and relatable.

Picture this: You’ve been walking for days.  You’re tired.  You’re hungry.  You’re sick.  You’re on the run from a group of powerful people who want you dead – a group that outnumbers you six to one.  But amidst all off this – the guy in charge is trudging right along side you.  He’s tired too.  He’s starving too.  He’s sick too.  The people who want you dead want him dead ten times over.  But, that doesn’t matter because you swore to each other to get to the end of this.  Neither of you intend to break that promise.

Those are the circumstances that faced Henry’s army at the dawn of October 25, 1415.

His army numbered just under 6,000, with 4,000 being peasant bowmen.  The other 2,000 were a mix of knights and men-at-arms.  They had been on a frantic retreat for nearly two weeks, attempting to make their way back to the Channel.  In a last ditch effort, they established camp at the top of a muddy hill.  They braced themselves at the break of dawn, expecting the worse to come from the amassed group of heavily armoured French knights, numbering nearly 36,000, waiting below.  Had Henry wanted, he could have slipped away in the night, retreated to England, and saved his own skin.

Instead, Henry stayed with his starving army, made up of peasant bowmen, because he had made them a promise.  He doesn’t even take the night to rest.  Disguised as one of them, he speaks to his troops earnestly and honestly wishing to hear their views of the upcoming battle.

Then at the break of dawn, he gave his infamous speech, later immortalized by Shakespeare, about loyalty and honesty.  Addressing his men as ‘his band of brothers’ and making a vow to fight and if necessary die beside them.  And he kept his promise.  French eyewitness accounts write of Henry fighting in the front lines.  Just to make sure you caught that, that’s the French praising the leadership and bravery of their enemy.

Against all odds, Henry won the day.  He lost 112 men.  The French casualties numbered over 12,000.

It’s not the medieval warfare that makes this story relatable but its spirit of loyalty and leadership.  Against all odds, Henry refused to give up and in the end his faith in his men and their faith in him won the day.

For us today, the historical spirit of Agincourt lives on each moment we push ourselves just that bit farther.  It’s relevant again each time we remain loyal to our friends treating them with respect and honesty.  But, the most important lesson for Agincourt is how we should treat those we work with and who work for us with that same loyalty and honesty.

Some people at this point may wonder: Henry was king of England, what did he actually owe to a group of peasants?

A lot of people would probably say he owed them nothing.   He’s their king, their boss.  He can do what he wants.  I would argue the opposite.  He is their boss and that makes him even more accountable for his actions and his leadership.  Good leaders lead by example – they are shoulder to shoulder with their people not hiding behind them.  They have to be the one to accept the responsibility.   If you expect respect, you first have to give your own.

You could say good leaders devote their lives to the protection of their followers.  They make personal sacrifices for the good of those they represent.  They do not, like a certain Republican presidential nominee [now President], disrespect based on religion, gender, or ethnicity, blatantly lie, or refuse to be held accountable for their actions.

Good leaders, good people, value every person no matter their rank or role in society.

Henry didn’t discriminate between the peasants and the nobility in his army.  This is evidenced by how the English kept their casualty records.  The 112 includes everyone from the lowest peasant bowmen to Henry’s uncle, the Duke of York.  The French list of 12,000 only includes nobility, excluding the countless others without rank.

Henry handled his army with unprecedented social equity basing rank and prestige on personal achievement not patronage or social status.

To put this in a civilian perspective, as long you work hard, remain loyal and honest, no matter your social status you will receive equal treatment and respect.

My father stresses this sense of loyalty and honesty a lot.  (He’s a US Marine and a General in the Air Force so no guesses as to why he made those two things so important.)  He was actually the person who first showed me the St. Crispin’s Day speech.

My mother also lives by this same code of leadership.  There have been dozen of times I’ve returned home late to find my mom still working.  Even though she’s a vice president of a decent sized company, she always tells me the same thing, ‘If someone who works for me is working, so am I.’

