Shakespeare For White Trash: Henry VI, Part Three
February 11, 2012
(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )
King Henry VI — last English king of the House of Lancaster
Queen Margaret — Henry’s Queen
Prince Edward (Prince of Wales) — son of Henry and Margaret
Louis XI — King of France
Duke of Somerset — loyal to Lancasters (This is Edward, 4th Duke of Somerset, not the same Somerset we met in the previous plays.)
Duke of Exeter — loyal to Lancasters (This is Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter.)
Earl of Oxford — loyal to Lancasters (This is John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford.)
Earl of Northumberland — loyal to Lancasters (This is Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland.)
Earl of Westmoreland — loyal to Lancasters (This is Ralph Neville, 2nd Earl of Westmoreland.)
Lord Clifford — loyal to Lancasters (This is John Clifford.)
Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond — half-nephew of Henry VI; later became Henry VII.
Sir John Somerville — loyal to Lancasters
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York — father of Edward IV, George, Richard, and Edmund
Edward IV — first king of the House of York
George, Duke of Clarence — brother of King Edward
Richard, Duke of Gloucester — brother of King Edward
Edmund, Earl of Rutland — brother of King Edward (died before Edward took the throne)
Duke of Norfolk — loyal to Yorks (This is John de Mowbray, 3rd Duke of Norfolk.)
Earl of Warwick — originally a Yorkist, switched sides to the Lancasters (This is Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, also called “The King-maker”.)
Earl of Salisbury (does not appear in the original play) — (This is Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury and Warwick’s father. This character has been added to fix the “Montague problem” — see note on Montague. Salisbury only appears in Act One.)
Marquess of Montague — (This is Warwick’s brother, John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montague. He defected to the Lancasters along with his brother. — Note: Shakespeare created a lot of confusion in the original by having Montague appear in Act One in a role that was obviously meant to be the Earl of Salisbury, who is the Duke of York’s brother-in-law and Warwick’s father. From Act Two onwards, Montague reverts to his proper position as Warwick’s brother. There is no way this is going to work for our audience. Therefore, I have added Salisbury in place of Montague in Act One. After that, he’s gone and Montague comes in.)
Earl of Pembroke — loyal to Yorks (This is a non-speaking role. He was William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke.)
Lord Stafford — loyal to Yorks (This is also a non-speaking role. He was Humphrey Stafford, 1st Earl of Devon, not to be confused with Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham.)
Lord Hastings — loyal to Yorks (This is William Hastings.)
Lord Falconbridge — loyal to Yorks
Sir John Somerville — friend of Warwick
Sir John Mortimer — uncle to Richard, Duke of York
Sir Hugh Mortimer — uncle to Richard, Duke of York
Lady Elizabeth Grey — Queen to Edward IV (She was the widow of Sir John Grey and the first commoner to become Queen of England; born Elizabeth Woodville.)
Sir William Stanley — originally a Yorkist; defected to Lancasters.
Sir John Montgomery — loyal to Yorks
Tutor to Rutland
Mayor of York
Lieutenant of the Tower of London
Lady Bona — sister-in-law to the French King
Lord Bourbon — French Admiral (This is a non-speaking role.)
Son who has killed his father
Father who has killed his son
Death figure (does not appear in the original)
(Earl Rivers is deleted. This is Queen Elizabeth’s brother, Anthony.)
Gist of the story: The events in Part Three follow immediately after Part Two and run from 1455 to 1471. After the York victory at the first battle of Saint Albans, the Lancasters are forced to come to terms. Tentatively, Henry VI will be allowed to remain on the throne, but upon his death the crown passes automatically to the Yorks. But there’s no hope for such a deal. Queen Margaret is outraged that Henry is willing to disinherit their son, Prince Edward. She takes off with Edward and vows to lead the Lancaster forces herself. And the Duke of York’s sons see no reason to wait for Henry VI to die of old age. They want to take the throne now. Margaret defeats the Yorks at Wakefield, killing Richard, Duke of York. But the Yorks win an epic battle at Towton and drive Margaret and Henry out of England and put Edward IV on the throne. Henry is captured and put in the Tower of London. Margaret appeals to the King of France for help. (She, of course, is French.) He’s considering it. Then Warwick arrives as Edward’s ambassador to do a marriage deal between Edward and the French king’s sister-in-law, Lady Bona. Louis XI is ready to agree to it when a messenger arrives with the news that Edward has married someone else! The French are hugely insulted, and Warwick is so pissed off he switches sides immediately to join the Lancasters. Later, Edward’s brother George also defects to the Lancasters after an argument with Edward. Warwick and the French forces return to England, capture Edward, and restore Henry VI to the throne–briefly. But Edward is rescued by his brother Richard, George returns to his brothers, and the Yorks win battles at Barnet and Tewkesbury. Henry VI and Prince Edward are both executed, and Edward IV is securely on the throne. But the Wars of the Roses are not over. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, lusts for power and will do whatever it takes to get on the throne. Family ties mean nothing. The grand finale is Richard III, previously published in the series “Shakespeare For White Trash”.
(Once again, the reader is cautioned that Shakespeare takes a lot of liberties in changing historical details for the sake of the story. The Yale Shakespeare editon of 1923 has excellent notes on the history. A significant fact that Shakespeare omits is that Henry suffered from bouts of insanity, which largely explains Margaret’s dominance in the wars. Shakespeare’s audiences may not have appreciated being told that England had an insane king. Henry may have inherited this trait from his maternal grandfather, Charles VI, of France. Regarding Richard, Duke of Gloucester, he is traditionally represented as a deformed hunchback. I have deliberately downplayed this aspect somewhat, in order to give the Director wide latitude in deciding how much to emphasize it. This is the first modernized version of Henry VI, Part Three ever published. Dig it!)
Act 1, Scene 1. The King’s palace in London. Richard, Duke of York, his sons Edward and Richard, the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Warwick, Lord Falconbridge, and Soldiers come in noisily, laughing and waving their white roses, except that the Duke of York is the most restrained.
The Party: Yorks win! Yorks win! Yorks beat Lancasters! Yorks beat Lancasters!
York: I’m proud of all of you–truly proud–and grateful. The battle of Saint Albans will go down in history as one of the most glorious battles ever to be fought in England. And I’m especially proud of my sons–Edward and Richard (He claps them on the shoulder)–who will someday be kings.
Edward (Showing off his sword): Here’s the blood of the Duke of Buckingham. I don’t know if he’s dead or alive, but I put him out of action.
Richard: I can top that. Here’s the Duke of Somerset!
(He takes out Somerset’s head and shows it off. Loud cheers.)
Norfolk: We should decorate this place with the heads of Lancasters!
Others: Yes! Yes!
Richard: King Henry will be next if I ever catch him!
Warwick: My lord of York, I believe that throne is waiting for you (Indicates the throne).
Others: The throne! Sit on the throne!
York: My good cousin Earl of Warwick, would you assist me?
Warwick: With the greatest pleasure, sir!
(Warwick leads York and helps him get up on the throne. Loud cheers.)
York: If Queen Margaret could see this, she’d have a fit.
Warwick: My lord, if King Henry shows up, we shouldn’t do him any harm–unless he starts something.
Richard: He’s a wimp. He’s a fucking choir boy with his prayer books.
York: He’s not going to do anything. He’ll concede. He knows he’s lost. And if he doesn’t concede, we still have our army, and we’re way stronger than he is.
(A hush as King Henry comes in, with Lord Clifford, the Earl of Northumberland, the Earl of Westmoreland, the Duke of Exeter, and Attendants, all wearing red roses. They all look downcast.)
York (Waving his white rose teasingly): Hello–Henry. (The pause is meant to be meaningful by omission of the word “King” or other polite term of address.)
(Henry looks crushed. He turns to his party.)
K. Henry: He’s sitting on my throne!–He thinks he’s King!–Northumberland, he killed your father!–And Clifford–he killed your father!
Northumberland: I’ll have my revenge!
Clifford: And so will I!
Westmoreland: I’ll pull him off that throne right now!
K. Henry: No, no!– Please–Let’s just be calm–and patient. They still have their army. And the people of London seem to be on their side.
Exeter: They won’t be once he’s dead!
K. Henry: No, Exeter!–Not here. This is the palace. We can’t have any violence here. (He tries to act assertive.) Ahem–Duke of York, get down from that throne and bow to your King.
York: No. You can bow to me.
Exeter: You ungrateful son of a bitch! Who gave you back your title when you were just Richard Plantaganet? King Henry did!
York: The title was mine all along.
Exeter: You lost your title when your father was executed for treason. And King Henry, out of the goodness of his heart, returned your title and your lands to you. And this is how you repay him? Shame on you and all the Yorks!
(Murmurs from Henry’s party: “Shame! Shame!”)
Warwick: Listen, Exeter, it was the Lancasters who originally stole the throne. If you stand with Henry, you’re on the wrong side.
Clifford: King Henry is not a usurper. He inherited the throne from his father, Henry the Fifth.
York: Yes, and Henry the Fifth got it from Henry the Fourth, who stole it from Richard the Second and his proper heirs, who were my mother’s people, the Mortimers. Look, the matter is settled. We beat you at Saint Albans.
Westmoreland: One battle doesn’t settle the matter, as far as we’re concerned.
Clifford: That’s right. We’ll have your blood on our swords before the matter is settled for good!
Warwick: Clifford, spare us the theatrics.
York: Henry, do you not understand that the throne rightfully belongs to me?
K. Henry: Why? Because your mother was Anne Mortimer?
York: Exactly. And the Mortimers were the descendants of Lionel, who was the second son of Edward the Third.
K. Henry: But my father conquered France!
Warwick: And then you lost it.
K. Henry: I didn’t lose it. I was only a child. It was my uncles who lost it.
Richard (To York): Father, don’t argue with him. Just take the crown off his head.
Falconbridge: Even better, take the head off with it!
Richard: I’ll do it!
