Chapter

The Siege of Harfleur and Treatment of Occupied Territory: The Limits of Protection

Theodor Meron

in Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's Laws

Published in print December 1993 | ISBN: 9780198258117
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681790 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198258117.003.0006
The Siege of Harfleur and Treatment of Occupied Territory: The Limits of Protection

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Shakespeare's description of what an individual has to undergo upon failing to comply with the rules of the law of war can be seen in the story of Henry. This chapter describes the situation in Harfleur, which to almost terrifying degress, witnessed measures such as the harming of or even killing of captured enemies with no attention being paid to the difference between civilians and soldiers and the involvement of civilians in attacks, the enforcement of certain collective penalties, terrorism, raiding, and even rape. Did the real Henry actually impose mercy over the captured inhabitants of Harfleur? How did the speech made for Shakespeare's Henry and the disposition of the real Henry compare in the contemporary standards of conduct of war? This chapter looks into the notion of mercy, hostages, and other related subjects and attempts to identify the characteristics and attributes of the medieval army. The chapter also examines the major features of the late medieval law of war.

Keywords: Harfleur; civilians; soldiers; Shakespeare; Henry; conduct of war; law of war; mercy

Chapter.  24272 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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