So in that small way – that’s how I’ve kept the history of Agincourt alive and relevant.  It’s not the original physical context. I’m not a medieval longbowmen.  Hell, I’m not even English.  But it’s not a stretch to say I’ve kept it in the original thematic context with some extra influence from my parents.

Dold, K. Y. 2016. ‘Agincourt 601’ Ad Caledonia. Available at: https://adcaledonia.com/2016/10/25/agincourt-601/ (accessed 24 October 2018).

I think 19-year-old Kennedy summed it all up pretty nicely, if at times going on a few side tangents.

This post was written prior to the 2016 Election and as we near the 2018 Election (in just 13 Days)… just think about how you promote leadership in your own life.  I’ve learned a lot about leadership in my ‘short and naïve 21 years.’

And sure, 1415 wasn’t some social liberated wonderland.  But, those themes of loyalty, honesty, and respect and the phrase ‘band of brothers’ translates pretty closely to ‘we the people.’ (And yes, I mean all the people… not just the people who look/act like you.)

Just think about these things when you’re out bopping about.  What have you done to help those around you?  Are you expecting the same from them as you expect from yourself?  Are you setting a good example? There’s a reason Henry V is still talked about 603 years later.

But, when you do something for the right reasons you don’t expect praise.  You do it because it’s the right thing to do.

It’s been a week.

It’s been a week – so much so that I wrote this a week ago and postponed publishing it until now because I was *stressed.*

I’ve been busy crying over building a scale model of an Iron Age roundhouse, I got my first piece of assessment back (I got a 72 on my presentation about Roman Graffiti in my Early Medieval Sexualities course!), and I voted via absentee for the mid-term elections.

I spent the last weekend in the Lake District with the EUMC.  We stayed in the Langdale Valley and the weather was great until it wasn’t.  On Saturday, Gregor drove Ellie, Alven, and I to Hardknott the Roman fort built onto the side of a hill.

The fort was built between 183-203 CE and it’s one of the best preserved forts I’ve ever seen.  It still had the stone foundations of the granary, Principia, and commanding officers house as well as a near complete surrounding curtain wall.  Hardknott even had a bath complex and surviving parade/practice ground!  During a wall walk I discovered the still functioning Roman drainage system that would have drawn water away from the center (and most important part) of the fort.  After eating lunch in the granary, Ellie, Alven, and I walked the 10 miles back to the campsite following the path of the old Roman highway system built to connect Hardknott to the other forts in the area including the one in Ambleside.  The road was also used in the medieval period as there’s a record from 1182 of a bunch of monks in an ox cart traveling the road.

That evening we returned once more to the infamous Old Dungeon Ghyll where they have Old Peculiar on tap.

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ab antiquo ad aeterno.

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On Sunday, I had reading to do for class and Gregor had to work on his dissertation proposal so he drove myself, Ellie, and Alven to Ambleside.  The weather wasn’t super great either so I didn’t feel too guilty about not spending the day in the hills.  I had just finished a paper on early medieval monasticism when I glanced at the television and saw ‘Breaking: Kavanaugh confirmed for US Supreme Court’ running along the bottom ticker.

I stopped, put my pen down and quickly left for the bathroom where I spent the next ten or so minutes crying in frustration and then trying to recompose myself in the mirror so I could return to my work.  And, I’m not telling you this to extract your pity.  I’m telling you this so you understand.

As children, we are taught not to throw a fit in public.  As adults, we can shout and yell until our face turns red.

As children, we are taught to answer questions asked of us eloquently and with respect.  As adults, we can respond with a snarky, ‘Have you?’

As children, we are taught we have to work hard and be qualified for our jobs.  As adults, we expect to be automatically given what we want.

As children, we are taught to believe in Santa Claus and are held accountable for our actions or else we’ll get coal for Christmas.  As adults, we refute the under oath testimony of women and refuse to hold people accountable for their actions.

Why is it that we hold children more accountable for their actions then adults?

I watched the hearings, I followed the joke of an FBI investigation, and I once again had to explain to my friends why it’s still currently 1917 within the borders of the United States of America.

