(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/  )

Main Characters

King Henry VIII

Queen Katharine   (This is Catherine of Aragon, the first of Henry’s six wives.  She was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.)

Duke of Norfolk  (This is Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk [Third creation] and grandfather to both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, Henry’s second and fifth wives and, coincidentally, the two who were executed.)

Duke of Buckingham  (This is Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.)

Lord Abergavenny  (Pronounced “Aberganny.”  This is George Neville, son-in-law to Buckingham.)

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey — Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of York

Secretary to Cardinal Wolsey

Brandon — Officer of the King


Sir Thomas Lovell — Constable of the Tower

Duke of Suffolk  (This is Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk [Second creation].  He was married to King Henry’s sister Mary.)

Overseer to Buckingham  (Referred to as “Surveyor” in other texts.  This is an estate manager.)

(The) Lord Chamberlain 

Lord Sands (or “Sandys” in some texts)

Anne Bullen (Anne Boleyn)

Three Gentlemen

Sir Nicholas Vaux

Cardinal Campeius — the Pope’s representative

Gardiner — the King’s secretary; later Bishop of Winchester.

Old Lady — friend of Anne Bullen

Bishop of Lincoln

Earl of Surrey  (This is Thomas Howard, son of Norfolk and later 3rd Duke of Norfolk.)

(Thomas) Cromwell — servant to Cardinal Wolsey

(Thomas) Cranmer  (He was originally the chaplain of Anne Boleyn’s family; later Archbishop of Canterbury.)

Griffith and Patience — servants to Queen Katharine

Lord Capucius — ambassador of the Emperor Charles of the Holy Roman Empire

Sir Anthony Denny

Doctor Butts — the King’s physician

(The) Lord Chancellor  (Sir Thomas More as of Act 5)


Two Heralds (of which one is dressed as a noble)

Lord Mayor of London (non-speaking role)

Duchess of Norfolk (non-speaking role)

Marchioness of Dorset (non-speaking role)

Angels (non-speaking)

(Sir Henry Guilford is deleted.)

Gist of the story: The historical period of this play is 1520-1533.   Henry VIII has left most of the business of governing to his Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.  Wolsey is an ambitious power-player, who has made himself rich.  He frames the Duke of Buckingham on bogus charges and has him executed.  In foreign affairs, he is playing off France and the Holy Roman Empire against each other.  Henry falls in love with Anne Bullen (Anne Boleyn) and wants to dump Queen Katharine.  He asks Wolsey to fix an annulment with the Church.  Wolsey doesn’t want Henry to marry Anne.  He wants him to marry the sister of the French king.  So he delays the annulment.  His double-dealing is exposed, and he is ruined.  The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, is falsely accused of heresy by Gardiner, Wolsey’s former secretary and now the Bishop of Winchester.  But Henry protects him.  Henry has divorced Katharine and married Anne Bullen, and at the end of the play, baby Elizabeth, the future Elizabeth I, is christened.

(Once again, the reader is cautioned that Shakespeare has tweaked the details of history for the sake of the story line, and that’s putting it mildly.  The Yale Shakespeare edition of 1925 has excellent historical notes.  Henry VIII differs from the other history plays in that it is more like a few historical episodes strung together than a continuous story line.  Scholars believe it was written hastily and that at least one other writer had a hand in it, based on differences of writing style.  They also believe the main purpose of the play was to “deliver” Queen Elizabeth I to the audience and pay indirect tribute to her successor, James I.  These were the two monarchs during whose reigns Shakespeare lived and wrote.  Henry VIII is best remembered for having six wives and for executing more people than any other English monarch.  Historically, he was the most interesting of the seven English kings Shakespeare wrote about.  Unfortunately, the play does not reflect this.  The character you will love most in this play is Queen Katharine.  She is the best queen in all of Shakespeare — a model of dignity and goodness.  I have given her a very respectful treatment.  This is the first modernized version of Henry VIII ever published.) 

Act 1, Scene 1.  [Historical time: 1520.]  An antechamber in the King’s palace in London.  The Duke of Norfolk comes in from one side, and the Duke of Buckingham and Lord Abergavenny come in from the other.

Buckingham: Hey, Norfolk, wassup?

Norfolk: Duke of Buckingham–Lord Abergavenny–Did you guys miss me?

Buckingham: Sure.  How was France?

Norfolk: Awesome.  You should have been there.  [Author’s note: One of many historical inaccuracies in the play.  In fact, it was Buckingham who went to France with King Henry and Norfolk who stayed behind.]

Buckingham: I was sick in bed the whole time.  So how did it go?

Norfolk: It was a real spectacle.  You should have seen the two Kings–Henry and Francis–all decked out in their finest clothes.  And all their entourage.  Everybody was dressed up.  Everyone wanted to show off.  You’d never know England and France had ever been at war.  It was all glitz and partying.  And the field games were sensational.

Buckingham: I’ll bet.

Norfolk: Oh, they were.  All the English soldiers and the French soldiers were competing with each other.  And Henry and Francis were into it, too, on their horses.  And the crowds were cheering and whooping it up.  And it went on for almost two weeks.  It was the greatest party you could imagine.  All for a good cause, of course.  Peace between England and France.

Buckingham (Facetiously): Was the Holy Roman Empire invited?

Norfolk: Ha!–Yeah, right!  Holy Roman Empire.  Never heard of it.

Buckingham: And who organized this extravaganza, as if I couldn’t guess?

Norfolk: Why, the Archbishop of York, of course–Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.  Who else?

Buckingham: Right.  The second-most powerful man in England and the Number One glory hog.  The Lord Chancellor.  Henry wears the crown, but Wolsey actually runs everything.  And believe me, whatever he does, he’s thinking of himself first.

Norfolk: Oh, well, now, you have to give credit where it’s due.  He wouldn’t have risen to such a position in life if he didn’t have any talent.

Aber: Oh, he’s got talent, all right–the way the devil has talent.

Buckingham: Exactly.  And who paid for this expensive trip?  The nobles.  And who bent their arms  for the money?  Wolsey.  All by his own authority.  There isn’t a pocket in England he can’t put his hand into.

Aber: That’s for damn sure.  Special taxes.  Forced loans.  Some of my own relatives have gotten bled so much they’ll never recover.

Buckingham: And was the trip really worth it?  Was it really necessary to blow all that money?

Norfolk: Well–I don’t know.

Buckingham: And afterwards there was a big storm.

Norfolk: Oh, God, don’t mention that.

Buckingham: That was an evil omen.  Everyone was talking about it.  They were saying the peace isn’t going to last.  And why should it?  When has there ever been permanent peace with France?  It’s just a phase.

Norfolk: You could be right.  Some of our merchant ships got held up in Bordeaux and their goods were confiscated.

Aber: Aha!  Some peace!

Buckingham: I blame Wolsey for everything.  He’s like a puppet master.  He’s playing France and the Empire off against each other, that’s all.  He makes the foreign policy, not the King.  Anybody wants to buy our goodwill, they have to go to Wolsey.

Norfolk: Buckingham, it’s no secret that you and the Cardinal have your differences.  But just be careful about him.  He has a lot of power.  And he can be vindictive.  You don’t want to be too public about how much you hate him, or he’ll crush you.–Oh!–I think I hear him.

    (Cardinal Wolsey comes in and pauses on his way through. He is with a Guard and a Secretary.  He speaks to his Secretary just to annoy Buckingham, and the Cardinal and Buckingham have hostile eye contact.)

Cardinal: Ahem–Do you have the file for the Duke of Buckingham’s overseer? 

Secy: Yes, your Grace–right here.

Cardinal: Is he here in person?

Secy: Yes.

Cardinal: Good.  Then we will find out a thing or two about Buckingham.

    (The Cardinal and his party leave.)

Buckingham: That son of a bitch!  I’d like to strangle him!

Norfolk: Calm down.  Don’t blow a head valve.

Buckingham: You know what he’s up to.  He’s going to the King with some bullshit accusation against me.  I should have it out with him right in front of the King.

Norfolk: No, no, I wouldn’t recommend that.  You don’t want to blow up in front of the King.

Buckingham (Takes a deep breath): I guess you’re right.  But I’m telling you Wolsey is corrupt–and he’s a traitor.

Norfolk: Don’t say traitor.  That’s over the line.

Buckingham: It’s the truth, and I’ll tell the King if I get the chance.  Wolsey’s just totally bad.  He is.  And the King should stop listening to him.  You want to know  what’s over the line?  I’ll tell you.  This trip to France.  It practically blew the whole treasury.

Norfolk: Well, maybe it was expensive.

Buckingham: Listen, Wolsey’s got a secret relationship with Charles, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.  The Queen is Charles’s aunt, you know.

Norfolk: Yes, yes.

Buckingham: Charles came here supposedly to visit the Queen, but it was really to have a secret meeting with Wolsey.  Charles doesn’t like it that we’ve made peace with France.   He and the French King are enemies.  So now he’s worried about his relationship with us.  That’s why he came here–to get Wolsey to break up the peace.  And you can be sure he paid Wolsey for help, and Wolsey’s going to string him along.

Norfolk: Well, you don’t know that for a fact.

Buckingham: It’s true.  And it’s about time somebody exposed him to the King for his double-dealing.  He’s just a fucking influence peddler.

    (Brandon, an officer of the King, comes in with the Sergeant-at-Arms and several Guards.)

Brandon: Go ahead, Sergeant.

Sergeant: My lord Duke of Buckingham, in the name of the King, you are under arrest for treason.

Buckingham: Fuck me.–Goodbye, Abergavenny.  Good luck.

Brandon: Lord Abergavenny has to come, too.  King’s orders.

Aber: God save me.

Buckingham: Who else is under arrest, if you don’t mind my asking?

Brandon: Lord Montacute, John de la Car, Gilbert Peck, and Nicholas Hopkins. 

Buckingham: My overseer’s a liar, you know.  The Cardinal bribed him.

Brandon: I’m just an officer of King doing my job, my lord. 

Buckingham (To Norfolk): I’m not surprised.  Anyway, goodbye, Norfolk.

    (They shake hands.)

Norfolk: Goodbye, Buckingham.

    (All leave except Norfolk.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  The Council Chamber.  The King comes in, close together with Cardinal Wolsey, plus a Secretary to the Cardinal, some Nobles, and Sir Thomas Lovell,the Constable of the Tower.  The King sits above the others, with the Cardinal closest to him.

King (To the Cardinal): It’s a good thing you stopped this conspiracy.  Now let’s hear what Buckingham’s overseer has to say.

    (Noise is heard offstage: “Make way for the Queen!”  Queen Katharine comes in with Norfolk and Suffolk.  Everyone rises.)

King: Oh!–Madam–sit beside me.

    (The Queen kneels instead.)

Queen: I must kneel, my lord, like anyone else who comes to ask you for something.

King: Oh, ask away.  Anything.  Come and sit by me.  (She sits beside him, and everyone else sits down.)  Now what’s on your mind?

Queen: My lord, I must tell you  that the people are very, very unhappy about the new taxes, supposedly to pay for the past war against France.  They are most angry with the Lord Cardinal, but they are also blaming you.  This may lead to a rebellion.

King: A rebellion?

Norfolk: My lord, people have lost their jobs.  For instance, the clothiers have had to lay off many of their workers–all because of the taxes.

King: What taxes?–My Lord Cardinal, what taxes are they talking about?

Cardinal: Em–I don’t know any more than anyone else.

Queen: You certainly do know.  They were your idea and you rammed them through the Council.

Cardinal: I’m just one man, madam.

King (To the Queen): What tax is this?

Queen: One-sixth of everyone’s wealth!

King: One-sixth?  I didn’t know about this.

Cardinal: The Council agreed to it, sir.

King: But one-sixth?  My goodness, no wonder the people are upset.

Cardinal: The people always complain, but that’s no reason to hold back on things that are necessary.

King: But this goes too far.  I want those taxes cancelled.  And anyone who refused to pay is pardoned.

Cardinal: As you wish, my lord.  (Aside to his Secretary) Send letters to all the counties saying the taxes are revoked.  And be sure to say that I was the one who revoked them.

    (The Secretary leaves.) 

King: Now let’s deal with that other matter.  Bring in Buckingham’s overseer.

    (The Cardinal goes out.)

Queen: I’m very sorry that Buckingham is in trouble.  I would just encourage you not to jump to conclusions.

King: Yes, yes.  We’re all sorry that he’s in trouble.  He’s a highly intelligent man.  Very capable.  We all respected him and trusted him.  But even a person of high standing and ability can be corrupted by his own ambition.  We’ll hear what the overseer has to say.

    (The Cardinal returns with the Overseer.)

Cardinal: Now, sir, tell the King everything you know about the Duke of Buckingham.

King: Yes.  I want to know everything.

Overseer: Yes, my lord.  First of all, the Duke was always saying that if your Majesty died without any heirs, he’d fix it so he’d become King.  He said this to his son-in-law, Lord Abergavenny.  And he also swore to get even with the Lord Cardinal.

Cardinal: You see how evil he is, my lord?

King: And how exactly did he expect to make any sort of claim to the throne?

Overseer: It was a monk named Nicholas Henton who put the idea in his head.

King: Who’s he?

Overseer: He’s the Duke of Buckingham’s confessor at Chartreux.

King: And how do you know what he said to Buckingham?

Overseer: Before your Majesty took that trip to France, the Duke asked me what the people in London were saying about it.  And I told him that the people were suspicious of the French–that is, they might do you some harm.  And he said that’s what Nicholas Henton said to John de la Car, the Duke’s chaplain.  Henton prophesied a bad end for your Majesty and urged the Duke to win over the people and take the crown. 

Queen: Just a minute.  (To the King)  My lord, this man was fired by Buckingham on the complaints of the tenant farmers he was overseeing, so naturally he has a grudge against Buckingham.

King: Oh?–Well, never mind.  (To the Overseer)  Go on.  Tell me everything.

Overseer: It’s all true, sir.  I told the Duke that this Henton fellow was cracked and he oughtn’t to listen to him.  And the Duke said–that if you had died the last time you were sick–he’d be in charge and the Cardinal and Sir Thomas Lovell would be dead by now.

King: Really!–Well!–What a villain!–What else?

Overseer: The Duke said his father, Sir Henry, the previous Duke of Buckingham, made a big mistake in not killing King Richard when he had the chance, and then Richard had him executed.  [Author’s note: Richard III.]  And he said he wouldn’t make the same mistake.

King: So!–Well, well, well, well, well!–That’s all I need to hear.  Now he’ll stand trial.  And he’ll get no mercy from me.–Council is adjourned.

    (The King leads everyone out.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  A room in the palace.  The Lord Chamberlain and Lord Sands come in.  [Author’s note: Chamberlain is not a name, it’s a position.  The Lord Chamberlain is the manager of the King’s household.  At this time it was Charles Somerset, Earl of Worcester.]

Chamberlain: These guys are nuts ever since they came back from France.

Sands: The French don’t have to invade us.  All they have to do is infect us with their fashions.

Chamberlain: Like those stupid pants.

Sands: Oh, my God.  Those short little puffy pants and those long stockings up to here (Indicates mid-thigh). 

Chamberlain: Makes ’em look like ballerinas from outer space.

    (Sir Thomas Lovell comes in.)

Sands: Sir Thomas Lovell, wassup?

Lovell: Have you see the new proclamation posted on the court gate?

Sands: No.  What’s it say?

Lovell: It’s an order to the men to stop dressing like French sissy-boys or they’ll be put on a boat and sent there for good.

Chamberlain: Thank God for that.

Sands: Stop the insanity.  That’s what I say.

Chamberlain: Right on.

Sands: Otherwise the women might decide they like it, and then where will we be?

Chamberlain: We won’t be having a good time, that’s for sure.

Sands: Well, I’m not changing my wardrobe to compete with a bunch of fashionistas.

Chamberlain: Me neither.

Sands: Gender-benders.  That’s what I call them.

Chamberlain: That’s funny.–So where are you going, Lovell?

Lovell: There’s a big dinner party at Cardinal Wolsey’s house–and you fellows are invited.

Chamberlain: Oh! Brilliant!

Lovell: He’s a generous guy, that Cardinal.  A great host.  Spares no expense.

Chamberlain: That’s for sure.

Sands: Well, he can afford it, so why not?  Besides, how would it look if a man in his position was cheap with his hospitality?

Chamberlain: He’s a model of liberality–toward his friends, I mean–and no one can say otherwise.–Come on.  Let’s go.

    (They all leave.)

Act 1, Scene 4.  Cardinal Wolsey’s house.  The dinner is in progress.  Seated are Cardinal Wolsey, the Lord Chamberlain, Lord Sands, Lovell, and other Nobles, seated alternately with Ladies.  Sands is seated next to Anne Bullen and is trying to flirt with her.

Sands: So, uh, are you a friend of the King?

Anne: No, I’m a friend of the Queen.  But my sister knows the King very well.  [Author’s note: Shakespeare doesn’t refer to this, but Mary Boleyn was one of Henry’s mistresses.]

Sands: Oh, yeah?–Oh.–So is she as hot-looking as you?

Anne: I think she’s more beautiful.

Sands: That’s hard to imagine, heh, heh.–I like what you’re wearing, by the way. 

Anne: Thank you.

Sands: So, uh, you got a boyfriend?

Anne: Boyfriend?–No, I don’t.

Sands: Oh.  So, like, maybe we could, uh, you know, get together some time.

    (A Servant comes in and speaks to the Cardinal.)

Servant: Your Grace, some strangers have arrived.  They speak French.

Cardinal (To the Lord Chamberlain): My Lord Chamberlain, you speak French.  Go and find out who they are, and if they’re gentlemen, let them in.

Chamberlain: I will, sir.

    (The Lord Chamberlain goes out.  After a brief interval he returns.)

Chamberlain: Your Grace, the visitors are French.  They heard there was a party here tonight, and they knew your reputation for hospitality, so they wanted to come in and mingle.

Cardinal: Wonderful.  I’m happy to have them.  Show them in.

    (The Lord Chamberlain goes out and returns with King Henry and several other men, all disguised as shepherds.)

Shepherds: Salut!  Bon soir!

Cardinal (Laughing): Come on in!  I don’t know who you are, but have a drink!–Hey, let’s have some music and dance with the ladies!

    (Music begins.  The Shepherds have a drink, and then couples pair off and dance.  King Henry dances with Anne Bullen.)

Cardinal (To the Lord Chamberlain): Who are those guys?  Somehow they don’t look French to me.

Chamberlain: I’m not saying.

    (When the music stops, the Cardinal approaches King Henry.)

Cardinal: Say, don’t I know you?

King: Moi?  Non, monsieur.

Cardinal: Yes, I do.  I know you.–You’re the King!

    (King Henry removes the disguise.  Everyone laughs and applauds.)

King: I guess you can’t hide royalty, can you?

Chamberlain: Not for long, sir.

    (The King takes Anne Bullen by the hand.)

King: Who is this lady?

Chamberlain: This is Anne Bullen.  She’s the daughter of Sir Thomas Bullen.

King: Well, well, well!  Anne Bullen.  I know your sister (Coughs)–slightly. 

Anne: Yes, my lord.

King: Why is it that when I look at you, I think of cherry cheesecake?

Anne: I suppose your Majesty likes cherry cheesecake.

King: It’s one of my weaknesses–among others.  (Fanning himself with his hand) It’s a bit warm in here.  Or am I just excited?

Cardinal: Let’s go into the other room where it’s cooler.  I’ll break out the champagne.–Come, everyone.

    (They all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  Two Gentlemen meet on a street in London.

1st Gent: Where are you going?

2nd Gent: To Buckingham’s trial at Westminster.

1st Gent: Forget it.  It’s already over.  He was convicted.

2nd Gent: Were you there?

1st Gent: Yes.

2nd Gent: What happened?

1st Gent: He pleaded not guilty, and then some witnesses spoke against him, and he was sentenced to death for treason.

2nd Gent: That’s terrible.  How did he take it?

1st Gent: Bravely, I thought.

2nd Gent: Wolsey was behind this, I’ll bet.

1st Gent: For sure.  Anybody crosses Wolsey, they’re dead meat.  And anybody tries to talk to the King without going through Wolsey, they get targeted.  He doesn’t want anyone else influencing the King.  He’s practically sent people into exile, sending them far away from London on minor business.

2nd Gent: All the people hate him, and so do I.  But everyone loves Buckingham.  A true gentleman.

1st Gent: Here he comes.  Let’s step back a bit.

    (The two Gentlemen move apart as Buckingham comes in as a prisoner, escorted by Lovell, Sands, Sir Nichols Vaux, a couple of Guards, and some commoners trailing behind.  Buckingham stops to speak to the people, speaking directly to the audience.)

Buckingham: My good friends, hear what I have to say and then go home and forget me.  I have been condemned to death–wrongly–as a traitor.  I bear no malice toward anyone.  I forgive my accusers.  Let them enjoy their moment of triumph and deal with their consciences later.  Those of you who love me, I carry you in my hearts until the moment of my death.  All I ask is that you pray for my soul.

Lovell: Your Grace, I’m sorry that things have turned out badly for you.  If I’ve done you any wrong, please forgive me.

Buckingham: You haven’t done me any wrong, Lovell.  You were only doing your job as Constable of the Tower.  I even forgive Cardinal Wolsey.  And if he ever speaks of me, remind him that you were with me when I had one foot in heaven.  And I pray for the King and wish him a long life.

Lovell: Thank you, sir.  I’ll be taking you as far as the river, and then Sir Nicholas Vaux will take you the rest of the way.

Vaux: The barge is fitted out appropriately for a duke, sir.

Buckingham: Duke?  A duke no longer, Sir Nicholas.  They’ve taken my title from me–but they can never take the truth away.  I take that to my grave, and may it haunt them.–You know, my father was executed by Richard the Third.  And when Henry the Seventh defeated Richard and became King, he took pity on me and restored my title.  And now his son takes it away again.–But at least I had a trial, which is more than my father had.  (To the audience) Remember these words from a condemned man.  You might give all your love and loyalty to someone and believe they feel the same way about you.  And then something happens and they totally turn against you.  So be careful who you love.  And pray for me now, my friends.  This is farewell.

    (Buckingham is escorted out, leaving the two Gentlemen.)

1st Gent: This is terrible.

2nd Gent: There’s more bad news to come.

1st Gent: What do you mean?

    (The Second Gentleman looks around to make sure no one is listening.)

2nd Gent: The word is that the King intends to–shall we say–end his marriage to Queen Katharine.

1st Gent: Oh, that’s an old rumour.  The King told the Mayor to put a stop to it.

2nd Gent: But now it’s for real.  Either the Cardinal or somebody close to him has cooked up some sort of accusation or some technicality against the Queen–like the marriage was invalid to begin with.  The Pope has sent Cardinal Campeius to advise on the matter.

1st Gent: Really.–Hmm.–You know, Wolsey wanted to be appointed Archbishop of Toledo, and the Emperor Charles wouldn’t give it to him.  And Charles is the Queen’s nephew.  So maybe Wolsey wants to get revenge by dumping the Queen.

2nd Gent: I think you’ve hit it.  And she hasn’t given the King a son, which is what he wants.  He may have his eye on somebody else.  Or Wolsey may want to fix him up with somebody.

1st Gent: Somebody French maybe?

2nd Gent: Betcha.–Come on, let’s go someplace more private and continue this discussion.

    (They leave.) 

Act 2, Scene 2.  An antechamber in the palace.  The Lord Chamberlain comes in reading a letter.

Chamberlain (Reading): “My Lord Chamberlain, I collected all the horses you asked for, and just as I was about to send them to London, one of Cardinal Wolsey’s men came along and seized them.  He said his master would be served before any subject.”–What a prick that fucking Cardinal is!

    (Norfolk and Suffolk come in.)

Norfolk: My Lord Chamberlain.

Chamberlain: Hello, your Graces.

Suffolk: Is the King busy?

Chamberlain: I just left him.  He’s in a bad mood.

Norfolk: What’s the matter?

Chamberlain: He’s concerned about his marriage to the Queen.  He thinks it might not be legal since she was married before to his brother Arthur.  [Author’s note: The issue here is that under the laws of the Church, a man could not marry his brother’s widow.  The only exception would be if that marriage had never been consummated.]

Suffolk: But that marriage was never consummated.  At least, that’s what I was given to understand.

Chamberlain: Me, too.

Suffolk: And now after twenty years, suddenly it’s an issue?

Chamberlain: Apparently.

Suffolk: Maybe he wants to dump her for somebody else.

Norfolk: Wolsey must have his hand in this somehow.  This is too big for him not to be involved.

Suffolk: Wolsey’s a weasel.  I wish the King would wise up about him.

Norfolk: He’s the one who broke us up with the Holy Roman Empire.

Suffolk: Yes.

Norfolk: The King listens to whatever he says.  And now he wants to send the Queen packing?

Suffolk: I’ve always liked her.

Norfolk: We all like her.  She’s a wonderful lady.  She doesn’t deserve this.

Chamberlain: The rumour is–(Lowers his voice) Wolsey wants to marry the King off to the French King’s sister.

Norfolk: Aha.  So that’s it.

Suffolk: How did a scumbag like that ever get to be a Cardinal?

Norfolk: Anyway–we have some other business for the King.

Chamberlain: I’d advise you to save it for later.–I have to go.

    (The Lord Chamberlain leaves.  [The original stage directions have the King drawing aside a curtain, revealing himself in his study.  An alternate staging would be a quick curtain down and segue to the King in his study as the Dukes come in.  The King is reading some papers and looks unhappy.])

Norfolk: My lord?

King: What do you want?  Can’t you see I’m busy?

Norfolk: Sorry, my lord.  But we had some business requiring your attention.

King: Never mind.  Whatever it is, I’m not interested.

    (Cardinal Wolsey comes in with Cardinal Campeius, the Pope’s representative.)   

King: My Lord Cardinal–glad to see you.

Cardinal: My lord, this is Cardinal Campeius, the Pope’s representative.

King: Thank you for coming, sir.  You are most welcome here.

Campeius: Thank you, my lord.  The Pope has sent me to confer with Cardinal Wolsey about–this delicate matter.

King: Yes, yes.  (To Norfolk and Suffolk) Would you guys just go?

    (Norfolk and Suffolk bow and turn to leave.)

Norfolk (Aside to Suffolk):  I’d love to be a fly on the wall right now.

Suffolk (Aside to Norfolk): Me, too.

    (Norfolk and Suffolk leave.)

Cardinal: My lord, whatever the outcome of this matter, no one will be able to criticize you.  The whole process will be absolutely impartial and scrupulous.  (To Campeius) Isn’t that right?

Campeius: Oh, yes.  Absolutely.

Cardinal: The Queen will get every consideration she’s entitled to by law.

King: Yes.  I have to inform her what’s happening.–Where’s my secretary?–(Calling) Gardiner!

    (Gardiner comes in.)

Cardinal: Here he is.–Hello, Gardiner.  (Aside to Gardiner.) Remember who you’re loyal to.

    (Gardiner gestures aside to him that he is loyal to the Cardinal.)

King: He’s a good man, my Lord Cardinal.  I’m glad you recommended him.–Gardiner, a word with you.

    (The King and Gardiner move apart and have a whispered conversation.)

Campeius: Wasn’t Doctor Pace the King’s secretary before?

Cardinal: Yes.

Campeius: And he went mad and died, didn’t he?

Cardinal: Who told you that?

Campeius: That’s what I heard.  You kept sending him far away on errands until he lost his mind and died.

Cardinal: He was a fool, and good riddance to him.  Gardiner, on the other hand, is reliable.  He used to work for me.–And he still does–if you get my drift.

Campeius: Ah.–I see.

    (The King gives Gardiner a letter.)

King: Now you take this to the Queen–and be very polite about it.

Gardiner: Yes, my lord.

    (Gardiner leaves.)

King: I think we should hear this matter at Blackfriars.  [Author’s note: A monastery in London.]  My Lord Cardinal, I leave it to you to make the arrangements.

Cardinal: Yes, my lord.

King: Tsk!–It’s said.  Very sad.–To leave my good Queen.  And she’s been good, you know.

Cardinal: Yes, my lord.  Very good.

King: But it’s a matter of conscience, after all.  Doing the right thing–isn’t it?

Cardinal: Yes.  Absolutely.

Campeius: You are truly a noble King, sir.

    (Scene ends without an exit.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  An antechamber in the Queen’s part of the palace.  Anne Bullen and an Old Lady come in.

Anne: It’s terrible that this should happen to the Queen.  Such a good lady.  No one could ever find fault with her.  And now–Ach!–I hate to think of it.

Old Lady: Everyone sympathizes with her.

Anne: It’s better to be a nobody and have nothing to lose than to be a queen and lose everything.  I’d never want to be a queen.

Old Lady: Oh, don’t be silly.  I’d love to be a queen–and so would you.  Admit it.

Anne: No, no.  Not for all the money in the world.

Old Lady: How about a duchess?  Could you stand to be a duchess?

Anne: No, thank you.

Old Lady: I wouldn’t mind a title–any title.  Even if it came with the worst plot of land in England.

    (The Lord Chamberlain comes in.)

Chamberlain: Good morning, ladies.  You’re looking very serious.

Anne: We were talking about the Queen–feeling sorry for her.

Chamberlain: She’ll be all right.

Anne: I hope so.

Chamberlain: By the way, I have some news that concerns you.

Anne: Concerns me?

Chamberlain: Yes.  The King has taken notice of you.  He likes you.  And he intends to give you a title.

Old Lady: Ha!  Lightning strikes!

Anne: Me?  A title?

Chamberlain: Yes, madam. 

Old Lady (Humourously): Ooh!–Madam!

Chamberlain (To Anne): You will be the Marchioness of Pembroke.  And it’s worth a thousand pounds a year.

Old Lady: A thousand pounds!

Anne: Well!–I have to catch my breath.–I hardly know what to say.  Imagine me a marchioness.–Please thank the King for me.  And may he live long and happily.

Chamberlain (Aside to the Audience): The King’s really hot for her.  Maybe you can guess where this is going.–I’ll tell the King that I’ve spoken to you and you’re very happy.

Anne: Thank you, my Lord Chamberlain.

    (The Lord Chamberlain leaves.)

Old Lady: That’s how it goes.  I’ve been in the King’s court for sixteen years, with no advancement to show for it.  But you’re a fresh face.  He takes a look at you, and bingo!–You’re a marchioness.  And a thousand pounds a year to boot.

Anne: I never expected this, believe me.

Old Lady: There’s more to come, girl.  You just wait.  Get used to the idea.  You’re going places.

Anne: I’m not going to think about it.–Look, don’t mention this to the Queen, all right?

Old Lady: I won’t say a word. 

    (Scene ends without an exit.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  [Historical time: 1529.]  At Blackfriars.  Trumpet flourish.  A procession comes in, including Vergers (bearers of holy symbols), Scribes, Clerics, including the Bishop of London, a Sergeant-at-Arms, the two Cardinals, the King, and the Queen.  The Queen sits apart from the King.  [The Bishop of Canterbury is deleted from this scene.]

Cardinal: Ahem!–I will read the commission from Rome.

King: Forget it.  It’s already been read to the public.

Cardinal: All right, then.  We’ll proceed.  This Court is now in session.

    (The Queen approaches the King and kneels before him.)

Queen: My lord, what have I done to deserve this?  How have I offended you?  What have I done wrong?  I’ve been your obedient wife for twenty years.  My father, King Ferdinand of Spain, and your father, Henry the Seventh, arranged this marriage.  They wouldn’t have done so if they’d had the slightest doubt that it was perfectly legal.  I should have some of my friends from Spain here to speak for me.

Cardinal: There’s no need, madam.  We have plenty of religious authorities here who can consider all points of view.

Queen: My Lord Cardinal, don’t think you fool me, because you don’t.  This whole matter is your doing.  You’re malicious and contemptible, and I refuse to be judged by you.  I shall take this matter directly to the Pope.

Cardinal: Madam, you misjudge me.  I have nothing personal against you.  I have only chosen to proceed with this matter because the authorities in Rome agree with me.       

Queen (Slowly and dramatically): Even so, ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.  [Author’s note: This comes from Matthew, but it’s from the King James Bible, which wasn’t written yet.  This is my added touch.]

    (The Clerics mutter “Oh–oh–” as the Queen walks out.)

King: She’s been a good wife.  I can’t deny it.  

Cardinal: Your Majesty, I feel truly stung by the Queen’s remarks.  Please tell me–tell everyone here–if I have instigated these proceedings.

King: No, you’re not the cause.  The Queen is just repeating what others have told her, but they’re mistaken.  For the benefit of all present, I’d like to explain why I’m seeking an annulment.  It started with the French ambassador, who came to propose a marriage between the Duke of Orleans and my daughter, Mary.  He wanted some reassurance that Mary was legitimate under the laws of the Church.  And that caused me to consider.  The Queen has not borne me any sons, only a daughter.  Five other children–three of them boys–died in infancy.  What could that mean?  It had to be a divine judgment against the marriage.  So what was I to do?  The future of the kingdom was at stake.–My Lord Bishop of London, you remember when I talked it over with you, how unhappy I was.

Lincoln: Yes, my lord.  And after a great deal of thought, I suggested having the marriage annulled.

King: And I got the same advice from the other learned clerics of this court.  Of course, if you tell me the marriage is legal, I’ll stay married.

Campeius: My lord, we can’t continue today without the Queen present.  We’ll have to adjourn.  In the meantime, we must dissuade her from contacting the Pope directly.

King (Aside to the Audience): I’m starting to wonder about these Cardinals.  I wish my friend Thomas Cranmer were back.  Him I trust.  The others–well–(Makes a gesture with his hand indicating uncertainty).–Okay, court is adjourned.

    (They all leave.) 

Act 3, Scene 1.  The Queen is in her apartment in the palace.  A couple of her Attendants are sewing.  A Servant comes in.

Servant: Madam, the two Cardinals are here to see you.

Queen (With a hard edge to her voice): Show them in.

    (The Servant leaves, and a moment later Cardinals Wolsey and Campeius come in.)

Cardinal (Wolsey): Your Highness, may we speak to you?

Queen: All right.

Cardinal: Privately?

Queen: I prefer to speak and be spoken to openly.

    (Wolsey exchanges a look with Campeius.  The suggestion is that this is going to be a challenge.)

Cardinal: Yes, madam.  We would like to know your views on the matter before the King.–Em, perhaps we can be of some help.

Campeius: Yes, madam.  His Grace is willing to overlook your harsh criticisms, and we are both here to help, if we can.

Queen: How nice of you.  You want to know my views?  I hardly know what to say to such learned and holy men as yourselves.  I’m all alone here in England–with no friends–and no hope.

Cardinal: Oh, no, no, no, no.  You have many friends–and great hopes.

Queen: And who in this country will be my friend and risk crossing the King?  My only friends are back home in Spain.

Campeius: Place your trust in the King, madam.  Be nice to him.–Otherwise, the outcome could be difficult for you.

Cardinal: He’s right, madam.

Queen: Don’t pretend to care about me.  It’s obvious that you’re both determined to see me ruined.  Just remember that there is a higher judge than you.

Campeius: Oh, madam, you have it all wrong.

Queen: And you call yourselves Christians.–Tsk!–You should fear for your souls, gentlemen.  You should be truly ashamed.

Cardinal: But madam, we’re here to help.

Queen: Like the executioner helping the condemned to the scaffold.

Cardinal: Oh, madam–

Queen: I should place my trust in a King who clearly wants to be rid of me?

Campeius: Madam, you exaggerate.

Queen: Twenty years a faithful, obedient wife, and this is what I get?

Cardinal: I realize you’re unhappy, madam, but–

Queen: I won’t give up my title willingly.  If I did, it would be like admitting some sort of guilt.  Only death will separate me from my title.

Cardinal: Please don’t speak of death, madam.

Queen: I wish I’d never come to England.  This is a country of liars and phonies.  I’m the unhappiest woman alive.

Cardinal: Madam, how can I convince you that we only want to comfort you?  This is no time to be stubborn.  You should be calm and gentle–especially with the King.

Campeius: Yes, madam.  You don’t want to lose the goodwill you still have with him.

    (The Queen pauses, after which her tone is more conciliatory.)

Queen: Forgive me.  Please let the King know that I still love him and that I shall continue to pray for him as long as I live.

Cardinal: We shall, madam.  And I hope you will trust us to do what we can for you.

Queen (Ironically): Oh, of course.

    (Scene ends without an exit, suggesting the conversation was not necessarily over.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  An antechamber to the King’s apartment in the palace.  The Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Surrey, and the Lord Chamberlain come in. 

Norfolk: Okay, guys, listen.  If you want to get rid of Wolsey as much as I do, now’s the time to make our move.  If we close ranks against him, we can do it.

Surrey: I’d love to get rid of him after what he did to Buckingham.

Suffolk: He needs to be knocked off his pedestal, that’s for sure.

Chamberlain: But don’t forget how tight he is with the King.  As long as he’s in the King’s favour, he’s untouchable.

Norfolk: That’s about to change.  The King has found out some things about Wolsey.  He’s cooked.

Surrey: Seriously?

Suffolk: It’s true.  Wolsey wrote a confidential letter to the Pope–except that it fell into the King’s hands instead.

Surrey: Really?  What was in it?

Suffolk: Among other things, Wolsey wanted the Pope to delay the annulment–because–Wolsey doesn’t want the King to marry your niece, Anne.

Chamberlain: Which makes no difference now, however, since he’s already married her.

Surrey: What!

Suffolk: It’s true.  But it hasn’t been made public yet.

Surrey: Well, I’m a happy guy!

Suffolk: So am I.

Norfolk: Me, too.

Suffolk: Campeius has gone back to Rome.  He didn’t even say goodbye to the King.  But he’s supporting Wolsey’s plan to delay the annulment.  And the King knows all about it now.

Norfolk: What about Cranmer?

Suffolk: Cranmer’s back.  He consulted a lot of high clerics, and they all agreed it was okay to annul the marriage.  The King was glad about that, you can be sure.  Now all that’s left is to announce the marriage to Anne publicly and have the coronation.

Surrey: So what happens to Katharine now?

Suffolk: Katharine will now be referred to as the Princess Dowager.

Surrey: What the hell is a Princess Dowager?

Suffolk: It’s bullshit.  It’s just an invented title.  It’s just a polite way of dumping her.

Norfolk: Cranmer will get promoted to archbishop.  Just watch.

Suffolk: Oh–Wolsey’s coming.  Let’s duck out of sight.

    (The four of them move to the wing, and Cardinal Wolsey comes in.)

Cardinal (Aside): If I have my way, the King will marry the French King’s sister–not Anne Bullen.  The King’s got to listen to me, not Cranmer.  Cranmer will ruin everything.–Where’s the King?

    (The Cardinal leaves.  Then the King comes in from the wing where the four Lords were standing, and they join him coming in.  The King is holding Wolsey’s incriminating letter.)

King: How did Wolsey accumulate so much wealth?  Have you seen him?

Norfolk: He was just here, my lord.  He seemed to be anxious about something.

King: I found this letter in my paperwork this morning–a letter from Wolsey to the Pope.  Obviously, it wasn’t intended for my eyes, but somebody wanted me to see it.  [Author’s note: Shakespeare doesn’t explain this, and, in fact, the incident is fictitious.]

Norfolk: Perhaps an angel put it there for your sake, my lord.

King: Well, it’s a good thing.  I had no idea Wolsey had gotten so rich.  What’s he been doing all this time–managing the country’s business or his own?

    (Cardinal Wolsey returns.) 

Cardinal (With exaggerated charm): There you are, my lord!  May God and all the angels protect you forever!

King: How very spiritual of you, my Lord Cardinal.  I wonder how such a spiritiual man would ever find time to manage any earthly business.

Cardinal: I can do both, sir–even if it taxes my energy.  I would never neglect my duties to the kingdom.  I live to serve.

King: That’s fine.  You know, my father thought highly of you, and that’s why I always kept you close to me.  And I’ve been very generous with you, haven’t I?

Cardinal: Yes, my lord.  And though I may not have been worthy of such generosity, I do thank you–not only in words but in everything I do.  At every moment all I am thinking of is your Majesty’s good.  [Suffolk and Norfolk are gesturing aside to the audience.]  And every day I strive to make my loyalty more perfect than before.

King: Well said.  You have a way with words.  [To the other Lords]  You see what a fine man he is?

   (Suffolk coughs.)   

King (To the Cardinal): Have a look at this.  (He hands the Cardinal the letter.)  You can read it over breakfast–if you can eat any.

    (The King goes out, frowning, followed by the other Lords, smiling.)

Cardinal: What the heck?  What’s he angry about?  (He looks at the letter.)  Oh, fuck.–I’m dead.

    (The four Lords return.)

Norfolk: Wolsey, hand over the great seal.

Cardinal: What?

Norfolk: Your seal of office.  Let’s have it.

Cardinal: Why should I?

Norfolk: The King’s pleasure.

Cardinal: Show it to me in writing.

Norfolk: It’s a verbal order.

Cardinal: I’m not taking any verbal orders from any of you bastards.  You just want to tear me down because you’re jealous.  The King gave me the seal, and only he can take it back.

Surrey: You’re ambitious to the point of sin, aren’t you, Wolsey.  I mean, the way you push your weight around and step on people.  You plunder the whole kingdom.  And you had Buckingham executed–my father-in-law.

Cardinal: You can’t blame me for that.  He had a fair trial.

Surrey: I swear, if you weren’t wearing that coat, there would have been a sword in your belly a long time ago.

Cardinal: You hate my nobility–and my–my virtue.

Surrey: I love nobility and virtue–the way you love money.  You’re through, Wolsey.  The King knows everything.

Cardinal: The King knows I’m loyal!–Regardless of–whatever–

Surrey: You wrote to the Pope without the King’s knowledge.  You tried to make yourself the Pope’s spokesman so you could personally rule on the annulment.  You wrote “I and my King”–as if you were the King’s equal.

Suffolk: You went to see the Emperor Charles and you carried the seal outside the country, which is strictly forbidden.  You carried on secret diplomacy without the King’s knowledge.  You had your own secret relationship with the Pope.

Cardinal: Shut up!

Suffolk: And you used your position to enrich yourself.  That really pissed the King off.

Cardinal: No!  It’s not true!

Surrey: You bragged to the Pope how rich you were.

Suffolk: Wolsey, the King is going to issue a writ against you, seizing all your property.  You no longer enjoy his protection.

Norfolk: And we’ll tell him that you refused to hand over the seal.

    (The Lords leave.  Wolsey is alone.  He is obviously despondent.)

Cardinal: Yesterday I was the second-most powerful man in England.–Today–I’m dirt.

    (His servant Cromwell comes in, looking sad.  [Author’s note: Thomas Cromwell was a great-great-great uncle to Oliver Cromwell, if I’m reading the tree correctly.  He was given the title Earl of Essex in 1540.])

Cromwell: My lord–are you all right?

Cardinal: Cromwell–have you heard?  Do you know what’s happened?

Cromwell: Yes, my lord.  I feel like crying.

Cardinal (Speaking slowly): No, don’t cry.  I’ve been taught a lesson.  I see how wrong I’ve been.  I’ve been very foolish, Cromwell.  I know that now.  It’s important to know oneself.  If one has self-knowledge, one has hope for heaven.  I have hope now.  Do you understand what I mean?

Cromwell: Yes, my lord.  I’m glad.

Cardinal: Do you have any news?

Cromwell: Sir Thomas More is going to replace you as Lord Chancellor.

Cardinal: Oh.–Thomas More.–He’s a good man.  Very intelligent.  He’ll do a good job.–What else?

Cromwell: Cranmer has been named Archbishop of Canterbury.

Cardinal: Has he now?–Oh.–Well, good for him. 

Cromwell: And the King has already married Anne Bullen.

Cardinal: He has?

Cromwell: Yes.

Cardinal: I didn’t know that.–That’s what ruined me.  Anne Bullen.–I never should have–well, it doesn’t matter now.–Cromwell, there’s no point serving me any longer.  I’m finished.  But you still have a future.  Go to the King.  He knows you’re good.  You’re loyal.  You’ll get ahead in the world.

Cromwell: I hate to leave you, sir.  You’ve always been a good master to me.  I’ll always pray for you.

Cardinal: I appreciate that.  And when I’m dead and buried, you can say that I did right by you and helped you advance in life–and that I taught you a valuable lesson.  Forget ambition.  Put yourself last, behind those you serve.  Be honest in your dealings.  Let everything you do serve your country, God, and the truth.  If your conscience is clear, you’ll never fear death.–Cromwell, I have lost everything material in this life, but now I have hope for the next one. 

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  [Historical time: 1533.]  A street in Westminster (London).  The same two Gentlemen from Act 2, Scene 1 meet on the street.

1st Gent: Hello, again!

2nd Gent: Hello!  Come to see the coronation?

1st Gent: Yes, but the crowd’s so thick you can’t get near it.

2nd Gent: I wouldn’t even try.  Say, is anyone getting promoted today?

1st Gent: Suffolk and Norfolk.  Suffolk is promoted to High-Steward, and Norfolk is promoted to Earl Marshal.  And some other people are getting promoted, too.

2nd Gent: What’s become of Katharine?

1st Gent: She’s gone to Kimbolton Castle.  She’s sick.

2nd Gent: Oh, too bad.  She’s a good lady.  I hope she gets better.

    (Sounds of trumpets and cheering.)

1st Gent: There’s the procession!

2nd Gent: Oh, my!  Look at that!

1st Gent: There’s the Marquess of Dorset.–And there’s the Earl of Surrey.

2nd Gent: There’s Suffolk and Norfolk.

    (Loud cheers.)

1st Gent: There’s the Queen!  Queen Anne!

2nd Gent: Oh, she’s magnificent!  They all love her.

    (A Third Gentleman comes in.)

3rd Gent (Wiping his brow): Hello!

1st Gent: Hello!  Were you inside?

3rd Gent: Yes.  God, it was so hot I could hardly breathe in there.

2nd Gent: So what was it like?

3rd Gent: It was awesome.  The Queen was perfect.  You could tell she was meant to be a queen.

2nd Gent: Who were those two bishops next to her?

3rd Gent: Stokesly and Gardiner.  Stokesly is the Bishop of London now, and Gardiner is the Bishop of Winchester.

2nd Gent: Uh, oh.  Cranmer better watch out now.  Gardiner doesn’t like him.  At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

3rd Gent: You heard right.  But Cranmer will have a new friend now.

2nd Gent: Who?

3rd Gent: Thomas Cromwell.  He’s on close terms with the King now.  He’s already been made Master of the Jewel House and a member of the Privy Council.

2nd Gent: That guy’s going places, just watch.

3rd Gent: Yeah, for sure.–I’m on my way to the court.  Why don’t you come with me?

1st and 2nd Gents: Sure.  Glad to.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  Kimbolton Castle.  Katharine is lying in bed, sick.  Beside her are her servants Griffith and Patience.

Griffith: How are you feeling, madam?

Katharine: Ah, Griffith, I don’t have long to live.–Tell me, is it true Cardinal Wolsey is dead?

Griffith: Yes, madam.

Katharine: How did he die?

Griffith: He died before his trial.  He stopped at the abbey at Leicester because he was too sick to travel, and he was there for three days, and then he died.  They say he was very remorseful at the end.

Katharine: He had enough to be remorseful about.  He was corrupt, egotistical, and two-faced.  He was a bad example for the clergy.

Griffith: I don’t disagree with you, madam, but I prefer to remember him for his good points.

Katharine: What good points?

Griffith: He rose from very humble beginnings.  He was a scholar.  He was highly intelligent.  He founded the college at Oxford, which was a very good thing.  He was kind and generous to those he loved.  And he was penitent at the end.  I give him credit for all those things.

Katharine: Then peace be with him.  And when I’m gone, may you speak as kindly of me, Griffith.

Griffith: Everyone shall, madam.

Katharine: Patience, bring me another pillow.

    (Patience brings her a pillow.)

Katharine: Griffith, have the musicians play something soft and gentle.  I want to try to sleep a little.

Griffith: Yes, madam.

    (Patience and Griffith leave.  Then music is heard.  [The stage lighting changes to suggest a dream-like state.]  While Katharine is asleep, several angels dressed in white come in slowly.  They circle the bed.  Then each kisses Katharine on the hand or forehead.  Then they leave slowly.  [Stage lighting returns to normal.]  Katharine awakens.)

Katharine: Wait!  Come back!

    (Griffith and Patience return.)

Griffith: We are here, madam.

Katharine: No, not you.  I meant the angels.  Didn’t you see them?

Griffith: No, madam.

Katharine: Then I must have been dreaming.  I dreamed of angels, Griffith.

Griffith: Oh–that’s very good, madam.–Isn’t it, Patience?  (A look of concern.)

Patience: Oh, yes.  It must mean something good.

Katharine: No more music, please.

    (Griffith signals, and the music stops.)

Patience (Aside to Griffith): I’m afraid for her.

Griffith (Aside to Patience): I know.

    (Griffith sees someone and leaves.  Then he returns with Lord Capucius.)

Griffith: Madam, it’s Lord Capucius.  The King has sent him.

Katharine: Ah, Capucius.  I remember you.  You’re the ambassador of my nephew, the Emperor Charles.

Cap: And your servant, madam.

Katharine: It’s been a long time since I saw you.  What brings you?

Cap: First, my own respect for your Grace.  And second, the King asked me to convey his kindest wishes for your comfort.

Katharine: I’m beyond comfort, I’m afraid.  How is the King?

Cap: He’s well.

Katharine: And may he stay well when I’m dead and forgotten.–Patience, do you have that letter I wrote to the King?

Patience: Yes, madam.  Here it is.

    (She gives Katharine the letter.  She gives it to Capucius.)

Katharine: Will you take it to him?

Cap: Yes, madam.

Katharine: I want him to take care of our daughter, Mary.   [Author’s note: The future Queen Mary I.]  And I want him to arrange good marriages for my lady servants.  And I want him to pay my men servants a bonus to remember me by.  It’s in the letter, but you tell him verbally as well, Capucius.

Cap: I will, madam.

Katharine: And tell the King that I blessed him before I died.  He’ll soon be rid of me.

Cap: Oh, madam–

Katharine: It’s all right, Capucius.–Griffith, goodbye.–And Patience, I want flowers strewn on my grave.  White flowers.  And bury me like a queen–even though I no longer am one.

    (Patience breaks down in tears, kneels by the bed, and kisses Katharine’s hand.)

Patience: Oh, madam!

    (Scene ends without an exit.) 

Act 5, Scene 1.  A gallery in the palace at night.  Gardiner, now Bishop of Winchester, comes in with a candle and meets Sir Thomas Lovell.

Gardiner: Lovell, you’re up late.  It must be one o’clock.

Lovell: Yeah, I know.  I was hoping to see the King.  Is he up, by any chance?

Gardiner: Yes.  He’s playing euchre with his brother-in-law, Suffolk.  I don’t know how sensible men can waste their time on such foolishness.

Lovell: Well, I’m glad he’s still up.

Gardiner: Why?  What’s the matter?

Lovell: The Queen’s in labour, and she’s having a bad time of it.  They’re afraid for her.

Gardiner: Oh, dear.  I hope the baby will be all right.–As for the Queen–confidentially–I don’t really care.

Lovell: Confidentially–I sort of agree with you.  Not that she isn’t a nice lady, of course.  She’s all right.–But she’s–you know–she’s on the wrong side of things.

Gardiner: A Reformer.  Exactly.  She and Cranmer.  And Cromwell.  I don’t like them.  Next thing you know, there’ll be a whole Protestant Reformation.  And I can do without that.

Lovell: It could happen.  Cromwell is riding high these days.  And he’ll go higher, you wait and see.  And the King loves Cranmer, so who’s going to say a word against him?

Gardiner: Who?  I will.  That’s who.  And I have already.  And I don’t mind being the first.  Others will follow.

Lovell: What have you done?

Gardiner: I denounced him to the Council as a heretic.  And they’ve told the King they intend to examine Cranmer tomorrow morning.  The sooner  we get rid of him, the better.–Good night, Sir Thomas.

Lovell: Good night, your Grace.

    (Gardiner leaves.  Then the King and Suffolk come in.)

King: I’ve had enough for one night, Charles.  My mind’s not in it tonight.

Suffolk: This is the first time I ever won from you, sir.

King: Wait till next time.–Lovell, you have any news about the Queen?

Lovell: Her servant asks you to pray for her, sir.  Her labour is difficult.

King: Tsk!–Oh, God.

Suffolk: She’ll be all right.  And the baby, too.

King: Of course.  But say a prayer for them anyway.  Leave me now, Charles.

    (Suffolk leaves.  Then Sir Anthony Denny comes in.)

King: Denny.

Denny: My lord, I brought the Archbishop of Canterbury, as you asked me to.

King: Good.  Bring him in.

    (Denny goes out.)

Lovell (Aside): This should be interesting.

    (Denny returns with Cranmer, who looks worried.)

King: Lovell, step outside.  I want some privacy.–You, too, Denny.

    (Lovell and Denny go out.)

King: Well, my lord of Canterbury, I suppose you’re wondering why I asked to see you at such a late hour.

Cranmer (Nervously): Whatever it is, sir, I’m your servant.

King: It’s all right, Cranmer.  (Gives him a pat on the shoulder.) I’m your friend.  I just wanted to have a word with you.

Cranmer: Yes, my lord.

King: I don’t mean to upset you, but I must tell you that some serious complaints have been made against you to the Council, and you’ll have to appear tomorrow morning.

Cranmer: Oh, God, I was afraid it was something like that.

King: Now, just take my advice and be patient about it.  They may want to put you in the Tower temporarily while they decide things, but that’s just the normal procedure.

Cranmer: But what’s it all about, sir?

King: Em–heresy–that sort of thing.

Cranmer: But I never–I never–

King: Calm down, calm down.  Think of it as a storm.  It’ll blow over.  Trust me.

Cranmer: I do trust you, sir.  Thank you, sir.

King: I know you’re a good man, Cranmer.  You’re one of the few totally honest men in the kingdom.  If you had any indication of trouble, you should have come to me right away.  I would have dealt with it personally.

Cranmer: I wasn’t aware, sir.  And sir, my conscience is totally clear.  I don’t see how anyone can say anything against me.

King: One’s enemies will always find something to say, whether it’s true or not.  And you do have some enemies, and there’s no telling what they’ll try to do.  So you must be cautious.

Cranmer: My lord, I count on you to protect me.

King: Yes, yes, I will.  Don’t be afraid.  Tomorrow at Council, if you have to speak, just be yourself.  Just be straightforward and speak plainly.  That’s the best thing.–Now, I’m going to give you this ring.  (He takes a ring off his finger and gives it to Cranmer.)  If you have to, show them this and appeal your case directly to me.

    (Cranmer, in tears, kisses the King’s hand.)

King: There, there.  It’ll be all right.  Now you go on to bed.

    (Cranmer tries to speak but is too choked up.  He leaves.)

King: I swear he’s the only honest man left in England.

    (The Old Lady comes in.)

Old Lady: Blessings to you, my lord!

King: Let me guess.  The Queen had her baby.

Old Lady: Yes!

King: And it’s a boy.

Old Lady: Em–y-y-y-e-s–And she, I mean he–he looks just like you.–He does.