York: Settle down, boys. It’s okay. Let Henry speak.
K. Henry: Duke of York–cousin–Richard–My house is the house of Lancaster. Yours is the house of York. But we are all Plantagenets. We all have the blood of Edward the Third. We are related. What wrong have I ever done to you?
York: The wrong was done before either of us was born. Now the time has come to right it.
K. Henry: But Richard the Second gave up the throne to my grandfather.
York: Only because he was forced to. The Mortimers were cut out of the succession. But their claim was never invalidated. Remember when your grandfather was still Henry Bolingbroke and was in exile, Richard the Second seized his estate, and Bolingbroke returned to reclaim it. Isn’t that so?
K. Henry: Yes.
York: And he had every right to reclaim what rightfully belonged to him, even though it had been stolen, don’t you think?
K. Henry: Yes.
York: There you go. This is our history–both yours and mine. All I ask of you is not to be a hypocrite. You’re an intelligent man, and a godly man. You must see that I’m right.
K. Henry (To Exeter): What do you think?
Exeter: Well–I suppose he could be right.
(Henry is silent and thoughtful for a moment.)
K. Henry: Could we not come to some compromise?
York: I’m listening.
K. Henry: Let me continue to be King as long as I live, and when I die the throne will pass to the house of York.
(York exchanges looks with his party. The suggestion is that they aren’t all in agreement.)
York: All right. I’ll agree to that.
Clifford (To K. Henry): My lord! How can you do this?
Westmoreland: Think of your son, my lord–Prince Edward!
Northumberland: This is a mistake! This is wrong!
Clifford: I’m not staying here. I’m leaving. I’m going to tell the Queen. Who’s coming with me?
Westmoreland and Northumberland: I am.
(Clifford, Westmoreland, and Northumberland leave. Henry is distressed.)
York (To K. Henry): Don’t worry about them. They’re just being emotional.
K. Henry: I’m thinking about my son.
York: We’ve made peace. That’s the important thing. (He gets off the throne.) Here’s your throne. You’re still King. And may God grant you a long life.
K. Henry (Morosely): The same to you–and your sons.
York: Thank you, my lord.–And now we take our leave of you–most respectfully.
(York bows and leads his party out.)
K. Henry (To Exeter): Did I do the right thing?
Exeter: I think so, sir. Anyway, we have peace again. I know you believe in peace.
K. Henry (Without enthusiasm): Blessed are the peacemakers.
(Queen Margaret storms in with their son, Prince Edward.)
Q. Margaret: What have you done! I wish I’d never left France! I never should have married you! What kind of father are you to disinherit your son?
Prince: Father, how could you disinherit me? I’m supposed to succeed you as King.
K. Henry: Edward–Margaret–I’m sorry. What could I do? I had no choice.
Q. Margaret: You’re King and you have no choice? Am I hearing right? Are you so weak? Are you stupid? Do you think York is going to let you sit on the throne until you die of old age? Do you think you’re going to be safe surrounded by these wolves? York will be Lord Protector, and Warwick will be Chancellor, and Salisbury will be Governor of Calais, and Falconbridge will be in charge of the fleet. My God! If I’d been in your place, they would’ve had to put a spike through my heart before I gave in to them!
K. Henry: But, my dear–
Q. Margaret: I’m not your dear any more. I’m going to control my own fate from now on. I’m leaving you, and Edward’s coming with me. We’ll gather up what’s left of our army and fight these York traitors!
K. Henry: Edward–are you not going to stay with me?
Q. Margaret: Why should he stay? To be murdered?
Prince: I’m sorry, father, but I’m leaving. You won’t see me again until we’ve beaten the Yorks.
Q. Margaret: Come, Edward.
(Margaret and the Prince leave.)
K. Henry: I should have expected this.–I guess I can’t blame them.–Maybe she’s right. I shouldn’t trust the Yorks.–Exeter–
Exeter: My lord?
K. Henry: I must get Clifford and Westmoreland and Northumberland back. I’m lost without them. I’ll write to them–as nicely as I can. You’ll deliver the letters, won’t you?
Exeter: Absolutely, my lord.
Act 1, Scene 2. York’s home, Sandal Castle, in Wakefield. His sons Edward and Richard, and his brother-in-law the Earl of Salisbury come in. A conversation is already in progress. [Author’s note: Salisbury replaces Montague in Act One. This is my way of solving the “Montague problem”. See the notes on Characters at the beginning.]
Richard: I’m going to tell him.
Edward: No, let me tell him.
Salisbury: I’ll tell him if you want me to.
Edward: No, I’m going to.
(The Duke of York comes in.)
York: Are we having an argument?
Edward: No, no. No argument. Just something we want to get off our chests.
Richard: It’s about the crown.
York: What about it?
Richard: Like, why aren’t you wearing it? It’s yours, isn’t it?
York: I can’t wear it until Henry is dead. We made a deal.
Edward: What’s the point of waiting? He’s probably going to outlive you.
Richard: Whatever you agreed to isn’t legally binding. And frankly, I don’t–I mean, we don’t want to wait.
Edward: No. We’re talking about the throne of England.–England!–Not some plot of land or a loan or some kind of property. This is about power. The whole country. I say take it.
Richard: I agree.
Salisbury: I agree with them.
(York pauses to reflect.)
Richard: We have the power we need to take it by force.
Edward: You don’t really owe Henry anything anyway. Let him go off and lead a quiet life and read his Bible, for chrissake. He’s no good for England. And suppose he changes his mind? Suppose Margaret raises a big army against us when the time comes to transfer the crown? Suppose the people turn against us? I’m not saying you should kill Henry, of course. He’s more like a piece of furniture in the wrong place. Just get him out of the way.
Salisbury: The Lancasters could be making secret plans against us. The only way to be sure is to get you on the throne permanently. And Edward is right about the people. They’re fickle. They could change their minds and go back to the Lancasters.
York: I have to admit you have good arguments.–Yes.–You’re right. I should be King now. Henry is out.–Salisbury, you go to London and talk to Warwick.–Richard, you go and speak to the Duke of Norfolk–and keep this a secret.–Edward, you go speak to my friend Lord Cobham. He’s the big man in Kent. They’ll follow him. I’ll stay here and make plans for us. The main thing is to keep a lid on this so the Lancasters don’t get any warning.
(A Messenger comes in.)
Messenger: My lords, Queen Margaret is on the way here with a big army. She’s got all the northern lords behind her. They’ve got twenty thousand men.
York: Huh!–Margaret’s leading an army. Well, well–I shouldn’t be that surprised. After all, she’s an Aries.–Edward and Richard, you’ll have to stay here for now.–Salisbury, you’ll have to get the word out to all our friends. We need them. And secrecy doesn’t matter any more.
Salisbury: Trust me, brother. I’ll take care of it.
(Salisbury leaves. Then Sir John Mortimer and Sir Hugh Mortimer come in.)
York: Look who’s here! My uncles! Sir John Mortimer!–Sir Hugh Mortimer!–Am I glad to see you! Queen Margaret is coming with an army.
Sir John: So we’ll fight them.
Sir Hugh: Sure. No problem.
York: But she’s got twenty thousand men, and I’ve only got five thousand immediately available.
Richard: She’s just a woman. Why should we take her seriously?
(Distant drums are heard.)
Edward: That’s her. She doesn’t waste any time, does she? We’d better get the troops in order.
York: We’ll beat them. What the hell. I’ve been outnumbered before when I fought the French, and I always beat them.–Come on.
(They all leave.)
Act 1, Scene 3. [Historical time: 1460.] The battlefield near Wakefield. Sounds of battle. Rutland and his Tutor come in, fleeing. The Tutor is dressed as a priest. [Author’s note: Rutland was 17 historically, but Shakespeare presents him as younger.]
Rutland: Where will we go, sir? The Yorks are all around us?
Tutor: Maybe this way.–I don’t know.
Rutland: Oh, no! It’s Clifford!
(Clifford comes in with Soldiers.)
Clifford (To the Tutor): You–priest. Take off. It’s the kid I want.
Tutor: Don’t hurt him!
Clifford: His father killed my father, and now I’m going to kill him!
Tutor: Don’t, Clifford! He’s just an innocent boy!
Clifford (To the Soldiers): Get him out of here.
(The Soldiers take the Tutor away. He shouts, “Don’t hurt him! Please don’t hurt him!”)
Rutland: Please, sir! I’m only twelve years old! Why should you kill me?
Clifford: Because you’re Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and the son of my enemy–Richard, Duke of York.
Rutland: But, sir!
Clifford: You’re too young to understand. You and all your brothers aren’t enough to satisfy my revenge, but I’m going to get what satisfaction I can now.
Rutland: Have pity on me, sir! I never did you any harm!
(Clifford stabs Rutland and kills him. Then he pulls out the sword and admires the blood on the blade.)
Clifford: Ah–such good blood!–I won’t even clean it off until I have York’s blood on it, too.
Act 1, Scene 4. Same battlefield. Sounds of battle. York comes in, retreating. He is breathing heavily.
York: That fucking Margaret!–Goddamn fucking bitch!–We’re getting creamed.–My uncles are dead.–My sons–God, I hope they’re alive.–Richard and Edward–bravest soldiers I ever saw.–They have to live–whatever happens to me.–God, I can’t run any more.–I’m not young any more.
(He puts his sword away and wipes his face. He is plainly exhausted. Then Margaret, dressed for battle, Clifford, Northumberland, Prince Edward, and Soldiers come in.)
Q. Margaret: Here he is–the prize!
Northumberland: Surrender, York!
Clifford: I’ll give him what he gave my father–death!
York: You can kill me, but out of my ashes will rise a phoenix to destroy all of you.
Q. Margaret: Now, there’s a cliche for you–a phoenix will rise up and destroy us!–York, you are so funny.
Clifford: Get ready to die, Duke of York!
Q. Margaret: Wait, Clifford. I have a better idea. Make him stand on this molehill.
(Clifford and Northumberland push York onto a molehill.)