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh scares me.

It scares me because it showed me, once again, that my country does not care about women, does not believe women, and will not take the required steps to protect the civil liberties and rights of women.

It scared me because it showed me, once again, that my country does not care about, believe in, or will protect me, my mother, my sister, my aunts, my grandmothers, my cousins, or my friends.

I shouldn’t have to tell you these things to make you believe me, but just in case you want to see my credentials to speak on this subject: I have been groped in nightclubs. I have had explicit things shouted at me on the street. I have had been called ‘a bitch’ and a hell of lot worse.  I have been stalked.  I have had multiple men become angry when I told them they were making me uncomfortable.  My friends have those same stories and more.

Male readers, if that was uncomfortable for you to read then you can only imagine how I felt.

And, before you ask why I didn’t stop it or prevent it let me tell you this: yes, I have a second degree black belt and ten years of martial arts experience.  Yes, I went to the university and I went to the police – but that’s not the point.  Sexual harassment and assault do not happen when you are expecting it and are often in places you know and committed by people you know.  It’s not the stranger in the dark alley that so many people want us to believe it is.  It’s sort of like how this post started out as a gentle recount of my travels to a Roman fort and then changed abruptly…

Also, how about we stop blaming women for things that happen to them and start holding the people who actually did it accountable, m’kay?  How about instead of a reactionary culture we adopt a preventative one?

This past week has made those feelings of helplessness and fear resurface and as someone who really hates feeling helpless – it was sickening.  I watched as a man screamed and yelled his way onto the Supreme Court like it was something that was owed to him.  I watched the testimony of Dr Christine Blasey Ford as she came forward to a panel of people and recounted a horrible event in her life.  An event that, I might add, she would not lie about.  Why would she?  Why cause a fuss out of nothing?  Dr Ford has been forced to move out of her home due to death threats.  Her life has been upended because she spoke out.  With everything to lose (and as we saw little to gain) why come forward with something that isn’t true?  Why go to the trouble to get all the way to Washington DC for false allegations?

And when Kavanaugh was confirmed, that flood of emotions, frustration, and helplessness erupted and caused me to cry for ten minutes half way across the world in a restroom in Ambleside.

At this point, it’s beyond planks in a political platform for me.  I’ve already cast my ballot for people I know will care about me, believe me, and fight to protect my rights.

Things must change.

Women cannot be treated as second class citizens.

Their testimony must not be treated as ‘a hoax.’

I urge you this November, in just 19 days, to think about the women in your own life and do the same.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

 

 

 

 

screaming into the void

It’s been about a week since my last post and while, I’d admit nothing of spectacular note has happened, I’d figure I’d update you about my meager life existence.

Things have been busy here (duh).  I’m hurtling quickly down the path to Essay City.  Deadlines are coming up fast on the 1, 6, and 7.  After that it’s pretty consistent until I finish in early December.  No exams, just a dense compaction of shit.

Last week was the EUMC ceilidh (for my lovely American readers, a traditional Scottish event that is part line dancing, square dancing, and cage fight) and I somehow managed to come out of the ceilidh relatively unscathed.  Minor bruising and a few scraps but everyone made it back safe and sound with 40 chicken McNuggets in tow.

On Tuesday, my conflict archaeology course took a trip to Edinburgh Castle to look the military history of the castle.  I’m really enjoying the class and getting some ideas for my dissertation.  I hadn’t been to the castle since visiting it with my family back in 2015, so it was pretty cool to go back and see new things… obviously not new because the castle is hecka old but new to me because I’VE LEARNED THINGS!  A fantastinating concept that is… when you read and learn new things about history (or the world) your views, opinions, and knowledge become more refined.  Truly fascinating.

I’ve been working on an assignment for my Archaeology course as well as a short response to a piece about intersectional feminism for my History in Theory course.  I’ve got to get started on my field trip report about Edinburgh Castle as well as another short response for History in Theory.