King: And the Queen is fine?

Old Lady: Yes, yes.

King: Excellent.–Lovell!

    (Lovell returns.)

Lovell (Smartly): Sir!

King: Give this lady a hundred marks.  I’m going to see the Queen.

    (The King leaves.)

Old Lady: A hundred marks?  Is that all?–Well!  Good thing I didn’t tell him it was a girl.

    (Lovell and the Old Lady leave.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  [Author’s note: I have condensed two scenes into one, but Shakespeare still leaves us with a staging problem.  King Henry and Doctor Butts are on an upper level overlooking the Council Chamber.  This upper level needs to have a curtain.  They will converse and then draw the curtain closed.  Shortly thereafter, they will come into the Council Chamber.  The conversation between Cranmer and the Doorkeeper, which begins the original scene, has been cut out completely, as it would make the staging even more problematic in presenting to an audience that is unused to the way Shakespeare does things.]  The Council Chamber.  King Henry and his physician, Doctor Butts, appear on a small balcony overlooking the Chamber.  A curtain on the balcony is open.

King: I wonder if Cranmer got any sleep last night.

Butts: Poor guy!  Do you know they’re making him wait outside in the lobby until he’s called for?

King: Are they really?

Butts: Yes, my lord.  Imagine–the Archbishop of Canterbury–a member of the Council himself.

King: What a lot of nerve they have!

Butts: Not nice at all, sir.  No, indeed.

King: We’ll hear more, Doctor Butts.–Shh!

    (The King draws the curtain closed.  Then, coming into the Council Chamber are the Lord Chancellor, Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, the Lord Chamberlain, Gardiner, and Cromwell, followed by the Doorkeeper.  The Council members sit at a long table.)

Chancellor: Mister Secretary, call the Council to order.

Cromwell: Yes, my lord.–The Council is now in session.  Our business today is the examination of the Archbishop of Canterbury–who apparently is not here.

Gardiner: He’s outside.

Chancellor: Better let him in.–Keeper.

    (The Doorkeeper leaves.  Then Cranmer comes in and remains standing.)

Chancellor: My lord of Canterbury, we have  been given to understand that you have been preaching heresies and have instructed your chaplains throughout the kingdom to do the same, contrary to the law, thereby causing great danger to peace and order throughout the kingdom.

Gardiner: Danger indeed, sir.  And we must put a stop to it before the whole country is infected with this–this illness–that is euphemistically referred to as a Reformation.

Cranmer: My lords, my teachings have always been correct, and I have never done anything to threaten the public peace.  And I challenge my accusers to stand up and say specifically what their accusations are.

Suffolk: We can’t do that with you here because you’re a counsellor yourself.  It’s a matter of protocol.

Gardiner: Yes.  For that reason you’ll be detained in the Tower so we can hear all the evidence against you–and then you’ll understand what deep trouble you’re in.

Cranmer: My, you’re so dedicated to justice, aren’t you, my lord of Winchester?  Full of love and meekness and Christian humility–just as a high churchman should be.  Do whatever you want.  I’ll clear myself.

Gardiner: You are a sectarian!  A nonconformist!  A heretic!

Cromwell: Calm down, sir.  You should be polite.

Gardiner: I do believe, sir, that you are sympathetic to these heretics.  Perhaps you are one yourself.

Cromwell: I am?

Gardiner: Yes.

Cromwell: I perceive that you have a forked tongue like a snake.  Perhaps you are one yourself.

Gardiner: How dare you insult me!

Chancellor: Gentlemen–please!  (A silent pause.)  Ahem.–I believe we are agreed that the Archbishop of Canterbury should be taken to the Tower until the King makes his wishes known to us.–Yes?

All: Yes.  Agreed.

Cranmer: Do I have to go to the Tower?

Gardiner: Of course.  What else did you expect?–Guards!

    (Two Guards come in.)

Cranmer: No!  I will not be judged by you.  I leave it to the King himself.  This is his ring.

    (He shows the ring.)

Chancellor: It is the King’s ring.

Suffolk: Oops!–I warned you guys something like this would happen.

Cromwell: Aha!–Are you all happy now?

    (The King comes in, looking very serious, and sits down.)

Gardiner: Praise God that we are blessed with such a good and wise and noble King!–a true defender of the faith!–who will pass judgment on this vile offender!

King: Gardiner–shut up.–Now, then, who among you believes that the Archbishop of Canterbury is not your equal?

Surrey: My lord, if you please–

King: No, I don’t please.–You men are a disappointment to me.  I expected better from you.  You keep this man–the Archbishop of Canterbury–waiting in the lobby like a servant?  Is that how you use your authority?  I see too much malice here and not enough integrity.  Well, let me tell you, you’re not going to get away with anything underhanded as long as I’m King.

Chancellor (Gently): My lord, I’m sorry if we’ve made a bad impression.  We merely intended to have his Grace detained in the Tower temporarily while we heard the evidence.  There was no malice intended.

King: Good–because I owe his Grace as much gratitude for his love and service as any king ever owed a subject.  So let’s forget all this foolishness and be friends, all right?–My lord of Canterbury, will you grant me a request?

Cranmer: Anything, my lord.

King: There’s a little girl who needs to be baptized, and I want you to be her godfather.

Cranmer: My lord, it would be a great honour.

King: Good.–Now, gentlemen, why don’t you make peace with the godfather of my new daughter.

Gardiner: I will be the first, sir.

    (Gardiner shakes hands with Cranmer, and then all the others do the same.)

King: That’s more like it.  Remember, gentlemen, be good to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and you’ll have a friend for life.–Now come along and share my happiness.

    (They all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 3.  This scene is deleted.

Act 5, Scene 4.  A trumpet flourish.  A Herald comes in and speaks directly  to the audience.  The characters come in as they are announced.

Herald: Let all present know that on this glorious day, September 10, 1533, Princess Elizabeth of England is christened.  God bless our future Queen and all those gathered today in celebration.–The Lord Mayor of London–his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury–his Grace the Duke of Norfolk–his Grace the Duke of Suffolk–the godmothers to the new Princess, her Grace the Duchess of Norfolk (Carrying the baby) and her ladyship the Marchioness of Dorset (Followed by lady Attendants)–and his Majesty King Henry.

    (More trumpets.  The Herald prompts the audience to applaud.)

King: I thank you all.  And when the Princess has learned to speak, she will thank you herself. 

Cranmer: My lord, I shall make a prophecy.

King: Let’s hear it.

Cranmer: The future Queen Elizabeth shall be a model for all to look up to.  She shall be wise and good and mighty, loved by her friends and feared by her enemies.  Under her reign England will be happy, prosperous, and peaceful.  She shall live many years and remain chaste all her life.  And when she joins the saints in heaven, her heir shall be a mighty King [Author’s note: James I, of course],  under whose reign England will flourish and be more glorious and mighty than ever before. 

King: Well!  I like that prophecy, my lord of Canterbury.  And I will be thinking of it happily when I’m on my deathbed.–Now let’s all go see the Queen so she can thank you all.  (To the audience) Tomorrow’s a holiday, so you can take the day off.  Blessings to you all!

    (All leave.  Then another Herald, dressed as a noble, comes in to deliver the Epilogue.)

Noble Herald:

    Henry the Eighth was a jolly King and a singular Prince,

    He lopped off more heads than any other before or since,

    Including two wives, of which he had six.

    The first was Catherine of Aragon,

    Who bore him no sons, so she was gone.

    Anne Boleyn also gave him a daughter,

    Although it was not what he ordered.

    She lost her head sadly,

    Though she hadn’t behaved badly.

    The third was Jane Seymour, the one he loved most.

    She bore him a son and then gave up the ghost.

    His tears still wet upon his sleeves,

    He got fixed up with Anne de Cleves.

    She was no beauty, and that put his romance off–

    He only kissed her on the cheek and never took his pants off.

    His fifth was Catherine Howard, who was quite a hottie,

    But she was adulterous and naughty.

    She lost her head because of her tricks

    And was followed by wife number six.

    King Henry married Catharine Parr,

    By which time he was fat as a car.

    He had oozing sores and suffered from gout,

    And that, my friends, is how he went out.

    He fathered one King and two Queens–

    Edward and Mary, and Elizabeth in between.

    So let’s hear it for the fat guy and forgive him all his sins.

    Shakespeare loved him well enough to write this play for him.

    The world has changed, there’ll never be

    Another King like Hen-er-y.

    His spirit’s watching right above us,

    So let us hear how much you love us.


    Copyright@ 2012 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com


(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/  )

Main Characters

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


Two Gamekeepers

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.

    (They leave.)       

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.

York: Oh?

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: Die!

    (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.

    (He leaves.)

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!

Edward: Yes!

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.

Warwick: Edward!

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.

    (They leave.)    

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?

Others: Aye!

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.

Warwick: Coincidence.

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!

Soldiers: Hurray!

    (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.

    (He leaves.)

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?

Warwick: Yes.

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?

Warwick: Yes.

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.

Bona: Oh!

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.

Warwick: Yes?

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.

    (He leaves.)

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.

    (They leave.) 

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: Right.

    (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.

    (They leave.)  

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.

Mayor: What?

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.

    (A pause.)

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?

George: Well–

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.

Warwick: Apparently.

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.

    (Warwick dies.)

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.

    (They leave.)

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.

Somerset: Aye.

    (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!

Richard: Sure.

    (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.

George: Tower?

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!

George: No.

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.

    (They leave.)

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.

    (He leaves.)

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.

    (He leaves.)


    Copyright@ 2012 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com 


(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

King Henry VI

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester — his uncle

Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester

Queen Margaret

Cardinal of Winchester (a.k.a. Henry Beaufort) — great-uncle to the King

Duke of Somerset (a.k.a. Edmund Beaufort) — the Cardinal’s nephew

Duke of Buckingham (one of two characters named Sir Humphrey Stafford — see *Note below)

Lord Clifford (Thomas, or “Old” Clifford)

Young Clifford — his son John

Richard, Duke of York

Edward Plantagenet and Richard Plantagenet — sons of Richard, Duke of York, and later Edward IV and Richard III

Earl of Salisbury (a.k.a. Richard Neville) — son-in-law to the Salisbury in Part One; also brother-in-law to the Duke of York  

Earl of Warwick (a.k.a. Richard Neville) — Salisbury’s son, and son-in-law to the Warwick in Part One

Duke (Marquis) of Suffolk (a.k.a. William de la Pole)

Jack (or John) Cade — rebel leader

Sir Humphrey Stafford (*Note: This was the 7th Baron Stafford, who was related to the Duke of Buckingham.)

William Stafford — his brother

Lord Scales

Lord Saye (or Say)


Sir John Stanley

Margery (or Marjorie) Jordan — witch

John Hume and John Southwell — priests

Roger Bolingbroke — conjurer

Thomas Horner — armourer to the Duke of York

Peter Thump — Horner’s assistant and one of three Petitioners

Two Other Petitioners

Alexander Iden

Ship’s Captain, Master, Master’s Mate, and Walter Whitmore — pirates

Two Gentlemen — prisoners with Suffolk

Clerk of Chatham

Mayor of Saint Albans

Simon Simpcox and his Wife

George Bevis, John Holland, Dick the Butcher, Smith the Weaver — followers of Cade

Two Murderers

Herald (delivers the Epilogue and the speech in Act 4, Scene 3A)

Gist of the story: These events take place from 1445 (marriage of Henry and Margaret) to 1455 (first Battle of Saint Albans).  King Henry’s court is beset with disunity.  Gloucester is horrified to learn that the deal that brought Margaret to England as Henry’s Queen involves returning lands to the French previously won by Henry V.  Winchester, Somerset, Suffolk, and Buckingham are out to get Gloucester, who is the King’s Protector and the one who really runs things.  Gloucester’s wife is accused of witchcraft and exiled.  Gloucester is accused of various bogus offenses and then murdered.  With Gloucester gone, this court is in big trouble, because Henry is a weak king.  Richard, Duke of York, gets Salisbury and Warwick on his side, because he intends to claim the throne.  York is sent to Ireland to suppress rebels, but before he goes, he arranges with Jack Cade to stir up a rebellion against the King.  The rebellion is suppressed, but York sees that there is considerable discontent with Henry.  York returns with his army, plus the Irish, and claims the throne.  The Wars of the Roses have now broken out for real.  The Yorks defeat the Lancasters at Saint Albans, and as the play ends, the Lancasters are retreating to London.

    (Once again, the reader is cautioned that Shakespeare takes a lot of liberties with historical details for the sake of the story line.  The Yale Shakespeare edition of 1923 has excellent notes on the history.  I have added an Epilogue because the ending needed help.  This is the first modernized version of Henry VI, Part Two ever published.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  The King’s palace in London.  Flourish of trumpets and flourish of oboes to indicate two parties coming in.  From one side: King Henry, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Somerset, the Duke of Buckingham, and the Cardinal of Winchester; from the other side: the Duke of York, the Marquis of Suffolk, Queen Margaret, the Earl of Salisbury, and the Earl of Warwick.  [Author’s note: This Suffolk is the younger brother of the Suffolk who was killed at Agincourt in Henry V.  He was referred to as an earl in Part One and has since been promoted to marquis, one rank below duke.  Everyone else is related to the King in some way.  This is the first meeting of Henry and Margaret, who has just been brought back from France to be Henry’s Queen.  Historically, Margaret was 15 at this time, and Henry was 23.]

Suffolk (Bows to the King): Your most gracious Majesty, I have carried out the mission I was sent to do.  Before the high lords of France, I was your proxy in marriage to Lady Margaret of Anjou.  Now I relinquish the title of husband and present her to you as your lawfully wedded wife.  This is the happiest gift that a lord ever gave to his King–and the most beautiful queen a king ever received.

King: I thank you with all my heart, my lord of Suffolk.  She is just as beautiful as you described her.–Welcome, Queen Margaret–my happiness!  (He kisses her gently.)  Never did a king love his queen more than I love you now.

Queen: And may our love grow day by day as long as we live.  This is the happiest day of my life.

Suffolk (Kneeling): Long live Queen Margaret, England’s happiness!

All the Lords (Kneeling): God bless the Queen!

Queen (Wiping away a tear of joy): Thank you, my lords.

    (A trumpet flourish.  They all rise.)

Suffolk (To Gloucester): My lord of Gloucester, here are the articles of peace between England and France, providing for a truce of eighteen months.

    (He hands Gloucester a document.)

Gloucester: Yes.  Very good.  (He reads aloud)  “It is agreed between King Charles of France and the Marquis of Suffolk, representing King Henry of England, that King Henry shall marry Lady Margaret, daughter of the Duke of Anjou, who shall become Queen of England.  It is further agreed that the lands of Maine and Anjou–”  (He hesitates, looking stunned) —“shall be–”  (He drops the paper.)

King: What’s the matter, uncle?

Gloucester: Sorry–I–I just feel a little sick all of a sudden.

    (Winchester picks up the paper quite cheerfully and finishes reading it.)

Winchester (Reading): “The lands of Maine and Anjou shall be returned to her father–”

    (York, Salisbury, and Warwick exchange astonished looks.)

Winchester (Reading): “And that Lady Margaret is delivered at England’s expense and with no dowry.”

King: Excellent.  Excellent.–My lord of Suffolk, you deserve a reward for this.  Please kneel before me.

    (Suffolk kneels.  The King taps him on the shoulders with his sword.)

King: You are hereby promoted–to Duke of Suffolk.  Arise.

    (Suffolk rises.)

Suffolk: Thank you, my lord!

King (To the Lords): I thank all of you for your kindness.  And now we will have Margaret formally crowned Queen of England.–Come.

    (Henry, Margaret, and Suffolk go out, but Gloucester signals everyone else to remain.)

Gloucester: Am I fucking dreaming or what?  After all we went through fighting in France, and everything my brother fought for, and all the bullshit we’ve been through trying to control the French–we’re giving back Maine and Anjou?  I can’t believe it!

Winchester: Now, now, my lord, don’t exaggerate.  France is still ours–basically.

Gloucester: Basically not.  Not without Maine and Anjou.

Salisbury: That’s practically all of Normandy.

Warwick: Our soldiers died to win those lands.

    [Author’s note: Richard’s speech prefix throughout this play will be York, because we will meet his son Richard later.]

York: Duke of Suffolk!–Should be Puke of Suffolk!  This is the worst deal of all time.  We give up key territories and we get a Queen with no dowry.  When did a King of England ever marry a Queen with no dowry?

Gloucester: And we paid all her expenses here, and Suffolk levied a special tax for it.

Winchester: My Lord Gloucester, I think you’re being entirely too critical.  You should be thinking about the King’s happiness.  After all, he’s your nephew.

Gloucester: Don’t give me that bullshit, Winchester.  You engineered this fucking farce–you and Suffolk together.

Winchester: And we’re proud of it.  And you should mind your language.

Gloucester: It’s not my language you don’t like.  It’s me.  You’ve been getting in my way every chance you could.–But I’m not going to stand here and argue about it.  I’ll just say one thing.–This deal means we lose France.  That’s it. 

    (He leaves angrily.)

Winchester: Well, there goes our Lord Protector in one of his snits.

Buckingham: We all knew he wasn’t your friend.

Winchester: He’s not my friend, and he’s not your friend either–or anyone else’s.  He’s only thinking about his own interests–and by that I mean the throne.  As of this moment, who’s next in line after the King?

Buckingham: He is.

Winchester: Exactly.  So don’t let him fool you the way he fools the common people.  Oh, they think he’s just wonderful, don’cha know.  “God bless Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester!  Our hero!”  And he’s still the Lord Protector.

Buckingham: The King’s twenty-three.  He doesn’t need a Protector any more.

Winchester: Exactly right.

Buckingham: I think it’s about time we put him in his proper place.  If we act together, we can do it.  And Suffolk will join us for sure.

Winchester: Now the Duke of Suffolk!  Yeah, he will for sure.  I think I’ll go have a word with him.

    (Winchester leaves.)

Somerset: Buckingham, just slow down for a minute, okay?  Look, I know Gloucester rubs us the wrong way sometimes, but, uh, I gotta say–(He jerks his thumb toward Winchester’s exit)–my uncle, the Cardinal, has his own agenda.  He’s getting old, but he still thinks about advancement–like Lord Protector.  He’s been trying to throw Gloucester under an oxcart ever since Henry the Fifth died.

Buckingham: Yeah, I think you’re right about that.  The Lord Protector should be–a younger fellow!–like you or me, right?  Ha, ha!

Somerset: You got it!–Ha, ha!

    (Buckingham and Somerset leave.  There is a pause as Salisbury, Warwick, and York look at each other seriously.)

Salisbury: I have a good title for that soap opera we just saw–“The Proud and the Ambitious.”

Warwick: You can say that again.

Salisbury: I’m not getting into that sort of thing.  We have to put England first.  We have to do the right thing for the country.

York: Yes.  Absolutely.

Salisbury: Gloucester has always been a good man.  But that Cardinal–God almighty!–he’s the lowest sort of high churchman I’ve ever met. 

Warwick: Yes.

Salisbury: You, my son, are second only to Gloucester in the respect the people have for you.–And you, my lord of York, stand very tall with the people for all your service in France.  The three of us have to use our influence to check the ones who are proud–and I mean Suffolk and Winchester–and the ones who are ambitious–and that’s Somerset and Buckingham.

Warwick: Yes.  For the good of England.

York: Amen to that.

Salisbury: Son, let’s go to the coronation.

    (Salisbury and Warwick leave.  York speaks directly to the audience.)

York: For the good of England–which rightfully belongs to me.  That’s why I’m more pissed off about Maine and Anjou than anyone–even Gloucester.  But I’m going to bide my time.  For the moment, I’ll be like the two Richard Nevilles–Salisbury and Warwick.  I’ll stay friends with Gloucester.  But I can tell things are going to break down around here.  Too many people are out to get Gloucester.  If anything happens to him, the Lancasters’ days are numbered, because Gloucester’s the only bit of glue that’s keeping their straw house from collapsing.  Henry doesn’t know what’s happening half the time.  He’s in a bubble.  I’m just going to wait for my opportunity, and then I’ll make my move for the throne–which the Lancasters stole from my mother’s people, the Mortimers.  And then England will get the strong King it deserves.  England will be ruled by the House of York.

    (He leaves.)

    [Author’s note: York’s claim to the throne was based on his father’s marriage to Anne Mortimer, the sister of Edmund Mortimer, who should have been King after Richard II.  For a more detailed explanation, see the previous play in this series, Henry VI, Part One (Act 2, Scene 4).]

Act 1, Scene 2.  The Duke of Gloucester’s house in London.  Gloucester comes in with his wife, Eleanor, the Duchess.

Duchess: You’re distracted today, Humphrey.  What’s the matter?

    (He shrugs as if he doesn’t want to talk about it.)

Duchess: Maybe it’s the King.  We all know he’s weak.  He’s not like your brother–or you.–Perhaps you’re thinking about the crown.  You could have it if you wanted it.  I’d help you.

Gloucester: I don’t want to hear that kind of talk, Eleanor.  Do you think I’d overthrow my own nephew?  I wouldn’t do that.–Anyway, that’s not why I’m distracted.

Duchess: Then what is it?

Gloucester: I had a dream.

Duchess: About what?

Gloucester: I dreamed that someone broke my official staff in two.  It might have been Winchester.  And on the two broken ends were the heads of Somerset and Suffolk.  What it means, I have no idea.

Duchess: Oh, it’s nothing.  It only means that whoever tries to do you harm will be punished for it.  That’s obvious enough.–But I had a dream, too.  I dreamed that I was in Westminster Abbey.  And I was wearing the Queen’s crown.  And Henry and Margaret were kneeling before me.

Gloucester: That’s a terrible dream!  You should be ashamed!  You’re the second-highest ranking woman in the Kingdom.  Isn’t that enough for you?

Duchess: I think it’s normal for people to–look upward, shall we say.

Gloucester: What do you want to do, disgrace me?  Do you want people to think I’m after the throne?  I never want to hear another word about it!

Duchess: Well–if that’s the scolding I get just for relating a dream, I’ll just keep them to myself from now on.

Gloucester: Ohh–I’m sorry.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lord, the King and Queen are going hunting at Saint Albans, and he wants you to join them.

Gloucester: Yes.  All right.–Eleanor, want to come along?

Duchess: Yes.  I don’t mind.  But you go on, and I’ll catch up with you.

Gloucester: All right.

    (Gloucester and the Messenger leave.  She makes sure he’s gone, then calls offstage.)

Duchess: Sir John!  Are you there?  We’re alone.

    (Sir John Hume, a priest, comes in.  [Author’s note: “Sir” was a form of address commonly used with priests.]  Hume comes in, smiling.)

Hume: God save your Highness!

Duchess: Highness?  I’m not the Queen.  I’m only a duchess.

Hume: That could change.

Duchess: So!  Have you been to see them?

Hume (Teasingly): Who, madam?

Duchess: You know–the sorcerers–Margery Jordan and Roger Bolingbroke.

Hume: Ah–yes.  I have. 

Duchess: And?  Will they help me?

Hume: Yes.  They’ve promised to conjure up a spirit who will answer all your questions.

Duchess: Good!  I’ll think about what I want to ask, and when I get back from Saint Albans, we’ll arrange a meeting.–Here.  This is a little something for you.  (She gives him some money.)

Hume: You are very kind, madam.

Duchess: Now I must go.

    (She leaves.)

Hume: Pretty good.  I get money from the Duchess to introduce her to sorcerers.  And I get money from Winchester and Suffolk to encourage the Duchess’s morbid interest in sorcery.  Of course, sorcery is illegal.  The Duchess will end up in big trouble, and Gloucester’s reputation will be shot.  Personally, I have no interest in politics.  I just like money.

    (He leaves.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  Outside the King’s palace in London.  Three Petitioners come in, including Peter.  [Author’s note: In this context, a petitioner is someone with a request, complaint, or appeal of any sort, to be delivered to the King.  The petition would be in writing and would be rolled up like a scroll.  A similar scene occurs in Julius Caesar.

First Pet: We’ll all wait together for the Duke of Gloucester to show up, and then we’ll give him our petitions.

Second Pet: Yes, yes.  He’s a good man.  He’s fair.

Peter: That he is.  Any problem or complaint, you can always bring it to him, and he’ll do the right thing.

    (Suffolk and Queen Margaret come in.)

First Pet: Here he is.

Second Pet: No–wait.  That’s not Gloucester.  That’s Suffolk

Suffolk: What do we have here–petitions?

First Pet: We were waiting for the Lord Protector, sir.

Queen (Surprised): You’re bringing petitions to Lord Gloucester?

First Pet: Yes, madam.

Queen: What’s yours about?

First Pet: I have a complaint against John Goodman, the Cardinal’s man, for keeping my house and my lands and my wife from me.

Suffolk (Condecendingly): Well, well!–That would be annoying, wouldn’t it?  (To the Second Petitioner) And what’s your problem?

Second Pet: Em–

    (Suffolk snatches the petition and reads it.)

Suffolk (Reading): “Against the Duke of Suffolk for putting a fence around the picnic ground at Melford.”  (With exaggerated severity) What do you mean by this, you troublemaker!

Second Pet: Please, sir–it’s from the township.  I’m only delivering it for them.

Suffolk (To Peter): And what’s your calamity?

Peter: My lord, it’s a complaint against my master, Thomas Horner, armourer to the Duke of York.  Thomas Horner said that the Duke of York was the rightful heir to the throne, and that King Henry was a usurper.

Queen: What!

    (Suffolk is grim.  He beckons to a Servant offstage.  The Servant comes in.)

Suffolk (To the Servant): Take this man in to see the King and send a messenger for Thomas Horner at the Duke of York’s.

Servant: Yes, my lord.

    (The Servant leaves with Peter.)

Queen: As for you two, if you have petitions–(She grabs the petitions and tears them up)–address them to the King, not to the Lord Protector.

Petitioners (Meekly): Yes, madam.

    (The Petitioners leave.)

Queen: Is this the way you do things here in England?  Who’s in charge around here–the King or the Duke of Gloucester?  

Suffolk: Ah, well, heh, heh–You hit the nail on the head, madam.  The King wears the crown, but his Uncle Humphrey is the one who does the real managing.

Queen (Flirtatiously): You know, Suffolk, you made quite an impression in France.  All the ladies thought you were very handsome.  And I simply assumed the King would be more or less like you.  But I was mistaken.  He’s not the sort of man a woman can get excited about.  Oh, he’s a nice man, of course.  But he’s more interested in his Bible and his books than anything else.  He’s more cut out to be a Pope than a king.

Suffolk: Be patient, madam.  Remember when I first arranged your marriage to the King?  I promised you I’d be your friend and confidant.

Queen: Which I’ve always appreciated.

Suffolk: Trust me, madam.  Everything will work out for you.

Queen: You’re the only one I do trust.  Everyone else I find insufferable.  Not just Gloucester, but that nasty Cardinal, and his nephew Somerset, and Buckingham, and York.  They all seem to have more say about everything than the King does.

Suffolk: They’re minor annoyances compared to the Nevilles–Salisbury and Warwick.  Those two I’d keep my eye on.  [Author’s note: The Nevilles were on the Lancaster branch of the family tree but were descended from John of Gaunt’s second wife, Catherine.  So they were half-cousins to King Henry.]

Queen: Well, the one I really hate the most is Gloucester’s wife, Eleanor. She acts like she’s the queen bee.  And she looks down on me because my father was broke until I married Henry.

Suffolk: Don’t worry about the Duchess.  She’s about to get her wings clipped.

Queen: Oh?

Suffolk: Like I said–trust me.  And as for York, this petition about his armourer is going to put him under a dark cloud.  You just wait, madam.  One by one, we’ll get rid of all the people you hate, and you’ll have all the power you want.

    (A trumpet flourish.  King Henry comes in with York and Somerset, the three of them in close conversation; also Gloucester, Eleanor, Buckingham, Salisbury, Warwick, and Winchester.)

King (To York and Somerset): Really, it doesn’t matter to me which of you is Regent of France.

York: If you don’t think I did a good job before in France, don’t pick me.

Somerset: If you think York deserves it more than I do, pick him, by all means.

Warwick (To Somerset): He does deserve it more.

Winchester (To Warwick): That’s for your superiors to judge.

Warwick: You’re not my superior on the battlefield.

Buckingham: Everyone here is above you, Warwick.

Warwick: That could change.  Just wait.

Salisbury (To Warwick): Save it.  (To Winchester) And just why do you think Somerset should be Regent of  France?

Queen: Because the King will choose him, that’s why.

Gloucester: The King’s old enough to speak for himself.

Queen: Then he doesn’t need a Protector, does he?

Gloucester: He can let me go if he wants to.

Suffolk: Why don’t you just do us all a favour and resign, Gloucester?  I don’t see that you’ve done any good anyway.  The French have more power now than they did before.  And you step on people as if you were King.

Winchester (To Gloucester): And you’ve taxed the people too much, and you take too much from the church.

Somerset: You live too high, Gloucester.  You cost the country too much.

Buckingham: And you’ve exceeded your powers in punishing people.

Queen: And I’ve heard that you sell positions in France.

    (Gloucester stalks out angrily.  Then the Queen drops her glove in front of Eleanor, the Duchess.)

Queen (Rudely): Would you pick that up for me, please?

    (The Duchess gives her a flash of indignation, then leans down to pick up the glove.  The Queen then hits the Duchess on the head and pretends it was an accident.)

Queen: Oh!  How clumsy of me!  Did I hurt you?

Duchess (Through clenched teeth): You French bitch.  I ought to claw your eyes out.

King: Auntie!–Please.  She didn’t mean it.

Duchess: Nephew, open your eyes.  She’s got you dangling on a string.  You don’t know what’s what any more.  (To the Queen) Nobody strikes the Duchess of Gloucester and gets away with it.

    (The Duchess leaves in anger.)

Buckingham (Aside to Winchester): I’ll just keep an eye on her.

    (Buckingham goes out.  Then Gloucester returns, more composed.)

Gloucester: Now that I’m calm, perhaps we can get down to business.  And as for your various criticisms and accusations, if you can prove them, I will submit to the laws of the land.  But God knows I’m true to my King and my country.  (To the King) As to the Regent of France, York is the most suitable.

Suffolk: Hold on.  Before we decide that, I have a good reason why York shouldn’t be Regent.

York: Yeah.  For one thing, I won’t kiss your ass and tell you how brilliant you are.  And for another thing, if I got the job, it would turn out just like last time, when Somerset did everything he could to undermine me.  He’d do it again, and the French would be the beneficiaries. 

Warwick: Damn straight.

Suffolk: Shut up.

Warwick: Why should I?

    (Guards come in with Thomas Horner and Peter.)

Suffolk: This is why.–This is York’s armourer.  He’s accused of treason.  And as for York, he may have some explaining to do.

York: Hey, what is this?

King: What’s this all about, Suffolk?

Suffolk: Your Majesty, this guy (Pointing to Peter) says that this guy (Pointing to Horner) said–that York is the rightful heir to the throne and your Majesty is a usurper.

King (To Horner): Did you say that?

Horner: I swear to your Majesty I never said any such thing. 

Peter: I swear on me mother’s grave, sir, he did say it–one evening when we were in the armoury polishing my lordship’s armour.

York (To Horner): You’ll hang for this!  (To the King) Hang him, my lord.

Horner (To the King): Peter’s lying, my lord.  He’s a bad guy.  Always was.

King (To Gloucester): I don’t know who to believe.  What should we do?

Gloucester: Well, first thing–we can’t send York to France as Regent.  We’ll have to send Somerset.  And as for these two (Indicating Horner and Peter) let them duel it out, since they’re accusing each other.

King: Yes, I suppose that’s reasonable.–Somerset, I appoint you Regent of France.

Somerset: Thank you, your Majesty.

King: And these two fellows will settle their dispute by combat.

Horner: That’s fine with me, my lord.

Peter (To Gloucester): Oh, no, my lord!  I can’t do combat!  I don’t know how!  And I have an awful pain in me elbow–since yesterday, sir!  And I get migraines and–

Gloucester: Well, you can have a migraine and a sore elbow, or you can be hanged–one or the other.

Peter: Oh, have pity, sir!

King: I rely on my uncle’s advice, as always.  These two will sit in prison until their day of combat, which will be the end of next month.–My cousin of Somerset, we’ll see you off.–Come.

    (They all leave.)

Act 1, Scene 4.  Evening in the garden of the Duke of Gloucester.  At the rear of the stage there is an elevated platform, partially screened, something like a tree house.  The witch Margery Jordan and the conjurer Roger Bolingbroke come in with the priests John Hume and John Southwell.

Hume: The Duchess is expecting to see something, so you’d better put on a good show.

Bolingbroke: We will, don’t worry.  Why don’t you take her up there (Indicating the platform) and let her watch.

Hume: Right.

    (Hume leaves.)

Bolingbroke: Okay.–Margery, you lie on the ground, and the spirit will speak through you.–Southwell, you’ll copy down the answers.

    (Jordan lies down.  Then the Duchess appears on the platform with Hume.)

Duchess (To Bolingbroke, in a loud whisper): Are you going to conjure up the spirit now?

Bolingbroke: Yes, madam.  Leave it to us.  We know what we’re doing.

    (Bolingbroke now goes through some preliminary actions just for effect–waving a wand, or speaking incantations, or sprinkling powder, etc.  There is some lightning and thunder.)

Bolingbroke: I call to the spirit Ashmenaga!–Ashmenaga!

Jordan: This is Ashmenaga.  Ask me any question.

Bolingbroke: What is the fortune of the King?

Jordan: There is a Duke–who lives–and he shall depose Henry–or be removed by Henry–and one shall outlive the other–and die a violent death.

    (Southwell is writing down the answers.)

Bolingbroke: What is the fortune of the Duke of Suffolk?

Jordan: He shall die at sea.

Bolingbroke: And what about the Duke of Somerset?

Jordan: He should avoid castles.–That is all.  I will say no more.

Bolingbroke: Then return to hell, thou spirit Ashme–(He’s forgotten the spirit’s name)–Ashme–Ashmegaly!

    (More lightning and thunder.  Then the Duke of York, Duke of Buckingham, and Guards, including Sir Humphrey Stafford, come in.)

York (To the Guards): Grab these people!  They’re under arrest for practising sorcery.  (To the Duchess, above) Dabbling in the occult, are you, madam?  Wait till the King finds out–and your husband.

Duchess: Oh!  What kind of trick is this!  How dare you accuse me!

York: You’d best come down–with your friend.

    (The Duchess and Hume descend.  Buckingham takes the paper from Southwell and looks it over quickly.)

Buckingham (To York): This is evidence.  (To the Guards) Lock these people up.  (To the Duchess) You’re coming with us, madam.  (To Stafford) Stafford, you take charge of her.

    (All leave, except York and Buckingham.)

York: Good job, Buckingham.  The King will get a report on this, and Gloucester will probably be standing there when he gets it–ha!

Buckingham: Let me be the one to take it to him.

York: Sure thing.

Buckingham: Thank you! 

    (Buckingham leaves.  [Author’s note: Despite the impression given by this scene, Buckingham was to remain loyal to the Lancasters during the Wars of the Roses, as the rest of the play will demonstrate.])

York (Calling): Yo!–Servant!

    (A Servant appears.)

Servant: My lord of York.  Yes, sir?

York: Tell Lord Salisbury and Lord Warwick that they’re invited to dinner at my place tomorrow night.

Servant: Yes, my lord.

    (They leave separately.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  Hunting grounds at Saint Albans.  King Henry, Queen Margaret, Gloucester, Winchester, and Suffolk come in, with one or two Falconers holding falcons.

King: I say, this is a lot of fun, hunting with falcons.–Margaret, do they do this in France?

Queen: Yes, but mainly to keep down the pigeon population.  You have too many pigeons in England.  I don’t know why you tolerate them.

King: Ah, but the pigeon is so much like the dove.  And the dove is the bird of peace.

Gloucester (Ironically): Just like our Lord Cardinal of Winchester–a bird of peace.

Winchester: Your falcon is particularly aggressive, Gloucester.  You must have trained him yourself.

Gloucester: I’m a true sportsman, sir.  I love to compete, but I always play fair.

Winchester: As long as you win.  For me, the greatest rewards are in heaven.  For you, they are on earth.

Gloucester: Meaning what, precisely?

Winchester: I mean the crown, of course.  Perhaps your falcon will seize that next.

Gloucester: Certain species of snakes spit their poison.  Are you related to any of them?

Suffolk: Perhaps the truth seems like poison to our Lord Protector.

Gloucester: You should know your place, Suffolk.

Queen: And you should know yours, Gloucester.

King: Please, my dear.  You know how quarrels upset me.  I just want all the nobles to be at peace.  We should all be peacemakers, like our Lord and Saviour.

Winchester: Indeed, my lord.  I’m always ready to make peace.

    (He puts his hand on his sword for Gloucester’s benefit.  The two of them edge closer to each other to speak privately.)

Winchester: Shall I make my peace with our Lord Protector?

Gloucester: Any time, anywhere.

Winchester: Tonight.  The east side of the grove.  Just you and me.

Gloucester: I’ll be there.

King: Uncle, what are you talking about?

Gloucester: Hunting with falcons, my lord.

Winchester: Yes, my lord.

King: All right.  As long as everyone is getting along.  That’s all I care about.

    (Shouting is heard offstage: “It’s a miracle!  It’s a miracle!”  Citizens come in, carrying Simon Simpcox in a chair, plus the Mayor and Simpcox’s Wife.)

Citizen: A miracle, my lords!  A miracle!

Suffolk: What miracle?  What are you talking about?

Citizen: This man was blind until a half hour ago.  He got his sight at Saint Alban’s shrine.

King: Praise God!  I want to hear all about it!

    (The Citizens place Simpcox’s chair before the King.)

King: What is your name, sir?

Simpcox: Simon Simpcox, my lord.

King: Tell me about your miracle.

Simpcox: I was born blind, my lord.  But now I can see.

Simpcox’s Wife: I can vouch for that, my lord.  He’s been blind since birth.

Gloucester: Who are you?

Simpcox’s Wife: His wife, sir.

Gloucester: And you’ve known him since birth, have you?

Queen (To Simpcox): And why did you come to Saint Albans, Simpcox?

Simpcox: Saint Alban himself called to me in my sleep, madam.  He said, “Simon Simpcox, come to my shrine and I will help you.”

Simpcox’s Wife: Yes, yes, it’s true!  I heard the voice myself!

Winchester: Why are you being carried?  Can’t you walk?

Simpcox: I am lame, sir.

Suffolk: Since birth?

Simpcox: No, sir.  I fell from a tree.

Simpcox’s Wife: A plum tree, it was.

Gloucester: You were blind, but you were climbing a tree? 

Simpcox: Yes, sir.  It was a long time ago.  I wanted to get some plums for my wife.  She’s very fond of plums.

Gloucester: I see.  Now, then, Simpcox, let me see your eyes.

    (Gloucester examines Simpcox’s eyes.  Then he points to articles of his own clothing.)

Gloucester: What colour is this?

Simpcox: Red–cranberry red.

Gloucester: And this?

Simpcox: Forest green.

Gloucester: And this?

Simpcox: Golden yellow.

Gloucester: And this?

Simpcox: Coal black.

Gloucester: Now tell me, Simpcox.  If you only just got your sight for the first time a half hour ago, how is it that you know the names of colours so specifically?

Simpcox: Em–well–

Simpcox’s Wife: It’s a miracle, my lord!

Gloucester: Indeed.  Perhaps Saint Alban will cure your husband’s lameness as well.  Shall we find out?

Simpcox: Oh!

Gloucester (To the Citizens): Who’s got a whip?

    (A Citizen gives him a whip.)

Gloucester (To the Mayor): Let me borrow your hat, my Lord Mayor.

    (He takes the Mayor’s hat and puts it on the ground before Simpcox.)

Gloucester (To Simpcox): Stand up.

    (Two Citizens help Simpcox stand up.)

Gloucester: Now, Simpcox–jump over the Mayor’s hat, or I’ll give you a good whipping.

Simpcox: Oh, but sir!  Believe me, I’m lame.  I came here for charity, you see.

Citizens: He’s a fake!  Whip him!

    (Gloucester whips Simpcox, who runs out screaming.  The Citizens laugh and shout “A miracle!  A miracle!”)

King: Tsk! Tsk!–Shameful!  Such dishonesty!

Gloucester (Giving the Mayor his hat back): My Lord Mayor, I suggest you run Simpcox and his wife out of town immediately.

Simpcox’s Wife: I’m sorry, sir.  We just needed the money, that’s all.

    (The Mayor and Citizens take Simpcox’s Wife and leave.)

Winchester: The Duke of Gloucester has performed a miracle.

Suffolk: Yes.  He made the lame fly away–like that!  (Snaps his fingers.)

Gloucester (Contemptuously): That’s nothing compared to you two.  You made Maine and Anjou fly away–like that!  (Snaps his fingers.)

    (Buckingham comes in.)

King: My cousin of Buckingham–what a surprise!

Buckingham: My lord, I’m sorry, but I have some rather upsetting news.

King: Oh?  What is it?

Buckingham: It concerns the Duchess of Gloucester.

Gloucester: My wife?  What about her?

Buckingham: Well, it seems that Lady Eleanor was caught with some other people engaging in witchcraft.

Others: What!

Buckingham: Specifically, she was seeking to learn information from a demonic spirit concerning your Majesty and certain other lords–how they would die, and so on.

Winchester (Aside to Gloucester): I guess I won’t be seeing you tonight. 

    (Gloucester is too shocked to reply.)

King: This is terrible!–Uncle, can you explain this?

Gloucester: No, my lord.  I’m totally at a loss.–I hope to God it isn’t true.  If it is, I’m through with her, and let the law deal with her.

King: Dear, dear, dear!–Well–we’ll stay here tonight.  Tomorrow we’ll go back to London and try to get to the bottom of this.  Whatever the truth is, we’ll find it out and–I suppose–we’ll just have to deal with it.

    (They all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  London.  The Duke of York’s garden.  York comes in with Salisbury and Warwick.  [Author’s note: Salisbury and Warwick already know the family history that York relates to them, but Shakespeare has to make it clear to the audience.]

York: I want to explain my  claim to the throne.  I want you to understand, because I want you on my side.

Warwick: Cousin, if your claim is valid, we’ll stand by you.  [Author’s note: In Shakespeare, the term “cousin” in used loosely.  York is Salsibury’s brother-in-law, and Warwick is Salisbury’s son.]

Salisbury: Yes.

York: Let’s start with Edward the Third.  We’re all on his tree.  There were five sons that lived to adulthood.  In order–Edward the Black Prince, Lionel of Antwerp, John of Gaunt, Edmund of Langley, and Thomas of Woodstock.  The Black Prince died before Edward the King, so when Edward died, the crown passed to the Prince’s son, who was Richard the Second.  He was the last person on that branch of the tree.  After him, the crown should have passed to Lionel’s branch–specifically, to Edmund Mortimer.  But Henry Bolingbroke, Gaunt’s son, overthrew Richard and stole the crown, and Richard died in prison.  Bolingbroke was Henry the Fourth, the first King of the House of Lancaster.  Then Henry the Fifth, and now Henry the Sixth.  My father, the Earl of Cambridge, married Anne Mortimer, Edmund’s sister–my mother.  That puts me on Lionel’s branch of the tree–ahead of the the Lancasters.  Edmund made me his heir before he died.  So I have every right to claim the throne.  Do you see?

Warwick (To Salisbury): He’s right, father.

Salisbury: Yes.  I agree.–Richard, you are the rightful King of England.  I’ll stand by you all the way.  I swear it.

Warwick: So will I.

    (They shake hands solemnly.)

York: I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Of course, I’m not King yet.  The Lancasters won’t be overthrown without a fight, and I’m not ready for that yet.  For the time being, we have to keep our intentions secret and be patient and wait for the right opportunity.  Gloucester’s the main obstacle, but I think he’ll be out of our way before long.  As for everyone else, I expect they’ll destroy each other trying to replace him.  We’ll just stand back and watch.  And Henry’s not a problem.  He’s weak.  Margaret has more guts than he does. 

Salisbury: You’re right about that.

Warwick: We’ll put you on the throne, cousin.  You can count on it.

York: And you can count on big rewards when that day comes.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  A courtroom.  The King, Queen, Gloucester, Suffolk, Buckingham, and Winchester come in first, followed by the Duchess of Gloucester, Margery Jordan, Southwell, Hume, and Bolingbroke, with Guards; finally, Richard, Salisbury, and Warwick.

King: Duchess of Gloucester.

    (She steps forward.)

King: Dame Eleanor Cobham–I am greatly saddened that my own aunt would be involved with witchcraft.  This is a serious crime.–You four–Jordan, Southwell, Hume, and Bolingbroke–I sentence you to death.–To you, madam, I show mercy.  You will do three days of penance in public.  After that, you will be banished to the Isle of Man, in the custody of Sir John Stanley.  (To the Guards) Take them away.

    (All the guilty are taken out.)

King (To Gloucester): I’m sorry, uncle.

Gloucester: The sentence is fair, my lord.  What hurts me most is to be dishonoured in my old age.–May I be excused?

King: Yes, uncle.  Just leave your official staff.  (York, Salisbury, and Warwick flash a wink at each other.)  I don’t need you to be my Protector any more.  But, of course, I still love you as my uncle.

Queen (Harshly): The King’s a grown man, Gloucester.  Just leave the staff.

Gloucester (To Henry): Your father gave this to me, not as an instrument of power, but as a symbol of trust, honour, and responsibility.  I only hope that the hands that hold it next treat it the same way.

    (Gloucester puts the staff down in front of Henry and leaves.  Margaret picks it up, admires it briefly, and hands it to the King.)

Suffolk (Aside): How the mighty have fallen.

York: Let’s move on.  (To the King) Your Majesty, today’s the day that Horner and Peter have to do their combat.

Queen: Oh, goody!  I’ve been waiting for this.

King: It’s a sad thing, but it must be done–although I do hate violence.–Everyone make space for the combatants.–I believe they’re fighting with staves.  Is that right, my lord of York?

York: Yes, my lord.

    (The stage is cleared.  York signals, and the combatants are brought in–first Horner and a few of his friends, then Peter and a few of his friends.  They are both carrying staves.  Horner is drunk and looking confident, and his friends are giving him more wine.  Peter is terrified and does not accept the wine his friends are offering him.)

Friends of Horner: Have another drink–ha, ha!

Horner: Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I’ll be pissing it out later on Peter’s body–ha!

Peter: Oh, God save me!

Friends of Peter: Take a drink.  It’ll give you courage.

Peter: No, no.  I’m too nauseous.

Salisbury: Enough drinking.  Let’s get on with it.–You–what’s your name?

Peter: Peter.

Salisbury: Peter what?

Peter: Thump.

Salisbury: Thump?

Horner: As in–thump!  (He makes a gesture with his stave, as if striking Peter on the head.  Horner’s friends laugh.)

Salisbury: And your name is?

Horner: Thomas Horner–hic!–And I’ll punish this bastard for his false and dirty lies against me!

    (Salisbury positions Horner and Peter for combat and then steps back.)

Salisbury: Fight!

    (Horner and Peter fight.  Horner is clumsy and chases Peter.  Their friends are cheering them.  Peter strikes a lucky blow to Horner’s head.  Horner falls.)

Horner (Dying): I–confess–treason–God forgive me–

    (He dies.)

York: Well done, Peter.  Never drink and duel, eh?–Ha, ha!

Peter (Looking up): Thank you, God!

King: Well, that settles the matter.  God always protects the innocent.  Horner was guilty of treason and Peter was telling the truth.  (To Peter)  Come with us, Peter, and we’ll give you a little reward.

Peter: Oh, thank you, sir!

    (All leave, some carrying Horner’s body.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  A London street.  Gloucester is pacing back and forth slowly.  He is dressed in black.  The Duchess comes in, barefoot, dressed in sackcloth, and carrying a candle.  She is escorted by the Sheriff and Officers, plus Sir John Stanley.  [Author’s note: A mistake by Shakespeare.  It would have been Sir Thomas Stanley.]

Gloucester: Eleanor!

Duchess: Look at me now, Humphrey.  Everyone jeers at me.  I wish I were dead.

Gloucester: I don’t know what to say.  My heart is broken.

Duchess: You shouldn’t have come out here to meet me.  My disgrace touches you, too.

Gloucester: Try not to think about it.

Duchess: What else can I think about?  After such a humiliation, there’s nothing to look forward to except death.  But you, Humphrey–you must think about your own safety.  You have enemies.

Gloucester: Oh, you mean Winchester?  Never mind about him.

Duchess: Not just Winchester.–Suffolk–York–even the Queen.  They’re out to get you.

Gloucester: I’ve never done anything wrong.  Why should I worry?

Duchess: That doesn’t matter.  They’ll resort to anything to get rid of you.  You must be careful of them.

Gloucester: Don’t worry about me.  You just try to take one day at a time.  The worst will be over soon enough.  I want you to be strong.

    (A Herald comes in.)

Herald: My lord of Gloucester, you are summoned to his Majesty’s Parliament, to be held at Bury Saint Edmunds on the first of next month.

Gloucester: Parliament?  Nobody told me about any Parliament.–All right, never mind.  I’ll be there.  [Author’s note: This Parliament is a King’s assembly, not the sort of Parliament we think of today.]

    (The Herald leaves.)

Gloucester (To the Sheriff): Sheriff, don’t keep her out here any longer than she’s supposed to be.

Sheriff: I’m finished with her, sir.  Sir John Stanley is in charge of her now.

Gloucester (To Stanley): I expect you to be kind to her.

Stanley: She’ll be just fine, sir.  I promise you.

    (Gloucester, holding back tears, gives his wife a hug and leaves quickly.)

Duchess (After his departure): Goodbye.

Sheriff: Madam, I leave you now.  I hope you aren’t angry with me.

Duchess: No, Sheriff.  You have done you duty.  Goodbye.

Sheriff: Good luck, madam.

    (The Sheriff leaves with his Officers. Stanley  takes the candle from her, blows it out, and throws it away.)

Stanley: Madam, you can change into proper clothes now, and we’ll be on our way to the Isle of Man.

Duchess: Yes, Stanley.  I’ve always wanted to visit the Isle of Man.  They say it’s very nice this time of year.

    (They leave.)   

Act 3, Scene 1.  The Abbey at Bury Saint Edmunds.  A trumpet flourish.  The King, Queen, Cardinal of Winchester, Suffolk, York, Buckingham, Salisbury, Warwick, and Attendants come in to the Parliament.

King: Gloucester’s not here?  It’s not like him to be late.

Queen: He’s become rather surly of late.  I’d be careful of him if I were you.  After all, he’s next in line to the throne.  You should regard him as a threat.–Am I right, Suffolk?

Suffolk: I agree with you, madam.  And I think he put his wife up to that witchcraft business because he wanted to learn anything he could that would be to his advantage.  There’s a lot more to him than meets the eye.

King: Oh, I don’t think so.

Winchester: He’s punished people very harshly for small offenses.  God knows what he would do if he ever became King.

York: He collected a lot of tax money to pay for our soldiers in France, and a lot of it has never been accounted for. 

Buckingham: And those are just the things we know about.  Imagine what things we don’t know about.

Winchester (To the King): My lord, we only bring these matters up out of concern for you.

King: I appreciate that, of course–all of you.  But I really don’t think my uncle has done anything bad.  He’s not capable of any sort of wickedness.  He’s always been kind to me, and very helpful.

Queen: It’s all a facade.  It’s his way of duping people.  And he’s good at it.  The commoners all love him because they’re too simple-minded to see below the surface.

    (Somerset comes in.)

Somerset: Your Majesty.

King: Cousin of Somerset.  What’s the news from France?

Somerset: It’s bad, my lord.  (He hesitates.) We’ve lost all our territories to the French.

    (The King is momentarily silent.  He looks weak and confused.)

King: I can only think–that it must be God’s will.

York (Aside to the audience): Fucking hell.   Those are my territories.–And he’s a fucking wimp.

    (Gloucester comes in.)

Gloucester: I’m sorry I’m late, my lord.

King: I’m glad you’re here, uncle.–Em–there’s been some talk–em–it’s–how shall I put it?–em–

Suffolk: Gloucester, you’re under arrest for treason.

Gloucester: What!  What are you talking about–treason!  That’s ridiculous!

York: My Lord Gloucester, it appears that you’ve held back certain funds that were meant to pay our soldiers in France–and that’s why we’ve lost our territories.

Gloucester: Oh, really!  Well, it so happens that I spent my own money to help pay the soldiers in France so that we wouldn’t have to tax the people.

Winchester: That’s just what I’d expect you to say.

York: And furthermore, you’ve inflicted cruel and unusual punishment, which is a disgrace to the country. 

Gloucester: I’ve done no such thing.  I’ve never been cruel to anyone.  I’ve dealt with murderers harshly, but they deserved it.

Suffolk: There are other things that I don’t think you can explain away so easily, so consider yourself arrested.  The Lord Cardinal will take charge of you until your trial.

    (Gloucester looks at all of them silently for a moment, while King Henry looks helpless.)

Gloucester (To the King): What a bad time to be a King–to be surrounded by villains like these.  If England could be saved by my death, I’d die gladly.  But my death–if that’s what awaits me–will only be the beginning.  Ambition and wickedness feed together, and their stomachs are never satisfied.  (To the Queen) And you, madam, have been in on this all along.  My wife tried to warn me about you.  I’m sure you’ll have no trouble packing the court with false witnesses against me.

Winchester (To the King): Listen to him–the way he attacks those who are thinking only of your well-being.

Suffolk (To the King): The Queen herself, my lord–the noblest lady in England!

Queen: Thank you, Suffolk.  You are gallant.

Buckingham (To the King): Don’t believe what Gloucester says, my lord.  He’s trapped, and he knows it.

Winchester (To the Attendants): Escort the Duke of Gloucester to a cell.

Gloucester (To the King): I’m not afraid for myself, my lord.  I’m afraid for you.

King: Uncle–I–I just–I don’t know what to think.

Suffolk: My lord, can all of us be wrong?  We are all men of experience, and we agree.

Queen: Yes, my lord.  Think.

King: I’m trying to.

    (Winchester nods to the Attendants, and they take Gloucester out.)

King (Calling after Gloucester): I’m sorry!–Margaret, I love my uncle.  I just can’t believe–

    (He looks at the Lords, but they are all stone-faced.  Margaret is the coldest of all.  The suggestion to the audience is that she controls him.)

Queen: You should lie down and rest, my lord.

    (The King leaves, with Salisbury and Warwick following.)

Queen: The King is too close to his uncle to see him as we do.

Winchester: Quite so, madam.

Queen: It would be best if Gloucester were–out of the picture–if you gather my meaning.

Winchester: I do, madam.  But it should be done through the legal process.  We have to think of how the people will take it.

Suffolk: What if the legal process is–unsuccessful?  The  King still loves Gloucester.  The people still love him.  And as far as real evidence goes–well-what is there?

York: So what are you saying?  You don’t want him to die?

Suffolk: Of course, I do.  I just don’t see any point in being all fussy and legal about it.  If you want to get rid of him, get rid of him.  After all, it’s for the King’s own good, right?