Q. Margaret: That’s your mountain, York. You can survey your whole kingdom. That’s as high as you’ll ever go in this life. And where are your sons to save you now–Edward, and Richard, and George?–And where is little Rutland? (She takes out a bloody handkerchief.) Here is his blood. I saved it as a souvenir.
Clifford: I killed him.
York: My son!–Rutland!
Q. Margaret: Do you want to wear a crown, York? Do you want it so badly that you would break your word to Henry? You couldn’t wait for him to die, could you? You had to have it now. Very well. Here’s a crown for you.
(She produces a fool’s cap and places it on his head.)
York: You vile woman. You utterly wicked woman. Where do you come from? You were nobody before you came to England, and now you want to kill your betters–out of pure egotism. You carry the blood of an innocent boy as a souvenir, and you call yourself a woman? You’re not even human any more. (He throws the cap at her feet.) Take the crown. And take my curse with it. What you and the Lancasters do to me now shall be repaid to you many times over.–Go ahead. Seal your fate.
Clifford: Your fate!
(Clifford stabs him.)
Q. Margaret: And from me, too!
(She stabs him. York dies.)
Q. Margaret: We’ll put his head on a spike and stick it on the gates of the town of York. That’ll be perfect.
(They leave, dragging York’s body.)
Act 2, Scene 1. (This scene takes place either at Mortimer’s Cross [Arden Shakespeare] or Chipping Norton [Yale Shakespeare]. The Yorks have won the battle at Mortimer’s Cross but have lost the second battle of Saint Albans [both in February 1461]. Shakespeare skips over both battles but implies that this scene is near Mortimer’s Cross, on the border of Wales.) Edward, Richard, and Soldiers come in. [Author’s note: We have not seen the other brother, George, yet. Historically, both he and Richard were sent out of the country temporarily for their safety. Shakespeare has kept Richard at home, in the action, and has represented him as older than he really was. George was actually older than Richard. George will be arriving soon.]
Edward: I wonder if father is okay. We should have heard some news by now.
Richard: He was in the middle of the fighting, and he was holding his own, from the look of it.
(Edward’s attention is caught by a distant sight.)
Edward: Richard–look! (He points.)
Richard: Three suns!
Richard: Now they’re coming together.–Now they’re one sun. This must mean something.
Edward: It must be a sign.–Three suns coming together.–Three sons of York! That must be it!–Three sons of York combine–to defeat the Lancasters and rule England! Of course!
(A Messenger comes in.)
Messenger: My lords–I have bad news.
Richard: What is it?
Messenger (Hesitantly): Your father–is dead.
Edward (Turning away): No! I don’t want to hear this!
Richard (To the Messenger): It’s all right. Tell me the truth. I want to know what happened.
Messenger: The Duke fought bravely, but he was captured. And then–he was killed–by Clifford and Queen Margaret. She taunted him first by showing off a handkerchief stained with the blood of–your brother the Earl of Rutland.
Richard: Little Edmund? Dead?
Messenger: Yes. Clifford killed him. Then after Clifford and the Queen killed your father–they–beheaded him–and placed his head on the gate before York town.–It’s still there.
Edward (Grief-stricken): My father–the light of my life.–How can I go on without him?–My life is over. (He cries.)
Richard: Tears are useless, brother. We must think only of revenge. I have my father’s name, and I will avenge his death.
Edward: You have his name–and I have his title–Duke of York.
Richard: And his claim to the throne. You’ll be Edward the Fourth. It’s what we’re fighting for. And he’d want us to persevere. Don’t lose heart now, Edward. We’re strong. We are Yorks.
(Warwick, the Marquess of Montague, and their Soldiers march in. [Author’s note: The Marquess of Montague was Warwick’s brother, Sir John Neville. But historically he did not get this title until later.])
Warwick: My friends, what news?
Richard: Warwick–the Duke of York is dead.
Edward: He was killed by Clifford–and the Queen.
Warwick: I’m sorry for you. I got the news ten days ago. It was a great blow to me.–Now I have to tell you what’s happened since Wakefield. I took my army to London to intercept the Queen at Saint Albans, and I had the King with me. I thought he might be able to influence her to make peace. But instead he was on her side. Our guys just didn’t fight very well, and the Queen’s army chased us. We had to run for our lives, and Henry’s with the Queen now. We came to meet up with you. Norfolk is coming, too–and so is your brother George.
Edward: George is here? From Burgundy?
Warwick: Yes, and he brought an army with him, thanks to your aunt, the Duchess of Burgundy. And Norfolk is six miles from here with his army.
Edward: Who started this? Not Henry.
Warwick: No, it was Margaret. She leads and he follows. He agreed that the deal is off regarding the throne.
Richard: That suits me fine.
Edward: So where do we stand exactly?
Warwick: Well, I assume the Lancasters are headed back to London. I’d say they have about thirty thousand men. With us, and Norfolk, and the Welsh if we can get them in on it, we’d have about twenty-five thousand. My advice is to go straight to London and attack immediately.
Edward: Warwick, my father always had the highest respect for you. I’m going to be guided by your advice.
Warwick: And you’re the new Duke of York. After that–King of England. And I intend to get you there.
Edward: I’m ready for it.
(A Messenger comes in.)
Messenger: My lords!
Warwick: What news?
Messenger: The Duke of Norfolk wants you urgently. The Queen and her army are coming this way.
Warwick: Fine.–That saves us a march to London. Let’s see if we can kill that bitch this time.–Come on.
(They all leave.)
Act 2, Scene 2. Before the town of York. The head of the Duke of York is stuck on or near the gate. King Henry, Queen Margaret, Clifford, Northumberland, and Prince Edward come in, with Soldiers.
Q. Margaret: There he is, my lord!–The head of your enemy stuck on the gates of the town of York. What could be more appropriate?
K. Henry: It’s horrible! I can’t bear to look at it!
Clifford: My lord, don’t feel pity for your enemies. Any simple creature of the earth defends its young against its enemies. Think of your son, my lord. Should he be cut off from the throne by the Yorks? That would be wrong.
K. Henry: I wish my father had never left me a kingdom, for all the trouble it’s caused me. I’d sooner leave my son with only my good deeds as a legacy instead of a kingdom torn apart by war. (Looking at York’s head) My cousin of York–I never wanted this.
Q. Margaret: My lord, this is not what your troops want to hear.–Now it’s time you knighted your son as you promised to. (She nods to Edward, who kneels. The King taps him on the shoulder but without enthusiasm.)
K. Henry: You are now Sir Edward Plantagenet, a knight of England.–Arise. (The Prince rises.) And may you only draw your sword for a just cause.
Prince: My claim to the throne is a just cause, and I will fight for it.
Clifford: There’s a true prince for you!–Sir, I’ll fight by your side. You can count on it.
Prince: Thank you, Clifford.
(A Messenger comes in.)
Messenger: My lords–madam–Warwick and Edward are on their way with an army of thirty thousand men. Edward is proclaiming himself King, and many people in the towns are supporting him.
Clifford (To K. Henry): My lord, you should leave. The Queen will do better if you’re not around. [Author’s note: Shakespeare is skirting the issue of Henry’s bouts of insanity. You’ll see this again in Act 4, Scene 6.]
Q. Margaret: Yes, my lord. I and the other lords will deal with the Yorks ourselves.
K. Henry: No, I prefer to stay. Whatever the outcome is, I have to face it.
Northumberland: Then fight with us, my lord.
Prince: Yes, father. Be a leader, for the sake of our troops.
(Edward, George, Richard, Warwick, Norfolk, Montague, and Soldiers come marching in.)
Edward: My lords–madam.–Now, Henry–will you recognize me as King, or do you want to take your chances on the battlefield?
Q. Margaret: How dare you speak to the King like that!
Edward: Madam, I’m the King now. You broke the agreement between Henry and my father by going to Parliament and forcing through an act making Prince Edward the heir to the throne.
Clifford: And why shouldn’t he be? He’s the King’s son.
Richard: The murderer speaks! The murderer of twelve-year-old Edmund, Earl of Rutland!
Clifford: Killer, yes–murderer, no. And I’ll kill any other York.
Richard (To Edward and Warwick): What are we waiting for? Just give the attack order, for chrissake.
Warwick (To K. Henry): What’s it to be, Henry? Will you give up the crown to Edward?
Q. Margaret: Warwick, you miserable dog! The last time I saw you at Saint Albans, you were running for your life.
Warwick: I ran then, but now that I’m here, you will run.
Clifford: No one’s running from you, you bastard.
Richard (To Clifford): Shall I cut your tongue out before I kill you, or after?
K. Henry: I can’t stand this quarreling! Let me speak!
Q. Margaret: If you’re going to speak, stand up to them. Otherwise, don’t bother to say anything.
Clifford (To K. Henry): There’s nothing to be said, my lord. We must fight them.
Richard (To Clifford): I’m killing you first.
Edward (To K. Henry): I’m waiting, Henry. Do you surrender the crown or not? I’ve got an army behind me.
Warwick: And we’re in the right.
Prince: So say all the devils in hell–We’re in the right.
Richard: You have a sharp tongue–like your mother.
Q. Margaret: At least he has something from me. What have you got from either of your parents–you monster!
Richard: Shut up, you wannabe noble! You’re not on my level.
Edward: That’s right. The King was looking down when he saw you, but he was temporarily insane. [Author’s note: Edward doesn’t mean this literally because Henry’s problem had not yet manifested itself. Edward means this as an insult.] And you saw that you could manipulate him. And once you became Queen, all you could think about was power. You’re the cause of this war. If you’d known your place like a proper queen, we would’ve let Henry sit on the throne.–I’m through talking. You want war with the Yorks? Fine. You’ll get it!–Sound the trumpets!
(The trumpets sound. The Yorks leave. The Lancasters look at each other for a moment before they leave.)
