It is hard to imagine a world without Shakespeare. Since their composition four hundred years ago, Shakespeare’s plays and poems have traveled the globe, inviting those who see and read his works to make them their own.
Readers of the New Folger Editions are part of this ongoing process of “taking up Shakespeare,” finding our own thoughts and feelings in language that strikes us as old or unusual and, for that very reason, new. We still struggle to keep up with a writer who could think a mile a minute, whose words paint pictures that shift like clouds. These expertly edited texts are presented to the public as a resource for study, artistic adaptation, and enjoyment. By making the classic texts of the New Folger Editions available in electronic form as Folger Digital Texts, we place a trusted resource in the hands of anyone who wants them.
The New Folger Editions of Shakespeare’s plays, which are the basis for the texts realized here in digital form, are special because of their origin. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is the single greatest documentary source of Shakespeare’s works. An unparalleled collection of early modern books, manuscripts, and artwork connected to Shakespeare, the Folger’s holdings have been consulted extensively in the preparation of these texts. The Editions also reflect the expertise gained through the regular performance of Shakespeare’s works in the Folger’s Elizabethan Theater.
I want to express my deep thanks to editors Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine for creating these indispensable editions of Shakespeare’s works, which incorporate the best of textual scholarship with a richness of commentary that is both inspired and engaging. Readers who want to know more about Shakespeare and his plays can follow the paths these distinguished scholars have tread by visiting the Folger either in-person or online, where a range of physical and digital resources exists to supplement the material in these texts. I commend to you these words, and hope that they inspire.
Director, Folger Shakespeare Library
Until now, with the release of the Folger Digital Texts, readers in search of a free online text of Shakespeare’s plays had to be content primarily with using the Moby™ Text, which reproduces a late-nineteenth century version of the plays. What is the difference? Many ordinary readers assume that there is a single text for the plays: what Shakespeare wrote. But Shakespeare’s plays were not published the way modern novels or plays are published today: as a single, authoritative text. In some cases, the plays have come down to us in multiple published versions, represented by various Quartos (Qq) and by the great collection put together by his colleagues in 1623, called the First Folio (F). There are, for example, three very different versions of Hamlet, two of King Lear, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, and others. Editors choose which version to use as their base text, and then amend that text with words, lines or speech prefixes from the other versions that, in their judgment, make for a better or more accurate text.
Other editorial decisions involve choices about whether an unfamiliar word could be understood in light of other writings of the period or whether it should be changed; decisions about words that made it into Shakespeare’s text by accident through four hundred years of printings and misprinting; and even decisions based on cultural preference and taste. When the Moby™ Text was created, for example, it was deemed “improper” and “indecent” for Miranda to chastise Caliban for having attempted to rape her. (See The Tempest, 1.2: “Abhorred slave,/Which any print of goodness wilt not take,/Being capable of all ill! I pitied thee…”). All Shakespeare editors at the time took the speech away from her and gave it to her father, Prospero.
The editors of the Moby™ Shakespeare produced their text long before scholars fully understood the proper grounds on which to make the thousands of decisions that Shakespeare editors face. The Folger Library Shakespeare Editions, on which the Folger Digital Texts depend, make this editorial process as nearly transparent as is possible, in contrast to older texts, like the Moby™, which hide editorial interventions. The reader of the Folger Shakespeare knows where the text has been altered because editorial interventions are signaled by square brackets (for example, from Othello: “If she in chains of magic were not bound,”), half-square brackets (for example, from Henry V: “With blood and sword and fire to win your right,”), or angle brackets (for example, from Hamlet: “O farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved/you?”). At any point in the text, you can hover your cursor over a bracket for more information.
Because the Folger Digital Texts are edited in accord with twenty-first century knowledge about Shakespeare’s texts, the Folger here provides them to readers, scholars, teachers, actors, directors, and students, free of charge, confident of their quality as texts of the plays and pleased to be able to make this contribution to the study and enjoyment of Shakespeare.
Henry V begins at the English court, where the young king is persuaded that he has a claim to the throne of France. When the French dauphin, or heir apparent, insults him by sending him tennis balls, Henry launches his military expedition to France.
Before departing, Henry learns that three of his nobles have betrayed him, and he orders their execution. Meanwhile, his old tavern companions grieve over Sir John Falstaff’s death, and then leave for France.
Henry and his army lay siege to the French town of Harfleur, which surrenders. The Princess of France, Katherine, starts to learn English, but the French nobles are sure of success against Henry. Instead, Henry’s forces win a great victory at Agincourt.
After a brief return to England, Henry comes back to France to claim his rights and to set up his marriage to Princess Katherine. The play’s epilogue points out that Henry will die young and that England will as a result lose most of his French territories.
Thomas, Duke of Exeter, uncle to the King
Earl of Warwick
Earl of Salisbury
Earl of Huntington
Lord Scroop of Masham
Sir Thomas Grey
former companions of Henry, now in his army
Boy, their servant
Bishop of Canterbury
Bishop of Ely
King of France
Queen Isabel of France
Katherine, Princess of France
Alice, a gentlewoman attending on Katherine
Dauphin (i.e., Prince) of France
Montjoy, French herald
French ambassadors to England
Monsieur Le Fer, a French soldier
Lords, Attendants, Soldiers, French Prisoners, Messengers
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
John, Duke of Bedford
Thomas, Duke of Clarence
brothers to the King
Duke of York
Earl of Westmoreland
Earl of Cambridge
cousins to the King
Sir Thomas Erpingham
officers in Henry’s army
soldiers in Henry’s army
Duke of Berri
Duke of Brittany
Duke of Orléans
Duke of Bourbon
Duke of Burgundy
Constable of France
Enter Chorus as Prologue.