There’s been strange but actually pretty interesting lectures this week.  I just came from one about ‘Animals in History’ and how/can we actually write histories of animals?  The lecturer was a medievalist and kept talking about medieval heraldry and bestiaries so that was a worth getting up at 7.45 on a Thursday for.  He also showed up photos of his dog.  Another lecture, had back on Tuesday went from Poststructuralism to 16c demonic possession real fast so that was funky fresh.  I’m just along for the ride tbh.

Um… what else?  I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim in the evenings to disassociate myself from the impending stress that I know November will bring.  You’re reading the work of the new Arch Mage of the College of Winterhold.

I’m just trying to life my best life, pls.

lakes lakes lakes

This weekend I traveled down to the Lakes District with the EUMC.  It’s my fourth time in Great Langdale, but, gosh, it’s always so pretty.  Even when it’s crap weather.

We left Edinburgh per usual on Friday night, arriving late and of course in the rain to the campsite.  I pitched my tent quickly… but of course everything got soaked anyway.  Saturday a group of us (Ellie, Tuva, myself, and some new members.  We were later joined by some veteran Yummicks as well.) walked to Pavey Ark for some good scrambling up Jack’s Rake.  The weather thankfully held out for us during the scramble which was nice.  For the laywoman, a scramble is more technical than a walk but does not require to be roped up like a pitching a climb.  Jack’s Rake was really fun with a few chimneys which required a little bit more climbing and some decent exposure down to the valley.

Here’s a photo of Pavey Ark, one of the Langdale Pikes.  I’ve drawn the green line to show our line of ascent.  This obviously it’s my photo (i stole it from wikipedia) because lol what is the sun?

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Here’s what it looked like for us.

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photo from Saturday's walk.

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Still nice tho.

After a long day, my feet were soaked and gross and wow am I glad I brought extra socks and talcum powder.  Tuva, Erling, and I cooked dinner at the campsite.  Then we all went to the pub.  We all love the pub.

Sunday morning was slower but just as exciting.  I took a larger group of newer members on a chilled valley walk to Ambleside to see the Roman Fort there.  I’d been there in first year, but knew the walk and it was pretty relaxing.  Wasn’t anything major but was a chance to see some of the smaller villages and valleys of the Lakes District.  It was 20km round trip, but was mostly flat and along well established trails so we kept good pace.

We stopped at the Roman fort just on the banks of Windermere, one of the larger lakes.  I showed my group the ruins of the Roman granary and we stopped for lunch.  I contained my feelings and didn’t cry this time lol.

We left the campsite on Sunday night a little after 6pm.  I got back to my flat around 10pm.  My feet are gross but it was a good weekend.

Yesterday, I had a volunteer meeting at the NMS and then later that night I watched the new episodes of Victoria and Outlander with Ellie, Caitlin, Sophie, and Urte.  I have never been more stressed in my entire life than I was during the last four minutes of this week’s episode of Outlander.  Then I came home and thought it was a good idea to stay up until 4.30 am to wait for the new Star Wars trailer because it was released America time.  Spoiler alert: it was completely a good idea.  I had a 9am lecture this morning and another two hour seminar coming up in a bit.

I’m v tired. l8r.

… and these are a few of my favorite things.

I discussed in the last post that Fall is my favorite time of year and it got me thinking about my favorite things about Edinburgh.  So here is list of some things that I like.

Coffee

I really enjoy going to Black Medicine because they make massive cups of coffee.  However, I find it more crowded in the afternoons and if I’m needing to work I’ll go to Spoon instead.  If I’m in New Town, I really enjoy Wellington’s, although I find myself at the Princes Street Starbucks more often than not.  Partly because there are plenty of tables but also because the Castle in just in view outf of the large windows and if that doesn’t inspire you then I don’t know what will.

Museums 

I’m biased but I still stand by the fact that the National Museum is the best museum in Edinburgh.  It’s got everything.  The admission is free, the bathrooms are clean, there’s water fountains, and plenty of places to hide in the ‘Early People’s Gallery.’  And there’s also the roof garden.  But, the National Gallery is also excellent and do have more (and more comfortable) places to sit down.

