Act IV, Scene 1
Hotspur showers Douglas with compliments, which he graciously accepts. Just then, a messenger comes in bearing the unfortunate news that Hotspur’s father, Northumberland has taken ill and won’t be able to bring his army to meet them. They worry that this will dampen the spirits of their men and look like he abandoned the cause to their enemies. Hotspur isn’t worried though. He insists that the absence of his father’s army will only make their victory more glorious.
Sir Richard Vernon arrives to deliver even worse news. He explains that Westmoreland and Prince John are on their way, so is the King. Hotspur asks after Hal. Vernon tells how the Prince of Wales gloriously rode on his own horse, leading his own army, to fight them. Hotspur actually has to interrupt the speech because it was so flattering to Hal. His spirits still aren’t dampened…until Vernon says Glendower won’t be there for another two weeks. This is quite a problem because the King has thirty thousand men. Hotspur tries to keep his spirits up and hopes that if they die, they die in glory. Shockingly, this does not cheer his compatriots.
Act IV, Scene 2
Falstaff sends Bardolph to get him wine and tell Peto to come meet him. Once alone, Falstaff reflects on the men he is leading. They’re not great. Mostly poor, untrained men or very old men. They are pretty much the last choice for any army.
Hal and Westmoreland come to let Falstaff know that they will have to ride out to meet the King tonight. Hal comments on how pitiful Falstaff’s men are. Falstaff asserts that they will make good cannon fodder. They all prepare to ride forth to battle.
Act IV, Scene 3
Hotspur and Douglas think they should fight the King tonight. Worcester and Vernon think it’s a bad idea, that they will be giving advantage to the King. The horses are too tired and most of the men just got to the field or have not quite arrived yet. They need all the men available to them because the King has so many more men. Hotspur won’t hear a word of it and insists on going to battle that night.
Sir Walter Blunt enters to parley with Hotspur on behalf of the King. Hotspur tries to coax Blunt into an argument about who is on the side of right, but Blunt gets down to business after only a quick retort. He explains the the King will hear Hotspur’s grievances to address them and offer a pardon to all involved. Even Hotspur has to admit that this is a generous offer, but he still has quite a long list of grievances. Hotspur begins by summarizing how King Henry came to be King: by rallying forces and allies under the false pretense that he only wanted his rightful inheritance. He swore as much to Northumberland, but when the time came, he broke his oath and went for the crown.
Blunt interrupts because he didn’t come to hear this nonsense, so Hotspur gets to the point. King Henry refused to ransom Mortimer, disgraced Hotspur by demanding his captives, removed his uncle from the council and dismissed his father from court. By treating their family so poorly, he broke every oath he ever made to them and for that reason, they sought allies elsewhere. Blunt asks if this is what Hotspur wants him to tell the King. Even Hotspur knows better than to do that and promises to send his uncle, Worcester in the morning.
Act IV, Scene 4
The Archbishop of York is sending messages to his friends at court. Sir Michael, who will deliver the messages, has a feeling he knows the contents. The Archbishop is confident that Hotspur will lose tomorrow. He simply doesn’t have the support. We learn here that Mortimer will not be there either. While Hotspur still has many good men behind him, the King has more; and if Hotspur loses, the King will surely know that the Archbishop was an ally. He needs to get the support of some friends to avoid being taken down with Hotspur.
Act V, Scene 1
The King remarks on the storm that is coming. He comments that it will sympathize with the losers because nothing can dampen the spirits of those that win (pun not intended, but enjoyed nonetheless). When Worcester enters, the King asks him how he can ruin the peace that England was enjoying by rebelling against the King he helped put into place. Worcester insists he never wanted to see this day, which the King scoffs at. Falstaff chimes in, but Hal quiets him quickly. Worcester recounts how Henry returned to England only to claim his inheritance and on that oath he gained the allegiance of Worcester’s family. But, because he was so fortunate and had so many advantages befall him, he decided to seek a higher office and in doing so turned away from his former allies.