FTLN 0001 O, for a muse of fire that would ascend
FTLN 0002 The brightest heaven of invention!
FTLN 0003 A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
FTLN 0004 And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
FTLN 00055 Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
FTLN 0006 Assume the port of Mars, and at his heels,
FTLN 0007 Leashed in like hounds, should famine, sword, and
FTLN 0008 fire
FTLN 0009 Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all,
FTLN 001010 The flat unraisèd spirits that hath dared
FTLN 0011 On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
FTLN 0012 So great an object. Can this cockpit hold
FTLN 0013 The vasty fields of France? Or may we cram
FTLN 0014 Within this wooden O the very casques
FTLN 001515 That did affright the air at Agincourt?
FTLN 0016 O pardon, since a crookèd figure may
FTLN 0017 Attest in little place a million,
FTLN 0018 And let us, ciphers to this great account,
FTLN 0019 On your imaginary forces work.
FTLN 002020 Suppose within the girdle of these walls
FTLN 0021 Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
FTLN 0022 Whose high uprearèd and abutting fronts
FTLN 0023 The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder.
FTLN 0024 Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts.
FTLN 002525 Into a thousand parts divide one man,
FTLN 0026 And make imaginary puissance.
FTLN 0027 Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them
FTLN 0028 Printing their proud hoofs i’ th’ receiving earth,
FTLN 0029 For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our
FTLN 003030 kings,
FTLN 0031 Carry them here and there, jumping o’er times,
FTLN 0032 Turning th’ accomplishment of many years
FTLN 0033 Into an hourglass; for the which supply,
FTLN 0034 Admit me chorus to this history,
FTLN 003535 Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray
FTLN 0036 Gently to hear, kindly to judge our play.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0037 My lord, I’ll tell you that self bill is urged
FTLN 0038 Which in th’ eleventh year of the last king’s reign
FTLN 0039 Was like, and had indeed against us passed
FTLN 0040 But that the scambling and unquiet time
FTLN 00415 Did push it out of farther question.
BISHOP OF ELY
FTLN 0042 But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0043 It must be thought on. If it pass against us,
FTLN 0044 We lose the better half of our possession,
FTLN 0045 For all the temporal lands which men devout
FTLN 004610 By testament have given to the Church
FTLN 0047 Would they strip from us, being valued thus:
FTLN 0048 “As much as would maintain, to the King’s honor,
FTLN 0049 Full fifteen earls and fifteen hundred knights,
FTLN 0050 Six thousand and two hundred good esquires;
FTLN 005115 And, to relief of lazars and weak age
FTLN 0052 Of indigent faint souls past corporal toil,
FTLN 0053 A hundred almshouses right well supplied;
FTLN 0054 And to the coffers of the King besides,
FTLN 0055 A thousand pounds by th’ year.” Thus runs the bill.
BISHOP OF ELY
FTLN 005620 This would drink deep.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY FTLN 0057 ’Twould drink the cup and
FTLN 0058 all.
BISHOP OF ELY FTLN 0059But what prevention?
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0060 The King is full of grace and fair regard.
BISHOP OF ELY
FTLN 006125 And a true lover of the holy Church.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0062 The courses of his youth promised it not.
FTLN 0063 The breath no sooner left his father’s body
FTLN 0064 But that his wildness, mortified in him,
FTLN 0065 Seemed to die too. Yea, at that very moment
FTLN 006630 Consideration like an angel came
FTLN 0067 And whipped th’ offending Adam out of him,
FTLN 0068 Leaving his body as a paradise
FTLN 0069 T’ envelop and contain celestial spirits.
FTLN 0070 Never was such a sudden scholar made,
FTLN 007135 Never came reformation in a flood
FTLN 0072 With such a heady currance scouring faults,
FTLN 0073 Nor never Hydra-headed willfulness
FTLN 0074 So soon did lose his seat, and all at once,
FTLN 0075 As in this king.
BISHOP OF ELY FTLN 007640 We are blessèd in the change.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0077 Hear him but reason in divinity
FTLN 0078 And, all-admiring, with an inward wish
FTLN 0079 You would desire the King were made a prelate;
FTLN 0080 Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,
FTLN 008145 You would say it hath been all in all his study;
FTLN 0082 List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
FTLN 0083 A fearful battle rendered you in music;
FTLN 0084 Turn him to any cause of policy,
FTLN 0085 The Gordian knot of it he will unloose
FTLN 008650 Familiar as his garter; that, when he speaks,
FTLN 0087 The air, a chartered libertine, is still,
FTLN 0088 And the mute wonder lurketh in men’s ears
FTLN 0089 To steal his sweet and honeyed sentences;
FTLN 0090 So that the art and practic part of life
FTLN 009155 Must be the mistress to this theoric;
FTLN 0092 Which is a wonder how his Grace should glean it,
FTLN 0093 Since his addiction was to courses vain,
FTLN 0094 His companies unlettered, rude, and shallow,
FTLN 0095 His hours filled up with riots, banquets, sports,
FTLN 009660 And never noted in him any study,
FTLN 0097 Any retirement, any sequestration
FTLN 0098 From open haunts and popularity.
