This page lists 50 Shakespeare quotes about war. Although in the modern world we try to avoid war, Shakespeare recognised the fact that war is one of the great human themes, along with love and death (read more about themes in Shakespeare’s plays). English history is to a large extent the history of war, and therefore one of the main subjects for writers to write about. Shakespeare’s references to war are among the most quoted phrases in our culture.

1. ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.’

Henry V

2. ‘We must have bloody noses and crack’d crowns,
And pass them current too. God’s me, my horse!’

Henry IV Part 1

3. ‘War gives the right to the conquerors to impose any condition they please upon the vanquished.’

Julius Caesar

4. ‘Each Trojan that is master of his heart, Let him to field; Troilus, alas! hath none.’

Troilus and Cressida

5. ‘Sound trumpets! let our bloody colours wave!
And either victory, or else a grave.’

Henry VI Part 3

6. ‘When the hurly-burly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.’

Macbeth

7. ‘Who does i’ the wars more than his captain can
Becomes his captain’s captain’

Antony and Cleopatra

8. ‘O war! thou son of hell,
Whom angry heavens do make their minister,
Throw in the frozen bosoms of our part
Hot coals of vengeance! Let no soldier fly.
He that is truly dedicate to war
Hath no self-love, nor he that loves himself,
Hath not essentially but by circumstance
The name of valour.’

Henry IV Part 2

9. ‘The cannons have their bowels full of wrath,
And ready mounted are they to spit forth
Their iron indignation ‘gainst your walls.’

King John

10. ‘It is war’s prize to take all vantage.’

Henry VI Part 3

11. ‘He is come to open
The purple testament of bleeding war.’

Macbeth

12. ‘The arms are fair,
When the intent of bearing them is just.’

Henry IV Part 1

13. ‘Hang out our banners on the outward walls.’

Macbeth

14. ‘Give me the cups;
And let the kettle to the trumpet speak,
The trumpet to the cannoneer without,
The cannons to heavens, the heavens to earth.’

Hamlet

15. ‘The fire-eyed maid of smoky war
All hot and bleeding will we offer them.’

Henry IV Part 1

16. ‘In war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.’

Julius Caesar

17. ‘Blow, wind! come, wrack!
At least we’ll die with harness on our back.’

Macbeth

18. ‘It was great pity, so it was,
That villanous saltpetre should be digg’d
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
Which many a good tall fellow had destroy’d
So cowardly; and but for these vile guns
He would himself have been a soldier.’

Henry IV Part 1

19. ‘From camp to camp through the foul womb of night
The hum of either army stilly sounds.’

Henry V

20. ‘And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind is closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and do it gladly so.’

Julius Caesar

21. ‘Let’s march without the noise of threat’ning drum.’

Richard II

22. ‘The armourers, accomplishing the knights,
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation.’

Henry V

23. ‘Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars
And brought in matter that should feed this fire;
And now ’tis far too huge to be blown out
With that same weak wind which enkindled it.’

King John

24. ‘Conscience avaunt, Richard’s himself again:
Hark! the shrill trumpet sounds, to horse, away,
My soul’s in arms, and eager for the fray.’

Richard II

25. ‘All was lost,
But that the heavens fought.’

Cymbeline

26. ‘That I may truly say with the hook-nosed fellow of Rome, I came, I saw, and overcame.’

Henry IV Part 2

27. ‘Follow thy drum;
With man’s blood paint the ground, gules, gules;
Religious canons, civil laws are cruel;
Then what should war be?’

Timon of Athens

28. ‘He which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made.’

Henry V

29. ‘The bay-trees in our country all are wither’d
And meteors fright the fixed stars of heaven;
The pale-fac’d moon looks bloody on the earth
And lean-look’d prophets whisper fearful change;
Rich men look sad and ruffians dance and leap,
The one in fear to lose what they enjoy,
The other to enjoy by rage and war.’

Richard III

30. ‘I drew this gallant head of war,
And cull’d these fiery spirits from the world,
To outlook conquest and to win renown
Even in the jaws of danger and of death.’

King John

31. ‘Fight, gentlemen of England! fight, bold yeomen!
Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head!
Spur your proud horses hard, and ride in blood;
Amaze the welkin with your broken staves!’

Richard III

32. ‘And all the gods go with you! upon your sword
Sit laurel victory! and smooth success
Be strew’d before your feet!’

Antony and Cleopatra

33. ‘There are few die well that die in a battle.’

Henry V

34. ‘Now for the bare-pick’d bone of majesty
Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest
And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace.’

King John

35. ‘Grim-visag’d war hath smoothed his wrinkled front.’

Richard III

36. ‘… the neighing steed and the shrill trump
The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!’

Othello

37. ‘Our battle is more full of names than yours,
Our men more perfect in the use of arms,
Our armour all as strong, our cause the best;
Then reason will our hearts should be as good.’

Henry IV Part 2

38. ‘Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath,
That they may crush down with heavy fall
The usurping helmets of our adversaries.’

Richard III

39. ‘Cæsar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Até by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry “Havoc,” and let slip the dogs of war.’

Julius Caesar

40. ‘They shall have wars and pay for their presumption.’

Henry VI Part 3

41. ‘I’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be hacked’

Macbeth

42. ‘To whom God will, there be the victory’

Henry VI Part 3

43. ‘Fight to the last gasp’

Henry VI Part 1

44. ‘We are ready to try our fortunes to the last man.’

Henry IV Part 2

45. ‘A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers.’

Much Ado About Nothing

46. ‘Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste death but once.’

Julius Caesar

47. ‘When wasteful war hall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory’

Sonnet 55

48. ‘In peace nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, disguise fair nature with hard favoured rage…’

Henry V

49. ‘We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother; be 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 manhood’s cheap whiles any speaks,
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.’

Henry V

That’s the end of our list of Shakespeare quotes about war. Know of any more? If so, please add them to the comments section below!

Test your Shakespeare quote knowledge with our Shakespeare quote quiz – simply match the 10 Shakespeare quotes to the correct play!

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