Apply Thomas Aquinas’s “Doctrine of Just War” to Henry V’s war with France portrayed in Shakespeare’s play. Would it pass the test? From your, rather than Aquinas’s, perspective, was this war between England and France necessary in any way?

It seems like you could reasonably argue that Henry V’s war with France was not necessary and didn’t meet the criteria for Thomas Aquinas’s just war. The English people were not facing imminent harm from the French. The war did not seem to tangibly improve the lives of regular British people. However, it did get Henry V a glorious battle victory, a wife, and a hero’s welcome.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

If you’re adapting or appropriating Thomas Aquinas’s thoughts about just war, it could be difficult to argue that Henry V’s war with France meets Aquinas’s criteria.

The one component that seems to align with Aquinas’s thoughts is that of a just authority. For Aquinas, a war is invalid if...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

If you’re adapting or appropriating Thomas Aquinas’s thoughts about just war, it could be difficult to argue that Henry V’s war with France meets Aquinas’s criteria.

The one component that seems to align with Aquinas’s thoughts is that of a just authority. For Aquinas, a war is invalid if the government waging that war isn’t credible or legitimate. It seems like Henry V is valid and licit. He is the accepted king of England. It’s his throne, and it’s within his rights to declare war.

However, with that being said, you could adopt the perspective that Henry V shouldn’t be viewed as a legitimate authority. It’s not like Henry V became king because of a free election. The people of England didn’t choose Henry V to be their king. If you espouse a democratic perspective, you might conclude that Henry V is not a legitimate authority.

As for a just cause and a just intention, if you adopted Henry V’s perspective, perhaps you could argue that the cause and intention were just. The war netted Henry V an upset victory, a wife, and something like a hero’s welcome.

Yet if you take up the perspective of the common soldier, it might be hard to argue that this war was necessary. As Henry V’s undercover conversations with the rank-and-file soldiers indicate, the war was almost all risk and no reward for them.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on