BISHOP OF ELY
FTLN 0099 The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,
FTLN 0100 And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
FTLN 010165 Neighbored by fruit of baser quality;
FTLN 0102 And so the Prince obscured his contemplation
FTLN 0103 Under the veil of wildness, which, no doubt,
FTLN 0104 Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night,
FTLN 0105 Unseen yet crescive in his faculty.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 010670 It must be so, for miracles are ceased,
FTLN 0107 And therefore we must needs admit the means
FTLN 0108 How things are perfected.
BISHOP OF ELY FTLN 0109 But, my good lord,
FTLN 0110 How now for mitigation of this bill
FTLN 011175 Urged by the Commons? Doth his Majesty
FTLN 0112 Incline to it or no?
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY FTLN 0113 He seems indifferent,
FTLN 0114 Or rather swaying more upon our part
FTLN 0115 Than cherishing th’ exhibitors against us;
FTLN 011680 For I have made an offer to his Majesty—
FTLN 0117 Upon our spiritual convocation
FTLN 0118 And in regard of causes now in hand,
FTLN 0119 Which I have opened to his Grace at large,
FTLN 0120 As touching France—to give a greater sum
FTLN 012185 Than ever at one time the clergy yet
FTLN 0122 Did to his predecessors part withal.
BISHOP OF ELY
FTLN 0123 How did this offer seem received, my lord?
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0124 With good acceptance of his Majesty—
FTLN 0125 Save that there was not time enough to hear,
FTLN 012690 As I perceived his Grace would fain have done,
FTLN 0127 The severals and unhidden passages
FTLN 0128 Of his true titles to some certain dukedoms,
FTLN 0129 And generally to the crown and seat of France,
FTLN 0130 Derived from Edward, his great-grandfather.
BISHOP OF ELY
FTLN 013195 What was th’ impediment that broke this off?
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0132 The French ambassador upon that instant
FTLN 0133 Craved audience. And the hour, I think, is come
FTLN 0134 To give him hearing. Is it four o’clock?
BISHOP OF ELY FTLN 0135It is.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0136100 Then go we in to know his embassy,
FTLN 0137 Which I could with a ready guess declare
FTLN 0138 Before the Frenchman speak a word of it.
BISHOP OF ELY
FTLN 0139 I’ll wait upon you, and I long to hear it.
Gloucester, Bedford, Clarence, Warwick, Westmoreland,
and Exeter, with other Attendants.
FTLN 0140 Where is my gracious Lord of Canterbury?
FTLN 0141 Not here in presence.
KING HENRY FTLN 0142 Send for him, good uncle.
FTLN 0143 Shall we call in th’ Ambassador, my liege?
FTLN 01445 Not yet, my cousin. We would be resolved,
FTLN 0145 Before we hear him, of some things of weight
FTLN 0146 That task our thoughts concerning us and France.
Enter the two Bishops of Canterbury and Ely.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0147 God and his angels guard your sacred throne
FTLN 0148 And make you long become it.
KING HENRY FTLN 014910 Sure we thank you.
FTLN 0150 My learnèd lord, we pray you to proceed
FTLN 0151 And justly and religiously unfold
FTLN 0152 Why the law Salic that they have in France
FTLN 0153 Or should or should not bar us in our claim.
FTLN 015415 And God forbid, my dear and faithful lord,
FTLN 0155 That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your
FTLN 0156 reading,
FTLN 0157 Or nicely charge your understanding soul
FTLN 0158 With opening titles miscreate, whose right
FTLN 015920 Suits not in native colors with the truth;
FTLN 0160 For God doth know how many now in health
FTLN 0161 Shall drop their blood in approbation
FTLN 0162 Of what your reverence shall incite us to.
FTLN 0163 Therefore take heed how you impawn our person,
FTLN 016425 How you awake our sleeping sword of war.
FTLN 0165 We charge you in the name of God, take heed,
FTLN 0166 For never two such kingdoms did contend
FTLN 0167 Without much fall of blood, whose guiltless drops
FTLN 0168 Are every one a woe, a sore complaint
FTLN 016930 ’Gainst him whose wrongs gives edge unto the
FTLN 0170 swords
FTLN 0171 That makes such waste in brief mortality.
FTLN 0172 Under this conjuration, speak, my lord,
FTLN 0173 For we will hear, note, and believe in heart
FTLN 017435 That what you speak is in your conscience washed
FTLN 0175 As pure as sin with baptism.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0176 Then hear me, gracious sovereign, and you peers
FTLN 0177 That owe yourselves, your lives, and services
FTLN 0178 To this imperial throne. There is no bar
FTLN 017940 To make against your Highness’ claim to France
FTLN 0180 But this, which they produce from Pharamond:
FTLN 0181 “In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant”
FTLN 0182 (No woman shall succeed in Salic land),
FTLN 0183 Which Salic land the French unjustly gloze
FTLN 018445 To be the realm of France, and Pharamond
FTLN 0185 The founder of this law and female bar.
FTLN 0186 Yet their own authors faithfully affirm
FTLN 0187 That the land Salic is in Germany,
FTLN 0188 Between the floods of Sala and of Elbe,
FTLN 018950 Where Charles the Great, having subdued the
FTLN 0190 Saxons,
FTLN 0191 There left behind and settled certain French,
FTLN 0192 Who, holding in disdain the German women
FTLN 0193 For some dishonest manners of their life,
FTLN 019455 Established then this law: to wit, no female
FTLN 0195 Should be inheritrix in Salic land,
FTLN 0196 Which “Salic,” as I said, ’twixt Elbe and Sala
FTLN 0197 Is at this day in Germany called Meissen.
