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Henry VI, part 1

Henry VI, part 1

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Henry VI, Part 1 or The First Part of Henry the Sixt (often written as 1 Henry VI) is a history play
Shakespearean history
In the First Folio, the plays of William Shakespeare were grouped into three categories: comedies, histories, and tragedies. This categorisation has become established, although some critics have argued for other categories such as romances and problem plays. The histories were those plays based on...

 by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, and possibly Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe was an English Elizabethan pamphleteer, playwright, poet and satirist. He was the son of the minister William Nashe and his wife Margaret .-Early life:...

, believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England
Henry VI of England
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

. Whereas 2 Henry VI
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, Part 2 or The Second Part of Henry the Sixt is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England...

 deals with the King's inability to quell the bickering of his nobles, and the inevitability of armed conflict, and 3 Henry VI
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VI, Part 3 or The Third Part of Henry the Sixt is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England...

 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
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York...

, as the English political system
Political system
A political system is a system of politics and government. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems...

 is torn apart by personal squabbles and petty jealousy.

Although the Henry VI trilogy may not have been written in chronological order, the three plays are often grouped together with Richard III
Richard III (play)
Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1591. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified...

 to form a tetralogy covering the entire Wars of the Roses saga, from the death of Henry V
Henry V of England
Henry V was King of England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second monarch belonging to the House of Lancaster....

 in 1422 to the rise to power of Henry VII
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

 in 1485. It was the success of this sequence of plays which firmly established Shakespeare's reputation as a playwright.

Henry VI, Part 1 is regarded by some as the weakest play in Shakespeare's oeuvre
Shakespeare's plays
William Shakespeare's plays have the reputation of being among the greatest in the English language and in Western literature. Traditionally, the 37 plays are divided into the genres of tragedy, history, and comedy; they have been translated into every major living language, in addition to being...

 and, along with Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, and possibly George Peele, believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy, and is often seen as his attempt to emulate the violent and bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries, which were...

, is one of the strongest candidates for evidence of Shakespeare collaborating with other dramatists early in his career.


The English
  • King Henry VI – King of England
  • Duke of Bedford
    John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford
    John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, KG , also known as John Plantagenet, was the third surviving son of King Henry IV of England by Mary de Bohun, and acted as Regent of France for his nephew, King Henry VI....

     – Henry VI's uncle and Regent
    A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

     of France
  • Duke Humphrey of Gloucester – Henry VI's uncle and Lord Protector
    Lord Protector
    Lord Protector is a title used in British constitutional law for certain heads of state at different periods of history. It is also a particular title for the British Heads of State in respect to the established church...

     of England
  • Duke of Exeter
    Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
    Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter, KG was an English military commander during the Hundred Years' War, and briefly Chancellor of England. He was the third of four children; the son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress Katherine Swynford...

     – Henry VI's great-uncle
  • Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester – Exeter's younger brother and Henry VI's great-uncle
  • Duke of Somerset (a conflation of John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset
    John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset
    John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, KG was an English noble and military commander.-Family:Baptised on 25 March 1404, he was the second son of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset and Margaret Holland, and succeeded his elder brother Henry Beaufort, 2nd Earl of Somerset to become the 3rd Earl of...

     and his younger brother Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset
    Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset
    Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, KG , sometimes styled 1st Duke of Somerset, was an English nobleman and an important figure in the Wars of the Roses and in the Hundred Years' War...

  • Richard Plantagenet – later 3rd Duke of York
    Duke of York
    The Duke of York is a title of nobility in the British peerage. Since the 15th century, it has, when granted, usually been given to the second son of the British monarch. The title has been created a remarkable eleven times, eight as "Duke of York" and three as the double-barreled "Duke of York and...

  • Earl of Warwick
    Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick
    Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, Count of Aumale, KG was an English medieval nobleman and military commander.-Early Life:...

     (Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick; often mistakenly identified as Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick
    Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick
    Richard Neville KG, jure uxoris 16th Earl of Warwick and suo jure 6th Earl of Salisbury and 8th and 5th Baron Montacute , known as Warwick the Kingmaker, was an English nobleman, administrator, and military commander...

    , a major character in 2 and 3 Henry VI)
  • Earl of Salisbury
    Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury
    Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury, 6th and 3rd Baron Montacute, 5th Baron Monthermer, and Count of Perche, KG was an English nobleman...

  • William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk
    William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk
    William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, KG , nicknamed Jack Napes , was an important English soldier and commander in the Hundred Years' War, and later Lord Chamberlain of England.He also appears prominently in William Shakespeare's Henry VI, part 1 and Henry VI, part 2 and other...

  • Lord Talbot
    John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury
    John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury and 1st Earl of Waterford KG , known as "Old Talbot" was an important English military commander during the Hundred Years' War, as well as the only Lancastrian Constable of France.-Origins:He was descended from Richard Talbot, a tenant in 1086 of Walter Giffard...

     – Constable of France
    Constable of France
    The Constable of France , as the First Officer of the Crown, was one of the original five Great Officers of the Crown of France and Commander in Chief of the army. He, theoretically, as Lieutenant-general of the King, outranked all the nobles and was second-in-command only to the King...

  • John Talbot
    John Talbot, 1st Viscount Lisle
    John Talbot, 1st Baron Lisle and 1st Viscount Lisle , English nobleman and medieval soldier, was the son of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, and his second wife Margaret Beauchamp.-Titles:...

     – his son
  • Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March (a conflation of Sir Edmund de Mortimer
    Edmund Mortimer, son of the 3rd Earl
    Edmund Mortimer , was the second son of Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March by his wife Philippa Plantagenet, and is the best-known of the various Edmund Mortimers because of his role in the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr...

     and his nephew, Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March)
  • Sir John Fastolf
    John Fastolf
    Sir John Fastolf KG was an English knight during the Hundred Years War, who has enjoyed a more lasting reputation as in some part being the prototype of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff...

     – a cowardly soldier
  • Sir William Glasdale
  • Sir Thomas Gargrave
    Thomas Gargrave
    Sir Thomas Gargrave was a Yorkshire Knight who served as High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1565 and 1569. His principal residence was at Nostell Priory, one of many grants of land that Gargrave secured during his lifetime...

  • Sir William Lucy
  • Woodville – Lieutenant of the Tower
    Constable of the Tower
    The Constable of the Tower is the most senior appointment at the Tower of London. In the middle ages a constable was the person in charge of a castle when the owner - the king or a nobleman - was not in residence...

  • Mayor of London
  • Vernon – of the White Rose (York
    House of York
    The House of York was a branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet, three members of which became English kings in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the paternal line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented...

    ) faction
  • Basset – of the Red Rose (Lancaster
    House of Lancaster
    The House of Lancaster was a branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. It was one of the opposing factions involved in the Wars of the Roses, an intermittent civil war which affected England and Wales during the 15th century...

    ) faction

  • Lawyer
  • Papal Legate
    Papal legate
    A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

  • Gaoler
  • Officers, captains, soldiers, heralds, watch, warders etc.

The French
  • Charles
    Charles VII of France
    Charles VII , called the Victorious or the Well-Served , was King of France from 1422 to his death, though he was initially opposed by Henry VI of England, whose Regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled much of France including the capital, Paris...

     – Dauphin of France
  • Reignier, Duke of Anjou – titular King of Jerusalem
  • Margaret
    Margaret of Anjou
    Margaret of Anjou was the wife of King Henry VI of England. As such, she was Queen consort of England from 1445 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471; and Queen consort of France from 1445 to 1453...

     – Reignier's daughter; later betrothed to King Henry
  • Duke of Alençon
  • Bastard of Orléans
    Jean de Dunois
    John of Orléans, Count of Dunois was the illegitimate son of Louis d'Orléans by Mariette d'Enghien.The term "Bastard of Orléans" John of Orléans, Count of Dunois (French born "Jean Levieux Valois des Orléans" better known as Jean d'Orléans, comte de Dunois, also known as John of Orléans and...

  • Duke of Burgundy
  • General of the French forces at Bordeaux
    Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

  • Countess of Auvergne
    Auvergne (province)
    Auvergne was a historic province in south central France. It was originally the feudal domain of the Counts of Auvergne. It is now the geographical and cultural area that corresponds to the former province....

  • Master Gunner of Orléans
    -Prehistory and Roman:Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire...

  • Master Gunner's son
  • Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc
    Joan of Arc
    Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

  • Shepherd
    Jacques d'Arc
    Jacques d'Arc was the father of Joan of Arc. He was a farmer in the village of Domrémy in Lorraine. He held the post of doyen, a local post that collected taxes and organized the village defense. He was born at Ceffonds. He married Isabelle de Vouthon , called Romée, in 1405...

     – Joan's father
  • Governor of Paris (non-speaking role)
  • French Sergeant
  • Sentinels
  • Ambassador
  • Porter
  • Fiends
  • Lords, attendants, warders, heralds, etc.


The play begins with the funeral of Henry V, who has died unexpectedly in his prime. As his brothers, the Dukes of Bedford
Duke of Bedford
thumb|right|240px|William Russell, 1st Duke of BedfordDuke of Bedford is a title that has been created five times in the Peerage of England. The first creation came in 1414 in favour of Henry IV's third son, John, who later served as regent of France. He was made Earl of Kendal at the same time...

 and Gloucester
Duke of Gloucester
Duke of Gloucester is a British royal title , often conferred on one of the sons of the reigning monarch. The first four creations were in the Peerage of England, the next in the Peerage of Great Britain, and the last in the Peerage of the United Kingdom; this current creation carries with it the...

, and his uncle, the Duke of Exeter
Duke of Exeter
The title Duke of Exeter was created several times in England in the later Middle Ages, when Exeter was the main town of Devon. It was first created for John Holland, the half-brother of King Richard II in 1397. That title was rescinded upon Henry IV's accession to the throne two years later, and...

, lament his passing and express doubt as to whether his son (the as yet uncrowned heir apparent
Heir apparent
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting, except by a change in the rules of succession....

 Henry VI) is capable of running the country in such tumultuous times, word arrives of military setbacks in France. A rebellion
Rebellion, uprising or insurrection, is a refusal of obedience or order. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors aimed at destroying or replacing an established authority such as a government or a head of state...

, led by the Dauphin Charles, is growing 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
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...


Meanwhile, in Orléans, the English army are laying siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 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, who is better known to history as Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

. 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
Duke of Somerset
Duke of Somerset is a title in the peerage of England that has been created several times. Derived from Somerset, it is particularly associated with two families; the Beauforts who held the title from the creation of 1448 and the Seymours, from the creation of 1547 and in whose name the title is...

 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 rose
A rose is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species. They form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers are large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows...

s to indicate which side they are on. Richard then goes to see his uncle, Edmund Mortimer, imprisoned in the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

. Mortimer tells Richard the history of their family's
House of Plantagenet
The House of Plantagenet , a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the...

 conflict with the king's family; how they helped Henry Bolingbroke
Henry IV of England
Henry IV was King of England and Lord of Ireland . He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry Bolingbroke...

 seize power from Richard II
Richard II of England
Richard II was King of England, a member of the House of Plantagenet and the last of its main-line kings. He ruled from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard was a son of Edward, the Black Prince, and was born during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III...

, but were then shoved into the background; and how Henry V had Richard's father (Richard of Conisburgh
Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge
Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge was the younger son of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York and Isabella of Castile....

) 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
A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity are a form of prayer....

 to the recently crowned Henry, who agrees to reinstate the Plantagenet's title, making Richard 3rd Duke of York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

. 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
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

. 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
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 and Somerset in command of the cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

. Meanwhile, Talbot approaches Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

, but the French army swing around and trap him. Talbot sends word for reinforcements, but the conflict between Richard and Somerset lead 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
Pope Eugene IV
Pope Eugene IV , born Gabriele Condulmer, was pope from March 3, 1431, to his death.-Biography:He was born in Venice to a rich merchant family, a Correr on his mother's side. Condulmer entered the Order of Saint Augustine at the monastery of St. George in his native city...

 and the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
Sigismund of Luxemburg KG was King of Hungary, of Croatia from 1387 to 1437, of Bohemia from 1419, and Holy Roman Emperor for four years from 1433 until 1437, the last Emperor of the House of Luxemburg. He was also King of Italy from 1431, and of Germany from 1411...

, Henry sues for peace
Suing for peace
Suing for peace is an act by a warring nation to initiate a peace process in which the peace terms are more favorable than an unconditional surrender...

. Meanwhile, the Earl of Suffolk
Earl of Suffolk
Earl of Suffolk is a title that has been created four times in the Peerage of England. The first creation, in tandem with the creation of the title of Earl of Norfolk, came before 1069 in favour of Ralph the Staller; but the title was forfeited by his heir, Ralph de Guader, in 1074...

 has captured a young French princess, Margaret of Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

, who he intends to marry to Henry and dominate the king through her. Meanwhile, the French listen to the English terms, under which Charles is to be a viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

 to Henry. The French agree, but only with the intention of breaking their oath at a later date and expelling the English from France. Suffolk then travels back to England to persuade Henry to marry Margaret. Gloucester urges Henry not to listen to Suffolk 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.


Shakespeare's primary source for 1 Henry VI was Edward Hall
Edward Hall
Edward Hall , English chronicler and lawyer, was born about the end of the 15th century, being a son of John Hall of Northall, Shropshire....

's The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancaster and York (1548). Also, as with most of Shakespeare's chronicle histories, Raphael Holinshed
Raphael Holinshed
Raphael Holinshed was an English chronicler, whose work, commonly known as Holinshed's Chronicles, was one of the major sources used by William Shakespeare for a number of his plays....

's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (1577; 2nd edition 1587) was also consulted. Holinshed based much of his Wars of the Roses information in the Chronicles on Hall's information in Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families, even to the point of reproducing large portions of it verbatim. However, there are enough differences between Hall and Holinshed to establish that Shakespeare must have consulted both of them.