Queen: Yes.  Suffolk’s right.

Suffolk: I don’t mind doing it.  Just say the word.

Winchester: No, no.  Leave it to me.

York: We’re doing the right thing.  And never mind what the people think.  They’ll believe what we tell them.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lords, there’s a rebellion in Ireland.  They’re killing English people.

Winchester (Looking at York):  Someone will have to go.

York (Sarcastically): I know just the man–Somerset.  He did such a great job in France.

Somerset: Shut up.

Winchester (To York): No, you go.  You’ll take an army and suppress the rebellion.

York: Ah, but only the King can give me that kind of order.

Suffolk: He’ll agree to it.  We’ll explain it to him.

Queen: Yes.  Don’t worry about the King.

Suffolk: I’ll organize an army right away.

York: Fine.  And I trust Gloucester won’t be around when I get back.

Winchester: He’ll be in (Smiling)–a better place, as we say.–It’s late.  The King’s Parliament is adjourned.

    (Everyone leaves except York, who lingers.)

York (To the audience): This is the chance I’ve been waiting for.  I’m getting an army, and I can be out of the country for a while.  But before I leave, I’m going to arrange something with a friend of mine.  His name is Jack Cade.  He’s a mean son of a bitch.  And he loves me.  He’d do anything for me.  And get this: he’s practically a dead ringer for John Mortimer.  You remember the Mortimers–my mother’s people.  My link to the throne.  I’ll have Cade pass himself off as John Mortimer–even though John Mortimer’s dead.  Doesn’t matter.  I’ll have him claim the throne and stir up a rebellion–just to see if there’s any sympathy for the Yorks.  If there is, I’ll make my move and topple King Henry, and I’ll have an army to back me up.  And if Cade fails, that’s okay, too.  He’ll never rat me out as the instigator, and I can make other plans.

    (He leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  The palace at Bury Saint Edmunds.  Suffolk comes in furtively and meets the two Murderers coming in from the other side, which is Gloucester’s room.  They speak softly.

Suffolk: Is it done?

First Murderer: It’s done, sir.  He’s dead.  In his bed.

Suffolk: Good.  Did he struggle?

Second Murderer: He did, sir.  It took all our strength to smother him.  We were careful not to leave any marks on him, like you said.

Suffolk: Good.  Both of you go to my house and wait for me.  I’ll give you your money.

First Murderer: Yes, sir.  Thank you, sir.

    (The Murderers leave.  Then the King, Queen, Winchester, Somerset, and Attendants come in.)

King (To Suffolk): Would you see if Gloucester is awake yet?  It’s time for his trial.

Suffolk: I’ll check, my lord.

    (Suffolk leaves.)

King: This is going to be a fair trial.  I want that understood.

Queen: Of course.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.  And I do hope he can be exonerated.

    (Suffolk returns, pretending to be shocked.)

King: Suffolk, what’s the matter?

Suffolk: My lord–he’s–dead!

Queen (Pretending to be shocked): Oh, no!

Winchester: It must be God’s judgment.

    (The King faints.)

Queen: Oh!–My lord!

Somerset: Oh, dear!

    (Somerset and the Queen try to revive the King.)

Suffolk: I think he’s coming to.  He’ll be all right.  (To the King, revived) My lord.–It’s all right, sir.  It’s a terrible shock, I know.

King (Angrily): You!–Suffolk!

    (The King tries to get up, and Suffolk tries to help him.)

King: Don’t touch me!–You murderer!  I can see it in your eyes!

Queen: Oh, no, my lord!  Don’t say that.  Suffolk hasn’t done anything.

Suffolk: Of course not.

Queen: He’s just as grief-stricken as the rest of us.–Aren’t you, Suffolk?

Suffolk (Feigning grief): Oh, yes, madam!  I’m–I’m so shocked–I can hardly speak.

Queen (To the King): And so am I.  Look at me, my lord.  Can’t you see how terrible I feel?–And what will people think of me?  They’ll think I had something to do with it.  People can be so cruel.

King (Sobbing): My uncle!–My poor uncle!–I never loved anyone more than I loved him!

Queen: Oh?  And what about me?  Don’t you love me?  Don’t you  care about my feelings?  Is this what I came to England for?  I left my father and my country for you.  I thought I would be happy here.  But now I know I’m not really very important to you–am I?

    (Crowd noise is heard offstage.  Then Warwick comes in.)

Warwick (To the King): My lord, there’s a rumour going around that the Duke of Gloucester has been murdered, and Lord Suffolk and the Cardinal are involved.  The people outside are angry, as you can hear.

King: Warwick, my uncle is dead.  Suffolk found him.  How he died I don’t know.  His body is in there (Indicates Gloucester’s room).

Warwick: I’m going to have a look.

    (Warwick leaves.)

King: I’m afraid to think–it might be murder.

Queen: Don’t you want to look?

King: No.  I couldn’t bear it.  I want to remember him as he was alive–the noblest, kindest man I ever knew.

    (Warwick returns.)

Warwick: It looks like murder.  There are signs of a struggle.

Suffolk: I don’t believe it.  Who would want to murder Gloucester?  And besides, the Cardinal and I had charge of him.–Surely you don’t suspect us?

Warwick: It’s common knowledge the two of you were his enemies.

Queen: Are you saying they killed him?

Warwick: It seems obvious to me.

    (Winchester becomes ill suddenly.)

Somerset: Uncle!–My lords–madam–please excuse us.  He’s not feeling well.

Queen: Take him home, Somerset.  Let him rest.

    (Somerset assists Winchester out.)

Suffolk (To Warwick): I don’t appreciate your accusation, Warwick.

Queen: Yes, Warwick.  You’re out of line to accuse Suffolk.

Warwick: Madam, don’t defend him.  It only makes you look bad.

Suffolk: You low-life!  What sort of malformed creature crept into your mother’s bed to beget you?

Warwick: If we weren’t in the presence of the King, I’d carve my answer on your throat.

Suffolk: Then let’s step outside.

Warwick: With pleasure.

    (Suffolk and Warwick leave.)

King: If Warwick is right–

    (Crowd noise is heard offstage: “Down with Suffolk!  Down with Suffolk!”)

Queen: Good God!  It sounds like a riot! 

    (Suffolk and Warwick return, their swords out.) 

King: What’s going on?

Suffolk: Warwick has the crowd stirred up against me!  You see what a traitor he is?

    (More crowd noise: “Down with Suffolk!  Down with Suffolk!”  Then Salisbury comes in, calling behind him from the wing.)

Salisbury: Yes, I’ll tell the King!  Hold on!  (To the King) My lord, the people are demanding that Suffolk should be put to death, or else banished from England.  If you don’t, they’ll tear him to pieces.  They regard him as a threat to you.

Suffolk: And who put that idea in their heads?  You did!  (To the King) You’re not going to listen to a mob of hooligans, are you, my lord?  They’re nothing but a pack of howling dogs.

    (More crowd noise: “Down with Suffolk!  Down with Suffolk!”)

King: Salisbury, tell the people that I am touched by their concern for me.  And I will banish Suffolk.–Suffolk, you must be out of the country within three days.

Salisbury: Thank you, my lord!  A wise decision.

    (Salisbury leaves.)

Queen (Clasping the King’s hand): Oh, please, my lord!  Don’t banish him!

    (The King shakes off her hand.)

King: Don’t plead for him.  He’s banished.–Warwick, come with me.  I must speak to you.

    (The King, Warwick, and Attendants leave.  Only the Queen and Suffolk remain.  They exchange a heartbroken look.)

Queen: I’m sorry.

Suffolk: Damned Nevilles!  They should rot in hell!

    (They embrace.)

Queen: I’ll try to bring you back.  Or maybe I’ll be banished, too.  I don’t care.  As long as we can be together.

Suffolk: Any place on earth would be heaven with you.  Without you, any place is hell.

    (They separate when a Messenger comes in.  [Author’s note: In the original, this is Sir William Vaux.])

Messenger: Madam, the Cardinal is extremely ill.  He could die at any moment.  He’s out of his mind.  He’s even talking to Lord Gloucester’s ghost.

Queen: Go tell the King.

Messenger: Yes, madam.

    (The Messenger leaves.)

Queen: My darling, you must leave.  If the King finds you here, he may have you executed.

Suffolk: If I go, I’m dead anyway–dead without you.

    (They kiss.)

Queen: Go to France.  Try to write to me.

Suffolk: I will.  Just don’t lose me.

Queen: I won’t.  I promise.

    (Suffolk leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 3.  London.  The bedroom of the Cardinal of Winchester.  The Cardinal is in bed when the King, Salisbury, and Warwick come in.  The Cardinal is delerious.  The visitors sit or stand by the bed.

King: My Lord Cardinal, can you hear me?  It’s the King.

Winchester: Death?–Have you come for me?–I’ll give you everything I have if you let me live.

Warwick: Beaufort, don’t you recognize me?  [Author’s note: The Cardinal’s surname.]

Winchester: When is my trial?–Is it for murder?–It wasn’t my fault.–Gloucester died in bed.–No, don’t torture me.–I’ll confess.–Oh!–He’s alive!–I can see him!–His eyes are plucked out.–All right, give me the poison.–Yes, I’ll drink it now.

King: The poor man.  He’s out of his mind.

Salisbury: He doesn’t even recognize us.

King: My Lord Cardinal, listen to me.  If you’re at peace with God, raise your hand so we’ll know.

    (Winchester stares at the King for a moment and then dies, without raising his hand.)

Warwick: Tsk.–A bad death.  It seems he died with a bad conscience.

King: No, no, Warwick, don’t say that.  We’re all sinners, after all.–Let’s go into the other room and say a prayer for him.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  Before the curtain goes up, there are alarms of a fight at sea.  This is off the coast of Kent, aboard a pirate ship.  The Captain, the Master, the Master’s Mate, and Walter Whitmore come in, swords out, behind their prisoners–the Duke of Suffolk, in disguise, and two Gentlemen.

Captain (To the Prisoners): Thought you could get away from us, did you?–Ha!–We’ll collect a fine ransom from you, or else cut your throats!  (To the Master, indicating the First Gentleman)  This one’s yours.  (To the Mate, indicating the Second Gentleman)  And this one’s yours.  (Finally, he grabs Suffolk.  To Whitmore)  And this pile of rags is yours, Walter Whitmore.

First Gentleman: Don’t hurt us, Captain!  We’ll pay the ransom.  Whatever you want.

Captain (To his men): What do you think–a thousand crowns each?

Master and Mate: Yes!  Yes!

Whitmore: I’d rather cut all their throats.  It would serve them right for the men we lost.

Two Gentlemen: No!  No!  We’ll pay the thousand crowns!

Whitmore (To Suffolk): What about you?  You don’t look like you’re worth very much.  Maybe I’ll just cut your throat.

Suffolk (Aside): It was prophesied that I would die at sea.

Whitmore: Well?  What do you have to say for yourself?

Suffolk: Do you know who I am?  I am William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk.

Whitmore: Dressed like that?

Suffolk: Never mind how I’m dressed.  This is just a disguise.  I’m related to the King.  Don’t you know that?  I have Lancaster blood in me.  You wouldn’t dare kill me.  [Author’s note: Suffolk is lying.  He is not related to the King.]

Whitmore: Ha!–What do you think, Captain?

Captain: If he’s Suffolk, he deserves to die.  (To Suffolk)  I know all about you.  You’re the one who sold us out to the French.  You gave away our lands.  You’ve been fucking Queen Margaret.  And you helped murder the Duke of Gloucester.

Suffolk: Liar!

Captain: You and all your rotten crowd are finished.  You think everyone’s forgotten about how the Lancasters stole the crown?  The Yorks haven’t forgotten.  The Nevilles haven’t forgotten.  And a lot of good people in Kent and elsewhere haven’t forgotten.  Suffolk, you die!

Suffolk: Pirates!  Criminals!  You’re scum compared to me!  You’re not fit to lick my boots!

First Gentleman (To Suffolk): Don’t antagonize them, sir.

Suffolk: I don’t care!  Fuck these goddamn sons of bitches!–I’m a thousand times better than you!  I am a noble, and you are shit!  I’m the Duke of Suffolk, and I say fuck you!  I’m not going to grovel for my life!

Captain: Good for you, sir!  That’s the spirit!  (To Whitmore)  Take him away and do whatever you want with him.

Whitmore: Thank you, Captain!

    (Whitmore drags Suffolk out.)

Captain: Now, as for these two.–(Indicates the First Gentleman)  He can go.  (Indicates the Second Gentleman)  And we’ll keep this one.

    (They leave, except for the First Gentleman, who stands there frightened.  Then Whitmore returns with Suffolk’s head.)

Whitmore: Here’s your friend.  Take him back to Queen Margaret.

    (Whitmore puts the head down and leaves.)

First Gentleman: Bastards!

    (He is picking up the head as the curtain falls.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  Blackheath, Kent.  Two rebels, George Bevis and John Holland, come in, carrying long staves.

Bevis: It’s about time we got rid of these damned nobles and gave England back to the people!

Holland (To the audience): Power to the people!–Jack Cade will do it.  We’re behind him.

Bevis: Bloody, good-for-nothing nobles!  (He spits.)  Always pretending they’re better than the rest of us.

Holland: You said it.  Living high on the hog while we have to work our fingers to the bone just to scrape by.

Bevis: Here comes Cade now.

    (Jack Cade comes in with a group of rebel followers, including Dick the Butcher and Smith the Weaver.)

Cade: Workers of England, unite!  We’ll have no more aristocracy or any other parasites!

    (Cheers from the Rebels.)

Cade: Now, then–everyone quiet.  Listen to me.  My father was a Mortimer.

Butcher (Aside to the audience): He was a bricklayer.

Cade: My wife was descended from the Lacys.  [Author’s note: A noble family.]

Butcher (Aside to the audience): She sold shoelaces.

Cade: Therefore I come from an honourable house.

Butcher (Aside to the audience): With two rooms and an outhouse.

Cade: I have proven my courage many times.

Butcher (Aside to the audience): He’s been whipped in public three times for stealing and never cried once.

Cade: I will reform England.  When I become King, bread will be four loaves for a penny.

Rebels: Hurray!

Cade: Beer will be half-price and double-strength.

Rebels: Hurray!

Cade: Everyone will eat and drink at my expense, and everyone will wear an identical suit of clothing to show solidarity.

Rebels: Hurray!

Butcher (Aside to the audience but this time too loud): And we’ll kill all the lawyers!

Rebels: Kill the lawyers!  Kill the lawyers!

Cade: That’s a great idea, Dick.  We’ll kill the lawyers.  They’re all bastards.  I’m going to start making a list.

    (Some Commoners drag in the Clerk of Chatham.)

Weaver: It’s the Clerk of Chatham.  He can read and write and do numbers.

    (The Rebels and Commoners boo angrily.)

Cade: A villain if I ever heard of one.

Clerk: Who–me?

Weaver: He teaches young boys how to write.

    (Loud booing from the crowd.)

Weaver: And he carries a book with red letters in it.  You know what that means.

Crowd: Witchcraft!  Witchcraft!

Weaver: And he writes legal documents in a language only lawyers can understand.

    (Loud booing and angry comments.)

Cade: Now, now, quiet down.  We mustn’t convict anyone without a proper hearing.  We have our credibility to think of.  (To the Clerk)  Now.–You.–What’s your name?

Clerk: Emmanuel.

Cade: Do you write your name in letters, or do you sign with a mark like an honest man?

Clerk: I’m an educated man.  I can write as well as anyone.

Crowd: Guilty!  Guilty!

Cade: Good enough.  Take him away and hang him. 

    (The Commoners drag out the Clerk.  Then a Messenger rushes in.)

Messenger: General!  Run!  The King’s forces are coming!  Sir Humphrey Stafford and his brother are leading them!

Cade: I’m not running, and nobody else is running either.  Why should we?  Sir Humphrey Stafford is just a knight, isn’t he?

Messenger: Yes.

Cade: Well, I can be a knight, too.–Here, give me this.  (He borrows somebody’s stave and taps himelf on the shoulders.)  I am now–Sir John Mortimer.

One Rebel (Aside to another): I didn’t know you could do that.

    (Sir Humphrey Stafford and his brother William come in with Soldiers.)

Stafford (To the Rebels): All right, let’s break this up right now!  We’re not going to have any of this mischief!  I want all you men to lay down your weapons and go home.

William Stafford: Or else you’ll die.

Cade (To the Rebels): They’re bluffing.  You fellows stick with me.  I’m the rightful heir to the throne.

Stafford: You?  You work in a cloth factory.

Cade: Wait, wait, wait–just a minute now.  Just listen to me.  Edmund Mortimer, the Earl of March, married Philippa, the daughter of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, didn’t he?

Stafford: So what?

Cade: They had twins.

William Stafford: They did not.

Cade: They did.  One of them was stolen by a beggar woman and became a bricklayer, and he didn’t know his true parentage.  That man was my father.

William Stafford: What a load of crap!

Weaver: Oh, it’s true, sir!  He made the chimney in me father’s house, and it’s standing still.  That proves it.

Stafford (To the Rebels): Do you really believe all this shit?

Rebels: Yes!  Yes!  He should be King!

William Stafford (To Cade): The Duke of York told you to say all this, didn’t he?

Cade: No.  (Aside to the audience) I made it up myself.–Now you go back to the King and tell him from me that out of respect for his father, Henry the Fifth, I will let him stay on the throne for now–provided that I get appointed Lord Protector.

Butcher: And we’ll hang Lord Saye for giving Maine back to the French.

William Stafford: Lord Saye?  What’s he got to do with it?

Cade: He speaks French, doesn’t he?  That proves he’s a traitor.

Rebels: Yes!  Yes!  Hang him!

William Stafford (To Humphrey Stafford): These people are idiots.

Stafford: They certainly are.  (To the Rebels) Now, for the last time, listen to me.  This man (Indicating Cade) is a traitor and all those who follow him will be put to death.  Those who want to remain friends with the King should follow me.

    (The Staffords and Soldiers leave.)

Cade: Stick with me, everyone.  Think of liberty–and justice–and cheap bread and beer.  We’ll wipe out all those prissy aristocrats with their patent leather shoes, and their snuff, and their cologne.  We’ll kill anyone who doesn’t have manure on his shoes like an honest man.

    (The Rebels cheer.)

Butcher (Looking): Uh, oh.–It looks like they’re getting into battle formation.

Cade: Never mind their fucking battle formation.  We don’t need any of that fancy military stuff.  Real fighters just attack–any way they feel like it.–Come on!

    (They all leave noisily.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  Blackheath.  Sounds of fighting before the curtain goes up.  Then Dick the Butcher is standing over the bodies of the two Staffords.  Jack Cade and the Rebels come in.

Cade: Dick the Butcher!  Are you all right?

Butcher: Right as rain, sir.–Look.  I got ’em both.

Cade: The Staffords!  Well done, Dick!  You get a reward for this.  Lent will be doubled to eighty days, and you’ll be allowed to kill ninety-nine animals a week.

Butcher: Oh! Great!  I’ll have a monopoly.  (Nudges Cade)  Of course, the meat is for those who must have it for medical reasons–heh, heh!

Cade (Nudging back): Of course–heh, heh!  And I’ll always know where to get lamb chops whenever I feel faint from too much praying–ha, ha!

Butcher: Ha, ha!

Cade (Grabbing the armour from the bodies): I’m going to put on their armour, and we’ll drag the bodies all the way to London.

Butcher: Say, what about letting all the prisoners out of jail?

Cade: Later.  Right now I’m more interested in killing lawyers.–Come on.

    (All leave, dragging the bodies.)

Act 4, Scene 3A.  [Author’s note: This scene does not appear in the original play.]  The Herald comes in with a paper and speaks to the audience.

Herald: The following lawyers have been put to death so far: Clive Loyns of Walsall, Sefton Kwasnik of Manchester, Stephen Silverman of London, Michael Nemeth of London, Peter Farrow of Bournemouth, Peter Brindley of Cardiff, Jonathan Finebaum of London, Peter Hay of Richmond, Graham Brierton of London, and Nadeem Rashid of Manchester.–Thank you.  That is all.

    (He leaves.) 

Act 4, Scene 4.  The palace in London.  King Henry comes in reading a letter, followed by the Queen, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord Saye, and Attendants.  [Author’s note: In the original, the Queen is carrying Suffolk’s head!  I don’t know what Shakespeare was smoking when he wrote this scene, but I’m doing him a favour by deleting that ludicrous detail.]  The Queen looks depressed.

Buckingham: What are you going to do about the rebels’ demands, my lord?

King: If only my uncle were alive.  He’d know what to do.–Perhaps we could reason with them.  I hate the thought of civil war.  Violence makes me sick.

    (The Queen reacts as if she were nauseous.)

King (To the Queen): Still upset about your friend Suffolk?  I wonder if you’d feel so sick if they’d cut off my head.

Queen: Don’t say that.

King: Lord Saye, that lunatic Cade has sworn to have your head.

Saye: I hope you have his first, my lord.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: Your Majesty!

King: What news?

Messenger: The rebels are in Southwark.  Jack Cade is now calling himself Lord Mortimer.  He claims that he’s the true King and your Majesty is a usurper.  He’s got a big mob behind him.  They killed the Staffords, and they want to kill all the nobles.

King: It’s terrible.  How can people act like that?  If we could only reason with them.

Buckingham: My lord, for your own safety, you should go to Kenilworth until we can put a stop to this rebellion.

King: I suppose.–Lord Saye, you should come with us.

Saye: If I did, I might put your Majesty in greater danger.  I’d rather stay in London and try to keep out of sight.

    (A Second Messenger comes in.)

Second Messenger (To the King): My lord, Cade and his people are almost at London Bridge.  Everyone’s either running away or joining up with him.  He wants to destroy the palace.

Buckingham (To the King): My lord, it’s best you leave right away.  Forget about trying to reason with them.  It would be like trying to reason with a forest fire.

King: You’re probably right, Buckingham.–Come, Margaret.  Don’t worry.  God will protect us.

Queen (Aside): Without Suffolk, there’s nothing to live for.

King: Be careful, Saye.

Buckingham (To Saye): Stay out of sight and don’t trust anyone.

Saye: I’ll be all right.  I haven’t done anything wrong.  My conscience is clear.

Buckingham: A raging fire doesn’t discriminate between the innocent and the guilty.  You be careful.

    (They leave, Saye separately.)

Act 4, Scene 5.  Before the Tower of London.  Lord Scales is walking above when several Citizens come in below.

Scales: What’s happening?  Is Cade dead or alive?

Citizen: My Lord Scales, Cade and his mob have taken London Bridge.  They’re killing everyone who tries to stop them.  The Mayor begs you for help.

Scales: I’ll send what help I can, but I have to protect the Tower.  They’ve already tried to take it once, and they’ll probably try again.  Go to Smithfield and try to raise some men.  I’ll send Matthew Gough to you.  Don’t give up!  We’re fighting for the King, and we’re fighting for our lives!–Go.

Citizen: Yes, my lord.

    (They leave, Scales above and the Citizens below.)

Act 4, Scene 6.  This scene is deleted. 

Act 4, Scene 7.  Smithfield.  Before the curtain rises, there is a brief interval of sounds of fighting.  Then Jack Cade and his followers come in (except Bevis, who will come in shortly).

Cade: That takes care of Matthew Gough and the forces from the Tower.  Next thing we do, we’ll burn down the Duke of Lancaster’s house and all the courts.

Butcher: Jack–er, I mean Lord Mortimer–I have a suggestion.

Cade: Let’s hear it.

Butcher: From now on there should be no laws in writing–only what you say.

Holland (Aside to Smith the Weaver): Oh–brilliant.

Weaver (Aside to Holland): Welcome to the revolution.

Cade: Excellent idea, Dick.  We’ll burn everything–every scrap of paper in Parliament.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lord, we’ve captured Lord Saye.

    (Bevis comes in, with Saye as a prisoner.)

Cade: Well, well, well–speak of the devil.–Lord Saye.–I think we’ll chop his head off, stick it back on, and chop it off again.  (To Saye) What do you have to say for yourself, you aristocratic cockroach?

Saye: I haven’t done anything.

Cade: Oh, you haven’t done anything, have you?  You imposed property taxes to build–a grammar school!

    (Angry murmurs from the Rebels.)

Saye: Yes.  To teach boys to read.

Cade: You mean, to corrupt them!  And you built a paper mill to make paper for books!  And you appointed justices of the peace to try poor illiterates!  And worst of all–your horse wears a pretty blanket so you can ride on him like a gentleman!

Saye: So what?

Cade: Why should your horse wear a blanket when plenty of poor people have no blanket at all?

Butcher: Is your horse better than me?

Others: Kill him!  Kill him!

Saye: What wicked men you are!  I’ve never done anything bad to anyone.  If I am learned and try to make others learned as well, it’s because ignorance is the worst disease of all–worse than the plague.

Butcher: He doesn’t care about people who die of the plague!

Others: Oh! Oh!

Saye: I mean that the ignorant don’t realize how sick they are.

Cade: Is that so?  We’re ignorant and we don’t know it, eh?  What an insult!–Hit him!

    (Several of the Rebels strike Saye.)

Cade: Take him away and kill him.

Saye: Why?  What have I done to any of you that you would kill me?  Tell me!   Tell me!

Cade (After a brief pause): It’s just that I can’t stand educated people.–Take him away!

    (Several Rebels drag Saye out.)

Rebel: My lord, when do we rape and pillage?  You promised us rape and pillage.

Others: Yes!  Yes!  Rape and pillage!

Cade: Yes, yes.  Soon enough.  Cheapside is open all night

    [Author’s note: Some texts have a scene break here, but I’m skipping it.]

    (A trumpet parley is heard.)

Cade: That’s a parley.  Somebody wants to talk to us.

    (The Duke of Buckingham and Lord Clifford come in, with Soldiers.  [Author’s note: This is Thomas Clifford, the 8th Baron de Clifford.  He is referred to in some texts as “Old Clifford”, although historically he was only 36 at this time.  “Young Clifford” was his son, John, who was 15.])

Cade: The Duke of Buckingham–and Lord Clifford.–What do you want?

Buckingham: We’ve been sent by the King.  (To the Rebels) Now listen, you men.  You’ve been misled by this man.  He’s not a Mortimer, he’s not even remotely related to the Mortimers, and he has no claim whatever to the throne.  Now, the King will pardon all of you if you leave this man and go home in peace.

Clifford: The King is offering you mercy out of the goodness of his heart.  If you have any sense, you’ll take it.  Otherwise, you’ll all end up dead.  If you hate the King, then you must hate his father, too–Henry the Fifth–who brought great glory to England.  Now, then–what’s it to be?

    (The Rebels murmur aside to each other.)

Rebel: God save the King!

All the Rebels: God save the King!  Henry the Sixth! 

Cade: What!  Are you leaving me just like that?  Do you want to be slaves to the nobles?  Do you want them to rape your wives and daughters?  Do you want to live in poverty and starve and go naked?–Well!  If that’s how you feel, I’ll fight them myself, and shame on you!

    (The Rebels murmur aside to each other.)

Rebel: We’re with Cade!

All the Rebels: Cade!  Cade!  Lord Mortimer!  King Jack!

Clifford: Be quiet and listen!  Cade is a nobody.  He’s a thief.  He’s an opportunist.  Is he going to invade France and recapture our lost territories and reward you with titles?  No!  This rebellion only plays into the hands of the French.  Why, you’re handing them England on a silver platter.  Then they’ll be your masters.  Is that what you want?  You are English, so act English!  Henry is your King.  He’ll stand up for England–but you must stand by him!  And God is on our side because King Henry is a pious Christian!  Remember that!–Now, then, what do you say?

    (The Rebels murmur aside to each other.)

Rebel: Hurray for Clifford!

All the Rebels: Clifford and Buckingham!  King Henry!  God save King Henry! 

Cade: What the hell?  (He looks all around but sees that everyone’s against him.  He tries not to show his fear.)  All I can say is–I am very, very, very, very disappointed in you.

    (He walks away quickly.)

Buckingham: Whoever brings back Cade’s head will get a reward of one thousand crowns in gold!

    (All the Rebels chase after Cade.)

Clifford: Well done.

Buckingham: You, too.

    (They exchange a high-five or bump fists and leave with the Soldiers.)  

Act 4, Scene 8.  Kenilworth Castle.  The King, Queen, and Duke of Somerset are present when Buckingham and Clifford come in.

Buckingham: Good health to your Majesty!

King: What’s happened with Cade and his rebels?

Clifford: Cade’s escaped, my lord.  But the good news is that all his followers have abandoned him.  The rebellion’s over.

King: Thank God for that!

Buckingham: I’ve offered a reward of a thousand crowns to whoever brings us his head.  I hope that’s all right with you.

King: Of course.  I’ll be glad to pay it.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lord, the Duke of York has returned from Ireland with a big army–including the Irish.  He wants to arrest the Duke of Somerset.  He calls him a traitor.

King: My God, it’s one thing after another.  Why can’t we have peace in this kingdom?  Sometimes I wish I’d been born a commoner.  Why must I have to deal with so many problems?

Queen: That’s what a king is supposed to do, my lord.

Somerset: All kings have problems, my lord.  Your father would want you to do the best you can and have faith in God.

King: Yes–yes–you’re right, Somerset.–Buckingham, can you go and talk to York?

Buckingham: Of course, my lord.

King: Find out exactly what he wants and what his intentions are.  Tell him–tell him I’ve sent Somerset to the Tower as a prisoner.  (To Somerset)  Just temporarily, you understand–until this matter can be straightened out.

Somerset: Of course, my lord.  Whatever is in the best interest of the country.

King: Thank you, Somerset.–Now, Buckingham, try to be conciliatory with York.  He has a bad temper.  Don’t set him off.

Buckingham: I’ll be the soul of diplomacy, my lord.

King (Sighing): Ach!–Margaret, I must learn to govern better.  I don’t want to be remembered as the last King of the House of Lancaster.–Come.

    (He and Margaret leave, followed by the others, except Buckingham, who leaves separately.) 

Act 4, Scene 9.  The garden of Alexander Iden in Kent.  The sound of someone jumping over or down from a wall.  Then Jack Cade comes.  He kneels down and starts pulling out greens and eating them.

Cade: Five days with nothing to eat.–I’ve got to eat something.

    (Alexander Iden comes in with a couple of Servants.  All are armed.)

Iden: What’s the meaning of this?  What are you doing in my garden?

Cade: I’m hungry!  And don’t even think of betraying me or I’ll cut your head off!

Iden: What!–Of all the nerve!  You’re trespassing on my property and eating from my garden, and now you threaten me? 

Cade: I’ll kill you if I have to!  (He draws his sword and the Servants draw theirs in response.)  You gentlemen!  You scum!  When I take over the country, you’ll all be wiped out!

Servant (To Iden): He’s a madman, sir.

Iden: Stay back.  I’ll deal with him.

    (Iden draws his sword.)

Cade: I hate your kind!  I hate all of you!  You think you’re so superior!

    (Cade attacks, and Iden fights back.  Cade is too weak to fight well.  Iden strikes him.  Cade collapses.)

Cade: I could have beaten you–Now you can brag–you killed Jack Cade.

    (He dies.)

Servants: Cade!

Iden: That bloody traitor!–Lads, I’ll never clean this sword.  I’m going to mount it on the wall just like it is, with his blood on it.–Let’s find a ditch and dump him in it.  I’m going to cut off his head and take it to the King.–Come on.

    (They leave, dragging Cade’s body.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  A field in Kent, in the vicinity of Saint Albans.  York comes in with his army and Attendants.

York: Now we’ll settle things once and for all.  I’m the lawful King of England.  Henry’s weak.  He’s got to go.  England needs somebody tough like me.

Soldiers: Aye, my lord!

    (Buckingham comes in.)

Buckingham: My lord of York.

York: Lord Buckingham.

Buckingham: If you come as a friend, then I greet you as a friend.

York: And so do I, sir.  Did the King send you?

Buckingham: Yes.  He wants to know what your intentions are.  He’s concerned about this army of yours.  It does give a certain–ominous–impression, you realize. 

York: No, no, no.  That’s not it at all.  My sole intention is to remove Somerset.  After what happened in France, he’s a traitor.  He’s got to go.  And I had also heard about Cade, and I was concerned about the, uh–the King’s safety, of course.

Buckingham: Well, I do think it’s rather presumptuous of you to come back with such an intimidating force and demand Somerset’s removal.  But if it makes you feel any better, I can tell you that Somerset’s been sent to the Tower of London as a prisoner.

York: Seriously?  Is that true?

Buckingham: Word of honour.

York: Well!–That’s a load off my mind.  Then I guess I can dismiss my army.

Buckingham: I think that would be a very good idea.

York (To the Soldiers): Okay, you men are dismissed.  Meet me tomorrow at Saint Goerge’s field, and I’ll pay you your wages.

Soldiers: Thank you, my lord.

    (The Soldiers leave.)

Buckingham: The King will be very happy to know that you’re still loyal.

York: As long as Somerset is a prisoner, I’m satisfied.

    (King Henry comes in with his Attendants.)

King: There you are–York–Buckingham.–So what’s the story here?

Buckingham: Everything’s okay, my lord.  York came back with a big army because he wanted to get rid of Somerset, and he was concerned about the rebellion.  But I told him Somerset’s in prison.

King: All right, then.  Now I feel better.

    (Iden comes in with Cade’s head.)

Iden: Your Majesty–my lords.  Your troubles are over.  Here’s what’s left of Jack Cade.  I caught him in my garden and killed him.

King: Oh!  Brilliant!  (Looks toward heaven) Thank you, God!–Sir, I can’t tell you what a relief this is to me.

Iden: I knew it would be, my lord.

King: What is your name, sir?

Iden: My name is Alexander Iden.  I’m just a humble esquire of Kent and your Majesty’s loyal subject.

Buckingham (To the King): This man deserves to be knighted, I’d say.

King: He certainly does.  (To Iden) Kneel before me, sir.  (Iden kneels, and the King taps him on the shoulder with his sword.)  You are now Sir Alexander Iden, a knight of England.  You may rise.

    (Iden rises.)

Iden: Thank you, my lord.  You are most gracious.

King: And generous.  There’s a reward of a thousand crowns coming to you for this.

Iden: Thank you, my lord.

King: Just take that head to the palace, and, um–give it to someone–and they’ll pay you.

Iden: Yes, your Majesty.  Thank you.

    (Iden leaves.  Then Queen Margaret comes in with Somerset, and York reacts with a look of anger.)

King (To the Queen, in a hushed voice): What are you doing here?  What’s he doing here?

Queen: Somerset is not going to hide from York.

York (To Buckingham): You lied to me.  The King sent you, so he obviously told you to lie.

King: Now, now–please, my lord of York.  You should remember your place.

York: My place, sir?  My place is on the throne.  You don’t deserve to be King.  You’re weak.  And now you’re through–my lord of Lancaster.

Somerset: You traitor!  You’re under arrest!

York: Don’t make me laugh.  (To an Attendant)  Go get my sons, Edward and Richard.

    (The Attendant leaves.)

York (To Somerset): Hey, if you arrest me, my sons will pay my bail. 

Queen: We’ll see about that.  (To Buckingham) Go get Clifford.

    (Buckingham leaves.)

York: The only thing worse than having you for a Queen is having the bubonic plague.

Queen: You’ll pay for that insult someday.

    (Edward and Richard Plantagenet come in with Soldiers from one side; Clifford, his son, and Soldiers come in from the other side.  Clifford kneels to the King.)

Clifford: Good health to my gracious King.

York: Hey–over here, Clifford.  You can kneel before me.  I’m the King now.

Clifford (To the King): Is he crazy?

King: No, just ambitious.

Clifford: He’s a traitor.  We’ll arrest him and lock him up.

Queen: He’s already under arrest, but he won’t go.  His–boys–are here to speak for him.

Edward: And we will, madam.

Richard (Hand on his sword): With our swords, if necessary.

Clifford: This is an outrage!  You’re all traitors!

York: No, you’re the traitors.  As of now, I’m the King.  (To an Attendant) Get Salisbury and Warwick.

    (The Attendant leaves.)

King (Softly): This would never have happened if Gloucester were here to protect me.

Queen: He’s not your protector any more.  He’s dead. 

King: Margaret, I’m the King.  What should I do?

Queen (With a slight look of contempt): Be  the King–what else?

    (The Attendant returns with Salisbury, Warwick, and Soldiers.)

Clifford: Warwick–Salisbury–Are you on York’s side? 

King: How could you do this to me?  Where’s your loyalty?

Salisbury: I’m sorry, my lord, but I’ve thought it over very carefully, and I’ve decided that the Duke of York is the rightful heir to the throne.

King: But you’ve sworn your loyalty to me.

Salisbury: That was a mistake, and I no longer consider myself bound to you.  If an oath is wrong to begin with, then it’s wrong to bind oneself to it.

Queen: The traitor pretends to be a philosopher.

King (To an Attendant): Get Lord Buckingham.  Tell him to bring soldiers.

    (The Attendant leaves.)

York: You can call Buckingham and all the soldiers you can find, but it won’t make any difference.  I can take the throne by force if I have to.

Clifford: You’ll die for this.

Warwick: Clifford, you should go home and take a nap. 

Clifford: I’ll take a nap when you’re all in your graves.

Warwick: I’ll be attending your funeral–provided that a luncheon is served.

Young Clifford (To his father): I’m ready to fight these bastards.

Richard: You can fight me first.  I’m ready for you.

Young Clifford: You crawling snake.  I’ll cut your head off.

Richard: Shouldn’t you be in school or something?–Come on, father.  Let’s go eat something bloody.  I’m in the mood.

    (The two parties leave seaparately.)

    [Author’s note: From this point on, the scene breaks are not the same in all texts.  I’m following the model of the Pelican Shakespeare edition.]

Act 5, Scene 2.  A road outside an alehouse called The Castle.  Somerset walks by and stops and notices the sign.

Somerset: The Castle–What was it that witch said?–I should stay away from castles?

    (His back is turned to the wing from where Richard Plantagenet rushes in, sword out.  Somerset turns and gets stabbed in the heart and dies.)

Richard: Score one for the Yorks.

    (He drags the body out.) 

Act 5, Scene 3.  On the field.  Warwick comes in.

Warwick (Calling): Clifford of Cumberland!  Don’t hide from me!  Come out and fight!

Clifford (Within): Stay where you are!  I’m coming for you!

    (York comes in behind Warwick.)

Warwick: My lord, you’re on foot.

York: Clifford killed my horse.  But I got even.  I killed his.

    (Clifford comes in.)

Warwick: There you are.  Now it’s you or me, Clifford.

York: No.  He’s mine.  Go look for somebody else.

Warwick: All right.  I yield to my future King.

    (Warwick leaves.)

York: Clifford, only one of us walks away from this alive.  And I hate you and all the Lancasters.

Clifford: As long as I’m alive, England will never be ruled by the Yorks.

    (They duel.  York kills Clifford.)

York: And so–death to the Lancasters.

    (He leaves.  Then Young Clifford comes in and finds his father’s body.)

Young Clifford: Father!  (He kneels beside the body.)  The Yorks will pay for this.  I will have no pity.  My heart will be a stone.–Death to all Yorks!

    (He carries out his father’s body.)

Act 5, Scene 4.  On the field.  Sounds of battle.  Several Soldiers assist the wounded Duke of Buckingham into his tent.  The King, Queen, and Attendants come in.

King: Buckingham!  Are you hurt badly?

Buckingham: Don’t worry about me, my lord.  You must get away for your own safety.

Queen: Yes!  We have to run, my lord!

King: Can any man outrun fate?  If it is God’s will–

Queen: Never mind God’s will!  What’s the point of staying?  You can’t fight.  If we stay, we’ll be captured.  If we can get to London, we’ll be all right.

    (Young Clifford comes in.)

Queen: John Clifford, talk some sense into the King.  He won’t leave.

Young Clifford: My lord, for my part I would gladly stay and fight.  But the Queen is right.  You must leave for your own sake.  We may have lost this battle, but the war isn’t over.  We’ll get back at them.

King: I suppose you’re right.

    (They all leave, except Buckingham and the Soldiers who assisted him.) 

Act 5, Scene 5.  The field.  Trumpets in the background.  York comes in with his sons, Edward and Richard, plus Soldiers.

York (To his Sons): Good work, boys.  I’m proud of you.  We’re much closer to the throne now.–Where’s Salisbury?  Has anyone seen him?

Richard: I was with him on the field.  He got knocked off his horse, but I protected him.  You know, for an old guy he’s still tough.

York: He’s tough, all right.  That’s why I can’t afford to lose him.

    (Salisbury and Warwick come in.)

York: Thank God you’re safe!

Salisbury: Thanks to young Richard.  What a brave guy!

Warwick: He’ll be King someday!

    (Happy laughter.)

Salisbury: We haven’t won the war yet.  This was just the opening round.  The Lancasters are still formidable enemies.

York: The word is that they’ve fled to London. 

Warwick: We should try to get there first.

York: We’ll try.–You’ve all been brilliant.  Let me shake all your hands.

    (He shakes hands with everyone.)

York: This has been a glorious day–a day to remember.

Warwick: History will remember this as the Battle of Saint Albans–won by the Yorks.  God save the next King!

Others: God save the King!

    (A trumpet flourish, then they all leave.  No curtain down yet.  The Epilogue follows.  [Author’s note: This does not appear in the original.]  The Herald comes in and speaks to the audience.)

Herald: So ends the Battle of Saint Albans–the first Battle of Saint Albans.  For the Wars of the Roses have only just begun.  And just as the tides ebb and flow, so will the fortunes of the Yorks and Lancasters for the next thirty years.  Many graves are yet to be dug–graves strewn with red roses or white roses.  For now, we give you pause to ponder on what you have seen–the struggles for power, the rivalries and hatreds, pride, honour, and revenge–strength against strength, steel against steel, will against will–and reason and morality crushed underfoot.  But we will meet again on the fields of war, where swords clash, blood flows, and God looks down upon his children, all bent on slaughtering each other.  We know you’ll be back, for this, my friends, is your history.

    (He leaves.  Curtain.)


    Copyright@ 2012 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com 




(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

King Henry VI

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester — his uncle

John, Duke of Bedford — his uncle

Duke of Exeter — his great-uncle

Bishop (later Cardinal) of Winchester — his great-uncle

Richard Plantagenet (later Duke of York)

Duke of Somerset

Earl of Warwick

Earl of Salisbury

Earl of Suffolk

Lord Talbot

John Talbot — his son

Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March

Sir John Fastolfe (Some texts have “Sir John Falstaff”.)

Sir William Glansdale

Sir Thomas Gargrave

Sir William Lucy

A Captain of Talbot




Servant of Gloucester

Warder of the Tower

Mayor of London

Lawyer of the Temple


Charles, Dauphin of France (later Charles VII)

Reignier, Duke of Anjou

Duke of Burgundy

Duke of Alenc,on  [Typographical note: This name is spelled with the French ‘c’ with the curl under it, which is pronounced like ‘s’.  Not having that character on my keyboard, I am forced to simulate it.]

Bastard of Orleans

Governor of Paris

General of French forces at Bordeaux


Joan de Pucelle (commonly “Joan of Arc”)

Margaret of Anjou — daughter of Reignier

Countess of Auvergne

Two Demonic Spirits

Gist of the story: After the death of Henry V, his conquest of France is thrown into doubt.  England’s attempt to enforce its claims to the throne of France and its possession of French territories will result in another outbreak of war.  The child-king Henry VI will come to the throne unprepared for war abroad or for the competition between those closest to him.  He’s a nice boy, really, but not like his father and grandfather, who were tough.  Henry VI was never cut out to be a king.  He loves books and just wants everyone to get along.  English forces in France must contend with Joan of Arc, a weird visionary who seems to have divine powers.  But neither she nor England’s hero, Lord Talbot, will live to see the end of the fighting.  Gloucester is ready to fix Henry up with the daughter of the Earl of Armagnac — a marriage that will re-establish peace.  But the Earl of Suffolk persuades Henry to marry Margaret of Anjou instead.  Peace is made with France, but we are left with hints of future discord within the kingdom.  We have gotten the first rumblings of what will become the Wars of the Roses — one of the most tragic episodes in the history of England.

(Reader, be warned.  Shakespeare ignores the actual chronology of historical events and changes some other facts for the sake of the story line.  The Yale Shakespeare edition of 1918 has excellent notes on the many historical errors, as well as an excellent commentary on the disputed origins of this play.  This is the first modernized, simplified version of Henry VI, Part One ever published.  The entire series “Shakespeare For White Trash” is designed to make Shakespeare’s plays crystal-clear and enjoyable to a non-literary audience.  Enjoy!)

Act 1, Scene 1.  London.  The funeral of Henry V.  Beside the coffin are his brothers, John, Duke of Bedford, and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester; also the Duke of Exeter, the Earl of Warwick, the Bishop of Winchester, and the Duke of Somerset, plus Attendants.  [Author’s note: Bedford is now the Regent of France.  He is the most senior person in the Kingdom.  Gloucester is the second-most senior person and is the Protector of young Henry, who was just a baby at this time, historically.  Exeter and Warwick were very close to Henry V.  The Bishop of Winchester, Henry Beaufort, was a half-uncle to Henry V and is part of the regency council.  Somerset is Winchester’s nephew.]

Bedford: This is a black day for England, and for me personally.–To lose our brother, Henry the Fifth, at such a young age.

Gloucester: He was the best king England ever had.  He was the bravest.  He took us to Agincourt and beat the French.  He was a giant among men.

Exeter: I can’t believe he could die at the age of thirty-five.  Maybe the French put a curse on him and killed him.

Winchester: He fought in the name of God, and the church was behind him totally.  It was our prayers that made him as victorious as he was.

Gloucester: Yeah, right–the church!–You loved him as long as you could influence him.  Maybe if you’d prayed a little harder, he’d still be alive.

Winchester: I can see how much influence we’ll have with you, Gloucester.  You’re the Lord Protector now, whether the church likes it or not.

Gloucester: Don’t pretend to be holy with me, Winchester.  You never go to church except to pray for your enemies to die.

Bedford: Let’s not have a personal quarrel at a time like this.  We have to keep the country united.  And we have to make sure we don’t lose everything my brother fought for and won from the French.  (He shakes his head and looks up at heaven.)  Brother, if you can hear us, help us now.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lords–I’m sorry to bring you bad news at a time like this.

Bedford: What’s happened?

Messenger: The French have recaptured almost all our territories in France.

    (Bedford grimaces and puts his hand on Henry’s coffin.)

Exeter: How did this happen?  Who betrayed us?

Messenger: Nobody betrayed us, sir.  We just didn’t have the resources to resist.–And sir, I must tell you–our men feel abandoned.  They think you’re too preoccupied arguing amongst yourselves.  They’re disappointed, sir.  They don’t want to hear words.  They want to see some action.

Exeter: Mmm–All right, messenger.  Wait outside.

Messenger: Yes, my lord.

    (The Messenger leaves.)

Exeter: Christ–I’m speechless.–When I think of Agincourt–and now, to lose everything.

Bedford: This is on my shoulders more than anyone else’s.  After all, I’m the Regent of France.  My brother would want me to fight, and that’s just what I intend to do.

    (A Second Messenger comes in.)

Second Messenger: My lords!  News from France!

Exeter: Yes?

Second Messenger: The Dauphin, Charles, has been crowned King of France, and all the French lords are supporting him.  [Author’s note: Throughout this play, Charles is referred to as the Dauphin, not the King, reflecting the English viewpoint.  As far as they were concerned, he was only a prince.]

Exeter: It figures.–All right.  Go wait outside.

Second Messenger: Yes, my lord.

    (The Second Messenger leaves.)

Somerset: They’ll be calling him Charles the Seventh now.

Bedford: I don’t care what they call him.  He’s still the Dauphin as far as we’re concerned.

Gloucester: We’re going to have trouble with him.  He’s young, and he’s going to want to prove himself.  And all those lords are going to be falling all over each other to be his best friend.

Exeter: You got that right.

Bedford: I hope you guys are up for a war, because that’s where this is heading.

Gloucester: Say no more.  I’m your brother.

Exeter: And I’m your uncle.

    (A Third Messenger comes in.)

Third Messenger: My lords!  News from France!

Warwick: What the hell?  Did you guys all come on different boats?

Third Messenger: My lord?

Exeter: Never mind.  What’s the news?

Third Messenger: Lord Talbot and his army were surrounded by the French as he was retreating from Orleans.  Sir John Fastolfe was supposed to be guarding his rear, but he fled the battle and left Talbot on his own.  [Author’s note: Some texts use the name “Sir John Falstaff”, but this would lead to confusion as Sir John Falstaff was another character, who died in Henry V.Talbot put up a hell of a fight anyway, but he was wounded and taken prisoner.  It went very badly, my lords.  Many casualties.  Many prisoners.

Bedford (To the Lords): I’ll get him back.  I’ll capture some of their lords and do a trade.  I can take ten thousand men with me immediately.

Third Messenger: I suggest you go to Orleans, sir.  Lord Salisbury has laid siege to the town, but he’s desperately short of men and supplies.

Bedford: Right.–Wait for us.

    (The Third Messenger leaves.)

Gloucester: Bedford, you make your preparations, and I’ll go to the Tower and take stock of our armaments.  And then we have to get the boy crowned immediately. 

Exeter: Yes.  Good idea.  Henry the Sixth is going to be King of France, not Charles the Seventh.  I’ll make arrangements for his personal safety.–Let’s go.

    (All leave except Winchester, who lingers.)

Winchester: And what should the Bishop of Winchester do?  Why, the Bishop of Winchester should stick very close to the new King–to be his best friend and most trusted advisor, of course.

    (Winchester leaves.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  Near Orleans.  Charles (the Dauphin) and Lords Alenc,on and Reignier come in, with Soldiers.  [Author’s note: Orleans is a French town under siege by English forces under Salisbury.  French forces under Charles have arrived to drive the English away.  This scene is taking place outside the town.]

Charles: The English had their way with us, but now it’s our turn.  They won’t take Orleans.  They’re pooped out.

Alenc,on: They can’t fight on empty stomachs.

Reignier: Right.  And we can break this siege now that we’ve captured Talbot.   All they have left is that lunatic Salisbury.

Charles: What are we waiting for?  Sound the trumpets!  Let’s get them!

    (Trumpets sound.  They rush out.  Sounds of battle.  Then Charles, Alenc,on, and Reignier return, without the Soldiers.)

Charles: Did you see that?  Our men panicked!  I can’t believe it!

Reignier: They got spooked by Salisbury.  That guy’s deranged.  He’s a fucking psychopath.

Alenc,on: Those English–how can they fight like that when they’re starving?

Charles: That’s exactly why they’re fighting like that.  Hunger is making them insane.  We’d better leave them for the time being.  We’re not going to get anywhere.

Reignier: I think you’re right.

    (The Bastard of Orleans comes in.  [Author’s note: This was Jean, Count Dunois.  He was the illegitimate son of the Duke of Orleans and was first cousin to Charles.])

Bastard: Cousin Charles–my lord Dauphin!

Charles: Dunois!  Am I glad to see you!

Bastard: How are you?  You look worried.

Charles: I am.  I don’t know what to do about these English fanatics.

Bastard: Well, you’re about to get some help.  I’ve brought a young woman with me who has divine powers.  She had a vision that told her to drive out the English, and she’s going to do it.

Charles: Are you serious?

Bastard: Absolutely.  She’s a prophetess.  She has God-given powers.

Charles: I’ll believe it when I see it.  Go and get her.

Bastard: Back in a sec.

    (The Bastard leaves.)

Charles (To Reignier): I have to see if this woman is on the level.  You pretend you’re me.  Just stand right there and act royal.  I’ll move back a little.  Let’s see if she knows who’s the Dauphin.

    (Charles moves apart.  Joan de Pucelle comes in, with the Bastard following but remaining near the wing.  [Author’s note: This is Joan of Arc, often referred to as the Maid of Orleans.  Her speech prefix will be “Joan”, although some texts use “Pucelle”.]  She is wearing a sword.)

Reignier: Ahem–Welcome, fair maid.  So, you have come to help us with your divine powers?

    (Joan looks at Reignier and Charles.)

Joan (To Reignier): You are not the Dauphin.  You are Lord Reignier.

    (Reignier and Charles exchange looks.)

Reignier: Wow.

Joan: There is nothing hidden from me, my lords.

Reignier: I guess not.

Joan (To Charles): My lord Dauphin, I would speak with you privately.

    (Charles nods to Alenc,on and Reignier, and they join the Bastard at the wing, almost offstage.  [The suggestion is that they are far enough away not to be aware of the action that follows.])

Charles: Who are you?

Joan: My name is Joan de Pucelle.  I come from simple people.  My father was a shepherd.  One day when I was minding the flock, the Virgin Mary appeared to me.  She told me I had been chosen to free our country from the English.  She promised to help me, and she guaranteed that I would succeed.  And then she surrounded me with a ball of light and changed me from a plain, unattractive girl to the beautiful woman you see now.  If you don’t believe me, you can put me to any test you wish, for I am blessed with divine powers.

Charles: Hmm–well–

Joan: You can even test me in combat.  I’ll beat you.

Charles: Ha!  You mean a duel with swords?

Jean: Yes.

Charles: You’re kidding me.

Joan: No, I’m not.  I have my sword.  (She takes out her sword.)  I fear no man.

Charles: Huh–well, I’ll be damned.–I don’t like to humiliate a woman–but if you insist–

    (He takes out his sword.  They duel.  Joan beats him back and knocks the sword out of his hand.)

Charles: Stop!–Enough.–Holy Christ.–How did you do that?

Joan: The power of the Holy Virgin is within me.

    (Charles looks at her passionately.)

Charles: I never met such a woman as you.  I never even imagined there could be such a woman.–Joan de Pucelle–I would give up the throne for you.  Would you say no to the Dauphin of France?

Joan: I cannot give myself to any man until I have freed my country from its enemies.  I have my powers only as long as I remain a virgin.

    (Charles gets down on one knee and takes her hand.)

Charles: I’ll wait if I have to.  (He kisses her hand.)  I love you. 

    (Reignier and Alenc,on are conversing apart.)

Reignier: Wonder what’s going on with those two.

Alenc,on: I’ll bet he’s giving her a thorough examination.

Reignier: Think we should butt in?

Alenc,on: Yeah–for his own good.  She’s too much of a hottie.  This is no time for him to get distracted.

Reignier: Yeah.

    (Reignier returns with Alenc,on and the Bastard.)

Reignier: My lord?  So, what have you decided?  Are we going to let the English have Orleans?

Joan: No!  The English will have nothing!  I have the power to drive them away.

Charles: She’s got the power, all right.  Not that I understand it.  But she’s got it.  And we’re going to fight.

Joan: By tomorrow, I promise the siege will be broken.

Alenc,on: All right, then.

Reignier: Lady, if you pull this off, you’ll go down in history.

Charles: And if she doesn’t, I’ll never believe in prophets again.  (To the Bastard) And I’ll never listen to you again.

    (They all leave.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  Before the Tower of London.  Gloucester comes in with two Servants in blue coats.

