Personating Leadership: Shakespeare's Henry V and Performative Negotiation




This essay examines early modern notions of ideal and problematic leadership through the lens of Shakespeare's King Henry V. The piece argues that critical depictions of Henry as either charismatic or Machiavellian are reductive; Henry's success as a monarch derives from his ability to balance necessary authority with what I term ‘performative negotiation.’ In this model, Henry's publicly constructed persona serves as a means of ‘negotiating’ his sovereignty with his subjects, but also acts as an exemplum for the present and future monarchs of England.

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Copyright © 2013 Edward Elgar Publishing. This article first appeared in Leadership and the Humanities 1:1 (2013), 43-58. Reprinted with permission by Edward Elgar Publishing.

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