For example, Shakespeare must have used Hall for the scene where Gloucester is attempting to gain access to the Tower, and Woodville tells him that the order not to admit anyone came from Winchester. Dismayed, Gloucester refers to Winchester as "that haughty prelate
A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means "carry before", "be set above or over" or "prefer"; hence, a prelate is one set over others.-Related...

,/Whom Henry, our late sovereign, ne're could brook" (1.3.23–24). Only in Hall is there any indication that Henry V had a problem with Winchester; in Holinshed, there is nothing to suggest any disagreement or conflict between them. Another example of Shakespeare's use of Hall is found when Sir Thomas Gargrave is injured by the artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 strike at Orléans (1.5). In the play, he dies immediately, and the rest of the scene focuses on the death of the more senior soldier Salisbury. Likewise, in Hall, Gargrave dies immediately after the attack. In Holinshed, however, Gargrave takes two days to die (as he did in reality). The semi-comic scene where the French leaders are forced to flee Orléans half-dressed (dramatised in 2.1) also seems based on an incident reported only in Hall. When discussing the English retaking of Le Mans
Le Mans
Le Mans is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River. Traditionally the capital of the province of Maine, it is now the capital of the Sarthe department and the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Le Mans. Le Mans is a part of the Pays de la Loire region.Its inhabitants are called Manceaux...

 in 1428, Hall writes, "The French, suddenly taken, were so amazed in so much that some of them, being not out of their beds, got up in their shirts". Another incident involving Gloucester and Winchester is also unique to Hall. During their debate in Act 3, Scene 1, Gloucester accuses Winchester of attempting to have him assassinated on London Bridge
London Bridge
London Bridge is a bridge over the River Thames, connecting the City of London and Southwark, in central London. Situated between Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Tower Bridge, it forms the western end of the Pool of London...

. Hall mentions this assassination attempt, explaining that it was supposed to have taken place at the Southwark
Southwark is a district of south London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest parts of London and fronts the River Thames to the north...

 end of the bridge in an effort to prevent Gloucester from joining Henry V in Eltham Palace
Eltham Palace
Eltham Palace is a large house in Eltham, within the London Borough of Greenwich, South East London, England. It is an unoccupied royal residence and owned by the Crown Estate. In 1995 its management was handed over to English Heritage which restored the building in 1999 and opened it to the public...

. In Holinshed however, there is no reference to any such incident. Another incident possibly taken from Hall is found in Act 3, Scene 2, where Joan and the French soldiers disguise themselves as peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

s and sneak into Rouen. This is not an historical event, and it is not recorded in either Hall or Holinshed. However a very similar such incident is recorded in Hall, where he reports of the capture of Cornhill Castle in Cornhill-on-Tweed
Cornhill-on-Tweed is a village and civil parish in Northumberland, in England about to the east of Coldstream.To the south and west of the village are the hamlets of West Learmouth and East Learmouth.- History :...

 by the English in 1441.

On the other hand, some aspects of the play are unique to Holinshed. For example, in the opening scene, as word arrives in England of the rebellion in France, Exeter says to his fellow peers, "Remember, Lords, your oaths to Henry sworn:/Either to quell the Dauphin utterly,/Or bring him in obedience to your yoke" (1.1.162–164). Only in Holinshed is it reported that on his deathbed, Henry V elicited vows from Bedford, Gloucester and Exeter that they would never willingly surrender France, and would never allow the Dauphin to become king. Another piece of information unique to Holinshed is seen when Charles compares Joan to the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 prophetess Deborah
Deborah was a prophetess of Yahweh the God of the Israelites, the fourth Judge of pre-monarchic Israel, counselor, warrior, and the wife of Lapidoth according to the Book of Judges chapters 4 and 5....

 (1.2.105). According to Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

 4 and 5, Deborah masterminded Barak
Barak , Al-Burāq the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, was a military general in the Book of Judges in the Bible. He was the commander of the army of Deborah, the prophetess and heroine of the Hebrew Bible...

's surprise victory against the Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ite army led by Sisera
Sisera was commander of the Canaanite army of King Jabin of Hazor mentioned in the of the Hebrew Bible. After being defeated by Barak, Sisera was killed by Jael, who hammered a tent peg into his temple....

, which had been suppressing the Israelites for over twenty years. No such comparison is found in Hall. Another piece of information unique to Holinshed occurs when the Master Gunner mentions that the English have taken control of some of the suburbs of Orléans (1.4.2). Holinshed reports that the English captured several of the suburbs on the other side of the Loire
Loire (river)
The Loire is the longest river in France. With a length of , it drains an area of , which represents more than a fifth of France's land area. It is the 170th longest river in the world...

, something which is not to be found in Hall.

Date and text

The most important evidence for dating 1 Henry VI is the Diary of Philip Henslowe
Philip Henslowe
Philip Henslowe was an Elizabethan theatrical entrepreneur and impresario. Henslowe's modern reputation rests on the survival of his diary, a primary source for information about the theatrical world of Renaissance London...

, which records a performance of a play by Lord Strange's Men
Lord Strange's Men
Lord Strange's Men was an Elizabethan playing company, comprising retainers of the household of Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange . They are best known in their final phase of activity in the late 1580s and early 1590s...

 called Harey Vj (i.e. Harry VI) on 3 March 1592 at the Rose Theatre
The Rose (theatre)
The Rose was an Elizabethan theatre. It was the fourth of the public theatres to be built, after The Theatre , the Curtain , and the theatre at Newington Butts The Rose was an Elizabethan theatre. It was the fourth of the public theatres to be built, after The Theatre (1576), the Curtain (1577),...

 in Southwark. Henslowe refers to the play as "ne" (which most critics take to mean "new", although it could be an abbreviation for the Newington Butts theatre, which Henslow may have owned) and mentions that it had fifteen performances and earned £3.16s.8d, meaning it was extremely successful. Harey Vj is usually accepted as being 1 Henry VI for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is unlikely to have been either 2 Henry VI or 3 Henry VI, as they were published in 1594 and 1595 respectively with the titles under which they would have originally been performed, so as to ensure higher sales. As neither of them appear under the title Harey Vj, the play seen by Henslowe is unlikely to be either of them. Additionally, as Gary Taylor
Gary Taylor (English literature scholar)
Gary Taylor is George Matthew Edgar Professor of English at Florida State University, author of numerous books and articles, and joint editor of the Oxford Shakespeare and .-Life:...

 points out, Henslowe tended to identify sequels, but not first parts, to which he referred by the general title. As such, "Harey Vj could not be a Part Two or Part Three, but could easily be a Part One." The only other option is that Harey Vj is a now lost play.

That Harey Vj is not a lost play however seems to be confirmed by a reference in Thomas Nashe's Piers Penniless his Supplication to the Devil (entered into the Stationers' Register
Stationers' Register
The Stationers' Register was a record book maintained by the Stationers' Company of London. The company is a trade guild given a royal charter in 1557 to regulate the various professions associated with the publishing industry, including printers, bookbinders, booksellers, and publishers in England...

 on 8 August 1592), which supports the theory that Harey Vj is 1 Henry VI. Nashe praises a play which features Lord Talbot; "How would it have joyed brave Talbot (the terror of the French), to think that after he had lain two hundred years in his tomb, he should triumph again on the stage, and have his bones new embalmed with the tears of ten thousand spectators (at least), who in the tragedian that represents his person imagine they behold him fresh bleeding". It is thought that Nashe is here referring to Harey Vj, i.e. 1 Henry VI, as there is no other candidate for a play featuring Talbot from this time period (although again, there is the slight possibility that both Henslowe and Nashe are referring to a now lost play).

If Nashe's comment is accepted as evidence that the play seen by Henslowe was 1 Henry VI, to have been on stage as a new play in March 1592 it must have been written in 1591.

When it came to be called Part 1 is unclear, although most critics tend to assume it was the invention of the First Folio editors, John Heminges
John Heminges
John Heminges was an English Renaissance actor. Most noted now as one of the editors of William Shakespeare's 1623 First Folio, Heminges served in his time as an actor and financial manager for the King's Men.-Life:Heminges was born in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire in 1556...

 and Henry Condell
Henry Condell
Henry Condell was an actor in the King's Men, the playing company for which William Shakespeare wrote. With John Heminges, he was instrumental in preparing the First Folio, the collected plays of Shakespeare, published in 1623....

, as there are no references to the play under the title Part 1, or any derivative thereof, prior to 1623.

The text of the play was not published until the 1623 First Folio, under the title The first part of Henry the Sixt.

There is a separate question concerning the date of composition however. Due to the publication in March 1594 of a quarto
Quarto could refer to:* Quarto, a size or format of a book in which four leaves of a book are created from a standard size sheet of paper* For specific information about quarto texts of William Shakespeare's works, see:...

 version of 2 Henry VI (under the title The First part of the Contention betwixt the two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, with the death of the good Duke Humphrey: And the banishment and death of the Duke of Suffolke, and the Tragicall end of the proud Cardinal of Winchester, with the notable Rebellion of Jack Cade: and the Duke of Yorke's first claim unto the crowne) and an octavo
Octavo to is a technical term describing the format of a book.Octavo may also refer to:* Octavo is a grimoire in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett...

 version of 3 Henry VI in 1595 (under the title The The True Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, and the death of good King Henrie the Sixt, with the Whole Contention betweene the two Houses, Lancaster and Yorke), neither of which make any reference whatsoever to 1 Henry VI, some critics have argued that 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI were written prior to 1 Henry VI. This theory was first suggested by E.K. Chambers in 1923, and revised by John Dover Wilson
J. Dover Wilson
John Dover Wilson CH was a professor and scholar of Renaissance drama, focusing particularly on the work of William Shakespeare...

 in 1952. The theory is that The Contention and True Tragedy were originally conceived as a two-part play, but due to their success, a prequel
A prequel is a work that supplements a previously completed one, and has an earlier time setting.The widely recognized term was a 20th-century neologism, and a portmanteau from pre- and sequel...

 was created. Various critics have offered various pieces of evidence to attest to this fact, such as R.B. McKerrow
Ronald Brunlees McKerrow
Ronald Brunlees McKerrow was one of the leading bibliographers and Shakespeare scholars of the 20th century.-Life:R.B...

, who argues that "if 2 Henry VI was originally written to continue the first part, it seems utterly incomprehensible that it should contain no allusion to the prowess of Talbot." McKerrow also comments on the lack of reference to the symbolic use of roses in 2 Henry VI, whereas in 1 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI they are mentioned numerous times. McKerrow concludes that this suggests 1 Henry VI was written closer to 3 Henry VI, and as we know 3 Henry VI was definitely a sequel, it means that 1 Henry VI must have been written last; i.e. Shakespeare only conceived of the use of the roses whilst writing 3 Henry VI, and then incorporated the idea into his prequel. Eliot Slater comes to the same conclusion in his statistical examination of the vocabulary of all three Henry VI plays, where he argues that 1 Henry VI was written either immediately before or immediately after 3 Henry VI, hence it must have been written last. Likewise, Gary Taylor, in his analysis of the authorship of 1 Henry VI, argues that the many discrepancies between 1 Henry VI and 2 Henry VI (such as the lack of reference to Talbot) coupled with similarities in the vocabulary
A person's vocabulary is the set of words within a language that are familiar to that person. A vocabulary usually develops with age, and serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge...

, phraseology
In linguistics, phraseology is the study of set or fixed expressions, such as idioms, phrasal verbs, and other types of multi-word lexical units , in which the component parts of the expression take on a meaning more specific than or otherwise not predictable from the sum of their meanings when...

 and tropes
Trope (literature)
A literary trope is the usage of figurative language in literature, or a figure of speech in which words are used in a sense different from their literal meaning...

 of 1 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI suggest 1 Henry VI was probably written last.

One argument against this theory is that 1 Henry VI is the weakest of the trilogy and therefore, logic would suggest it was written first. This argument suggests that Shakespeare could only have created such a weak play if it was his first attempt to turn his chronicle sources into drama; in essence, he was unsure of his way, and as such, 1 Henry VI was a trial-run of sorts, making way for the more accomplished 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI. Emrys Jones is one notable critic who supports this view. The standard rebuke to this theory, and the one used by Dover Wilson in 1952, is that 1 Henry VI is significantly weaker than the other two plays not because it was written first but because it was co-authored, and may have been Shakespeare's first attempt to collaborate with other writers. As such, all of the play's problems can be attributed to its co-authors rather than Shakespeare himself, who may have had a relatively limited hand its composition. In this sense, the fact that 1 Henry VI is the weakest of the trilogy has nothing to do with when it may have been written, but instead concerns only how it was written.

As this implies, there is no critical consensus on this issue. Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

, writing in his 1765 edition of The Plays of William Shakespeare
The Plays of William Shakespeare
The Plays of William Shakespeare was an 18th-century edition of the dramatic works of William Shakespeare, edited by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens. Johnson announced his intention to edit Shakespeare's plays in his Miscellaneous Observations on Macbeth , and a full Proposal for the edition was...

, pre-empted the debate and argued that the plays were written in sequence; "It is apparent that [2 Henry VI] begins where the former ends, and continues the series of transactions, of which it presupposes the first part already written. This is a sufficient proof that the second and third parts were not written without dependence on the first." Numerous more recent scholars continue to uphold Johnson's argument. E.M.W. Tillyard
E. M. W. Tillyard
Eustace Mandeville Wetenhall Tillyard was a British classical scholar and literary scholar. He was a Fellow in English at Jesus College and later Master of Jesus College , Cambridge. He is known mainly for his book The Elizabethan World Picture, as background to Elizabethan Literature,...

, for example, writing in 1944, believes the plays were written in order, as does Andrew S. Cairncross in his editions of all three plays for the 2nd series of the Arden Shakespeare
Arden Shakespeare
The Arden Shakespeare is a long-running series of scholarly editions of the works of William Shakespeare. It presents fully edited modern-spelling editions of the plays and poems, with lengthy introductions and full commentaries...