Gloucester: There should be a good stockpile of weapons in the Tower–assuming nobody’s been stealing them.  Give a knock.

    (A Servant knocks.)

Warder (Within): Who’s knocking?

Servant: The Duke of Gloucester.

Warder (Within): I’m sorry, but I can’t open the door.

Servant: What do you mean, you can’t open the door?  The Duke of Gloucester is here!

Warder (Within): Sorry.  I have my orders.

Gloucester: Orders?  Whose orders?  Get your lieutenant!

    (A brief pause.  Muffled voices within.  Then Woodville, the Lieutenant, speaks from inside.  [Author’s note: Woodville was the father of Elizabeth Woodville, who later married Edward IV.  See “Shakespeare For White Trash: Richard III”.])

Woodville (Within): Who’s out there?  The Tower’s not open to the public!

Gloucester: Woodville, is that you?  It’s Gloucester!  Open this door!

Woodville (Within): I’m sorry, sir.  The Bishop of Winchester has ordered me to let no one in.

Gloucester: Winchester!  Hey, I’m the Lord Protector, in case you’ve forgotten!  Open this door!

    (Winchester comes in with two Servants in brown coats.)

 Winchester: Gloucester, what are you doing here?

Gloucester: I want to get into the Tower.

Winchester: No.

Gloucester: No?  Who the hell are you to tell me no?

Winchester: I know your game, Gloucester.  You want to usurp the throne for yourself.

Gloucester: You bastard!  You never gave a shit about my brother.  You only care about yourself.  And I know your game–collecting kickbacks from all the whorehouses in London.  Now you let me into this Tower  or I’ll ram your hat down your throat!

Winchester: You can’t intimidate me.  I represent the church.  I have the Pope behind me.

Gloucester (To his Servants): Get these guys!

    (Gloucester’s Servants fight with Winchester’s Servants and are beating them.)

Winchester: The Pope will hear about this!

Gloucester: You fucking germ!

    (Gloucester is about to strike Winchester when the Mayor of London and two Officers come in.)

Mayor: Stop this fighting at once!

    (The fighting stops.)

Mayor: My Lord Gloucester!–My lord Bishop!–Shame on you!

Gloucester: Hey, Mayor, you know what?  This son of a bitch locked me out of the Tower!

Winchester (To the Mayor): Yes!  Because this warmonger is going to drag us into another war!  But his real ambition is to overthrow the church and then seize the throne for himself!

Gloucester: Why, you!–

    (Gloucester reaches for his sword, and Winchester does the same.)

Mayor: Stop!  (To the Officers)  Enforce the law here!

Officer: In the name of God and the King, all persons in this place are forbidden to use any weapon and are commanded to return home peaceably!

Gloucester: Winchester, I won’t break the law, but I’m not finished with you.

Winchester: And you just better not cross my path if you know what’s good for you.

Mayor: My lord Bishop!  What a thing to say!  And you, a high churchman!

Gloucester: I’m going, Mayor.

Winchester: You just watch out, Gloucester.

    (Gloucester and his Servants leave separately from Winchester and his Servants.)

Mayor: My God, what’s this country coming to?

    (He and the Officers leave.) 

Act 1, Scene 4.  Near Orleans.  A high place is suggested.  Talbot is observing with Sir William Glansdale and Sir Thomas Gargrave.  Salisbury comes in.

Salisbury: Talbot!  You’re back!  Thank God!

Talbot: Salisbury!  I’m glad to see you!

Salisbury: Are you all right, man?  What happened?

Talbot: Bedford arranged an exchange of prisoners.

Salisbury: How did the French treat you?

Talbot: Those bastards.  They paraded me through the streets and let the crowd jeer at me, and then I got thrown into prison.  I gave them a lot of trouble, though.  I think they were afraid of me.  They had guns pointed at me even when I was sleeping.

Salisbury: Whoever Bedford traded for you, we got the better deal.

Talbot: Probably.–Gargrave and Glansdale and I have been observing the town.  We’re trying to figure out where the weakest spot is where we could attack and get inside.

Salisbury: So what do you think?

Gargrave: I would say the north gate.

Glansdale: Otherwise the bridge.

Talbot: They can’t hold out forever.  We’re wearing them down.  And they’ve got to be hungry.

    (An explosion, with smoke.  Everyone falls down.  Salisbury is badly wounded.)

Talbot: Salisbury!  Salisbury!

    (Salisbury groans.  Sounds of cannon.  A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lords!  The French have gathered their forces.  And the Dauphin has arrived with a strange woman named Joan de Pucelle.  She’s supposed to have divine powers.  She’s going to use them against us.

    (Salisbury groans.)

Talbot: He’s hurt bad.  Get him to his tent.  I’ll deal with these French bastards–and that Joan de Pucelle, whoever she is.–Divine powers, my ass!

    (The others help Salisbury out.  Talbot remains.)

Act 1, Scene 5.  Before Orleans.  As the curtain goes up, English soldiers are retreating.  Joan de Pucelle comes in, sword upraised.  Talbot comes in from the other side, where his soldiers have just retreated.

Talbot: What kind of demon from hell are you, that my soldiers should run from you?

Joan: Not a demon from hell, sir.  I am Joan de Pucelle, sent by the Holy Virgin to liberate my country.

Talbot: Why, you’re nothing but a witch and a fraud–and now I’m going to kill you!

    (They fight.  Joan displays extraordinary dexterity and overpowers him,  putting her sword to his throat.)

Joan: It is not your time to die, Talbot.  Therefore, I spare you–for now.  Go to your friend Salisbury, for he shall die tonight.  You English are beaten.

    (She leaves.  Talbot is perplexed.)

Talbot: No–no–(He calls to his soldiers.) Men of England!  You must fight!–They’re running.–How can this be?–Who is that demon?–The French are entering Orleans.–I’ve never been so disgraced.–God, let me die with Salisbury!

    (He leaves.)

Act 1, Scene 6.  Joan, the Dauphin, Reignier, Alenc,on, and Soldiers come in.  [Author’s note: In the original, they appear on the walls of Orleans.  This may be suggested.]

Joan: Wave the flag!  Orleans is saved!

    (Cheers in the background.  The French flag is waved.)

Charles: This is the greatest day of my life!  Joan de Pucelle, you are brilliant!  You are a heroine!

Reignier: Let’s have the whole town celebrate.

Alenc,on: The whole country will celebrate when they hear what we’ve done.

Charles: What we’ve done?  Oh, no.  The credit is all Joan’s.  I’ll share my crown with her.  I’ll build a great monument to her.  She’ll be the new patron saint of France.–Come.  We’ll have a banquet and celebrate.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  Outside the wall of Orleans.  Talbot, Bedford, Burgundy, and Soldiers come in.  [Author’s note: The Duke  of Burgundy was the French lord who arranged the peace meeting between the English and French in Henry V.  He became an ally of the English from that point on.]

Talbot: My Lord Burgundy, thanks to you, we have friends in France.

Burgundy: I’m glad to be on your side.  The Dauphin had my father murdered.–They’re  all sleeping in there now.  You can get over the wall.

Bedford: The Dauphin has teamed up with a witch.  He must think  more of her than he does his own army.

Burgundy: Who is this Joan de Pucelle anyway?

Talbot: They say she’s a virgin.

Bedford: But she fights like a man.

Burgundy: Maybe she’s a man in a woman’s clothing.

Talbot: I don’t care what she is.  God is on our side, not hers.

Bedford: Should we go over the wall together?

Talbot: No, let’s split up.  We’ll have a better chance of getting past the sentries.

    (As they move, the lights go out briefly.  [There is no scene break indicated, but the scene is going to change anyway.]  Sounds of yelling in French.  The suggestion is that the French lords have been surprised from their beds and have fled in panic.  The segue is to a place within the town.  The Bastard, Alenc,on, and Reignier come in from different directions in their nightgowns.)

Alenc,on: The English have broken in!

Bastard: I got out of my bedroom just in time, thank God!

Reignier: How could this happen?  I thought we beat them.

Bastard: It’s that fucking Talbot.  We never should have exchanged him.  He’s too dangerous.

    (Charles and Joan come in.)

Alenc,on: My lord, the English are inside the town!

Charles (To Joan): Did you double-cross us?

Joan: Don’t blame me if your sentries are unreliable.

Charles (To Alenc,on): Alenc,on, weren’t you in charge of the watch?

Alenc,on: My sentries were on duty.–Maybe–(He looks at the Bastard and Reignier.)

Bastard: Don’t look at me.  My guys were on duty.

Reignier: So were mine.

Joan: There’s no point arguing about it.  They got in somehow.  Let’s collect our forces and get to safety.  Then we can decide what to do about it.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  Inside Orleans.  Talbot, Bedford, Burgundy, and a Captain come in.

Bedford: Finally!–Orleans is in English hands.

Talbot: I’m only sorry Salisbury didn’t live to see it.  I’ll have him buried here.  It’s an honour he deserves.–Where’s the Dauphin and his girlfriend, I wonder?

Bedford: They made a run for it, along with their army.

Burgundy: I expect they’ll be together from now  on.  We’ll find them, wherever they are.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: Greetings to the commanders of England.  I am sent with a message for Lord Talbot.

Talbot: I’m Talbot.

Messenger: Sir, my mistress, the Countess of Auvergne, would like to meet you.  She has heard of your great reputation as a man of courage.

Burgundy: What is she, some  kind of military groupie?–Ignore it, Talbot.

Talbot: No, it’s all right.  I’m curious to meet her.–Bedford, want to come along?

Bedford: No, thanks.  Three’s a crowd.  You go ahead.  Just be careful.

Talbot: Don’t worry about me.  I just want to find out what’s on her mind.–Captain.  (He whispers some instructions to the Captain.)  Understand?

Captain: Perfectly.

Talbot: All right, then.

    (They all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  In the entrance hall of the castle at Auvergne.  The Countess comes in with her Porter.

Countess: You know what you’re supposed to do.  When everything’s ready, you bring me the keys.

Porter: Yes, madam.

    (The Porter leaves.)

Countess: When Talbot shows up, I’ll take him prisoner.  Then I’ll be famous.  I’ll be a heroine.

    (Talbot arrives with the Countess’s Messenger.)

Messenger: Madam, Lord Talbot is here.

Countess: What?–Are you Talbot?

Talbot: Yes, madam.

Countess: You’re the toughest commander in the English army?  You don’t look very tough to me.  In fact, you look quite ordinary–and much older than I expected.

Talbot: Well, if you’re disappointed, I’ll go.

    (He turns to leave.)

Countess: No, no–wait.–I didn’t mean it  like that.  I only wanted to be sure you really were Talbot.

Talbot: Yes, I really am Talbot.

    (The Porter comes in with the keys.)

Countess: Good.–If you’re Talbot–then you’re a prisoner.

Talbot: Whose prisoner, madam?

Countesss: Mine,  of course.

Talbot: Ha, ha, ha!–You think you can take me prisoner just like that?

Countess: Yes.  Why not?

Talbot: Because Talbot is not just Talbot.  Talbot is a multitude of men.

Countess: What are you talking about?

Talbot: I’ll show you.

    (He takes out a whistle and blows it.  Several English Soldiers appear immediately.)

Countess: Oh!–Sir, I underestimated you.  Please forgive me.

Talbot: That’s all right.  I’m not offended.  Just give us all some treats.  How about that?  Have you got any cake?  We like cake.

Countess: Of course.  I shall be honoured to serve you and your men.  (To the Porter)  Bring cake and wine into the dining room.

    (They all leave.)  

Act 2, Scene 4.  [Author’s note: This scene requires some explanation, as it involves the complex dispute between the Yorks and Lancasters over the succession to the throne.  This dispute was to lead to the Wars of the Roses.  The Lancasters, who were Henrys IV, V, and VI, were descended from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster — one of five sons of Edward III.  The Lancasters were the third of five branches of the family tree under Edward III.  The Yorks were the fourth branch, descended from Edmund of Langley, Duke of York.  The fifth branch was under Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester.  He is assumed to have been murdered on orders from Richard II, and his title was forfeit and later reassigned.  Two of his descendants, the first and second Dukes of Buckingham, don’t enter the picture until later. The first branch was descended from Edward the Black Prince.  The second branch was descended from Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence.  {Two other sons died in infancy and can be disregarded.}  Edward the Black Prince died before Edward III, so the crown passed to the Prince’s son, Richard II.  He was the last person on that branch of the tree and the last king of the House of Plantagenet.  The person next in line, based strictly on the rules of succession, was Edmund Mortimer, a descendant of Lionel of Antwerp.  {All of Lionel’s descendants were surnamed Mortimer, because his only child, Philippa, married a Mortimer.  There were actually three Mortimers named Edmund.}  However, Richard II was overthrown by his cousin Henry IV, and Edmund Mortimer’s claim to the throne was brushed aside.  This irregularity in the  succession became serious when one of Edmund Langley’s sons, Richard, Earl of Cambridge, married Anne Mortimer, the sister of the Edmund Mortimer whose claim had been stepped over.  This created a “patch” from the fourth branch of the tree to the second branch and theoretically put the Yorks ahead of the Lancasters.  Richard, Earl of Cambridge, was executed for treason by Henry V, but not before he and Anne produced a son, Richard.  He was known as Richard Plantagenet, after the surname of Edward III.  His title Duke of York had been temporarily revoked.  It was not until Henry VI became King that Richard and his supporters were in a position to claim the throne, because Henry VI was a weak king, compared to his father, Henry V.  In this scene we meet the Duke of Somerset.  Somerset and his uncle, the Bishop of Winchester, were on the Lancaster branch of the tree, being illegitimately descended from John of Gaunt.  Suffolk is on the side of Somerset.  Warwick, however, is sympathetic to Richard Plantagenet.  This scene, which is apocryphal, explains how the Wars of the Roses came to be so named.]  The Temple Garden, behind the law courts in London.  Richard Plantagenet, Warwick, Somerset, Suffolk, Vernon, and a Lawyer come in.  They are in a serious mood.  There are bushes of red and white roses.  [Richard Plantagenet’s speech prefix throughout this play will be “Richard”, although some editions use “York”.]

Richard: What’s the matter?  You guys don’t want to talk about it?

Suffolk: Yeah, but not in there with all those damned lawyers–(To the Lawyer) No offense.–It’s easier to breathe out here in the garden.

Richard: Okay, then, so what about it?  Am I right, or do you agree with Somerset?

Suffolk: I’m not a legal expert.

Somerset: Warwick, we should make you the referee on this.

Warwick: Oh, no.  Don’t put it all on my shoulders.

Richard: You’re being diplomatic.  It’s so obvious that I’m right.  Any idiot would see it at once.

Somerset: Then let the idiots agree with you, and the wise men will agree with me.

Warwick: Let’s not have a quarrel.  There’s enough arguing going on in the courts.  (He nods over his shoulder.)

Richard: All right.  Nobody has to say anything.  Let’s do this.  We have red roses and white roses here.  I’m going to pick a white rose.  Whoever agrees with me should pick a white rose, too.

    (They will all pick roses as indicated.)

Somerset: I’m taking a red rose, and whoever agrees with me should do the same.–Warwick?

Warwick: Well, if I have to choose–I’m picking a white one.

Somerset: Suffolk?

Suffolk: I’m with you–red rose.

Somerset: Vernon?

Vernon: If this is supposed to settle the matter, then whichever side has the fewest roses has to admit they’re beaten.

Somerset: Sure.

Richard: Fine.

Vernon: It’s pretty clear to me.  I’m taking a white rose.

Somerset: Don’t prick yourself on a thorn, or you’ll turn it red.

Vernon: If I bleed for my choice, so be it.  But I’m keeping the white rose.

Somerset (To the Lawyer): You’re a lawyer.  You heard both sides.  Who’s right?

Lawyer: Based on the law, I have to say I’m on Richard’s side.  I’ll wear a white rose. 

Richard: There!  What do you say to that, Somerset?

Somerset (Grabbing the scabbard of his sword): This is my best argument.  Your white roses may end up blood-red.

Richard: What’s the matter, Somerset?  You’ve gone pale all of a sudden.  I guess that shows you know we’re right.

Somerset: You’re blushing red–with shame, of course.  You know I’m right.

Richard: Your red rose looks diseased.

Somerset: Yours has an ugly thorn, Plantagenet.

Richard: A good, sharp thorn to prick your pretentious bubble.

Somerset: Plenty of other people will be wearing the red rose.  Good people know the truth.

Richard: Hey, count the roses.  We win–loser.

Suffolk: You’ve got a nerve, Plantagenet.

Richard: Nerve enough for both of you.

Suffolk: You’ll eat your words someday.

Somerset: Come on, Suffolk.  Let’s not dignify this–commoner–by conversing with him.

Warwick: Wait a minute, Somerset.  Plantagenet’s great-great-grandfather was Lionel, Duke of Clarence.

Richard: He wouldn’t dare insult me if we weren’t standing behind the law courts.

Somerset: Fuck that!  Your father, Richard, Earl of Cambridge, was executed for treason by Henry the Fifth!  You don’t have a title any more!

Richard: You jerk!  It was never proven that he was a traitor!  He was executed without a trial!  And as for the both of you–(Indicating Somerset and Suffolk) I won’t forget this insult.  You’ll be sorry.

Somerset: Do your worst.  We’ll be ready for you.  And there’ll be more of us than there are of you.

Richard: This white rose is pale with hatred for the likes of you.  And I’ll wear it until I’m in my grave or on the throne, where I belong.

Suffolk: I pray that you choke on your ambition.

Somerset: Amen to that!–Come on, Suffolk, let’s split.

    (Suffolk and Somerset leave.)

Richard: I could’ve strangled those guys!

Warwick (Patting Richard’s arm): Discretion–discretion–.The next Parliament will probably restore your title.  They’ve been called to patch up the quarrel between Winchester and Gloucester.  If you don’t get your title back, I’ll eat my shoes.  That’s how sure I am.  In the meantime, I’m going to wear this white rose for your sake.

Vernon: So will I.

Lawyer: I will, too.

Richard: I really appreciate it, you guys.  Come on, let me treat you to dinner.

Warwick: We accept.–But I’ll be honest with you.  This dispute about the throne is going to escalate.  I can foresee a war at some point–the red roses against the white roses.  A lot of people could die.

Richard (Smiling): Well–it won’t happen today.–Come on.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 5.  A prison cell in the Tower of London.  The aged Edmund Mortimer is slumped in a chair, eyes closed.  The Jailer comes in.

Jailer: Edmund Mortimer–are you asleep?

Mortimer (Opening his eyes): Eh?

Jailer: You sent for your nephew.

Mortimer: Yes, yes.

Jailer: He’s here.

Mortimer: Thank God.

    (The Jailer leaves, and Richard Plantagenet comes in.)

Richard: Uncle!

Mortimer: Richard!

    (They embrace.)

Richard: How are you, uncle?

Mortimer: Sick–old–not long for this world.  But seeing you again warms my heart.  How are you, boy?  How are you?

Richard: I’m unhappy, uncle.

Mortimer: What’s wrong?

Richard: I got into a quarrel with Somerset.  He insulted me, and he insulted my father.  Called him a traitor. 

Mortimer: Oh–oh–

Richard: Uncle, please tell me the truth about my father.  I need to know.

    (Richard sits beside Mortimer.)

Mortimer: It’s a fine bit of history, my boy.  All in the family.  Richard the Second made me his heir to the throne.  I was next in line because I was descended from Lionel.  But when Henry the Fourth overthrew Richard, my claim to the throne was simply ignored.  Later on, the Percys, who had been Henry’s friends, rebelled against him.  They wanted to put me on the throne.  But they were beaten, and I was thrown in prison.  Your father, the Earl of Cambridge, was on my side.  He married your mother–my sister, Anne.  He wanted to put me on the throne, but he was executed for treason by Henry the Fifth.  He died for a good cause, my boy.  We Mortimers were robbed by the Lancasters.  Now I’m old, and I have no children.  But you, my boy, are the son of my sister.  And now I make you my heir.  My heir, Richard.  Do you understand what that means? 

Richard: Yes, uncle.  I’ll get revenge on the Lancasters–for my father, and for you.

Mortimer: Shh–careful what you say, nephew.  Never give a signal to your enemies that you’re angry with them.  You have to be cautious.  The Lancasters are well-entrenched.  Getting them off the throne would be like moving a mountain.–Ahh–I’m glad we had this talk, my boy–before I die.

Richard: I would gladly give you some of my years if I could.

Mortimer: No, no, my boy.  Nature must take its course.  I’ve lived long enough.  I’m ready to leave this old body.  You’ll see to my funeral.

Richard: Uncle, you mustn’t die.

Mortimer: My dear boy–son of my beloved sister–May God protect you–and may you prosper well–in peace–or war–.

    (He dies.)

Richard: Uncle!  (He clasps Mortimer’s hand.)–Thank you for giving me the truth–and your advice.–I will have my honour restored.

    (Scene ends without an exit.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  Parliament.  Young King Henry VI comes in with Exeter, Gloucester, Winchester, Somerset, Suffolk, and Richard Plantagenet.  [Author’s note: Henry is presented here as a teenager, although historically he would have been much younger.]  Gloucester attempts to stick a paper on the wall, and Winchester grabs it and tears it up.

Winchester: That’s this?  More dirty accusations against me?  If you have something to say against me, say it out loud.

Gloucester: I would, but foul language isn’t allowed here in Parliament–you evil priest.  You think you can get away with your dirty plots and your treason?  You wanted to have me killed at London Bridge and at the Tower.

Winchester: Liar!

Gloucester: You’re too ambitious, Winchester.  It’s written all over you.

Winchester: Me?  Ambitious?  (To the others)  You hear this clown?  He calls me ambitious.  If I’m so ambitious, how come I’m so poor?  I’m a man of the church.  I’m a man of peace.  But Gloucester provokes me.  And you know why?  Because he can’t stand the thought that somebody else might have as much influence with the King as he does.  And I’m just as good a man as Gloucester.

Gloucester: As good?  A bastard of my grandfather, John of Gaunt!

Winchester: You want to rule England by yourself!

Gloucester: I’m the Lord Protector of the King–my nephew!

Winchester: And I’m a bishop of the church.

Gloucester: A position you use for your own selfish purposes.

Winchester: If you attack me, you attack the church.  Rome stands behind me.

Warwick: The further behind, the better.

Somerset (To Warwick): My lord, you shouldn’t say that.

Warwick: A bishop should be more humble.

Somerset: But his Grace is simply defending the church.

Warwick: And Gloucester is protecting the King.

Richard (Aside): I’d tell this fucking bishop where to get off, but I’m keeping my mouth shut.

King: Please!  Please!–Gloucester–Winchester–It hurts me to see you fight like this.  And it’s very bad for the country when people of such high rank fight with each other.

    (Sounds of fighting are heard offstage, suggesting two groups.)

King: What’s going on out there?

Warwick: I’ll bet it’s the Bishop’s boys making trouble.

    (Continued sounds of fighting.  Then the Mayor of London comes in.)

Mayor: My lords!  Do you hear that racket outside?  Gloucester’s servants are fighting with the Bishop’s servants!  I forbade them to carry weapons, and now they’re beating each other!

    (The fighting comes onstage.)

King: Stop!  Stop!  (To Gloucester)  Uncle, you must stop them!

Gloucester (To his Servants): Stop the fight!

A Servant of Gloucester: My lord, we won’t allow these dirtbags to offend your honour!

Gloucester: Lads, this is Parliament!  You can’t fight here!

King: Winchester!  Do something!

Warwick: Gloucester–Winchester–come on.  We can’t have this.

Winchester: I won’t stop anything unless Gloucester stops it first. 

Gloucester: All right–for the King’s sake.  (To his Servants) You must stop right now!  You’re upsetting the King!

    (The fighting stops tentatively.)

Warwick: Winchester?

Winchester (To his Servants): That’s enough, boys.  You’ve had your fun.

Warwick (To Gloucester and Winchester): Can we call a truce here?–Come on.  If you love the King.

Gloucester: Yes, all right.

    (He extends his hand, but Winchester holds back.)

King: Bishop?  You said you were a man of peace.

    (Warwick gives a thumbs-up to the audience to show his approval of the King’s remark.  Winchester reluctantly shakes hands with Gloucester.)

Winchester: This is just to show that I love the King as much as you do.

Gloucester (Aside): Phony bastard.

Winchester (Aside): I’d sooner strangle him.

King (Happily): There!–Now I feel better.–My kind and noble kinsmen.  (To the Servants)  And all you lads make peace now.

The Servants: Yes, my lord.

King: Go down to the pub and have a drink or something.  Be friendly.

The Servants: Yes, my lord.

    (The Servants leave.)

Mayor: Thank you, my lords!

    (The Mayor leaves, wiping his brow with his handkerchief.)

Warwick (To the King): Now, down to business, my lord.  In behalf of your cousin Richard Plantagenet, here is a request for your kind consideration.

    (He hands the King a paper.)

Gloucester: Yes, your Majesty.  I talked to you about this before.  It’s about Richard’s title.  It would be a gracious thing if you were to restore it to him.

King: It’s my pleasure to do it–(To Richard) not only the earldom of Cambridge but also the dukedom of York, which belonged to your uncle, who died at Agincourt in the service of my father.–Now, kneel before me.

    (Richard kneels.  The King taps him on the shoulders with  his sword.)

King: Arise, Duke of York.

Richard: Your Majesty, I pledge my obedience and loyalty to you as long as I live.

    (The others cheer and applaud, except for Somerset, who turns his back and shows his middle finger to the audience.)

Gloucester: Your Majesty, the next thing you need to do is go to France and be crowned King there.  The French need to know who their real King is.

King: Uncle, I rely on your advice.

    (A trumpet flourish.  All leave, except Exeter, who faces the audience grimly.)

Exeter: They don’t understand the risk.  This quarrel between Gloucester and Winchester is going to erupt again.  And the outcome is going to be bad for the whole country.  It was prophesied that everything that Henry the Fifth won in France would be lost by Henry the Sixth.  I don’t want to live to see it.

    (He leaves.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  Outside the walls of Rouen.  Joan and several Soldiers come in, disguised as peasants.

Joan: Remember, we’re peasants.  We’ll con our way in, and then Rouen will be in French hands.

    (She knocks at the gate.)

Watchman (Within): Who knocks?

Joan: We are peasants, sir, come to sell our corn.  Please let us in.

Watchman (Within): All right.  I’ll open the gate for you.

    (The gate opens, and Joan and the Soldiers go in.  Then Charles, the Bastard, Alenc,on, and Soldiers appear at the wing.)

Charles: She’s in.  Watch for her signal.

    (Joan appears briefly on the wall, waves a torch, and then disappears.)

Charles: That’s it!

Alenc,on (To the Soldiers): Come on, men!

    (They enter the town.  Sounds of alarm within.  [The action gets complex here.  The Director must decide how people come in and go out.]  Talbot, Burgundy, and Bedford come in, having fled from the town.  Bedford is sick and is assisted or carried on a stretcher by Attendants.  Joan, Charles, the Bastard, and Alenc,on appear on the wall.)

Joan: Good morning, English!  Want to buy some corn?–Ha! Ha! Ha!

Burgundy: You witch!  I’ll shove that corn down your throat!

Charles: You should live so long, Burgundy!–Ha! Ha!

Bedford: Save your breath, Burgundy.  Let our swords speak for us.

Joan: Your swords, sir?  You’re too old and sick even to stand up, let alone wield a sword.

Talbot: Wait till I get my hands on you!

Joan: Oh, Talbot, you’re so funny when you’re angry.

Talbot: Why don’t you give us a fair fight on an open field?  That’s what real soldiers do!

Joan: No, thank you.  Only brutes like you rely on force.  We prefer to use our brains.

Talbot: You mean your tricks!–You–Alenc,on.  You’re a soldier.  Surely you have a sense of honour.  Give us a fair fight out in the open.

Alenc,on: Sorry.  No.

Joan (To her party): Let’s go.  We’ve made our point.–Goodbye, Talbot!

    (Joan and her party disappear from the wall.)

Talbot: We’ll take Rouen back.–Are you with me, Burgundy?

Burgundy: All the way.

Talbot: But we have to help Bedford first.–Bedford, we’ve got to get you to safety.

Bedford (Weakly): I’m not going anywhere.  I don’t want to miss anything.  You go on.

Talbot: You’ve got guts, my lord–but I always knew that.–Come on, Burgundy.  We’ll collect our men and chase after those French.

    (Talbot, Burgundy, and Soldiers rush out, leaving Bedford with the Attendants.  Bedford watches the suggested action offstage.  Alarms.)

Bedford (Weakly): Go get ’em, Talbot!–That’s it!–You show ’em what we’re made of!–The French can’t beat us–never–oh–my soul–yes–take me now–it’s time–

    (He dies.  Talbot, Burgundy, and the Soldiers return.)

Talbot: We did it, Burgundy!  We did it!

Burgundy: Talbot, you were magnificent!

Talbot: We’ll restore order in the town, and I’ll beef up security so there are no more intrusions.  Then we have to go to Paris to meet up with the King.

Burgundy: I’m with you.

     (Talbot kneels beside Bedford.)

Talbot: Bedford!  Did you see?

Attendant: He’s dead, sir–but he did see you.  He was happy.

Talbot: My friend Bedford.  He was as good as he was brave.  We’ll bury him here in Rouen.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 3.  Between Rouen and Paris.  Charles, the Bastard, Alenc,on, Joan, and Soldiers (including a Trumpeter) come in.

Joan: Don’t be discouraged, my friends.  Let them have Rouen for now.  Let Talbot enjoy his moment of glory.  It won’t last long.

Charles: We trust you, Joan. 

Bastard: Yes.  You still have a trick or two up your sleeve, eh? 

Alenc,on: Of course, she does.  She’s divinely inspired.–So what do we do now, Joan?

Joan: I have a plan.  I will entice the Duke of Burgundy to abandon Talbot and come over to our side.

Charles: That would be great.  If Burgundy came back to us, the English wouldn’t stand a chance.

Joan: You can hear their armies.–Listen.

    (Distant drums of the English army.)

Joan: That’s Talbot.

    (A different drum sound.)

Joan: That’s Burgundy.  He’s following Talbot.  Sound the trumpet for a parley.  He’ll recognize it.

Charles (To the Trumpeter): Sound a parley.

    (The Trumpeter sounds a parley.  After a short interval, Burgundy comes in.)

Burgundy: I assume that trumpet was meant for me.

Charles: Yes, Burgundy.  Joan wants to talk to you.

Burgundy (To Joan): Well, make it fast.  I’m on the march.

Joan: My lord of Burgundy, look at your country.  Can you not see the horror this war has brought?  Can you not see the destruction?  Can you not see and hear the despair of your countrymen?  This is your country.  This is France.  Do you hate your people so much that you would join with their murderers?  Have you no pity?  Why do you raise your sword against France when you are a Frenchman?  Why, Burgundy?

    (Burgundy hesitates, stricken with remorse.)

Joan: The English are using you.  They don’t care about you.  Once you’ve served their purposes, they’ll cast you out.  Return to us, Burgundy.  It’s not too late.  We are your people.  We want you back.  The King wants you back.

Charles: Yes, Burgundy.  Come back to us.

Alenc,on and the Bastard: Come back to us, Burgundy.

Burgundy (To Joan): Lady–you pierce my heart.  How could I have been so wrong?  (To the King)  Can you forgive me, sir?

Charles: Yes!  We want you back.  That’s the only thing that matters.

Burgundy: Then from now on I’m with you.  I’m through with the English.

Charles: Thank God!  We’re friends again.

Bastard: This changes everything.  Now I know we’ll win.

Alenc,on: We were right to trust Joan.

Charles: We’ll join our armies together, and then we’ll really turn this war around.  Come.  We’ll make our plans.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 4.  King Henry’s palace in Paris.  King Henry comes in with Gloucester, Winchester, York (Richard Plantagenet), Suffolk, Somerset, Warwick, Exeter, Vernon, and Basset.  Meeting them coming in are Talbot and his Soldiers.

Talbot: My lords, I’m happy to report that I have recaptured fifty forts, twelve cities, and seven walled towns, and I’ve taken five hundred prisoners of rank.

King: Uncle Gloucester, is this the Lord Talbot I’ve heard so much about?

Gloucester: Yes.  You never met him before because he’s been in France all this time.

King: Lord Talbot, my father spoke highly of you.  Now I want to reward you for all your excellent service.  You may kneel before me.

    (Talbot kneels.  The King taps him on the shoulders with his sword.)

King: I bestow on you the title of Earl of Shrewsbury.  You shall attend my coronation and stand with the other nobles.

Talbot: I thank your Majesty.  Whether as a humble soldier, a captain, or an earl, I shall always serve with total loyalty.

King: Come, everyone.

    (All leave with the King, except Vernon and Basset, who linger.)

Vernon: Now I have something to say to you, Basset.  You insulted this white rose I wear for the Duke of York.  I demand that you retract what you said.

Basset: Why should I?  You insulted the Duke of Somerset.

Vernon: I said what I thought of him, and I stand by it.

Basset: He’s as good a man as York–or better.

Vernon: He’s a bum!  And so are you!

    (Vernon strikes Basset.)

Basset: You bastard!  I’d cut your head off if we weren’t in the King’s court!  I’m going to tell him about this and I’ll get his permission to duel it out with you!

Vernon: There’s nothing I’d like better!

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  Paris.  A stately room for the King’s coronation.  The King comes in with Gloucester, Winchester, York, Suffolk, Somerset, Warwick, Talbot, Exeter, and the Governor of Paris.  Winchester is holding the crown.

Gloucester: My lord Bishop, you can do the honours.

Winchester (To the King): In the name of God and the church, I crown you King Henry the Sixth, King of France.

    (He places the crown on King Henry.)

Gloucester: Governor of Paris.

    (The Governor kneels.)

Gloucester: Do you swear to accept King Henry the Sixth as your only King, to be loyal to him, and to defend him against all enemies, so help you God?

Governor: I do.

King: Thank you, my Lord Governor.  Now you may leave us.

    (The Governor bows and leaves.  Then Fastolfe comes in, out of breath.)

Fastolfe: Your Majesty!–My lords!–I have a letter that was given to me for the King by the Duke of Burgundy!

Talbot: Fastolfe!  You coward!  (To the KIng)  This is the captain who abandoned me at Orleans!  And he has the nerve to wear the garter, which is reserved only for the bravest knights!

    (Talbot tears the garter off Fastolfe.  [Author’s note: The garter is best represented for this scene as a patch worn on the sleeve.])

Gloucester: Good for you, Talbot!  (To the King) My lord, Fastolfe has disgraced the Order of the Garter.  He doesn’t deserve to be a knight.

King: Fastolfe, you are unworthy.  Your knighthood is revoked.  Get out.  I never want to see you again.

    (Gloucester snatches the letter from Fastolfe, who leaves.)

King: What’s in the letter, uncle?

    (Gloucester peruses the letter and looks disturbed.)

Gloucester: I don’t believe it.–The bloody turncoat.

King: What’s the matter?

Gloucester: Burgundy’s gone over to the French.

King: But why?

Gloucester (Studying the letter): He just says his heart is with France–Charles is the true King–and we’re just invaders.

King: But what’s the reason for this?  There must be a reason.

Gloucester: I don’t know what’s behind this.  But it’s bad for us.  Burgundy has a lot of influence in northern France.  This could tip the balance of power against us.

King: Then we must get him back–somehow.–Lord Talbot, can you go and talk to him?  You must change his mind.

Talbot: I’ll do my best, my lord.

    (Talbot leaves.  Then Vernon and Basset come in.  Vernon is wearing a white rose, and Basset a red rose.)

Vernon: Your Majesty, I’ve come to ask permission to duel against this man.

Basset: And I ask the same, your Majesty.  My quarrel with this man can only be settled by the sword.

    (The King looks at the others, perplexed.)

Richard: Your Majesty, Vernon is a friend of mine.  I would ask you please to grant his request.

Somerset: Your Majesty, Basset is my friend.  He has been wronged.  Please let him duel for his honour.

King: Wait, wait.  I want to know what this is about.–You–Basset.  What’s your grievance with this man?

Basset: My lord, on the way over here from England, Vernon insulted me for wearing this red rose, which I wear to show my support for Lord Somerset.

King: Support about what?

Basset: My lord, it’s a dispute over a question of law.  Vernon said some bad things about Somerset, and as a gentleman I took offense.

Vernon: My lord, Basset provoked me by attacking the character of the Duke of York.

Richard (To Somerset): You see the trouble you’ve caused?

Somerset: Me?  You started it.  If anyone’s causing trouble, it’s you.

King: Stop!  This is crazy.  You’re both cousins to me.  I don’t want you to fight.

Richard: It’s a private matter, my lord.  Let me duel him and settle it.

Somerset: That’s fine with me.

Vernon: No, no!  I came here to duel Basset.

Basset: Yes.  It’s between me and Vernon.

Gloucester: Enough of this bullshit!  Nobody’s going to duel anybody!  Do we need this kind of shit right now, when we’re at war and we’re in danger of losing all of France?

Exeter: Yes.  Gloucester’s right.  This is the last thing we need.

King: Look, you guys.  If you have any love for me, forget this feud, whatever it’s about.  If the French knew we were fighting amongst ourselves, it would only encourage them to drive us out of France, and we’d lose everything my father fought for and won.  Are we so stupid as to lose all of France because somebody doesn’t like the colour of somebody else’s rose?–Here.  Look.  (He takes a red rose from a vase and puts it on.)  I’m putting on this red rose.  Does that mean I’m taking sides?  No.  It’s just a rose.  York and Somerset are both family to me.  We all have to cooperate and be friends.  Now this is what I’ll do.–York, I’m making you Regent in this part of France, and I’m putting you in charge of the infantry.–Somerset, I’m putting you in charge of the cavalry.  Now you’ll have to work together.  The rest of us will go back to Calais and then return to England.  I expect to hear good news from the two of you that you’ve beaten the French.–Gloucester.  (He nods to Gloucester, and they leave with the others, except for York, Warwick, Exeter, and Vernon, who linger.)

Warwick (To York): I think our young King handled that rather well.

Richard: Except for putting on the red rose.

Warwick: Forget it.  Don’t read anything into it.

Richard: Maybe I should.–But never mind.  We have more important business to deal with.

    (They leave, except Exeter.)

Exeter: It’s a good thing Richard didn’t blow up–otherwise, who knows where it might have led?–A quarrel like this is a bad omen.  It’s bad enough that we have a young King–inexperienced.  But we’re at war, too.  If we have fighting amongst ourselves, we’ll lose everything.

    (He leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  [Author’s note: Shakespeare doesn’t explain what happened when Talbot left to seek out Burgundy, but we know that he was unsuccessful.  This scene is an extreme example of chronological inaccuracy, as Talbot’s last campaign was in 1453 — 22 years after the previous coronation and eight years after Henry’s marriage to Margaret, which hasn’t happened yet.]  Before the gates of Bordeaux.  Talbot comes in with Soldiers (including a Trumepter).

Talbot (To the Trumpeter): Sound a call to the French.

    (The Trumpeter sounds a call.  The French General appears at the wall with French  Soldiers.)

General: Who summons us?

Talbot: Lord Talbot, general to King Henry the Sixth of England and France.  The King demands that you open the gates and accept him as your King.  If you do, we’ll have peace.  Otherwise, I’ll use all the power at my command to destroy you and your town of Bordeaux.

General: Talbot, you have terrorized us long enough.  But now the hour of your death draws near.  You can’t break in because we’re too strong.  And you can’t escape either.  Even now as I speak, you are surrounded on all sides by French forces.  You are doomed.

    (Distant drums are heard.)

General: The Dauphin and his army are coming to kill you.  Goodbye, Talbot.

    (The General and his Soldiers disappear from the wall.)

Talbot (To his Soldiers): Oh, Christ.  We’ve walked into a trap.  Lads, we’re going to have to fight for our lives.  We have no choice.–Come on.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  A plain in southwest France.  York and Soldiers meet a Messenger coming in.

Richard: Any word from our scouts?

Messenger: Yes, my lord.  The Dauphin has joined up with two other armies, and they’ve gone to Bordeaux to attack Talbot.

Richard: Damn!  Where the hell is Somerset and his cavalry?  How am I supposed to help Talbot?  He’s counting on me.

    (Another messenger, Sir William Lucy, comes in.)

Richard: Sir William!

Lucy: My lord, Talbot is surrounded at Bordeaux.  If you don’t go to him immediately, he’s done for.

Richard: I need cavalry, damn it!  That bloody Somerset! 

Lucy: Talbot’s son is there, too.

Richard: Young John?  He’s trapped at Bordeaux?

Lucy: Yes.  It’s the first time they’ve seen each other in seven years.  Now it looks like they’re going to die together.

Richard: Oh, fucking hell!

    (Richard covers his face, deeply affected.  Then he collects himself and puts his hands on Lucy’s shoulders.)

Richard: Sir William–I can’t help them without Somerset’s cavalry.  He’s deliberately holding them back.  I know he is.  He hates me.–I’m sorry.

    (Richard leaves with his Soldiers.)

Lucy: Is this the way it ends for Talbot?  He dies because of a feud between two commanders?  (He looks up at heaven.)  If there’s a miracle left in heaven, we need it now.–The ghost of Henry the Fifth will never forgive us for such stupidity.

    (Lucy leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 4.  Another plain in southwest France.  Somerset comes in with one of Talbot’s Captains.

Somerset: It’s too late, Captain.  I can’t send them now.

Captain: But my lord!–

Somerset: Talbot shouldn’t have gone out there in the first place.  But he always has to be a big hero.  And York encouraged him.  The whole thing was a bad idea.  If I send my cavalry out now, they could all be lost.

Captain: But my lord–Wait, here’s Sir William Lucy.

    (Lucy comes in.)

Somerset: Hello, Lucy.  Who sent you?

Lucy (With restrained anger): Who sent me, sir?  Lord Talbot.  He expected help from you, and he never got it.  Thanks to you, he’s probably going to die.

Somerset: Don’t pin it on me.  York sent him out there.  He’s responsible for helping him.

Lucy: York says he was waiting for your cavalry and you held them back.

Somerset: He’s a liar.  He could’ve sent the cavalry at the beginning if he’d wanted to.  Anyway, I don’t owe him anything.  He’s not my friend.

Lucy: And so Talbot has to die because of that?  Is that it?

Somerset (Hesitating): I could send the cavalry.–They could reach him in six hours.

Lucy: By that time he’ll either be a prisoner or dead.  Probably dead.

Somerset: If he’s dead, he’s dead.  A hero for England.  It’s the way he would’ve wanted it.

Lucy: Talbot will be remembered as a hero, all right.  But how will you be remembered–Lord Somerset?

    (Somerset walks away, annoyed.)

Act 4, Scene 5.  Near Bordeaux.  Talbot comes in with his son, John.

Talbot: I never should have brought you on this campaign, my boy.  I wanted to teach you the art of war while I was still able to fight.  But now you have to get away.  You have to save yourself.

John: What?  You expect me to run?  Me–the son of Lord Talbot?  I couldn’t disgrace myself like that.

Talbot: John, you’re the last of the Talbots.  The family name must go on.  If you stay here, you’ll die.  I want you to go.

John: No!

Talbot: No one will hold it against you.  I want you to live.

John: Live a life without honour?  A life without honour is not worth living.  You taught me that, father.

    (Talbot burst into tears and hugs his son.)

Talbot: My son–

John: I couldn’t leave you any more than I could cut myself in two.

Talbot: Then we shall live or die–together.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 6.  This scene is deleted.

Act 4, Scene 7.  Near the battlefield.  Distant sounds of battle.  Talbot comes in with a Servant.

Talbot: Where is my boy?  Did you see him fight?  Did you see how brave he was?  He was wounded, but he kept on fighting.  He protected me when I was down.  Did you see?

Servant: My lord, they are bringing him now.

    (Soldiers come in, carrying John’s body.)

Talbot: My son!

    (He hugs John’s body.)

Soldiers: We’re so sorry, my lord.

    (Talbot, in tears, forces a smile.)

Talbot: It’s all right.–A Talbot is not afraid to die.

    (He dies holding his son’s body.  The Soldiers kneel beside him.  Then Charles, Alenc,on, Burgundy, the Bastard, and Joan come in.  The French victory is suggested.)

Charles: So.  Lord Talbot, the scourge of France, is dead.  If York and Somerset had come to his rescue, I don’t think we would’ve won.

Bastard: His son fought well for his first time in battle.

Joan: I met him on the field and challenged him, but he wouldn’t fight me.  He said it was unworthy of a Talbot to kill a woman.

Burgundy: I’m sorry to see him die.  He would’ve made a splendid knight someday.

    (Sir William Lucy comes in, escorted by a French Herald.)

Herald (To Charles): Sir William Lucy, my lord.

Lucy: Where is my general?  Where is Talbot?

Charles (Pointing): There.  With his son.

    (Lucy kneels beside the bodies.)

Lucy: Talbot–my general.–(To Charles)  Will you allow me to take their bodies to be buried?

Joan: Yes, take them.  We don’t want them stinking up our land with their rotting corpses.

Lucy (Angrily): There will be no rotting corpses, lady!  From their ashes will arise a phoenix that will take revenge on France!

Charles (Mockingly): Mm–yes–indeed.  Take them away then and wait for your phoenix to rise up.  We’re going to Paris to celebrate.  (To his party)  Come along, everyone.

    (The French leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  The King’s palace in London.  King Henry comes in with Gloucester and Exeter.

Gloucester: The ambassadors from the Pope, the Emperor Sigismund, and the Earl of Armagnac are here.  They all want us to make peace with France.

King: What should we do, uncle?

Gloucester: Let’s make peace and stop the bloodshed.

King: Yes.  England and France shouldn’t be fighting.  We’re both Christian, after all.

Gloucester: Christian or not, the sooner we make peace, the better.  The Earl of Armagnac is offering you his daughter in marriage, along with a generous dowry.  He’s a very important noble–very close to the Dauphin.

King: Me get married?  I’ve never even thought of it.  I’m happy just to read my books.  And I’m so young.

Gloucester: Your father married your mother to make peace with France after we won at Agincourt.  I’m sure he would approve of your marrying a French lady to make peace.  [Author’s note: Henry V married Katherine, daughter of Charles VI.]

King: Well, if you think I really should, all right.

    (Winchester, dressed as a Cardinal, comes in with the three Ambassadors.)

King: Ah, the ambassadors.–

Exeter (Aside to the audience): You see that?  Winchester’s a Cardinal now.–Asshole.

King: Welcome, gentlemen.  I’ve discussed your proposal, and I’m agreeable.  My lord of Winchester will take our reply back to France.

Gloucester: The King agrees to marry Armagnac’s daughter.

King: And I send her this ring as my pledge to her.  (He gives a ring to Gloucester.)  Uncle, you can escort them to Dover and see them off.

Ambassadors: Thank you, my lord!

    (All leave except Winchester, who detains the Pope’s legate by pulling on his sleeve.)

Winchester: I’ll give you the money I promised His Holiness for making me a Cardinal.  Wait for me in the hall.

Legate: Very good, sir.

    (The Legate goes out.)

Winchester: Now that I’m a Cardinal, we’ll see who carries the most weight around here–me or Gloucester.

    (He leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  [Author’s note: There is a serious gap in Shakespeare’s story line here.  Henry doesn’t marry Armagnac’s daughter.  And fresh hostilities have broken out between England and France.  Historically, Winchester and Suffolk persuaded Henry to marry Margaret of Anjou.  We may infer that Winchester helped derail the marriage to Armagnac’s daughter because he wanted to thwart Gloucester and have the greater influence with Henry.]  On the plains in western France.  Charles, Burgundy, Alenc,on, the Bastard, Reignier, and Joan come in.

Charles: My friends, I’ve received news that the Parisians are rebelling against the English.

Alenc,on: Good!  We should go there at once.

    (A Scout comes in.)

Scout: My lords!

Charles: What news?

Scout: My lord, the two parts of the English army have joined up, and they intend to attack.

Charles: Tsk!–That’s not good.–But we’ll deal with it.  After all, we have Joan with us.  She always knows what to do.–Don’t you, Joan?

Joan: My lord, I predict that if you command personally, you’ll win.

Charles: That’s good enough for me.–All right, then.  It’s decided. We attack the English.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 3.  The plains of Anjou in western France.  Sounds of thunder.  Trumpet alarms.  Joan comes in alone.

Joan: The English are winning, and the French are retreating.–Spirits, help me now!

    (Two Spirits jump in.  They look like little devils and do not speak.)

Joan: Spirits!  I have given you my blood before in return for your help.  Will you help me now?  (The Spirits frown.)  I’ll give you my body!  (The Spirits shake their heads.)  My soul, then!  You can have my soul if you’ll help me defeat the English!

    (The Spirits shake their heads and leave.)

Joan: They’ve forsaken me.  Now France is doomed.

    (Distant sounds of battle.  Richard, Duke of York, comes in suddenly, sword out, suggesting recent fighting.  He grabs Joan by the arm.)

Richard: Got you!  You witch!  Now let’s see if your divine powers can save you!

Joan: A plague on you, Duke of York!  May the devil strangle you in your bed!

Richard: Ha, ha, ha!–Save your curses for your execution.  You’re coming with me.

    (Richard drags Joan out.  Then Suffolk comes in, holding Margaret of Anjou as a prisoner.  He is smiling, however.)

Suffolk: Don’t be afraid, young lady.  I won’t hurt you.  Who are you?

Margaret: I am Margaret, daughter of Lord Reignier, King of Naples and Duke of Anjou.  Who are you?

Suffolk: I’m the Earl of Suffolk.  My, my, you are a beautiful girl.  If I weren’t already married, I’d ask your father for your hand.

Margaret: My father will pay a ransom for me.  How much do you want?

Suffolk (Aside to the audience): Her father’s broke.  He lost all his lands to us.  Maybe I can make a deal.–Now, then, my lovely princess, how would you like to be a queen?

Margaret: Monsieur, what do you mean?

Suffolk: How would you like to marry King Henry?

Margaret: But I’m only fifteen, monsieur.  My father must decide whom I marry.

Suffolk: Then we’ll ask him.  (Calling to a Trumpeter offstage)  Trumpeter!  Sound a parley for Lord Reignier!

    (The Trumpet sounds.  Then Reignier comes in.)

Reignier: Who are you?  What are you doing with my daughter?

Margaret: Papa, I am a prisoner!

Reignier: Monsieur, I beg you.  Don’t hurt her. 

Suffolk: I wouldn’t hurt her.  I like her.  I’m the Earl of Suffolk.

Reignier: What do you want from me–a ransom?

Suffolk: No, no, no.  I want to help you and your daughter.

Reignier: How do you mean?

Suffolk: Would you let your daughter marry King Henry?  I can arrange it.  It would make peace between England and France.

Reignier: Well–I–I don’t know.  She’s so young.

Suffolk: She’ll be well taken care of, I assure you.  King Henry will adore her.  And I’ll be a good friend to her.  I’ll be someone she can talk to–you know–a wise older man.  I can tell she’s a wonderful girl.  Please say yes.  I promise you won’t regret it–and neither will she.

Reignier: Perhaps you’re aware of my–situation.  I will agree if I can have my lands back–Maine and Anjou.

Suffolk: I will arrange it.  So, do we have a deal?

    (Reignier and Margaret whisper confidentially for a moment.)

Reignier: Yes.  It’s a deal.

Suffolk: Very good, sir.  Then I leave her in your care for now.

Reignier: Thank you, sir.  I’m grateful to you.

    (Reignier and Margaret leave.)

Suffolk (To the audience): That girl is a knockout.  Wait till I tell the King about her.  He’ll be thrilled.  And that’ll be a boost for me, you can be sure of that.

    (He leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 4.  Rouen.  York, Warwick, a Shepherd, Joan, and Soldiers come in.  Joan is a prisoner.

Richard: Joan de Pucelle, you are condemned to die by burning at the stake.

Shepherd: No! No!  She’s my daughter!  Don’t kill her!

Joan: You miserable shepherd!  I don’t know you!  I come from a better class of people!

Shepherd: My lords, she is my daughter.

Warwick (To Joan): What an evil girl!  You deny your own father?

Richard: It just proves how wicked she is.

Joan: You dug him up on purpose to tell lies about my birth.

Shepherd: Lies?  Oh, you are wicked!  He’s right.  Take your punishment, then.

Richard (To the Soldiers): Take her away.  We’ve put up with her long enough.

Joan: Wait!  Do you know who I am?  I am the daughter of kings!  I am divinely chosen to do miracles!  That’s why you hate me!  Because I am so graced!  You accuse me of consorting with devils, but I am a virgin!  I am pure!

Richard: What a load of crap.

Warwick: Make sure the fire’s really big.

Joan: Wait!  Would you execute a pregnant woman?

Richard: You just said you were a virgin.

Warwick: Maybe she thinks she’s another Virgin Mary.

Richard: She’s been fucking Charles.  That’s it.

Warwick: Well, I don’t mind burning a bastard son of the Dauphin.

Joan: No!  It’s not the Dauphin.  It’s–Alenc,on.

Richard: That son of a bitch?  That won’t help you either.

Joan: No!  Wait.  It isn’t Alenc,on.  It’s–Reignier, the King of Naples.

Warwick: A married man?–Tsk! Tsk!

Richard: She’s fucked so many men, it could be anyone.

Warwick: What a slut.

Richard: Lady, I don’t care what’s in your belly or who your father is either.  You’re going to be executed.

Joan: Then I put a curse on you and all of England!  May you all die of plague!

Richard (To the Soldiers): Take her away.

    (The Soldiers take Joan out.  Then Winchester and his Attendants come in.  He is dressed as a Cardinal.)

Winchester: My lord of York, I come from King Henry.  The Pope has urged peace with France, and the Dauphin and his party are coming to discuss it with you.

Richard: What the hell?  We’re supposed to make peace just when we were winning?  What were we fighting for all this time?–Warwick, we’re going to lose everything.

Warwick: Don’t worry.  If we make peace with France, it’ll be on our terms.  They won’t get any gifts from us.

    (Charles, Alenc,on, the Bastard, and Reignier come in.)

Charles: Greetings, lords of England!  We’ve come to make peace.–Um–what sort of terms did you have in mind–specifically?

Richard (Annoyed): The Cardinal will speak.  I seem to have a bitter taste in my mouth.

Winchester: Yes.  All right.  (To Charles)  King Henry, out of kindness and compassion, has decided that if you submit to his authority and pay him tribute, you will be made Viceroy of France.

Charles: Viceroy?  What the hell good is that?  Half of France already recognizes me as King.–Forget it.  No deal.

Richard: You’re not getting any better deal than that.  You’d better accept it, or we’ll just have to drag the war out indefinitely.

Reignier (Aside to Charles): Just say yes.

Alenc,on (Aside to Charles): You can always go back on it later.

Warwick: Well, my lord?  Deal or no deal?

Charles: Yes.  Deal.

Richard: Awesome.  Then swear your allegiance to King Henry and promise that you and your nobles will never rebel against England.

Charles: I promise.

    (All the Lords spit on their palms and exchange handshakes.)

Richard: Brilliant.

    (Scene ends without an exit.)

