HMS Hunter, Sunk During First Battle of Narvik 10 April 1940, Found in One Thousand Feet of Water – Part 9

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Kenneth Branagh as Henry V, the victor in the Battle of Agincourt, in the movie adaptation of the play of the same name by Shakespeare. In November of 2012, Branagh was knighted for his services to drama in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, this last being his birthplace. He is now Sir Kenneth Branagh.

I could not withstand the temptation to write something about the namesake for HMS Agincourt, which was the Battle of Agincourt, a huge English victory over the French on 25 October 1415. While little known today, for some hundreds of years, the English crown also ruled large parts of France, through a complex, dynastic inheritance which came through William of Normandy, who invaded England in 1066 and seized the English crown. He became William I of England.

This was the last time England was invaded. (Ironically, the territory of the Duke of Normandy was the same area the Allies landed during the Normandy invasion of 6 June 1944.) Through the Norman line of William I, the Kings of England eventually inherited the title of King of France as well as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, and numerous other princely titles of French and European territories.

For more than three hundred years after William of Normandy seized the English crown, French was the official language of the English court and legal system which is why remnants of French are still used today in our legal system. One of the few French words still used is oyez, (pronounced ‘oh yea’) which translates as ‘hear’ or ‘hear ye’ or ‘give ear’.

Sessions of the US Supreme Court are opened by the Marshal of the Supreme Court with the phrase:

Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court.

You can hear of a recording of this phrase used by the Marshal of the Supreme Court to open the court here:

The front of the United States Supreme Court building – Date 2 September 2011.

[Source: Oyez Today. Images courtesy of The Telegraph and Wikimedia.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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