K is for Kings

In Act III, Scene ii of Shakespeare’s History Play, Richard II, the eponymous hero has a moment of epiphany.

For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings

He continues in the same vein talking of all the pomp and power of Kings that disappears with the pricking of a pin:

“No,” quoth the Cherub: “George the Third is dead.”
   “And who is George the Third?” replied the apostle:
“What George? what Third?” “The King of England,” said
   The angel. “Well! he won’t find kings to jostle
Him on his way; but does he wear his head?
   Because the last we saw here had a tustle,
And ne’er would have got into Heaven’s good graces,
Had he not flung his head in all our faces.

He was – if I remember –King of France
That head of his, which could not keep a crown
On earth, yet ventured in my face to advance
   A claim to those of martyrs — like my own:
If I had had my sword, as I had once
   When I cut ears off, I had cut him down; 
But having but my keys, and not my brand,
I only knocked his head from out his hand.

“And then he set up such a headless howl,
   That all the Saints came out and took him in;
And there he sits by Saint Paul, cheek by jowl;
   That fellow Paul — the parven—! The skin
Of Saint Bartholomew, which makes his cowl
   In heaven, and upon earth redeemed his sin,
So as to make a martyr, never sped
Better than did this weak and wooden head. 

“But had it come up here upon its shoulders,
   There would have been a different tale to tell:
The fellow-feeling in the Saint’s beholders
   Seems to have acted on them like a spell;
And so this very foolish head Heaven solders 
   Back on its trunk: it may be very well,
And seems the custom here to overthrow
Whatever has been wisely done below.”

Have their been stories of kings that have impressed you? Do share.

Entry for letter K.


The images used above, are to the best of my knowledge in the public domain, but in case that is not so than please let me know and I’ll remove them.

8 thoughts on “K is for Kings

  1. Most interesting post, Neer. My favorite Kingly (and soldierly speech) is the St. Crispin's Day war cry from Shakespeare's Henry V. (I think it's the 5th). I can't imagine more stirring words.


  2. Thanks Yvette. I haven't read the speech as I am not too fond of Henry V. (Why? Because he was the son of Bolingbroke whom I always saw as a usurper. Yes, I've quirks like that). Guess it is time to have a look.


  3. Dear Blogger,I do not really have a comment about kings but wanted to talk about a favourite author of yours – P.D. James.I am currently reading \”Death comes to Pemberley\”. It is quite interesting – an extension of Pride & Prejudice.Nitu


  4. How irritating it is to pick-up a book with great expectations only for it to turn out a dud.[For a minute, I thought you meant the post.]


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