 (1957, 1962 and 1964). E.A.J. Honigmann also agrees, in his 'early start' theory of 1982 (which argues that Shakespeare's first play was Titus Andronicus, which Honigmann posits was written in 1586). Likewise, Michael Hattaway, in both his 1990 New Cambridge Shakespeare edition of 1 Henry VI and his 1991 edition of 2 Henry VI argues that the evidence suggests 1 Henry VI was written first. In his 2001 introduction to Henry VI: Critical Essays, Thomas A. Pendleton makes a similar argument, as does Roger Warren in his 2003 edition of 2 Henry VI for the Oxford Shakespeare
The Oxford Shakespeare
The Oxford Shakespeare is a common term for the range of editions of William Shakespeare's works produced by Oxford University Press. The Oxford Shakespeare is produced under the general editorship of Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.-The Complete Works:...


On the other hand, Edward Burns, in his 2000 Arden Shakespeare 3rd series edition of 1 Henry VI and Ronald Knowles, in his 1999 Arden Shakespeare 3rd series edition of 2 Henry VI make the case that 2 Henry VI probably preceded 1 Henry VI. Similarly, Randall Martin, in his 2001 Oxford Shakespeare edition of 3 Henry VI argues that 1 Henry VI was almost certainly written last. In his 2003 Oxford edition of 1 Henry VI, Michael Taylor agrees with Martin. Additionally, it is worth noting that in the Oxford Shakespeare: Complete Works of 1986 and the 2nd edition of 2005, and in the Norton Shakespeare of 1997 and again in 2008, both 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI precede 1 Henry VI.

Ultimately, the question of the order of composition remains unanswered, and the only thing that critics can agree on is that all three plays (in whatever order) were written by early 1592 at the latest.

Critical history

Some critics argue that the Henry VI trilogy were the first ever plays to be based on recent English history, and as such, they deserve an elevated position in the canon
Western canon
The term Western canon denotes a canon of books and, more broadly, music and art that have been the most important and influential in shaping Western culture. As such, it includes the "greatest works of artistic merit." Such a canon is important to the theory of educational perennialism and the...

, and a more central role in Shakespearean criticism. According to F.P. Wilson for example, "There is no certain evidence that any dramatist before the defeat of the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 in 1588 dared to put upon the public stage a play based upon English history [...] so far as we know, Shakespeare was the first." However, not all critics agree with Wilson here. For example, Michael Taylor argues that there were at least thirty-nine history plays prior to 1592, including the two-part Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. As the foremost Elizabethan tragedian, next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death.A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May...

 play Tamburlaine
Tamburlaine (play)
Tamburlaine the Great is the name of a play in two parts by Christopher Marlowe. It is loosely based on the life of the Central Asian emperor, Timur 'the lame'...

 (1587), Thomas Lodge
Thomas Lodge
Thomas Lodge was an English dramatist and writer of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.-Early life and education:...

's The Wounds of Civil War
The Wounds of Civil War
The Wounds of Civil War is an Elizabethan era stage play, written by Thomas Lodge. A dramatization of the ancient Roman conflict between Marius and Sulla, the play is generally considered Lodge's only extant solo drama.-Publication:...

 (1588), the anonymous The Troublesome Reign of King John
The Troublesome Reign of King John
The Troublesome Reign of King John is an Elizabethan history play, generally accepted by scholars as the source and model that William Shakespeare employed for his own King John ....

 (1588), Edmund Ironside
Edmund Ironside (play)
Edmund Ironside, or War Hath Made All Friends is an anonymous Elizabethan play that depicts the life of Edmund II of England. At least three critics have suggested that it is an early work by William Shakespeare.-Text:...

 (1590 – also anonymous ), Robert Green's Selimus
Selimus (play)
Selimus, Emperor of the Turks is a tragedy attributed to Robert Greene. It was published in 1594 and is loosely based on a historical figure named Selimus who was ruler of the Ottoman Empire....

 (1591) and another anonymous play, The True Tragedy of Richard III
The True Tragedy of Richard III
The True Tragedy of Richard III is an anonymous Elizabethan history play on the subject of Richard III of England. It has attracted the attention of scholars of English Renaissance drama principally for the question of its relationship with Shakespeare's Richard III.The True Tragedy of Richard III...

 (1591). Paola Pugliatti however argues that the case may be somewhere between Wilson and Taylor's argument; "Shakespeare may not have been the first to bring English history before the audience of a public playhouse, but he was certainly the first to treat it in the manner of a mature historian rather than in the manner of a worshipper of historical, political and religious myth."

Another issue often discussed amongst critics is the quality of the play. Along with 3 Henry VI, 1 Henry VI has traditionally been seen as one of Shakespeare's weakest works, with critics often citing the amount of violence as indicative of Shakespeare's artistic immaturity and inability to handle his chronicle sources, especially when compared to the more nuanced and far less violent second historical tetralogy
Henriad is a common title used by scholars for Shakespeare's second historical tetralogy, comprising Richard II; Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V....

 (Richard II
Richard II (play)
King Richard the Second is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to be written in approximately 1595. It is based on the life of King Richard II of England and is the first part of a tetralogy, referred to by some scholars as the Henriad, followed by three plays concerning Richard's...

, 1 Henry IV
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 1 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written no later than 1597. It is the second play in Shakespeare's tetralogy dealing with the successive reigns of Richard II, Henry IV , and Henry V...

, 2 Henry IV
Henry IV, Part 2
Henry IV, Part 2 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed written between 1596 and 1599. It is the third part of a tetralogy, preceded by Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1 and succeeded by Henry V.-Sources:...

 and Henry V
Henry V (play)
Henry V is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to be written in approximately 1599. Its full titles are The Cronicle History of Henry the Fifth and The Life of Henry the Fifth...

). For example, critics such as E.M.W. Tillyard, Irving Ribner and A.P. Rossiter have all claimed that the play violates neoclassical
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 precepts of drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

, which dictate that violence and battle should never be shown mimetically
Mimesis , from μιμεῖσθαι , "to imitate," from μῖμος , "imitator, actor") is a critical and philosophical term that carries a wide range of meanings, which include imitation, representation, mimicry, imitatio, receptivity, nonsensuous similarity, the act of resembling, the act of expression, and the...

 on stage, but should always be reported digetically
Diegesis is a style of representation in fiction and is:# the world in which the situations and events narrated occur; and# telling, recounting, as opposed to showing, enacting.In diegesis the narrator tells the story...

 in dialogue. This view was based on traditional notions of the distinction between high and low art, a distinction which was itself based partly upon Philip Sidney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

's An Apology for Poetry
An Apology for Poetry
Sir Philip Sidney wrote An Apology for Poetry in approximately 1579, and it was published in 1595, after his death....

 (1579). Based on the work of Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

, Sidney criticised Thomas Norton
Thomas Norton
Thomas Norton was an English lawyer, politician, writer of verse — but not, as has been claimed, the chief interrogator of Queen Elizabeth I.-Official career:...

 and Thomas Sackville
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset was an English statesman, poet, dramatist and Freemason. He was the son of Richard Sackville, a cousin to Anne Boleyn. He was a Member of Parliament and Lord High Treasurer.-Biography:...

's Gorboduc
Gorboduc (play)
Gorboduc, also titled Ferrex and Porrex, is an English play from 1561. It was performed before Queen Elizabeth I on 18 January 1562, by the Gentlemen of the Inner Temple...

 (1561) for showing too many battles and being too violent when it would have been more artistic to verbally represent such scenes. The belief was that any play which actually showed violence was crude, appealing only to the ignorant masses, and was therefore low art. On the other hand, any play which elevated itself above such direct representation of violence and instead relied on the writer's ability to verbalise and his skill for diegesis, was considered artistically superior and therefore, high art. Writing in 1605, Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

 commented in The Masque of Blackness
The Masque of Blackness
The Masque of Blackness was an early Jacobean era masque, first performed at the Stuart Court in the Banqueting Hall of Whitehall Palace on Twelfth Night, January 6, 1605. The masque was written by Ben Jonson at the request of Anne of Denmark, the queen consort of King James I, who wished the...

 that showing battles on stage was only "for the vulgar, who are better delighted with that which pleaseth the eye, than contenteth the ear." Based upon these theories, 1 Henry VI, with its numerous on-stage skirmishes and multiple scenes of violence and murder, was considered a coarse play with little to recommend it to the intelligentsia
The intelligentsia is a social class of people engaged in complex, mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them...


On the other hand however, writers like Thomas Heywood
Thomas Heywood
Thomas Heywood was a prominent English playwright, actor, and author whose peak period of activity falls between late Elizabethan and early Jacobean theatre.-Early years:...

 and Thomas Nashe praised battle scenes in general as oftentimes being intrinsic to the play and not simply vulgar distractions for the illiterate. In Piers Penniless (1592), Nashe praised the didactic
Didacticism is an artistic philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities in literature and other types of art. The term has its origin in the Ancient Greek word διδακτικός , "related to education/teaching." Originally, signifying learning in a fascinating and intriguing...

 element of drama which depicted battle and martial action, arguing that such plays were a good way of teaching both history and military tactics
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

 to the masses; in such plays "our forefather's valiant acts (that have lain long buried in rusty brass and worm-eaten books) are revived." Nashe also argued that plays which depict glorious national causes from the past rekindle a patriotic
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

 fervour which has been lost in "the puerility of an insipid present," and that such plays "provide a rare exercise of virtue in reproof to these degenerate effeminate
Effeminacy describes traits in a human male, that are more often associated with traditional feminine nature, behaviour, mannerisms, style or gender roles rather than masculine nature, behaviour, mannerisms, style or roles....

 days of ours." Similarly, in An Apology for Actors (1612), Heywood writes, "So bewitching a thing is lively and well-spirited action, that it hath power to new mould the hearts of the spectators, and fashion them to the shape of any noble and notable attempt." More recently, Michael Goldman has argued that battle scenes are vital to the overall movement and purpose of the play; "the sweep of athletic bodies across the stage is used not only to provide an exciting spectacle but to focus and clarify, to render dramatic, the entire unwieldy chronicle."

Questions of originality and quality, however, are not the only critical disagreement which 1 Henry VI has provoked. There are numerous other issues upon which critics are divided, not the least of which concerns the authorship of the play.

Attribution Studies

A number of Shakespeare's early plays have been examined for signs of co-authorship (The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1591.The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the Induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself...

, The Contention (i.e. 2 Henry VI), and True Tragedy (i.e. 3 Henry VI) for example), but along with Titus Andronicus, 1 Henry VI stands as the most likely to have have been a collaboration between Shakespeare and at least one, but possibly more, other dramatists whose identities remain unknown, although Thomas Nashe, Robert Greene, George Peele
George Peele
George Peele , was an English dramatist.-Life:Peele was christened on 25 July 1556. His father, who appears to have belonged to a Devonshire family, was clerk of Christ's Hospital, and wrote two treatises on bookkeeping...

 and Christopher Marlowe are common proposals.

The theory that Shakespeare may have written very little of 1 Henry VI was first suggested by Edmond Malone
Edmond Malone
Edmond Malone was an Irish Shakespearean scholar and editor of the works of William Shakespeare.Assured of an income after the death of his father in 1774, Malone was able to give up his law practice for at first political and then more congenial literary pursuits. He went to London, where he...

 in his 1790 edition of Shakespeare's plays, which included "A Dissertation on the Three Parts of King Henry VI", wherein he argued that the large number of classical allusions found within the play was much more characteristic of Nash, Peele or Greene than it was of early Shakespeare. Malone also argued that the language itself was indicative of someone other than Shakespeare. This view remained the predominate one until 1929, when it was challenged by Peter Alexander. From that time forward, scholars have remained divided on the issue. In 1944, for example, E.M.W Tillyard argued that Shakespeare most likely wrote the entire play, whereas in 1952, John Dover Wilson passionately argued that Shakespeare wrote hardly any of it.

In perhaps the most exhaustive analysis of the debate, the 1995 article, "Shakespeare and Others: The Authorship of Henry the Sixth, Part One", Gary Taylor asserts that only 20% of the play was definitely written by Shakespeare. More specifically, Taylor argues that Nashe almost certainly wrote all of Act 1, with the only scene that Shakespeare definitely wrote being the Temple Garden scene (2.4), although he also probably wrote Richard's visit to Mortimer (2.5) and the introduction of Margaret (5.4). Taylor also concludes that even if his 20% theory is rejected by some scholars, there can be little doubt that Shakespeare almost certainly did not write the protracted farewell involving Talbot and his son, which runs from 4.5.15 to 4.7.50, and is written almost entirely in rhyming couplets
A couplet is a pair of lines of meter in poetry. It usually consists of two lines that rhyme and have the same meter.While traditionally couplets rhyme, not all do. A poem may use white space to mark out couplets if they do not rhyme. Couplets with a meter of iambic pentameter are called heroic...

. Many critics agree with Taylor on this particular point, arguing that these passages are so simplistic and poorly constructed that there is no possibility that a writer as skilled as Shakespeare, even at this early stage in his career, could have written them. Roger Warren, summates this view when he argues that these scenes are written in a language "so banal they must be non-Shakespearean". Taylor further points out that at no other point in his career did Shakespeare use rhyming couplets in a tragic scene, instead reserving them for usage only in scenes of frivolous romantic courtship in his comedies
Shakespearean comedy
In the First Folio, the plays of William Shakespeare were grouped into three categories: comedies, histories, and tragedies."Comedy", in its Elizabethan usage, had a very different meaning from modern comedy...

, thus suggesting that this part of the play must have been written by someone other than Shakespeare, someone prone to using couplets in tragic passages.