Green Space 

The Meadows are awesome and close.  But, Holyrood Park is gigantic and has a 15c Chapel Ruin.  Idk man all the parks are great.  Princes Street garden is very underrated and well, Calton Hill is a little overrated.  But also, the cemeteries in Edinburgh are great?  The old Calton Burial Grounds has one of my favourite tombstones in the city and a massive bronze statue to Abe Lincoln.

Pubs

Obviously.  Anything in the Grassmarket is going to be crowded. Sandy Bell’s has awesome folk music in the evening but is small and gets crowded very quickly.  Bennet’s has a fantastic wooden barback but is a little out of the way.  Dagda sells salami.  The Argyll bought out the Cellar Monkey and hosts awesome pub quizzes on Thursday night.  The Blind Poet closes and I still cry and Pear Tree went ‘firmly middle class.’ Teviot doesn’t accept foreign IDs and still frustrates me.

Castles 

It’s gotta be the one that I can see from my shower. You know that one in the center of town?  The one I still have to give directions to tourists for?  Yeah, that one.

Books

What even is reading for fun anymore?  I don’t know as I cry through another academic journal article.  But, eh. I finally finished reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt.  Timeline by Michael Crichton made me extremely jealous.  Percy Jackson will always hold a speical place in my heart.

Movies/TV

The Defenders on Netflix still really has me fucked up and and I haven’t been able to watch Rogue One again without gross sobbing.  Also, if Rey isn’t a Kenobi and turns out to be a Skywalker I will flip this table and fight someone.

Okay now that I have your attention… I’d just like to take this second to use this platform to discuss some current events happening in my home country.

If you’ve been even remotely aware of the news you’ll know that the US had the largest mass shooting in history in Las Vegas last week.  59 people lost their lives and over 500 people are injured.  The shooter was a 64 year old white male with no criminal history but a lot of guns and apparently a lot of pent up anger.  This even comes after last year’s attack against the LGBTQA+ community at the Pulse Nightclub which killed 49 people.

On a smaller scale but no less terrifying, my hometown experienced a shooting on our main street, Massachusetts.  Five people were injured and out of the five, three have died.

For my European friends, the concept of gun violence is mostly foreign with most European countries either outright banning the right to possess firearms or making it very, very, very difficult.  I’ve been the spokesperson for my country to a lot of them trying to explain just how easy and how fucked up our guns laws are in America.  How it is more difficult to get a driver’s license than it is to buy a gun.  How it is more difficult to get into university than it is to buy a gun.  How it is more difficult to adopt a pet than it is to get a gun.  How most states allow you to carry a firearm, either concealed or open into public spaces which include universities.

We have a problem.  There is nothing being done to fix it and it is only getting worse.  Legislature which would restrict firearms is continually being blocked and instead laws which allow people to carry on university campuses are being passed.

Take a minute and think this over please.  Think about what this means for the future safety of millions of people.  Think about how lucky you are when you can go to a concert and wake up the next day with a hangover instead of as a name in a long list of people who weren’t so lucky.  How you can go out for a night with your friends and how you can go and get an education all without being caught in the crossfires of a deadly piece of equipment that has no reason being there.

Take this minute and then do something about it.  Write to your local council, your state government, your national representatives, etc.  Attend gun safety courses, lectures, or just read a pamphlet.  Buy a proper gun safe if you have firearms or find a safe place to get rid of them.  If you are in the position, please donate blood.  Just don’t sit there.  Doing nothing won’t change anything.

 

 

 

happy october.

heyo!

I’m a little lost as to what to write about now… it’s year 3 and there’s little new to my daily routine now as days.  And, I don’t want to dull you all with just pointless recaps of everything.  So, readers at home… if you have any questions about Scotland, Uni, etc… hit me up.

