Henry VI Part 1

Abridged Henry VI Part 1/#1/Background/Act 1, Scene 1

The play opens at Westminster Abbey. Henry V has just
died.  The year is 1422.  The Duke of Bedford (John) and the Duke of
Gloucester (Clarence or Humphrey) are attending the funeral service for their
older brother, Henry V.  The brothers
praise Henry V.  Exeter, the late king’s
uncle in the Beaufort line, says “shall we curse the subtle-witted French
conjurers and sorcerers, that, afraid of him, by magic verses have contrived
his end?”  Humphrey (or Gloucester)
immediately gets into a spat with Henry, the Bishop of Winchester, another
Beaufort uncle to the late king; Humphrey suggesting that churchmen had prayed
for Henry V’s death.  Winchester snaps
back “Thy wife holdeth thee in awe, more than God or religious churchmen
may.”  Both Exeter and Winchester were
sons of John of Gaunt and Catherine Swynford; she being John of Gaunt’s second
wife.  A Messenger enters and announces
that “Reims, Orleans, Paris, Poitiers are all quite lost.”  Exeter cries “What treachery was used?”  The Messenger replies “No treachery, but want
of men and money.  Awake, awake, English
nobility!  Let not sloth dim your honors
new-begot.”  Another Messenger enters and
announces that “The Dauphin Charles is crowned King in Reims; the Bastard of
Orleans and Alencon flieth to his side.”
Another Messenger soon enters and announces that Lord Talbot, England’s
main man in France, “is took prisoner.”
Bedford says he’ll challenge the Dauphin in France.  He says “Ten thousand soldiers with me I will
take, whose bloody deeds shall make all Europe quake.”  A Messenger says “So you may need; for
Orleans is besieged; the English army is grown weak and faint.  The Earl of Salisbury craveth supply.”  Salisbury is a leading military officer for
England.  Exeter reminds the lords of
“your oaths to Henry sworn, either to quell the Dauphin utterly, or bring him
in obedience to your yoke.”  The Lords
all say they remember, but man exits separately, each having his own agenda.
Winchester is worried, saying “I am left out; for me nothing remains.”

Abridged Henry VI Part 1/#2/Revelation/Act 1, Scene 2

The scene is Orleans.
The French Dauphin Charles, Alencon and Reignier are on stage.  The English now control Orleans.  Reignier says “Let’s raise the siege.  Talbot is taken, whom we used to fear. Remaineth
none but mad-brained Salisbury; nor men nor money hath he to make war.”  The Dauphin says “We will rush on them.”  The French are beaten back by the English and
incur serious losses.  Charles says “What
men have I!  Dogs cowards!
Dastards!”  Reignier says “Salisbury is a
desperate homicide; he fighteth as one weary of his life.”  The Frenchmen prepare to leave, the Dauphin
saying “Let’s leave this town.”  The
Bastard of Orleans enters, and says “A holy maid hither with me I bring with a
vision sent to her from Heaven.  Shall I
call her?”  Charles says “Call her
in.”  Joan La Pucelle enters and asks
“Where is the Dauphin?”  Charles steps
forward.  She says “I am by birth a shepherd’s
daughter, my wit untrained in any kind of art.”
She goes to say that “God’s mother” has appeared to her and did ask her
to “free her country from calamity.”  She
asks the Dauphin to “try by courage by combat, if thou darest.”  She tells him “thou shalt be fortunate, if
thou receive me for thy warlike mate.”  A
self-assured Charles challenges her to a duel, saying “Come, I fear no
woman.”  She easily wins the duel.  She confidently tells them “Glory is like a
circle in the water, which never ceaseth to enlarge itself till by broad
spreading it disperses to nought.  With
Henry’s death the English circle ends; dispersed are the glories it
included.”  Charles buys into her confidence
saying “How may I reverently worship thee enough?”  Reignier says “Woman, drive them from Orleans
and be immortalized.”  Joan la Pucelle
over time becomes known as Joan of Arc.  Charles
says “Come, let’s away about it.”