Act 2, Scene 3. [Author’s note: Get ready for the Battle of Towton. Palm Sunday, 1461. Thirty thousand deaths in ten hours. That works out to about one death per second.] Sounds of battle. Warwick comes in, exhausted, and sits down. Then Edward comes in, looking worried.
Edward: It’s going bad for us. I didn’t expect such a fight. I don’t know what to think.
(George comes in.)
George: Our guys are running everywhere. There’s no discipline. What should we do–retreat?
Edward: Forget that. We’d never get away.
(Richard comes in.)
Richard: Warwick! What are you doing sitting on your ass? Don’t you know Clifford killed your half-brother?
Warwick: Thomas?–Clifford killed Thomas? [Author’s note: Shakespeare doesn’t name him, but he was Thomas Neville.]
Richard: Yes. He called out your name. Those were his last words.
Warwick (Looking up to heaven with tears in his eyes): I swear by almighty God–I will not rest until I have avenged his death.–Edward?
Edward: I’m right by your side. There’ll be no rest for anyone until we’ve won.
Richard: We’ll fight them and we’ll kill them!
George: We’ve got to restore some order. Those that want to run, forget them. Those that want to fight, we’ll give them big rewards when it’s over.
Warwick: Good! Let’s go!
(They all leave.)
Act 2, Scene 4. On the battlefield. Sounds of battle. Richard and Clifford come in from opposite sides, swords out.
Richard: I’ve been waiting for this moment, Clifford. You killed my father and my brother, and now I’m going to kill you!
Clifford: Death to you, Richard!
(They fight. Warwick comes in to help Richard, causing Clifford to flee.)
Richard: Stay out of it, Warwick. He’s mine.
(Richard pursues Clifford. Warwick leaves.)
Act 2, Scene 5. Another part of the field. Sounds of battle. After a few moments, Henry comes in, looking depressed, and sits on a rock. The noise fades gradually to dead silence, and the stage lighting changes at the same time to suggest something surreal.
K. Henry: I never wanted this war. Why did I have to be born a king? I should’ve been born a shepherd. I would’ve been happy. I would mind my sheep. I’d wear simple clothes–eat simple food–live in a simple cottage. I’d watch the clouds by day and the stars by night.–I wish God would take this nightmare away and give me a happier dream instead.
(The Death figure comes in slowly. [This character does not appear in the original.] She is shrouded in black and remains to one side. Henry is shocked but doesn’t speak. The Death figure points to the opposite side, and the First Soldier comes in slowly, carrying a body. This is the Son who has killed his Father. [Director’s discretion as to how they should be dressed.])
First Soldier, the Son (Speaking slowly): King Henry, I wore the red rose and pursued this enemy who wore the white–and killed him–only to find–that he was my father.
(Henry bursts into tears. The Death figure points again, and the Second Soldier walks in slowly, carrying a body. This is the Father who has killed his Son.)
Second Soldier, the Father (Speaking slowly): King Henry, I wore the white rose and pursued my enemy who wore the red–and I killed him.–Then I saw that he was my son.
(Henry cries again.)
Death Figure: Red is the blood that war doth spill–and white the sheet that wraps what war doth kill–Neither red nor white shall heaven save–for all is black within the grave.
(Henry covers his face in grief, sobbing. The Death figure slowly joins the Two Soldiers, and they walk out. Gradually,the stage lighting returns to normal, and the background sounds of fighting are heard again. Then Queen Margaret, Prince Edward, and the Duke of Exeter rush in frantically.)
Prince: Father! We must run for our lives! We’re beaten! Warwick is coming to kill us!
Q. Margaret: Hurry! We must flee to Berwick! Edward and Richard are after us, too!
(Henry is still bewildered.)
Exeter: Come with me, my lord. I’ll take care of you.
K. Henry: All right. Whatever you say.
Exeter: We must go quickly.
Act 2, Scene 6. Alarms of battle. Clifford staggers in, wounded, bleeding from the neck (or with an arrow in the neck).
Clifford: Ach!–Henry!–If only you’d been–tough–like your father–we wouldn’t have had to–fight–the Yorks.–Remember your loyal friend–Clifford.
(He dies at one side of the stage. Then, from the other side, Edward, George, Richard, Montague, Warwick, and Soldiers come in, tired but in jaunty good spirits.)
Edward: Now we can breathe–after ten hours of fighting!
Richard (Seeing the body): Who’s that? (He checks.) It’s Clifford!
Edward: Hot damn! If I find the guy who killed him, I’ll give him a fucking knighthood!
Warwick: We should stick his head where he stuck your father’s head–on the gates of York.–Have we all got enough strength to march to London?
Warwick: Good.–Edward, we’re going to get you crowned King of England. And then I’m going to France to bring you back a wife.
Edward: So soon?
Warwick: Yes. We have to think ahead. Margaret will almost certainly go to the French for help. We’ve got to lock them up as our allies first.
Edward: But Margaret is French.
Warwick: Yes, but the Lancasters are out–and we’re in. Power seeks power. The French will be glad to marry off one of their ladies to you.
Edward: Who did you have in mind?
Warwick: Lady Bona. She’s the King’s sister-in-law.
Edward: Is she hot? I like ’em hot, you know–heh, heh!
Warwick: Of course, she’s hot. She’s French.
Edward: Okay. I trust your judgment, Warwick. You’ve always been spot-on.–Now, as to my brothers–
Richard and George: Yes?
Edward: Titles for you both.
Richard and George: Good! All right!
Edward: Richard, you’ll be Duke of Gloucester–and George, you’ll be Duke of Clarence.
George: Awesome! Thank you, bro!
(Richard looks unhappy.)
Richard (Faintly): Fuck me.
Edward: What’s the matter?
Richard: Duke of Gloucester–tsk!–That’s been a rather unlucky title.
Warwick: Aw, go on–unlucky title. Don’t be silly.
Richard: Well–three Dukes of Gloucester have died violently.
Richard: Couldn’t we switch? I’d rather be Duke of Clarence.
George: I like Duke of Clarence. I’m keeping it.
Edward: Fine. It’s settled.–Now, let’s get back to London. (To the Soldiers) And everybody gets to take a hot bath!
(They all leave.)
[Author’s note: In some texts Richard’s speech prefix changes at this point to “Gloucester” and George’s changes to “Clarence”, as it is normal to address nobles by their titles. I will keep calling them Richard and George.]
Act 3, Scene 1. A private game preserve in northern England. [Author’s note: After Towton, Henry fled to Scotland, and he has since come back to England. In this scene he will begin by speaking about news he could not possibly know about, i.e., the marriage arrangement, which is typical Shakespeare.] Two Gamekeepers come in with bows and arrows, in the midst of a conversation. One of them looks behind, sees something, and motions to his partner to conceal themselves behind some foliage. King Henry comes in slowly. He is dressed plainly and is holding his prayer book.
K. Henry: Margaret and my son have gone to France to look for help. And Warwick’s gone to France to arrange a marriage between Edward and Lady Bona. So who will Louis listen to–Margaret or Warwick? Margaret will argue emotionally. Warwick will be cool and diplomatic.–I think King Louis will do the deal with Warwick.
(The two Gamekeepers come out.)
1st Keeper: Who are you? You talk as if you were King.
K. Henry: I am.
2nd Keeper: Then where’s your crown?
K. Henry: Gone–stolen.
1st Keeper (To 2nd Keeper): It’s him! This is Henry! He was overthrown by King Edward!
2nd Keeper (To K. Henry): Are you?
K. Henry: Yes.
2nd Keeper: Then, sir, I’m afraid we must arrest you. We’re loyal to King Edward.
1st Keeper: Yes, sir. We’ve sworn our loyalty to him.
K. Henry: And before he was King, were you not loyal to me?
1st Keeper: Well–yes, sir. But now we have a new King, so we must be loyal to him.
K. Henry: Your loyalty is like a leaf in the wind–whichever way it blows–isn’t it?
1st Keeper: That’s as it may be, sir, but we must take you into custody and deliver you to the King’s officers.
K. Henry: Very well. I trust in God–and the King–in that order.
2nd Keeper: Come along, sir. We won’t harm you.
(They all leave.)
Act 3, Scene 2. The palace in London. King Edward [Speech prefix will now be “K. Edward”] comes in with his brothers, Richard and George, and Lady Elizabeth Grey. Edward and Elizabeth are in close conversation.
K. Edward: I’ll ask my brothers what they think.–Richard and George–or shall I say Gloucester and Clarence, ha, ha–Lady Elizabeth Grey seeks the return of her lands. Her husband was killed at Saint Albans.–By the way, madam, I don’t remember your husband. Which side was he on?
Elizabeth (Embarrassed): He–em–well–you see, he was–
Richard: He was on the other side, wasn’t he? Sir John Grey–right?
Elizabeth: Yes, my lord. But I’m not asking for myself. I’m asking for my children.
K. Edward: Hmm–well–
Richard: Your Majesty, now that you’re King, you can afford to be magnanimous.
K. Edward: I’m considering it. (He motions his brothers away.) Give us a little private space, okay?
(Richard and George move apart and have their own private conversation.)
Richard (Aside to George): She’s what I call an M.I.L.T.F.
George (Aside to Richard): What’s that?
Richard (Aside to George): A Mother I’d Like To Fuck.
George (Aside to Richard): I’ll bet that’s what Edward is thinking.
K. Edward: You love your children, don’t you?
Elizabeth: Of course, my lord.
K. Edward: And if I return your lands to you, will you love me?
Elizabeth: As a grateful subject, yes, my lord.
K. Edward: I don’t mean that. I mean–you know–love me.
Elizabeth: My lord?
K. Edward: Come on, you’re a grown woman. You know what I’m talking about.
Elizabeth: My lord, if I understand your meaning properly, I must say no.
George (Aside to Richard): He blew it.
Richard (Aside to George): Maybe she doesn’t like him.