But, I’m enjoying my classes. I love my wonderful city.  It’s my favourite time of year now with the trees changing colors and such… so that’s quite nice.  Edinburgh is such a fall city it’s unreal at times… with all the trees, and the old stone buildings, and the closes…

It’s like the physical embodiment of a pumpkin spice latte.

And!  After fall, is Christmas.  I. Love. Christmas.  The flatmates and I went to the supermarket on Friday and they already had mince pies and Christmas cookies out!  I nearly died of excitement.

I’ve been knitting a bit here and there lately.  I’ve nearly finished the burgundy scarf I’ve been working on for this autumn.  And I’ve been writing.  Nearly 20k of workable stuff on a new manuscript.

So, things I guess have been pretty relaxed here as of late.  Nothing too stressful just yet, but essays are creeping up.

I’m still a little sick, allergy season, but I took the day out to stay home and clean and get better.  I made a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch and watched the Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon.  I don’t have class on Mondays, but I will spend the day reading for my lecture and seminar on Tuesday.  It’s actually nice this year that I usually have a full day or an afternoon to read for the next day.  I’ve been keeping on top of my reading a lot more this year… which is something I would really like to keep up with.

The weathers been a bit shitty all weekend with rain and wind yesterday and today.  But, it’s just given me an extra excuse to stay in.

So, yep.  That’s about it for now.

 

Agincourt 601

Happy St. Crispin’s Day!  I’m half-way through first semester.

So far I’ve submitted two essays – one for Modern Scottish History and one for Osteology.

Backing up to last Friday, I had my first Osteology lab.  We had to articulate a set of replica bones.  This was to get us ready for our next lab… where we will be handed a box of fragmented Medieval remains and have to place them in the anatomically correct position.

And I know, I know… articulating human remains at 9 AM on a Friday sounds really morbid … but it’s core to understanding who we are as people.  Our bones can’t tell us everything but they are one of the few records that cannot lie.

In fact, archaeologists have been able to identify skeletons of English longbowmen from enlarged muscle attachments on their bow-arms from the repetitive drawing of the bowstring.  When compared with the fragmented bows found from the Mary Rose (a sunken Tudor ship) with estimated draw weight nearing 200 pounds they were able to create a better picture of the immense strength required to be a longbowman.  Especially for the Medieval period when there weren’t a ton of written sources or gym selfies floating around, archaeologists can gain real insight into the everyday life of a bowman, who for the most part were members of the peasant classes, by looking at their bones.

I mention this because today is St. Crispin’s day aka the 601st anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt – a very decisive victory for Henry V in the Hundred Years War.  Henry V, like a lot of English kings, heavily employed longbowmen against the heavy French chargers.

But, Kennedy! That happened soooooo long ago!! Why should we care?!?!

Glad you asked.

I believe that part of the reason a lot of people find history boring is because they cannot place themselves in ‘the world’ in which is happened.  It becomes disconnected, people lose interest, the actions of the past are forgotten.  But, by creating a relationship between the past and the present, history becomes accessible and in a lot of ways, lives again.  Keeping history alive requires people to continue this dialogue keeping it relevant and relatable.

The public heavily outnumber the academic community, so if we want to work on our projects (and get funding) we have to give the public a reason to care.  Which is a little sad, because personally, I don’t really understand why people don’t find the stories of where they came from/who they are/why they are compelling … but oh well.

Anyway, Agincourt.  It started when I first read Henry V when I was 13, then turned into a research project my sophomore year of high school, and later a Kansas State History Day documentary my senior year.  Truthfully, now, six years later, it’s a bit of an obsession.  But, the reason the story is so compelling is because of the circumstances surrounding it and how those translate today.

Picture this: You’ve been walking for days.  You’re tired.  You’re hungry.  You’re sick.  You’re on the run from a group of powerful people who want you dead – a group that outnumbers you six to one.  But amidst all off this – the guy in charge is trudging right along side you.  He’s tired too.  He’s starving too.  He’s sick too.  The people who want you dead want him dead ten times over.  But, that doesn’t matter because you swore to each other to get to the end of this.  Neither of you intend to break that promise.