Abridged Henry VI Part 1/#3/Conflict/Act 1, Scene 3

The scene is the Tower of London.  Humphrey, the Duke of Gloucester, appointed by
his brother, the late Henry V, as England’s Protector, plans to “survey the
Tower,” having heard that armor and weapons may be missing.  He is denied access to the Tower.  Gloucester’s men rush the Tower gates,
Gloucester crying “Open the gates; here Gloucester that would enter.”  Henry, the Bishop of Winchester, enters,
saying “How now, ambitious Humphrey! What means this?”  Gloucester and Humphrey seriously dislike
each other.  The two men argue and then taunt
and challenge each other.  Gloucester
yells “Here’s Beaufort, that regards nor God nor King, hath here seized the
Tower to his use.”  The Beaufort line
represents descendants of John of Gaunt and his second wife.  Humphrey is a descendent in the legitimate
line; the legitimate line being those who are descendants of John of Gaunt and
his first wife.  Winchester comes back
with “Here’s Gloucester that seeks to overthrow religion, because he is
Protector of the realm, and would have armor here out of the Tower, to crown
himself King and suppress the Prince.”
The Mayor of London has entered and proclaims that “All manner of men
assembled here repair to your several dwelling places.”  Gloucester and Winchester agree to the Mayor’s
request, but also angrily agree that they shall meet another time.

Abridged Henry VI Part 1/#4/Determination/Act 1, Scene 4

The scene opens outside the walls of the city of
Orleans.  The English, at the moment,
still control the city. The Master Gunner tells his son “Be ruled by me.  Now do thou watch, for I can stay no
longer.  Thou shalt find me at the
Governor’s.”  Inside the city, the Earl
of Salisbury and John Talbot enter, Talbot having escaped his French captors, Salisbury
asking him “How wert thou handled being a prisoner?”  Talbot replies “With scoffs and scorns and
contemptuous taunts.  Then I broke from
the officers that led me.”  Salisbury says
“We will be revenged sufficiently.”  He
says “Here I view the Frenchmen how they fortify.”  The Gunner’s son lights the cannon and
fires.  Salisbury is seriously
injured.  An alarm sounds.  A Messenger enters, saying “My lord, the
French have assembled an army and are prepared to attack.  The Dauphin, with one Joan la Pucelle joined,
is come with a great power to raise the siege.”
John Talbot cries “Hear, hear how dying Salisbury groans!  Frenchmen, I’ll be a Salisbury to you.”  He tells some of his men “Convey me Salisbury
into his tent, and then we’ll try what these dastard Frenchmen dare.”

Abridged Henry VI Part 1/#5/Defeat/Act 1, Scenes 5-6

John Talbot has a one-on-one duel with Joan la
Pucelle.  She tells him “Come, come, ‘tis
only I that must disgrace thee.”  They
fight. Talbot says to himself “I will chastise this high-minded strumpet.”  They fight some more.  The French storm the town.  She says “O’ertake me, if thou canst; I scorn
thy strength.  This day is ours, as many
more shall be.”  She exits.  He says “A witch, by fear, not force, drives
back our troops and conquers as she pleases.
They called us for our fierceness English dogs; now, like to whelps, we
crying fun away.”  A short alarm
sounds.  Talbot does his best to rally
his troops.  It doesn’t work.  He says “Pucelle is entered into
Orleans.  The shame hereof will make me
hide my head.”  He and his troops exit
the city.  A victorious Pucelle cries
“Rescued is Orleans from the English.
Thus Joan la Pucelle hath performed her word.”  Charles the Dauphin says “Divinest
creature.  France, triumph in thy
glorious prophetess!  Recovered is the
town of Orleans.”  He gives her all the
credit for the victory.

Abridged Henry VI Part 1/#6/Re-secured/Act 2, Scene 1

Talbot, the Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Burgundy
prepare to scale the walls and re-take Orleans.
Talbot says to his two associates “This happy night the Frenchmen are
secure, having all day caroused and banqueted.
Embrace we then this opportunity.”
Burgundy says “What’s that Purcell whom they term so pure?”  Bedford says “A maid, and be so
martial!”  He goes on to say “Ascend,
brave Talbot; we will follow thee.”
Talbot responds “Not all together.”
They agree to lead separate charges.
The Bastard, Alencon and Reignier respond “half ready, and half
unready.”  The Frenchmen begin to
question Pucelle’s judgment.  The men
bicker, surprised by the English attack.
She defends the moment, saying “’Tis sure they found some place but
weakly guarded.  Now all that remains is
to gather our soldiers, scattered and dispersed” and re-group.  The Frenchmen scatter, leaving their clothes
behind.  An English soldier says “I have
loaden me with many spoils, using no other weapon but Talbot’s name.”  The Duke of Bedford was John Plantagenet, a
grandson of Edward III’s fourth son, John of Gaunt.  He was Henry IV’s third son.  He was a younger brother of Henry V’s. He is
known here as the Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt’s title.  He was appointed by Henry V to be Regent of
France.  He had a huge role in Henry IV
Part 2.  The Duke of Burgundy was a
French nobleman who married into English royalty.  He had married Margaret, a
great-granddaughter of Edward III’s fifth son, Edmund, the original Duke of York.
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, was his father-in-law.

