Henry VI, Part I

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Henry VI, Part I
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Henry V of England has died, and a young Henry VI ascends to the throne. Charles, the Dauphin of France, is nurturing a rebellion across the Channel, and there are growing rifts among the nobles in England, notably between factions of York and Lancaster (which will fester and over time become the War of the Roses). Emboldened by the exploits of Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc), the French attack Talbot at Orleans and drive the English army toward the sea. Talbot, however, manages to retake Orleans by night in a surprise attack.

In England, Richard Plantagenet and the Duke of Somerset have a disagreement concerning the letter of a law. The two men ask others to show their support for their respective positions: those supporting Richard pick a white rose, and those supporting Somerset pick a red one. Richard seeks the counsel of his uncle, Edmund Mortimer, and comes away from the discussion convinced that the throne more rightfully belongs to the house of York than young King Henry. Winchester and Gloucester continue a feud of their own, in the meantime.

Back in France, Joan battles the English and drives them from Rouen, but an English counterattack gives it back. Talbot and Burgundy prepare for Henry VI's coronation in Paris. Joan asks Burgundy for a parley on the road to Paris, which the duke accepts; this leads to Joan convincing the Duke of Burgundy to switch over to the French side. Talbot, upon hearing of Burgundy's defection, marches his army against him, and Henry appoints Richard and the Duke of Somerset to reinforce Talbot in the battle. The bickering of Somerset and Richard, however, leads to delays in sending their troops. Talbot fights valiantly, but is slain in the combat when the additional soldiers never arrive.

Richard and Somerset set aside their differences long enough to capture Joan of Arc and burn her as a witch. In the meantime, Gloucester is trying to set up a match between Henry and the daughter of a French lord in order to force a peace between France and England. The Earl of Suffolk, however, introduces Margaret of Anjou to Henry in an attempt to get him to marry her. However, Suffolk has some designs of his own on Margaret, hoping to use her to control Henry. This leads to the action of Henry VI, Part II.

Dramatis Personae:

  • King Henry the Sixth
  • Humphrey of Gloucester
  • Duke of Bedford
  • Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
  • Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester
  • John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset
  • Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York
  • Earl of Warwick
  • Earl of Salisbury
  • Earl of Suffolk
  • Lord Talbot
  • John Talbot
  • Edmund Mortimer
  • Sir John Fastolf, Sir William Lucy, Sir William Glansdale, Sir Thomas Gargrave
  • Mayor of London
  • Woodvile
  • Vernon
  • Basset
  • Mortimer's Keepers
  • A Lawyer
  • Charles Dauphin, afterwards King of France
  • Reignier, Duke of Anjou
  • Duke of Burgundy
  • Duke of Alenšon
  • Bastard of Orleans
  • Governor of Paris
  • Master-Gunner of Orleans and his son
  • General of French Forces in Bordeaux
  • A French Sergeant
  • A Porter
  • An Old Shepherd, father to Joan
  • Margaret
  • Countess of Auvergne
  • Joan la Pucelle (called Joan of Arc)
  • Lords, Warders of the Tower, Heralds
  • Officers, Soldiers, Messengers and Attendants
  • Fiends, to appear before Joan
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