FTLN 0198 Then doth it well appear the Salic law
FTLN 019960 Was not devisèd for the realm of France,
FTLN 0200 Nor did the French possess the Salic land
FTLN 0201 Until four hundred one and twenty years
FTLN 0202 After defunction of King Pharamond,
FTLN 0203 Idly supposed the founder of this law,
FTLN 020465 Who died within the year of our redemption
FTLN 0205 Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the Great
FTLN 0206 Subdued the Saxons and did seat the French
FTLN 0207 Beyond the river Sala in the year
FTLN 0208 Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say,
FTLN 020970 King Pepin, which deposèd Childeric,
FTLN 0210 Did, as heir general, being descended
FTLN 0211 Of Blithild, which was daughter to King Clothair,
FTLN 0212 Make claim and title to the crown of France.
FTLN 0213 Hugh Capet also, who usurped the crown
FTLN 021475 Of Charles the Duke of Lorraine, sole heir male
FTLN 0215 Of the true line and stock of Charles the Great,
FTLN 0216 To find his title with some shows of truth,
FTLN 0217 Though in pure truth it was corrupt and naught,
FTLN 0218 Conveyed himself as th’ heir to th’ Lady Lingare,
FTLN 021980 Daughter to Charlemagne, who was the son
FTLN 0220 To Lewis the Emperor, and Lewis the son
FTLN 0221 Of Charles the Great. Also King Lewis the Tenth,
FTLN 0222 Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet,
FTLN 0223 Could not keep quiet in his conscience,
FTLN 022485 Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied
FTLN 0225 That fair Queen Isabel, his grandmother,
FTLN 0226 Was lineal of the Lady Ermengare,
FTLN 0227 Daughter to Charles the foresaid Duke of Lorraine:
FTLN 0228 By the which marriage the line of Charles the Great
FTLN 022990 Was reunited to the crown of France.
FTLN 0230 So that, as clear as is the summer’s sun,
FTLN 0231 King Pepin’s title and Hugh Capet’s claim,
FTLN 0232 King Lewis his satisfaction, all appear
FTLN 0233 To hold in right and title of the female.
FTLN 023495 So do the kings of France unto this day,
FTLN 0235 Howbeit they would hold up this Salic law
FTLN 0236 To bar your Highness claiming from the female,
FTLN 0237 And rather choose to hide them in a net
FTLN 0238 Than amply to imbar their crooked titles
FTLN 0239100 Usurped from you and your progenitors.
FTLN 0240 May I with right and conscience make this claim?
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0241 The sin upon my head, dread sovereign,
FTLN 0242 For in the Book of Numbers is it writ:
FTLN 0243 “When the man dies, let the inheritance
FTLN 0244105 Descend unto the daughter.” Gracious lord,
FTLN 0245 Stand for your own, unwind your bloody flag,
FTLN 0246 Look back into your mighty ancestors.
FTLN 0247 Go, my dread lord, to your great-grandsire’s tomb,
FTLN 0248 From whom you claim; invoke his warlike spirit
FTLN 0249110 And your great-uncle’s, Edward the Black Prince,
FTLN 0250 Who on the French ground played a tragedy,
FTLN 0251 Making defeat on the full power of France
FTLN 0252 Whiles his most mighty father on a hill
FTLN 0253 Stood smiling to behold his lion’s whelp
FTLN 0254115 Forage in blood of French nobility.
FTLN 0255 O noble English, that could entertain
FTLN 0256 With half their forces the full pride of France
FTLN 0257 And let another half stand laughing by,
FTLN 0258 All out of work and cold for action!
BISHOP OF ELY
FTLN 0259120 Awake remembrance of these valiant dead
FTLN 0260 And with your puissant arm renew their feats.
FTLN 0261 You are their heir, you sit upon their throne,
FTLN 0262 The blood and courage that renownèd them
FTLN 0263 Runs in your veins; and my thrice-puissant liege
FTLN 0264125 Is in the very May-morn of his youth,
FTLN 0265 Ripe for exploits and mighty enterprises.
FTLN 0266 Your brother kings and monarchs of the Earth
FTLN 0267 Do all expect that you should rouse yourself
FTLN 0268 As did the former lions of your blood.
FTLN 0269130 They know your Grace hath cause and means and
FTLN 0270 might;
FTLN 0271 So hath your Highness. Never king of England
FTLN 0272 Had nobles richer, and more loyal subjects,
FTLN 0273 Whose hearts have left their bodies here in England
FTLN 0274135 And lie pavilioned in the fields of France.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0275 O, let their bodies follow, my dear liege,
FTLN 0276 With blood and sword and fire to win your right,
FTLN 0277 In aid whereof we of the spiritualty
FTLN 0278 Will raise your Highness such a mighty sum
FTLN 0279140 As never did the clergy at one time
FTLN 0280 Bring in to any of your ancestors.
FTLN 0281 We must not only arm t’ invade the French,
FTLN 0282 But lay down our proportions to defend
FTLN 0283 Against the Scot, who will make road upon us
FTLN 0284145 With all advantages.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0285 They of those marches, gracious sovereign,
FTLN 0286 Shall be a wall sufficient to defend
FTLN 0287 Our inland from the pilfering borderers.