Abridged Henry VI Part 1/#7/Recuperation/Act 2, Scenes 2-3

The English re-secured Orleans.  John Talbot instructs his men to “bring forth
the body of old Salisbury and here advance it in the market place.  Within their chiefest temple I’ll erect a
tomb, wherein his corpse shall be interred, and there in graved what a terror
he had been to France.”  He goes on to
say “I wonder we met not with the Dauphin’s Grace, virtuous Joan of Arc.”  Burgundy responds that “I am sure I scared
the Dauphin and his harlot, when arm in arm they both came swiftly running,
like a pair of loving turtledoves that could not live apart day or night. After
things are set in order here, we’ll follow them with all the power we have.”  A Messenger enters and says to Talbot that
“The virtuous lady, Countess of Auvergne by me entreats you visit her poor
castle where she lies.”  Burgundy says
“Is it even so?  Then, I see our wars
will turn unto comic sport, when ladies crave to be encountered with.”  Talbot says to both of them “Will you bear me
company?”   Bedford replies “No,
truly.”  Talbot says “Well then, alone, I
mean to prove this lady’s courtesy.”  At
the Auvergne castle the Countess says “The plot is laid.  If all things fall out right, I shall as
famous be by this exploit.’  Talbot
enters. The countess says “Is this the Talbot, so much feared abroad?  It cannot be this weak and writhled shrimp
should strike such terror to his enemies.”
Talbot replies “I’ll choose some other time to visit you.”  She says “If thou be he, then art thou
prisoner.”  He says “Prisoner, to
whom?”  She says “To me, bloodthirsty
lord.  I will chain these legs and arms
of thine, that hast wasted our country, slain our citizens, and sent our sons
and husbands in captivity.”  Talbot
laughs.  She says “Art not thou the
man.”  He says “I am but a shadow of
myself.  You are deceived, by substance
is not here; for what you see is but the smallest part and least proportion of
humanity.”  She says “This is a riddling
merchant.”  Talbot blows his horn. Drums
strike.  His soldiers enter.  He says “Are you now persuaded that Talbot is
but shadow of himself?”  She says
“Victorious Talbot.  Pardon my
abuse.  I am sorry that with reverence I
did not entertain thee as thou art.”  He
forgives her.  He says his soldiers would
each like a glass of wine and whatever other “delicacies” she might have.  She responds “With all my heart, and think me
honored to feast so great a warrior in my house.”

Abridged Henry VI Part 1/#8/War of the Roses/Act 2, Scene 4

The scene opens with an historic meeting in the Temple
Garden in London.  The meeting is between
Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York, known here as Plantagenet and John
Beaufort, the Earl of Somerset, known here as Somerset.  The men are joined by Warwick, Vernon,
Suffolk and a Lawyer.  They had moved
from the Temple hall because “we were too loud.”  They are arguing over a unidentified, minor legal
issue.  Plantagenet and Somerset dislike
each other intensely, both believing they have claims to the throne. Both men
think they are on the right side of the argument, minor though it might be, it
isn’t minor in their minds.  Plantagenet
says “Let him who doth suppose I plead truth pluck a white rose with me.”  Somerset counters, saying “Let him who dares
maintain the party of the truth pluck a red rose with me.”  Warwick, Vernon and the Lawyer pick white
roses; Suffolk picks a red rose.
Somerset says to Vernon “Prick not your finger as you pluck it off,
lest, bleeding, you do paint the white rose red and fall on my side, so,
against your will.”  But the two
principals really dislike each other, Plantagenet saying to Somerset “Your
cheeks do counterfeit our roses; for pale they look with fear, as witnessing
the truth on our side.”  Somerset
responds “No, Plantagenet, ‘tis not for fear but anger that our cheeks
blush.”  Somerset goes on to say “I’ll
find friends to wear my bleeding roses.”
Somerset demeans Plantagenet. Warwick jumps in, saying “thou wrongst
him, Somerset.  His great-grandfather (on
his mother’s side) was Lionel, Edward III’s third son.”  Lionel is the side of Edward III’s family
that strikes fear into these house of Lancaster kings.  Somerset, turning to Plantagenet, says, well,
yes, but “was not thy father, Richard Earl of Cambridge, for treason executed
by Henry V?”  Somerset is distantly
related the Edward III’s fourth son. Plantagenet is actually related to Edward
III’s third and fifth sons. Plantagenet says he “was condemned to die for
treason, but no traitor.”  The arguments get
nasty. We’ll better understand the source of the bitterness in paragraph nine. Each
man declares that his friends shall wear their respective colors. Somerset and
Suffolk exit. Plantagenet thanks Warwick, Vernon and the Lawyer for their
support.

