And there was peace between England and France…for 2.5 seconds.
Act III, Scene 1
Salisbury just told Constance about the marriage between Louis and Blanche. Constance doesn’t take it well. First she doesn’t believe him, but he confirms it to be true. She laments about this turn of events and wishes she could die from sorrow. She wonders what will happen to her son and then demands that Salisbury leave her sights. At this point, Arthur tells her to calm down. This has the opposite effect. She wishes he were ugly or deformed because then she wouldn’t love them so much. She curse Fortune for taking John’s side.
Salisbury asks if she will come with him to the Kings. She refuses, sits down, and explains that the Kings can come to her.
All of the royals enter. King Philip explains to Blanche that this day will forever be a holiday in France. Constance scoffs at this idea because this will be a cursed day when all promises are broken. King Philip denies breaking his oath to her. This makes Constance pretty mad and begs the heavens to intervene. The Duke of Austria tries to tell her to calm down, but she is having none of that. She tells him that he has disgraced his name and should replace his “lion hide” (since he killed Richard Lionheart) with that of a calf. He gets mad, but she’s a woman, so there’s not much he can do. Philip the Bastard repeats the insult with glee.
A messenger comes from the Pope, Cardinal Pandulph, to ask John why he refuses to accept Stephen Langton as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. John scoffs at the idea that the Pope claims to have authority over a King. King Philip cautions John against this blasphemy, but John won’t yield. He is promptly excommunicated and the messenger tells King Philip to take up arms against John. Constance is all for this plan.
King Philip struggles with this decision because the peace is so newly won. Everyone argues their side. Louis doesn’t want to risk breaking with Rome. John and Eleanor obviously want to maintain the friendship between England and France. Constance tells Louis and King Philip to break with England. Blanche begs Louis, as his wife, not to fight her Uncle.
King Philip decides to fight for Rome. Constance is super happy, but Blanche is distraught. She doesn’t know which side to root for, her Uncle, or her husband. Louis thinks she should choose her husband and they all go to war.
Act III, Scene 2
Philip the Bastard kills the Duke of Austria. John kidnaps Arthur and charges Hubert to watch him while he rescues his mother. Philip confirms that he already saved Eleanor.
Act III, Scene 3
John confirms that his mother will stay in France, heavily guarded. He sends Philip back to England, which Philip heartedly agrees to do.
John talks to Hubert alone about what a loyal subject and friend Hubert is. He tells Hubert that he wishes he could tell Hubert all of his thoughts without actually saying a word, so that Hubert could help him with his burden. Hubert promises to take care of anything the King asks. John tells Hubert to kill Arthur. He tries to be sneaky about it, but just says it outright. Hubert reluctantly agrees.
John sends Hubert and Arthur to England.
Act III, Scene 4
King Philip, Louis, and the Pandulph lament their loss. The English have fled, Arthur is kidnapped and Angiers is lost. Pandulph thinks it’s all going to turn out alright.
Constance is very distraught over the loss of her son. King Philip asks her to go with him, but she’s still pretty mad that he tried for peace in the first place. She begs for death and Pandulph worries she is going mad. She explains that she is not mad. She knows exactly what’s going on and it’s all terrible. She wishes she was mad, so she can forget how terrible everything is.
King Philip tells her to fix her hair, which she agrees to do, but she makes it symbolic of her sons imprisonment. Pandulph thinks she likes grief too much. She explains that grief fills the hole Arthur has left. She leaves and King Philip follows her.
Pandulph explains to Louis that he should try to take the throne of England after John inevitably kills Arthur. Louis hopes that Arthur won’t be killed or worries that Louis will be killed like Arthur. Pandulph finds Louis to be very naive because Arthur is probably already dead. Louis says he will do whatever Pandulph asks.