A Pageant of High and Low Mind

In their account of England’s story, the Tudors held Henry V as an ideal of kingship, and Shakespeare’s play Henry V upholds that view for this clean-shaven man with the three rings on his fingers, whose sensual mouth, long nose and cold eye we see profiled in the anonymous National Portrait Gallery painting. It is useful to have such a distinct profile for Henry because, whatever the ideal of kingship cherished by our Tudor forebears, Shakespeare gives resolution to a most particular man, one that tolerates inscrutability as among his core attributes. Or rather, the dramatist works to create this…

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