Act 5, Scene 5.  The palace in London.  King Henry, Suffolk, Gloucester, and Exeter come in.  Suffolk and the King are in the middle of a conversation.

Suffolk (To the King): I tell you, my lord, she’s the hottest girl I’ve ever seen.

King: Suffolk, you’re geting me really excited.  Is she really, like, you know–hot?

Suffolk: You bet she is–in a virginal way, of course.  Imagine–only fifteen years old.  With the body of a goddess.  She’s got boobs like you’ve never seen.  And a nice, round butt.  And long, shapely legs.  And she’s all yours.  She’s a dream girl.  She’ll do anything you want.  You can command her.  Her only wish is to satisfy you.  Just think of it, my lord!

King (Wide-eyed): Oh, God–oh, God–I can hardly think straight.  I’m all dizzy just thinking about it.–Yes–yes–yes–I want to marry her.

Gloucester (Coughs): Ahem–my lord, you did promise to marry Armagnac’s daughter.

Suffolk: The King can change his mind if he wants.  Besides, Armagnac’s daughter is–you know–not quite good enough for a king.

Gloucester: Oh, and Margaret is better?  Does Reignier rank higher than Armagnac?

Suffolk: Reignier is the King of Naples–and Jerusalem–and he’ll keep the French in line with us.

Gloucester: Who’s closer to the Dauphin–Reignier or Armagnac?  Armagnac is.  He’s related to him.

Exeter: And he’s rich.  Reignier is broke.

Suffolk: Oh, money, money, money!  Why does everything have to be about money?  The King doesn’t need anyone else’s money.  Just look in his eyes.  He’s thinking only of love.  (The King nods, eyes wide, as if in a trance.)  Isn’t it better that he should marry the girl that he wants, rather than have other people choose for him?  After all, he’ll be–sleeping with her!–every night for the rest of his life.  (The King nods again, as before.)  And Margaret is perfect for him.  She’s the daughter of a king.  Their children will be conquerors–at least the boys.–Now, am I right or am I right?

King: You’re right, Suffolk.  I’m convinced, after everthing you’ve told me.  I’ll leave it to you to make the arrangements to bring her here.  Spare no expense.  We’ll levy a special tax on everyone–one-fifteenth of income.  (To Gloucester) Uncle, don’t be angry with me for making up my own mind.–I need to go and sit down and calm myself.  Come along if you like.

    (The King leaves.  Gloucester is obviously unhappy.)

Gloucester: Suffolk, why do I get the feeling that you have some ulterior motive here?

Suffolk: Me, my lord?  Perish the thought!  I want only peace for England and happiness for the King–just as you do.

    (Gloucester frowns and then nods to Exeter to follow him, and the two of them go out, leaving Suffolk alone.  Suffolk now addresses the audience directly.)

Suffolk: And now I go to France to bring back Margaret of Anjou to be Henry’s Queen.  Margaret will rule Henry, but I will rule Margaret–and Henry–and England–if you follow.  And so we leave you with this pearl of wisdom–from me, the Earl of Suffolk.–If you can’t be the head of the Kingdom–be the neck.

    (He leaves.)


    Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

King Henry V

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester; John, Duke of Bedford; Thomas, Duke of Clarence — brothers of King Henry

Duke of Exeter — Henry’s uncle, and a military commander

Duke of York — Henry’s cousin

Earls of Salisbury, Westmoreland, and Warwick — advisors and military commanders of Henry

Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop of Ely

Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey — traitors to Henry (Additional info is given in Act 2, Scene 2.)

Erpingham, Gower, Fluellen, Macmorris, and Jamy — officers in Henry’s army

Bates, Court, and Williams — English soldiers

Nym, Bardolph, and Pistol — commoners from London serving in the English army

Boy — page to Sir John Falstaff

Hostess Quickly — proprietress of the Boar’s Head Tavern in London

English Herald

Montjoy — French Herald

French Ambassador

King of France (Unnamed by Shakespeare, but he was Charles VI)

Louis, the Dauphin (The term “Dauphin” was given to the Crown Prince of France — i.e., the heir to the throne.  Shakespeare doesn’t explain what happened to Louis at the Battle of Agincourt.  He is simply not mentioned again.  Historically, Louis was not at Agincourt and died two months afterwards from an illness.)

Queen Isabel — Queen of France

Katherine — daughter of the King of France

Alice — waiting-lady to Katherine

Governor of Harfleur

Captain of the English Bowmen (not in the original)

Constable of France

Dukes of Orleans, Bretagne, Bourbon, and Burgundy; Earl of Grandpre; Lord Rambures — French nobles

Chorus (Narrator)

(Monsieur Le Fer is deleted)

Gist of the story: Henry V is convinced that he has a claim to the throne of France, based on his ancestry.  When his demands are rebuffed, he takes an army to invade France.  After laying siege to the town of Harfleur, he marches his army north toward Calais but is confronted by much stronger French forces at Agincourt.  Despite being outnumbered by as many as six to one, the English win an astonishing and very one-sided victory.  The French are forced to make peace and accede to Henry’s demands.  Henry marries the French King’s daughter, Katherine, and is named heir to the throne of France.

(The Battle of Agincourt on October 25, 1415, is one of the most noteworthy battles in military history and is the focus of the play.  You will find an excellent article about it on Wikipedia.  If you search the location on Google Maps, be sure to search “Azincourt”, not “Agincourt”.  The historic Agincourt is now called Azincourt; what appears on the maps now as Agincourt is a different, unrelated place.  The numbers involved in the battle are not known for sure, but a rough estimate would be 10,000 English versus 60,000 French.  Several factors contributed to the English victory: 1) the configuration of the battlefield largely neutralized the numerical superiority of the French; 2) muddy turf caused the heavily-armoured French to sink into it; 3) English bowmen equipped with longbows were extremely effective; 4)  there was a lack of control by the French over their attack.  The play is very nationalistic in tone, and Henry is presented as heroic.  If you’re a war-lover, you’ll love this play.  If you’re a peacenick, you’ll hate it.  Some scholars judge Henry harshly for what they consider to be acts of cruelty, but  Shakespeare glosses over them.  His audiences wanted victory, glory, and a hero for England, and that’s what they got.  Historical note: Shakespeare compresses time and gives us the impression that peace between England and France came quickly after the Battle of Agincourt.  In fact, the Treaty of Troyes was not signed until 1420.)

Prologue.  The Chorus (a narrator) comes in.

Chorus: Good evening, lovers of history–lovers of war!–For what else makes history?–Tonight we take you back in time to 1415, when the audacious and fearless King Henry the Fifth took his small army to France, to a place called Agincourt, and there made history.  Our modest stage and humble players can only suggest what happened there.  Your imagination must fill this space with the horror–the blood–the mangled bodies–the terror–and the chaos of that historic battle.  Outnumbered six to one, the English occupied a narrow strip of land.  Their principal weapon was the longbow.  Against them was a French army with soldiers clad in heavy armour.–The French cavalry attack.  The English bowmen shoot.  The horses are struck and run back into the French lines.  The first wave of French soldiers attack, but they sink into the mud.  The second wave crushes in from behind.  The English bowmen are cutting them to pieces.  Now the fighting is hand to hand.  The French can hardly move.  They are being decimated by the English.  It’s total chaos.  It’s a calamity!–Oh, the blood!–The carnage!–Now clear your minds and prepare to see it all.  If you become frightened or squeamish, close your eyes and tell yourselves, “No!  It’s not happening!  It’s only a play!”–Ah, but it is happening–because it happened.  Protect yourselves.  Duck if you have to.  The English longbow is a deadly weapon.  And the English bowmen know how to use it.

    (He leaves.)  

Act 1, Scene 1.  An antechamber in the King’s palace in London.  The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely come in.

Canterbury: If Parliament passes that bill, the church will lose more than half of its real estate.  And on top of that, we’ll have to pay a thousand pounds a year into the treasury.

Ely: It’s unthinkable.  What can we do to stop it?

Canterbury: Well, I’m counting on the King to take our side.

Ely: He loves the church.  There’s no doubt of that. 

Canterbury: He does.  And it’s remarkable because when he was younger, he was–well–you know.

Ely: A wild kid.

Canterbury: Yes.  And then when his father died, he changed completely.  He became a totally serious King.

Ely: I’m certainly glad for that.

Canterbury: And what a mind he has.  He can discuss theology, government, politics, war–anything.  He’s a learned man.  How such an intelligent King came out of such an unpromising boy is–well, it’s like a miracle.

Ely: Maybe he was really smart and serious all along, but he wanted to keep it hidden.

Canterbury: You could be right about that.

Ely: How does he feel about this bill that’s before Parliament?

Canterbury: He’s sort of neutral–maybe leaning a bit to our side.  I made him a generous offer in behalf of the church.  And I started to explain to him that he has a claim to the throne of France.  You know his great-grandfather, Edward the Third, was related to Philip the Fourth of France.  Philip was Edward’s grandfather.

Ely: Yes, yes.  Philip’s daughter was Isabella, and she married Edward the Second.  And their son was Edward the Third.  What did he say about that?

Canterbury: He was interested, but I didn’t get a chance to explain it in detail because just then the French ambassador showed up and wanted to speak to him.  They’re probably in conference right now.

Ely: I’d sure like to know what they’re saying.

Canterbury: Yes.–Why don’t we, you know, sort of barge in?  After all, I’m the Archbishop of Canterbury, and you’re the Bishop of Ely.  I think we can do that.

Ely: Yes, I should think so.  Let’s go.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  In the King’s palace.  King Henry comes in with his three brothers–Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester; John, Duke of Bedford; Thomas, Duke of Clarence–and the Duke of Exeter, the Earl of Warwick, and the Earl of Westmoreland, plus Attendants.

King Henry: Where’s the Archbishop of Canterbury?

Exeter: He’s not here.

Westmoreland: Do you want to speak to the French ambassador, my lord?

King Henry: Not yet.  I wanted to talk to Canterbury about this matter of the French throne.

    (Canterbury and Ely come in.)

Canterbury: God’s blessings on you, sir!

King Henry: Ah, there you are, Canterbury–and my lord of Ely.–Welcome.

Ely: God save you, sir.

King Henry: Thank you.  You two came in at just the right time.–Canterbury, I need you to clear up this business about that so-called Salic law that they have in France.  Does it mean that I do or I don’t have a claim to the throne of France?  And don’t bullshit me either, because I don’t want to drag thousands of men into a war if I don’t have proper justification.

Canterbury: I won’t bullshit you, my lord.  I’ve studied this matter very carefully, and I know I’m right.  The Salic law says that the right of inheritance can only pass through sons, not daughters.  However, that was only meant to apply to certain lands settled by the French in Germany.  They made that law because the German women were unsuitable to inherit property.  The French themselves have ignored it when it suited them.  In two instances claims to the throne have been made based on a line of descent through a female.  So they can’t use the Salic law against you now.  Edward the Third was the son of Edward the Second and Isabella of France.  Isabella was the second child of Philip the Fourth.  His first child was Louis the Tenth.  He died without any heirs.  Isabella was next in line after Louis, but she was skipped over.  They’ve had six kings since then.

King Henry: Well!  They sure are a bunch of nervy bastards, aren’t they?

Canterbury: They sure are.

King Henry: They probably thought no one would notice, and after a while no one would even remember.

Canterbury: Aha!  Nothing slips past the church, my lord.  We’re too clever. 

King Henry: So I’m perfectly justified to demand the throne of France, and if the French say no, I can make war on them.

Canterbury: Yes, indeed–and you should.  Think of your ancestors–your great-grandfather Edward the Third and your great-uncle Edward the Black Prince, who slaughtered those miserable French left and right. 

Ely: You’re just like them, my lord.  You’re powerful.  You’re brave.  And you’re in the prime of life.  Victory and glory are waiting for you.

Exeter: It’s in your blood, my lord.  You’re Henry the Fifth.  Every king in the world knows what he’d do in your place, and probably wishes he were.

Westmoreland: It’s plain as day, my lord.  You’ve got good reason on your side.  You have the army.  You have the money.  Everyone’s behind you.

Canterbury: Especially the church.  And we’ve got deep pockets.

King Henry: It’s good.  It’s good.  I like it.  But what about the Scots?  If we take our army to France, they’ll invade while we’re gone.

Canterbury: You don’t have to take all your forces.  Take one-fourth.  That’s plenty.

Westmoreland: Right.  The French suck when it comes to fighting.

Exeter: You said it.

King Henry: Right, right, right.–Okay, then.  I’ll take the throne of France–or die trying.–Now let me talk to the French ambassador.

    (He nods to somebody, who goes out and returns immediately with the French Ambassador and his Aide.  The Aide is holding a box.)

Ambassador: Greetings, your Majesty.

King Henry: Welcome.  I understand that you come from the Dauphin, not the King.  Is that right?

Ambassador: Yes, my lord–Prince Louis.

King Henry: And what does he have to say?

Ambassador: Recently, my lord, you sent word to the King that you were claiming certain dukedoms in France in the name of Edward the Third.  The Prince says that your claim is absurd and frivolous.  And he sends you this gift, which he says will better occupy your time.

    (The Aide puts the box on the floor.)

King Henry (To Exeter): Uncle, why don’t you open it.

    (Exeter opens the box and takes out several tennis balls.)

Exeter: Tennis balls.

King Henry: The Dauphin has such a sense of humour, doesn’t he?  I should take my tennis racket to France and slam those balls into his head.  But I have an even better idea.  Suppose I used cannonballs instead?

Ambassador: Oh!–Sir!

King Henry: Go back and tell your Prince that I intend to take not only the dukedoms but the throne of France itself.  But I thank him for the tennis balls anyway.  After all, we English are a sporting people.  (To the Attendants)  Show them out.

    (The Attendants excort the Ambassador and Aide out.)

Exeter: That was too cool.

King Henry: Thank you, uncle.–Now let’s start making plans–for our road trip!

    (They all leave with a trumpet flourish.)

(The Prologue to Act 2 is deleted.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  A London street.  Corporal Nym meets Lieutenant Bardolph.

Bardolph: Corporal Nym, wassup?

Nym: Lieutenant Bardolph.  Not much.

Bardolph: Are you and Ensign Pistol still on the outs with each other, or have you patched up?

Nym: I don’t care one way or the other.  It’s up to him.

Bardolph: Well, we’re all going to France with the King, so we ought to be friends, don’t you think?

Nym: Either I live or I die.  Friendship has nothing to do with it.

Bardolph: I guess you’re still sore at him because he married your old girlfriend, Nell Quickly.  [Author’s note: This is surprising because in Henry IV, Part Two, Nell Quickly despised Pistol.] 

Nym: Women are what they are, and men are what they are–so fuck it.

    (Pistol and Hostess Quickly come in.)

Bardolph: Here they are.  Be polite.–Hello, Pistol.  Hello, madam.  Host and hostess–how nice.

Pistol: Host?  What do you mean–host?  We’re not taking in lodgers.

Hostess Q: No.  People will think we’re running a whorehouse.

Nym: Well, that’s the sort of neighbourhood you’re in. 

Pistol (Drawing his sword): What!  Are you looking for a fight?

Nym (Drawing his sword): Are you?

Hostess: Please don’t fight!  I don’t want to see any assaults of batteries!

Nym (To Pistol): Nuts to you!

Pistol: Get a haircut, you poodle!

Nym: You want a piece of me, come and get it!

Pistol: No piece of you is worth having.  I’m above you.

Bardolph (Drawing his sword): Stop it right now!  Whoever strikes first is going to get it from me!

    (Pistol and Nym put their swords away.)

Pistol (To Nym): I’ll get you later.

Nym: No, I’ll get you.

Bardolph: Knock it off!

    (The Boy comes in.)

Boy: Master Pistol–madam–you must come at once.  Sir John Falstaff is very sick.  He’s in bed.

Hostess Q: Oh, dear.  Poor Sir John.  Ever since the King broke off with him, he hasn’t been the same.  [Author’s note: Sir John Falstaff was one of King Henry’s disreputable friends when he was the young “Prince Hal” in Henry IV, Parts One and Two.  When he became King, he broke off with Falstaff.] (To the Boy) Let’s go.

    (Hostess Quickly and the Boy leave.)

Bardolph: Now, are you two going to make up, or not?

Pistol: Making up is for sissies.    

Nym: You still owe me eight shillings on that bet.

Pistol: Sue me for it.

Nym: No, you pay me now.

Pistol: No, I won’t.

Bardolph: I’m getting tired of this.  You guys are going to make peace right now.

Pistol: I’ll pay him six shillings–and the rest in goodwill.  How’s that?

Nym: Six shillings in cash.

Pistol: Yes.  Cash.

Nym: All right, then.

    (Hostess Quickly returns.)

Hostess Q: You’d better come right away if you want to take your leave of Sir John.  I don’t think he’s going to last much longer. 

Nym: Too bad.  And all because the King rejected him.

Pistol: Broke his heart in a thousand pieces, and each one smaller than the others.

Nym: Still, we mustn’t blame the King.  He does what he thinks is right.

Pistol: Anyway, we’d better go see Sir John before the angels take him away.

Nym: Yes, we’d better.

    (They all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  In Southampton.  Exeter, Bedford, and Westmoreland come in.

Bedford: When there’s a war, there are always traitors.  So, in a way, I’m not surprised.

Exeter: Some people can be bought.

Westmoreland: It’s a good think the King found out in time.

Bedford: I suppose he’ll execute them.

Exeter: Yes, without a doubt.

Westmoreland: Who would have thought it?  Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey.

Bedford: That’s what surprises me.  Three respectable men like that selling out to the French.

Westmoreland: Oh!–I see them coming.–And it looks like they don’t know they’ve been found out.  This should be interesting.

    (King Henry comes in with Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey, plus Attendants.  [Author’s note: Richard, Earl of Cambridge, was from the York branch of the family tree.  He was first cousin once-removed to Henry V and grandfather to Edward IV and Richard III.  The Scroops had previously opposed Henry IV because they were loyal to Richard II, who got overthrown.  The Greys later became in-laws of Edward IV when the widow Lady Grey {a.k.a. Elizabeth Woodville, the first commoner to become Queen of England} remarried to Edward IV.])

King Henry (To Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey): It’s very nice of you fellows to come to Southampton to see me off.

Cambridge: For you, cousin, anything.  I’m only sorry to be staying behind.

Scroop and Grey: Yes, yes.

King Henry: You’ll all have important duties while I’m away killing Frenchmen–ha, ha!

Scroop: I have no doubt you’ll sweep them aside like dust.  You can count on your army, just as you can count on every citizen here at home.

Grey: Well said, Scroop.  Our King is loved by every red-blooded Englishman.

Cambridge: Lord Grey states the obvious.

King Henry: You’re all very kind.  I’m getting really psyched up for this, believe me.–Oh, before I forget.–Exeter, you remember that stupid drunk you arrested yesterday for shouting insults at me?

Exeter: Yes.  What do you want me to do with him?

King Henry: Let him go.

Exeter: Let him go?  Really?

King Henry: Sure.  The guy had too much to drink and he got stupid for a moment.  I’m willing to overlook it.

Scroop: Oh, but my lord, you must punish him–and severely.

King Henry: Nah.  It’s not that big a deal.

Cambridge: But my lord, you have to make an example of him.

Grey: Yes, yes, Cambridge is right.  You’re the King, after all.  If the man insulted you, you’ve got to punish him.

King Henry: Aw, hell.  If I punished a guy for something minor like shooting his mouth off when he was drunk, what would I do if somebody did something really serious–and assuming he was sober and had time to think about it?

Scroop: Let the punishment fit the crime, sir.  The public must see wickedness punished for the sake of their moral instruction–and your dignity.

Cambridge: Absolutely.  No question.

Grey: No one could possibly criticize you for that, my lord.  Everyone would be on your side.

King Henry: Heh, heh–ah, well.–Oh, by the way, I have your commissions .  These will authorize you to do certain things in my absence.  (He hands them papers.)  I hope they meet with your approval.

    (Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey read the papers and are shocked.)

Cambridge: My lord–I–I confess.

Scroop: My lord–I don’t know what to say.

Grey (On his knees): My lord–have mercy on us.

King Henry: Oh, now you believe in mercy, do you?  A minute ago you wanted me to punish some poor slob for shooting his mouth off.  And for something more serious, well, let the punishment fit the crime–in this case, conspiring to assassinate the King.

Scroop: My lord–we’re sorry.

King Henry: You guys are a big disappointment to me.  Accepting money to kill me.  Are you that hard up?  Or do you really hate me that much?–Don’t bother to say anything.  You’ll only lose what little dignity you have left.–Cambridge, my own cousin.  I never did a bad thing to you in my life.  I was always good to you.  I always respected you.–And you, Scroop.  I trusted you.  I confided in you.  I sought your advice.  Anything you wanted from me, you would’ve gotten–like that (Snaps his fingers).–And you, Grey–the epitome of the proper noble Englishman.  You would’ve murdered your King and sold out your country.–I don’t know what devil came out of hell to turn you men into traitors.  You’re a disgrace.  All you can do is ask God to forgive your sins.  You won’t get any mercy from me.

    (Westmoreland beckons offstage, and several Guards come in immediately.)

Westmoreland (To the Guards): Take them away for execution.

    (The Guards take out the three traitors.)

King Henry: Thank you, cousin.  (He takes a deep breath.) Well!  Now that that’s taken care of, I’m sure God really is on our side.  Let’s get ready to sail.

    (They all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  Outside the Boar’s Head Tavern in London.  Pistol, Nym, Bardolph, the Boy, and Hostess Quickly come in.

Hostess Q: Husband, let me go with you as far as Staines.

Pistol: No, don’t bother.  Stay and mind the store.  Besides, I’m too depressed over Falstaff’s death.

Nym: It’s so sad.

Boy: Yes.  He was my master.  I liked him.

Bardolph: I wish I were with him now–either in heaven or in hell.

Hostess Q: Oh, he’s not in hell.  He’s with the innocent souls.  (Sighs)  I knew he was approaching the end.  He was fumbling with the sheets and complaining how cold he was.  And he was cold, too.  I felt his feet.  Cold as ice.

Nym: I heard he cursed against drinking.

Hostess Q: Yes.

Bardolph: And women.

Hostess: No, not women.

Boy: Yes.  He said they were devils incarnate.

Hostess Q: Well, he never liked the colour of carnations.

Boy: He cursed against the Whore of Babylon.  Did he know her?

Hostess Q: Certainly not.  He was never in Babylon in his whole life.

Nym: We should get moving.  The King’s probably already left Southampton.

Pistol: Yes, yes.–My dear, give me a kiss.  (He kisses Hostess Quickly.)  And remember what I told you.  In God we trust, but all others pay cash.  Watch your expenses.  And stay home.  Don’t go anywhere.

Hostess Q: Yes, yes.

Pistol: All right, fellows, let’s be off.  We’ll drink the blood of the French!

Boy: Ewww!

Pistol: Figuratively speaking.

    (The others say goodbye to Hostess Quickly and then all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  In the palace of the French King.  The King comes in with the Dauphin, the Constable of France, and various Lords.  [Author’s note: Since Shakespeare doesn’t refer to the King by name, his speech prefix is simply “France”.])

France: The English army is already on French soil, so you lords had better put up a show of force.  We don’t want to underestimate them.  We must prepare our defenses.

Dauphin: Of course, we should prepare, father, but I don’t take that English King seriously.  He’s just a young jerk.

Constable: I disagree, my lord Prince.  Just ask the ambassador how King Henry received him.  He’s not the shallow kid we always assumed he was.

Dauphin: I say he is.  But it doesn’t matter.  We’ll be ready for him.

France: Don’t forget where King Henry comes from.  Think of Edward the Third and Edward the Black Prince.  You won’t find any weaklings in that family tree.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lord, an ambassador from King Henry is here to see you.

France: All right.  (To the Lords)  Lords, bring him in.

    (The Messenger and some Lords go out.)

Dauphin: King Henry!  Tell him to baiser himself!  If you act tough, he’ll back off.

France: Take it easy.  I’m going to be calm about this.

    (The Lords return with Exeter and his party.)

Exeter: Greetings to your Majesty from King Henry.

France: Welcome, sir.  All right, I’m listening.

Exeter: The King demands that you give up the throne of France, which rightfully belongs to him, based on his ancestry.  I have here the proof of his claim, which is clearly established.

    (Exeter hands the King a document, which he looks at briefly.)

France: Mm–yes–well–he’s related to Isabella.  We already knew that.  And what if I just say no?

Exeter: Then he’ll take the throne by force, and many of your people will die, and it’ll be your fault.–And I have a message for the Dauphin, too, if he’s here.

Dauphin: I’m the Dauphin.  What does King Henry have to say to me?

Exeter: My King would convey his contempt for you suitably if his French were better.  Suffice it to say that if your father does not agree to his demands, he will reply to your tennis ball insult with a generous dose of English steel.

Dauphin: You can tell your King that I look forward to fighting him if he’s stupid enough to pick a fight with us.

Exeter: You misjudge my King at your own peril.

France: Peace!–Both of you.–(To Exeter)  I want to think about it.  I’ll give you an answer tomorrow.

Exeter: Don’t make my King wait too long.  He’s in a fighting mood.

France: Yes. yes.  Tomorrow.  (He rises.)  I believe this conference is over.

    (Everyone leaves.)  

(The Prologue to Act 3 is deleted.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  A field in France.  King Henry comes in with Exeter, Bedford, Gloucester, and Soldiers.

King Henry (Pointing): That’s Harfleur–one of their fortified towns.  And there’s where we can break through the wall.

Exeter: You could’ve cut a deal with the King of France, you know.

King Henry: Yeah, right.  Marry his daughter Katherine and get a few minor dukedoms as her dowry.  I’m not letting them get off that cheap.  (To the Soldiers and offstage by suggestion)  Get the ladders against that wall!  Attack, lads!  Show ’em what you’re made of!  Kick their asses!  Cut ’em to pieces!  Eat their hearts!  We are English!  Remember that!  We are English–and we conquer!–Everyone!  Let’s go!

    (All leave to sounds of battle.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  Near Harfleur, the besieged town.  Nym, Bardolph, Pistol, and the Boy come in.

Bardolph: We must attack!  Attack!  Into the breach!

    (Bardolph just stands there.  His body language shows that he doesn’t want to attack.)

Nym: Please, Lieutenant.  The fighting is too violent.  And I have a headache.  Perhaps we could wait until it’s, you know, a little quieter.

Pistol: I can see them dying from here.–Look at them.–I guess that’s the way to immortality.

Nym: No.  It’s called death.

Bardolph: Don’t say the D-word!

Boy: I want to go back to London and drink beer at the Boar’s Head.

Pistol: You and me both.

    (Fluellen comes in.)

Fluellen: What are you guys hanging around here for?  Get in there and fight!

Pistol: Oh, please, Captain Fluellen.  Be a pal.  Don’t send us in there.

Nym: I have an upset stomach.  I can’t go to war today.  Excuse me.

    (Nym runs away.)

Bardolph and Pistol: Me, too!

    (Bardolph and Pistol run away.)

Fluellen: Hey, wait!  You come back here!

    (Fluellen leaves, chasing them.  The Boy is left alone.)

Boy: What a bunch of fakers–Bardolph, Pistol, and Nym.  The only thing they’re good for is looting.  In Calais they stole a shovel and sold it for a nickel.  And they expect me to steal, too.  I may be young, but I know enough not to waste my time serving losers like them.–Excuse me, I gotta go wee.

    (He leaves.  Then Fluellen returns and meets Gower coming in from the other side.)

Gower: Captain Fluellen, you’re needed at the tunnels.  The Duke of Gloucester wants to talk to you.

Fluellen: Oh, to hell with the tunnels.  He’s doing them all wrong.  He doesn’t understand the tactics.  The enemy is digging right underneath us.  They’ll blow us up–don’t you see?

Gower: Well, Gloucester’s in charge of the siege, and he’s been getting advice from Captain Macmorris.

Fluellen: Pfff!–That Irishman.–Macmorris is an idiot.  What does he know about tactics?  He hasn’t studied the Romans the way I have.

Gower: Well, you can tell him so.  Here he comes with Captain Jamy, the Scottish captain.

Fluellen: Oh, good.  Jamy understands these things.

    (Macmorris and Jamy come in.)

Jamy: Hello, Captain Fluellen.

Fluellen: Hello, Captain Jamy–Captain Macmorris.

Macmorris: Hello.

Gower: Captain Macmorris, are the tunnels finished?

Macmorris: No.  We stopped work when the retreat was sounded.  The whole thing’s a mess.  I could’ve blown up the whole town in an hour.

Fluellen: Ah–yes–I wanted to discuss this tactical point with you–within the context of the Roman wars–purely a point of technicality, you understand–to make sure I’m not drawing the wrong conclusions from the battles of Drepanum in 249 B.C. and Aegates in 241 B.C.–which, I think, are fair examples of–

Jamy: What?

Macmorris: Hey, there’s a siege going on.  This is no time for an academic discussion.  We have to get in there and kill Frenchmen.

Jamy: Yes, we’ll do that.  Hold on.–What did you want to say, Captain Fluellen?

Fluellen: I just wanted to ask Captain Macmorris–Now, sir, if I may have a word.  There are not too many of your country–

Macmorris (Angrily): What do you mean–my country?  Is there something wrong with my country?

Fluellen: Now, sir, you mustn’t take offense where none is intended–especially since I’m as good a man as you, and my country is as good as yours.

Macmorris: Is that so?  As a proud Irishman, I ought to–(Raises his fist).

Gower: Now, now, come on, both of you.  You’re being hypersensitive.

Jamy: Yes.  One mustn’t be hypersensitive–especially in wartime.

    (A trumpet sounds.)

Gower: Oh!–Sounds like the town is asking for a cease-fire.  They must be wanting to negotiate.

Macmorris: That’s fine with me.

    (Macmorris starts to leave, with the others following.  Fluellen is speaking as they go out.)

Fluellen: Captain Macmorris, when we have a few minutes, I’d like to explain to you about the Roman tactics, which I’ve studied–especially the Punic Wars and, of course, Caesar’s conquest of–

Act 3, Scene 3.  Outside the wall of Harfleur.  King Henry comes in with his party.  The heads of citizens and the Governor of Harfleur appear at the top of the wall.

King Henry: Governor of Harfleur, I’ve given you time to think it over.  Surrender the town or I’ll destroy it, building by building, right down to the foundations.  I’ll cut the throat of every man, I’ll strangle your children, and I’ll let my soldiers rape all your women.  And it’ll all be your fault.  So what’s it gonna be?

Governor: We asked the Dauphin to send help, but he’s not able to at this time.  It’s pointless for us to continue to resist.  Therefore, we surrender the town to you and place ourselves at your mercy.  We are opening the gates.

    (The Governor’s face disappears.  Then the gates open.)

King Henry (To Exeter): Exeter, you’re in charge of securing the town.  Get ready in case the French show up.  We’ll stay here tonight, but tomorrow I have to take most of the army and march them to Calais and get them back to England.  This siege took longer than I expected, and I don’t want to be fighting when the winter comes.  I’ve got a lot of sick men.

Exeter: All right.

    (They all leave through the gates.)

Act 3, Scene 4.  This scene is deleted.  

Act 3, Scene 5.  The palace at Rouen.  The King of France comes in with the Dauphin, the Constable, the Duke of Bretagne, and other Lords and Attendants.  [Author’s note: Some texts have the Duke of Bourbon instead of the Duke of Bretagne.]

France: He must be across the River Somme by now.

Constable: If we don’t stop him, he’ll take over the whole country.

Dauphin: These are the ancestors of the Normans, you know.  Normans mating with barbarians.  And now they’re coming back.

Bretagne: Fucking Normans!  I’ll die in a pig sty before I lose my estate to those sons of bitches!

Constable: I don’t know where they get their spirit.  They live in a country with a miserable climate.  They eat the worst food of anybody.  I mean, would you eat English food?

Bretagne: Ugh!  It’s hardly fit for dogs.

Constable: And what do they drink?  Bitter beer.  It’s disgusting.

Bretagne: Dreadful stuff.

Constable: And everyone knows they’re a cold-blooded people.  How can they be doing this to us?

Dauphin: Our women think we’re all wimps.  They say that French men just don’t have any balls any more, so they might as well marry the English and have normal children.

France: Where’s Montjoy?  Where’s my herald?  I want to send him to the English King and see if we can put a stop to this.–You, Lord Constable, muster all our forces.–And all of you lords.  I’m depending on you.  Pass the word.  I want every duke, every baron, and every kinght to collect all their forces.  Orleans–Bourbon–Berri–Brabant–Chatillon–Beaumont–Fauconberg–I want everyone in on this.  I want to crush those English bastards.  And I want you to bring me that English King here as a prisoner.

Constable: We can muster five or six times as many men as he has.  When he sees what he’s facing, he’ll know he’s done for.  He’ll have to pay a ransom to be allowed to leave in one piece.

France: Right.  That’s a good idea.  I’ll send Montjoy to deliver an ultimatum and see what that English criminal is willing to pay for the lives of all his men.

Dauphin: What about me, father?  I want to be in this fight.

France: Well–I’ll think about it.–Lord Constable, if it comes down to war, I expect to get a good report from you.  I want to hear that this invasion has been crushed.

Constable: I promise you will, my lord.

    (They all leave.)

Act 3, Scene 6.  The English camp in Picardy.  [Author’s note: Shakespeare is not specific about location.  Picardy is the historical name of a region in northwest France.  Henry’s army is, indeed, across the Somme, but they had to go far out of their way to the east to get past French forces marking their position.  Now they are marching roughly northwest and are trying to get to Calais and safety.  At this point they are about forty miles short of their goal and have reached Blangy-sur-Ternoise.  On the other side of the Ternoise is the town of Maisoncelles, and just beyond that the French are blocking the way at Agincourt.]  Gower and Fluellen meet coming in from opposite sides.

Gower: Captain Fluellen, what’s happening at the bridge?

Fluellen: We’ve got it, thanks to Lord Exeter.  The French were trying to destroy it, but he chased them off.

Gower: That’s a relief.  We need that bridge to get to Calais.

Fluellen: Oh, and there was a very brave man who fought on our side–an ensign named Pistol.

Gower: Pistol?  Do I know him?

Fluellen: Here he comes now.

    (Pistol comes in.)

Pistol: Captain Fluellen, I need to ask a favour of you.

Fluellen: Of course.  What is it?

Pistol: Well, you see, a friend of mine–a good, loyal soldier named Bardolph–he’s in a bit of trouble.  It seems he, uh–well, he sort of–stole–a holy object from a church, and Lord Exeter intends to hang him for it.  Now, really, sir, is one little trinket from a church worth hanging a man for?  You’re friends with Lord Exeter.  Surely you can talk to him and get him to change his mind.

Fluellen: Ah, I see.  A case of looting.  That sort of thing does happen sometimes in war, unfortunately.

Pistol: Exactly, sir.  It’s not like it’s a big deal or something.

Fluellen: Oh, but it is a big deal.  We’re not going to allow looting.  Lord Exeter is entirely within his rights to hang the man.

Pistol: But sir!

Fluellen: It’s a question of discipline, don’t you see?

Pistol: Discipline!–And I thought you were a good guy.  Well, to hell with you!

    (Pistol walks out.)

Fluellen: I don’t care.

Gower: Now I remember that guy!  Pistol!  Why, he’s nothing but a petty thief.

Fluellen: Oh?  I thought he was a good soldier, actually.  He told me how he had fought at the bridge.–Well, it’s all right.  He’s just upset about his friend.

Gower: Take my word for it, he’s a goddamn phoney.  He’s no good.  Don’t let him fool you.  I know his type.  He’s no military hero.  He’s a fraud.

Fluellen: Really?–Oh.–I didn’t realize.–Well, then, I’ll just have a word with him when I get a chance.

    (King Henry and Gloucester come in, with Soldiers.)

Fluellen: Your Majesty!

King Henry: Fluellen, what’s the situation at the bridge?

Fluellen: Your uncle the Duke of Exeter has secured the bridge.  And I can tell you that he fought very bravely.

King Henry: What were our losses?

Fluellen: No losses, my lord.  The French got all the worst of it.–Oh, but there is one man on our side that Lord Exeter intends to hang for robbing a church.  His name is Bardolph.  Do you know him, sir?

King Henry: Yes, I know him.  He’s a drunk and a thief.  Let him hang.  I can’t allow looting here in France.  I’m going to be the next King.  I don’t want these people to feel mistreated.

    (A trumpet sounds.  Montjoy, the French Herald, comes in.)

Montjoy: I come from the King of France, sir.

King Henry: Yeah, I can see you’re a herald.  All right, what’s the message?

Montjoy: Sir, the King of France says he could have wiped you out at Harfleur, but he thought it better to wait.  Now he expects to be paid compensation for all the damage you’ve caused and all the losses to our citizens.  If you persist in this foolish enterprise, you will only be guaranteeing the deaths of everyone in your army.

King Henry: Interesting.–Nice shoes, by the way.  Did you get them in Paris?

Montjoy: No, sir.  Rouen.

King Henry: I’ll have to go shopping there, first chance I get.  So what’s your name?

Montjoy: Montjoy.

King Henry: Well, I tell you what, Montjoy.  You go back and tell your King that we intend to march straight up to Calais.  I’m not looking for a fight, because, frankly, I’ve got a lot of sick, hungry men.  But I won’t run from a fight either.  If he tries to stop us, we’ll just have to fight our way through, and I don’t care how big an army he’s got.  And as for compensation, forget it.  He can have my body if he thinks he can kill me.  But you can have this for your trouble.  (He hands Montjoy a small bag of money.)  Go buy yourself some socks or something.

Montjoy: Thank you, my lord.  I will deliver your answer.

    (Montjoy leaves.)  

Gloucester: You know, we could’ve gone to Calais by ship.  It would’ve been safe.

King Henry: Well, it’s too late for that now.  Besides, if I’m going to be the King of France, I’ll march through any damn part of the country I feel like.

    (They all leave.)

Act 3, Scene 7.  The French camp near Agincourt.  The Constable of France, Lord Rambures, the Duke of Orleans, and the Dauphin come in.  It is nighttime.

Constable: I’ve got the best armour in the world.

Orleans: Yes, but I have the best horse.

Dauphin: Hey, what about my armour and my horse?

Orleans: They’re both great, my lord.

Dauphin: My horse is the best.  He’s like Pegasus.  He practically flies.  Nobody’s got a horse like him.

Constable: Yes, he’s a fine horse, all right.

Dauphin: Fine?  Why, he’s legendary.

Orleans: He’s not old enough to be legendary.  But we can agree that he’s a very good horse.

Dauphin: I once wrote a poem about him.  It began, “Oh, wonder of nature…”

Orleans: That’s just like a poem I read about somebody’s mistress.

Dauphin: Well, then he stole the idea from me.  My horse is just like a mistress.

Constable: He gave you a bit of a rough ride yesterday.

Dauphin: He was just getting used to a new saddle, that’s all.  Believe me, he’s as dependable and faithful as a mistress.

Constable: I’m sure you’re an expert, sir–on horses, I mean.

Dauphin: Just watch what we do tomorrow.  I’ll be filling the road with dead Englishmen.

Constable: I’ll be sure to step around them.–Ach, I wish morning would come.  This waiting is killing me.

Rambures: Anyone want to bet twenty prisoners with me?  We’ll roll dice for them.

Constable: Well, you catch them first.  Then you can bet with them.

Dauphin: It’s midnight.  I’m going to put my armour on.

    (The Dauphin leaves.)

Rambures: He wants to eat the English.

Constable: I’m sure he’ll eat as many as he kills–zero.

Orleans: Oh, come on.  He’s a brave prince.

Constable: He talks brave.

Orleans: Wait till tomorrow.  You’ll see.

Constable: I don’t think he’ll do any harm–to the enemy, that is.

Orleans: I believe you sell him short, sir.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My Lord Constable, the English are camped about fifteen hundred yards from here.

Constable: Those sons of bitches don’t know what they’re up against.–God, I wish it were morning.

Orleans: He’s a stubborn one, isn’t he?

Constable: Who?

Orleans: Henry.

Constable: If he had brains to match his stubbornness, he’d count the numbers and fold his tents and get out of here.

Rambures: The English are stupid, but I give them credit for courage.

Orleans: They’re suicidal, that’s all.

Constable: They’re like mad dogs.  And they eat like dogs, too.

Orleans: Except this time they’re practically starving.  And a lot of them are sick.

Constable: That should make it all the easier for us.–Come on, let’s suit up.

Orleans: By ten o’clock we’ll each have a hundred prisoners.

Rambures: Then we can gamble and use them as chips.

    (The others laugh and then they all leave.  But before the curtain goes down, there is an interval with the stage dimly lit in blue light, with distant noises of restless troops.  A sound effect or musical background is required here — something atonal and ominous.  Then curtain down.  Quick segue to the next scene.)

(The Prologue to Act 4 is deleted.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  The English camp at Agincourt at night.  King Henry comes in with his brothers Bedford and Gloucester.

King Henry: The French are up early.  You can hear them.

Gloucester: Yes, brother.  I think we are in danger.

King Henry: Brother, you’re right.  So let’s be as brave as the danger requires.

    (Erpingham comes in.)

King Henry: Good morning, Erpingham.  I wish that fine head of yours had a nice, soft pillow to rest on.

Erpingham: Nonsense!  Who needs a pillow when there’s all this fine, cold French ground to sleep on.

King Henry: You’re still tough for an old guy.  You’re a good example to your men.  Say, lend me your cloak, would you?

Erpingham: Of course, sir.

    (Erpingham gives him his cloak.)

King Henry: Brothers, go rouse all the lords and have them meet me at my tent.

Erpingham: Shall I stay here with you, sir?

King Henry: No, no.  You go with them.  I want to be alone for a while.

Erpingham: God be with you, sir.

    (Erpingham, Bedford, and Gloucester leave.  King Henry, now wearing Erpingham’s cloak, is effectively disguised.  Now Pistol comes in.)

Pistol: Who goes there?

King Henry: A friend.

Pistol: Are you an officer?

King Henry: Yes, in the infantry.  And you?

Pistol: Me?  Why, I’m as good a gentleman as the King–and that means he’s as good as me.  So I love him dearly.  What’s your name?

King Henry: Harry LeRoy.

Pistol: What is that–Cornish?

King Henry: No, Welsh.

Pistol: Then you must know Captain Fluellen.

King Henry: Of course.

Pistol: Then tell him if we ever get back to England, I’ll find him on Saint Davy’s Day and knock his hat off.

King Henry: On a Welsh holiday?–Ha!–He’ll take your hat and make you eat it.

Pistol: You must be his friend.

King Henry: Actually, I’m related to him.

Pistol: Well, then, you tell him this from me.–(He blows a loud Bronx cheer.)

King Henry: Whatever.  Who shall I say sent the greeting?

Pistol: My name is Pistol.

    (Pistol leaves.)

King Henry: A suitable name.

    (King Henry moves to the back of the stage, and concealment is suggested.  Fluellen and Gower come in from opposite sides, not noticing him.)

Gower: Captain Fluellen!

Fluellen: Shh!  Not so loud!  We’re in a war, you know.  You wouldn’t have heard any unnecessary noise in the camp of Pompey the Great.  Now there was a Roman worth studying.  He observed all the fine points of wartime behaviour.  Very serious.  Very quiet.  It’s important to be quiet.  I keep telling everyone.  Sometimes I have to shout at them to be quiet.

Gower: The French aren’t bothering to keep quiet.

Fluellen: They don’t know any better.  You don’t want to be like them.

Gower: All right, then.  I will speak–softly.

Fluellen: That’s better.–Come.  Let’s check on the troops.

    (Gower and Fluellen leave.)

King Henry: That Welshman is a bit of an oddball, but I like him anyway.

    (Three soldiers–Bates, Court, and Williams–come in.)

Court: John Bates, I think it’s almost dawn.

Bates: I don’t want to look, Mr. Court.

Williams: We’ll see the sun rise at least one more time–but I don’t think we’ll see it set.

Bates: Aye, Mr. Williams.

    (King Henry stirs.)

Williams: Who goes there?

King Henry: A friend.

Williams: Who’s your captain?

King Henry: Sir Thomas Erpingham.

Williams: What does he think our chances are?

King Henry: He’s worried.

Bates: Has he told the King?

King Henry: No.  That wouldn’t be proper.

Court: I wonder if the King is worried.

King Henry: Any normal man would be.  And I’m sure the King is quite normal underneath his royal clothes.  Still, he’s not going to show any fear, you know.  It would be bad for morale.

Bates: I’ll bet he wishes he were back home in England.

King Henry: I don’t think so.  I think he’s exactly where he wants to be.

Bates: Then he’s the only one who is.

King Henry: No, he’s not the only one.  I’m glad to be with him.  After all, his cause is right.

Williams: Well, maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t.  If it isn’t, then he’ll be responsible for our deaths.  And if I die in battle, I won’t get a proper burial, will I?

Bates: Aye, that’s for sure.

Court: We’ll die with our sins unforgiven, and it’ll be his fault.

King Henry: But, my friends, you’re wrong.  The King isn’t calling men to die, only to fight.  If they die with sins on their souls, it isn’t his fault.  Every man is responsible for his own soul.  If you fear death, then clear your conscience.  Then when you fight, you’ll think only of duty.

Williams: Aye, you have a point, friend.

Bates: I’ll do my duty, all right.  I won’t let the King down.

Court: Neither will I.

King Henry: I heard him swear that he’d never allow himself to be taken alive and ransomed.  

Williams: What else do you expect him to say?  If we’re dead, we’ll never know, will we?

King Henry: If he goes back on his word, I’ll never trust him again.

Williams: Ha!  And what’s that to him?  Does he care what you think?  Don’t be stupid.

King Henry: I should be very angry with you if we weren’t about to go into battle.  I’d really give it to you.

Williams: Well, then, if we live, you can look for me, and try your luck fighting with me.  How’s that?

King Henry: Yes.  I’ll agree to that.  Give me something of yours to wear, and if you see me again, you can demand it back from me, and we’ll settle this quarrel.

Williams: Here’s one of my gloves.  Now you give me one of yours.

    (They exchange gloves.)

King Henry: Here.

Williams: Good.  You wear mine and I’ll wear yours–right on the cap.  That way we’ll recognize each other again.  And when I see you, I’ll give you a beating.

King Henry: No, I’ll give you a beating.

Bates: Hey, stop it.  It’s the French who are the enemies, remember?  And God knows how many of them are out there.

Williams: Bah!–The French!–They can’t fight worth a shit.  Look at the food they eat.  Quiche!  Is that any food for a man?  And all those weird, unpronounceable things with disgusting sauces.

Bates: Yes.  And they never pick up anything with their fingers.  They have to be dainty, you know.  A bunch of wimps, that’s what they are.

Court: Let’s hope so.  At any rate, we’ll find out soon enough.  I hope the King knows what he’s doing.

Williams: If he does, then we’ll win.  And if we win, then his cause must be right after all.  God wouldn’t support him otherwise.

Bates: I believe in God, and I believe in the King.  (To King Henry) Good luck, friend.

King Henry: Good luck to you, too.

    (Bates, Court, and Williams leave.  King Henry is now alone.)

King Henry: Yes, my good friends, it’s all on my shoulders, isn’t it?  The life of every man in my charge.  What does an ordinary bloke know of such responsibility?  He gets to sleep soundly in his little bed and follow his daily routine.  He doesn’t wear a crown or carry a sceptre.  He doesn’t sit on a throne in his royal robe.  He’s not the centre of pomp and ceremony.  He doesn’t have to decide the fate of others.  He can’t lead thousands of men to glory–or into the gates of hell.  Only a king can do that.

    (Erpingham comes in.)

Erpingham: My lord, all the lords are looking for you.

King Henry: Yes, Sir Thomas, I haven’t forgotten.  Get them together, and I’ll meet them at my tent.

Erpingham: Very good, my lord.

    (Erpingham leaves.  King Henry kneels and prays.)

King Henry: God, give my soldiers courage–just one more day of courage–to face the overwhelming numbers against us.  And don’t punish me for what my father did to King Richard.  [Author’s note: Henry IV overthrew Richard II, who died in prison later.]  At least, don’t punish me today.  I’ve given Richard a new grave.  I’ve paid five hundred men to pray for my pardon every day.  I’ve built two chapels in Richard’s honour.  And I’ll do more.  Have mercy on my soul and mercy on my men.

    (Gloucester comes in.)

Gloucester: My lord.–It’s time.

King Henry (Rising): Yes, brother.  The sun is rising.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  In the French camp.  The Dauphin comes in with Orleans, Rambures, and the Constable.

Orleans: Time to do battle.  Everyone’s up.

Dauphin (Calling): Bring my horse!

Constable: Even the horses know what’s up.  You can hear them.

Dauphin: They’re just as eager as we are.  We’re going to crush those English bastards.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lords, the English army is in the field.

Constable (Peering): They look like a bunch of scarecrows.  We could probably blow on them and they’d fall down.

Dauphin: They’ll probably faint before we can kill them.

Constable: This is going to be too easy.  I almost feel sorry for them.

    (Grandpre comes in.)

Dauphin: My Lord Grandpre!  Ready for battle?

Grandpre: You bet, I’m ready, my lord Prince!  Why, I’ve never seen such a pathetic collection of walking skeletons in my life.  Even their horses are starving.  Our servants could fight this battle and win.

Dauphin: Perhaps we should give the English a good breakfast out of pity–and then kill them, ha!

Constable: Where’s my flag-bearer?  I can’t lead without a flag.–Oh, never mind.  I’ll borrow one from a trumpeter.–Come on, then, lords of France!  Let’s get this over with.

Dauphin: Yes.  And be finished in time for lunch.

Rambures: Ha!  You’re funny, my lord.

    (They all leave.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  The English camp.  Gloucester, Bedford, Exeter, Erpingham, the Earl of Salisbury, and the Earl of Westmoreland come in.

Gloucester: Where’s the King?

Bedford: He went out to get a look at the French.

Westmoreland: They must have at least sixty thousand.  And they’re all fresh.

Salisbury: God help us!  We’re outnumbered six to one.  (He shakes hands with the others.)  Bedford–Gloucester–Exeter–cousins–.Whether we meet again on earth, in heaven, or in hell, let us smile regardless.

Bedford: Good luck, Salisbury.

Others: Good luck!

    (Salisbury leaves.)

Exeter: Brave guy.

Bedford: And a good guy.

    (King Henry comes in.)

Westmoreland: I wish I had another ten thousand men.

King Henry: No, no, no.  If we’re destined to die, let there be fewer of us.  And if we’re destined to win, more honour to us, being as few as we are.  I wouldn’t want to have to share my honour with any more men than we have right now.  Besides, it’s a narrow battlefield, in case you haven’t noticed.

Exeter: Yes, we noticed.

King Henry: And the turf is muddy.  Better for us, I think.–You know what today is, don’t you?

Westmoreland: Saint Crispin’s Day.

King Henry: That’s right.  And for every man who survives, Saint Crispin’s Day will be his day.  And every year at this time he can show off his scars and tell his friends, “I got these on Saint Crispin’s Day.”  We’re going to put this place on the map of history.  And this small band of happy brothers will be remembered as heroes forever.  And that includes the humblest soldier with two cows and two pigs to his name and a wooden shack to call home.  Today he is as noble as any of us.  And all those back in England will regret that they weren’t here to share in our glory.

    (Salisbury returns.)

Salisbury: Your Majesty, the French are in battle formation.  They’re going to charge at any moment.

King Henry: That’s all right.  We’re ready.  Wait till they get kissed by our longbows.–All right, everyone.  You have your orders.

Others: Yes, my lord.

    (A trumpet sounds.  Montjoy, the French herald, comes in.)

King Henry: Back again, Lovejoy?

Montjoy: Montjoy, sir.

King Henry: Yes–Montjoy.  Do you have another message from your King?

Montjoy: From the Constable, sir.  He urges you to be sensible and negotiate your ransom.  Otherwise, you’ll be defeated.

King Henry: Tell your Constable if he wants a ransom that badly, he can come and kill me himself and sell my bones.  But remind him of the story of the man who sold the lion’s skin before he killed the lion.  The lion ate him instead.

Montjoy: I shall tell him, sir.

    (Montjoy leaves.)

King Henry: I don’t think we’ll be seeing him again.

    (The Duke of York comes in.  He kneels before King Henry.)

York: My lord, I beg you to let me lead the first wave.

King Henry: Cousin York, you’ve got it.–Now let’s go, my friends.  (Looking up to heaven)  And God grant the victory however You will.

    (They all leave.)

Act 4, Scene 4.  [Author’s note: The original scene is scrapped.  Instead, this is a Director’s scene for fighting and special effects.  Background music is “Mars”, from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”.  The piece is 7 minutes long, and the Director may use all or part of it.  The English Captain of Bowmen appears with several Bowmen behind him. He orders them to shoot.  The Bowmen shoot many arrows.  The sound of whooshing arrows is heard, plus chaotic sounds of battle.  Then English and French soldiers fight hand-to-hand.  The Duke of York leads the English.  The French are wearing heavy armour and are less mobile than the English.  The fighting moves across the stage as the English drive back the French.  Quick segue to the next scene.]

Act 4, Scene 5.  Elsewhere on the battlefield.  Sounds of battle.  The Constable comes in with the Dauphin, Duke of Orleans, Duke of Bourbon, and Lord Rambures.

Constable: Merde! Merde! Merde!

Orleans: We’re getting slaughtered!

Dauphin: I can’t believe it!  This can’t be happening!  This is a humiliation!

Constable: Our ranks are broken!  It’s a disaster!

Dauphin: How could they do this to us!  English bastards!

Bourbon: After this, there’s nothing to live for.  I’m going in there, and I don’t care if I die.  At least I’ll die with my honour.

Orleans: We still have more men than they do.  If we could just restore some order–

Bourbon: To hell with it.  There’s no order left.  We’re lords.  We have to fight.  And if we die, we die.–Come on.

    (They all leave.)

Act 4, Scene 6.  Elsewhere on the battlefield.  Sounds of battle.  King Henry comes in with Exeter and Soldiers.

King Henry: We’re beating them!  But it’s not over yet.  There are still a lot of French out there.

Exeter: My lord, the Duke of York–(He stops, overcome with emotion.)

King Henry: Is York all right?  He was in the thick of it.  He was all covered with blood.

Exeter (Emotionally): He died, my lord–beside his cousin, the Earl of Suffolk.  Suffolk died first, and York knelt beside him and said–“Wait for me, cousin.  We’ll go to heaven together.”–Then he saw me and he took my hand and said–“Tell the King–I die happy.”–Then he died.

King Henry: York–Suffolk.–Why must such good men die?–I’ll miss them.

    (Alarms and sounds of battle.)

King Henry: I think the French are going to attack again!

Exeter: What’ll we do with the prisoners?  We must have several thousand of them.

King Henry: We can’t manage that many prisoners and defend ourselves at the same time.  The prisoners will have to be killed.  Only spare the nobles.

    (They all leave.  Quick segue to the next scene.)

Act 4, Scene 7.  Sounds of battle.  King Henry comes in with Warwick, Gloucester, Exeter, Fluellen, an English Herald, and the Duke of Bourbon, who is a prisoner.