FTLN 0288 We do not mean the coursing snatchers only,
FTLN 0289150 But fear the main intendment of the Scot,
FTLN 0290 Who hath been still a giddy neighbor to us.
FTLN 0291 For you shall read that my great-grandfather
FTLN 0292 Never went with his forces into France
FTLN 0293 But that the Scot on his unfurnished kingdom
FTLN 0294155 Came pouring like the tide into a breach
FTLN 0295 With ample and brim fullness of his force,
FTLN 0296 Galling the gleanèd land with hot assays,
FTLN 0297 Girding with grievous siege castles and towns,
FTLN 0298 That England, being empty of defense,
FTLN 0299160 Hath shook and trembled at th’ ill neighborhood.
BISHOP OF CANTERBURY
FTLN 0300 She hath been then more feared than harmed, my
FTLN 0301 liege,
FTLN 0302 For hear her but exampled by herself:
FTLN 0303 When all her chivalry hath been in France
FTLN 0304165 And she a mourning widow of her nobles,
FTLN 0305 She hath herself not only well defended
FTLN 0306 But taken and impounded as a stray
FTLN 0307 The King of Scots, whom she did send to France
FTLN 0308 To fill King Edward’s fame with prisoner kings
FTLN 0309170 And make her chronicle as rich with praise
FTLN 0310 As is the ooze and bottom of the sea
FTLN 0311 With sunken wrack and sumless treasuries.
BISHOP OF ELY
FTLN 0312 But there’s a saying very old and true:
FTLN 0313 “If that you will France win,
FTLN 0314175 Then with Scotland first begin.”
FTLN 0315 For once the eagle England being in prey,
FTLN 0316 To her unguarded nest the weasel Scot
FTLN 0317 Comes sneaking and so sucks her princely eggs,
FTLN 0318 Playing the mouse in absence of the cat,
Act 1, Scene 1 Setting: Westminster Abbey, London
The play begins at the funeral of King Henry V, as the late king's brothers and uncles pay homage with him, an homage that also includes an argument between Humphrey of Gloucester (the Protector of the realm) and his uncle Henry, Bishop of Winchester. A series of messengers than arrive with various announcements: The first tells of the English losses of several major cities, including Paris, within France; The second tells of the crowning of Charles the Dauphin and how many powerful French lords have joined forces with him; The third tells of a bloody battle at Orleans where John Talbot, an English commander, has been defeated, wounded and taken captive, despite his valiance on the battlefield, because of the cowardice of one Sir John Fastolf. John of Bedford says he will ransom Talbot and muster an army to go to France to attempt to win back some of their territories. The rest go off to their several duties, and Winchester ends the scene by claiming he will not be long without an office of his own.
Act 1, Scene 2 Setting: Near Orleans, France
Charles the Dauphin converses with Rene of Anjou and the Duke of Alencon on their next move against the English, sharing insults against their enemies in the process. They decide to attack the army led by the Earl of Salisbury.
Act 1, Scene 3 Setting: Near Orleans, France
The French are beaten back from Orleans and admit they have underestimated Salisbury's army. At this point, the Bastard of Orleans enters and brings news of a woman, Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc) who claims she has been divinely ordained to fight off the English. When Joan is brought in, Charles asks Rene to stand in for him as Dauphin to see if she will realize the difference, which she immediately does. Joan explains that she is a shepherd's daughter who has been assigned by God to be the "scourge of England." Before he allows her to fight, Charles says Joan must defeat him in single combat, which she is easily able to do. Charles now desperately lusts after Joan, who tells him she has no time for his advances until after the English are defeated. The Dauphin agrees, and they set off to fight the English and take back Orleans.
Act 1, Scene 4 Setting: The Tower of London
Gloucester and his men attempt to enter the tower of London, so they may inspect it, and are barred entry by the warders. This is obviously a mystery to Gloucester, who is then told by Woodville that the Bishop of Winchester has specifically forbid him from gaining admittance. Winchester himself then enters with his men, he and Gloucester trade insults and a skirmish breaks out between the two sides. Finally, the Mayor of London intervenes and says any who continue to fight will be arrested. The two men agree to continue their conflict at a later time and depart.
Act 1, Scene 5 Setting: Orleans
The Master Gunner of Orleans and his son discuss the English siege of Orleans and what their strategy must be.
Act 1, Scene 6 Setting: Tower before the walls of Orleans
Salisbury and Talbot, along with Sir Thomas Gargrave and Sir William Glasdale, discuss Talbot's imprisonment by the French. Talbot tells of the shabby and humiliating treatment he was given by the French and that he was eventually ransomed by Bedford in exchange for a French prisoner. As the men are discussing their plan of action, a cannon goes off and hits them, killing Gargrave and seriously wounding Salisbury, taking out one of his eyes. While Talbot laments for his friends, a messenger enters and delivers news of the coming of the French, with Joan of Arc. This upsets the dying Salisbury, and Talbot vows to have his revenge.
Act 1, Scene 7 Setting: In and before Orleans
Talbot is astounded to find that his men are retreating at the hands of a woman, when he encounters Joan in person. The two briefly fight before Joan departs into Orleans, claiming that it is not yet Talbot's time to die. Talbot's men continue to be beaten back by Joan and the French.
Act 1, Scene 8 Setting: In and before Orleans
Charles, Joan and the French lords celebrate their victory at Orleans, and Charles credits Joan with the defeat of the English forces.