The King is not impressed by this speech. He’s heard it all before and it’s what they’ve been preaching to stoke rebellion, but he knows they want something. Prince Hal jumps in to say that he has only heard great things about Hotspur, but promises to defeat him should they meet in battle. The King tells Worcester that he will pardon everyone involved and pretend it never happened, if Hotspur will refuse to fight. Worcester leaves to take the offer to Hotspur. Hal predicts that they won’t accept. The King admits that this is likely and tells his army to get ready.
Hal and Falstaff say goodbye, sort of and Hal leaves to get ready. At this point, Falstaff wonders what the point of honor. It’s just a word and it does a dead man no good. He resolves to not strive for honor in this fight.
Act V, Scene 2
Worcester decides that he won’t tell Hotspur about the King’s generous offer. Vernon asserts that he must. Worcester says such an offer is impossible to deliver. The King will always suspect them. He might forgive Hotspur because he’s young, but he’ll never forgive the older family members. Vernon decides to go with whatever Worcester decides to do.
Hotspur and Douglas come in to hear what the King had to say. Worcester tells them that he calmly told the King their grievances and he insists on fighting. They prepare for battle. Worcester tells Hotspur that Hal challenged him to single combat. He brushes this off and assumes that Hal issued the challenge with contempt. Vernon interjects that the Prince spoke very well of Hotspur and spoke against his own bad behavior. Hotspur thinks that Vernon is a little too impressed with Hal.
A messenger enters, but Hotspur doesn’t have time to read, he’s getting pumped for battle. Another messenger comes to let him know that the King is coming. This is a message he wanted to hear. He is ready for a fight.
Act V, Scene 3
Douglas meets Blunt on the battlefield, but Blunt is dressed like the King. He kills Blunt, thinking that he has won the battle by killing the King. Hotspur explains that’s not the King. In fact, the King has a whole bunch of fake Kings out fighting with him. Douglas swears to kill them all.
Falstaff hopes he doesn’t meet the same fate as Blunt. Prince Hal asks what Falstaff is doing just standing there. He needs to borrow his sword. Falstaff asks for a breather because he just killed Hotspur. Hal knows he’s lying and asks for his sword again. Falstaff gives him his pistol, which turns out to be a bottle of wine. A frustrated Hal throws it back at him and leaves. Falstaff hopes he does kill Hotspur, or at least doesn’t get killed.
Act V, Scene 4
The King tells Hal to retire to his tent because he’s wounded. The King tells Prince John to take him. Both refuse. The King tries to get Westmoreland to take Hal to his tent, but still he is met with refusal. They all insist on still fighting.
Douglas comes across the King when he is alone. He almost defeats the King, but Hal saves him at the last minute and Douglas flees. The King immediately forgives Hal for all his shenanigans.
The King goes off to fight another person and Hal finally meets Hotspur on the battlefield. They know that they have to fight to the death because there is only room for one Harry in this world. While they’re fighting, Falstaff cheers on Hal, but is quickly taken down by Douglas, who runs off again. Hotspur dies with a dramatic soliloquy. Hal takes a moment to comment of Hotspur’s greatness.
Hal sees Falstaff and mourns his fallen friend before departing. Falstaff gets up and scoffs at Hal’s pitiful speech. He decides to pretend he killed Hotspur himself. He approaches Hal and John, who are surprised to see him alive. He explains that like himself, Hotspur wasn’t really dead, so it was Falstaff who delivered the fatal blow. Hal finds this story to be dubious at best, but agrees to go along with it. They win the day and Falstaff proclaims he will act like a nobleman now.
Act V, Scene 5
The King sentences Worcester and Vernon to death for not delivering the peace terms to Hotspur. Worcester regrets nothing. Hal has captured Douglas, who he decides to set free because he fought so valiantly. He asks John to carry out the order, which John is happy to do.
The fighting isn’t quite over though. Westmoreland and John will go to deal with Northumberland. The King and Hal will take out Glendower and Mortimer.