Henry VI, Part II

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Picking up from the closing action of Part I, Suffolk introduces Margaret to Henry, who elevates Suffolk from an earl to a duke. Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester is unhappy with Margaret's lack of dowry, and much less with Henry giving up two fiefs to France in the process. Suffolk sets plots into motion against Gloucester, who is perhaps the only honest supporter of Henry at this point; he sets up Gloucester's wife to be arrested for witchcraft. Meanwhile, York lurks in the background, convinced of his legitimate claim to Henry's throne.

Gloucester is eventually arrested on charges invented by his enemies. These he manages to fend off, but the king still orders that he go to trial. During this process, York is sent to Ireland to quell a revolt; while in Ireland, York will leave it to a henchman, Jack Cade, to muster support among the populace for York to depose Henry. If Cade succeeds, York has an army at his back to use against Henry when he returns from Ireland. In the meantime, Gloucester is murdered at Suffolk's behest. Henry in turn banishes Suffolk under heavy pressure from the populace. Margaret, who has carried on an affair with Suffolk, pleads on his behalf to no avail. Suffolk is en route to France when he is captured by pirates and summarily put to death.

Cade's rebellion gathers support, and he marches on London; Henry stages a retreat before him. Buckingham, however, confronts his force with an army and pardons to all who abandon Cade. Cade must now flee, and after a five-day flight without food, is killed while foraging in a private garden. In the wake of this failed uprising, York returns from Ireland—and demands that the king arrest Somerset before his men lay down their arms. The king does so, but Margaret frees him just as quickly, leading York to declare war on King Henry; York will take the crown by force if necessary. At the Battle of St. Albans, Richard, son of York, slays Somerset. The Yorkists then set out in pursuit of the fleeing Henry and Margaret, leading into Henry VI, Part III.

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