On the other hand, some critics, such as Michael Hattaway and Andrew S. Cairncross, argue that the fact Shakespeare never used couplets in tragic passages elsewhere is not categorical evidence that he didn't use them here. Certain critics also disagree with Taylor and Warren's assessment of the quality of the language, arguing that the passages are more complex and accomplished than has hitherto been allowed for. Michael Taylor, for example, argues that "the rhyming
A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is most often used in poetry and songs. The word "rhyme" may also refer to a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.-Etymology:...

 dialogue between the Talbots – often stichomythic
Stichomythia is a technique in verse drama in which single alternating lines, or half-lines, are given to alternating characters. It typically features repetition and antithesis. The term originated in the theatre of Ancient Greece, though many dramatists since have used the technique...

 – shapes a kind of noble flyting
Flyting or fliting is a contest consisting of the exchange of insults, often conducted in verse, between two parties.-Description:Flyting is a ritual, poetic exchange of insults practiced mainly between the 5th and 16th centuries. The root is the Old English word flītan meaning quarrel...

 match, a competition as to who can out-oblige the other." Similarly, Alexander Leggatt argues that the passages are a perfect blend of form and content
Form and content
In art and art criticism, form and content are considered distinct aspects of a work of art. The term form refers to the work's style, techniques and media used, and how the elements of design are implemented. Content, on the other hand, refers to a work's essence, or what is being depicted....

; "The relentless click-click of the rhymes reinforces the point that for John Talbot, all arguments are arguments for death; as every other line ending is countered by a rhyme, so every argument Talbot gives John to flee becomes an argument for staying." Taylor and Leggatt are here arguing that the passages are more accomplished than most critics tend to give them credit for, thus offering a counter-argument to the theory that they are so poorly written, they couldn't possibly be by Shakespeare. In this sense then, his failure to use couplets elsewhere in his tragedies
Shakespearean tragedy
Shakespeare wrote tragedies from the beginning of his career. One of his earliest plays was the Roman tragedy Titus Andronicus, which he followed a few years later with Romeo and Juliet. However, his most admired tragedies were written in a seven-year period between 1601 and 1608...

 or histories can thus be attributed to an aesthetic
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

 choice on his part, rather than offered as evidence of co-authorship.

Other scenes in the play have also been pinpointed as offering possible evidence of co-authorship. Tucker Brooke, for example, argues that the opening lines of Act 2, Scene 1 show clear evidence of Nashe's hand. The scene begins with Charles proclaiming, "Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 his true moving – even as in the heavens/So in the earth – to this day is not known" (ll.1–2). Brooke believes that this statement is paraphrased in Nashe's later pamphlet Have with You to Saffron-Walden
Have with You to Saffron-Walden
Have With You To Saffron-Walden, Or, Gabriell Harveys hunt is up is the title of a pamphlet written by Thomas Nashe and published in London in late 1596 by John Danter. The work is Nashe's final shot in his four-year literary feud with Dr. Gabriel Harvey...

 (1596), which contains the line, "You are as ignorant as the astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

s are in the true movings of Mars, which to this day, they never could attain to." The problem with Brooke's theory however, as Michael Hattaway has pointed out, is that there is no reason as to why Nashe couldn't simply be paraphrasing a play with which he had no involvement, a common practice in Elizabethan literature
Elizabethan literature
The term Elizabethan literature refers to the English literature produced during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I .The Elizabethan era saw a great flourishing of literature, especially in the field of drama...

 (for example, Shakespeare and Marlowe often referenced one another's plays by means of paraphrasing).

More evidence is identified by Nasheeb Sheehan, again suggestive of Nashe, when Alençon compares the English to "Samson
Samson, Shimshon ; Shamshoun or Sampson is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Tanakh ....

s and Goliases" (2.1.33). The word 'Golias', Sheehan argues is unusual insofar as all bibles in Shakespeare's day spelt the name 'Goliath', it was only in much older editions of the bible that it was spelt 'Golias'. Sheehan concludes that the use of the arcane spelling is more indicative of Nashe, who was prone to using older spellings of certain words, than Shakespeare, who was less likely to do so.

However, evidence of Shakespeare's authorship has also been found within the play. For example, Samuel Johnson argued that the play was more competently written than King John, Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV and Henry V, and therefore, not attributing it to Shakespeare based on quality made little sense. A similar point is made by Lawrence V. Ryan, who suggests that the play fits so well into Shakespeare's overall style, with an intricate integration of form and content, that it was most likely written by him alone. More recently, and more specifically, Gary Taylor has claimed that Shakespeare wrote all of the Temple Garden scene (2.4) and most likely also wrote the Mortimer scene (2.5) and the Margaret/Suffolk scene (5.4). Less certainly, Taylor also suggests that Shakespeare wrote either all or some of the scene where Talbot is ambushed by the French and vows to fight (4.2). Taylor suggests that Talbot's reference to himself as "Servant in arms to Harry, King of England" (l.4) is evidence of Shakespeare's hand. This is one of only two occurrences of the word 'Harry' in the entire tetralogy (the other is in 3 Henry VI; 3 March 2015). In 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV and Henry V however, the word is used on multiple occasions, and as there is no doubt that Shakespeare did write those plays, Taylor argues that the occurrence of the word in 1 Henry VI suggests Shakespeare also wrote the scene in which it is found.

Another aspect of the debate is the actual likelihood of Shakespeare collaborating at all. Some critics, such as Hattaway and Cairncross, argue that it is unlikely that a young, up-and-coming dramatist trying to make a name for himself would have collaborated with other authors so early in his career. On the other hand, Michael Taylor suggests, "it is not difficult to construct an imaginary scenario that has a harassed author calling on friends and colleagues to help him construct an unexpectedly commissioned piece in a hurry" (obviously, this suggestion is based on the theory that The Contention and True Tragedy formed a two-part sequence which was then extended into a trilogy due to its popularity). Another argument which challenges the likelihood of co-authorship is that the basic theory of co-authorship itself was originally hypothesised in the 18th and 19th century due to a distaste for the treatment of Joan; i.e. critics were uncomfortable attributing such a harsh depiction to Shakespeare, so they embraced the co-authorship theory in an effort to 'clear his name', suggesting that he couldn't have been responsible for the merciless characterisation of Joan, and as such, someone else must have written her scenes.

As with the question of the order in which the trilogy was written, twentieth century editors and scholars remain staunchly divided on the question of authorship. Well known scholars such as Peter Alexander and E.M.W. Tillyard have argued against the co-authorship theory, but nevertheless, the issue continues to be debated. Edward Burns, for example, in his 2000 edition of the play for the Arden Shakespeare 3rd series, suggests that it is highly unlikely that Shakespeare wrote alone, and throughout his introduction and commentary, he refers to the writer not as Shakespeare but as 'the dramatists'. He also suggests that the play should be more properly called Harry VI, by Shakespeare, Nashe and others. Burns' predecessor however, Andrew S. Cairncross, editor of the play for the Arden Shakespeare 2nd series in 1962, ascribes the entire play to Shakespeare, as does Lawrence V. Ryan in his 1967 Signet Classic Shakespeare edition, and Michael Hattaway in his New Cambridge Shakespeare
New Cambridge Shakespeare
The New Cambridge Shakespeare is a series of scholarly editions of the plays of William Shakespeare published by Cambridge University Press. The series began in 1984, publishing several new editions each year. To date, the majority of Shakespeare's plays and poems have been published in the series...

 edition of 1990. In his 1952 edition of the play, Dover Wilson on the other hand, argued that the play was almost entirely written by others, and that Shakespeare actually had little to do with its composition. Speaking during a 1952 radio presentation of The Contention and True Tragedy which he produced, Dover Wilson argued that he had not included 1 Henry VI because it is a "patchwork in which Shakespeare collaborated with inferior dramatists." On the other hand, Michael Taylor believes that Shakespeare almost certainly wrote the entire play, as does J.J.M Tobin, who, in his essay in Henry VI: Critical Essays (2001), argues the similarities to Nashe do not reveal the hand of Nashe at work in the composition of the play, but instead reveal Shakespeare imitating Nashe. More recently, in 2005, Paul J. Vincent has re-examined the question in light of recent research into the Elizabethan theatre, concluding that 1 Henry VI is Shakespeare's partial revision of a play by Nashe (Act 1) and an unknown playwright (Acts 2–5) and that it was the original, non-Shakespearean, play that was first performed on 3 March 1592. Shakespeare's work in the play, which was mostly likely composed in 1594, can be found in Act 2 (scene 4) and Act 4 (scenes 2–5 and the first 32 lines of scene 7). In 2007, Vincent's authorship findings, especially with regard to Nashe's authorship of Act 1, were supported overall by Brian Vickers, who agrees with the theory of co-authorship and differs only slightly over the extent of Shakespeare's contribution to the play.

As such, similarly to the question of the order of composition, critics remain staunchly divided on the issue of authorship.


The very functioning of Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 itself is literally a theme in the play, with particular emphasis placed on its ability to represent
Representation (arts)
Representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements...

 by means of signs
Sign (semiotics)
A sign is understood as a discrete unit of meaning in semiotics. It is defined as "something that stands for something, to someone in some capacity" It includes words, images, gestures, scents, tastes, textures, sounds – essentially all of the ways in which information can be...

Semiosis is any form of activity, conduct, or process that involves signs, including the production of meaning. Briefly – semiosis is sign process...

), the power of language to sway, the aggressive potential of language, the failure of language to adequately describe reality
Semantics is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, such as words, phrases, signs and symbols, and what they stand for, their denotata....

 and the manipulation of language so as to hide the truth.

The persuasive power of language is first alluded to by Charles, who tells Joan after she has assured him she can end the siege of Orléans, "Thou hast astonished me with thy high terms" (1.2.93). This sense is repeated when the Countess of Auvergne is wondering about Talbot and says to her servant, "Great is the rumour of this dreadful knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

,/And his achievements of no less account./Fain would mine eyes be witness with mine ears,/To give their censure of these rare reports" (2.3.7–10). Like Charles, Auvergne has been astonished with the 'high terms' bestowed on Talbot, and now she wishes to see if the image and the reality conflate, if the reality can actually live up to the image. Later in the play, language becomes even more important for Joan, as she uses it as a subterfuge to sneak into Rouen, telling her men, "Be wary how you place your words;/Talk like the vulgar sort of market men/That come to gather money for their corn" ( Later, she uses language to persuade Burgundy to join with the Dauphin against the English. As Burgundy realises he is succumbing to her rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, he muses to himself, "Either she hath bewitched me with her words,/Or nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

 makes me suddenly relent" (3.3.58–59). Here, language is shown to be so powerful as to act on Burgundy the same way Nature itself would act, to the point where he is unsure if he has been persuaded by a natural occurrence or by Joan's words. Language is thus presented as capable of transforming ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

. As Joan finishes her speech, Burgundy again attests to the power of her language, "I am vanquish'd. These haughty words of hers/Have battered me like roaring canon-shot,/And made me almost yield upon my knees" (3.3.78–80). Later, something similar happens with Henry, who agrees to marry Margaret merely because of Suffolk's description of her. In a line which echoes Burgundy's, Henry queries what it is that has prompted him to agree to Suffolk's suggestion; "Whether it be through force of your report,/My noble lord of Suffolk, or for that/My tender youth was never yet attaint/With any passion of inflaming love, I cannot tell" (5.6.79–83). Here, again, the power of language is shown to be so strong as to be confused with a natural phenomenon.
Language can also be employed aggressively. For example, after the death of Salisbury, when Talbot first hears about Joan, he contemptuously refers to her and Charles as "Puzel or pussel, dolphin or dogfish
Squaliformes is an order of sharks that includes about 97 species in seven families.Members of the order have two dorsal fins, which usually possess spines, no anal fin or nictitating membrane, and five gill slits. In most other respects, however, they are quite variable in form and size...

" (1.5.85). In French, 'puzel' means slut
Slut or slattern is a pejorative term applied to an individual who is considered to have loose sexual morals or who is sexually promiscuous...

, and 'pussel' is a variation of 'pucelle' (meaning virgin
Virginity refers to the state of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse. There are cultural and religious traditions which place special value and significance on this state, especially in the case of unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth...

), but with an added negative connotation. These two words, 'puzel' and 'pussel', are both pun
The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use and abuse of homophonic,...

s on Joan's name (Pucelle), thus showing Talbot's utter contempt for her. Similarly, the use of the word 'dolphin' to describe the Dauphin carries negative and mocking connotations, as does the use of the word 'dogfish', a member of the shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

 family considered to be dishonourable scavengers, preying on anything and anyone. Again, Talbot is showing his contempt for Charles' position by exposing it to mockery with some simple word play. Other examples of words employed aggressively are seen when the English reclaim Orléans, and a soldier chases the half-dressed French leaders from the city, declaring "The cry of 'Talbot' serves me for a sword,/For I have loaden me with many spoils,/Using no other weapon but his name" (2.1.81–83). A similar notion is found when the Countess of Auvergne meets Talbot, and muses, "Is this the Talbot so much feared abroad/That with his name the mothers still their babes" (2.3.15–16). Here words (specifically Talbot's name) literally become weapons, and are used directly to strike fear into the enemy.

However although words are occasionally shown to be powerful and deeply persuasive, they are also shown to oftentimes fail in their signifying role, exposed as being incapable of adequately representing reality. This idea is introduced by Gloucester at Henry V's funeral, where he laments that words cannot encompass the life of such a great king; "What should I say? His deeds exceed all speech" (1 January 2015). Later, when Gloucester and Winchester confront one another outside the Tower of London, Gloucester champions the power of real action over the power of threatening words; "I will not answer thee with words but blows" (1.3.69). Similarly, after the French capture Rouen and refuse to meet the English army in the battlefield, Bedford asserts, "O let no words, but deeds, revenge this treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

" (3.2.48). Another example of the failure of language is found when Suffolk finds himself lost for words whilst attempting to woo Margaret; "Fain would I woo her, yet I dare not speak./I'll call for pen and ink and write my mind./Fie, de la Pole, disable not thyself!/Hast not a tongue?" (5.4.21–24). Later, Joan's words, so successful during the play in convincing others to support her, explicitly fail to save her life, as she is told by Warwick, "Strumpet, thy words condemn thy brat and thee./Use no entreaty, for it is in vain" (5.5.84–85).