King Henry: I can still see French cavalry on that hill.–Herald, I want you to go to them and find out what their intentions are.  Tell them if they don’t leave the field, we’ll kill all the lords we’ve taken prisoner.–Wait, hold on.

    (Montjoy comes in.)

King Henry: Back again, Montjoy?  Collecting ransom?

    (The English Lords laugh.)

Montjoy: No, my lord.  I come to ask if you will show us the kindness of allowing us to collect our dead.

King Henry: Well, I don’t know.  Is this battle over or not?  I can still see some of your cavalry.

King Henry: We concede, sir.  You have won.

King Henry: It was God’s will.–What is this place called?

Montjoy: Agincourt, sir.

King Henry: Then this will be remembered for all time as the Battle of Agincourt–won by the English on Saint Crispin’s Day.  (To the English Herald) Herald, you go with him and bring me back a count of the dead on both sides.

    (The English Herald and Montjoy leave.  Then Williams comes in, remaining apart.)

King Henry: You–soldier–come over here.

    (Williams approaches.  He is wearing King Henry’s glove on his cap.)

King Henry: Why are you wearing that glove on your cap?

Williams: Oh–this?–Well, my lord, you see, I had a quarrel with another man, and we exchanged gloves so that when we see each other again, we can finish it–if you gather my meaning, sir.

King Henry: Ah–going to punch him in the nose, are you?

Williams: I’ll give him a wizard prang, I will, sir.

King Henry: Fluellen, what do you think?  Should he fight the man or not?

Fluellen: Absolutely, sir.  It’s a matter of honour.

King Henry: But suppose the other man happens to be of a higher rank?

Fluellen: Rank doesn’t enter into it, my lord.

King Henry (To Williams): Then you do what you have to do, soldier.

Williams: Thank you, my lord.  I surely will. 

King Henry: Who’s your captain?

Williams: Captain Gower, sir.

King Henry: If you see him, tell him to come and see me.

Williams: I will, sir.  God save you, sir.

    (Williams leaves.)

King Henry: Fluellen, I want you to do something for me.

Fluellen: Anything, my lord.

    (King Henry hands him Williams’s glove, previously exchanged when King Henry was disguised.)

King Henry: This glove belonged to one of the French lords.  I want you to stick it on your cap.  If any man recognizes it, you’ll know he’s an enemy and you’re to arrest him.

Fluellen: I shall certainly do that, my lord.

King Henry: You know Captain Gower, don’t you?

Fluellen: Oh, yes, sir.

King Henry: Good.  See if you can find him and bring him to me. 

Fluellen: I will, sir.

    (Fluellen leaves.)

King Henry: Warwick–Gloucester–go follow him.  That glove I gave him belongs to the soldier who was just here.  They’re bound to run into each other.  If they do, make sure nobody gets hurt.–(To Exeter)  Uncle, come with me.

    (They all leave.)

Act 4, Scene 8.  Elsewhere on the field.  Williams comes in with Gower.

Williams: The King wants to see you, Captain.  No doubt, he intends to reward you with a knighthood, I should think.

Gower: Oh, that would be fantastic! 

    (Fluellen comes in, wearing Williams’s glove.)

Fluellen: Ah, there you are, Captain Gower.  The King’s looking for you.  I expect you’re in for some sort of reward.

    (Williams reacts to the sight of the glove.)

Williams: Excuse me, sir–but do you recognize this glove?  (Indicating the one on his own cap.)

Fluellen: No.  It look like any other glove to me.

Williams: Well, I recognize that one!  (Indicating the one Fluellen is wearing)  And I have something for you!

    (He punches Fluellen.)

Fluellen: Why, you’re a damned traitor!  And I arrest you in the name of the King!

    (Fluellen is about to grab Williams, but Gower intervenes.)

Gower: Whoa!  Hold on!  What’s all this about?

Fluellen: This man is a traitor!  He’s in with the French!

Williams: You’re crazy!  I’m no traitor!  

Fluellen: You recognized this glove!  That proves it!

    (Warwick and Gloucester come in.)

Warwick: What’s all the commotion here?

Gower: Something about gloves, but I don’t understand it.

Fluellen: My Lord Warwick, this man recognized the glove I was wearing on my cap.  The King told me to look out for traitors, and he’s one of them.–Here comes the King now.  He’ll tell you.

    (King Henry and Exeter come in.)

King Henry: What’s the trouble here?  Are we having a fight?

Fluellen: My lord, this man recognized the glove you gave me.  He’s a traitor.

Williams: Of course, I recognized it.  It’s my glove.–See?  Here’s the one that matches it.  (He shows the matching glove to King Henry.)  I told you about the glove, my lord.  I told you I gave it to the man I quarreled with and I’d fight him if I saw him again.  That’s him.  (Indicating Fluellen)

Fluellen: He’s a liar, my lord.  You gave me this glove.  Tell him.

King Henry (To Williams): Give me that glove on your cap.  (Williams hands him the glove.   King Henry takes out his own glove and compares them.)  It’s mine.  I was the one you exchanged gloves with last night.  You swore to settle things with me if you ever saw me again–remember?

Fluellen: You should punish him for that, my lord.

Williams: Oh–but–your Majesty–I didn’t know it was you.  It was dark, and you were dressed like any other soldier.  I certainly wouldn’t have said anything to offend you if I’d known.

    (King Henry laughs.  He hands one of his gloves to Exeter.)

King Henry: Uncle, fill this glove with gold coins and give it to this soldier.–What’s your name, soldier?

Williams: Michael Williams, sir.

King Henry: You’re a good Englishman.–Fluellen, you said rank didn’t enter into it–remember?

Fluellen (Embarrassed): Oh–well–I never imagined–

King Henry: Now you’ll make peace with this fellow, all right?

Fluellen: I have to admit he’s got heart.  (He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a few coins.)  Here, soldier.  Here’s twelve pence for you.  Just stay out of fights from now on.

Williams: I don’t want your money.

Fluellen: Oh, go on, take it.  Get your shoes fixed or something.

    (The English Herald comes in.)

King Henry: Herald, what’s the count for the French?

    (The Herald hands him a paper.)

Herald: I’ve written it down, my lord.

King Henry: Uncle, which nobles did we capture?

Exeter: Besides Bourbon, we captured Orleans and Bouciqualt, and a bunch of other lords and knights.

King Henry: According to this, the French have lost eighteen thousand–including a lot of nobles.–The Constable of France–Chatillon–Rambures–Bar–Brabant–Grandpre–Fauconberg–Beaumont–My God, it’s the cream of the aristocracy.  (To the Herald)  What about our own?

    (The Herald hands him another paper.)

King Henry (Looking at both sides): That’s all?

Herald: Yes, my lord.

King Henry: A few hundred.  That’s it.  It’s a miracle.

Exeter: You can say that again.

King Henry: When we march through the villages, I don’t want our men bragging about this victory.  It was the work of God.

Fluellen: That it was, sir–although superior tactics played a part.

King Henry: We’ll give the dead a proper burial, and then it’s on to Calais–and home to England.  We’re the luckiest soldiers who ever returned from France.

    (They all leave.) 

Act 5, Scene 1.  [Author’s note: This scene replaces the Prologue to Act 5 and the original Scene 1.]  France.  Pistol comes in and sits on a rock at mid-stage.  He looks sullen.  He speaks directly to the audience.

Pistol: Well–here’s what happened since you last saw me.  First, we went back to England.  The King got a hero’s welcome, as you would’ve expected.  It was quite a turnout.  You should’ve been there.  I tried to get as close to the King as possible, but Gower and Fluellen kept pushing me away.  So I just talked to anyone I could–you know, all about my heroic exploits in the battle–which was all bullshit, of course.  There was one day devoted to public executions, and that was really cool.  (He takes out a paper and refers to it.)  I saved this as a souvenir–“Public Notice of Executions”.–I don’t even know these people.  Maybe you know them.–Dalton McGuinty, hanged for treason–Chris Bentley, hanged for treason–Philip Weller, hanged for treason–Mark Schueder, hanged for treason–Paul Breeze, hanged for treason–Oh, and there was one woman–Erica Wilson.  She was hanged for engaging in sodomy with a nig–oops!  Ha, ha!  Can’t say that word any more.  It’s considered hate speech.  (He puts the paper away.)  Okay, second thing–the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire–his name is Sigismund–he came to England to arrange a peace between England and France.  So now we’re back in France.  And probably this whole deal will be sealed with a marriage.  That’s usually the way countries settle their differences.–Last thing–I just found out my wife died.  You remember–the hostess of the Boar’s Head Tavern.  So now I’ve got no source of income when I’m out of the army.  About the only thing I’m qualified to do is be a thief or a pimp.  But hey, there’s always room for one more in England.–Oh, let me show you my scars, ha, ha.  (He lifts up his shirt.)  Actually, I fell on a rake.  But I’ll say they’re war wounds.  Plenty of suckers will believe it, and I’ll find some way to take advantage of them.  Hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, right?

    (He leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  The castle of the King of France.  From one side, Henry, Exeter, Bedford, Gloucester, Clarence, Warwick, and Westmoreland come in; from the other side, the King of France, Queen Isabel, Princess Katherine, her waiting-lady, Alice, and the Duke of Burgundy come in.

King Henry: Peace to everyone–my lord King of France, your Highness the Queen, your Highness Princess Katherine, and my lord Duke of Burgundy, who arranged this meeting.

France: And peace to you, too, my lord King and all English lords.

Queen Isabel: My lord King of England, I have waited so long for this day, to see an end to war between our countries.

King Henry: Madam, we feel exactly the same way.

Burgundy: My lords–my ladies–I have worked hard to make this meeting possible, because we have not had peace in France for a long time.  And because of that, our crops are in ruin, our grapes are sour, the peasants sleep with their animals, our soldiers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders, our children are deformed, widows and orphans wander aimlessly in search of crusts of bread, our scholars have become babbling lunatics, the birds refuse to sing, the cows refuse to give milk, and an evil yellow fog hangs over the land and fills our people with despair, lethargy, and thoughts of suicide.

King Henry: Well, we certainly want to put an end to that, don’t we?  I’ve written down our demands, and if you agree to them, everything will be just peachy.

France: I need to review the terms with your lords.  May we take a meeting now?

King Henry: Of course.–Exeter, brothers, Warwick, and Westmoreland–you’ll sit down with the King and go over the details.  (To the Queen)  Madam, will you join the conference or stay here?

Queen: I’ll sit down with the men and make sure they come to an agreement.  But Katherine will stay here.  That way you can get to know each other better.  Alice will stay, too.

    (Everyone leaves except King Henry, Katherine, and Alice.)

King Henry: So, Katherine, how does a soldier like me win the heart of a French princess?  What should I say to you?

Katherine: Oh, your Majesty, mon an-glay is not so good.  I don’t want you to laugh at me.

King Henry: Well, my fran-say is probably worse than your an-glay.  But that’s all right.  We can always speak in, uh, body language, heh, heh.

Katherine: Body language?  (To Alice)  Qu’est-ce que c,a  veut dire?

Alice: Le langage du corps, madame.

Katherine: Oh?–Je ne comprends pas.

Alice: Monsieur, we don’t understand this.

King Henry: Never mind.–Katherine, just tell me if you love me–at least a little.

Katherine: Monsieur, I cannot say.

King Henry: Aw, darn it.  I’m no good at fancy love speeches.  I can’t recite love poems or serenade a woman on a mandolin.  And maybe I’m not the handsomest guy around.  But inside, I have a good heart, and that’s what matters.  All I ask is that you take me as I am and give me a chance.  How about it?

Katherine: But you were enemy of France, no?

King Henry: Not any more, Kate.  I love France.  Every bit of it.  That’s why I want all of it.  And if you love France, you must love me, too, because if France is mine, then France is yours, too.  And we belong to each other.

Katherine: Monsieur, you are confusing me.

King Henry: Okay, wait.  Let me try in French.–Uh–quand je suis en possession de la France–uh–oh, forget it.  Just tell me, what do you feel in your heart?  Could you love me?  Will you accept me?

Katherine: I must do what my father decides.

King Henry: Oh, he’ll approve.  I’m sure of it.  Come on, now, Kate, give us a kiss.

Katherine: Oh, no, no, no!  We do not do the kiss before the marriage in France.

King Henry: Never mind that.  We’re royals.  We make the rules.–Um–je veux vous baiser.

Alice (Embarrassed): Oh, monsieur!  That has two meanings in French.  One meaning is to kiss.  And the other meaning is–Oh!  I cannot say it.

King Henry: Ha, ha!  No–of course, I mean to kiss her.  The other one comes after the wedding, eh?  Ha, ha!  (He kisses Katherine.)  There!  Done!

Katherine: Oh, monsieur!

    (The King of France, the Queen, Burgundy, and the English Lords return.)

Burgundy: So, your Majesty, are you communicating well enough with Lady Katherine?

King Henry: Oh, yes, very well.  (To the King of France)  So, my lord, what do you say?  Do I get to marry your daughter?

France: Yes.  I approve.  And we have an agreement on all the terms.

Exeter (To King Henry): That means you are now the heir to the throne of France, my lord.

France: Yes.  And when you and my daughter have children, our two countries will be like one big, happy family.

Queen: May God bless this marriage.  And may all Englishmen love France and all Frenchmen love England.

The Lords: Hear! Hear!

King Henry: We’ll make arrangements for the wedding at once.  And when I pledge my love to Katherine, I will also pledge my loyalty to France.  And may God bless us all.

The Lords: Amen!

    (Trumpets.  They all leave.  No curtain down.  Quick segue to the Epilogue.)

Epilogue.  The Chorus (narrator) comes in where the previous parties were standing.

Chorus: How did the English win at Agincourt?  Was it because of Henry, his soldiers, the mistakes of the French, the hand of God, or just plain luck?  We leave it to you to decide.  Henry and Katherine produced one child, Henry the Sixth, who became King of England and the disputed King of France.  His was a complex and tragic story, which we must save for another time.  Our King Henry the Fifth died in France at the age of thirty-five and was buried in Westminster Abbey, in London.  Please forgive whatever wrongs he may have done, and remember him for his courage and his glory.

    (Curtain down)


    Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

King Henry IV

Henry, Prince of Wales — heir to the throne; known familiarly as Hal or Harry

Prince John of Lancaster; Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester; Thomas, Duke of Clarence — other sons of King Henry IV

Chief Justice

Servant to the Chief Justice

Earl of Warwick, Earl of Surrey, Earl of Westmoreland, Harcourt, and  Sir John Blunt — loyal to King Henry IV

Sir John Falstaff — friend of Prince Henry

Page — servant to Falstaff

Poins, Peto, and Bardolph — friends of Prince Henry and Falstaff

Pistol — Falstaff’s ensign (flag-bearer)

Archbishop of York, Mowbray, Hastings, and Earl of Northumberland — rebel leaders against King Henry IV

Lady Northumberland — wife of the Earl of Northumberland

Lady Percy — daughter-in-law of the Earl of Northumberland, and widow of Harry “Hotspur” Percy

Lord Randolph — friend of Northumberland (The name has been changed from Bardolph, since the original play has two characters named Bardolph.)

Mistress Quickly — proprietress of the Boar’s Head Tavern

Francis — a waiter

Another waiter

Doll Tearsheet — Falstaff’s favourite prostitute

Two musicians

Fang and Snare — officers

Shallow and Silence — country justices of the peace

Mouldy, Shadow, Wart, Feeble, and Bullcalf — army recruits

Davy — servant to Shallow

Travers — servant to Northumberland

Gower and Morton — messengers

Sir John Coleville — on the side of the rebels


Presenter — news anchor who appears in the Introduction.  (He replaces the character Rumour in the original “Induction”.)

(Note: There are a lot of Henrys, so don’t get confused.  The King is Henry IV, formerly known as Henry Bolingbroke.  The heir to the throne is Prince Henry, who is also referred to as Hal or Harry.  The Earl of Northumberland is Henry Percy.  His dead son was also named Henry, but is referred to as Harry or “Hotspur”.)

Gist of the story: The events in Henry IV, Part Two take place from 1403 – 1413.  After being defeated in the battle of Shrewsbury (see Henry IV, Part One), rebel leaders decide to try again to overthrow Henry IV or gain concessions from him.  But once more we find Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, holding back and letting the other rebels do the fighting.  This time, however, there is no battle. Prince John tricks the rebel commanders into sending their armies home.  Then he arrests them.  Percy is later defeated by other forces loyal to the King.  In Part Two we see a lot more of Sir John Falstaff, an aging knight who is a shameless freeloader, drunk, and con artist.  He has gotten away with a great deal of misbehaviour thanks to his close relationship with “Prince Hal”, the heir to the throne.  When he learns that the King has died and Hal is the new King, he rushes to London expecting rewards from his old friend.  But he finds the new King to be a changed man.  Henry V has renounced his youthful delinquent ways and broken off with the old gang he used to hang out with at the Boar’s Head Tavern.  He banishes all of them — Falstaff in particular — until they shape up.  At the end of the play we get a broad hint from Prince John that there will soon be an invasion of France — which we will see in Henry V.

    (Shakespeare’s opening “Induction” has been replaced with a modernized Introduction.  The Epilogue has been deleted altogether.  Sir John Falstaff is one of the key figures in this play, and he is one of the most popular characters ever created by Shakespeare.  He is hilarious and likable despite his moral defects, and we are sorry to see him banished by his old drinking buddy, Prince Hal, who is now Henry V.  But it is necessary to establish Henry V as a tough, serious king, who will make history at the battle of Agincourt.  The next five installments of Shakespeare For White Trash will follow the reigns of Henry V, Henry VI (in three parts), and Henry VIII.  The series Shakespeare For White Trash is Shakespeare simplified and modernized by Crad Kilodney, for readers and theatre audiences alike.  It is designed to make Shakespeare’s plays crystal-clear and enjoyable to the millions of people who have little or no knowledge of them.  Read my versions and you will say, “I love Shakespeare!”)

Introduction.  Curtain up on a news anchorman (the Presenter) sitting at a desk facing the audience.  There is a big logo that says “WLIE”.

Presenter: Good evening.  I’m Roger Rumour, and this is We-Lie news for northern England.  Here are our top stories.  Unconfirmed reports from Shrewsbury say that the forces of the rebels have defeated the forces of King Henry.  Scottish rebel leader Lord Douglas has seriously wounded King Henry himself.  And Harry Percy, known to us all as Hotspur, has killed the King’s son, Prince Henry.–Meanwhile, in Scotland, the Loch Ness monster was seen by hundreds of people as it attacked a tour boat and ate its passengers.–In Ireland, the rising price of gold has been blamed on market manipulation by leprechauns.–And in football, Chelsea was defeated seven-nil by West Ham United.–More on these stories and others after this word from our sponsors.

    (Curtain down)

Act 1, Scene 1.  Before Northumberland’s castle at Warkworth.  Lord Randolph comes in and knocks at the door.  The Porter opens it.

Porter: Yes?

Randolph: Is the earl at home?

Porter: Who are you, sir?

Randolph: Lord Randolph.

Porter: The earl is in the orchard, sir.

Randolph: Oh–he’s coming now.

    (The Earl of Northumberland comes in.  He is leaning on a crutch and has a bandage on his head.  The Porter leaves.)

Northumberland: Randolph, what’s the news from Shrewsbury?

Randolph: Good news, my lord.  We’ve beaten them.  The King is wounded and probably won’t live.  Prince Henry is dead.  And the King’s other commanders have fled.

Northumberland: Are you sure?  Did you see it yourself?

Randolph: No, I heard it second-hand.  But the man who told me was reliable.

Northumberland: Wait–Here comes my man Travers.  I sent him for news.

Randolph: He doesn’t know any more than I do.

    (Travers comes in.)

Northumberland: Travers, what did you find out?

Travers: We lost.

Randolph: What!

Travers: It went badly at Shrewsbury.  We got beaten.–And your son–is dead.

Northumberland (To Randolph): You said we won.

Randolph: Yes.  We did win.–Travers, whoever told you we lost is full of shit.–Oh, this looks like a messenger.  Now we’ll know.

Northumberland: I know this man.  It’s Morton.

    (Morton comes in, looking frightened and exhausted.)

Northumberland: Morton, what happened at Shrewsbury?

Morton (Out of breath): My lord–

Northumberland: What’s the matter, man?  You look terrible.  What happened?

Morton: My lord–Douglas is alive.  And as far as I know, your brother Worcester is alive.–But young Harry–

    (Morton is unable to speak.  Northumberland shakes him.)

Northumberland: You must tell me.

Morton: I’m so sorry, my lord.  Young Harry is dead.  He was killed by Prince Henry.  After that, morale broke down completely.  Our men panicked and ran.  Even Douglas ran.  He was captured.  And so was your brother.  And now the King is sending forces after you.  Prince John and Westmoreland are coming.

    (Northumberland tosses his crutch aside and throws away his bandage.)

Northumberland: I’m through being sick!  I’m well enough to kill!  Let the King send whoever he wants!  I’ll murder them!  I’ll be the greatest murderer who ever lived!  We’ll all be murderers!  We’ll cut their throats and spill their blood until–

    (Randolph grabs him by the arm.)

Randolph: Calm yourself, my lord.

Morton: My lord, we don’t want you to get sicker.  We need you to be well.  We still have friends who are counting on you.

Randolph: We all knew the risks.  You and your brother and your son most of all.  You set things in motion.  You wanted a rebellion.  The odds were against us.

Northumberland: Yes.  You’re right.

Randolph: We still have strong forces left.  We can reorganize.  This war isn’t over.

Morton: The Archbishop of York has a large army available.  He can turn this whole thing into a religious cause.  People will follow him.  He can remind everyone about King Richard and how he was murdered.  [Author’s note: Richard II was murdered after being overthrown by Henry IV.]

Randolph: Yes.  The Archbishop has tremendous influence.  He can lead the rebellion.  If we all put our heads together and reorganize, we can still get rid of King Henry.

Northumberland: Reorganize.–Yes.–We’ll have to write to people.  We’ll have to rebuild our forces.–All right.  Let’s go inside.  We have a lot of planning to do.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  A London street.  Sir John Falstaff comes in with his Page, who carries Falstaff’s sword and small shield.  The Page is short and very young.

Falstaff: Hey, shorty, what did the doctor say about my urine?

Page: He said that the urine was healthier than the patient.

Falstaff: Well, I’m so glad the doctor finds me a source of amusement.  It gives me a sense of purpose in life that so many people like to make fun of me.–I’m sure Prince Hal assigned you to be my page as a joke–a little piglet serving the fat pig.  Ha, ha.  He thinks he has a sense of humour, but he can’t even grow a beard.  How does he expect to get his face on a coin if he can’t grow a beard?  Would you accept a coin with a king’s face that didn’t have a beard?

Page: I think I would, sir.

Falstaff: Never mind.  What did the tailor say about my cape and trousers?

Page: He said cash up front.  No credit. 

Falstaff: Oh, fuck him.  He’s a jerk, like all these other shopkeepers.  What’s this country coming to when a knight–a knight!–can’t have credit for a goddamn pair of pants?–Where’s Bardolph?

Page: He went to Smithfield to buy you a horse.

Falstaff: Oh, well, that’s suitable, isn’t it?  I found him at a junkyard, and he buys me a cheap horse at Smithfield.  Now all I need is a wife from a whorehouse.

    (The Chief Justice comes in with his Servant.)

Page: Sir, it’s that Chief Justice who put the Prince in jail for slapping him.

Falstaff: Pretend you don’t see him.

Chief Justice (To his Servant): Who is that guy?

Servant: Sir John Falstaff.

Chief Justice: Falstaff!  Wasn’t he implicated in that robbery some time ago?  [Author’s note: In Henry IV, Part One Falstaff and three friends robbed some travelers on a road but were then robbed by Prince Henry and Ned Poins in disguise as a practical joke.]

Servant: Yes.  But he fought in the battle at Shrewsbury, and he’s supposed to be taking some soldiers to York to help Prince John against the rebels.

Chief Justice: Oh, really.  Well, tell him I want to speak to him.

Servant: Sir John Falstaff!

Falstaff (To the Page): Tell him I’m deaf.

Page (To the Servant): You have to speak louder.  He can’t hear you.

Chief Justice (To the Servant): Go tap him on the shoulder.

    (The Servant taps Falstaff on the shoulder.)

Servant: Sir John!

Falstaff: What do you want–money?  I don’t give money to panhandlers.  Get a job.

Servant: No, no.  You’re making a mistake, sir.

Falstaff: I’d be making a mistake if I gave you anything.  Now get lost.

Servant: Sir, the Lord Chief Justice wants to speak to you.

Chief Justice: Sir John!  A word with you, if you please.

Falstaff (With exaggerated warmth): Oh, my Lord Chief Justice!  How wonderful to see you, sir!  I heard you were sick.  Are you sure you’re well enough to be out of bed?

Chief Justice: I’m not sick.  Now listen.  You were supposed to come and see me, and you never did.  Instead, you went straight off to Shrewsbury.

Falstaff: Yes, yes.  Couldn’t be helped.  By the way, I hear the King’s been sick.

Chief Justice: Never mind that.

Falstaff: A kind of paralysis, I hear.

Chief Justice: I wouldn’t know.

Falstaff: Of course, paralysis is caused by lethargy of the blood.

Chief Justice: What?

Falstaff: Yes, yes.  You can read about it in the old Greek medical books.  It all starts with too much reading, too much thinking–

Chief Justice: I never heard of such a thing.

Falstaff: And that causes depression, which in turn leads to deafness.

Chief Justice: Well, if anyone’s deaf, it’s you.  You don’t hear a word I say.

Falstaff: Oh, I hear you, sir.  I’m just not paying attention.  There’s a difference.

Chief Justice: In that case, perhaps you’d pay attention if I arrested you and put you in the stocks.  How’d you like that?

Falstaff: Oh, sure, lock me up, why don’t you?  Listen, I may not be a knight of the Round Table, but I’m still a knight–and I’ll sit at any table of any shape as long as there’s food and wine on it.

Chief Justice: Now you listen, Sir John.  There were very serious accusations against you, and that’s why I sent for you.

Falstaff: But if I’d come to see you, I might not have been able to fight at Shrewsbury, and then the rebels might have won, and then who knows where you’d be now.

Chief Justice: Sir John, I have to tell you that your bad reputation is very great.

Falstaff: As long as it’s great, that’s all that matters.

Chief Justice: You’re damned lucky, you know.  That little bit of service you did at Shrewsbury sort of smoothed over the robbery thing.  Otherwise you’d be in big trouble.  As it is, you’ve embarrassed your friend the Prince.

Falstaff: I embarrassed him?  Hey, you don’t know the real story about that robbery.

Chief Justice: I’d rather not know.  Whatever happened, it was an embarrassment to both the Prince and the King, and now the King won’t let the Prince associate with you any more.

Falstaff: Don’t pretend to care about the Prince.  He slapped you when you got into an argument with him about the robbery, and you put him in jail.

Chief Justice: Just for a day.

Falstaff: That was very liberal of you.  And I reprimanded him for slapping you, and he said he was sorry–

Chief Justice: Good.

Falstaff (Aside to the audience): Sorry he didn’t hit you harder.

Chief Justice: So, I understand that you’re going to join Prince John to fight against Northumberland and the Archbishop.

Falstaff: Yes.  They can’t do without me.  Whenever there’s danger, they send for Sir John Falstaff.  I just hope we don’t have to fight in hot weather.  I’d get all sweaty, and I’m only taking two shirts.

Chief Justice: Well, I hope it will be cool, then.  Anyway, God protect you and bring you success.

Falstaff: Thank you.–So, we’re on good terms now, are we?

Chief Justice: Oh–yes, I suppose.

Falstaff: Fine.  How about lending me a thousand?

Chief Justice: What?

Falstaff: Lend me a thousand pounds.  For supplies.

Chief Justice: You must think I’m a sucker.  I’d never see that money again.  (He begins to leave but pauses.) Give my regards to my cousin the Earl of Westmoreland.

    (The Chief Justice leaves with his Servant.)

Falstaff: I would–for a thousand quid.  (To the Page) Boy!

Page: Yes, sir?

Falstaff: How much do I have in my purse?

Page: Exactly thirty cents, sir.

Falstaff: Huh.–Well, I have some letters for you to deliver.  (Hands him the letters)  This one’s for Prince John.–This one’s for Prince Hal.–This one’s for Westmoreland.–And this one’s for Madame Ursula–(Aside to the audience) whom I’ve been promising to marry every week for the past ten years, and maybe I can squeeze a few more quid out of her.

    (The Page leaves.)

Falstaff: What I really need is a disability pension.  Go up and do a bit of fighting and come home with a sore toe–something like that.  (Taps his head) I’ll think of something.

    (He leaves.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  In the house of the Archbishop of York.  The Archbishop comes in with Lords Mowbray, Hastings, and Randolph.

Archbishop: I know you guys are sympathetic to the cause.  But I want your honest opinion about whether we have a chance to beat the King.–Mowbray, what do you think?

Mowbray: I’m not sure we have enough men.

Archbishop: Hastings?

Hastings: We know we’ve got twenty-five thousand to begin with.  That’s even without Northumberland.  He’s got a lot of forces, and he’s angry about the death of his son, so he’ll be in this fight for sure.

Randolph: I know he wants to be in it–but remember what happened at Shrewsbury.  He and his army didn’t show up.

Archbishop: He was sick, if you remember.

Randolph: Yes, he was sick.  Nobody expected that.  And his son decided to lead the attack anyway, and they lost.  So my point is, let’s say hypothetically we had to go without Northumberland.  Could we still win?

Archbishop: You have a point, Randolph.  We have to be rational about this.

Randolph: Young Harry Percy wasn’t rational.  He was so carried away with his own visions of victory and his own warrior spirit that he ignored the fact that he was outnumbered.

Hastings: It was a calculated risk.  It’s easy to look at it in hindsight and criticize Hotspur, but I don’t blame him.

Randolph: But it wasn’t a calculated risk.  It was totally uncalculated.  He just assumed his father’s forces would show up at some point, and they didn’t.  We don’t want to make the same mistake.  We don’t want to start this business and then find out too late that we can’t finish it.

Hastings: Okay, granted.  But there’s always uncertainty.  In my opinion, we can win even without Northumberland’s help.

Randolph: What, are you saying the King doesn’t have more than twenty-five thousand men?  He does have more.

Hastings: But not against us.  His forces are divided in three parts.  He has to send one third of his army to Wales to fight Glendower, and another third has to face the French.  What’s left is going to fight us.–Frankly, I don’t know how he can afford it.  Everybody’s got to be paid.

Archbishop: Well, I don’t see him diverting forces from his other campaigns to concentrate on us.

Hastings: No.

Randolph: So, who would be commanding against us?

Hastings: Prince John and the Earl of Westmoreland.  Prince Henry is going to Wales.  I don’t know who’s commanding against the French.

Archbishop: Okay, so far, so good.  The next step is to get the people behind us.  They’re fed up with King Henry.  Not that I really trust the masses.  They’re stupid.  They blow with the wind.  First they hated Richard, so they supported Henry when he came back from exile.  Now that he’s King, they hate him.  So we have to take advantage of that.

Mowbray: So, then, it’s agreed we’re going to attack?

Archbishop and Hastings: Yes.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  Outside the Boar’s Head Tavern in Eastcheap (London).  Mistress Quickly meets two officers, Fang and Snare.

Mistress Q: Sergeant Fang, have you filed my complaint?

Fang: Yes, mam.  Deputy Snare and I will arrest Sir John Falstaff for you.

Mistress Q: Be careful.  He can be nasty.  He’s got a big weapon, and he knows how to use it.

Fang: We’re not afraid.  We’ll subdue him by force if we have to.

Mistress Q: I hope so.  That man is going to run me bankrupt, eating and drinking at my expense and not paying his bills.  You might find him at Pie Corner.  He has a weakness for tarts, if you follow my meaning.  He’s into me for a hundred marks, and I ask you, how much can a poor woman bear?

    (Falstaff, his Page, and Bardolph come in.  [The Page has no lines in this scene but reacts suitably to off-colour remarks.])

Falstaff: What’s going on here?  Has somebody been murdered?

Fang: Sir John, you’re under arrest for a complaint made by Mistress Quickly.

Falstaff:  What!  How dare you!–Bardolph, draw your sword, man!

    (Fang and Snare grab Falstaff.)

Fang: You’re not getting away!

Mistress Q. (To Falstaff): You dirty cheat!  You no-good criminal!  You’d kill to get out of paying your debts, wouldn’t you?

Falstaff: You bitch!  I ought to kick your ass!

    (The Chief Justice comes in with his men.)

Chief Justice: What’s all this, then?–Oh, it’s you, Sir John.  In trouble again, are you?  I thought you’d be in York by now, doing your duty.  (To Fang and Snare) Let go of him.

    (Fang and Snare let go of Falstaff.)

Mistress Q: My lord, Sir John owes me money, and I’ve brought charges against him.  I had no choice.

Chief Justice: And what is the gross amount?

Mistress Q: Well, just look at his belly and see for yourself.  Why, he’s eaten me out–(Shocked reaction from the Page)–of house and home.  (To Falstaff) But I aim to get it back if I have to ride you all night for it.

Falstaff: Well, you can ride me, or I’ll ride you.  I like it either way.

Chief Justice: Sir John!  Aren’t you ashamed to make such bad use of this lady?

Falstaff: I can assure you I’ve made very good use of her.  (To Mistress Quickly with a show of charm) How much do I owe you, love?

Mistress Q: You owe me a marriage as well as the money.  You swore to marry me.  It was on a Wednesday, seven weeks after Easter–remember?  Prince Henry punched you for insulting the King, and I was dressing your wound.  You said you’d marry me.  And then you kissed me and borrowed another thirty shillings.

Falstaff (To the Chief Justice): Don’t listen to her.  She’s lost her mind.

Chief Justice: I don’t believe you, sir.  Frankly, you have a reputation for being–shall we say–dishonest.

Falstaff: Shall we say?  No, we shall not say!

Chief Justice: You should pay her what you owe her.  And you should apologize.

Falstaff: For what?  I’ve always been one hundred percent honourable in all my dealings.

Mistress Q: Ha!

Falstaff: And, furthermore, I demand to be released as I have important duties to perform for the King.

Chief Justice: Not so fast.  You’ll have to smooth things over with this lady, otherwise you’re under arrest.

Falstaff: All right, I will.  (To Mistress Quickly, very sweetly) Now, sweetie pie, let’s talk it over.

    (Falstaff and Mistress Quickly move apart for a private conversation.  At this point, Gower, a messenger, arrives with a letter for the Chief Justice.)

Gower: My lord, a letter for you from the King. 

Chief Justice: Thank you, Gower.

    (While the Chief Justice reads the letter, the conversation between Falstaff and Mistress Quickly becomes audible.)

Falstaff: I swear on my honour.

Mistress Q: That’s what you said last time.

Falstaff: This time I really mean it.

Mistress Q: I’ll have to pawn everything–even the tapestries in the dining room.

Falstaff: Oh, nobody likes those old tapestries anyway.  You can get a nice velvet matador from the flea market for a shilling.  Put up a few little things like that.  It’s modern art.  Come on, just lend me ten pounds, okay?  You know I like you.  And drop the charge, okay?  You don’t really mean it.  You were just in a bad mood.

Mistress Q: Ten pounds is too much.  Maybe I could lend you six.

Falstaff (Feigning indifference): Oh, never mind, then.  I know another lady I can ask–Madame Ursula.

Mistress Q: No, no.  I’ll lend you the money.  I’ll just pawn my good clothes.  But you’ll come for dinner tonight, and you’ll pay me back everything, right?

Falstaff: Do the stars come out every night?

Bardolph: Not when it’s cloudy.

Falstaff: Shut up, you.  (Aside to Bardolph) You stick with her until dinner.  Keep her away from the police.

Mistress Q: Should I ask Doll Tearsheet to join you?

Falstaff: By all means!

Mistress Q: Fine.

    (Everyone leaves except the Chief Justice, Gower, and Falstaff.)

Chief Justice (To Gower): The news could be better.

Falstaff: What news is that, my lord?

Chief Justice (To Gower, ignoring Falstaff): Where did the King make camp last night?

Gower: At Basingstoke, my lord.

Falstaff: Is everything okay, then?  Eh?

Chief Justice (To Gower, ignoring Falstaff): With all his armies?

Gower: No.  Fifteen hundred infantry and five hundred cavalry are going to meet Prince John.

Falstaff: The King’s back from Wales, is he?

Chief Justice (To Gower, ignoring Falstaff): I’ll give you a letter to take back to him.  Come on.

Falstaff: Sir!

Chief Justice: What now?

Falstaff: Master Gower, would you like to join me for lunch?

Gower: No, thank you.  I’m busy with the Lord Chief Justice.

Chief Justice (To Falstaff): What’re you hanging around here for?  I thought you had duties in York.

Falstaff (To Gower, ignoring the Chief Justice): How about dinner, then?

Chief Justice: Where did you learn your manners, Sir John?

Falstaff: Right here–from you.

Chief Justice: Damned fool!

    (They leave separately.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  [The setting is probably on a London street, although some texts may place it indoors.]  Prince Henry and Ned Poins come in.

Prince Henry: I’m exhausted.  I could go for a beer right now.

Poins: Now you sound like an ordinary guy, not a prince.

Prince Henry: That’s because I hang around with ordinary guys like you.  Sometimes I forget who I am.

Poins: I thought you’d be by your father’s side right now, seeing as how sick he is.

Prince Henry: I’m thinking about him.  I just don’t want to show my feelings in front of my friends.

Poins: You mean us low-lifes–me and Falstaff and the other guys from the Boar’s Head.

Prince Henry: Yeah, you might say that.

Poins: Well, we’re used to regarding you as another bad boy like us, aren’t we?

Prince Henry: True.  And I think that’s the way most people see me.

Poins: I don’t worry about what anyone thinks of me.  I am what I am, and people can take it or leave it.  After all, I have no particular expectations of, uh–advancement.

Prince Henry: I guess.–Oh, here comes Bardolph and that page I assigned to Falstaff. 

    (Bardolph, who is red-faced and rather drunk, comes in with the Page, who is dressed in ridiculous clothes.)

Prince Henry: I swear this kid was normal when I found him.  This is Falstaff’s doing.

Bardolph: God save you, Prince!

Prince Henry: Drunk again, eh, Bardolph?

Page: He was in the alehouse when I passed by, sir.  He was looking out the window, and I thought he had his head under a whore’s skirt, but it was only a red window shade.

Bardolph: Shut up, shorty.  What do you know about whores?

Page: Only what Master Falstaff tells me.

Prince Henry: He’s the expert.  (To Bardolph) How is old Jack today?

Bardolph: Same as usual.  He sends you this letter.

    (Bardolph hands Prince Henry the letter.  The Prince shows the outside of it to Poins.)

Prince Henry: Check this out–“John Falstaff, Knight.”

Poins: He loves his title, doesn’t he?

Prince Henry: Let me read this.  (He reads aloud) “Sir John Falstaff to Harry, Prince of Wales.  Greetings.”

Poins: Sounds like a draft notice.

Prince Henry (Reading): “I salute you.  Don’t get too chummy with Poins.  He has ulterior motives–namely, to marry off his sister to you.  Say your prayers if you remember, as I will be on my way to York shortly.  Yours truly, Jack Falstaff to you, John to my brothers and sisters, and Sir John to the rest of Europe.”

Poins: The fine art of letter-writing.

Prince Henry: So I’m supposed to marry your sister, am I?

Poins: I never said any such thing.  Not that I would object, of course.

Prince Henry (To Bardolph): So where is he–still in London?

Bardolph: Yes.  He’s having dinner tonight at the Boar’s Head.  Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet will be there, too.

Prince Henry: Who’s Doll Tearsheet?

Page: Sir John says she’s a distant cousin.

Prince Henry: Ah.  Yeah.  Right. We know what that means.

    (He and Poins exchange a knowing smile.)

Prince Henry (To Poins): What do you say we go spy on them?

Poins: Sure.

Prince Henry (To Bardolph and the Page): Not a word to Jack, understand?  I don’t even want him to know I’m back in town.

Bardolph and the Page: Okay.

Prince Henry (To the Page): Here–go buy some candy.  (Gives him a coin)–Okay, get lost, both of you.

    (Bardolph and the Page leave.)

Prince Henry: A distant cousin.  That’s funny.

Poins: Doll Tearsheet.  She’s very aptly named, I assure you.

Prince Henry: We need some sort of disguise.

Poins: We’ll be disguised as waiters.  We’ll serve them.

Prince Henry: Don’t let the King find out.  He’ll have a heart attack.

Poins: He won’t know.  Don’t worry.

Prince Henry: Let’s go.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  Northumberland’s castle in Warkworth.  Northumberland comes in with his wife, Lady Northumberland, and his daughter-in-law, Lady Percy.

Northumberland: I’m telling you, I have to go.  You mustn’t try to stop me.

Lady Northumberland: Isn’t it enough that I’ve lost my son?  Do I have to lose my husband, too?

Northumberland: You don’t understand.  This is a question of honour.

Lady Percy: You didn’t go to Shrewsbury to help Harry, and now I’m a widow.

Northumberland: Don’t you think I feel guilty about that–even if I was sick?  That’s why I have to go this time.

Lady Percy: Harry wouldn’t want you to go.  Why should you go for Mowbray and the Archbishop?  Do you love them more than you loved Harry?

Northumberland: Don’t confuse the issue.  There’s danger whether I go or not.  But if I go now I know I have an army.  If I wait indefinitely, I may not have the same forces.

Lady Percy: Mowbray and the Archbishop have a bigger army than Harry had at Shrewsbury.  Let them do the fighting.

Lady Northumberland: Yes, I agree.  Why should you get involved?  You can go away to Scotland until it’s all over.

Northumberland: You mean run like a coward?  No, I can’t do that.

Lady Percy: You can wait until you know they have the upper hand.  Then you can join them.  But don’t get into it right at the start.

Lady Northumberland: Yes, I don’t want you to go now.

Northumberland: I don’t know–I–I should go with the Archbishop.–I really should.–I could go to Scotland and wait, I suppose.–Let me think it over.

Lady Northumberland and Lady Percy: Yes, yes. 

    (They all leave.)  

Act 2, Scene 4.  The Boar’s Head Tavern in Eastcheap.  Francis and another Waiter come in.

Francis: Listen, Prince Henry and Ned Poins are going to surprise Sir John at dinner tonight.  They’re going to be disguised as waiters.  We have to fix them up with the right clothes. 

Second Waiter: Who told you this?

Francis: Bardolph.  Now, we have to keep it a secret, understand?

Second Waiter: Okay.

Francis: Oh, and Doll Tearsheet will be at dinner, and she likes a bit of music.

Second Waiter: I’ll take care of it.

    (They leave.  Then Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet come in.  Doll is a little drunk.)

Mistress Q: You’re a little flush in the face, my dear.  I think you’ve had a bit too much wine.

Doll Tearsheet: Too much wine?  Don’t you know wine’s good for the heart?

Mistress Q: Oh, well, in that case–

    (Falstaff comes in singing.  [Author’s note: It’s an old Elvis Presley song.])

Falstaff (Singing): “Night and you, and blue Hawaii…The night is heavenly, and you are heaven to me–”  Doll!  How are you, love?

Mistress Q: She’s a bit drunk.

Falstaff: Aw, she’s a big girl.  She can hold her wine–although I can hold a lot more–ha!

Doll Tearsheet: I heard a whole shipment of Bordeaux was lost in the Channel.

Falstaff: Too bad.  If I’d been there, I would have saved it.  I would have drunk it all before the ship sank–ha!

    (The Second Waiter comes in.)

Second Waiter: Sir John, your ensign Pistol is downstairs.  He wants to talk to you.

Doll Tearsheet: Don’t let that rude man in here.  I hate him.

Mistress Q: Yes, I don’t want his type in my establishment.

Falstaff: But he’s my ensign.

Mistress Q: He’s a damned trouble-maker and a lout.

Doll Tearsheet: That he is.

Falstaff: Oh, don’t worry.  He’s harmless.  (To the Second Waiter) Tell him to come up and join the party.

    (The Second Waiter leaves.)

Mistress Q: Tsk!–I wish you hadn’t.

Falstaff: Relax.

    (Pistol, Bardolph, and the Page come in.  Pistol is drunk.)

Pistol: Sir John!  Wassup?

Falstaff: Sit down.  Have a drink.  (Picks up a glass.)  A toast to you!

Pistol: Oh!  Swell!

    (Pistol picks up a glass, and they both drink.)

Falstaff: Now, how about toasting the hostess?

Pistol: I’d rather taste the hostess–ha!

Mistress Q: Fat chance.

Pistol: How about you, Mistress Tearsheet?  Shall I taste you, then?

Doll Tearsheet: I’ll cover myself in hemlock.  Then you can taste all you want.

Pistol: Ha!–You know, they don’t call me Pistol for nothing.  It’s because of my–pistol!  Get it?  Ha, ha!

Doll Tearsheet: You’re a boil that should be lanced.

Pistol: I’d rather lance you–and then you can boil if you want to–ha!

Falstaff: Dude, chill out.

Pistol: Who’s she, then–a duchess?  We all know where she comes from.

Doll Tearsheet: But nobody knows where you come from, because nobody will admit to being your parents.

Pistol: Oh, yeah?  Well, women like you belong in hell.

Bardolph: Ensign Pistol–please!

Pistol: Aah, this world is full of bullshit.  That’s why we need iron.

    (He drops his sword on the table.)

Mistress Q: Irene?  There’s nobody here by that name.

Pistol: Bring me some more wine.  What kind of party is this?  (To Doll Tearsheet) Are we going to have some fun later, or not?

Doll Tearsheet: Maybe, but not with each other.

Falstaff: Pistol–shut up.

Doll Tearsheet: Throw him out.

Pistol: Throw me out?  (Picks up his sword) Who’s going to throw me out?

Falstaff: Bardolph, throw him out.

Bardolph: Come on, Pistol, get out.

Pistol: Death before dishonour! 

Falstaff: I can arrange that.  (He takes his sword from the Page, who has been carrying it for him, and then starts fighting with Pistol, who is too drunk to defend himself.  The women scream.  Pistol flees, and Falstaff chases him offstage, with Bardolph following.)

Doll Tearsheet: My hero!

Mistress Q: He’d better not get killed.  He owes me money.

    (Falstaff and Bardolph return.)

Falstaff: Well, that’s taken care of.

    (Doll Tearsheet hugs him and sits on his lap.)

Doll Tearsheet: My brave warrior!  (She kisses him.)  Just like Alexander the Great!

Falstaff: I kicked his ass.  He had it coming.

Doll Tearsheet: Oh, you make me so hot!  I love you!

    (Two Musicians come in.)

Doll Tearsheet: Oh, yes!  Let’s have some music!

     (The Musicians will play and remain in the background for the rest of the scene.  The Director can make this as absurd as he wants, with the Musicians playing very badly.  It doesn’t matter what instruments they play.   Shortly after they begin playing, Prince Henry and Poins come in, dressed as waiters and wearing false moustaches.  They are carrying wine.)       

Falstaff (Snapping his fingers at the new waiters without looking at them closely): More wine here!

    (Prince Henry and Poins put the wine on the table and then step back to observe.)

Doll Tearsheet: Jack, you know the Prince well.  What’s he like?

Falstaff: Prince Hal?  He’s really a shallow young man.  If he hadn’t been born a royal, he’d have ended up as a dishwasher.

Doll Tearsheet: And what about his friend Ned Poins.  He’s smart, isn’t he?

Falstaff: Smart?  Ha!  He has the brains of a baboon.

Doll Tearsheet: Then why does the Prince hang around with him? 

Falstaff: Well, they’re exactly alike, don’t you see.  Strong bodies and weak minds.  They’re both into silly games and pranks and being wild and crazy.  They’re like a comedy act, the two of them. 

Prince Henry (Aside to Poins): I’m ready to clobber this guy.

Poins (Aside to Prince Henry): Me, too.

Prince Henry (Aside to Poins): I don’t know what she sees in him.

Poins (Aside to Prince Henry): Probably some sort of father fixation.

Doll Tearsheet: Oh, Jack, I love you so much more than I could ever love a young man.

Falstaff: Ah, but will you still love me when I’m really old?

Doll Tearsheet: I’ll be older, too, so I won’t notice.

Falstaff: It’s getting a bit late, don’t you think?  We want to have time to–(He whispers in her ear, and she reacts with mock embarrassment.  Then he snaps his fingers at the waiters.)–Hey, bring us some of the expensive stuff.  We’re worth it.

    (Prince Henry and Poins take off their fake moustaches.)

Prince Henry: Will you be leaving us a generous tip, sir?

Falstaff: Good God!–I didn’t know the Prince had a twin!–Or Ned Poins either!

Prince Henry: I saw your twin in a dream.  He had the body of an ox, the head of a pig, hands like a monkey, feet like a buzzard, and the long tail of a rat.

Mistress Q: It is the Prince! 

Falstaff: Well, knock me over with a feather!  What a mean trick to play on an old friend.  Sit down and have a drink.

Prince Henry: What do you mean by slandering me, eh?

Falstaff: Who, me?  Oh, no, no, no!  I would never slander you.

Prince Henry: A dishwasher, am I?

Poins: The brains of a baboon?  Is that what I’ve got?

Falstaff: No, no, no, no!   Nothing of the sort!  I only said those things so that, um–so that wicked people wouldn’t love either of you.

Prince Henry: Which wicked people?  The hostess?  Mistress Tearsheet?  Bardolph?  Maybe your page?

Falstaff: Well–yes–actually.  Bardolph’s cursed by the devil.  You can see it on his face.  The boy has an evil spirit sitting on his shoulder.  Doll’s going to hell for–you know.  And as for the hostess, she’s my creditor, which gives her cruel power over me.  She could be damned for that, for all I know.

Mistress Q: More likely I’ll be damned if I ever get paid.

Prince Henry: Jack, you’re the most corrupt bastard I’ve ever known.

Falstaff: But still lovable.  Don’t forget to say lovable.

    (A knock at the door is heard.)

Mistress Q: Francis, see who’s at the door.

    (Francis goes out and returns with Peto.)

Prince Henry: Peto, wassup?

Peto: The King’s at Westminster, twenty messengers have arrived from the north, and a dozen captains are out looking for Sir John.

Prince Henry: Party’s over.  Duty calls.–Poins, Bardolph, Peto–let’s go.–Jack, don’t be too long.

    (Prince Henry, Poins, Peto, and Bardolph leave.  Falstaff looks wistfully at Doll Tearsheet.)

Falstaff: Too bad, love.  Looks like we won’t have time to, uh, say goodbye properly.

Doll Tearsheet: Ohhh–

    (Knocking is heard offstage.  Then Bardolph returns.)

Bardolph: Sir John, those captains are downstairs waiting for you.  You have to go to the King’s court immediately.

Falstaff (To the Page): Pay the musicians.–Ladies, I have to go.  They just can’t do a thing without Sir John Falstaff.

Doll Tearsheet (Starting to cry): Ohhh–Jack.

Mistress Q: Goodbye, Jack.  Good luck.

Falstaff: Thank you.  I’ll be thinking of you both.

    (Falstaff, Bardolph, and the Page leave.)

Mistress Q: Twenty-nine years I’ve known that man.  And God knows how much he owes me.  Still, I’ve always liked him.

Bardolph (Calling from offstage): Mistress Tearsheet!

Mistress Q (Calling back): What is it?

Bardolph (Offstage): He wants Mistress Tearsheet!

Mistress Q (To Doll Tearsheet): He’ll be wanting one last kiss.  Hurry!

Doll Tearsheet: Jack!

    (She runs out as the curtain ends the scene.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  The palace at Westminster.  King Henry comes in alone, wearing a nightgown.

King: The whole of England is sound asleep right now–every poor peasant in his filthy bed, every hand on every ship, every stable boy, every servant–even the prisoner in his cell.  They all get to enjoy the comfort of sleep.  Everyone except me.  For all my power and wealth, I can’t command sleep or buy it.  Every head that wears a crown is burdened with worries.

    (The Earl of Warwick and the Earl of Surrey come in.  [Sir John Blunt is deleted from this scene.])

Warwick and Surrey: Good morning, your Majesty.

King: Warwick–Surrey–Thank you for coming at such a late hour.  Is it morning already?

Warwick: It’s after one o’clock, sir.

King: Did you read my letters?

Warwick and Surrey: Yes, yes.

King: Then you understand how bad things are in England. 

Warwick: It’s a temporary situation, my lord.  The rebels will be brought under control.

King: Isn’t it strange the way things change?  It’s almost too strange to believe.  Richard and Northumberland were once the closest of friends.  Then Northumberland abandoned him to support me.  And now Northumberland is my enemy–along with the Archbishop of York, and the Welsh, and my cousin Mortimer.  Richard predicted Northumberland would turn against me.  I hear Northumberland and the Archbishop have fifty thousand men between them.

Surrey: I would take that with a grain of salt, my lord.  Rumour has a way of exaggerating reality.  And as for the Welsh, you can forget about them.  I have reliable reports that Glendower is dead.

King: Glendower’s dead?  Really?

Surrey: Yes.

Warwick: You should try to get some sleep, my lord–for the sake of your health.

King: I know, I know.

Surrey: Don’t worry about the Archbishop and Northumberland.  Your army will beat them, no problem.

King: I wish I could be as confident as you are.

Surrey: I’m totally confident.

King: All right, then.  I’ll trust your judgment.  Thank you for coming, both of you.  I’ll try to get some sleep.

Warwick: Good night, your Majesty.

Surrey: Sleep well, your Majesty.

    (Warwick and Surrey leave.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  In front of Justice Shallow’s house in Gloucestershire.  Justice Shallow and Justice Silence come in, followed at a distance by Mouldy, Shadow, Wart, Feeble, and Bullcalf, who are to be recruited.

Shallow: Those were great times we had in law school.  We knew where to find all the best whores.  Jack Falstaff was already a hell-raiser in those days.

Silence: Is that Sir John Falstaff?

Shallow: Yes, yes, the very one.  He’s coming to recruit these fellows for the army.–Oh, here he comes now.

    (Falstaff comes in with Bardolph.)

Shallow: Sir John Falstaff!  Well, well!  It’s delightful to see you after all this time.  You haven’t aged a day.

Falstaff: Master Shallow!  You flatter me, sir.  You look fine yourself.–And this is–?

Shallow: My cousin Silence.  He’s a justice of the peace, like me.

Silence: Your servant, sir.

Falstaff: Your servant, Master Silence.–And this is my lieutenant, Bardolph.  (Bardolph bows slightly.)–Bardolph, I went to law school with this man.

Bardolph: Oh.  How nice.

Shallow: Those were the days.

Falstaff: The best.  Now we’re old men, aren’t we?

Shallow: Older but wiser.

Falstaff: Quite so, quite so.–Well, then, you have some able-bodied recruits for me?

Shallow: I do, indeed.  (He takes out a list.) I hope you approve of them.–Ralph Mouldy.

    (Mouldy steps forward.)

Falstaff: Are you Mouldy?

Mouldy: Yes, sir.

Falstaff: Mouldy from lack of use, no doubt.

