Henry VI Part 3: Act 1

Moving is hard and time consuming…how has it been five months since my last post! Anyway, let’s see what shenanigans Henry VI gets himself into this time. Then, I can put these plays behind me – for a while at least.

Scene 1

The scene opens with York, his allies – Norfolk, Montague, and Warwick, and his sons – Richard and Edward- discussing how awesome they were at battle, slaying quite a few important fathers. This is important to note for the obvious revenge plots which will form as a result. Richard is so proud of his battle prowess that he carried the Duke of Somerset’s head all the way to London, gross, but apparently impressive.

York implores his allies to stay near to him as he confronts the King, all exit except York and Warwick. They explain that the queen is upstairs with parliament and through parliament they will make York King. Then, Henry VI enters with his allies – Clifford, Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Exeter. The King scoffs at York’s audacity to sit on the throne while all the Lords, except Exeter, swear revenge for their dead fathers. After they are all fired up and ready to fight, Henry points out that the city is on York’s side and reveals his strategy of using “frowns, words, and threats” to get back his throne.

He starts by asking York to get off his throne. This obviously doesn’t work and Warwick suggests that Henry should be the Duke of Lancaster and York should be King. When they say no, Warwick astutely points out that they bested the King in battle. The revenge motivations are reasserted. Henry tries to invoke his father’s name as King of England and Dauphin of France. This was not the best move since France was lost during his reign. He points out he was a baby. The rest of the scene is breaking down the various rights to rule as seen by each side, with some sweet burns mixed in. Exeter thought York had the better argument, so he switches sides. In the end, the King names York and his descendants heirs to the throne, thus disinheriting his own son. His allies abandon him to go tell the Queen. York swears an oath to the King and York and his allies disperse.

Now the Queen comes in and she is PISSED. Henry tries to leave but the Queen stops him. She rants at Henry for a while about he is a weenie-man and she is going to rally an army behind her colors. She also “divorces” him and takes her son to win back the crown. Henry decides to write letters to win back his former allies.

Scene 2

York enters as his sons and brother argue over who should do the talking. The talking it turns out is convincing York that he should abandon his oath and take the crown by force. Edward points out that it is worth breaking an oath for the crown. York doesn’t want to be seen as a false king because of breaking his oath. Richard – in a speech very much setting up his character for Richard III – finally convinces York by explaining that oaths are held accountable by people who have power over the oath swearer and since Henry deposed his power (kind of) before the oath was sworn, the oath has no power, so they should probably go ahead and take the throne by force. This backward logic makes sense to York, so he dispatches his brother and sons to rally his allies once more.

BUT WAIT! A messenger enters with the news that the Queen is marching on York’s castle and intends to lay siege. York dispatches his brother to rally his allies, but for a different reason.

Enter John and Hugh Mortimer. They knew about the siege plans and came to help. They suggest that York meet the Queen in open field. York is hesitant because he has about 5,000 men to her 20,000. Richard points out that they are being lead by a women, so winning should still be easy. York has seen worse odds and so they depart.

Scene 3

Edmund Rutland, York’s third son is walking around the battlefield with his priest. Clifford enters and swears to kill Rutland because York killed Clifford’s father. The priest begs for mercy for Rutland, but is dragged off. Rutland begs repeatedly for his own life, but is ultimately denied and Clifford kills him.

Scene 4

York realizes he has lost the day. The Queen’s army has taken the field and he cannot hope to gain it back. Too many have died for his cause. He vows to die fighting on the field as well.

Then, the Queen enters with Clifford and Northumberland. York taunts Clifford for a bit, but the others stop Clifford from being drawn into a fight. They grab York and subdue him. The Queen has him brought to his knees and puts a paper crown on his head. She asks where his sons are, ending with Rutland, who she explains to York is dead. She takes a handkerchief which she has doused in his son’s blood, and offers to dry his tears with them. She continues to taunt York over his grief for his dead son.

Clifford wants to be done with York, but the Queen wants to let York speak. He goes on an amazing soliloquy about how awful and unwomanlike Margaret is especially for taunting him with his son’s death. Even Northumberland is moved to tears by York’s speech. Upon seeing Northumberland crying, Clifford and the Queen kill York. The Queen orders his head to be put on a spike outside of his own town.

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