Act 2, Scene 1 Setting: In and before Orleans
A French sergeant commands his sentinels to watch the walls of Orleans closely and inform him if the enemy is spotted. Talbot, Bedford and the Duke of Burgundy enter with scaling ladders, and they mean to surprise the French. They climb the walls and do just that, scattering the French, who are only half dressed. Charles and Joan enter to the other French lords, Charles blaming Joan for a false prophesy, and they all continue to blame one another for being taken by surprise. An English soldier than shouts out the name of Talbot, and the French flee once again.
Act 2, Scene 2 Setting: Within Orleans
Bedford, Talbot and Burgundy discuss how they forced the French, once again, to flee from Orleans. Talbot pays homage to the recently deceased Salisbury and orders his body to be conveyed though the town marketplace. A messenger then enters bringing tidings from the Countess of Auvergne, who would like to invite Talbot to her castle so she may meet the man who has given the French so much trouble. Talbot accepts the invitation, whispers something to an English captain and departs.
Act 2, Scene 3 Setting: The Countess's castle, Auvergne
The Countess of Auvergne reveals that she has invited Talbot to her castle in order to trick him and take him prisoner. When Talbot arrives, the Countess is less than impressed by his physical appearance and accuses him of not actually being the same Talbot that has done so much damage to the French army. Talbot begins to leave, and the Duchess calls him back and claims he is now her prisoner. This does not worry Talbot, who had planned for it, and he blows his horn to call in the English soldiers. The Duchess apologizes for underestimating Talbot, who forgives her, and offers sanctuary for him and his soldiers for the time being.
Act 2, Scene 4 Setting: The temple garden, London
This highly important scene brings about the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. Richard Plantagenet, the Earls of Suffolk and Warwick, the Duke of Somerset, Vernon and a lawyer all discuss who the rightful heir to the throne of England is. The men each pick different color roses within the garden to represent whose side they are on. Richard Plantagenet, Warwick, Vernon and the lawyer all pick a white rose to represent the House of York (which Richard is the leading member of); Suffolk and Somerset both pick a red rose to represent the House of Lancaster, the house of the current King Henry VI. The two factions argue back and forth: Warwick claims that Richard is descended from Edward III's third (second surviving) son Lionel, Duke of Clarance, making him heir over the descendants of John of Gaunt, Lionel's younger brother. Somerset countermands the argument by saying that Richard should be disinherited being that his father, the Earl of Cambridge, was executed for treason after taking part in the Southampton Plot to kill Henry V (as seen in Henry V). After the Lancastrians depart, Warwick tells Richard that this issue will be resolved at the next Parliament, that Richard shall be created Duke of York, and that there will be much bloodshed between the two factions that have just been created in the coming years, before the Yorkists depart.
Act 2, Scene 5 Setting: A cell within the Tower of London
The elderly Edmund Mortimer, who is dying, delivers a sad lament about his many years in prison and hopes that his nephew, Richard Plantagenet, will visit him before his death. He is informed that Richard is on his way before the man himself arrives. Richard tells his uncle of the controversy that has arisen over the execution of his father. Mortimer then informs Richard that he should indeed be the King of England, due to his descent from Edward III's son Lionel. He also claims he has been in prison ever since the Southampton Plot where Richard's father was executed. After Mortimer delivers this information to his nephew, he dies. Richard vows to regain his rightful inheritance.
Act 3, Scene 1 Setting: The Parliament House, London
This scene begins with Winchester tearing up a bill written by Gloucester, accusing him of many heinous deeds. The two engage in a lengthy, and vicious, argument, where each makes a number of accusations against the other. Several of the lords attempt to intervene and, finally, the young King Henry himself calms the argument. At this point, noises are heard outside, and the Mayor of London bursts in complaining that the respective factions of Gloucester and Winchester are causing havoc in the city, destroying themselves and everything around them with stones. The serving men of Gloucester and Winchester come in and say they will never give up their cause. Henry pleads with his uncles to make peace. Gloucester agrees and offers Winchester his hand. At first, Winchester is unwilling to make peace with his nephew, but ultimately agrees (though the peace is hollow on both sides). After the supposed "peace," the men are dismissed and Warwick suggest it is time to reinstate Richard to his inheritance. Gloucester and the others agree this is the right thing to do, and Richard is created Duke of York by the king, with his inheritance being restored completely. This pleases all except for Somerset, who, it must be remembered is a member of the Lancastrian faction. Gloucester then suggests it is time for Henry to be crowned King of France, and they depart. Exeter delivers a haunting soliloquy to end the scene, reminding the audience of the prophesy at the end of Henry V: that Henry VI will lose all his father had won. The duke hopes his time ends before it happens.
Act 3, Scene 2 Setting: In and around Rouen, France
Joan and several of her soldiers stand before Rouen disguised as poor farmers. The plan is they will gain admittance into the city and signal for Charles and his army to enter, so they may lay siege to the town. They knock at the door and are admitted immediately.
Act 3, Scene 3 Setting: In and around Rouen
Charles and his men await the signal of Joan from the walls of Rouen (Joan will wave a torch if it is safe for them to enter). Joan appears waving the torch, and the French start their siege on Rouen.
Act 3, Scene 4 Setting: In and around Rouen
Talbot vows revenge for the deceitfulness Joan used in gaining entry to Rouen.
