War Speeches

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13954

How do you motivate people to fight, to put their lives at risk for a cause? You have to say something really inspiring, don't you? Read, listen to, and watch some inspiring war speeches here!


Comprehension, World

English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Can you imagine what life was like when listening to speeches and reading pamphlets, newspapers, and books was the only way to get information on what was going on in the world?

Street life in New York City, 1870 ca.

Now we have many ways to take in information!

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  • How do these different media change how we perceive speeches rather than just reading the words?

teenage boy standing over white isolated background, clueless and confused expression with arms and hands raised

Find out!

  • What are your favorite media for learning?

Written texts, audio recordings, live TV, live-streaming on the internet, and videos are all different types of media (plural of medium).

Each has advantages and disadvantages. In this lesson, you'll learn about famous war speeches and analyze how the different media affect your understanding and perception of them.

The first speech is King Henry V of England's St. Crispin's Day speech.

Henry gave this speech before the Battle of Agincourt in northern France. The British and French had been fighting each other for many years, and this battle was part of the Hundred Years War.

The English were vastly outnumbered but won a surprising victory, perhaps partly because of Henry's inspiring speech!

The following is a dramatized version of the speech written by William Shakespeare for his play Henry V.

It starts with Henry's cousin, Westmorland, wishing the English had more men fighting on their side. But Henry tells him not to want for anymore because the fewer men there are, the more honor will fall on each of them when they win!

Reading the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V


  • O, that we now had here
  • But one ten thousand of those men in England
  • That do no work today.


  • What’s he that wishes so?
  • My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin.
  • If we are marked to die, we are enough
  • To do our country loss; and if to live,
  • The fewer men, the greater share of honor.
  • God’s will, I pray thee wish not one man more.
  • By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
  • Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
  • It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
  • Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
  • But if it be a sin to covet honor,
  • I am the most offending soul alive.
  • No, ’faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
  • God’s peace, I would not lose so great an honor
  • As one man more, methinks, would share from me,
  • For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
  • Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
  • That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
  • Let him depart. His passport shall be made,
  • And crowns for convoy put into his purse.
  • We would not die in that man’s company
  • That fears his fellowship to die with us.
  • This day is called the feast of Crispian.
  • He that outlives this day and comes safe home
  • Will stand o’ tiptoe when this day is named
  • And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
  • He that shall see this day, and live old age,
  • Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors
  • And say “Tomorrow is Saint Crispian.”
  • Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
  • Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
  • But he’ll remember with advantages
  • What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
  • Familiar in his mouth as household words,
  • Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
  • Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
  • Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
  • This story shall the good man teach his son,
  • And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
  • From this day to the ending of the world,
  • But we in it shall be rememberèd—
  • We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
  • For he today that sheds his blood with me
  • Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
  • This day shall gentle his condition;
  • And gentlemen in England now abed
  • Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
  • And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
  • That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Listening to the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V

Sometimes, listening is preferable to reading. Hearing someone speak may hold your attention more than words on a page.

While listening to an actor deliver Henry's speech in the video below, consider some other advantages of audio.

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Answer the following questions before checking your answers against the ones provided below.

  • What are the similarities between the text and audio versions?
  • What is one advantage to reading the text over listening to the audio?
  • What is one advantage to listening to the audio over reading the text?

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Watching the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V

Now, watch a video reenacting Henry's speech. Compare the video to the text-only and audio versions.

  • Does the video help you to understand it better?

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Answer the following questions before checking your answers against the ones provided below.

  • What are the similarities between the text and video version?
  • What is one advantage to reading the text over watching the video?
  • What are some advantages to watching the video over reading the text or listening to the audio?

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Good job analyzing the differences between these media!

Move to the Got It? section to analyze two more great war speeches!

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