Language as a system is also shown to be open to manipulation. Words can be employed for deceptive purposes, and the representative function of language gives way to deceit. For example, shortly after Charles has accepted Joan as his new commander, Alençon calls into question her sincerity, thus suggesting a possible discrepancy between her words and her actions; "These women are shrewd tempters with their tongues" (1.2.123). Another example occurs when Henry forces Winchester and Gloucester to put aside their animosity and shake hands. Their public words here stand in diametric opposition to their private intentions;


Well, Duke of Gloucester, I will yield to thee

Love for thy love, and hand for hand I give.

He takes Gloucester's hand


(aside) Ay, but I fear me with a hollow heart.

(to others) See here, my friends and loving countrymen,

This token serveth for a flag of truce

Betwixt ourselves and all our followers.

So help me God as I dissemble not.


So help me God. (aside) As I intend it not.

Act 2, Scene 4 is perhaps the most important scene in the play in terms of language, as it is in this scene where Richard introduces the notion of what he calls "dumb significants", something which will carry resonance throughout the trilogy. During his debate with Somerset, Richard points out to the lords who are unwilling to openly support either of them, "Since you are tongue tied and loath to speak,/In dumb significants proclaim your thoughts" (ll.25–26). The dumb significants to which he refers are roses; a red rose to join Somerset, a white rose to join Richard. As such, the roses essentially function as symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

s, replacing the very need for language. Once all the lords have selected their rose, the roses then come to symbolise the House they represent. When Henry chooses a red rose, he is totally unaware of the implications of his actions, as he doesn't understand the power the dumb significants have. He places all his trust in a more literal type of language, and thus selects a rose in what he thinks is a meaningless gesture, but which does in fact have profound implications. Henry's mistake results directly from his failure to grasp the importance of silent actions and symbolic decisions; "a gesture – especially such an ill-considered one – is worth and makes worthless, a thousand pretty words."

Death of chivalry

A fundamental theme in the play is the death of chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

, "the decline of England's empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 over France and the accompanying decay of the ideas of feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 that had sustained the order of the realm
A realm is a dominion of a monarch or other sovereign ruler.The Old French word reaume, modern French royaume, was the word first adopted in English; the fixed modern spelling does not appear until the beginning of the 17th century...

." This is specifically manifested in the character of Talbot, a symbol of a dying breed of men honourably and selflessly devoted to the good of England. His methods and style of leadership represent the last dying remnants of a now outmoded, feudal gallantry. As such, Michael Taylor refers to him as "the representative of a chivalry that was fast decaying," whilst Michael Hattaway sees him as "a figure for the nostalgia that suffuses the play, a dream of simple chivalric virtus
Virtus (virtue)
Virtus was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths...

 like that enacted every year at Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

's Accession Day tilt
Accession Day tilt
The Accession Day tilts were a series of elaborate festivities held annually at the court of Elizabeth I of England to celebrate her Accession Day, 17 November, also known as Queen's Day...

s, a dream of true empire. He is designed to appeal to a popular audience, and his death scene where he calls for troops who do not appear is yet another demonstration of the destructiveness of aristocratic factionalism."

One of the clearest examples of Talbot's adherence to the codes of chivalry is seen in his response to Fastolf's desertion from the battlefield. As far as Talbot is concerned, Fastolf's actions show him to be a dishonourable coward, who places self-preservation above self-sacrifice, and thus he represents everything that is wrong with the modern knight. This is in direct contrast to the chivalry that Talbot himself represents, a chivalry he remembers fondly from days gone by;


I vowed, base knight, when I did meet thee next,

To tear the garter
Garter (stockings)
Garters are articles of clothing: narrow bands of fabric fastened about the leg, used to keep up stockings, and sometimes socks. Normally just a few inches in width, they are usually made of leather or heavy cloth, and adorned with small bells and/or ribbons...

 from thy craven's leg,

Which I have done because unworthily

Thou wast install'd in that high degree. –

Pardon me, princely Henry, and the rest.

This dastard, at the Battle of Patay
Battle of Patay
The Battle of Patay was the culminating engagement of the Loire Campaign of the Hundred Years' War between the French and English in north-central France. It was a decisive victory for the French and turned the tide of the war. This victory was to the French what Agincourt was to the English...


When but in all I was six thousand strong,

And that the French were almost ten to one,

Before we met, or that a stroke was given,

Like to a trusty squire
The English word squire is a shortened version of the word Esquire, from the Old French , itself derived from the Late Latin , in medieval or Old English a scutifer. The Classical Latin equivalent was , "arms bearer"...

 did run away;

In which assault we lost twelve hundred men.

Myself and divers gentlemen beside

Were there surprised and taken prisoners.

Then judge, great lords, if I have done amiss,

Or whether that such cowards ought to wear

This ornament of knighthood: yea or no?


To say the truth, this fact was infamous

And ill beseeming any common man,

Much more a knight, a captain, and a leader.


When first this order
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

 was ordained, my lords,

Knights of the garter were of noble birth,

Valiant and virtuous, full of haughty courage,

Such as were grown to credit by the wars;

Not fearing death nor shrinking for distress,

But always resolute in most extremes.

He then that is not furnished in this sort

Doth but usurp the sacred name of knight,

Profaning this most honourable order,

And should – if I were worthy to be judge –

Be quite degraded, like a hedge-born swain

That doth presume to boast of gentle blood.

Talbot's description of Fastolf's actions stands in direct contrast to the image of an ideal knight, and as such, the ideal and the reality serve to highlight one another, and thus reveal the discrepancy between them.

Similarly, just as Talbot uses knights to represent an ideal past, by remembering how they used to be chivalric, so too does Gloucester in relation to Henry V, who he also sees as representing a glorious and honourable past;

England ne're had a king until his time.

Virtue he had, deserving to command;

His brandished sword did bind men with his beams,

His arms spread wider than a dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

's wings,

His sparkling eyes, replete with wrathful fire,

More dazzled and drove back his enemies

Than midday sun fierce bent against their faces.

Henry V has this function throughout much of the play; "he is presented not as a man but as a rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

al construct fashioned out of hyperbole
Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally....

, as a heroic image or heraldic icon." He is seen as a representative of a celebrated past which can never be recaptured; "there is in the play a dominant, nostalgic, celebratory reminiscence of Henry V who lives on in the immortality of preternatural
The preternatural or praeternatural is that which appears outside or beyond the natural. In contrast to the supernatural, preternatural phenomena are presumed to have rational explanations that are, as of yet, unknown....

The play, however, doesn’t simply depict the fall of one order, it also depicts the rise of another; "How the nation might have remained true to itself is signified by the words and deeds of Talbot. What she is in danger of becoming is signified by the shortcomings of the French, failings that crop up increasingly amongst Englishman [...] also manifest are an English decline towards French effeminacy and the beginnings of reliance upon fraud and cunning rather than manly courage and straightforward manly virtue." If the old mode of honourable conduct is specifically represented by Talbot and Henry V, the new mode of duplicity and Machiavellianism
Machiavellianism is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct", deriving from the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote Il Principe and other works...

 is represented by Joan, who employs a type of warfare with which Talbot is simply unable to cope. This is seen most clearly when she sneaks into Rouen and subsequently refuses to face Talbot in a battle. Talbot finds this kind of behaviour incomprehensible and utterly dishonourable. As such, he finds himself fighting an enemy who are using tactics he is incapable of understanding; with the French using what he sees as unconventional methods, he proves unable to adapt. This represents one of the ironies in the play's depiction of chivalry; it is the very resoluteness of Talbot's honour and integrity, his insistence in preserving an old code abandoned by all others, which ultimately defeats him; his inability to adjust means he becomes unable to function in the newly established 'dishonourable' context. As such, the play is not entirely nostalgic about chivalry; "so often the tenets of chivalry are mocked by word and action. The play is full of moments of punctured aristocratic hauteur."

Talbot's mode of chivalry is replaced by politicians concerned only with themselves and their own advancement: Winchester, Somerset, Suffolk, even Richard. Narcissistic
Narcissism is a term with a wide range of meanings, depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, or simply a personality trait...

 political infighting has supplanted self-sacrificing patriotism and chivalry; "the play charts the disastrous breakdown of civility among the English nobility." Nobles concerned with personal power above all else have replaced knights concerned only with the empire. As such, by the end of the play, both Talbot and his son lay dead, as does the notion of English chivalry. In this sense then, the play "depicts the deaths of the titanic survivors of an ancien régime
Ancien Régime in France
The Ancien Régime refers primarily to the aristocratic, social and political system established in France from the 15th century to the 18th century under the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties...



Hand-in-hand with the examination of chivalry with which the play engages is an examination of patriotism. Indeed, some critics argue that it was patriotism which provided the impetus for the play in the first place. Although England had defeated the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 in 1588, leading to a short-lived period of international confidence and patriotic pride, the national mood by 1590 was one of despondency, and as such, 1 Henry VI may have been commissioned to help dispel this mood; "the patriotic emotions to which this play shamelessly appeals resonate at an especially fragile time politically speaking. Frightening memories of the 1588 Spanish Armada, or of the Babington Plot
Babington Plot
The Babington Plot was a Catholic plot in 1586 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, and put Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic, on the English throne. It led to the execution of Mary. The long-term goal was an invasion by the Spanish forces of King Philip II and the Catholic league in...

 of 1586, which led to the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots; concerns over a noticeably declining and still unmarried Queen Elizabeth; worries over Catholic recusancy
In the history of England and Wales, the recusancy was the state of those who refused to attend Anglican services. The individuals were known as "recusants"...

; fear of military involvement in Europe, and, just as disquietingly, in Ireland, combine to make a patriotic response a matter of some urgency. [The play] is a bracing attempt to stiffen the sinews of the English in a time of danger and deceit."

Evidence of this is seen throughout. For example, the English seem to be vastly outnumbered in every battle, yet they never give up, and oftentimes they actually prove victorious. Indeed, even when they do lose, the suggestion is often made that it was because of treachery, as only by duplicitous means could their hardiness be overcome. For example, during the battle where Talbot is captured, the messenger reports,

The tenth of August last, this dreadful lord [ie Talbot],

Retiring from the siege of Orléans,

Having full scarce six thousand in his troop,

By three-and-twenty thousand of the French

Was round encompass'd and set upon:

No leisure had he to enrank
Military deployment
Military deployment is the movement of armed forces and their logistical support infrastructure around the world.-United States:The United States Military defines the term as follows:...

 his men.

He wanted pikes to set before his archer
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...


Instead whereof sharp stakes plucked out of hedges

They pitch'd in the ground confusedly

To keep the horsemen off from breaking in.

More than three hours the fight continu'd,

Where valiant Talbot, above human thought,

Enacted wonders with his sword and lance
A Lance is a pole weapon or spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior. The lance is longer, stout and heavier than an infantry spear, and unsuited for throwing, or for rapid thrusting. Lances did not have tips designed to intentionally break off or bend, unlike many throwing weapons of the...


Hundreds he sent to hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

, and none durst stand him;

Here, there, and everywhere, enraged he slew.

The French exclaimed the devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

 was in arms:

All the whole army stood agazed on him.

His soldiers, spying his undaunted spirit,

'À Talbot! À Talbot!' cried out amain,

And rushed into the bowels of the battle.

Here had the conquest fully been sealed up

If Sir John Fastolf had not played the coward.

He, being in the vanguard
Tactical formation
A tactical formation is the arrangement or deployment of moving military forces such as infantry, cavalry, AFVs, military aircraft, or naval vessels...

 placed behind,

With purpose to relieve and follow them,

Cowardly fled, not having struck one stroke.

Hence flew the general wrack and massacre;

Enclos'd were they with their enemies.

A base Walloon
Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. Walloons are a distinctive community within Belgium, important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people. More generally, the term also refers to the inhabitants of the Walloon...

, to win the Dauphin's grace,

Thrust Talbot with a spear into the back –

Whom all France, with their chief assembled strength,

Durst not presume to look once in the face.

Here Fastolf's betrayal is the direct cause of the English defeat, not the fact that they were outnumbered ten-to-one, that they were hit by a surprise attack or that they were surrounded. This notion is returned to several times, with the implication each time that only treachery can account for an English defeat. For example, upon hearing of the first loss of towns in France, Exeter immediately asks, "How were they lost? What treachery was used?" (1.1.68). Upon losing Rouen, Talbot exclaims, "France, thou shalt rue this treason with thy tears/If Talbot but survive thy treachery" (3.2.35–36). Later, when thinking back on the French campaign, Richard asks Henry, "Have we not lost most part of all the towns/By treason, falsehood and by treachery" (5.5.108–109).
However if the English are of the mind that they can only be defeated by treachery and betrayal, the play also presents the French as somewhat in awe of them, bearing a begrudging respect for them, and fearing their strength in battle. As such, whilst the English attribute every defeat to treachery, the French opinion of the English seems to imply that perhaps this is indeed the only way to beat them. For example, during the siege of Orléans;


Jean Froissart
Jean Froissart , often referred to in English as John Froissart, was one of the most important chroniclers of medieval France. For centuries, Froissart's Chronicles have been recognized as the chief expression of the chivalric revival of the 14th century Kingdom of England and France...

, a countryman of ours, records

England all Olivers and Roland
Roland was a Frankish military leader under Charlemagne who became one of the principal figures in the literary cycle known as the Matter of France. Historically, Roland was military governor of the Breton March, with responsibility for defending the frontier of Francia against the Bretons...

s bred

During the time Edward the Third
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

 did reign.

More truly now may this be verified,

For none but Samsons and Goliases

It sendeth forth to skirmish. One to ten?