Act 3, Scene 5 Setting: In and around Rouen
The French, from the walls of Rouen, and the English, from outside the walls, exchange insults. When Talbot challenges the French to come down and fight, the French refuse and exit from the walls. Both Talbot and Burgundy vow to take back the town or die trying. Talbot then offers to take Bedford, who is dying, away to a more comfortable place, which he refuses, saying he wants to see the outcome of the battle. The English go into Rouen to fight with the French. Meanwhile, Sir John Fastolf and a captain enter, and Fastolf reveals he will once again desert Talbot in the battle, which he does, and is criticized by the captain. A retreat is sounded, and the French are seen running away. Bedford, content with seeing his enemies on the run, dies peacefully.
Act 3, Scene 6 Setting: In and around Rouen
Talbot and Burgundy celebrate the recapture of Rouen. They say they will restore order to the town before heading to Paris, where King Henry is. First, though, they must give proper funeral rights to the recently deceased Bedford.
Act 3, Scene 7 Setting: Plains near Rouen
Joan tells the French lords not to let the English victory at Rouen discourage them. They all agree that they will continue to follow her, and Joan reveals her plan: She will entice the Duke of Burgundy, a Frenchman, to rejoin the French forces, deserting the English. The English troops pass by, and a parley is called by Charles with Burgundy. Joan delivers a very convincing speech, and Burgundy immediately yields to her and rejoins the French army, which the others celebrate.
Act 3, Scene 8 Setting: The palace, Paris
Talbot arrives at Paris to do homage to King Henry. Henry, who knows all about Talbot's valiant deeds in the battlefield in France, creates him Earl of Shrewsbury as a reward. All of the lords exit, leaving Vernon, a member of the Yorkist faction, and Basset, a member of the Lancastrian faction, alone. The two argue over their respective factions before Vernon strikes Basset. Basset vows to speak with the king to see how he may right this wrong that has been committed against him.
Act 4, Scene 1 Setting: The palace, Paris
The scene begins with Henry being crowned King of France by Winchester. No sooner is this accomplished when Fastolf enters bringing a letter from the Duke of Burgundy. Before the letter is read, Talbot rips off Fastolf's garter (symbolizing that he is a member of the Knight's of the Garter) and reprimands him for his cowardly actions in the earlier battles when he deserted Talbot. Talbot delivers a speech telling of the virtues a Knight of the Garter is supposed to possess, and Henry, made angry by Fastolf's actions, exiles the cowardly knight upon pain of death. Fastolf departs, and Gloucester reads Burgundy's letter, which, of course, tells of his defection and oath of loyalty to King Charles of France. All present are appalled by Burgundy's actions, and Talbot is sent to confront the duke. At this point, Vernon (servant to Richard, Duke of York) enters wearing a white rose, along with Basset (servant to Somerset) wearing a red rose. They both ask permission from the king to engage in a duel. The two servants reveal the argument they had over the different color roses, and their meaning, that they wear. This ignites an argument between Somerset and York. The king does not completely understand, but says the two lords must make peace, which they do not want to do. After the other lords make objections to the quarrel, Henry delivers a speech warning that the quarrel between the two factions will provide a weakness for the French to take advantage of. During the speech, he picks a red rose to wear and says it means not that he favors Somerset more than York. He then makes York regent of France, asks the men to make peace again and departs with his lords for England. After the king's departure, York expresses displeasure that the king chose to wear the red rose. Warwick convinces him that it need not be worried about, and they depart. The scene ends, once again, with Exeter delivering a prophetic soliloquy on the upcoming danger between the two factions.
Act 4, Scene 2 Setting: Before Bordeaux
Talbot and his men stand before the walls of Bordeaux and demand they surrender the city to them and swear allegiance to King Henry. A French general enters and informs Talbot that they have no intentions of surrendering to him. He claims that Talbot's army is surrounded on all sides by the dauphin's men and that they do not stand a chance to defeat them. Talbot hears the army in the distance, sends some men to survey the situation and vows he will do all he can to fight the enemy.
Act 4, Scene 3 Setting: A field somewhere in France
A messenger informs York that the French army is about to do battle with Talbot and his men, and York claims that he cannot act without the promised reinforcements from Somerset. Sir William Lucy then enters and tells York that Talbot, and his son, are in need of immediate aid, or they will surely be defeated. York again curses Somerset before departing. This time it is Lucy who ends the scene telling of the damage being caused by the quarrel between the two factions.
Act 4, Scene 4 Setting: A field in France
Somerset tells a captain that the rash expedition constructed by Talbot and York has prevented him from sending aid in time. Lucy arrives and announces that Talbot and his son are desperate for help and that York and Somerset should not let their personal differences stand in the way of getting them help. Somerset claims it is York's fault Talbot is in this situation, and Lucy tells him that York blames him for not sending his horsemen. Somerset says that York is lying. Lucy reminds him that Talbot's life is at stake, and Somerset agrees to send the horsemen. It may be too late for Talbot though.
Act 4, Scene 5 Setting: Battlefield near Bordeaux
Talbot, who is guilt wracked for bringing his son into such a dangerous situation when he wanted to teach him about war stratigems, commands Young Talbot to flee. Young Talbot argues that he has not yet gained renown and that his loss would be no big feat. If Talbot is lost, however, it would be a crushing blow to the English cause. Therefore, Young Talbot says it is he that should flee. The two argue back and forth before it is finally agreed that they will die fighting together.
