Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare

Henry VI, Part 1

byWilliam Shakespeare

Kobo ebook | January 21, 2014

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Henry VI, Part 1 (often written as 1 Henry VI), is a history play by William Shakespeare, and possibly Thomas Nashe, believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England. Whereas 2 Henry VI deals with the King's inability to quell the bickering of his nobles, and the inevitability of armed conflict, and 3 Henry VI deals with the horrors of that conflict, 1 Henry VI deals with the loss of England's French territories and the political machinations leading up to the Wars of the Roses, as the English political system is torn apart by personal squabbles and petty jealousy.

Though Shakespeare may not have written the Henry VI trilogy in chronological order, theatrical companies often group the three plays together withRichard III to form a tetralogy that covers the entire Wars of the Roses saga—from the death of Henry V in 1422 to the rise of Henry VII in 1485. The success of this sequence of plays firmly established Shakespeare's reputation as a playwright.

Some regard Henry VI, Part 1 as the weakest play in oeuvre and, with Titus Andronicus, one of the strongest candidates for evidence that Shakespeare collaborated with other dramatists early in his career.

The play begins with the funeral of Henry V, who has died unexpectedly in his prime. As his brothers, the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester, and his uncle, the Duke of Exeter, lament his passing and express doubt as to whether his son (the as yet uncrowned heir apparent Henry VI) is capable of running the country in such tumultuous times, word arrives of military setbacks in France. A rebellion, led by the Dauphin Charles, is gaining momentum, and several major towns have already been lost. Additionally, Lord Talbot, Constable of France, has been captured. Realising a critical time is at hand, Bedford immediately prepares himself to head to France and take command of the army, Gloucester remains in charge in England, and Exeter sets out to prepare young Henry for his forthcoming coronation.

Meanwhile, in Orléans, the English army are laying siege to Charles' forces. Inside the city, the Bastard of Orléans approaches Charles and tells him of a young woman who claims to have seen visions and knows how to defeat the English. Charles summons the woman, Joan la Pucelle, (i.e. Joan of Arc). To test her resolve, he challenges her to single combat. Upon her victory, he immediately places her in command of the army. Outside the city, the newly arrived Bedford negotiates the release of Talbot, but immediately, Joan launches an attack. The French forces win, forcing the English back, but Talbot and Bedford engineer a sneak attack on the city, and gain a foothold within the walls, causing the French leaders to flee.

Back in England, a petty quarrel between Richard Plantagenet and the Duke of Somerset has expanded to involve the whole court. Richard and Somerset ask their fellow nobles to pledge allegiance to one of them, and as such the lords select either red or white roses to indicate the side they are on. Richard then goes to see his uncle, Edmund Mortimer, imprisoned in the Tower of London. Mortimer tells Richard the history of their family's conflict with the king's family—how they helped Henry Bolingbroke seize power from Richard II, but were then shoved into the background; and how Henry V had Richard's father (Richard of Conisburgh) executed and his family stripped of all its lands and monies. Mortimer also tells Richard that he himself is the rightful heir to the throne, and that when he dies, Richard will be the true heir, not Henry. Amazed at these revelations, Richard determines to attain his birthright, and vows to have his family's dukedom restored. After Mortimer dies, Richard presents his petition to the recently crowned Henry, who agrees to reinstate the Plantagenet's title, making Richard 3rd Duke of York. Henry then leaves for France, accompanied by Gloucester, Exeter, Winchester, Richard and Somerset.

In France, within a matter of hours, the French retake and then lose the city of Rouen. After the battle, Bedford dies, and Talbot assumes direct command of the army. The Dauphin is horrified at the loss of Rouen, but Joan tells him not to worry. She then persuades the powerful Duke of Burgundy, who had been fighting for the English, to switch sides, and join the French. Meanwhile, Henry arrives in Paris and upon learning of Burgundy's betrayal, he sends Talbot to speak with him. Henry then pleads for Richard and Somerset to put aside their conflict, and, unaware of the implications of his actions, he chooses a red rose, symbolically aligning himself with Somerset and alienating Richard. Prior to returning to England, in an effort to secure peace between Somerset and Richard, Henry places Richard in command of the infantry and Somerset in command of the cavalry. Meanwhile, Talbot approachesBordeaux, but the French army swing around and trap him. Talbot sends word for reinforcements, but the conflict between Richard and Somerset leads them to second guess one another, and neither of them send any, both blaming the other for the mix-up. The English army are subsequently destroyed, and both Talbot and his son are killed.

After the battle, Joan's visions desert her, and she is captured by Richard, and burned at the stake. At the same time, urged on by Pope Eugenius IV and the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund, Henry sues for peace. The French listen to the English terms, under which Charles is to be a viceroy to Henry, reluctantly agreeing, but only with the intention of breaking their oath at a later date and expelling the English from France. Meanwhile, the Earl of Suffolkhas captured a young French princess, Margaret of Anjou, whom he intends to marry to Henry in order that he can dominate the king through her. Travelling back to England, he attempts to persuade Henry to marry Margaret. Gloucester advises Henry against the marriage, as Margaret's family are not rich, and the marriage is not advantageous to his position as king, but Henry is taken in by Suffolk's description of Margaret's beauty, and he agrees to the proposal. Suffolk then heads back to France to bring Margaret to England as Gloucester worryingly ponders what the future may hold.

Title:Henry VI, Part 1Format:Kobo ebookPublished:January 21, 2014Publisher:Castrovilli GiuseppeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN:9990034373083

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