Lean raw-boned rascals – who would e'er suppose

They had such courage and audacity.


Let's leave this town, for they are hare-brained slaves,

And hunger will enforce them to be more eager.

Of old I know them; rather with their teeth

The walls they'll tear down than forsake the siege.


I think by some odd gimmers or device

Their arms are set, like clocks, still to strike on,

Else n'er could they hold out as they do.

As such, the play presents, to a certain extent, the English image of themselves as somewhat in line with the French image of them, with both stressing resoluteness and steadfastness.

Another component of the patriotic sentiment is the religious note the play oftentimes strikes. On the whole, everything Catholic is represented as bad, everything Protestant
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 is represented as good; "the play's popularity [in 1592] has to be seen against the backdrop of an extraordinary efflorescence
In chemistry, efflorescence is the loss of water of crystallization from a hydrated or solvated salt to the atmosphere on exposure to air.-Examples:...

 of interest in political history
Political history
Political history is the narrative and analysis of political events, ideas, movements, and leaders. It is distinct from, but related to, other fields of history such as Diplomatic history, social history, economic history, and military history, as well as constitutional history and public...

 in the last two decades of the sixteenth century fed by self-conscious patriotic Protestantism's fascination with its own biography in history. It is not for nothing that Part One is persistently anti-Catholic in a number of ways despite the fact that in the fifteenth century the entire population of England was nominally Catholic (though not, of course, in 1592). The French are presented as decadently Catholic, the English (with the exception of the Bishop of Winchester) as attractively Protestant".

Talbot himself is an element of this, insofar as his "rhetoric is correspondingly Protestant. His biblical references are all from the Old Testament (a source less fully used by Catholics) and speak of stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 and individual faith." Henry V is also cited as an example of Protestant purity; "He was a king blest of the King of Kings
King of Kings
King of Kings is a title that has been used by several monarchies and empires throughout history. The title originates in the Ancient Near East. It is broadly the equivalent of the later title Emperor....

./Unto the French the dreadful judgement day
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

/So dreadful will not be as was his sight./The battles of the Lords of Hosts
Heavenly host
Heavenly host refers to an army of good angels mentioned in the Bible. It is led either by the Archangel Michael, Jesus, or by God himself. Most descriptions of angels in the Bible describe them in military terms, such as encampment , command structure , and combat...

 he fought" (1.1.28–31). "King of kings" is a phrase used in 1 Timothy
First Epistle to Timothy
The First Epistle of Paul to Timothy, usually referred to simply as First Timothy and often written 1 Timothy, is one of three letters in the New Testament of the Bible often grouped together as the Pastoral Epistles, the others being Second Timothy and Titus...

, 6:15. "Lords of Hosts" is used throughout the Old Testament, and to say Henry fought for the Lord of Hosts is to compare him to the Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 warrior king, David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

, who also fought for the Lords of Hosts in 1 Samuel
Books of Samuel
The Books of Samuel in the Jewish bible are part of the Former Prophets, , a theological history of the Israelites affirming and explaining the Torah under the guidance of the prophets.Samuel begins by telling how the prophet Samuel is chosen by...

, 25:28.

However, despite the obvious celebratory patriotic tone and sense of Protestant/English religio-political identity, as with the lamentation for the death of chivalry, the play is somewhat ambiguous in its overall depiction of patriotism. Ultimately, the play depicts how the English lost France, a seemingly strange subject matter if Shakespeare was attempting to instil a sense of national pride in the people. This is rendered even more so when one considers that Shakespeare could have written about how England won France in the first place; "the popularity of "Armada rhetoric" during the time of 1 Henry VIs composition would have seemed to ask for a play about Henry V, not one which begins with his death and proceeds to dramatise English loses." In this sense then, the depiction of patriotism, although undoubtedly strong, is not without ambiguity; the very story told by the play renders any patriotic sentiment found within to be something of a hollow victory.

Saintly vs. demonic

call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

s, spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

s, witches
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

, saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

s and God are all mentioned on numerous occasions within the play, oftentimes relating directly to Joan, who is presented as "a fascinating mixture of saint, witch, naïve girl, clever woman, audacious warrior and sensual tart." The English continually refer to her as a witch and a whore, the French as a saint and a saviour
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

, and the play itself seems to waver between these two poles; "Joan first appears in a state of beatitude
In Christianity, the Beatitudes are a set of teachings by Jesus that appear in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The term Beatitude comes from the Latin adjective beatus which means happy, fortunate, or blissful....

, patient, serene, the "Divinest creature" of Charles' adoration, the object of the Virgin Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

's miraculous intercession, chosen by her to rescue France, and so made beautiful, courageous and wise [...] on the other hand, and virtually at the same time, she's clearly an early combination of the demonic, the Machiavellian, and the Marlovian."

Joan is introduced into the play by the Bastard, who, even before anyone has seen or met her, says, "A holy maid hither with me I bring" (1.2.51). Later, after Joan has helped the French lift the siege of Orléans, Charles declares, "No longer on Saint Denis
Saint Denis is a Christian martyr and saint. In the third century, he was Bishop of Paris. He was martyred in connection with the Decian persecution of Christians, shortly after A.D. 250...

 will we cry, but Joan la Pucelle shall be France's saint" (1.7.28–30). Similarly, when Joan reveals her plan to turn Burgundy against the English, Alençon declares, "We'll set thy statute in some holy place/And have thee reverenced like a blessed saint" (3.3.14–15).

On the other hand however, the English see her as a demon. Prior to her combat with Talbot, he exclaims, "Devil or devil's dam, I'll conjure thee./Blood will I draw on thee – thou art a witch –/And straightway give thy soul to him thou serv'st" (1.6.5–7). Then, after the fight, he says, "My thoughts are whirl'd like a potter's wheel./I know not where I am nor what I do./A witch, by fear, not force, like Hannibal,/Drives back our troops and conquers as she lists" (1.6.19–22). Upon arriving in France, Bedford condemns Charles for aligning himself with Joan; "How much he wrongs his fame,/Despairing of his own arms' fortitude,/To join with witches and the help of hell" (2.1.16–18). Talbot responds to this with, "Well, let them practice and converse with spirits./God is our fortress" (2.1.25–26). Later, Talbot refers to her as "Pucelle, that witch, that damn'd sorceress" (3.2.37) and "Foul fiend of France, and hag of all despite" (3.2.51), declaring "I speak not to that railing Hecate
Hecate or Hekate is a chthonic Greco-Roman goddess associated with magic, witchcraft, necromancy, and crossroads.She is attested in poetry as early as Hesiod's Theogony...

" (3.2.64). Prior to executing her, York also calls her a "Fell banning hag" (5.2.42).

Joan herself addresses this issue as she is about to be executed;

First let me tell you whom you have condemned:

Not me begotten of a shepherd swain,

But issued from the progeny of kings;

Virtuous and holy, chosen from above

By inspiration of celestial grace

To work exceeding miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s on earth.

I never had to do with wicked spirits;

But you, that are polluted with your lusts,

Stained with the guiltless blood of innocents,

Corrupt and tainted with a thousand vices –

Because you want the grace that others have,

You judge it straight a thing impossible

To compass wonders but by help of devils.

No, misconceiv'd, Joan of Arc hath been

A virgin from her tender infancy,

Chaste and immaculate in very thought,

Whose maiden blood, thus rigorously effused,

Will cry for vengeance at the gates of heaven.

Having failed in her efforts to convince the English she is a holy virgin, and that killing her will invoke the wrath of heaven, she alters her story and claims to be pregnant, hoping they will spare her for the sake of the child. She then lists off various French nobles who could be her child's father in an effort to find one who the English respect. In this sense then, Joan leaves the play as neither saintly nor demonic, but as a frightened woman pleading fruitlessly for her life.

An important question in any examination of Joan is the question of whether or not she is a unified, stable character who vacillates from saintly to demonic, or a poorly constructed character, now one thing, now the other. According to Edward Burns, "Joan cannot be read as a substantive realist character, a unified subject with a coherent singly identity." An alternate, sympathetic view of Joan, one which argues that the character's movement from saintly to demonic is justified within the text, is Michael Hattaway's, who argues that "Joan is the play's tragic figure, comparable with Faulconbridge in King John. She turns to witchcraft only in despair; it cannot be taken as an unequivocal manifestation of diabolic power."

Another theory is that Joan is actually a comic character, and the huge alterations in her character are supposed to evoke laughter. Michael Taylor, for example, argues, "a fiendish provenance
Provenance, from the French provenir, "to come from", refers to the chronology of the ownership or location of an historical object. The term was originally mostly used for works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of fields, including science and computing...

 replaces a divine one in [Act 5, Scene 5], a scene that reduces Joan to a comic, bathetic dependency on shifty representatives of the underworld." In line with this thinking, it is worth pointing out that in the 1981 BBC Television Shakespeare
BBC Television Shakespeare
The BBC Television Shakespeare was a set of television adaptations of the plays of William Shakespeare, produced by the BBC between 1978 and 1985.-Origins:...

 adaptation, Joan, and the French in general, are treated predominately as comic figures. Joan, Alençon (Michael Byrne
Michael Byrne (actor)
Michael Byrne is an English actor noted for his roles on film and television. He has often been cast in Nazi military roles such as Colonel Vogel in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Obergruppenführer Odilo Globocnik in the BBC radio dramatisation of the novel Fatherland by Robert Harris...

), the Bastard (Brian Protheroe
Brian Protheroe
Brian Protheroe , of a Welsh father and English mother, is a musician and actor.-Career:Protheroe joined a local church choir when he was twelve years old, and started piano lessons at about the same time. The music of Cliff Richard and The Shadows inspired him to start learning the guitar...

), Reignier (David Daker
David Daker
David Daker is an English actor.His is best known for his role as Harry Crawford in the hit series Boon. He also played PC Owen Culshaw in Z-Cars, Jarvis in Porridge, Captain Nathan Spiker in Dick Turpin....

) and Charles (Ian Saynor) are treated as buffoons for the most part, and there is no indication of any malevolence (significantly, when Joan’s fiends abandon her, we never see them, we simply see her talking to empty air). Examples of the comic treatment of the characters are found during the battle of Orléans, where Joan is ludicrously depicted as defending the city from the entire English army single-handed, whilst Talbot stands by amazed watching his soldiers flee one after another. Another example is found in Act 2, Scene 1, as the five of them blame one another for the breach in the watch at Orléans which has allowed the English to get back into the city. Their role as comic figures is also shown in Act 2, Scene 1. After Joan has entered Rouen and the others stand outside waiting for her signal, Charles is shown sneaking through a field holding a helmet with a large plume
Plumage refers both to the layer of feathers that cover a bird and the pattern, colour, and arrangement of those feathers. The pattern and colours of plumage vary between species and subspecies and can also vary between different age classes, sexes, and season. Within species there can also be a...

 up in front of his face in an effort to hide.

The notion of demonic agency and saintly power, however, is not confined to Joan. The French make similar claims about the English as the English make about her. During the battle when Talbot is captured for example, according to the messenger, "The French exclaimed the devil was in arms" (1.1.125). Later, as the English attack Orléans,


I think this Talbot be a fiend of hell.


If not of hell, the heavens sure favour him.

Here, much as the English had done when they were being defeated by Joan, the French attribute diabolic power to their vanquishers. Unlike the English however, the French acknowledge that Talbot must be either a demon or a saint. As far as the English are concerned, Joan is demonic, it is not open to question.


After the original 1592 performances, the complete text of 1 Henry VI seems to have been rarely acted. The first definite performance after Shakespeare's day was on 13 March 1738 at Covent Garden
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...

, in what seems to have been a stand-alone performance, as there is no record of a performance of either 2 Henry VI or 3 Henry VI. The next certain performance in England didn't occur until 1906, when F.R. Benson presented the play at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is a 1,040+ seat thrust stage theatre owned by the Royal Shakespeare Company dedicated to the British playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It is located in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespeare's birthplace - in the English Midlands, beside the River Avon...

 in a production of Shakespeare's two tetralogies, performed over eight nights. As far as can be ascertained, this was not only the first performance of the octology, but was also the first performance of both the tetralogy and the trilogy. Benson himself played Henry and his wife, Constance Benson
Constance Benson
Constance Benson was a British stage and film actress.Born Gertrude Constance Samwell in London, England, Benson was the wife of Australian actor Frank Benson. She worked in theater for most of her career, but did appear in lead roles in four silent films, all of which were early film adaptations...

, played Margaret.

In 1953, Douglas Seale
Douglas Seale
Douglas Seale was a British stage and film actor.He provided the voice of Krebbs in The Rescuers Down Under . Two years later, Seale voiced the Sultan in Aladdin. He also appeared in several movies including Amadeus and Ernest Saves Christmas...

 directed a production of 1 Henry VI at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Birmingham Repertory Theatre is a theatre and theatre company based on Centenary Square in Birmingham, England...

, following successful productions of 2 Henry VI in 1951 and 3 Henry VI in 1952. All three plays starred Paul Daneman
Paul Daneman
Paul Daneman was an English film, television, theatre and voice actor.Paul Frederick Daneman was born in Islington, London. He attended the Haberdashers' Aske's School and Sir William Borlase's Grammar School in Marlow and studied stage design at Reading University where he joined the dramatic...

 as Henry and Rosalind Boxall as Margaret, with 1 Henry VI featuring Derek Godfrey
Derek Godfrey
Derek Godfrey was a British actor who appeared in several films and BBC television dramatizations during the 1960s and 1970s....

 as Talbot and Judi Dench
Judi Dench
Dame Judith Olivia "Judi" Dench, CH, DBE, FRSA is an English film, stage and television actress.Dench made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company. Over the following few years she played in several of William Shakespeare's plays in such roles as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo...

 as Joan.