Those are the circumstances that faced Henry’s army at the dawn of October 25, 1415.

His army numbered just under 6,000, with 4,000 being peasant bowmen.  The other 2,000 were a mix of knights and men-at-arms.  They had been on a frantic retreat for nearly two weeks, attempting to make their way back to the Channel.  In a last ditch effort, they established camp at the top of a muddy hill.  They braced themselves at the break of dawn, expecting the worse to come from the amassed group of heavily armoured French knights, numbering nearly 36,000, waiting below.  Had Henry wanted, he could have slipped away in the night, retreated to England, and saved his own skin.

Instead, Henry stayed with his starving army, made up of peasant bowmen, because he had made them a promise.  He doesn’t even take the night to rest.  Disguised as one of them, he speaks to his troops earnestly and honestly wishing to hear their views of the upcoming battle.

Then at the break of dawn, he gave his infamous speech, later immortalized by Shakespeare, about loyalty and honesty.  Addressing his men as his brothers and making a vow to fight and if necessary die beside them.  And he kept his promise.  French eyewitness accounts write of Henry fighting in the front lines.  Just to make sure you caught that, that’s the French praising the leadership and bravery of their enemy.

Against all odds, Henry won the day.  He lost 112 men.  The French casualties numbered over 12,000.

It’s not the medieval warfare that makes this story relatable but its spirit of loyalty and leadership.  Against all odds, Henry refused to give up and in the end his faith in his men and their faith in him won the day.

For us today, the historical spirit of Agincourt lives on each moment we push ourselves just that bit farther.  It’s relevant again each time we remain loyal to our friends treating them with respect and honesty.  But, the most important lesson for Agincourt is how we should treat those we work with and who work for us with that same loyalty and honesty.

Some people at this point may wonder: Henry was king of England, what did he actually owe to a group of peasants?

A lot of people would probably say he owed them nothing.   He’s their king, their boss.  He can do what he wants.  I would argue the opposite.  He is their boss and that makes him even more accountable for his actions and his leadership.  Good leaders lead by example – they are shoulder to shoulder with their people not hiding behind them.  They have to be the one to accept the responsibility.   If you expect respect, you first have to give your own.

You could say good leaders devote their lives to the protection of their followers.  They make personal sacrifices for the good of those they represent.  They do not, like a certain Republican presidential nominee, disrespect based on religion, gender, or ethnicity, blatantly lie, or refuse to be held accountable for their actions.

Good leaders, good people, value every person no matter their rank or role in society.

Henry didn’t discriminate between the peasants and the nobility in his army.  This is evidenced by how the English kept their casualty records.  The 112 includes everyone from the lowest peasant bowmen to Henry’s uncle, the Duke of York.  The French list of 12,000 only includes nobility, excluding the countless others without rank.

Henry handled his army with unprecedented social equity basing rank and prestige on personal achievement not patronage or social status.

To put this in a civilian perspective, as long you work hard, remain loyal and honest, no matter your social status you will receive equal treatment and respect.

My father stressed this sense of loyalty and honesty a lot while I was growing up.  (He’s a US Marine and a General in the Air Force so no guesses as to why he made those two things so important.)  He was actually the person who first showed me the St. Crispin’s Day speech.  It was during a particularly hard time in Middle School, the speech really resonated with that 13 year old version of myself.

My mother also lives by this same code of leadership.  There have been dozen of times I’ve returned home late to find my mom still working.  Even though she’s a vice president of a decent sized company, she always tells me the same thing, ‘If someone who works for me is working, so am I.’

My parents are pretty cool and I’m not just saying this because they’re reading this. (Hi Mom!)

So in that small way – that’s how I’ve kept the history of Agincourt alive and relevant.  It’s not the original physical context. I’m not a medieval longbowmen.  Hell, I’m not even English.  But it’s not a stretch to say I’ve kept it in the original thematic context with some extra influence from my parents.

I’ve got a long way before I’m at any of their levels of leadership but I think I’m on the right track.