K. Edward: Madam, I liked you the moment I met you. I think you’re beautiful. I think you’re wonderful. You’re perfect.
George (Aside to Richard): That’s more like it.
K. Edward: I want to marry you. You’ll be my Queen.
Elizabeth: Oh, but, my lord, I’m hardly worthy.
K. Edward: I’ll be the judge of that. It’ll be great, believe me. I’ll be a new father to your children–and you’ll be the mother of mine.–Richard–George–I’m going to marry Lady Grey. What do you think of that?
Richard: Em–I thought you were going to, uh–(He looks at George.)
George: Yeah–like, uh, wasn’t there, like, some other plan? Remember?
K. Edward: Change of plans. I’m the King. I can do what I want. Lady Grey gets her lands back, and I’m going to marry her.
(A Noble comes in, as a messenger.)
Noble: Your Majesty, Henry of Lancaster has been captured. He’s outside at the gate.
K. Edward: Oh! Brilliant! Have him locked up in the Tower. I want to talk to whoever brought him in.–Come along, brothers. You, too, Elizabeth.
(King Edward, Elizabeth, and George leave, but Richard lingers to speak to the audience. He casts a significant look at the throne.)
Richard: Who stands between me and the throne? (Counts on fingers) There’s Edward, of course–and whatever sons he has with Elizabeth.–There’s George–and whatever sons he has.–And there’s Henry–and Prince Edward.–That’s a lot of people. Anybody else in my position wouldn’t even think about it seriously. But what else do I have to live for? I’m not exactly attractive to women. I don’t kid myself about that. But I’ll tell you one thing. I’m smarter than the one hundred handsomest men in England put together. God gave me a bad body but a good brain. And I know how to con people. And I have virtually no conscience to get in the way. If I put my mind on that throne, my butt will follow, sooner or later.
Act 3, Scene 3. France. The palace of King Louis XI. Louis comes in with his sister-in-law, Bona, his Admiral, Lord Bourbon, Queen Margaret, Prince Edward, and the Earl of Oxford.
K. Louis: My friend Queen Margaret, tell me what’s happened to you.
Q. Margaret: A queen no longer, my gracious lord. King Henry has been overthrown by his cousin Edward, the Duke of York. He fled to Scotland, and I don’t know where he is now. I’ve come to appeal to you to help us–not for my sake, but for my son, Prince Edward. He’s the heir to the throne. I don’t want him to lose it.
K. Louis: You’re welcome to stay here. You’re among friends.
Q. Margaret: But the Yorks grow stronger by the day. Will you not help us?
K. Louis: Madam, we love you very much. And I feel your pain deeply. Believe me, I do.
(Warwick comes in.)
Q. Margaret: Oh!–Warwick!–My lord, this is King Edward’s right hand. He practically put him on the throne.
(Warwick bows to the King.)
Warwick: Earl of Warwick, your Majesty.
K. Louis: Yes, yes, Warwick. Your reputation precedes you, sir. You are welcome in my court. What brings you?
Warwick: Your Majesty, I am sent by King Edward, who is your friend. He sends you his most cordial greetings–and he asks for the hand of Lady Bona in marriage–to be Queen of England.
(Margaret looks disgusted. Bona looks thrilled.)
Warwick (To Bona): My gracious madam, King Edward has heard how wonderful you are–how beautiful and virtuous. He truly loves you.
Q. Margaret (To K. Louis): My lord, don’t believe any of this rubbish! Edward doesn’t care about Lady Bona. He only wants to use her to strengthen his position.
Warwick: Shut up, Margaret.
Prince: Don’t tell her to shut up! She’s the Queen!
Warwick: She’s no more a queen than you are a prince. Your father was a usurper.
Oxford: And what about Henry the Fourth and Henry the Fifth? Were they usurpers, too?
Oxford: Then why were you loyal to King Henry before?
Warwick: My loyalty was an honest mistake, as yours is now. You should leave Henry and support King Edward.
Oxford: He had my brother executed! I’ll never support the Yorks!
K. Louis: Please, my friends!–Let’s not have a quarrel here.–I wish to have a private word with Lord Warwick.
(Warwick and King Louis move apart, and Bona joins them after a brief hesitation.)
K. Louis: Warwick, I have to know the truth. Is Edward the true King or not?
Warwick: Absolutely, on my honour, he is.
K. Louis: But what about the people? Do they accept him?
K. Louis: And does he really love Bona?
Warwick: Absolutely. He talks about her morning, noon, and night. He’s obsessed with her. He’s desperate to marry her. (To Bona) He loves you, madam.
K. Louis (To Bona): Well? What do you say?
Bona: I’ll do whatever you want me to do. (To Warwick) I’ve heard a lot about King Edward. Of course, I don’t know if it’s all true, but he certainly sounds very interesting. I think I would like him.
K. Louis: Fine.–Warwick, I’d say we have a deal. We just have to work out the details of Bona’s dowry and what she gets in return.
(The three of them rejoin the others.)
K. Louis (To Margaret): Lady Bona is going to marry King Edward.
Q. Margaret: I thought we were friends.
K. Louis: We are friends, madam. We all love you very much. It’s just that–I’m convinced now that King Edward is the true King of England. But you and your son are welcome to stay here. We’ll take good care of you.
Warwick: Yes, Margaret. Stay here in France. I’m sure Henry is fine without you. He’s probably relaxing somewhere in Scotland, reading his Bible.
Q. Margaret: Warwick, the King-maker. You pull one down and set up another. Maybe you can fool King Louis, but you don’t fool me.
(A trumpet is heard.)
K. Louis: Sounds like a post for somebody.
(A Messenger comes in.)
Messenger: My lords and ladies, I bring letters. (He hands them out.) Your Majesty, this letter is from King Edward.–Lord Warwick, this letter is from your brother, the Marquess of Montague.–(To Margaret) Madam, this one’s for you, but I don’t know who it’s from.
(They read their letters. King Louis and Warwick frown, but Margaret smiles. [Author’s note: Shakespeare doesn’t explain what’s in the letter to Margaret or who sent it, but it’s reasonable to infer she’s getting the same news as Warwick and King Louis from a secret friend in Edward’s court. My guess is Somerset.])
Warwick: Fucking hell.
K. Louis: So!–Your King thinks only of Lady Bona morning, noon, and night, eh?
Warwick: I’ve never been so humiliated in my whole life.–And after all I’ve done for that guy.
Bona: Brother, what does the letter say?
K. Louis: King Edward has married Lady Elizabeth Grey–whoever she is.
K. Louis: And he asks me to be patient. What an insult.
Q. Margaret: I told you not to believe him.–How do you feel about your King now, Warwick?
Warwick (To K. Louis): Your Majesty, I had no idea. Truly, I didn’t. (To Margaret) Madam, after all the ill will that’s passed between us, can you possibly forgive me–and accept me as an ally of the Lancasters?
Q. Margaret: Warwick, I forgive you, and I welcome you.
Warwick: Your Majesty, I agree that you and Lady Bona have been insulted. All of France has been insulted. King Edward’s duplicity proves that he’s your enemy, not your friend. If you will provide us with soldiers, I’ll lead them and do everything possible to overthrow him and restore King Henry to the throne.
Bona: Say yes, brother. We should support Queen Margaret.
K. Louis: Yes. I agree.–Warwick–Margaret–France is with you. (To the Messenger) You may tell your phony, two-faced King that we are sending a large number of well-wishers to help celebrate his wedding.
Warwick: And the Earl of Warwick is especially eager to take part in the festivities.
K. Louis: Warwick, you and Oxford will sail first with five thousand men as soon as preparations can be made. Queen Margaret and Prince Edward will follow later.–But just one thing.
K. Louis: How can I be sure that you’re going to stick with the Lancasters for good?
Warwick: My lord, I will seal my loyalty to Queen Margaret by offering my daughter Anne in marriage to Prince Edward.
Q. Margaret (Immediately): We accept! (To Prince Edward) You’ll love her. Now shake hands with your future father-in-law.
(The Prince shakes hands with Warwick.)
Prince: Thank you, my lord. I’m honoured–and very happy.
Warwick: Excellent.–(To the Messenger) Heard enough?
Messenger: I believe so, sir.
Warwick: Good. Here’s a nickel. Take off.
(He gives the Messenger a coin, and the Messenger leaves. [Author’s note: In the original, the Messenger leaves before hearing about the marriage deal between Warwick and Queen Margaret. But when he returns to London, he reports it to King Edward. So how could he know? You will find such glitches in Shakespeare’s plays, but editors don’t correct them. You won’t meet Anne Neville in this play, even though historically she and Prince Edward get married during this time period. But you will meet her as a young widow in Richard III, already published in this series.])
K. Louis: You’re funny, Warwick.–Okay, let’s get organized.–Lord Bourbon, you’re the High Admiral. You’ll transport the army.–Come with me, everyone.
(All leave except Warwick, who lingers briefly.)
Warwick: Stupid Edward. I put him where he is now, and now I’m going to tear him down again. Stupid, stupid Edward.
Act 4, Scene 1. The palace in London. Richard, George, Somerset, and Montague come in.
Richard (To George): Well, what do you think of our new Queen? She and Edward seem to be a good match, don’t you think?
George: This is going to cause trouble in France.
Somerset: Shh!–Here they come.
(King Edward comes in with Queen Elizabeth, Pembroke, Stafford, and Hastings. The King stands in the middle, with his party on one side, and Richard, George, and Somerset on the other.)
K. Edward: George, you look unhappy. Don’t you approve of our new Queen?
George: I’m sure I approve as much as the King of France and the Earl of Warwick.
K. Edward: Never mind about them. I’m the King, and I can do what I want.
Richard: As you’re so fond of saying. Of course, you have your privileges, but still, this is rather hasty on your part.
K. Edward: So you don’t approve?
Richard: Oh, I approve of whatever makes you happy.
K. Edward: Does anyone here have a problem with this? You can speak freely.
George: I will speak freely. You’ve probably turned King Louis into your enemy when he could’ve been your friend.
