Blue Thread and William Shakespeare? Yes, it’s true. Lynn Bonner made the connection during a recent trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. On the bill this season: Henry V.
For history fans out there, Henry V, who ruled England from 1413 to 1422, was known for his military victories in France during the Hundred Years War, particularly the Battle of Agincourt. There’s a whole lot more to the story, but the Blue Thread part comes in when Henry contemplates his claims to the French throne. If I’m not mistaken, the mother of Henry’s great-grandfather was the daughter of Philip IV of France. At least that’s what Shakespeare tells us though the Archbishop of Canterbury in Act I, Scene 2.
First the archbishop tells his king that “Salique” (Salic) Law, which prohibits women from inheriting land, applies to part of Germany, but not to France. Then he says:
For in the book of Numbers is it writ:
‘When the man dies, let the inheritance
Descend unto the daughter,’ Gracious lord,
Stand for your own; unwind your bloody flag…
So Henry did. And there you go, a classical reference to the daughters of Zelophehad, who were intertwined with Miriam Josefsohn in Blue Thread. Historical fiction. Thank you, William Shakespeare.
By the way, the real Archbishop of Canterbury under the real Henry V was Henry Chichele. Did he ever give his king the advice that Shakespeare sets forth in Henry V? I don’t know. Do you?