A production which made much of its unedited status came in 1977, at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where Terry Hands
Terry Hands
Terence David Hands is an English theatre director. He ran the Royal Shakespeare Company for 20 years during one of its most successful periods.-Early years:...

 presented all three Henry VI plays with Alan Howard
Alan Howard
Alan MacKenzie Howard, CBE, is an English actor known for his roles on stage, television and film.He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1966 to 1983, and played leading roles at the Royal National Theatre between 1992 and 2000.-Personal life:Howard is the only son of the actor...

 as Henry and Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren, DBE is an English actor. She has won an Academy Award for Best Actress, four SAG Awards, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes, four Emmy Awards, and two Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Awards.-Early life and family:...

 as Margaret. Although the production was only moderately successful at the box office, it was critically lauded at the time for Alan Howard's unique portrayal of Henry. Howard adopted historical details concerning the real Henry's madness
Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms, including becoming a danger to themselves and others, though not all such acts are considered insanity...

 into his performance, presenting the character as constantly on the brink of a mental and emotional breakdown. Possibly as a reaction to a recent adaptation of the trilogy under the general title Wars of the Roses, which was strongly political, Hands attempted to ensure his own production was entirely apolitical; "Wars of the Roses was a study in power politics: its central image was the conference table, and Warwick, the scheming king-maker, was the central figure. But that's not Shakespeare. Shakespeare goes far beyond politics. Politics is a very shallow science." Aside from Howard and Mirren, the production starred David Swift as Talbot and Charlotte Cornwell
Charlotte Cornwell
-Life and career:Cornwell was born in Marylebone, London, England, the daughter of Ronald Cornwell. She is the half-sister of spy novelist John le Carré . She describes him as "the best brother a girl could have"...

 as Joan.

Under the direction of Michael Boyd the play was presented at the Swan Theatre
Swan Theatre (Stratford)
The Swan Theatre is a theatre belonging to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. It is built on to the side of the larger Royal Shakespeare Theatre, occupying the Victorian Gothic structure that formerly housed the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre that preceded the RST but was...

 in Stratford in 2000, with David Oyelowo
David Oyelowo
- Background :Oyelowo was born in Oxford, England of Nigerian descent. He is married to actress Jessica Oyelowo and they have three sons.Oyelowo first attended a youth theatre after being invited by a girl to whom he was attracted. He then studied Theatre Studies for A level and his teacher...

 as Henry and Keith Bartlett as Talbot. Both Margaret and Joan were played by Fiona Bell (as Joan is burned, Bell symbolically rose from the ashes as Margaret). The play was presented with the five other history plays to form a complete eight-part history cycle under the general title This England: The Histories
This England: The Histories
This England: The Histories was a season of Shakespeare's history plays staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2000-2001. The company staged both of Shakespeare's tetralogies of history plays so that audiences could see all eight plays over several days...

 (the first time the Royal Shakespeare Company
Royal Shakespeare Company
The Royal Shakespeare Company is a major British theatre company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. The company employs 700 staff and produces around 20 productions a year from its home in Stratford-upon-Avon and plays regularly in London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and on tour across...

 (RSC) had ever attempted to stage the eight plays as one sequence). This England: The Histories was revived in 2006, as part of the Complete Works
Complete Works (RSC festival)
The Complete Works is a festival set up by the Royal Shakespeare Company, running between April 2006 and March 2007 at Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. The festival aims to perform all of Shakespeare's works, including his sonnets, poems and all 37 plays...

 festival at the Courtyard Theatre
Courtyard Theatre
The Courtyard Theatre is a temporary 1,048 seat thrust stage theatre building in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Designed by Ian Ritchie Architects and built in 11 months, it opened in August 2006 to host performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company while its Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres...

, with the Henry VI plays again directed by Boyd, and starring Chuk Iwuji
Chuk Iwuji
Chukwudi Iwuji , usually shortened to Chuk Iwuji or Chuck Iwuji, is a Nigerian-born actor, active in the United Kingdom.-Life:...

 as Henry and Keith Bartlett reprising his role as Talbot. Katy Stephens played both Margaret and Joan. When the Complete Works wrapped in March 2007, the history plays remained on stage, under the shorter title The Histories, as part of a two-year thirty-four actor ensemble
Ensemble cast
An ensemble cast is made up of cast members in which the principal actors and performers are assigned roughly equal amounts of importance and screen time in a dramatic production. This kind of casting became more popular in television series because it allows flexibility for writers to focus on...

 production. 1 Henry VI was performed under the title Henry VI, Part 1: The War Against France. At the end of the two-year programme, the entire octology was performed over a four-day period under the title The Glorious Moment; Richard II was staged on a Thursday evening, followed by the two Henry IV plays on Friday afternoon and evening, the three Henry VI plays on Saturday (two afternoon performances and one evening performance), and Richard III on Sunday evening.

Boyd's production garnered much attention at the time because of his interpolations and additions to the text. Most notably, Boyd introduced a new character into the trilogy. Called The Keeper, the character never speaks, but upon the death of each major character, the Keeper (played by Edward Clayton in 2000, and by Anthony Bunsee in 2006/2007), wearing all red, would walk onto stage and approach the body. The actor playing the body would then stand up and allow himself to be led off-stage by the figure. The production was also particularly noted for its realistic violence. According to Robert Gore-Langton of the Daily Express
Daily Express
The Daily Express switched from broadsheet to tabloid in 1977 and was bought by the construction company Trafalgar House in the same year. Its publishing company, Beaverbrook Newspapers, was renamed Express Newspapers...

, in his review of the original 2000 production, "blood from a severed arm sprayed over my lap. A human liver slopped to the floor by my feet. An eyeball scudded past, then a tongue."

Outside the UK, the first major American performance was in 1935 at the Pasadena Playhouse
Pasadena Playhouse
The Pasadena Playhouse is a historic performing arts venue located 39 S El Molino Avenue in Pasadena, California. The 686-seat auditorium produces a variety of cultural and artistic events, professional shows, and community engagements each year.-History:...

 in California, directed by Gilmore Brown, as part of a production of all ten Shakespearean histories (the two tetralogies, preceded by King John and proceeded by Henry VIII
Henry VIII (play)
The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight is a history play by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, based on the life of Henry VIII of England. An alternative title, All is True, is recorded in contemporary documents, the title Henry VIII not appearing until the play's publication...


In Europe, unedited stagings of the play took place at the Weimar Court Theatre in 1857. Directed by Franz von Dingelstedt
Franz von Dingelstedt
Franz von Dingelstedt was a German poet, dramatist and theatre administrator.-Biography:Dingestedt was born at Halsdorf, Hesse-Kassel , Germany, and later studied at the University of Marburg nearby. In 1836 he became a master at the Lyceum in Kassel, from where he was transferred to Fulda in 1838...

, it was performed as the sixth part of the octology, with all eight plays staged over a ten day period. A major production was staged at the Burgtheater
The Burgtheater , originally known as K.K. Theater an der Burg, then until 1918 as the K.K. Hofburgtheater, is the Austrian National Theatre in Vienna and one of the most important German language theatres in the world.The Burgtheater was created in 1741 and has become known as "die Burg" by the...

 in Vienna in 1873, with a celebrated performance from Friedrich Mitterwurzer as Winchester. Jocza Savits directed a production of the tetralogy at the Munich Court Theatre
Bavarian State Opera
The Bavarian State Opera is an opera company based in Munich, Germany.Its orchestra is the Bavarian State Orchestra.- History:The opera company which was founded under Princess Henriette Adelaide of Savoy has been in existence since 1653...

 in 1889 and again in 1906. In 1927, Saladin Schmitt presented the unedited octology at the Municipal Theatre in Bochum
Bochum is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany. It is located in the Ruhr area and is surrounded by the cities of Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Herne, Castrop-Rauxel, Dortmund, Witten and Hattingen.-History:...

. The next major German production was Peter Palitzsch's presentation of the tetralogy as Der krieg der rosen in 1967 at the Stuttgart State Theatre
Staatstheater Stuttgart
The Staatstheater Stuttgart ' is an opera house in Stuttgart, Germany. It is also known locally as the Grosses Haus, having been the larger of two theatres of the former Königliche Hoftheater....

. Denis Llorca staged the tetralogy as one twelve-hour piece in Carcassonne
Carcassonne is a fortified French town in the Aude department, of which it is the prefecture, in the former province of Languedoc.It is divided into the fortified Cité de Carcassonne and the more expansive lower city, the ville basse. Carcassone was founded by the Visigoths in the fifth century,...

 in 1978 and in Créteil
-Health:As of 1 January 2006, 27 pharmacies, about 60 dentists, about 60 general practitioners, 10 pediatricians, and a half-dozen ophthalmologists and dermatologists constitute the general medical staff of the city.Health facilities include:...

 in 1979.

Apart from the little known 1738 performance at Covent Garden, there is no evidence of 1 Henry VI having ever been performed as a stand-alone play, unlike both 2 Henry VI (which was initially staged as a single play by Douglas Seale in 1951) and 3 Henry VI (which was staged as a single play by Katie Mitchell
Katie Mitchell
Katrina Jane Mitchell OBE is an English theatre director. She is an Associate of the Royal National Theatre.-Life and career:Mitchell was raised in Hermitage, Berkshire and educated at Oakham School. Upon leaving Oakham she went up to Magdalen College, Oxford to read English...

 in 1994).


Evidence for the first adaptation of 1 Henry VI is not found until 1817, when Edmund Kean
Edmund Kean
Edmund Kean was an English actor, regarded in his time as the greatest ever.-Early life:Kean was born in London. His father was probably Edmund Kean, an architect’s clerk, and his mother was an actress, Anne Carey, daughter of the 18th century composer and playwright Henry Carey...

 appeared in J.H. Merivale
John Herman Merivale
John Herman Merivale was an English barrister and man of letters.-Life:He was the only son of John Merivale of Barton Place, Exeter, and Bedford Square, London, by Ann Katencamp or Katenkamp, daughter of a German merchant settled in Exeter, and was born in that city on 5 August 1779...

's Richard Duke of York; or the Contention of York and Lancaster at Drury Lane
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663,...

, which used material from all three Henry VI plays, but removed everything not directly related to York; the play ended with his death, which occurs in Act 1, Scene 4 of 3 Henry VI. Material used from 1 Henry VI includes the Temple Garden scene, the Mortimer scene and the introduction of Margaret.

Following Merivale's example, Robert Atkins
Robert Atkins (actor)
Sir Robert Atkins, CBE was an English actor, producer and director.Born in Dulwich, London, England, Atkins was most famous for his participation in the theatre. An early graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he also appeared many times on film and in television, though not with the...

 adapted all three plays into one for a performance at The Old Vic in 1923 as part of the celebrations for the tercentenary of the First Folio. Guy Martineau played Henry, Esther Whitehouse played Margaret, Ernest Meads played Talbot and Jane Bacon played Joan.
The success of the 1951–1953 Douglas Seale stand-alone productions of each of the individual plays in Birmingham prompted him to present the three plays together at the Old Vic in 1957 under the general title The Wars of the Roses. Barry Jackson adapted the text, altering the trilogy into a two part play; 1 Henry VI and 2 Henry VI were combined (with almost all of 1 Henry VI eliminated) and 3 Henry VI was edited. Seale again directed, with Paul Daneman again appearing as Henry, alongside Barbara Jefford
Barbara Jefford
Barbara Jefford, OBE is a British Shakespearean actress best known for her theatrical performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Old Vic and the National Theatre, and her role as Molly Bloom in the 1967 film of James Joyce's Ulysses.-Early life:Jefford was born Mary Barbara Jefford in...

 as Margaret. The roles of both Talbot and Joan were removed, and 1 Henry VI was reduced to three scenes – the funeral of Henry V, the Temple Garden scene and the introduction of Margaret.

The production which is usually credited with establishing the reputation of the play in the modern theatre is John Barton
John Barton (director)
John Bernard Adie Barton CBE is a theatrical director. He is the son of Sir Harold Montagu and Lady Joyce Barton. He married Anne Righter, a university lecturer, in 1968....

 and Peter Hall's 1963/1964 RSC production of the tetralogy, adapted into a three-part series, under the general title The Wars of the Roses, at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The first play (entitled simply Henry VI) featured a much shortened version of 1 Henry VI and half of 2 Henry VI (up to the death of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester). The second play (entitled Edward IV) featured the second half of 2 Henry VI and a shortened version of 3 Henry VI, which was then followed by a shortened version of Richard III as the third play. In all, 1,450 lines written by Barton were added to 6,000 lines of original Shakespearean material, with a total of 12,350 lines removed. The production starred David Warner
David Warner (actor)
David Warner is an English actor who is known for playing both romantic leads and sinister or villainous characters, both in film and animation...

 as Henry, Peggy Ashcroft
Peggy Ashcroft
Dame Peggy Ashcroft, DBE was an English actress.-Early years:Born as Edith Margaret Emily Ashcroft in Croydon, Ashcroft attended the Woodford School, Croydon and the Central School of Speech and Drama...

 as Margaret, Derek Smith (later replaced by Clive Swift
Clive Swift
Clive Walter Swift is an English character comedy actor and songwriter. He is best known for his role as character Richard Bucket in the British television series Keeping Up Appearances. He is less known for his role as character Roy in the British television series The Old Guys...

) as Talbot and Janet Suzman
Janet Suzman
Dame Janet Suzman, DBE is a South African-born-British actress and director.-Early life:Janet Suzman was born in Johannesburg to a Jewish family, the daughter of Betty and Saul Suzman, a wealthy importer of tobacco....

 as Joan. Barton and Hall were both especially concerned that the plays reflect the contemporary political environment, with the civil chaos and breakdown of society depicted in the plays mirrored in the contemporary milieu, by events such as the building of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 in 1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

 in 1962 and the assassination of John F. Kennedy
Assassination of John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas...

 in 1963. Hall allowed these events to reflect themselves in the production, arguing that "we live among war, race riots, revolutions, assassinations, and the imminent threat of extinction. The theatre is, therefore, examining fundamentals in staging the Henry VI plays."