Richard: And you’ve made Warwick look like a fool, and he won’t appreciate that.
K. Edward: I’ll smooth it over with them. Forget about it.
Montague: We could’ve had the French on our side.
Hastings: We don’t need the French.
Montague: We’re less secure now.
Hastings: We have God, and we have the English Channel. What else do we need?
George: Oh, that’s brilliant. That’s real smart thinking. (To K. Edward) And Hastings gets to marry Hungerford’s daughter.
K. Edward: So what? I can arrange marriages for people I like.
Richard: And the daughter of Lord Scales goes to your wife’s brother, Anthony. Never mind taking care of your own brothers.
George: And her son Thomas gets to marry Lord Bonville’s daughter.
K. Edward: Tsk!–George–is that what’s bothering you? You want a wife? I’ll find you one.
George: Never mind. I’ll find my own. Maybe I should just go my own way altogether.
K. Edward: Do whatever you like. It’s all the same to me.
Q. Elizabeth: I’m very sorry your brothers don’t approve of me.
K. Edward: Don’t mind anything they say.
(The Messenger returns from France.)
K. Edward: Ah–you’re back. What did they say?
Messenger (Takes a deep breath): To be concise, my lord–the King of France and Lady Bona were deeply insulted, the King is going to help Margaret, Warwick has defected to her side, he’s giving his daughter Anne in marriage to Prince Edward–and an invasion is on the way.
George (To K. Edward): I hope you’re happy now.–I think I’ll try to marry Warwick’s other daughter. Anyone who wants to come along is welcome.
(He leaves and is followed by Somerset.)
K. Edward (Mildly shocked): Well!–Goodbye, George, and goodbye, Somerset. Don’t bother to write.–Pembroke–Stafford–make preparations for war.
(Pembroke and Stafford leave.)
K. Edward: Now–you two–Hastings and Montague. I know you have close ties to Warwick. If you want to join him, go. I’d rather have you go than stay and pretend to be loyal when you’re not. So make up your minds. What’s it gonna be?
Montague: I’m staying.
Hastings: So am I.
K. Edward: And you, Richard?
Richard: Need you ask?
K. Edward: Okay. Good enough. Then I have nothing to worry about.–Now, let’s get ready for war.
(They leave, but on the way out, Montague pauses to shake his head to suggest he realizes he has made a mistake. [This gesture by Montague is a detail I have added. Montague shows up later on Henry’s side, with no explanation by Shakespeare for this change of allegiance. Shakespeare may have assumed that because Montague was Warwick’s brother, he would automatically change sides to join him and that this would be obvious to the audience. But I think the audience needs a signal here regardless.])
Act 4, Scene 2. Warwickshire, England. Warwick and Oxford come in with French Soldiers.
Warwick: Trust me, Oxford. The people are on our side now.
Oxford: I hope so.
(George and Somerset come in, and there is an awkward pause.)
Warwick: Oh!–Duke of Clarence–Duke of Somerset.
George: We were coming to meet you.
Warwick: Okay–so–are we friends–or what?
George: We’re with you, Warwick.
Warwick: That’s a relief!
George: What are your plans?
Warwick: I think we can capture Edward by surprise. According to my scouts, he’s camped out here himself, but his soldiers are spread out in the towns, so apparently he’s not well-guarded. Now bear in mind, I only want to capture him, not kill him, okay?
George and Somerset: Right.
Warwick (To the Soldiers, softly): Allons-y–en silence.
Act 4, Scene 3. King Edward’s camp at night, near Warwick town. A couple of Watchmen are standing outside Edward’s tent. Warwick, George, Oxford, Somerset, and the Soldiers appear quietly on the wing. Then they rush in suddenly. The Watchmen cry out and flee, and Richard and Hastings follow, fleeing from the tent. Warwick and a few Soldiers enter the tent and bring out King Edward, who is in a nightgown and wearing his crown.
Warwick: Did we wake you up, Duke? Richard and Hastings must have been up already. They took off.
K. Edward (Quite composed): Duke? Warwick, I’m the King.
Warwick: You were the King. (He takes Edward’s crown away.) This is going back to King Henry. But you can still be Duke of York.
K. Edward: George? Are you on their side, too?
(George doesn’t answer.)
K. Edward (To Warwick): This doesn’t change anything. I’m still the King.
Warwick: Fine. You can pretend.–Somerset, take some soldiers and take Duke Edward to my brother, the Archbishop of York. [Author’s note: George Neville.] I’ll follow you as soon as I’ve secured the area.
(Somerset and some Soldiers take Edward out.)
Oxford: So–on to London?
Warwick: Yes. We’ll free Henry and put him back on the throne.
(They all leave.)
Act 4, Scene 4. This scene is deleted, which is why the Earl Rivers is deleted.
Act 4. Scene 5. A park near Middleham Castle, the Archbishop’s home in Yorkshire. Richard, Hastings, and Sir William Stanley come in quietly and conceal themselves.
Richard: Okay–Hastings–Stanley–now listen. Edward’s being kept in the Archbishop’s castle, but he has the freedom of the grounds. I was able to get a message to him to pass by here and we’d be waiting for him.
Hastings and Stanley: Good. Right.
(Edward comes in with a Huntsman. They have bows and arrows.)
Huntsman: With any luck we should bag a nice pheasant for your dinner, my lord.
K. Edward (Loudly): Yes! A nice pheasant! I love pheasant!
(Richard, Hastings, and Stanley come out of concealment.)
Richard: Brother! We’ve got a horse for you. Come on.
K. Edward: Where to?
Richard: We’ll go to Lynn and get a ship to Flanders.
K. Edward (To the Huntsman): Want to come with us?
Huntsman: Oh, dear.–Well, if I stay, I’ll be in trouble. I’ll get blamed for this.
K. Edward: Probably. So come with us.
Huntsman: Thank you, sir. I’ll be very happy to.
K. Edward: Okay. Let’s go.
(They all leave.)
Act 4, Scene 6. The Tower of London. Trumpet flourish. Coming in are King Henry, George, Warwick, Somerset, “young” Richmond, Oxford, Montague, and the Lieutenant of the Tower. [Author’s note: “Young” Richmond is Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, here represented as a boy. Historically, he was thirteen at this time. He was a half-nephew to Henry VI. He was not a Lancaster by blood, but he was to lead the Lancaster faction in the final War of the Roses and assume the throne as Henry VII. You will love him in Richard III.]
K. Henry: Lieutenant, what do I owe you in terms of fees?
Lieut: Why, nothing, sir. I only ask you to forgive me.
K. Henry: You have nothing to apologize for. You merely did your duty. And you treated me very kindly.–Warwick, I owe you my thanks for setting me free.
Warwick: I’m glad to see the crown on your Majesty’s head, where it belongs.
K. Henry: I’m afraid I’ve been an unlucky King. I don’t think I’ve been very good for England. It would be best if I stayed out of sight and let someone more capable manage the government. Someone like you, Warwick. [Author’s note: This is how Shakespeare glosses over the issue of Henry’s bouts of insanity, which made him incapable of ruling.]
Warwick: What about the Duke of Clarence? I think he deserves it.
George: I think you’re more worthy, Warwick–and definitely more talented. I’d support you.
Warwick: Then at the very least you should be Lord Protector.
K. Henry: I have an idea. I’ll make you both Protectors. You’ll share the responsibilities.
Warwick (To George): All right?
George: Fine with me.
Warwick: Good. (To K. Henry) You’re still the King, of course. We’ll only be governing in your behalf. (To George) The first priority is to denounce Edward as a traitor and seize all his lands.
George: Fine. And the second priority should be to secure the succession to the throne for Prince Edward.
K. Henry: You must bring Margaret and my son back to England as soon as possible. I’ll be worried sick until I see them again.
George: It’ll be done, my lord.
K. Henry: My lord of Somerset, who is this boy? I feel I should know him.
Somerset: This is Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond–your half-nephew.
K. Henry: Henry Tudor! (He pats the boy affectionately.) Your grandmother, Katherine of Valois, was my mother. [Author’s note: Died 1438.]
Young Richmond: Yes, uncle.
K. Henry: I have a feeling about you–a spiritual feeling. You have a star of destiny shining over you. You’re going to be a hero to this country. I think you’re going to be King someday. (To the Lords) Take good care of this boy.
Somerset: We will, sir.
(A Messenger comes in.)
Warwick: What news, messenger?
Messenger: My lords, Edward has escaped from the Archbishop’s castle. He has gone to Burgundy. [Author’s note: This contradicts the earlier scene, which indicated they were going to Flanders. I’m not tampering with it.]
Warwick: How did he get away?
Messenger: The Duke of Gloucester and Lord Hastings helped him escape. [Author’s note: Shakespeare’s messengers seem to know everything. This happens in all of his plays.]
Warwick: Tsk!–(To K. Henry and George) This is the last thing we needed. We’re going to have to organize our forces.
K. Henry: You’re in charge.
(All leave except Somerset, Young Richmond, and Oxford.)
Somerset: I think Edward will get support in Burgundy. And that means war is coming.
Oxford: You know what’ll happen to us if he gets back on the throne.
Somerset: I know. We’ve got to get this boy to a safe place.–Brittany. He’ll be safe in Brittany.–Come on.
Act 4, Scene 7. Before the town of York. Edward, Richard, Hastings, and Soldiers come in.
K. Edward: You see? Luck is on our side. We got help in Burgundy, and now we’re back on our home turf. Our friends will meet us here–at York town.
Richard: The gates are locked. I’m not sure we’re welcome.
K. Edward: Mayors are stupid. You just have to know how to talk to them.–Hastings, give a knock.
(Hastings knocks at the gate, and the Mayor and a few Aldermen appear on the wall.)
Mayor: My lords, the gates are locked for a reason. We don’t want any trouble. We’re loyal to King Henry. That’s the way it is.