Shallow: Ha, ha, ha, ha!–Mouldy from lack of use!–You’re so funny, Sir John!

Falstaff: He’ll do.  Mark him down.

Mouldy: Oh, please, sir.  I can’t leave me old mum.  She needs help at home.  Can’t you pick someone else?

Falstaff: Never mind.  I hear that excuse all the time.  Duty is duty.–Who’s next?

Shallow: Simon Shadow.

    (Shadow steps forward.)

Shadow: Here, sir.

Falstaff: And whose son are you?

Shadow: My father’s.

Falstaff: A shadow of your father, eh?

Shallow: Ha, ha, ha!  That’s a good one, Sir John.

Falstaff: I can always use another shadow–my own behind me and someone else’s in front of me.

Shallow: Ha, ha ha!

Falstaff: Yes, he’ll do.  Who’s next?

Shallow: Thomas Wart.

    (Wart steps forward.  He is very ragged.)

Wart: Here, sir.

Falstaff: Good God, man, where are you from–a concentration camp?

Shallow: Ha, ha, ha!  That’s a good one!  A concentration camp!

Falstaff: I don’t think I want this fellow.  Who’s next?

Shallow: Francis Feeble.

    (Feeble steps forward.)

Feeble: Here, sir.

Falstaff: And what do you do?

Feeble: I’m a women’s tailor.

Falstaff: Do you do ladies’ underwear?

Feeble: Oh, yes, sir.  Lots of ladies wear my underwear.

Falstaff: That’s all right–as long as you don’t wear theirs.

Shallow: Ha, ha, ha!  Sir John, you kill me!

Falstaff: Well, Feeble, I can tell you’re as brave as the bravest mouse that ever lived.  You’re in.–Who’s next?

Shallow: Peter Bullcalf.

    (Bullcalf steps forward.)

Bullcalf: Here, sir.

Falstaff: Now there’s a fine name for a soldier–Bullcalf.  I like it.  You’re in.

Bullcalf: Oh, but sir, I’m so sick.

Falstaff: Sick with what?

Bullcalf: I have a terrible cold, sir.  You see, I’m the bell-ringer in the church, and it gets very cold up there at night.

Falstaff: A good, long march will get rid of that cold.  Trust me.–Is that it?

Shallow: That’s everyone.  Why don’t you come inside and have lunch?

Falstaff: I’ve no time for lunch–but I will have a drink with you for old times’ sake.

Shallow: Ah, yes.  What memories!  Remember when we took those two girls into the windmill at St. George’s field?

Falstaff: Don’t remind me of that.

Shallow: Is Jane still alive.?

Falstaff: Oh, yes, she’s still alive.

Shallow: She was hot.  How does she look now?

Falstaff: Old.  How else do you expect her to look?

Shallow: She had a baby even before I got my appointment at law.

Silence: That was fifty years ago.

Shallow: That long?  My, my.  How time flies.  We got up to some real tricks, believe me, cousin.–Isn’t that right, Sir John?

Falstaff: Yes, indeed.

Shallow: Indeed, indeed, indeed.  We were crazy in those days.  Come inside with us, Sir John.

Falstaff: All right.

    (Falstaff, Shallow, and Silence leave.)

Bullcalf: Master Bardolph, I don’t want to go.  Look, here’s twenty shillings for you.  Get me out of it, all right?

Bardolph: I’ll see what the captain says.

Mouldy: Master Bardolph, I can’t leave me old mum.  I’ll give you forty shillings to get me excused, all right?

Bardolph: We’ll see.

Feeble: I wouldn’t bribe my way out.  It’s a man’s duty to serve–even if he gets sliced into a thousand pieces and his blood is spurting everywhere and he dies in extreme agony.  We all have to die sometime, after all.

Bardolph: That’s the spirit, Feeble!  Good for you!  England needs more men like you.  You’re an example for others to follow.  A true man of honour, you are.

Feeble: Thank you, sir.

    (Falstaff, Shallow, and Silence return.)

Bardolph: Sir John, a word with you.  (He takes Falstaff aside and speaks confidentially.) I’ve got sixty shillings from Mouldy and Bullcalf to excuse them.

Falstaff (Aside to Bardolph): Sixty!  Excellent!

Shallow: So, which recruits are you taking, Sir John?

Falstaff: Um, well, now, let’s see–I’m going to take Wart, Feeble, and Shadow.  Mouldy and Bullcalf are excused.

Shallow: Really?  I’m very surprised.

Falstaff: Mouldy’s too old, and Bullcalf is too young.  Now, Wart, on the other hand, is the sort of soldier I need.

Shallow: I thought you didn’t want him.

Falstaff: I’ve reconsidered.  He’s got a keen eye.  I can tell.  Just look at those eyes.  Why, he’s a natural-born killer.  Put a musket in his hands, and he’ll be shooting down the enemy at a hundred yards.  And Shadow is perfect because he’s so thin he presents almost no target.  It’s what we call stealth.  And as for Feeble, I can tell he would be brilliant at retreating.  And in war, retreating is just as important as advancing.

Shallow: I never thought of that.

Falstaff: I’ve led soldiers in battle before, you know.  I was at Shrewsbury.

Shallow: Ah, yes.

Falstaff: Bardolph, you take the recruits and find uniforms for them.  And, uh, take the other two along and, uh, process them out.–You know.

Bardolph: Yes, Sir John.

    (Bardolph and the five recruits go out.)

Falstaff: Master Shallow–Master Silence–wonderful to see you both.  I have to march twelve miles tonight, so I have to go.

Shallow: You must come and see us on your way back.

Falstaff: I will.  I promise.

Shallow: Good luck, Sir John.

Falstaff: Thank you.

    (Shallow and Silence leave.)

Falstaff: Master Robert Shallow–the most boring, pretentious idiot I ever met.  And now he’s a judge and a landowner.  Well, that’s fine.  I don’t mind being his friend if I can get something out of it–like money.

    (He leaves.)  

Act 4, Scene 1.  Gaultree Forest in Yorkshire.  The Archbishop of York, Mowbray, and Hastings come in (optionally with a few soldiers).

Archbishop: Where are we?

Hastings: Gaultree Forest, your Grace.

Archbishop: Have you sent out scouts?

Hastings: Yes.

Archbishop: Good.  (Pause)  I have some news concerning Northumberland. He won’t be joining us.

Mowbray: Why not?

Archbishop: He says he doesn’t have enough men.  He’s gone to Scotland to recruit more.

Mowbray: And you believe that?

Archbishop: I don’t know what to believe.

Mowbray: He’s not coming–period.  We’re on our own.

    (A Scout comes in.)

Hastings: One of my scouts.–What’s happening?

Scout: The King’s forces are about a mile west of here.  They have about thirty thousand men.

Mowbray: Roughly what we expected.  Maybe a little more.  We should still attack.

    (Westmoreland comes in.)

Mowbray: It’s Lord Westmoreland.

Westmoreland: I come in peace from Prince John.  He sends respectful greetings.

Archbishop: Peace to you, too, sir.  What does Prince John have to say?

Westmoreland: Your Grace, the Prince wants to know why a man in your position–a churchman, a man of peace, a man of wisdom–would lead a rebellion against the King?

Archbishop: Because this country is sick, that’s why.  And King Henry is the reason.  We tried to explain our grievances to him a long time ago, but he wouldn’t hear us.  So we have no choice.  We don’t like rebellion.  We’d rather have peace, but a permanent, meaningful peace.

Westmoreland: When did the King ever refuse to see you?  When did he ever do you any harm?

Archbishop: He murdered my brother for supporting King Richard.

Westmoreland: This is all in the past.  And in any case, your personal grievance doesn’t justify a general insurrection.

Mowbray: Doesn’t our honour count for anything?  After what happened at Shrewsbury, are we supposed to forget all our grievances and sit home and do nothing?

Westmoreland: No one can be happy who loses a war, but it’s not personal.  It’s war.  And you, in particular, have no reason to quarrel with the King.  It was King Richard who exiled your father, and it was King Henry who returned your lands to you.

Mowbray: My father was ready to face Henry Bolingbroke in a duel when King Richard stopped it.  Then he sent both of them into exile.

Westmoreland: Which was a lucky thing for your father because Bolingbroke would’ve killed him, and everyone knows it.  And what’s more, everyone loved Bolingbroke and hated your father.  But I didn’t come here to argue about history.  I came here to tell you that Prince John is willing to listen to your grievances and deal with them in a reasonable way.

Mowbray: Oh, sure.  He’s willing to listen now that we have an army to stand up to him.

Westmoreland: Your army is no match for ours.  Our soldiers are more experienced.  Prince John is not afraid of you.

Mowbray: I’m not interested in any conference with Prince John.

Westmoreland: Then you’re dishonourable, and so is the cause you represent.

Hastings: Does the Prince have full authority to settle our grievances?

Westmoreland: Of course.

Archbishop: All right.  (He takes out a paper and hands it to Westmoreland.)  Here’s a list of our demands.  If these demands are met and everyone here is granted a full pardon, then we’ll all go home and the rebellion is over.

Westmoreland: I’ll take this to the Prince.  Will you meet him halfway between the two armies?

Archbishop: Yes.

Westmoreland: Good.

    (Westmoreland leaves.)

Mowbray: I don’t know about this.  If we come to terms now, it may only be temporary.

Hastings: No, if we get what we want, it’ll be okay.

Archbishop: The King’s tired of fighting, don’t you think?  He’ll just want to stop it once and for all if he has a chance.  Besides, his relationships are so tangled, if he punishes one enemy, he creates another.  Politically, the simplest thing is to make peace with us.

Mowbray: I hope you’re right.

    (They leave in the same direction as Westmoreland.  [Author’s note: Not all texts have a scene break here.  I am following the example of the Pelican edition and putting it in.  There should be a quick segue to the next scene.])

Act 4, Scene 2.  Another part of the forest.  Prince John, Westmoreland, and some Officers come in from one side, and the Archbishop, Mowbray, and Hastings come in from the other.

Prince John: Hello, my Lord Archbishop–Lord Mowbray–Lord Hastings.

Those Three: My Lord Prince.

Prince John: My Lord Archbishop, it’s strange to see a high churchman dressed for battle and leading a rebellion.  The King is the agent of God, and you are the interpreter of God.  But here you are using your position against the King.

Archbishop: My Lord Prince, as I explained to Lord Westmoreland, we had no choice but to take up arms.  You can put an end to all the turmoil right now by settling our grievances.

Mowbray: Otherwise we’re ready to fight.

Hastings: And even if we die, others will take up our cause.  And if they die, still others will follow them.  It’ll go on generation after generation.

Prince John: Hastings, don’t presume to see into the future.

Westmoreland: Your Highness, why don’t you tell them what you’ve decided.

Prince John: Yes–I have no problem with these demands.  I’m sorry if there have been misunderstandings.  We’ll settle all these matters to your satisfaction, and all our armies can go home.

Archbishop: I take you at your word, sir.  I’m very glad indeed.

Prince John: Good.  Then let’s drink to peace.

    (One of Prince John’s officers produces a bottle of wine and pours drinks.)

Hastings: I’ll go and tell our men they can go home.

    (Hastings leaves.)

Archbishop (Raising his cup): To you, my Lord Prince, and Lord Westmoreland.

Westmoreland: To you, sir.

    (They all drink.)

Mowbray: Suddenly I have an upset stomach.

Archbishop: It’s nothing.  It’s just the emotion of the day.  First you were angry, and now you’re happy.

Mowbray: Oh, is that it?

    (Cheering is heard offstage in the direction of the rebel army.)

Prince John: Listen to them.  They’re happy to have peace.  (To Westmoreland) Pass the word to our troops.

    (Westmoreland leaves.)

Prince John: There, you see how simple that was?  It’s just as easy to have peace as it is to have war.  It’s entirely an act of will.

Archbishop: Yes, yes, my lord.  You’re so right.

Prince John: You’ll stay here tonight, won’t you?  Everyone in the same camp.

Archbishop: Yes, yes.  Glad to.

    (Westmoreland returns.)

Westmoreland (To Prince John): My lord, they want to hear the order from you personally before they disperse.

Prince John: Yes, all right.  In a moment.

    (Hastings returns.)

Hastings: You should have seen them!  Like a bunch of happy schoolboys let out for summer vacation!

Westmoreland: That’s fine, Lord Hastings.  Excellent.–And now I arrest you, Mowbray, and the Archbishop for treason.

Archbishop: But you promised to meet our demands!  You gave us your word!

Prince John: I’ll meet your demands.  But as for the three of you, you’re going to get what you deserve–for your treason as well as for your stupidity.  (To the Officers) Take them away and prepare them for execution.

    (They all leave, the Officers taking the rebels as prisoners.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  Elsewhere in the forest.  Falstaff encounters Sir John Coleville coming in from the opposite side.  Falstaff has his sword out.

Falstaff: You there!  What’s your name and rank?

Coleville: I’m Sir John Coleville.  I’m a knight.

Falstaff: You’re one of the rebels.  And I’m taking you prisoner.  Or do I have to use force?

Coleville: Aren’t you Sir John Falstaff?

Falstaff: Oh, so you recognize me, eh?–Heh, heh.–Then I’m sure you know my reputation.  Surrender or die!

Coleville: I surrender to you, sir.

Falstaff: Good.  I’m going to hand you over to my general.

    (Prince John, Westmoreland, Blunt, and Soldiers come in.)

Prince John: So you finally made it to the war, eh, Falstaff?

Falstaff: You know me, my lord.  Always reliable.

Prince John: Reliable in the sense of predictable.  The war’s over.  You missed it.

Falstaff: I got here as fast as I could, believe me.  And fortunately I arrived just in time to capture this man, Sir John Coleville, one of the fiercest knights who ever lived.  He took one look at me and gave up.  He knew who I was.

Prince John: I’m sure he was just being polite.

Falstaff: No, no.  It was my reputation as a fighter that caused him to lose his courage.  In any case, I’m turning him over to you, and I expect to be remembered for my contribution to the war.

Prince John: You will, don’t worry.–Blunt, take charge of this man.  He’s to be–you know–like the others.

Blunt: Right, my lord.

    (Blunt takes Coleville away.)

Prince John: We have to return to the King’s court.  He’s very ill.–Westmoreland, you go on ahead and tell him the news.  We’ll catch up with you.

Westmoreland: Very good, sir.

Falstaff: My lord, if you don’t mind, I’d like to make a little detour to Gloucestershire.  But be sure to give my love to the King–and don’t forget to tell him what I did.

Prince John: Yes, yes.  I’m sure it’ll cheer him up.  All right, then, we’ll see you later.

Falstaff: Thank you, my lord.  Have a nice trip.

    (Everyone leaves except Falstaff.)

Falstaff: A bit of a stiff, that Prince.  Too serious.  Too sober.   Just like his father.  Give me a man who likes his sherry.  And give me his sherry, too, come to think of it.  Sherry’s good for you.  It warms the blood.  And it makes the brain work better.  It even makes you musical.  You can’t have too much sherry.  Now you take Prince Hal.  He can hold his sherry as well as any man.  That’s why he’s such a brave soldier–and a wild and crazy guy.  And it’s a good thing he does drink because cold blood runs in his family.  Get a boy drinking at a young age, and you’ll never have to worry about him.

    (Bardolph comes in.)

Falstaff: Bardolph, wassup?

Bardolph: The whole army’s been dismissed.  Can you believe it?  The general played a trick on the rebels.

Falstaff: Did he really?  What did he do?

Bardolph: He tricked them into sending their armies away.

Falstaff: Did he now?–Well!–He’s a lot more clever than I gave him credit for.

Bardolph: So are we returning to London, then?

Falstaff: After a little detour.  Say, how’d you like to pass by Gloucestershire with me on the way back?  We’ll visit Master Shallow and his cousin Master Silence.

Bardolph: Oh!  A little business, I take it.

Falstaff: Naturally.  What else?

Bardolph: Then I’m with you, Sir John.

Falstaff: He pretends to be poor, but I know better.–Come on.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 4.  The King’s palace at Westminster.  King Henry comes in with his sons Thomas, Duke of Clarence; and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester; plus Warwick and Attendants.  The King sits in a chair.  He is obviously ailing.

King: When the rebels are defeated, I want to go on that Crusade I keep talking about–assuming I regain my health, of course.

Warwick: You will, my lord.

King: Humphrey, where’s your brother Hal?

Gloucester: I think he’s gone hunting at Windsor.

Clarence: No, he’s in London.

King: Thomas, why aren’t you with him?  He thinks the world of you, you know.  You should be close with Hal.  He needs someone to moderate his extremes.  When I’m gone, it’ll be you who keeps everyone on good terms.

Clarence: I’ll take care of him.  Don’t worry.

King: If he’s in London, who’s he with?

Clarence: His old gang from Eastcheap–Poins and the other guys.

King: Oh, God, is he back with that bunch of low-lifes?  I thought he was through with them.  I’m afraid to think what’s going to happen when he becomes King.  He’ll probably get himself into trouble, and he’ll get the whole country into trouble, too.

Warwick: I don’t think so, my lord.  I think he just wants to understand that segment of humanity, not follow it.  When the time comes, he’ll break off with them and get serious about his responsibilities.

King: You’re more optimistic than I am, Warwick.

    (Westmoreland comes in.)

Westmoreland (Cheerily): Long life to you, sir!

King: You’re in a good mood, Westmoreland.  You must have some good news.

Westmoreland: The best, my lord.  Prince John has arrested Mowbray, Hastings, and the Archbishop.

King: Was it a bloody fight?

Westmoreland: There was no fighting at all.  He conned them into dismissing their armies.  He sends you this letter with all the details.

    (He hands the King the letter.)

King: What a relief!–I’ll read this later.

    (Harcourt comes in.)

Harcourt (Cheerily): God save you, sir!

King: You’re smiling, too, Harcourt.  What’s your news?

Harcourt: Northumberland’s been defeated–he and Randolph and the Scots.  They were defeated by the Sheriff of Yorkshire.  I have a letter for you.

    (He hands the King the letter.)

King: All this good news–and me so sick.–I should be enjoying this moment–but I just feel so–

    (The King passes out.)

Gloucester and Clarence: Father!

Warwick: It’s all right, my lords.  He gets these spells occasionally.  He’ll be over it in a little while.

Clarence: He can’t go on like this much longer.  He’s getting worse all the time.

Gloucester: There have been bad signs lately.  People have been talking about them.

Clarence: I know what you mean–the flooding.  It’s just like when King Edward died, they say.  [Author’s note: He is referring to Edward III, who was their great-grandfather.]

Warwick: Shh!–Not so loud.–He’s waking up.

King: I feel so sick.–Take me into the other room.  I want to lie down.

    (They all leave.  Quick segue to the next scene.  [Author’s note: Not all texts have a scene break here, but I think it helps.])

Act 4, Scene 5.  Another room.  King Henry is asleep in bed.  His crown is on the pillow beside him.  He is attended by Gloucesteer, Clarence, Warwick, and Attendants.

Clarence: He’s so pale.  Look at him.

Gloucester: I don’t think he’ll live much longer.

Warwick: It’s all right, my lords.  He just needs a good rest after all the anxiety he’s been through.

    (Prince Henry comes in.)

Prince Henry: How’s my father?

Gloucester: Very sick.

Prince Henry: Has he heard the good news?

Gloucester: Yes, he heard.

Warwick: Let’s leave him alone for a while.  Let him sleep.

Prince Henry: You guys can go.  I’ll stay here for a while.

    (Everyone leaves except Prince Henry.  His expression is one of sadness and concern.  Then he looks at the crown on the pillow.  Very slowly, he reaches for it, studies it, and puts it on his head.  Then he walks out.  Then the King awakens.)

King: Warwick!–Gloucester!–Clarence!

    (Warwick, Gloucester, Clarence, and Attendants return.)

Clarence: Father, are you all right?

King: Why did you leave me alone?

Clarence: We left you with Hal.  He was sitting here.

King: Where is he?

Clarence: I’m not sure.

King: My crown–It’s gone.  What happened to it?

Warwick: It was on your pillow when we left.

King: Then he took it.  He can’t wait for me to die.–Warwick, go and find him.

Warwick: I will, my lord.

    (Warwick leaves.)

King: Is this my reward for all the sacrifices I’ve made?  Is this what my life comes down to–to be pushed into the grave so he can be King?

Clarence: Don’t get upset, father.

Gloucester: Give Harry a chance to explain.

King: This hurts me very deeply.

    (Warwick returns.)

Warwick: He’s in the next room–crying.

King: I want to speak to him.

Warwick: He’s coming.

    (Prince Henry comes in.)

King: The rest of you, leave us alone.  I want to talk to Harry in private.

    (Everyone else leaves.)

Prince Henry: I didn’t expect you to wake up, father.

King: That’s what you were hoping–that I wouldn’t wake up.

Prince Henry: No, no.

King: The crown would’ve been yours soon enough.  But you couldn’t wait, could you?  What a sorrow to inflict on me on my deathbed.  I know you don’t love me.

Prince Henry: Father–

King: Go dig my grave if you’re so eager to be King.  And once I’m buried you can undo everything I’ve done–all my laws, all my orders.  Then you can invite all your low-life friends to the palace for a big party.  Let the whole country go to rot.  Then see if you enjoy ruling over a country in anarchy.

Prince Henry (On his knees, crying): Father–I’m sorry.  (He puts the crown back on the pillow.)  I hope you wear this crown for many years.  I was only thinking of all the grief and the burdens you’ve had to endure because of it.  And I put it on to see if I could feel those burdens.  I was wondering if I was worthy to wear it–if I was brave enough to carry the burdens that you’ve carried.  God knows what’s in my heart–and if I’m eager or happy to put this crown on, then may God see to it that I never wear it at all.

    (A pause.  The King is no longer angry.)

King: My son–sit close to me.  This may be the last chance I ever have to talk to you.–I’ve had a troubled reign.  I’m not proud of the way I came to power.  Many people have resented it.  You won’t have that problem.  You’ll receive the crown in a proper way.  Buy you still have to patch up with those who opposed me.  And I will give you this piece of advice.–The best way to keep people’s minds off old grievances is to give them foreign wars to unite them.–If I came by this crown wrongfully, may God forgive me.  And may He grant you a more peaceful reign.

Prince Henry: When the time comes, I’ll wear the crown as you would want me to–with honour and courage.

    (Prince John comes in.  He is forcing himself to smile.)

Prince John: Father, how are you feeling?

King: I’m happy to see you, my boy–even if it’s for the last time.

Prince John: No, no.  I think you’re getting better.

King: No–I’m not.–But it’s all right.–Where’s Warwick?

Prince John: I’ll get him.

    (He goes out and returns immediately with Warwick, Gloucester, Clarence, and Attendants.)

Warwick: My lord?

King: Warwick, do you remember that prophecy about Jerusalem?

Warwick: Jerusalem, my lord?

King: It was prophesied that I would die in Jerusalem.  That’s why I wanted to go on a Crusade.  I assumed it was God’s will.

Warwick: Yes, yes.

King: Warwick–what is this room called?

Warwick: It’s called–the Jerusalem Room, my lord.

King (Smiling): There–you see?–This is God’s will.–This is where I shall die.

    (Scene ends without an exit.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  This scene is deleted.

Act 5, Scene 2.  Within the palace.  Warwick comes in, meeting the Chief Justice coming in from the opposite side.

Warwick: My Lord Chief Justice.  Where are you going?

Chief Justice: Nowhere–yet.  How is the King?

Warwick: The King’s troubles–are over.

Chief Justice: You mean he’s–dead?

Warwick: Where he has gone, we must all someday follow.

Chief Justice: Too bad.–Well, with him gone, I foresee not so good prospects for myself.

Warwick: That may be.  The new King may have a score to settle with you.  Even though it was only one day in jail.  Well, you know how proud he is.

Chief Justice: I’m expecting the worst.

Warwick: I wish Harry were more like his brothers–you know– calm, dignified, very proper.–Oh, I see them coming.

    (Prince John, Clarence, and Gloucester come in.)

Three Princes (Somberly): Good morning, Warwick.  Good morning, Chief Justice.

Warwick and the Chief Justice: Good morning, my lords.

    (An awkward pause.)

Prince John: I guess nobody has much to say right now.

Warwick: There’s not much to say, is there?

Prince John: Well, peace to the old King–for what it’s worth.

Chief Justice: Peace to us all–I hope.

Prince John: You look pretty gloomy, sir.  I won’t ask why.

Clarence (Trying to be humourous): I guess you’ll have to be extra nice to Sir John Falstaff from now on.

Chief Justice: My lords, try to understand.  I’m the highest-ranking officer of the law in all of England.  I have to uphold the laws.  And I’ve always done it honourably.  My conscience is clear.

Warwick: Perhaps the new King will understand.  You can explain it to him.

    (Prince Henry comes in, now dressed as King.  [From this point on, his speech prefix will be “King Henry”, although his coronation has not taken place yet.  He will be King Henry V.])

Chief Justice: God save your Majesty!

King Henry (Ignoring the greeting): It feels rather strange to be wearing this robe.–Brothers, you look worried.  It’s all right, I assure you.  We all share the same feelings.  And you can have faith in me, just as I know I can count on you.

Three Brothers: Yes.  You can.

    (A pause.)

King Henry: You’re looking at me rather strangely, Chief Justice.  Perhaps you think I’m–unhappy with you–for some reason.

Chief Justice: If you are, you shouldn’t be.

King Henry: What the hell were you thinking when you put me–the heir to the throne–in jail, even if it was just for one day?  Did you think I’d forget it?

Chief Justice: My lord, I acted with the authority of your father.  I was enforcing his laws.  When you slapped me, you flouted his laws, and I did what I had to do.  My lord, someday you’ll have a son.  How will you want him to behave?  Will you want him to respect your laws or disregard them?  And will you want your officers of the law to enforce your laws, or not?

    (A pause while King Henry considers.)

King Henry: You’re right.  And I want you to serve me as faithfully as you served my father.

Chief Justice: I will, sir.

King Henry: You’re a good man.  Shake my hand, sir.  (They shake hands.)  I’m going to count on you to give me good counsel.  You have wisdom.–And brothers, you’re going to see a very different Harry from now on.  Your brother is going to be a very serious King.  I’m going to choose my advisors very carefully. You’ll be among them.  And, God willing, every citizen in England will be glad to have me as King.

    (They all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 3.  In Master Shallow’s house.  Shallow, Silence, Falstaff, Bardolph, and the Page are seated at the dinner table.  Shallow’s servant Davy is attending.

Falstaff (Pushing back his plate): I’m stuffed!  Great dinner, Master Shallow.  Do you eat like this all the time?

Shallow: Oh, no, no.  We’re really poor men.  This dinner is in your honour.

Falstaff: I don’t believe it, but thank you anyway.–This is a nice place you’ve got here.

Shallow: Thank you, Sir John.–Davy, more wine.  We can’t have our guests sitting with empty cups.

    (Davy goes around the table pouring more wine.)

Falstaff: I think Master Silence is already quite drunk.

Silence (Drunkenly): I don’t often get this drunk.

Falstaff: I do!–Ha, ha!  Every damn chance I get!–Isn’t that right, Bardolph?

Bardolph: Yes, Sir John.

Falstaff (To the Page): Drink up, kid.  It’ll put hair on your chest–ha, ha!

Shallow: Davy, bring some nuts.

    (Davy goes out.)

Falstaff: Nuts!  Aren’t we all nuts already–ha!

Silence (Drunkenly): Ha, ha.

Falstaff: Do you know any dirty songs, Master Silence?

Silence: Ohh–I have to think.

    (Davy returns with a bowl of nuts.)    

Shallow: Is everyone happy?–Master Bardolph?

Bardolph: Oh, yes, sir.  Thank you, sir.

Shallow: And how about the little giant?

Page: I’m fine, sir.

Falstaff: Of course, he’s fine.  Hanging around with me, how else would he be?–Go ahead, kid–drink.

Silence (Trying to sing): “Oh, I’m a drunken sailor–show me to my bed”–I forget how it goes.

Bardolph (Trying to sing): “Show me to my bed–And if it’s not the right one”–How does it go?

Silence (Trying to sing): “If it’s not the right one–I’ll sleep in yours instead–”

Bardolph (Trying to sing): Right, right.–“And if I wake beside your wife”–um, if I wake beside your wife–

Silence (Trying to sing): “I’ll nestle right beside her–”

Bardolph (Trying to sing): “And swear upon my main mast–”

Silence and Bardolph (Together): “That I never was inside her.”

    (All laugh, except the Page, who merely smiles.)

Falstaff (To the Page): I’ll explain it to you later.

    (A knock is heard at the door.)

Shallow: Davy, see who that is.

    (Davy goes out.)

Falstaff: Master Silence, I didn’t know you could sing.

Silence: Oh, yes.  I’ve sung three times–including tonight.

Falstaff: Three times!  Well, there’s a party animal for you!

    (Davy returns with Pistol.)

Falstaff: It’s my ensign, Pistol.–Pistol, what are you doing here?

Pistol (With a big smile): Sir John, you have just gone up in the world, and I mean big-time!

Falstaff: Have I?

Pistol: You’ve hit the jackpot!  It’s fortune!  It’s money!  It’s status!

Falstaff: What is it?

Pistol: It’s fine clothes!  Expensive wine!  Luxuries!  Women!  It’s never having to worry about anything ever again as long as you live!

Shallow: For chrissake, man, if you have good news, out with it!  I’m a justice of the peace, you know.  I’m the King’s man.

Pistol (With a twisted smile): And which King would that be, sir?

Shallow: What?

Pistol: Which number?

Shallow: Why, King Henry the Fourth–who else?

Pistol: Ha!  Wrong!  (He blows a Bronx cheer at Shallow.)

Shallow: What do you mean?

Pistol (To Falstaff): Your good buddy, Prince Hal–with whom you’ve shared many good times–and had many drinks with–and so on and so forth–is now–

Falstaff: Yes?

Pistol: King Henry the Fifth!

    (Falstaff jumps up.)

Falstaff: Oh!–Oh!–Oh!–I can’t believe it!–Oh!–Bardolph, do you hear?

Bardolph: I’ll drink to that!  (He drinks.)

Falstaff: Ohhh–boy!  Fortune smiles on Jack Falstaff!–Bardolph, you’ll get something out of this.–And you, too, Pistol.–Master Shallow–or shall I call you Lord Shallow–ha, ha!  Get your boots on!  We’ll go straight to London right now!

Shallow: My cousin can’t come.  He’s too drunk.

    (Silence passes out, his head clunking on the table.)

Falstaff: And wait till I find that Chief Justice!  Then we’ll see who’s the boss of who!–Come on!

    (They all leave except Silence.)

Act 5, Scene 4.  This scene is deleted.

Act 5, Scene 5.  Before Westminster Abbey.  Falstaff, Shallow, Pistol, Bardolph, and the Page come in.

Falstaff (To Shallow): They just had the coronation, so he’ll be coming by any minute.  He’ll be so glad to see me.  Just wait.  Oh, and I really appreciate the thousand pounds you lent me.  Consider it an investment.  You’re going to come out way ahead.  Trust me.–I only wish I had better clothes on.  But that’s all right.  We rode all night to get here.  It shows how devoted I am to him.

Shallow: Yes, it does.

Falstaff: It’s the man that matters, not the clothes, right?

Shallow: Quite so.

    (Trumpets sound.)

Pistol: That’ll be him.

    (King Henry comes in with the Chief Justice and Attendants.)

Falstaff: God save King Hal!  My good buddy, ha, ha!  Hey, you’re looking awesome!

King Henry (To the Chief Justice): Please correct that boor.

Chief Justice (To Falstaff): One does not speak to the King like that.

Falstaff (To King Henry): Hal!  It’s me!  Your old buddy!

King Henry: I’m not your old buddy any more.  You’re a self-indulgent fool, and I’m through with you–you and all the rest of your gang from the Boar’s Head.

Falstaff: But, Hal–I mean, your Majesty–

King Henry: You and the others are henceforth banished from my presence.  You are never to be within ten miles of me.

Falstaff (Stricken): Ohh!–

King Henry: Sir John, I will give you a small allowance to live on so you don’t have to go back to thieving.  If you mend your ways and become a proper knight and gentleman, I’ll reconsider your position.

    (He nods to the Chief Justice, who follows the King out, along with the Attendants.)

Shallow: Um–about that thousand pounds, Sir John.

Falstaff: He didn’t mean what he said.  It was just for show.  You’ll see.  He’ll invite me to dinner.  Everything will work out as I planned.

Shallow: Five hundred, then.  Give me back five hundred.

Falstaff: I can’t.  Listen, don’t worry.  We’ll go and have lunch.  By dinnertime everything will be back to normal.

    (The Chief Justice returns with Prince John and Officers.)

Chief Justice (To the Officers): Take them all to jail for tonight.

Falstaff: What?  No, no!  My lord–

Chief Justice: King’s orders.  Save your breath.

Pistol: Fucking hell.

Bardolph: You said it.

    (The Officers take Falstaff and his party away.)

Prince John: I thought that was very fair.  Stern but fair.–You know, my brother’s going to be a great King.

Chief Justice: And may he live a long time.

Prince John: Parliament has been assembled.  Now it’s down to business.

Chief Justice: Yes, yes.

Prince John: By the way, a little birdie told me something interesting.

Chief Justice: What’s that, my lord?

Prince John: Before the year is out–we’re going to invade France.

Chief Justice: And are you happy about that?

Prince John: Hell, yes.  We’re going to kick their butts.  In fact, I think we’ll make history.–Come on, sir.  I’ll buy you a drink.

Chief Justice: Thank you, my lord.  That’s very kind of you.

    (They leave.)

    [Author’s note: The Epilogue is deleted.]


    Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )

Main Characters

King Henry IV

Henry, Prince of Wales — the King’s son, known familiarly as Hal or Harry    

John — the King’s younger son

Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland — formerly a supporter of King Henry, but now turned rebel

Hotspur (nickname of Harry Percy) — son of Henry Percy; formerly a supporter of King Henry, but now turned rebel

Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester — Northumberland’s brother; formerly a supporter of King Henry, but now turned rebel

Earl of Westmoreland — loyal to King Henry

Sir Walter Blunt — loyal to King Henry

Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March — brother-in-law of Hotspur and would-be heir to the throne (see Historical Note below)

Lady Percy — Hotspur’s wife; sister to Edmund Mortimer

Owen Glendower — Welsh rebel leader

Earl of Douglas — Scottish rebel leader

Archbishop of York — on the side of the rebels

Sir Michael — friend of the Archbishop

Sir Richard Vernon — on the side of the rebels

Sir John Falstaff — favourite drinking buddy of Prince Henry; an amusing degenerate

Ned Poins, Bardolph, Peto, and Gadshill — low-life friends of Prince Henry

Mistress Quickly — hostess of the Boar’s Head Tavern

Two Carriers (Deliverymen)


Servant to Hotspur



(Lady Mortimer is deleted from this version)

(Historical Note: There were actually two Edmund Mortimers, and Shakespeare got them mixed up because he was working from a source that was incorrect.  The Edmund Mortimer who appears in the play was Hotspur’s brother-in-law and first cousin once-removed to both Henry IV and Richard II.  But he was not the Earl of March, who was the heir to the throne designated by Richard.  Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, was first cousin twice-removed to both Henry IV and Richard II.  He was only a child at the time, but he was, in fact, next in line to the throne based on the rules of succession.  In any case, both Edmund Mortimers were ahead of Henry, as they were descendants of Lionel of Antwerp.  Lionel ranked ahead of Henry’s father, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.)

Gist of the story: Henry IV, Part One is the sequel to Richard II.  In the previous play, we met two of the three Percys — Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and his son Harry “Hotspur” Percy.  Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester, was referred to.  The Percys supported Henry before he was King, when he returned from exile.  Now that he has become King, the Percys have fallen out with him, believing that they have been used.  They put together a rebel alliance, including the Welsh, the Scots, and the Archbishop of York.  But the real star of the play is Prince Henry, or “Hal”.  He has led a wayward life and is a scandal to the King and the nobles.  But when the rebellion arises, he changes completely and shows himself to be a courageous and intelligent leader.  The play ends with the battle of Shrewsbury, where Prince Henry meets his nemesis, Hotspur, and kills him.  There is still some mopping up to do, but the rebellion has been largely crushed.  These events take place around 1402-03.

    (As usual, Shakespeare has tweaked history a bit for the sake of the story.  He adjusts people’s ages and changes the circumstances of deaths.  Sir John Falstaff is fictitious but is believed to be based on a real person.  An important point to keep in mind in reading Shakespeare’s histories is that in those days there was no such thing as a standing army.  Armies had to be raised when needed, and each lord throughout the kingdom could raise his own small army.  So, military power was actually very dispersed.  If many dissident lords banded together, they could mount a serious rebellion.  And forces from outside the kingdom could choose to get involved, too.  In preparing this restyling of Henry IV, Part One, I worked from four sources — No Fear Shakespeare, Pelican Shakespeare, the New Clarendon Shakespeare, and Brodie’s Notes — and I must pay particular praise to the New Clarendon Shakespeare, which is absolutely first-rate.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  The King’s palace.  King Henry comes in with his son John, the Earl of Westmoreland, and others.

King: Rebellions!  Rebellions!  Rebellions!  I’m getting sick and tired of rebellions!  Can’t we have any peace in this country?  I should be in the Holy Lands now, cutting the heads off Muslims.  I wanted to go a year ago.

Westmoreland: I’m with you, my lord.  And the council is sympathetic.  But it’s just not the right time.  We have problems here.  We’ve just gotten word that Lord Mortimer and his men took a beating from that Welsh bastard Glendower.  Mortimer is a prisoner, and a thousand of his men were slaughtered.

King: Swell.  We can forget about going on any Crusade.

Westmoreland: And there’s more news–from Scotland.

King: Let’s hear it.

Westmoreland: Our friend Harry Percy, alias Hotspur, was in a big battle with the Earl of Douglas.  The messenger couldn’t say who won, however.

King: I have more recent news on that.  We won.  I heard it from Blunt.  He rode all the way from Holmedon to tell me.  You should have seen him, all covered with mud.

Westmoreland: That’s mighty good news, my lord.

King: Hotspur and his men killed ten thousand Scots–including twenty-two knights.

Westmoreland: That’s awesome.

King: Yeah.  And he took some valuable prisoners, too–Douglas’s son Mordake, and Lords Athol, Murray, Angus, and Menteith.  What do you think of that?

Westmoreland: Wow!  We’ll collect big ransoms for those guys.

King: Harry “Hotspur” Percy.  It’s a damn good thing he’s on our side.

Westmoreland: For sure.

King: What a brave kid.  I envy his father.  Makes me ashamed of my own son.–(To John, patting him on the back) Not you, John.  I mean your brother Hal.

John: I know.

King: Two Harrys–one’s a hero, and the other’s a juvenile delinquent.  I wish they could’ve been switched at birth.  Then I would’ve gotten Hotspur, and the Earl of Northumberland would’ve gotten Hal.

Westmoreland: Well–maybe he’ll grow out of it.

King: But now I have a problem with Harry Percy.

Westmoreland: Oh?

King: He won’t send me the prisoners.  Only Mordake.  That’s pretty nervy, don’t you think?

Westmoreland: Yes.  Absolutely.  But I’ll tell you who probably put him up to it.  His uncle Worcester.  He doesn’t like you.  I think he’s using Hotspur as a way of getting back at you.

King: You know, Westmoreland, me and the Percys used to be like that (Presses two fingers together).

Westmoreland: I know, sir.

King (Counting on his fingers): Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland–Harry Percy, his son–and Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester.  They helped me overthrow King Richard.

    (John coughs in embarrassment.)

King: Well, not overthrow exactly–more like–well, you know.

Westmoreland: Yes, my lord, we understand.

King: Anyway, I’ve sent for Harry the Hotspur.  I want an explanation from him.  He’s basically a good guy, but sometimes his emotions get out of control.  Go tell the council we’ll meet on Wednesday at Windsor Castle.  Then come right back.  I’ve got more to say, but I need to cool off first.

Westmoreland: Right, my lord.

    (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 2.  Prince Henry’s room in the palace.  Prince Henry comes in with Sir John Falstaff.

Falstaff: Hal, my good prince, what time is it?

Prince Henry: What time is it?  Probably half-way between your last drink and your next one.

Falstaff (Humourously): Oh!–Oh!

Prince Henry: And probably half-way between your last whore and your next one.

Falstaff: Oh!–You got me.

Prince: What does it matter what time it is?  You sleep all day.

Falstaff: Well, I have to sleep sometime.  I do my best work at night.

Prince Henry: Your best work!–Like robbing people on the highway.  You and your gang of thieves.

Falstaff: Oh, now, you mustn’t call us that.  I prefer to think of us as, um, gentlemen of the night–or the moon’s followers.

Prince Henry: Yeah, you’ll follow the moon all right–right to the top of the gallows.

Falstaff: Gallows!–Huh!–You wouldn’t let me hang.  We’re friends.

Prince Henry: I don’t think there’s a rope that would hold your weight anyway.

Falstaff: I hope not.  Say, when you become King, will you hang thieves?

Prince Henry: No.  I’ll let you hang them.

Falstaff: I could do that, I suppose.  The hangman always gets some money from the condemned man to make it as painless as possible.

Prince Henry: And you get to keep their clothes.  They always shit their pants when they hang.

Falstaff: Oh, stop.  You’re getting me depressed now.

Prince Henry: Go visit the public sewer ditch.  That’ll cheer you up.

Falstaff: I swear, I don’t know where you get these twisted ideas.  I think you’re a bad influence on me.  Why, just the other day, an old lord came up to me and scolded me for associating with you.

Prince Henry: Ha!

Falstaff: Of course, I didn’t listen to him.  Still, I would say he spoke wisely.

Prince Henry: Wisdom cries out in the street, but no man listens.

Falstaff: Eh?  That sounds vaguely biblical.  But anyway, I tell you, Hal, before I met you I was innocent–

Prince Henry: Until proven guilty.

Falstaff: I was as innocent as a lamb.  And now look at me.

Prince Henry: I’m looking.

Falstaff: And what do you see?

Prince Henry: A fat, drunken, whoring degenerate–headed straight for hell.

Falstaff: You could be right.  But I’ll change.  You wait and see.  I’m going to turn over a new leaf.  No more a sinner.  No, no.  I’ll lead a virtuous life.  Only good deeds from now on.

Prince Henry: Glad to hear it.  So, where do you want to pull your next stick-up job?

Falstaff: Oh!  Anywhere!  Doesn’t matter.

Prince Henry: I thought you were through with sinning.

Falstaff: Stealing isn’t a sin.  It’s a profession.  It’s no sin for a man to follow his profession.

Prince Henry: Uh-huh.

    (Ned Poins comes in.)

Falstaff: Poins!  Ah!  Now we’ll see if Gadshill has a stick-up planned.  If a single good deed saved men from hell, Poins would still end up there.  He’s the greatest thief who ever said “Stick ’em up!”–ha, ha!

Prince Henry: Good morning, Ned.

Poins: Good morning, Prince Hal!–And good morning, fat, drunken bastard Sir John Falstaff.

Falstaff: Sir, you flatter me.

Poins: It’s not flattery if it’s true.–Anyway, listen, here’s the deal.  At four o’clock tomorrow morning, some travelers will be on the high road on their way to Canterbury Cathedral.  They’ll be loaded with money.  And there’ll be merchants with them on the way to London.  They’ll be carrying money, too.  I’ve got masks.  Gadshill is in Rochester, and I’ve got a dinner reservation tomorrow in Eastcheap.  This’ll be too easy.  How about it?

Falstaff: I’m in.–Hal, how about you?

Prince Henry: I don’t need money.  I’m the Prince of Wales.

Falstaff: Oh, come on.  You don’t have to do it for the money.  Do it for the sport.  Do it for friendship.

Prince Henry: Well, if you put it that way–

Falstaff: That’s better!  That’s what I want to hear!

Prince Henry: On the other hand, there’s a book I wanted to finish reading–Moths Of Wales.

Flastaff: A book!  Oh, my God.  I wouldn’t want you for a King.

Prince Henry: So what?

Poins: Sir John, let me work on him.  You run along.

Falstaff: Fine.  You work on him, and don’t give up.  Vice needs its champions just as much as virtue does.  Otherwise, where will England end up?  I’m going to Eastcheap to get drunk.

Prince Henry: Yes, you do that.

    (Falstaff leaves.)

Poins: I wanted to get rid of him.  I have an idea for a cool joke, but I need you to help me.

Prince Henry: Okay, what is it?

Poins: We’ll pretend we’re going along with Falstaff, Peto, Bardolph, and Gadshill on this robbery.  But we’ll separate from them just before they do it.  We’ll watch them do it, and then we’ll jump them and steal the money they just stole.

Prince Henry: They’ll know it’s us, won’t they?

Poins: No.  We’ll wear disguises and leave the horses and go on foot.

Prince Henry: What if they fight us?

Poins: Bah!  They’re all cream puffs.  They’ll run.  Trust me.  And then later, when we meet Falstaff at the pub, we’ll let him spin whatever wild story he can think of to explain why he doesn’t have the money, and then we’ll expose him as a liar.  It’ll be hilarious.

Prince Henry: That is cool.  Okay, meet me in Eastcheap tomorrow.  I’ll have dinner there.

Poins: Okay.  Later, Prince.

    (Poins leaves.  Prince Henry now comes to front stage and speaks directly to the audience.)

Prince Henry: I know what you’re thinking–is this any way for a prince to behave?  But you know what?  It’s all an act.  Let everyone think I’m a delinquent–Prince Hal, who won’t grow up and who’ll never amount to anything.  Let them think that.  And then–at the right time–there’ll be a radical transformation, and the real Prince Henry will suddenly be revealed.  Everyone will be so surprised, they’ll respect me twice as much as if I’d been good all along.  Just wait.  You’ll see.

    (He leaves.)

Act 1, Scene 3.  In the palace.  King Henry comes in with Northumberland, Worcester, Hotspur, Sir Walter Blunt, and Attendants.

King: I’ve been entirely too nice with you Percys.  You think you can walk all over me, but that’s going to change.

Worcester: My lord, don’t forget that we helped you get where you are today.

Northumberland: Um–my lord–

King: Worcester, don’t piss me off.  Take a hike.  When I need you again, I’ll send for you.

Worcester: As you wish, my lord.

    (Worcester leaves.)

King: You were going to say something, Northumberland?

Northumberland: Yes, my lord.  What I wanted to explain was that it’s all a misunderstanding about Harry refusing to send you his prisoners.

Hotspur: That’s right, my lord.  What happened was that your messenger arrived right after I’d been through a lot of fighting, and it was just bad timing.  And this guy was such a fucking fruit with his nice, clean clothes, and his frilly collar, and shiny shoes, and his snuff box, and his cologne.  And my guys are carrying dead bodies, and he goes, “E-w-w-w!  That’s so rude!  I don’t want to see dead bodies!”  I swear, I wanted to punch him in the nose.  And then he gives me a hard time about the prisoners, like he’s the boss of me.  What an asshole he was.  And I said–I don’t know what I said, actually–either he could have the prisoners, or not–I can’t remember.  And then he’s telling me he would’ve become a soldier himself, except that he didn’t approve of guns.  What a load of horseshit.  The guy’s a fucking pansy.  You  shouldn’t believe anything he told you. 

Blunt (To the King): My lord, I think it’s probably a small matter that’s been blown out of all proportion.  It’s probably best to forget about it.

King: Except for one thing–young Percy here won’t hand over the prisoners unless I  pay the ransom for his brother-in-law, Mortimer–who betrayed me and surrendered to Glendower–and then married Glendower’s daughter!  Mortimer’s a traitor, and I’m not paying his ransom.  Let him stay in Wales and rot there! 

Hotspur: Traitor?  He was no traitor!  He fought Glendower hand-to-hand, and he has the wounds to  prove it!

King: Bullshit.  He never fought Glendower.  He wouldn’t have the guts to fight Glendower.  Now, I don’t want to hear another word about Mortimer.  You just send me those  prisoners at once–otherwise your King is going to be very angry with all three of you Percys.  Understand?

    (The King leaves with Blunt and the Attendants.)

Hotspur: That bastard!  I’m not sending him any prisoners.  I ought to tell him off–

    (He moves to follow the King, but Northumberland restrains him.)

Northumberland: Just cool your jets.–Here comes your uncle.

    (Worcester returns.)

Hotspur (To Worcester): The King called Mortimer a traitor!  Can you believe it?  I’d stand with Mortimer any day.  I’d put him on the throne and to hell with Henry–the ungrateful creep.

Northumberland (To Worcester): Your nephew’s pissed off with the King.

Worcester: Evidently.  Who started it?

Hotspur: He did.  He won’t pay Mortimer’s ransom.  He doesn’t want him back.

Worcester: I’m not surprised.  Mortimer should’ve gotten the throne after Richard.

Hotspur: How is that?

Northumberland: It’s true, son.  Richard made Mortimer his heir before he went off to Ireland to fight the rebels.  When he came back, Henry was in control of most of England, so Richard had no choice but to surrender the throne to him.  Mortimer got squeezed out.

Worcester: And now everyone thinks we’re bad guys because we helped Henry come back from exile.

Northumberland: We were used.

Hotspur: Well, we’re not bad guys.  We may have made a mistake, but we don’t deserve to have our names dragged though the mud because of it.–And after all we did for that son of a bitch.

Northumberland: You  know, Richard predicted this.

Hotspur: Predicted what?

Northumberland: I saw him when he was being taken to Pomfret Castle to be imprisoned.  The  last thing he  said to me was that King Henry and I would have a falling-out.  He said I would feel insufficiently rewarded for all I did for him, and he would treat me with suspicion.

Hotspur: He might decide to hang all three of us.  That’s why we should get him first–

Worcester: Shh!–Don’t say another word.–Harry, I’ve been considering the matter for some time.  I have a plan.  There is–what shall I call it?–an enterprise–awaiting us.  A risky enterprise.  One that will require a great deal of courage.

Hotspur: Courage!  That’s my middle name, uncle.  The only part of me that isn’t courage is what goes to the laundry.  Hell, I’d grab a lion by the tail just to give people something to talk about.  I’d rip the fins off a shark.  I’d kill a rhinoceros for a barbecue.  You know me.

Worcester: Yeah, yeah, I know you, all right.  What I have in mind is something more pertinent–like those Scottish prisoners of yours.

Hotspur: He’s not getting them.  He can bitch all he wants, but he’s not getting a single one.

Worcester: Would you just listen?  No, you’re not going to send him the prisoners.

Hotspur: Damn right, I’m not.  I’d rather carve Mortimer’s name over his bed so he has to look at it the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.

Worcester: Would you just listen?

Hotspur: I just want to get back at that guy any way I can.  And that son of his, Prince Hal–that low-life degenerate.  I’d poison his beer except that I think the King would be glad to get rid of him.

Northumberland: Just shut up for one minute and let your uncle talk, okay?

Hotspur: Okay.  Whatever.

Worcester: Now listen.  This is what you’re going to do.  You’re going to take your Scottish prisoners and return them to Douglas, and you’re going to make friends with him.  He’d love to topple Henry.  You and he will put together an army in Scotland.  (To Northumberland) You, Henry, will go see the Archbishop of York.  He has a grudge against the King.  The King executed his brother for supporting Richard.  He’ll be glad to join us.  He’s got influence.  Now, I’ve already made some preliminary moves, and I know that there are forces out there that we can reach out to and bring together.  It’s just a matter of waiting for the right time to strike.

Hotspur: I get it.–Scotland–York–and Mortimer and Glendower.

Worcester: Right.  And we have to get started now.  The King doesn’t regard us as friends any more.

Hotspur: And we’re not.  That’s for sure.

Worcester: Harry, you just wait for my instructions.  I’ll send you letters.  Pretty soon I’ll be going to Wales to meet with Glendower and Mortimer.  I want to arrange everything so that all the forces come together and strike at the same time.  And that’ll be the end of King Henry.

Northumberland: Good luck, brother.

Hotspur: This’ll be great!  I love a good war!

    (They all leave.)

Act 2, Scene 1.  An inn-yard in Rochester.  A Carrier (delivery man) comes in with a lantern.

Carrier: Four a.m. already.  Time to get going.  (Calls) Hey, stableman!  Get my horse ready!

Stableman (Within): Yeah, yeah.

    (A Second Carrier comes in with a lantern.)

Second Carrier: What rotten horse feed they have here.  Ever since Robin died, this place has gone to hell.

First Carrier: You said it.

Second: And the fleas!  I’m half-eaten alive.

First Carrier: I’m sure I’m three-quarters eaten.

Second Carrier: And they don’t even give you a chamber pot.  They expect you to  piss in the fireplace.

First Carrier: Yeah.  And they don’t even give you travel rewards.  How do they expect people to come back?–What are you carrying?

Second Carrier: Ham and ginger root.  Delivering them to Charing Cross.

First Carrier: I’ve got turkeys to deliver–hopefully still alive.

Second Carrier: Yes, yes.  You don’t want no dead poultry.

    (Gadshill comes in.)

Gadshill: Ah, carriers!  Early morning deliveries, eh?

First Carrier: No.  We’re going to play polo.

Gadshill: Ha, ha!–What time is it?

First Carrier (Suspiciously): Oh–about two, I should think.

Gadshill: Say, lend me your lantern, would you?  I want to check on my horse.

First Carrier: Ha!–Lend you my lantern!

Gadshill (To the Second Carrier): Lend me yours, then.

Second Carrier: Sorry, it’s against company policy.

Gadshill: Oh, dear.–So, uh, what time do you plan to be in London?

Second Carrier: At the time of our arrival.

Gadshill: Ah.  Of course.

Second Carrier (To the First): We’d better go wake up the gentlemen.  They want to travel together for safety, since they’re carrying valuables.

    (Both Carriers leave.)

Gadshill (Calling): Chamberlain!  [Author’s note: A male housekeeper]

    (The Chamberlain comes in.)

Chamberlain (Cheerfully): Your trusty chamberlain, sir!

Gadshill: And henchman.

Chamberlain: That, too.

Gadshill: How’s it look?

Chamberlain: Just as I told you last night.  One guy’s a landowner from Kent.  He’s carrying three hundred marks in gold.  And another guy’s a tax collector or something.  He’s carrying a lot of money.  They’re just having breakfast now.

Gadshill: Mmm–perfect.

Chamberlain: You and some thugs gonna rob ’em on the way, then?

Gadshill: Thugs?  Please!  I  only associate with highly-placed gentlemen who engage in a specialized form of nocturnal commerce.

Chamberlain: They’ll be highly-placed, all right–(Makes a gesture like a man hanged in a noose) about six feet off the ground–ha, ha.

Gadshill: Not a chance.  This is a totally foolproof operation.  Nothing bad can happen.

Chamberlain: Don’t forget my little reward.

Gadshill: Don’t worry.  You’ll get your little reward.  After all, I’m an honest man.

Chamberlain: Oh, that goes without saying sir!  Ha, ha!

Gadshill: Tell the stableman to get my horse.