Abridged Henry VI Part 1/#9/History/Act 2, Scene 5

The scene is the Tower of London.  Plantagenet has arrived to visit the ill and
imprisoned Edmund, fifth Earl of March, known here as Mortimer.  He is Plantagenet’s uncle.  Mortimer is the oldest great-grandson of
Lionel, Edward III’s third son.  By
birth, he was well positioned to be a king.
He’s been long imprisoned, feared as a threat to the house of Lancaster.
Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI were of the house of Lancaster.  John of Gaunt, Edward III’s fourth son, was,
at least in this series, the original Duke of Lancaster.  Mortimer is barely hanging on to life.  He tells his jailer that if he can see and
talk with Richard Plantagenet “his soul shall then be satisfied.”  Richard Plantagenet enters.  Plantagenet gets right to it, saying “This
day some words grew ‘twixt Somerset and me; he did upbraid me with my father’s
death.”  He says “good uncle, declare the
cause my father lost his head.”  Mortimer
then provides a touching history of how he has been imprisoned and how
Plantagenet’s father was hung because they were Lionel’s heirs.  Henry IV and Henry V protected their position
by imprisoning Mortimer and by hanging Richard’s father as a traitor.  He says “Thus the Mortimers, in whom the
title rested, were suppressed.”
Plantagenet cries “Methinks my father’s execution was nothing less than
bloody tyranny.”  Mortimer cautions him,
saying “With silence, nephew, be thou politic, strong-fixed is the house of
Lancaster.”  Plantagenet lets Mortimer
know how sorry he is that his uncle has been treated this way.  The moment is poignant.  Mortimer dies.  Plantagent tells the Jailer that “I myself
will see his burial better than his life.”
He says to himself “Haste I to the Parliament” where I will make this
injustice my reason for pressing my claim to the crown by force.”

Abridged Henry VI Part 1/#10/Internal strife/Act 3, Scene 1

The scene opens in the King’s court.  Winchester and Gloucester verbally attack
each other mean-spiritedly, Gloucester the more seriously.  Gloucester calls him a “Presumptuous priest,
a wicked usurer, an enemy to peace, lascivious and wanton.”  The Bishop of Winchester defends himself,
saying “If I were ambitious, how am I so poor?
Aside to himself, Plantagenet says “I must hold my tongue.”  The King enters the nasty conversation,
saying “Uncles of Gloucester and Winchester, I would prevail to join your
hearts in love and amity.”  A riotous
noise is heard outside, a person crying “Stones! Stones.”  The Mayor enters, saying “the men, forbidden
late to carry any weapon, have filled their pockets full of pebble stones and
do pelt one another.”  The King cries
“Pray, uncle Gloucester, mitigate this strife.”
Gloucester cries out to his supporters “Set this unaccustomed fight
aside.”  One of his supporters yells “Our
Grace, inferior to none but His Majesty; to be disgraced by Winchester, we all
will fight to have our bodies slaughtered by thy foes.”  Gloucester cries “Stay, I say, forbear
awhile.”  He goes on to say “Here,
Winchester, I offer thee my hand.”
Winchester responds “Well, Duke of Gloucester, I will yield to
thee.”  Aside, Gloucester says “Ay, but,
I fear me, with a hollow heart.”  Aside,
Winchester says “So help me God, as I intend it not!”  The young King says “How joyful am I made by
this contract!”  The Mayor and others
exit.  Warwick turns to the King and says
“Accept this scroll, which in the right of Richard Plantagenet we present for
consideration to your Majesty.”  The King
says “Our pleasure is that Richard be restored to his blood.”  He turns to Richard and says “Stoop then and
set your knee against my foot; and rise created princely Duke of York.” Richard
replies “As my duty springs, so perish they that think one hostile thought
against your Majesty!”  Aside, Somerset
says “Perish, ignoble Duke of York!”
Gloucester says “Now will it best avail your Majesty to cross the seas
and to be crowned in France. Your ships already are in readiness.”  All exit but Exeter.  Exeter then says to us “This late dissension
grown betwixt the peers burns under feigned ashes of forged love, and will at
last break out into a flame.”