This is a #4thCentennial post about tennis, Anglo-French relations, warfare, and masculinity. It also explores a more peaceful, better way in which a conflict could have been solved (unfortunately, it was not the way it unfurled in history):
KING HENRY V.
- What treasure, uncle?
The treasure chest full of tennis balls as it appears in The Hollow Crown, starring Tom Hiddleston
(AKA Loki, plus best Cassio ever in the history of Othello).
- Tennis balls, my liege.
The fuzzy yellow balls of present-day tennis.
KING HENRY V.
- We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us.
- His present and your pains we thank you for.
- When we have match'd our rackets to these balls,
- we will, in France, by God's grace, play a set
- shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.
- Tell him he hath made a match with such a wrangler
- that all the courts of France will be disturb'd
- with chaces. And we understand him well,
- how he comes o'er us with our wilder days,
- not measuring what use we made of them.
- We never valu'd this poor seat of England;
- and therefore, living hence, did give ourself
- to barbarous licence; as 'tis ever common
- that men are merriest when they are from home.
- But tell the Dauphin I will keep my state,
- be like a king, and show my sail of greatness
- when I do rouse me in my throne of France.
- What a shame that Henry V chose to settle those matters not with rackets, but with cannons!
- A lot of lives could have been spared if there had just been a game of tennis between the two future brothers-in-law. Just Henry and Louis, each one with a racket, sending one another a ball to and fro, and no casualties at all. But, you know, boys will be boys and war will be war... and royals will go balls to the wall over even the slightest squabble.
- In fact, that was not the point. The Dauphin's intentions were far more sinister. In fact, Louis just wanted to send his brother-in-law a wordless message with the following implications:
- -Henry, you've got no balls (of the gonad kind).
- -Henry, suck my balls (of the gonad kind)!!!
- -Henry, you're more comfortable wielding a racket than wielding a sword.
- Of course, those were major insults to the royal honour, and the declaration of war was impossible to avoid. For Louis was a warmonger of the highest degree who burned with revenge to confront the English...
Say, if my father render fair return,EXETER
it is against my will; for I desire
nothing but odds with England: to that end,
as matching to his youth and vanity,
I did present him with the Paris balls.
He'll make your Paris Louvre shake for it,KING OF FRANCE
were it the mistress-court of mighty Europe:
and, be assured, you'll find a difference,
as we his subjects have in wonder found,
between the promise of his greener days
and these he masters now: now he weighs time
even to the utmost grain: that you shall read
in your own losses, if he stay in France.
Tomorrow shall you know our mind at full.