Act 4, Scene 6 Setting: Battlefield near Bordeaux
Talbot rescues his son from the French and tells of how well they both do in the battle. Once again, Talbot attempts to convince his son to flee and live, this time saying he has now proved himself in the battlefield and will not seem cowardly if he departs. Young Talbot again refuses his father and tells him not to push the subject any further. The two vow to fight to the death.
Act 4, Scene 7 Setting: Battlefield near Bordeaux
Talbot, who has been fatally wounded in battle, tells of how his son saved him and was, in the process, killed himself. The body of Young Talbot is brought in, and Talbot delivers a sad lament before he dies with his son in his arms. When the French arrive and discover the bodies of the Talbots, there are some kind words and some cruel words. The Bastard wants to hack up their bodies, while Charles feels they deserve respect. Lucy arrives and asks if he may learn of those Englishmen who have been killed or taken prisoner. It is revealed that the Talbots have been killed, and a saddened Lucy requests permission to take their bodies so they may be buried properly. The French agree to release the bodies, and they set off towards Paris to take back France from the English.
Act 5, Scene 1 Setting: The palace, London
King Henry and Gloucester discuss how the pope, the emperor and the Earl of Armagnac request that a peace be made between England and France. Both agree that this would be the best plan of action, and Gloucester announces that, as a peace offering, Armagnac offers his only daughter for Henry to marry. Although Henry believes he is too young for marriage, he agrees to take part in it. Winchester, who has been promoted to cardinal, enters with some ambassadors and a papal legate, and Exeter delivers an aside telling of a prophecy spoken by Henry V that says Winchester will achieve this office and attempt to use his power to influence royal affairs. Henry announces that he agrees to the peace in France and to marry Armagnac's daughter, and the men set off, leaving Winchester with the papal legate. Winchester tells the legate that the pope shall receive the money he promised him for making him cardinal very soon. He then says that, now that he has this higher office, Gloucester shall soon be under his control.
Act 5, Scene 2 Setting: Plains in Anjou, France
Charles announces to Joan and his lords that Paris has revolted against England in favor of the French once again. A scout enters and says that the English army, which had been divided in two, has merged and will presently do battle with them. The French depart to take part in the battle.
Act 5, Scene 3 Setting: Before Angiers, France
Joan enters alone and tells of how York has defeated the French. She calls on her fiends for help. The fiends arrive but do not respond when she pleads with them for aid for the French army. After they depart, Joan realizes the French will lose the battle.
Act 5, Scene 4 Setting: Before Angiers
York and Burgundy fight, and he and the other French flee, leaving Joan behind, who is then captured by York. Joan curses both York and King Charles in addition to spewing out several other macabre comments. York informs her she will be burnt at the stake.
Act 5, Scene 5 Setting: Before Angiers
Suffolk is seen with Margaret, daughter to Rene of Anjou, and he seems to be fascinated by her beauty. Margaret is not particularly sure why Suffolk keeps her and assumes it is as his prisoner. Therefore, she asks what ransom he requires of her. A lengthy section then takes place where the two switch back and forth with asides, Suffolk suggesting that Margaret marry the king but also wanting her to be his mistress and Margaret not knowing what to think of the situation. Finally, Suffolk makes the suggestion for Margaret to be Henry's wife, and she says her father must approve. Suffolk sends for Anjou, who promptly agrees to the match between the king and his daughter, since it will bring peace to the region. After Anjou and Margaret depart, Suffolk wishes Margaret could be his.
Act 5, Scene 6 Setting: The Duke of York's camp, France
York and Warwick have Joan prisoner with Joan's father, the shepherd, also present. The shepherd pleads for his daughter's life, but Joan renounces him, saying that he is not her actual father and that she is descended from a higher stock. Ultimately, the shepherd is so offended by his daughter's shunning that he leaves and tells the English she deserves to be hanged. Joan then delivers a speech telling of her maidenhood and that, for that reason, she should not be burned. Warwick tells the executioners to give her a quick burning since she has remained pure. Joan than claims that she is pregnant and claims that the father is first Charles, second Alencon, and third Rene. Each time she is rebuked by York and Warwick for her unchaste ways, and finally, they agree she must be burnt for her permiscuity. Joan finally accepts her fate but curses the men before she is led off. Winchester then enters with word from the king of a peace with France. York is unhappy with this news, but Warwick convinces him that any truce will certainly be in the favor of the English. Charles and his lords enter, and Winchester announces that Henry will be lenient with them if they agree to be his loyal subjects and that Charles will serve as viceroy under him. This treaty is not particularly pleasing to Charles but he agrees after advice from Rene and Alencon, who say he may brake the truce later on when they are at a better vantage point. The truce is agreed to and the French swear allegiance to King Henry.
Act 5, Scene 7 Setting: The palace, London
King Henry is fascinated by Suffolk's description of Margaret and would love to have her as his queen. This is upsetting to Gloucester who reminds the king that he is already betrothed to Armagnac's daughter. Suffolk argues that the daughter of Armagnac is of too low status for a king and that Rene is king of both Naples and Jerusalem. Gloucester then says that, despite Rene's titles, he would more likely ask for money than give it as a dowry for his daughter. Suffolk then delivers a speech that tells of how the king should marry for love, not money, and that Margaret is more than worthy to be his wife. Henry listens and agrees that Margaret is the perfect match for him, tells Suffolk to retrieve her from France and kindly asks Gloucester not to object further. The play ends with Suffolk, speaking via soliloquy, comparing himself to Paris retrieving Helen from Greece and that he will soon be in charge of Margaret, the king and the realm of England.