K. Edward: Of course, of course. I understand your feelings. But after all, I’m still the Duke of York. And this is the town of York. So I’m entitled to come in.
(Richard winks at the audience and gives a thumbs-up.)
Hastings: We’re friends of King Henry again. Don’t you know that?
Mayor: Oh–Well, in that case–Hold on. We’re coming down.
(Richard chuckles. The gates open. Then the Mayor and two Aldermen come in below.)
K. Edward: Hello, my Lord Mayor. There’s no reason to shut the gates. Just give me the keys. (He takes the keys from the Mayor.) We’ll protect the town, don’t worry.–And we’ll protect those who are loyal to me.
(Montgomery and Soldiers come in, marching. [Author’s note: Shakespeare refers to him as Sir John Montgomery, but it was actually Sir Thomas Montgomery.])
Richard: Hey, it’s Sir John Montgomery!
K. Edward: Sir John–good buddy! I see you’ve brought some muscle.
Montgomery: Of course, sir. I intend to defend King Edward in this war.
Mayor (Alarmed): War? But you said–
K. Edward: No, no, no–ha, ha! There’s no war. He was speaking metaphorically.
K. Edward: Listen, Montgomery, I appreciate your loyalty, uh–but for the time being I’m just the Duke of York–until God, or whoever, decides otherwise. Understand?
Montgomery (Slightly miffed): Well, in that case you don’t need me, do you? I’ll just take my men back and forget all about it.
(Montgomery signals his men and starts to leave.)
K. Edward: No, no! Hold on!–Ha, ha!–Wait–wait–em–Why don’t you stick around and we’ll try to figure out how we might possibly get the crown back.
Montgomery: I didn’t bring these men here for a political meeting. Either you’re King or you’re not. If you’re only going to be Duke of York, I’ll leave you to it.
Richard: He’s got a point, brother. I hope you’re grasping it.
K. Edward: But we don’t have enough men to force the issue immediately. We have to be patient.
Richard: Fuck patience. Our friends aren’t going to commit men to arms for the Duke of York. You’ve got to proclaim it to everyone that you’re the King.
K. Edward: Richard–you’re always right, darn it.–Okay. I am the King. Henry is a usurper. We’ll proclaim it loud and clear.
Montgomery: That’s more like it, sir!
Hastings: We’ll start right here. (Calls) Sound the trumpet! We want everyone to hear this!
(A trumpet sounds.)
Hastings (To K. Edward): I already wrote out a proclamation, just in case. (Takes out a paper) Shall I read it?
K. Edward: Yes. By all means.
Hastings: Ahem–(Reads loudly) Edward the Fourth, by the grace of God is now proclaimed King of England and France and Lord of Ireland, including all islands close to England, in the English Channel, the North Sea, and the Irish Sea, whether inhabited or not, including Lundy Island with its happy puffins, and Guernsey Island, whose lovely cows give the finest milk in the world. And if anyone present says this should not be so, let him face me in combat right now.
Alderman: Excuse me, sir, but I have heard that the puffins on Lundy Island are not doing so well, and their population is declining. What can you do for them?
(The Lords look at each other in puzzlement.)
Hastings: Well–em–Wait. I know. We’ll create postage stamps for Lundy Island with puffins on them, and we’ll sell them to stamp collectors, and the money raised will be used to–you know–help the puffins.
Alderman: Oh, thank you, sir! That will be very good news to our environmental movement.
All: Long live Edward the Fourth!
Richard (Aside to the audience): I’ve never even seen a fucking puffin.
K. Edward: Thank you all. I deeply appreciate it. (To Montgomery) You’ll get a reward out of this, don’t worry.–Now, everyone, we’ll stay here in York overnight, and tomorrow we’ll march against Warwick and the Duke of Clarence. I’m sure we’ll kick their butts.–(To the Soldiers) And assuming we do, you guys will get bonuses.–Let’s go.
(They leave, entering the town rather noisily.)
Act 4, Scene 8. The Bishop’s palace in London. Trumpet flourish. King Henry, Warwick, Montague, George, Oxford, and Exeter come in. [Author’s note: Montague is back on Warwick’s side after his unhappy exit in Act 4, Scene 6.]
Warwick: Okay, here’s the situation. Edward’s back with a substantial army of Germans and Dutchmen. He’s on his way up to London, and he’s picking up followers along the way. We have to decide what to do.
George: I say hit him with everything we’ve got as soon as we can.
Warwick: We have to tap all our allies. We need everybody we can get. I can raise forces in Warwickshire.–Clarence, get everyone you can in Suffolk, Norfolk, and Kent.–Montague, you go to our friends in Buckingham, Northampton, and Leicestershire.–Oxford, you get all your people in Oxfordshire.
Oxford: Where’s Queen Margaret?
Warwick: We’re still waiting for here. I don’t know what the hold-up is in France. Maybe she’ll get here in time, and maybe she won’t. But we can’t wait for her.–Your Majesty, you’ll stay here in London and wait for us.–Everyone else, we’ll meet at Coventry, okay?
Others: Right. Coventry.
Warwick: Let’s go, then.
(All leave except King Henry and Exeter.)
K. Henry: What do you think, Exeter?
Exeter: It’s hard to say, my lord. A lot depends on how many people come out to join Edward. You can never tell which way people are going to go. They’re so fickle. You give them a rousing speech, and they get enthusiastic. And this is basically a civil war, and you have so many personal interests and hatreds and rivalries and relationships at work. And people can change sides for small reasons. It’s really impossible to predict what the common people will do.
K. Henry: I’ve always been good to the people. I’ve always been gentle and understanding.
Exeter: You have, my lord–no question.
K. Henry: I’ve tried to be true to my faith–to treat others as I would want them to treat me. I’ve never misused my power. I just can’t understand why anyone would actually love Edward better than me.
(A commotion is heard offstage. Then King Edward, Richard, and Soldiers come in.)
K. Edward: There he is! Grab him!
K. Henry: Run, Exeter! Save yourself!
(Exeter runs. The Soldiers seize King Henry. Some want to chase Exeter, but Edward tells them or gestures to them not to bother. Edward snatches the crown and puts it on his head.)
K. Edward: What goes around comes around. Right, Henry? You’re out. I’m in. (To the Soldiers) Take him to the Tower and keep him isolated.
(Some Soldiers take Henry out.)
K. Edward: Warwick and his friends are going to meet at Coventry. That’s where we have to go.
Richard: If we can get there before his friends show up, we can capture him, and our troubles will be over.
K. Edward: You read my mind, brother. Let’s go.
(They all leave.)
Act 5, Scene 1. Before the walls of Coventry. Warwick, the Mayor of Coventry, two Messengers, and others come in on the wall of the city.
Warwick (To the 1st Mess.): Where’s Oxford now?
1st Mess: He’s at Dunsmore, sir. He’s on the way.
Warwick (To the 2nd Mess.): Where’s Montague?
2nd Mess: He’s at Daintry, sir. He’s coming with his army.
(Sir John Somerville comes in, above.)
Warwick: Somerville! Where’s the Duke of Clarence?
Somerville: He’s at Southam. He should be here soon.
(Sound of drums.)
Warwick: Maybe that’s him now?
Somerville: Can’t be. It’s coming from the wrong direction.
Warwick: Uh, oh. This could be trouble.
(Trumpet flourish. Edward, Richard, and Soldiers march in, below.)
K. Edward: Hey, Warwick! Open the gates! Give it up and acknowledge me as King, and I’ll forgive you.
Warwick: You’re not King any more. You’re just the Duke of York.
Richard: Have you forgotten you put us on the throne?–I mean, my brother.
Warwick: I haven’t forgotten. We all make mistakes.
K. Edward: In case you missed the news, I’ve been proclaimed King again, and Henry’s locked up in the Tower–again.
Richard: And there’s room for you, too.
K. Edward: Come on, Warwick. I’m getting impatient.
Richard: Be sensible, Warwick. You can’t win.
(Drums are heard. Then Oxford arrives with his Soldiers.)
Warwick: Oxford! Just in time! (Calling) Open the gates for Oxford!
(The gates open, and Oxford and his Soldiers enter the city.)
Richard (To K. Edward): We could force our way in.
K. Edward: No, no. I don’t want to be fighting in a walled city. I want to be out in the open.
(Drums are heard. Montague arrives with his forces.)
Warwick: Montague! Come on in!
(Montague and his forces enter the city.)
Richard: Fucking traitors.
(More drums. Somerset and his forces arrive.)
Warwick (To his Party): Somerset’s here, too!–Hey, Somerset, come on in!
Richard: Fuck you, Somerset.
(Somerset gives Richard the finger as he and his forces enter the city.)
K. Edward: I wonder if George is going to show up.
Richard: Probably. We gotta turn him. We may not get another chance.
(Drums are heard. George marches in with his Soldiers.)
Warwick: Duke of Clarence! Finally! We’ve been waiting.
K. Edward: George! Hold on a minute!
(George and his Soldiers stop.)
K. Edward: George. Hey, we’re your brothers, remember?
(Richard approaches George in a conciliatory manner.)
Richard: Come on, George. Stop being angry. You don’t really want to fight your own brothers, do you?
Warwick: George! You and I are the Lord Protectors! You’re on Henry’s side!
Richard: Don’t listen to him, George. Come on, we love you, man. Don’t you know that?
Warwick: George, we need you! King Henry needs you!
K. Edward: Henry’s in prison, George.
Richard: Come on, George. They’re using you. You’ve been manipulated, that’s all. I know deep down your heart’s not in it.
K. Edward: That’s right.
Warwick: George! For chrissake, get in here! Don’t even talk to them!
(George removes his red rose and tosses it on the ground.)
George: Take your red rose back, Warwick. You misled me. I’m going back to my brothers.
Warwick: I thought we were friends.
George: No. Not any more. I’m a York. I was born one, and I’ll die one. The Lancasters are not my friends. They’re my enemies. (To K. Edward and Richard) Am I forgiven?
