Let’s see how this all ends…probably really well for everyone.
Act IV, Scene 1
Hubert prepares with the executioner to surprise Arthur, bind him to a chair, and have the red hot iron ready.
Hubert starts talking to Arthur, who is just delightful. He asks why Hubert is sad and reflects on his own misfortune. It’s not his fault that he’s Geoffrey’s son. Hubert laments over his decision to talk with Arthur. Arthur asks Hubert if he’s feeling okay and offers to take care of him.
Hubert hand him a letter that explains how he is to be put to death: red hot irons to his eyes. Arthur is understandably upset at this news and starts begging for his life. He lays on the guilt thick, reminding Hubert of a time Arthur took care of him when he had a headache. Hubert calls for reinforcements, but Arthur starts begging more, asking for Hubert to not restrain him and he will sit still. Hubert dismisses the executioner, who is happy to leave.
In the end, Arthur’s pleas work and Hubert spares his life.
Act IV, Scene 2
King John revels in his victory as King of England and his second coronation. His Lords, Pembroke and Salisbury, think that the whole thing was pretty over the top. They resent having to always give in to the King’s changing fancies. John tells them to make a request of him and he will see it through. Pembroke asks him to spare Arthur’s life and let him go.
Hubert enters and John quickly “grants” their request before talking to Hubert. The Lords know that Hubert was the one commanded to follow-through with the execution. They worry that the King changes his mind so often, and gives in to whatever he is feeling at the moment that the child won’t live long.
John comes back over and explains that unfortunately poor Arthur passed away in the night from illness. They refuse to accept this explanation and abandon King John.
A messenger comes in to explain that the French army has landed in England and is marching toward him. King John wonders how his mother missed this and didn’t send him any warning. Unfortunately, it’s because his mother passed away, but the good news is Lady Constance apparently died too.
Philip enters at this point with more bad news. While he was going to all of the parishes and collecting taxes, he came across a prophet that had a lot of followers. The prophet said that on Ascension Day at noon the King would give up his crown. The King decides that instead of giving up his crown, he’ll have this prophet hanged on that day at that time and tells Hubert to see it done.
John and Philip turn their attention toward France now. Philip informed him that the Lords who recently abandoned him are going to seek out Arthur’s grave and prove he was murdered. John sends Philip and the messenger to go and try to win back the Lords’ loyalties.
The King is mourning the loss of his mother when Hubert returns. He explains that the people have seen five moons tonight, one circling around the other four. They say it is a sign of the prophecy. All of the people talk of the oncoming French army and the injustice of Arthur’s death. John thinks it’s not fair that everyone is blaming him for Arthur’s death when Hubert is the one that actually killed him. Hubert doesn’t find this to be exactly fair since he was ordered to do so by the king. John tells Hubert that if had shown even the slightest bit of hesitation, John wouldn’t have ordered Arthur’s death. Hubert is clearly the cold-blooded killer here.
This is Hubert’s breaking point and he tells John that Arthur is alive. That he couldn’t kill him in the end. John is overjoyed at this news because now his Lords won’t be mad at him. He apologizes for his harsh word to Hubert and asks him to bring the Lords to him.
Act IV, Scene 3
Arthur is trying to escape his imprisonment, disguised as a ship-boy. The only way to escape is to jump down from a towering wall. He hopes the ground is soft and leaps. The ground is not soft. It is covered in rocks and he dies.
The Lords plan how they will communicate to the Dauphin and meet with him to help him invade England. Philip comes up and asks them to come back to the King. Unfortunately for John, it’s not quite that easy and they refuse. They have sworn off the King and will not return. Philip asks them to show some manners and reason. They refuse because their griefs are legitimate.
That is when they see young Arthur’s body on the ground. All of the Lords lament this loss and swear revenge on the murderous hands that committed this crime. This is when Hubert arrives and tells them that Arthur is alive. As one can imagine, this causes quite an uproar and everyone nearly comes to blows before they reveal Arthur’s body to Hubert. Hubert doesn’t know what happened. He had barely been gone an hour. The Lords don’t believe his grief and leave to meet the Dauphin.
Philip angrily accuses Hubert of committing this deed. Hubert repeatedly denies it, but Philip is having none of it. He questions how all of this happened and what sort of tangle he has gotten himself mixed up in. He and Hubert prepare to go to the King and report what happened.
Act V, Scene 1
King John presents his crown to Pandulph and yields his power to Rome. Pandulph agrees to calm down Louis and end the war. After Pandulph leaves, John remembers that is Ascension Day and the prophet was right, just not in the way John originally thought. Let us not forget though that the prophet is still dead.
Philip enters and explains that Kent yielded to Louis and all the Lords of London joined him as well. John questions why they didn’t return when they found out Arthur was alive. Philip explains that Arthur is in fact dead, but it didn’t appear to be Hubert’s doing. John is dismayed and Philip delivers a rousing speech calling on him to stand up and fight back. He continues to rally the King to arms even after John explains that he has made peace with Rome to end the war.
Act V, Scene 2
Louis and the English Lords prepare for battle. Salisbury laments fighting against England, under another country’s flag. Louis assures him that their cause is just and he will be a much better ruler.
Pandulph comes and tells the Dauphin that all has been resolved and he doesn’t need to fight anymore. Louis is not just fighting for Rome anymore, he is fighting for his own reasons. He refuses to yield to Rome’s wishes.
Philip comes in to explain that the King takes back his peace agreement and will fight to the end. Of course, it being Philip, he throws in a whole bunch of wise-cracking insults in to the mix. Pandulph tries to calm everything down, but the Dauphin and Philip are all fired up and they prepare to go to war.
Act V, Scene 3
John asks how they are faring in the battle. It doesn’t appear to be going great for either side. Philip, through Hubert, has urged John to flee the field. He does because he is taken ill with a bad fever. Louis however has lost a couple supply ships that wrecked on their way to England, so that’s good news.
Act V, Scene 4
The English Lords all remark on how Philip appears to be holding the English side single-handedly while the French army loses it’s zeal.
Count Melun stumbles in, mortally wounded. He warns the other Lords that Louis plans to kill them if he wins. Why? That’s anyone’s guess. Maybe because they readily betrayed one king?
The English Lords believe him and their allegiance returns to England and King John.
Act V, Scene 5
Louis questions how the day is turning out so badly for him. Luckily, a messenger enters with the answer. Melun told the English Lords to abandon Louis and they did. Louis decides to try again tomorrow.
Act V, Scene 6
Hubert and Philip meet up at an Abbey outside of the battlefield. After confirming that they know each other, Hubert explains that the King has been poisoned by a villainous monk, but may recover. Hubert also explain that the Lords all returned to King John and brought Prince Henry with them. Philip comments on how quickly things keep changing during this whole affair and they head off to the King.
Act V, Scene 7
Prince Henry tries to look after the welfare of his father, but all seems to be lost. The King is losing his mind.
They carry King John into the room. He wants the sweet relief of death, but it won’t come. Philip comes in to explain that France is losing their advantage. The King dies.
Philip tells all the other Lords to get ready to fight for England. They explain that they don’t have to because Pandulph has brokered a peace. Philip still wants to fight, but it’d too late. The peace is already accepted.
Philip and all the other Lords swear fealty to Henry. Philip delivers the final lines of play which assert that England will never be conquered as long as they are true to themselves.