Chamberlain: Yes, yes.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  Nighttime on the high road.  [The place name in the original is Gad’s Hill.]  Prince Henry and Ned Poins come in.  [Some texts have Peto and Bardolph come in also, but this confuses Poins’s trick.  I am disregarding Pelican and No Fear Shakespeare on this point and following instead the New Clarendon Shakespeare.  Peto and Bardolph will come in shortly.]

Poins: I stole Falstaff’s horse and hid it in the bushes.  He’s really pissed.

Prince Henry: Okay.  Good.  You stay hidden.

    (Poins goes out.  Falstaff comes in.)

Falstaff: Poins!  Where the hell are you?

Prince Henry: Hey, quiet.

Falstaff: Where’s Poins?

Prince Henry: He’s up on the hill.  I’ll go look for him.

    (Prince Henry pretends to leave but hides instead.)

Falstaff: Fuckin’ sons of bitches.  I’ll bet they hid my horse on purpose.  This is the last time I ever go on a job with them.  If I have to go on foot, I’ll have a heart attack.  I don’t know why I put up with that prince.  A fine way to treat a knight!  And I’m a knight!–Poins!–Hal!–Bardolph!–Peto!  (A whistle is heard.)  Where are you guys?  Who’s got my horse?

    (Prince Henry returns with Poins.)

Prince Henry: Stop shouting.  You’ll ruin everything.  Just listen for the travelers.

Falstaff: I need my horse, damn it!  Come on, be a good guy.  Get me my horse.

Prince Henry: Hey, what am I, your stable boy?

Falstaff: Hal, I’m a knight, for fuck’s sake!  You can’t expect me to do a robbery on foot.  How would that look?  If I don’t get my horse, I’ll rat you all out.

    (Gadshill comes in.  It’s dark, so he doesn’t recognize the others immediately.)

Gadshill: Don’t move, any of you!

Falstaff: I’m not moving without my horse, damn it!

Poins: It’s Gadshill.–Gadshill, where’s Bardolph and Peto?

Gadshill: They’re just coming.

    (Bardolph and Peto come in.)

Bardolph: Is everything ready?

Gadshill: Yeah.  Everyone put on your masks.  The travelers are on the way.

    (They put on masks, except for Prince Henry and Poins.)

Falstaff: This better be worth it.

Prince Henry: Oh, it’ll be worth it, all right.  Now, you four guys wait for them here.  Poins and I will wait further down.  That way, if they get past you, we’ll stop them.

Peto: How many are there?

Gadshill: Eight or ten.

Falstaff: Oh, God!  We’ll be outnumbered.

Prince Henry: Don’t be a wimp.

Falstaff: I want my horse, and I want it now!  Where’s my goddamn horse?

Poins: Don’t worry about your horse.  He’s out of sight behind the hedge.

Prince Henry (Aside to Poins): You have the disguises?

Poins (Aside to Prince Henry): I got ’em.

    (Prince Henry and Poins leave.)

Falstaff (In a commanding voice): Now, men, everyone stand firm.  Think of courage.  Think of honour.  And, above all, think of the money.

    (The Travelers come in.)

Thieves: Stick ’em up!

    (The Travelers scream.)

Falstaff: Hand over your money, you rich bastards!  Don’t try to get away or we’ll cut your throats!

    (The action moves offstage in order to clear the stage for Prince Henry and Poins.  We hear cries and complaints offstage.  Then Prince Henry and Poins return in disguise and conceal themselves.  The thieves return.)

Falstaff: I think we struck it rich, lads.  Now let’s split it up and get out of here.  We’ll forget about Hal and Poins.  They’re such cowards they probably ran home.

    (While he’s taking out the money, Prince Henry and Poins, disguised, leap out.)

Prince Henry: Freeze!  Give us the money!

Poins: Rich bastards!–Let’s cut their throats!

    (The thieves scream and flee.  Falstaff makes a brief, pathetic attempt to fight but then flees, leaving all the money behind.)

Poins: See?  I told you it would be easy.

Prince Henry: I’ll bet those guys are shitting their pants.  And they won’t know each other in the dark.  They’ll think they’re being chased.

Poins: Old Fat Jack will have a heart attack.

Prince Henry: I almost feel sorry for him.  Did you see him try to fight?  What a doofus!

    (He imitates Falstaff trying to fight.  They leave, laughing.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  Hotspur’s castle at Warkworth.  Hotspur comes in reading a letter.

Hotspur (Reading aloud): “I must tell you, sir, as much as I respect you and your family, I cannot be part of your plan.  It is dangerous and doomed to fail.  You cannot trust your allies.  Your timing is wrong.  And you simply don’t have enough power.”–Bastard!  I never should have asked him to join us.  He’s a goddamn coward.  I’ve got all the power I need–Mortimer–York–Glendower–Douglas.  They’ve all agreed to meet me on the ninth.–This guy will probably run off and tell the King now.  Well, fuck ’em both.   I’m ready to fight any time.  I’ll leave tonight.

    (His wife, Lady Percy, comes in.)

Lady Percy: My dear, what’s come over you?  You haven’t slept with me for two weeks.  Something’s wrong.  I know it.

Hotspur: No, no.

Lady Percy: Oh, yes.  I hear you talking in your sleep.  You talk as if you were in a battle.  It frightens me.  You must tell me what’s going on.  After all, I’m your wife.

Hotspur (Calling): Giles!   

    (The servant Giles comes in.  [In the original, he is not named.])

Servant: Yes, my lord.

Hotspur: Did Gilliams take my letters?

Servant: Yes, my lord.  He left an hour ago.

Hotspur: Did Butler bring those horses?

Servant: He brought the brown one, sir.

Hotspur: Good.  I’ll be wanting him in a few minutes.  Tell him to get him ready.

Servant: I will, my lord.

    (The Servant leaves.)

Lady Percy: Does this have anything to do with my brother Mortimer?  Are you going to help him overthrow the King?

Hotspur: No, no, no–don’t be silly.

Lady  Percy: If you love me, you’ll tell me the truth.

Hotspur: Love! Love! Love!  Why do women always resort to that?

Lady Percy: Oh, then you don’t love me, do you?

Hotspur: Yes, I love you.  All right?  You shouldn’t doubt it.  But right now you just have to trust me.  If I don’t tell you anything, it’s for your own good.  I have to go tonight, but I’ll send for you as soon as I can.  All right?

Lady Percy (Unhappily): All right.

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  A room in the Boar’s Head Tavern in Eastcheap.  Prince Henry and Poins are drinking.

Prince Henry: You know, Ned, I know  all the waiters in this place.  I’m like one of the boys here.  I can talk their language.  I can joke around with them.  I don’t act like a prince.  You know why?

Poins: Why?

Prince Henry: Any noble can build relationships with other nobles.  But very few nobles think about building relationships with the ordinary people.  Someday when I’m King, I’ll know I can count on these people, and thousands like them.

Poins: That’s very wise.  You’ve got your head screwed on straighter than people realize.

    (The Innkeeper comes in.)

Innkeeper: My lord, Sir John Falstaff and his friends want to come in.  Shall I admit them?

Prince Henry: In a minute.  Send the waiter in with some wine when you let them in.

Innkeeper: Very good, sir.

    (The Innkeeper leaves.)

Prince Henry: I can’t wait to hear what that old walrus has to say about the robbery.  This ought to be hilarious.

Poins: That was the best prank of all time.  You know, I’ll bet young Hotspur never enjoyed a prank in his whole life.

Prince Henry: Oh, hell, no.  When he’s bored, he wants to kill people.  He’ll kill fifty Scotsmen before breakfast, then he’ll come home for lunch, and then he’ll go back out and kill another fifty.  And his wife will say, “Oh, Harry, did you have a nice day killing Scotsmen?”  And he’ll say, “Oh, I could’ve killed a lot  more, but my horse got tired.”

    (Falstaff, Gadshill, Bardolph, and Peto come in, followed closely by a Waiter with wine.)

Poins: Jack!  Wassup, dude?

Falstaff: This world is full of cowards!  To hell with them!  (To the Waiter) Pour me some wine, you proletarian.–I don’t know what this world is coming to.  (He drinks.)

Prince Henry: You look like hell, Jack.

Falstaff (To the Waiter): Hey, there’s lime in this wine!  What kind of place are you running here?–Bloody cowards.  I swear, there are only three good men in all of England that haven’t been hanged yet, and I’m one of them.  What a world!

Prince Henry: What’s the matter, you overdresssed block of lard?

Falstaff: And you call yourself a prince!  I’ve a good mind to beat you with a stick.

Prince Henry: What for?

Falstaff: For being a coward, that’s what for!–And you, too, Poins!

Poins: Me?  Don’t call me a coward, you bag of blubber.

Falstaff: Fine friends you are–both of you.  Deserting us in a fight like that.  (He drinks.) You ought to be ashamed.

Prince Henry: Aw, now, what happened, Sir John?

Falstaff: I’ll tell you what happened.  The four of us stole a thousand pounds last night–at least a thousand.

Prince Henry: Oh!  Where is it?

Falstaff: I don’t have it.  A hundred guys appeared out of nowhere and took it from us.

Prince Henry: A hundred?  Oh, my goodness!

Falstaff: I fought with them, mind you.  I was in the thick of it with a hozen of those villains for at least two hours.  I was mighty lucky to get away.–See here?  (Indicates holes in his clothes) Here’s where they stabbed me with their swords.–And here–and here.–And here’s another one.  And look at my sword, how chewed up it is.  (Shows his sword) I had to fight like a devil, and it was the best fighting I ever did.–Ain’t that right, fellas?

Gadshill, Peto, and Bardolph: Yeah, yeah.

Prince Henry: Oh, my God.  But tell me the whole story from the beginning.

Gadshill: Well, first we jumped the travelers–about a dozen of them.

Falstaff: More like sixteen.

Gadshill: And we tied them up.

Peto: No, we didn’t.

Falstaff: Yes, we did.

Gadshill: And then we were counting the money, and about six or seven men jumped us.

Falstaff: And then the rest of them came out of the bushes and attacked us.  At least fifty of them came at me personally.  They could tell I was the toughest, you see.

Prince Henry: How many did you kill?

Falstaff: Ohh–a couple.  You should’ve seen me, Hal.  Here’s the way I stood.  (He demonstrates his stance.)  Here’s my classic fighting stance–with my sword like this, see?  And these four thugs came at me–

Prince Henry: I thought you said a couple.

Falstaff: No!  It was four!–And they came at me  like wild animals, but I put up my shield and fended off all seven of their swords–

Prince Henry: Seven?  You said it was four.

Falstaff: I swear to you it was seven.

Prince Henry (To Poins): It’ll go higher.  Just wait.

Falstaff: Now, as I was saying, these nine guys wearing buckram–

Prince Henry: Nine, is it?

Falstaff: I fought them off and then I chased them, and like that–wham!–wham!–I cut down seven of them, and the other four got away.

Prince Henry: That makes eleven.

Falstaff: And then another three bastards wearing Kendal green–

Poins: Like Robin Hood!

Falstaff: Yes, that’s right.–So they came in from behind and attacked me.  It was so dark, I couldn’t tell what was happening.

Prince Henry: Then how do you know they were dressed in Kendal green?

Falstaff: What?–Well–I–oh, by instinct, man!  Instinct! 

Prince Henry: You liar.  You dumb-ass.  You obese clown.

Falstaff: What!  Calling me a liar?  Why, you–you–dried-out mackerel!–You wormy apple!–You mutated mouse!–You snot-nosed schoolboy!

Prince Henry: Take it easy.  You’ll give yourself a stroke.  Now shut up for a minute.

Falstaff: All right.  What?

Prince Henry: Poins and I saw you rob four travelers and tie them up.  And then–we jumped you. 

Falstaff: You did?

Prince Henry: Poins and me.  And you ran away like a scared rabbit–only not as fast.  And you hacked up your sword yourself and cut holes in your clothes to make it look like you’d been in a fight.  Didn’t you?  Now what do you say to that?

    (The four thieves look at each other in embarrassment for a moment.)

Falstaff: Oh!–Hell, I knew it was you all the time.  That’s why I didn’t want to hurt you.  You know what they say–a lion never attacks royalty because he recognizes himself.  Well, my lion instinct kicked in immediately.  Anyway, the important thing is, you’ve got the money.  So we’re all happy after all, aren’t we?  Eh?

Gadshill, Peto, and Bardolph: Yeah, yeah.

    (The hostess, Mistress Quickly, comes in.)

Mistress Q: Your Highness!

Prince Henry: Our charming hostess, Mistress Quickly.

Mistress Q: My lord, there’s a noble from the royal court at the door.  He wants to speak to you.  Your father sent him.

Prince Henry: Oh, what a bother.  Give him a bottle of the cheap stuff and send him home.

Mistress Q: Oh, but sir–

Falstaff: I’ll go and get rid of him.  Shall I?

Prince Henry: Yes, if you would.–Mistress, stick around a bit. 

    (Falstaff leaves.)

Prince Henry (To the other thieves): Well, I guess the rest of you must be lions, too, since you ran away from me.

Peto, Bardolph, and Gadshill (Pointing at each other): I was just following him.

Prince Henry: And Falstaff hacked up his own sword and cut his own clothes, right?

Peto: He said you’d be totally convinced.

Bardolph: And he made us scratch our faces with thorns so we’d look like we’d been in a fight.–See? (Points to his face)

Prince Henry: Oh, yeah.  Very convincing.

    (Falstaff returns.)

Falstaff: Oh!  It’s bad news, Hal!  That was Bracy.  Your father wants you home this morning.  There’s trouble brewing with Percy and that Welshman Glendower.  And Mortimer.  And Douglas.  There’s a thousand Scottish soldiers gathered up there.  And Worcester’s disappeared.  It looks bad.  Your father’s upset.

Prince Henry (Calmly): Mm–it sounds rather like war, doesn’t it?

Falstaff: You don’t seem very concerned.  Think of it, man!  Douglas!  Glendower!

Prince Henry: I don’t take them too seriously.

Falstaff: Well, you’d better not say that to your father.  He won’t like that a bit.  In fact, you should think about what you are going to say to him.

Prince Henry: All right.  Let’s pretend you’re my father.  What’ll you say to me?

Falstaff: Oh!  Shall I be King, then?  Wonderful!  I always imagined myself as a king.–Hold on.  Let my adjust my throne.–And I need a crown.–Who’s got a crown?

    (Mistress Quickly is laughing.)

Prince Henry: Never mind.  He doesn’t wear it all the time.  Come on.  Just proceed.

Falstaff: Ahem (Coughs)–Now, then–Hold on, I need some wine.  (He drinks.  To Mistress Quickly)  It’s all right, my Queen.  Don’t cry.

    (Mistress Quickly is laughing out of control.)

Falstaff: She’s overcome with emotion.  Someone take the Queen out.

Prince Henry (To Mistress Q): The King will join you in bed later, so get ready.

    (She goes out laughing uncontrollably.)

Falstaff: Ahem!–Now, then, Harry–I am very unhappy about the way you are wasting your youth and about the bad company you keep.  You’re supposed to be my son.  At least, your mother insists you are, and I have no reason to dispute it.  Now, it makes me very sad to hear people say bad things about you–especially since some of those things might be true.  Now, as I said, I don’t approve of the company you keep–with one exception.  There’s one fine gentleman, very noble, very virtuous.  I forget his name.

Prince Henry: What does he look like?

Falstaff: A fine-looking man.  A bit stout.  Very cheerful.  Noble bearing and all that.  In his fifties, I’d say.  He radiates what I would call a strong character.  He’s quite remarkable, really.

Prince Henry: Perhaps you mean Sir John Falstaff.

Falstaff: Falstaff!  Yes, yes, he’s the one!  Why, as sure as you can tell a tree from its fruit or a cactus from its spines, you can tell from his face that he’s–he’s–mm–one hell of a fellow.  That’s right.  And my advice is to break off with everyone else and stick with him.  He’s a good influence, no doubt of that.–Now–where have you been for the past month?

Prince Henry: All wrong.  Totally unconvincing.  You could never be a king.  Tell you what–you be me, and I’ll be the King.

Falstaff: Well, that was a short reign if I ever had one.  Quite unfair to overthrow me before I’ve had a chance to demonstrate my royal talents.

Prince Henry: Never mind.  I’m the King, and you’re me.

Falstaff: Yes, yes.  (To the others) You’ll see how well I do this.

Prince Henry: Now, then, Harry, where have you been?

Falstaff: In Eastcheap, my lord.

Prince Henry: That’s not a fit neighbourhood for a prince.  I’ve been hearing some very negative things about you.

Falstaff: Lies.  All lies.  Don’t believe any of it.  (To the others) You see?  I’m good at this.

Prince Henry: Don’t try to hide the truth from me.  There is one particular man who is a very bad influence on you.  He’s a fat, drunken slob who stuffs himself like a pig, patronizes prostitutes. gambles, doesn’t pay his debts, lives by thieving, and contributes absolutely nothing to society.  In short, he’s a low-down, good-for-nothing parasite and a sinner.

Falstaff: Oh?–I don’t know whom you could possibly be referring to.

Prince Henry: I’m referring to that corrupt, old bastard Sir John Falstaff.

Falstaff: You mean good, old Jack Falstaff?  Well, in fact, I do know him.  But all those things you said about him aren’t true at all.

Prince Henry: Oh, no?

Falstaff: No-o-o-o.  Not in the least.  He’s really a very sweet, kind fellow.  Everyone calls him Honest Jack–or Jolly Jack–or even Brave Jack.  Everyone loves him, really.  Perhaps he has his little vices and indulgences, but then, who doesn’t?  I wouldn’t dream of breaking off with him.  I could get rid of the others, if you insist, but not dear, old Jack.  To throw him away would be like throwing away civilization itself.

Prince Henry: No, it would be like throwing away a box of old cat  litter.

    (Knocks are heard offstage.)

Falstaff: Who’s that?  Somebody go check.

    (Bardolph goes out and comes back almost immediately.)

Bardolph: It’s the sheriff and some officers!

Falstaff: Tell him not now.  We’re acting a play.

    (Mistress Quickly comes in.)

Mistress Q: My lord, the sheriff and his officers have come to search the premises.  What should I do?

Falstaff: Hal, you wouldn’t rat me out, would you?  I’m your friend.

Prince Henry: All right.  Go hide behind the screen.–Poins, you stay here.–Everyone else just go back and blend in with the crowd.–Mistress, you can send the sheriff in.

    (Falstaff hides, and everyone else leaves except for Poins. [Author’s note: The Pelican edition and No Fear Shakespeare both have Peto staying instead of Poins, but that can’t be right.  The New Clarendon Shakespeare has Poins staying, and I’m sure they’re right.]  After a moment, the Sheriff comes in with an Officer. [In the original, the Sheriff comes in with a Carrier.])

Sheriff: Sorry to bother you, my lord, but it seems there was a robbery on the high road, and some citizens said the robbers came into this tavern.

Prince Henry: Really?–Huh.–Do you know who they are?

Sheriff: One of them is apparently a regular here.  Older man–fat–seedy–disreputable sort.

Prince Henry: Oh, yes, I know who you mean.  He isn’t here now.  I sent him on an errand.  But I promise you that I’ll send him to you tomorrow, and he’ll answer all your questions.

Sheriff: I would appreciate that, my lord.  Two of the victims were robbed of three hundred marks.

Prince Henry: Well, if my friend had anything to do with it, he’ll have to deal with the law.  I promise you that everything will be straightened out one way or another.  All right, then?

Sheriff: Yes.  Thank you, my lord.

Prince Henry: So, good night, then, Sheriff.

Sheriff: Yes, good night, my lord.  Thank you.

    (The Sheriff and Officer  leave.)

Prince Henry: Tell the fat bastard he can come out now.

    (Poins pulls back the screen.  Falstaff is sleeping.)

Poins: He’s asleep.

Prince Henry: What a champion.  See what’s in his pockets.

    (Poins takes a paper out of Falstaff’s pocket.)

Poins: There’s a bill here.

Prince Henry: Read it.

Poins (Reading): “A chicken–two shillings and two pence.  Sauce–four pence.  Two gallons of wine–five shillings and eight pence.  Anchovies and dessert wine–two shillings and six pence.  And bread–a halfpenny.”

Prince Henry: You are what you eat.

Poins: What do you mean?

Prince Henry: It’s a new saying.  I just coined it.–Save that bill.  I’m going to frame it.  And save everything else from his pockets.  It might prove useful.  We’ll let Jolly Jack sleep it off.  I’ve got to be at the court in the morning.  There’s a war coming, you know.

Poins: Yes.

Prince Henry: It’s serious business now, Ned.  You know that.

Poins: Yes, I do.

Prince Henry: We’ve had our fun.  Now it’s time to transform.  Follow me?

Poins: Yes.

Prince Henry: I’m going to give you a position of responsibility.

Poins: Thank you, my lord.  I won’t let you down.

Prince Henry: I’ll even give the fat bastard a company of soldiers to command.  After all, he’s a knight.  We’ll see if he can keep up with them.

Poins: What about the stolen money, my lord?

Prince Henry: I’m going to return it–with interest.–Come on.

    (They leave.)  

Act 3, Scene 1.  [Author’s note: This scene takes place either at Glendower’s castle in Wales, or at the home of the Archdeacon in Bangor, depending on which text you’re reading.  My sources don’t agree.  Either way, it doesn’t matter to the reader or audience.]  Glendower, Mortimer, Worcester, and Hotspur come in.

Mortimer: Everything’s unfolding as it should.  I’d say we’re off to a good start.

Hotspur: We still have to decide how we’re going to divide  up the country.–Oh, damn.  I forgot my map.

Glendower: It’s okay, I’ve got the map we need.  Have a seat, cousin Hotspur.  [Author’s note: “Cousin” in Shakespeare is often used very loosely.  Hotspur’s brother-in-law, Mortimer, is Glendower’s son-in-law.]  That’s what the King calls you.  And whenever he says it, he looks pale and wishes you were in heaven–ha, ha.

Hotspur: And whenever he hears the name Owen Glendower, he wishes you were in hell.

Glendower: Of course.  After all, the day I was born, the sky was full of meteors, and there was an earthquake.

Hotspur: Nature sometimes makes strange phenomena, but it has nothing to do with a particular person being born.

Glendower (Somewhat offended): Are you disputing what I say?  The day I was born, heaven and earth announced it with extraordinary signs.  And extraordinary signs are given to extraordinary men.  There isn’t a man anywhere who can say he taught me anything–especially when it comes to magic.  I know as much about the occult arts as anyone who ever lived.

Hotspur: And you speak the best Welsh, too.–Say, I’m hungry.  I could go for an O Henry.–O Henry?  Get it?–Ha, ha.

Mortimer: Knock it off, Harry.

Glendower: I can summon up spirits from hell.

Hotspur: And I can send them back just as fast.

Mortimer: Stop it now.

Glendower: Listen, three times King Henry brought an army to fight me, and three times I kicked him out.

Hotspur: Yes, yes.  But he’s still King, and you’re not.

Mortimer: Harry!–(To Glendower) Uh, we were going to look at the map, I believe.

Glendower: Yes.  (He lays down the map.)  We should divide everything by thirds, as we agreed.

Mortimer: The Archdeacon has saved us the trouble.  He’s made the divisions–for our approval, of course.–This part here, southeast of the Trent and Severn rivers, goes to me.–All of Wales, and everything west of the Severn, including this land here, goes to you, Glendower.–And Harry, you get all this from the Trent northward.  Everything’s being written down now in three copies for our signatures.  Tomorrow, Harry, you and I and Worcester can set off to meet your father and the Scotish army at Shrewsbury.  Glendower isn’t ready yet, but that’s okay because you’ll need some time to raise an army in your area.

Hotspur: Hold on.  I’m not sure I like my share.  Look at the way the Trent curls in like this, and I lose this land here.  That’s no good.  I’ll have to dig a canal and have the Trent go across here instead.

Glendower: What?  You’re going to divert the river?

Mortimer: Harry, it cuts into my part just as much as it cuts into yours.

Glendower: Nobody’s going to divert the damn river.

Hotspur: Well, I intend to.  Why, are you going to stop me?

Glendower: Yes.

Hotspur: Try saying it in Welsh.  I don’t like the sound of it in English.

Glendower: I was raised in an English court, and I’ll speak English to you.  I’ve even composed songs in English–something you’ve never done.

Hotspur: Oh!  Songs!  Well!  Now we won’t have to hire a minstrel.

Mortimer: Harry!

Glendower (Containing his anger): Fine.  Change the damn river, if it means so much to you.

Hotspur: Nahh–On second thought, I don’t care.  I’ll sign the agreement.

Glendower: I’ll see if the copies are ready.

    (Glendower leaves.)

Mortimer: He’s really pissed off with you, and I don’t blame him.

Hotspur: Aw, fuck him.  Him and his signs and his magic tricks.  He’s a fucking provincial bore.

Mortimer: You’re wrong about him.  He’s an extremely learned man.  And furthermore, he respects you.  If anyone else had been as insulting as you were, he’d have picked him up and thrown him out the door.

Hotspur: Aww–

Mortimer: You’ve pushed him to the limit of his goodwill.  Don’t push him beyond it.

Worcester: Harry, you’re the bravest nephew an uncle ever had, but you have no sense of diplomacy.  You’re stubborn, you’re arrogant, and you’re temperamental.  These are not the qualities one expects from a gentleman.

Hotspur: Thank you for the lesson, uncle.  If good manners guarantee success, your success is guaranteed.

    (Glendower returns.)

Glendower: The three copies of the agreement are just being finished.  We’ll sign them, and then we can get going.

Mortimer: Finally!  Let’s go.

    (They all leave.) 

Act 3, Scene 2.  In the King’s palace.  The King and Prince Henry come in.

King: I can only think that you’re God’s punishment for my sins.  There’s no other explanation for how a prince could turn out like you.

Prince Henry: If you give me a chance, I’ll prove to you I’m not what other people say I am.  And whatever indiscretions I may have committed, you’ll be willing to forgive them.

King: Maybe God will forgive you.  But I feel you’ve disgraced me.  Polite people don’t want anything to do with you.  Your brother sits on the council instead of you, even though he’s younger.  The other councillors don’t want you.  Who are your friends?  A bunch of zeroes.  If I’d behaved like that at your age, where would I be today?  Still in exile.  A royal mustn’t mingle with the lower class.  It makes you look foolish.  Right now the only one around here who still wants to look at you–is me.

Prince Henry: Then look at me, and I’ll make you proud of what you see.

King: When I look at you, I automatically compare you to young Percy–Hotspur.  He’s more like a prince than you are.  He’s the same age as you, but he’s leading an army.  He beat Douglas and then made an ally of him.  He’s got the Archbishop of York on his side, and Mortimer, and Glendower.  He’s a devil on the battlefield.  He’s a leader.–Frankly, I wouldn’t be too surprised if you went over to his side.

Prince Henry: You’re so wrong.  Percy may stand tall now, but he’s destined to fall, and I’m destined to rise to where he is now.  He has all the glory today, but I’m going to take it from him.  This I promise you, in the name of God.  And I would die a thousand times before I broke that promise.

    (There is a pause here as King Henry looks at his son.  He is starting to change his mind about him.  He puts his hands on the Prince’s shoulders.)

King: I think you really mean it.  All right, I’m going to give you a chance.  I’m going to give you an army to command.

    (Sir Walter Blunt comes in.)

King:  Blunt, is anything wrong?

Blunt: My lord, I’ve received word from Scotland that Douglas met with the English rebels at Shrewsbury on the eleventh.  They’ll have a very big army with all the allies they’ve got.

King: It’s old news by now.  Westmoreland left today with my son John.  (To Prince Henry) You’ll leave on Wednesday, and I’ll follow on Thursday.  We’ll rendezvous at Bridgenorth with all our forces twelve days from now.  We both have a lot to do, so we’d better get busy.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 3.  A room in the Boar’s Head Tavern in Eastcheap.  Falstaff and Bardolph come in.

Falstaff: Bardolph, look at me.  I’m losing weight.  I’m the incredible shrinking man.  I’d better go to church and confess my sins before I disappear completely.

Bardolph: Confess your sins?  That would take a long time.  Even a bishop wouldn’t have that much patience.

Falstaff: Now don’t exaggerate.  I’ve lived a fairly normal life for a gentleman–more or less.  I never swore too damn much.  I didn’t gamble.–Not every day, anyway.  I never went to a whorehouse unless it was absolutely necessary.  And I always paid my debts–or at least I intended to.

    (Mistress Quickly comes in.)

Falstaff: Ah!  Mistress Quickly.  Have you found out who picked my pockets last night?

Mistress Q: No one knows anything about it, Sir John.  I assure you, this is an honest establishment.

Falstaff: So you say!  I’ve been robbed, and someone here is responsible.

Mistress Q: I think you’re just trying to get out of paying your bills.

Falstaff: Who, me?

Mistress Q: Yes, you.  You owe me for food, you owe me for wine, you owe me for cash advances, and you owe me for a dozen shirts you asked me to buy.

Falstaff: I lost my grandfather’s sealing ring.  It was worth forty marks.

Mistress Q: Forty marks!  That ring was made of copper.  I heard the Prince say so.

Falstaff: Oh, the Prince said so, did he?  Well, he’s a liar.  If he were here right now, I’d give him a fine slap on the head for that.

    (Prince Henry and Poins come in, marching.  [Author’s note: The Pelican edition and No Fear Shakespeare both have Prince Henry coming in with Peto–another mistake.  The New Clarendon Shakespeare has it right.]  Falstaff, embarrassed, becomes very charming.)

Falstaff: Oh!  My lord Prince! My good lad!  Practising at marching, eh?  Splendid!

Mistress Q: My lord!  He said–

Falstaff: Never mind!–Hal, I’ve been robbed.  Somebody picked my pockets last night while I was sleeping.  I had over a hundred pounds in IOU’s and my grandfather’s sealing ring.

Prince Henry: That piece of junk?

Mistress Q. (To Falstaff): Ha!  I told you!  (To Prince Henry)  My lord, he said he’d give you a fine slap on the head.

Prince Henry: Ah–really?

Falstaff: Don’t listen to this whore.

Mistress Q: Whore?–Why you–Listen, you may be a knight, but you’re still a bastard to call me such a thing!

Bardolph: That’s telling him.

Falstaff: Shut up, you.

Mistress Q. (To Prince Henry): And you know what else, my lord?  The other day he said you owed him a thousand pounds.

Prince Henry: Is that a fact?

Falstaff: No, no, no.  She misunderstood.  I meant that you owed me your love, and that was worth a thousand pounds–um, if not a million–in a manner of speaking.

Prince Henry: And you’re going to give me a slap on the head, are you?

Falstaff: Did I say such a thing, Bardolph?

Bardolph: Yes, you did.

Falstaff: Don’t listen, Hal.  Would I–of all people–so much as touch a hair on your head?  If I’m lying, I pray to God to–um–to make my underwear shrink in the laundry so that it is exceedingly uncomfortable to wear–thereafter.

Prince Henry: Jack, you’re such a liar.  A liar and a cheat.  You want to know who picked your pockets?  Poins and I did.  And what did we find?  Nothing of value.  Just unpaid bills.

Falstaff (Feigning surprise): Really?–Oh!–What a relief!  (To Mistess Q.)  You’re forgiven, then.  Just a silly misunderstanding–ha, ha, ha.  (Coughs)  Um, do you suppose I could have some breakfast?

    (Mistress Q. gives him an appropriate look and goes out.)

Falstaff: Hal, what about the money?

Prince Henry: Money?  What money?

Falstaff: You know–the money–from the, uh–robbery.

Prince Henry: Oh, that.  I gave it all back to the travelers.

Falstaff: Oh, damn!  You didn’t!–All that work for nothing.–But you can rob the treasury, can’t you?  Nobody would know.

Prince Henry: Now get serious for once.  I’ve gotten you an infantry company to command.

Falstaff: Infantry?  Oh, please, Hal.  My poor feet couldn’t take it.

Prince Henry: Bardolph, I have two letters for you to carry.  (Hands him the letters)  This one is for Lord John, my brother.–And this one’s for Westmoreland.

Bardolph: Yes, my lord!

    (Bardolph leaves.)

Prince Henry: Jack, you be at the Temple Hall at two o’clock tomorrow.  I’ll give you a list of troops to call up and some money.  We’re in a real war.  Either we kill Percy, or he kills us.

Falstaff: Splendid!  I feel inspired!  (Looking around)  I wish we could do it right here.  It’s so comfortable.

    (They leave.)   

Act 4, Scene 1.  The rebel camp near Shrewsbury.  Hotspur, Worcester, and Douglas come in.

Hotspur: My lord Douglas, don’t take this as flattery, because I don’t flatter.  I tell the truth.  There’s no one else on earth I’d rather have as my ally than you.  I’d gladly join my fate to yours.

Douglas: And I to yours, sir.  You are the most honourable man I know.

    (A Messenger comes in with a letter.)

Messenger: Sir, this letter is from your father.

Hotspur: A letter?  Why isn’t he here?

Messenger: He’s very sick, sir.

Hotspur: Sick?  At a time like this?  What about his army?

Messenger: I don’t know, sir.  His letter will explain.

Worcester: Is he in bed?

Messenger: Yes, sir.  He’s been in bed for four days.  The doctors are very worried.

Worcester: Damn.  We need him.

Hotspur (Perusing the letter): He says he wasn’t able to gather his allies in time because of his illness.  He says we should press on anyway since the King knows all about us.

Worcester: We’re at a disadvantage without him.

Hotspur: It’s not that bad.  We’ll still have his forces in reserve if we need them.

Douglas: Yes.  We should carry on as we are.

Worcester: What will our men think if Northumberland isn’t here?  They might think he’s holding back deliberately.  They might have second thoughts about the whole thing.

Hotspur: No, I don’t think so.  If we carry on without him, that’ll show we’re confident.  And anyway, his army will join us later.

Douglas: Yes.

    (Sir Richard Vernon comes in.)

Hotspur: Vernon!  You’re a sight for sore eyes, cousin!

Vernon: I have some news, my lord.  I just hope it doesn’t upset you.

Hotspur: All right, what?

Vernon: The Earl of Westmoreland is marching against us with seven thousand men.  And Prince John is with him.

Hotspur: Big deal.

Vernon: And the King himself intends to follow with a big army.

Hotspur: Let him bring it.  And what about Prince Hal?  Is he going to round up all his drinking buddies and bring them along to fight?

Vernon: Yes, as a matter of fact.  And I’ve never seen the Prince of Wales dressed for battle before.  You’d hardly recognize him.  He looks–magnificent.

Hotspur: Magnificent!–I don’t care how magnificent he looks!  The Prince of Wales can eat my shit!  When I see him, it’ll be one-on-one, sword against sword–until one of us is dead!–Where the hell is Glendower?

Vernon: I also have news about Glendower, although it’s second-hand news.

Hotspur: What?

Vernon: He’s been delayed.  He won’t have his army assembled for another two weeks.

Douglas: Tsk!–That’s no good.

Worcester: We can’t wait for him.

Hotspur: How many men does the King have?

Vernon: Thirty thousand.

Worcester: Oh, God.

Hotspur: Numbers don’t matter.  (Pounds his heart with his fist)  This is what matters.  Let’s get the troops ready.  I refuse to be afraid.  If we die, we die smiling.

Douglas: Don’t even speak of death.  Let our enemies speak of it.

    (Hotspur pats him on the shoulder, and they all leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  On the road to Coventry.  Falstaff and Bardolph come in.

Falstaff: Bardolph, you go on ahead to Coventry and fill this bottle with wine for me.  (Hands him a large bottle)

Bardolph: Give me some money, then.

Falstaff: Pay for it out of your own pocket.  I’ll reimburse you later.

Bardolph: Why, this is a good ten shillings worth.

Falstaff: Yes, yes.  Spend as much as you need to.  I’m good for it.  And tell  my lieutenant Peto to meet me at the city limits.

Bardolph: All right, Captain.

    (Bardolph goes out.)

Falstaff: If I don’t know how to make a profit out of a war, then I’m a pickled herring.  The treasury pays me three hundred pounds and tells me to draft a hundred and fifty men.  So what do I do?–Heh, heh.  Clever Falstaff.– I draft a bunch of men who absolutely don’t want to fight but who have enough money that they can buy their way out of military service.  And where does that money go?  In my pocket, of course.  Then I draft a hundred and fifty poor, miserable bastards–most of them out of the prisons.  Not one of them even has a proper shirt on his back, but that’s okay because they can steal other people’s laundry from the hedges on the way. 

    (Prince Henry and the Earl of Westmoreland come in.)

Prince Henry: Captain Jack.  Wassup?

Falstaff: Hal!  What are you doing here?–And Lord Westmoreland.  Hello.–I thought you’d be at Shrewsbury by now.

Westmoreland: We should all be there.  My army’s there, and so is the King.

Falstaff: Oh, I’ll be there, quick as a thief.

Prince Henry: Yes.  So I would expect.–Um, are those your soldiers?  (Indicating offstage.)

Falstaff: Yes.  Every last one of them.

Prince Henry: They’re the most pathetic excuses for soldiers I’ve ever seen.

Falstaff: Never mind.  Every one of them is fit enough to stop a sword or a bullet.

Westmoreland: But they look like beggars.  They’re all skin and bones.

Falstaff: Whether they beg or not is no concern of mine.  And as for their physiques, don’t blame me.  If they ate properly, they wouldn’t look like that.

Prince Henry: Indeed.–Anyway, we have to get moving.  Percy and his forces are already in the field.

Falstaff: Oh! Well!  Lead on, then!

    (They all leave, but Falstaff lags behind.)

Falstaff: Last to the battle and first to the dinner table.  That’s my motto.

    (He leaves.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  In the rebel camp near Shrewsbury.  Hotspur, Worcester, Douglas, and Vernon come in.

Hotspur: I say we attack tonight.

Worcester: No.  We’re not ready.

Vernon: Worcester’s right.

Douglas: Don’t be a wimp.

Vernon: Me?  A wimp?  When we go into battle tomorrow, you’ll see I’m no wimp.

Douglas: Fine.  Then let’s go tonight.

Hotspur: Yeah.  I’m psyched up.

Vernon: Hold on, fellas.  Let’s try to be rational about this.  My cousin’s cavalry hasn’t arrived yet.  Worcester’s cavalry only just arrived.  They’re tired.  They need time to rest.

Hotspur: The enemy’s just as tired.  Most of our forces are rested enough.

Worcester: But the King outnumbers us.  We have to wait until we have all our men.

    (A trumpet sounds.  Sir Walter Blunt comes in, with the Earl of Westmoreland.  [Author’s note: I have added Westmoreland to the scene because he is referred to but isn’t seen in the original.])

Blunt: We come in peace with an offer of peace from the King.

Hotspur: Sir Walter Blunt–Lord Westmoreland–welcome.  I wish you were on our side instead of the enemy’s.

Blunt: To us, you’re the enemy.  We will always be loyal to the King.  But I didn’t come to argue.  The King wants to know what your grievances are.  If he has failed you in any way, he will make it up to you.  And he will pardon you and your allies if you will stop this rebellion.

Hotspur: The King’s good at saying whatever needs to be said at any given time.  When he came back from exile, he said it was only to reclaim his estate, which had been stolen from him by King Richard.  And who was the first to take his side?  The Percys–me, my father, and my uncle.  And it was because we stood by him that everyone else of any importance came over to his side, too.  But then he took advantage of all that power to steal the throne from Richard.  And once he was on the throne, he killed Richard and almost all of his supporters.  We never intended to be accessories to murder.

Blunt: I didn’t come here for a history lesson.  I came with a peace offer.

Hotspur: I have more to say.  When his cousin Mortimer was captured in Wales, he wouldn’t pay the ransom to get him back.  And why?  Because Mortimer was actually next in line to the throne after Richard.  And because Mortimer was my brother-in-law, the King had me spied on.  He kicked my uncle off the council, and he kicked my father out of the court.  It was obvious that he was no longer our friend.  So we raised this army for our own protection and to challenge his claim to the throne.

Blunt (Angrily): Is this the answer you want me to take back to the King?

Hotspur: No.–Tell him we’ll think it over.  My uncle will present our demands to the King tomorrow.  Westmoreland will stay here as a hostage to guarantee my uncle’s safe return.

Blunt: I sincerely hope that you accept the King’s offer of peace.

Hotspur: Maybe we will–and maybe we won’t.

Blunt: I pray that you do.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 4.  The palace of the Archbishop of York.  The Archbishop comes in with Sir Michael.

Archbishop: Sir Michael, I need you to deliver these letters right away.  (Hands him letters)  This one’s for the Lord Marshal.–This one’s for my cousin Scroop.–And there are a few others.

Sir Michael: I can guess what’s in them.

Archbishop: I’m sure you can.  We’ve got ten thousand men to fight against the King, and he’s got a lot more.  We don’t have Northumberland, and we don’t have Glendower.  He believes in signs, you see.

Sir Michael: Glendower does?

Archbishop: Yes.  He sees signs everywhere.  And apparently a sign warned him to stay out of the battle.  Without him and Northumberland, I have very little confidence that Harry Percy can win with the forces he’s got.

Sir Michael: But you’re forgetting Douglas and Mortimer.

Archbishop: Mortimer’s not there.

Sir Michael: But he’s still got Mordake, and Vernon, and Worcester, and a lot of good soldiers.

Archbishop: The King’s got more, and they’re very experienced.

Sir Michael: Percy will give them a good fight anyway.

Archbishop: A good fight, yes.  But can he win?  That’s the big question.  If the King wins, he’ll come after us.  We must make certain provisions, otherwise it could turn into a disaster.  Now you get going with those letters.  I have some more to write.

Sir Michael: I will, your Grace.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  The King’s camp near Shrewsbury.  The King, Prince Henry, Prince John, Sir Walter Blunt, and Falstaff come in.

King: Look.  Red sky at morning.  You know what that means.

Prince Henry: A storm.

King: A storm for the losers, not for us.

    (A trumpet.  Worcester and Vernon come in.)

King: Lord Worcester.  It’s unfortunate that we have to meet under these circumstances.  We used to be friends.  But you and your allies have stirred up a rebellion for no good reason.  Now, will you be sensible and come to terms, or will you persist in this foolishness?

Worcester: Your Majesty, I would be perfectly happy to stay at home and spend the rest of my life quietly growing old.  I’m not responsible for any of this.

Falstaff: No, you simply found a rebellion you liked and signed on to it.

Prince Henry: Shh!

Worcester: Your Majesty, our family was once your friends, as you acknowledge.  We welcomed you and helped you when you returned from exile to reclaim your estate.  You assured us that that was your sole intention.  But you lied to us.  You took advantage of your power to overthrow Richard.  And after that, you turned against us.  What else could we do but take up arms to protect ourselves?

King: I’ve heard all this bullshit before.  It’s just propaganda to rouse up all the malcontents in England and our old enemies in Scotland and Wales. 

Prince Henry (To Worcester): If we go to war, a lot of people will die unnecessarily.  Your nephew is a little too hot-headed.  He shouldn’t be dragging everyone into a war.  Now, I respect him.  We all respect him.  He’s made quite a name for himself.  In fact, most people have a higher opinion of him than they have of me.  So what I propose is this–I’ll fight your nephew in one-on-one combat to settle this whole thing.  That’ll save thousands of lives.

King (To Prince Henry): No, I don’t want to take that chance.–Worcester, there’s no reason for anyone to die.  I’d sooner have peace.  But I think your nephew is spoiling for a fight.  Nobody doubts his courage, but he lacks maturity.  You’re his uncle.  You’re older and wiser.  You must reason with him.  I want you to go back and tell him and all your allies that if they accept my offer of peace, we can all be friends again.  But if your nephew is stubborn, we’ll fight, and we’ll win.  Our forces are superior.

Worcester: I will tell him, your Majesty.

    (Worcester and Vernon leave.)

Prince Henry: He won’t agree.  He’s itching to fight.  He and Douglas both.  They think they can win. 

King: Well, if we have to fight, you all know your duties.  I want to be ready to strike as soon as I know what their intentions are.

    (The King goes out with Prince John and Blunt.)

Falstaff: Hal, if I go down in battle, you’ll protect me, won’t you?  After all, we’re friends.

    (Prince Henry gives him an unsympathetic look.)

Prince Henry: I expect that I’ll be too busy.

Falstaff: Aw, Hal, don’t say that.

Prince Henry: Do you have one single ounce of honour in that fat body of yours?

    (Prince Henry leaves.)

Falstaff: Honour!–Pfff!–What the hell good is honour?  Can you use it to stick a leg back on?–Fucking hell.–Honour is something to console a widow with.–So sorry, madam, but at least Charlie died with honour.  (Pretends to talk to a body in a casket)  Hear that, Charlie?  You died with honour.  Make you feel any better?  (Cups his ear) Eh?  Speak up.  Can’t hear you.–What’s honour?  It’s a word, that’s all.  A nice word–but not a word to die for.  Only fools die for honour.

    (He leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  Worcester and Vernon return to the rebel camp near Shrewsbury.

Worcester: Listen, Sir Richard, I don’t want my nephew to know that the King is offering peace.

Vernon: Why not?

Worcester: Because if we patch up with the King now, he’ll find some excuse to get even with us later.  In his mind we’ll always be traitors, don’t you see?  We’ll never be safe.  My nephew might be forgiven on account of his youth–but who influenced him?  Me and his father.  We’re the ones who’ll hang.  So for God’s sake, don’t say a word about the peace offer.  You just back me up, all right?

Vernon: Okay, if you say so.

    (Hotspur and Douglas come in, with Soldiers.)

Hotspur: So, you’re back, uncle.  What did the King say?

Worcester: He wants to fight.

Douglas: Well, that settles that.

Hotspur: Send Westmoreland back with our answer.  We’ll fight.

Douglas: I’ll do that.

    (Douglas leaves.)

Worcester: The King refuses to show us any mercy.

Hotspur: I hope you didn’t beg for any.

Worcester: No, no.  I just explained to him very politely what our grievances were, and he called us a bunch of traitors and said he’d destroy us.

Vernon: Yes, that’s right.  

    (Douglas returns.)

Douglas: Done.  Westmoreland is on his way back to the King.  We should gear up and get ready to do battle.

Worcester (To Hotspur): The Prince of Wales wanted to challenge you to a duel to settle everything.

Hotspur: Oh!  If only!–How did he say it?  Was he insulting?

Vernon: Not at all.  He praised you very highly–even above himself.  He really quite surprised me.  What a changed man he is.  Such a gentleman.

Hotspur: Don’t let him fool you.  He’s a degenerate.  I’ll kill him. (To the Others) Everybody get ready.  Think about what you have to do.  I’m not going to give any pep talks.  You don’t need any.

    (A Messenger comes in.)

Messenger: My lords, the King is moving to attack.

Hotspur (Drawing his sword): Gentlemen, before this day is over, I’ll have royal blood on this sword.–Sound the trumpets!–I love trumpet music.

    (Trumpets sound.  They all leave.)

Act 5, Scene 3.  The battlefield near Shrewsbury.  Sounds of battle.  Douglas and Blunt come in from  opposite sides.  Blunt is disguised as the King, and a visor covers his face.

Blunt: Stop!  Who are you?

Douglas: I’m Douglas.  And I know who you are from your colours.  You’re the King.

Blunt: Yes.

Douglas: Your friend Lord Stafford is dead.  I thought he was you because he was dressed like you, so I killed him.  Now you surrender to me!

Blunt: I wouldn’t surrender to you, you bloody Scotsman!

    (They fight.  Douglas kills Blunt.  Then Hotspur comes in.)

Hotspur: Douglas, you’re unbeatable today!

Douglas: We’ve won!  I just killed the King!

    (Hotspur lifts Blunt’s visor.)

Hotspur: It’s not the King.  It’s Sir Walter Blunt.

Douglas: He said he was the King.  And he’s wearing the King’s colours.

Hotspur: Brave guy.  Apparently there are several decoy kings out on the battlefield to confuse us.

Douglas: Then I’ll kill them all until I find the real one.

Hotspur: I think we’re going to win.  Come on.

    (They leave.  More trumpets.  Then Falstaff comes in by himself.)

Falstaff: Fuck me.  I should be back in the Boar’s Head, eating and drinking–not here.  (Sees Blunt’s body)  Oh, shit.–Sir Walter Blunt.–This is what honour looks like.–No, thank you.–All my guys are dead or ran away.  I’ve got nobody left to command.

    (Prince Henry comes in, without a sword.)

Prince Henry: Falstaff, give me your sword!  We’re fighting for our lives, man!

Falstaff: It’s all right, Hal.  I killed Harry Percy.  You should’ve seen it.  I was brilliant.

Prince Henry: You’re full of shit.  Percy’s alive.  Now give me your sword.

Falstaff: Oh, no, no!  I’m keeping my sword.  But you can have my gun.  Go ahead, take it.

    (Prince Henry reaches into Falstaff’s holster and pulls out a bottle of wine.)

Prince Henry: What the fuck?

    (He throws the bottle at Falstaff and leaves.)

Falstaff: If Percy’s alive, I’ll get him.  But he has to find me.  I’m not going to look for him.  I don’t want to end up like Blunt.

    (He leaves.)  

Act 5, Scene 4.  Elsewhere on the battlefield.  Sounds of battle.  Soldiers skirmish across the stage.  Then the King, Prince Henry, Prince John, and the Earl of Westmoreland come in.

King: Henry, you’re wounded.  Get away.–John, you go with him.

John: No.  I’m not wounded.  I’m staying.

Prince Henry: My lord, you must keep attacking, for the sake of your army.  They have to see you out there.

King: Yes, I will.–Westmoreland, get him out of here.

Westmoreland (To Prince Henry): Come, sir, I’ll take you to your tent.

Prince Henry: Forget it.  It’s just a scratch.

John: Let’s not argue about it.  Come on, Westmoreland, we have to keep fighting.

    (Prince John and Westmoreland leave.)

Prince Henry: Go get ’em, bro!  Let ’em know who you are!  You’re John of Lancaster–ha, ha!–My brother.  I never realized how brave he was until today.

King: He fought with young Percy, believe it or not.  He almost killed him, too.

Prince Henry: Good man!–Wait.  I’ll be right back.

    (Prince Henry leaves.  Then Douglas comes in.)

Douglas: What are you, another impostor?

King: Impostor?  I’m the King!  And today you die, Douglas!

Douglas: I’ll kill you, whoever you are!

    (They fight.  Douglas is winning when Prince Henry returns.)

Prince Henry: Douglas!  I’ve got you now!

    (They fight.  Douglas flees.)

Prince Henry: Are you all right?

King: Yes.  You saved my life.  No one will ever speak ill of you again.–My son–and future King.

Prince Henry: Lord Gawsey is in trouble.  He needs reinforcements.  And so does Clifton.

King: You go to Clifton.  I’ll go to Gawsey.

    (The King leaves.  Then Hotspur comes in.  For a moment  Prince Henry and Hotspur face each other across the stage, swords drawn.  [This is a good moment for the Director to do something creative with lighting or sound effects, to freeze the action briefly.])

Hotspur: Prince of Wales?

Prince Henry: Yes.–Harry Percy?

Hotspur: Yes.

Prince Henry: Somehow I knew it would come down to this.  England isn’t big enough for both of us.

Hotspur: Then let me send you to the next world.

    (They fight.  Then Falstaff comes in.)

Falstaff: Get him, Hal!  Get him!

    (Douglas returns and fights with Falstaff.  Falstaff falls convincingly, as if dead.  Douglas leaves.  Prince Henry strikes Hotspur, who falls, dying.)

Hotspur: I value my life less than my glory.–But you have killed them both.  (Dies)

Prince Henry (Kneeling beside Hotspur’s body): May earth accept your body and your sins–and heaven accept your soul and your honour.  I’ll never face a worthier opponent.

    (He removes something from his uniform and covers Percy’s face.  Then he sees Falstaff, apparently dead.)

Prince Henry: Poor, old Jack.  I’m sorry to lose you like this.  But I’ll see that you get a proper burial.

    (Prince Henry leaves.  Then Falstaff gets up.)

Falstaff: Hold on.  I’m not quite ready to be buried yet.  I fooled that Scotsman Douglas.  You know what they say–discretion is the better part of valour.  And old Jack Falstaff knows when to be discreet.–But I don’t like this guy (Indicating Hotspur)–even when he’s dead.  What if he’s being discreet, too?  I’d better make sure.  (He stabs Hotspur in the leg.) There.  I killed him.  And who can prove otherwise?

    (He picks up Hotspur.  [Alternatively, Prince Henry and Prince John will help him pick up the body at the end of  the scene.]  Prince Henry and Prince John come in.)

John: Who’s this?  I thought you said your fat friend was dead.

Prince Henry: He was.  At least, I thought he was.

Falstaff: Look, Hal!  I killed Percy!  I should get something for this, don’t you think?  The King could make me an earl–or even a duke.

Prince Henry: You didn’t kill Percy.  I did.

Falstaff: Oh!–Pfff!–How can you lie like that?  I fell and he fell, but we were only out of breath, that’s all.  After you left, we both got up and fought with each other.  He gave me a hell of a fight, but you know me, Hal.  I have the instincts of a lion.

Prince Henry: You mean you have an instinct for lyin’.

John (To Prince Henry): I don’t believe him.

Prince Henry: It’s all right.  We’ve won the battle.  That’s all I care about.–Come on, bro.  Let’s see who’s dead and who’s still alive.

    (At this point Prince Henry and Prince John could help Falstaff lift the body over his shoulder.  Falstaff lags behind as they leave.)

Falstaff: I should be a duke for this–or at least an earl.  And then I’ll live a noble life.  No more vices, or crimes, or self-indulgence.–Well, not too much, anyway.

    (He leaves.)

Act 5, Scene 5.  Elsewhere on the field.  The King, Prince Henry,Prince John, Westmoreland, and Soldiers come in, with Worcester and Vernon as prisoners.

King: Worcester, I blame you more than anyone else.  I offered to make peace, and you told your people I wanted war.  And because of you, thousands of good men are dead.

Worcester: I did what I thought was best for my own sake.  Whatever you decide to do, I accept it.

King: You and Vernon will be executed.–Take them away.

    (The Soldiers take Worcester and Vernon away.)

King: What’s happened to Douglas?

Prince Henry: He and his men were retreating, and he took a bad fall.  He was hurt pretty bad.  We captured him.  He’s in my tent.

King: What should we do with him?

Prince Henry: Would you give me the privilege of deciding that?

King: Why not?  After all, you’ll be King someday.

Prince Henry: Good.  I’m going to spare him.  (To Prince John) John, set Douglas free.  Let him go home.

John: Fine.  I’ll take care of it.

King: We still have other rebel forces to deal with.–John, you and Westmoreland will take your armies to York and deal with Northumberland and the Archbishop.–Harry, you and I will go to Wales and deal with Glendower and Mortimer.  I want to finish this business once and for all.  I think after today’s victory, the rebellion will collapse.–Let’s go.

    (They all leave.  The original play ends here.  But now Falstaff comes in alone with a bottle of wine, rather drunk.)

Falstaff: Earl or duke–one or the other.  Duke is better, but I’ll settle for earl.  (To the audience) You people aren’t rid of me yet.–You see, this most interesting story is, as they say–to be continued.

    (He leaves.)


    Copyright@ 2011 by Crad Kilodney.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com