K. Edward: Hell, yes!
Richard: Welcome back, bro!
(K. Edward and Richard hug George.)
Warwick: What a fickle bastard! (Calling) Shut the gates!
(The gates are shut.)
K. Edward (To Warwick): It looks like we’re just going to have to settle this by force.
K. Edward: I’ll give you a fair fight–out in the open. That’s the English way. Where do you want it?
Warwick: Meet us at Barnet–if you have the guts!
K. Edward: Oh, we have the guts, all right. And we’ll have your guts hanging from our swords. See you at Barnet. (To his Soldiers) Follow me, men!
(K. Edward leads his forces out.)
Act 5, Scene 2. The battlefield near Barnet. [Historically, April 1471.] Alarms of battle. King Edward comes in, dragging Warwick, who is mortally wounded.
K. Edward: Your luck has finally run out, Warwick. I’ll let you die while I go look for your brother Montague.
(King Edward goes out.)
Warwick (Dying): Noble Henry–who will save you now?
(Oxford and Somerset come in.)
Somerset: Warwick!–Oh, God!
(They kneel beside Warwick.)
Warwick: Somerset–where is Margaret?–Where are the French?
Somerset: They only just landed. They were delayed. We’re beaten here. The only thing we can do is try to join up with Margaret and organize another attack.
Warwick: Montague–Have you seen Montague?
Somerset: I’m sorry, my lord. He died. He called your name at the end.
Warwick: Save yourselves.–Go.–I must meet my brother now.
Oxford: We can’t leave him here.
Somerset: Help me with him.
(They pick up Warwick’s body.)
Oxford: We’ll join up with Margaret.
(They leave, carrying Warwick’s body.)
Act 5, Scene 3. Elsewhere on the battlefield. Trumpet flourish. King Edward comes in triumphantly with Richard and George, and Soldiers.
K. Edward: Yorks beat Lancasters!
(Cheers from the Soldiers.)
Richard: Good riddance to Warwick. He was the one I was most worried about.
K. Edward: Me, too. Now we just have to deal with Margaret.
George: That should be no problem.
Richard: Don’t be so sure of that. She’s got thirty thousand men with her, plus whatever Somerset and Oxford are able to bring over.
K. Edward: According to my spies, they’re on their way to Tewkesbury. We should go there at once and attack them. We should be able to pick up some reinforcements along the way.–Come on.
Act 5, Scene 4. Plains near Tewkesbury. [Historically, May 1471.] Queen Margaret (dressed for battle), Prince Edward, Somerset, Oxford, and Soldiers march in.
Q. Margaret (To the Soldiers): Men, don’t lose your courage just because Warwick and Montague are dead. They would want you to fight on. Lords Somerset and Oxford will lead you. And I will lead you. And so will Prince Edward. Our enemies are merciless, so you must be merciless. Attack them! Kill them!
Prince: My mother is brave. She’s willing to fight. She is French, and you are French. Will you not match your courage to hers?
(Roars of enthusiasm from the Soldiers.)
Oxford (To Somerset): A leader–just like his grandfather, Henry the Fifth.
(A Messenger comes in.)
Messenger: My lords, the Yorks are approaching.
Oxford (To Somerset): They think they can catch us before we’re ready.
Somerset: We’re ready.
(Offstage, King Edward is heard shouting to his Soldiers “Death to the Lancasters”, followed by shouts from the Soldiers, and trumpets.)
Margaret (To her Soldiers): Fight them! Kill them!
(Quick segue with a curtain down. Curtain up again on stage filled with chaotic fighting. Strong sound effects. Then curtain down and dead silence.]
Act 5, Scene 5. Another part of the field. King Edward, Richard, and George come in, followed by Margaret, Oxford, and Somerset as prisoners, guarded by Soldiers.
K. Edward: Well done, brothers. Yorks win again.
George and Richard: Yorks! Yorks!
K. Edward (To Margaret): This is what you get for being a pushy bitch. (To the Soldiers) Take Oxford to prison at Hames Castle. Somerset gets his head chopped off. Go.
(Some Soldiers take Oxford and Somerset out.)
Q. Margaret (After them): We’ll meet again, my good friends–in a better place!
K. Edward: Now bring in the punk.
(Soldiers come in with Prince Edward.)
K. Edward: So–what shall we do with you, you traitor?
Prince: I was just about to say that to you.
Richard: Listen to this guy!
Prince: In the name of my father, I demand that you relinquish the throne and kneel before me.
Q. Margaret: Ahh–if only your father had such nerve!
Richard: Yeah, then you’d be knitting doilies instead of leading armies into battle.
Q. Margaret: I’d curse you, Richard, but Mother Nature did it for me.
Richard: Somebody take this bitch to the nearest river and drown her.
Prince: Drown yourself first, you garden gnome.
K. Edward (Smacking him): Shut up!
George: He doesn’t know when to shut up.
Prince: You Yorks! If I compared you to sewer rats, I’d have to apologize to the sewer rats!
K. Edward: Fuck you.
(He stabs the Prince. Margaret screams.)
Richard: A rat, am I?
(He stabs the Prince, who falls dead.)
George: And from me, too!
(He stabs the dead Prince.)
Q. Margaret: Kill me, too! Kill me, too!
(He is about to strike, but King Edward stops him. Margaret swoons.)
K. Edward: I want her alive. (He pushes her roughly.) Come on, Margaret! Get up!
(Richard turns to leave but pauses to speak aside to George.)
Richard: I’m going to the Tower. You can expect some news.
Richard: The Tower–of London.
(Richard leaves. Margaret has recovered and is kneeling over the body of the Prince.)
Q. Margaret: My boy! My sweet boy! (To K. Edward and George) He was better than you! You murderers! Butchers! I hope your children die the same way!
K. Edward (To the Soldiers): Get her out of here.
(The Soldiers take hold of her.)
Q. Margaret: No! Kill me right here! Go ahead! Kill me! I want to die! I want to die!
K. Edward: No, I’m not going to kill you.
Q. Margaret (To George): You’ll do it, George! You’ll do it, won’t you? Please!
Q. Margaret: Of course, you will! Say you will, George! Please, George! Kill me!
George: You’re crazy!
Q. Margaret: Where’s Richard? He’ll kill me! Richard loves to kill people! He drinks the blood of children, doesn’t he?
K. Edward (To the Soldiers): Get her out of my sight!
(The Soldiers drag Margaret out.)
K. Edward: She’s a lunatic.–Where did Richard go?
George: He’s gone on to London–to the Tower, specifically. I think the last living Lancaster is about to leave this world. [Author’s note: Henry VI represented the end of the Lancaster blood line.]
K. Edward: Richard gets that way sometimes. All right, let’s get back to London. I miss my Queen. And I may be a daddy by now.
Act 5, Scene 6. The Tower of London. [Author’s note: The original stage directions have this scene take place on the walls, but it works just as well in a room.] King Henry is reading his prayer book when Richard comes in with the Lieutenant.
Richard: Good day, my lord. Reading your prayer book, as usual?
K. Henry: Yes, my good lord–if the devil can be called good.
Richard (To the Lieutenant): Leave us alone, Lieutenant.
Lieut: As you wish, sir.
(The Lieutenant leaves.)
K. Henry: Come to kill me, Richard?
Richard: Kill you? You must have a guilty conscience.
K. Henry: I do have a conscience. But you do not. You killed my son. [Author’s note: How does he know? The news couldn’t have gotten to him before Richard’s arrival. This is another Shakespeare glitch that I’m not going to fix.]
Richard: He was a fool–like his father.
K. Henry: You were born feet first and with teeth already in your mouth. And owls shrieked and dogs howled. It was inevitable that you would grow up to be a murderer. And thousands more will die because of you.–You, Richard, are the bringer of death.
Richard: And so I bring it–to you.
(Richard stabs Henry.)
Richard: Rot in hell!
(He stabs him again. Henry falls dead.)
Richard: You’re right, Henry. I was born to kill. And I’ll kill anyone who stands in my way. God gave me a bad body for one reason–that I should stand apart and love no one but myself. And now I’m one step closer to the throne. A few more deaths and I’ll have it. Shall I be a good devil? I’ll be a devil until I am the best.
Act 5, Scene 7. The King’s palace. King Edward comes in with Queen Elizabeth, George, Richard, Hastings, a Nurse holding the new baby, and Attendants.
K. Edward (Sitting on the throne): Ahh–the King sits on his throne again, and no more Lancasters to worry about. And none of their friends either. (Counts on fingers) Three Dukes of Somerset–dead. Two Cliffords–dead. Two Northumberlands–dead. Warwick and Montague–dead.
(The baby cries.)
K. Edward: Bring me my boy, Bess. I want to kiss him.
(Elizabeth takes the baby from the Nurse and gives him to Edward, who kisses him.)
K. Edward: My boy–Ned! Edward the Fifth someday!–If only you knew what your uncles and I went through to make this throne ready for you.
Richard (Aside): Ready for me.
K. Edward: George–Richard–come and kiss your nephew.
George: Gladly, brother.
(George kisses the baby.)
Richard: And a kiss from me–for the next King of the House of York.
(Richard kisses him.)
K. Edward: Thank you, brothers. Now I’m very, very happy. I’m on the throne, and all’s right with the world.
George: What are you going to do with Margaret? Her father is offering to pay a ransom for her.
K. Edward: Fine. I’ll be glad to get rid of her.–And now I think we’ve earned the right to celebrate. I’ve arranged a feast. We’ll eat and drink, we’ll have music, we’ll have dancing, we’ll play games, and we’ll just party all night!
George and Hastings: Excellent!
(King Edward leads them all out, except for Richard, who lingers to deliver a final speech in verse.)
Richard: The only parties I care for are my own–And I’ll enjoy them when I have the throne–Nature made me strange and estranged me from my own–No ties of blood shall bind me, for Richard stands alone.
Copyright@ 2012 by Crad Kilodney. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org