Another major adaptation was staged in 1987 by the English Shakespeare Company
English Shakespeare Company
The English Shakespeare Company was an English theatre company founded in 1986 by Michael Bogdanov and Michael Pennington to present and promote the works of William Shakespeare on both a national and an international level....

, under the direction of Michael Bogdanov
Michael Bogdanov
Michael Bogdanov , is a British theatre director known for his work with new plays, modern reinterpretations of Shakespeare, musicals and work for Young People.-Early years:...

. This touring production opened at the Old Vic, and subsequently toured for two years, performing at, amongst others, the Panasonic Globe Theatre
Panasonic Globe Theatre
The Panasonic Globe Theatre in Tokyo, Japan, was designed by Isozaki Arata and opened in 1988 to showcase local and international productions of Shakespeare's plays...

 in Tokyo, Japan (as the inaugural play of the arena), the Festival dei Due Mondi
Festival dei Due Mondi
The Festival dei Due Mondi ' is an annual summer music and opera festival held each June to early July in Spoleto, Italy, since its founding by composer Gian Carlo Menotti in 1958...

 in Spoleto
Spoleto is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia in east central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. It is S. of Trevi, N. of Terni, SE of Perugia; SE of Florence; and N of Rome.-History:...

, Italy and at the Adelaide Festival of Arts
Adelaide Festival of Arts
The Adelaide Festival of Arts is an arts festival held biennially in the South Australian capital of Adelaide. Although locally considered to be one of the world's greatest celebrations of the arts, that is internationally renowned and the pre-eminent cultural event in Australia, it is actually...

 in Australia. Following the structure established by Barton, Bogdanov combined a heavily edited 1 Henry VI and the first half of 2 Henry VI into one play (Henry VI), and the second half of 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI into another (Edward IV), and followed them with an edited Richard III. Also like Barton, Bogdanov concentrated on political issues, although he made them far more overt than had Barton. For example, played by June Watson, Margaret was closely modelled after the British Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 at the time, Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

, even to the point of having similar clothes and hair. Similarly, Paul Brennan
Paul Brennan
The Irish artist is a teacher at Willow Tree Primary School located in West LondonPaul Brennan is a traditional musician from County Down, Northern Ireland who has lived in London for a number of years.Brennan co-founded the Belfast School of Piping...

's Henry was modelled after the King Edward, prior to his abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

. Bogdanov also employed frequent anachronisms and contemporary visual registers, in an effort to show the relevance of the politics in the fifteenth century to the contemporary period. The production was noted for its pessimism as regards British politics, with some critics feeling the political resonances were too heavy handed. However, the series was a huge box office success. Alongside Watson and Brennan, the play starred Michael Fenner as Talbot and Mary Rutherford as Joan.

Another adaptation of the tetralogy by the Royal Shakespeare Company followed in 1988, performed at the Barbican
Barbican Centre
The Barbican Centre is the largest performing arts centre in Europe. Located in the City of London, England, the Centre hosts classical and contemporary music concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and art exhibitions. It also houses a library, three restaurants, and a conservatory...

. Adapted by Charles Wood
Charles Wood (playwright)
Charles Wood is a playwright and scriptwriter for radio, television, and film. He lives in England....

 and directed by Adrian Noble
Adrian Noble
Adrian Keith Noble is a theatre director, and was also the artistic director and chief executive of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1990 to 2003.-Education and career:...

, the Barton structure was again followed, reducing the trilogy to two plays by dividing 2 Henry VI in the middle. The resulting trilogy was entitled The Plantagenets, with the individual plays entitled Henry VI, The Rise of Edward IV and Richard III, His Death. Starring Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes is an English actor and film director. He has appeared in such films as The English Patient, In Bruges, The Constant Gardener, Strange Days, The Duchess and Schindler's List....

 as Henry, Penny Downie
Penny Downie
Penny Downie is an Australian actress, noted for her appearances on British television.She began her career in Australia, initially in Brisbane at Twelfth Night Theatre and Brisbane Arts Theatre. She trained at the National Institute of Dramatic Art , Sydney...

 as Margaret, Mark Hadfield
Mark Hadfield
Mark Hadfield is an English actor.Before starting his professional career, Hadfield trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art .-Theatre:...

 as Talbot and Julia Ford
Julia Ford
Julia Ford is a British actress who has appeared in a variety of theatre, film, radio and television productions, including Waking the Dead, Silent Witness, Midsomer Murders and All About George, The Street, Red Riding, Coming Down The Mountain, In A Land of Plenty, Insiders, Island at War...

 as Joan, the production was extremely successful with both audiences and critics.

Michael Bogdanov and the English Shakespeare Company presented a different adaptation at the Grand Theatre in Swansea in 1991, using the same cast as on the touring production. All eight plays from the history cycle were presented over a seven night period, with each play receiving one performance only, and with only twenty-eight actors portraying the nearly five hundred roles. Whilst the other five plays in the cycle were unadapted, the Henry VI plays were combined into two, using the Barton structure. The first was named The House of Lancaster and the second, The House of York.

In 2000, Edward Hall
Edward Hall (director)
Edward Hall is an English theatre director and an associate director at The National Theatre. Hall is known for directing Rose Rage, a stage adaptation of Shakespeare's three Henry VI plays. He also runs an all-male Shakespeare company, Propeller...

 presented the trilogy as a two-part series at the Watermill Theatre
Watermill Theatre
The Watermill Theatre is an award -winning, professional repertory theatre with charitable status. It is a converted watermill with gardens beside the River Lambourn, in Bagnor, near Newbury, Berkshire, England...

 in Newbury
Newbury, Berkshire
Newbury is a civil parish and the principal town in the west of the county of Berkshire in England. It is situated on the River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal, and has a town centre containing many 17th century buildings. Newbury is best known for its racecourse and the adjoining former USAF...

. Hall followed the Jackson/Seale adaptation, combining 1 Henry VI and 2 Henry VI into one play which all but eliminated 1 Henry VI and following this with an edited version of 3 Henry VI. This production was noted for how it handled the violence of the play. The set was designed to look like an abattoir
A slaughterhouse or abattoir is a facility where animals are killed for consumption as food products.Approximately 45-50% of the animal can be turned into edible products...

, but rather than attempt to present the violence realistically (as most productions do), Hall went in the other direction; presenting the violence symbolically. Whenever a character was decapitated or killed, a red cabbage was sliced up whilst the actor mimed the death beside it.

In 2001, Tom Markus directed an adaptation of the tetralogy at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Colorado Shakespeare Festival
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is a Shakespeare Festival each summer at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the outdoor Mary Rippon Theater and indoor University Theatre. The Mary Rippon Theater hosted an annual summer Shakespeare play starting in 1944. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival...

. Condensing all fours plays into one, Markus named the play Queen Margaret, doing much the same with the character of Margaret as Merivale had done with York. Margaret was played by Gloria Biegler, Henry by Richard Haratine, York by Lars Tatom and Gloucester by Charles Wilcox. The only scene from 1 Henry VI was the meeting between Margaret and Suffolk.
Another unusual 2001 adaptation of the tetralogy was entitled Shakespeare's Rugby Wars. Written by Matt Toner and Chris Coculuzzi, and directed by Coculuzzi, the play was acted by the Upstart Crow Theatre Group and staged outdoors at the Robert Street Playing Field as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival
Toronto Fringe Festival
The Toronto Fringe Festival is an annual theatre festival, featuring uncensored plays by unknown or well-known artists, taking place in the theatres of Toronto. Several productions originally mounted at the Fringe have later been remounted for larger audiences, including the Tony Award-winning...

. Presented as if it were a live rugby match between York and Lancaster, the 'play' featured commentary from Falstaff
Sir John Falstaff is a fictional character who appears in three plays by William Shakespeare. In the two Henry IV plays, he is a companion to Prince Hal, the future King Henry V. A fat, vain, boastful, and cowardly knight, Falstaff leads the apparently wayward Prince Hal into trouble, and is...

 (Stephen Flett), which was broadcast live for the audience. The 'match' itself was refereed by 'Bill Shakespeare' (played by Coculuzzi), and the actors (whose characters names all appeared on their jerseys) had microphones attached and would recite dialogue from all four plays at key moments.

In 2002, Leon Rubin presented the tetralogy as a trilogy at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario. Using the Barton method of combining 1 Henry VI with the first half of 2 Henry VI, and the second half of 2 Henry VI with 3 Henry VI, the plays were renamed Henry VI: Revenge in France and Henry VI: Revolt in England. Michael Thierry played Henry, Seana McKenna
Seana McKenna
Seana McKenna is a Canadian actress primarily associated with stage roles at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.-Background:Seana Mckenna was raised in Etobicoke, west of Toronto, Ontario...

 played Margaret, Brad Ruby played Talbot and Michelle Giroux
Michelle Giroux
Michelle Giroux is a Canadian stage actress whose credits include numerous productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival over nine seasons....

 played Joan.

Also in 2002, Edward Hall and the Propeller Company presented a one-play all-male cast modern dress adaptation of the trilogy at the Watermill Theatre. Under the title Rose Rage, Hall used a cast of only thirteen actors to portray the nearly one hundred and fifty speaking roles in the four-hour production, thus necessitating doubling and tripling of parts. Although a new adaptation, this production followed the Jackson/Seale method of eliminating almost all of 1 Henry VI (Joan was completely absent). The original cast included Jonathan McGuinness as Henry, Robert Hands
Robert Hands
Robert Hands is a British actor based in London. He trained at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic theatre school. His career has spanned over twenty years during which time he has played leading roles in film, television, and both classical and musical theatre in London’s West End...

 as Margaret and Keith Bartlett as Talbot. After a successful run at the Watermill, the play moved to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a non-profit, professional theater company located at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois. Its more than six hundred annual performances performed 48 weeks of the year include its critically acclaimed Shakespeare series, its World's Stage touring productions, and youth...

. The American cast included Carman Lacivita as Henry, Scott Parkinson as Margaret and Fletcher McTaggart as Talbot.

Outside England, a major European adaptation of the tetralogy took place in 1864 in Weimar under the direction of Franz von Dingelstedt, who, seven years previously had staged the play unedited. Dingelstedt turned the trilogy into a two-parter under the general name Die weisse rose. The first play was called Haus Lancaster, the second Haus York. This adaptation was unique insofar as both plays were created by combining material from all three Henry VI plays. Following this structure, Alfred von Walzogen also produced a two-part play in 1875, under the general title Edward IV. Another European adaptation was in 1965 at the Teatro Piccolo in Milan. Directed by Giorgio Strehler
Giorgio Strehler
Giorgio Strehler was an Italian opera and theatre director.-Biography:Strehler was born in Barcola, Trieste to an Austrian father and a Franco-Slovene mother; he grew up speaking Italian but spoke French well and his German was passable. He became suddenly fatherless at the age of three, his...

 it went under the title Il gioco del potenti (The Play of the Mighty). Using Barton's structure, Strehler also added several characters, including a Chorus, who used monologues from Richard II, both parts of Henry IV, Henry V, Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

 and Timon of Athens
Timon of Athens
The Life of Timon of Athens is a play by William Shakespeare about the fortunes of an Athenian named Timon , generally regarded as one of his most obscure and difficult works...

, and two gravediggers called Bevis and Holland (after the names of two of Cade's rebels in the Folio text of 2 Henry VI), who commented (with dialogue written by Strehler himself) on each of the major characters as they set about burying them.


The first television adaptation of the play was in 1960 when the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 produced a serial entitled An Age of Kings. The show comprised fifteen one-hour episodes which adapted all eight of Shakespeare's sequential history plays. Directed by Michael Hayes and produced by Peter Dews
Peter Dews (director)
Peter Dews was an English stage director.Born and educated in Wakefield, Yorkshire he then took an M.A. at University College, Oxford...

, with a script by Eric Crozier
Eric Crozier
Eric Crozier was a British theatrical director and opera librettist, long associated with Benjamin Britten....

, the production featured Terry Scully
Terry Scully
Terry Scully was a British theatre and television actor.After making his name in the theatre, from the 1960s onwards he became more known for TV work...

 as Henry, Mary Morris
Mary Morris
Mary Morris was a British actress.-Life and career:She was the daughter of Herbert Stanley Morris, the botanist, and his wife Sylvia Ena de Creft-Harford. She was educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.She made her stage debut in Lysistrata at the Gate Theatre, London, in 1935...

 as Margaret and Eileen Atkins
Eileen Atkins
Dame Eileen June Atkins, DBE is an English actress and occasional screenwriter.- Early life :Atkins was born in the Mothers' Hospital in Clapton, a Salvation Army women's hostel in East London...

 as Joan. The character of Talbot was removed. The ninth episode, under the title 'The Red Rose and the White' presented an abridged version of 1 Henry VI.

In 1965, BBC 1
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

 broadcast all three plays from John Barton and Peter Hall's The Wars of the Roses trilogy (Henry VI, The Rise of Edward IV and Richard III) with David Warner as Henry and Peggy Ashcroft as Margaret. The play was presented as more than simply filmed theatre however. At certain performances of the plays, cameramen with hand-held cameras were allowed on stage to shoot battle scenes, and camera platforms were created around the theatre. In all, twelve cameras were used to record the performance, allowing the final product to edited more like a film than a piece of static filmed theatre. Filming was done following the 1964 run of the plays at Stratford-upon-Avon, and took place over an eight-week period. In 1966, the production was repeated on BBC 1 where it was re-edited into eleven episodes of fifty minutes each.
Another television version of the play was produced by the BBC in 1981 for their BBC Television Shakespeare
BBC Television Shakespeare
The BBC Television Shakespeare was a set of television adaptations of the plays of William Shakespeare, produced by the BBC between 1978 and 1985.-Origins:...

 series, although the episode didn't air until 1983. Directed by Jane Howell, the play was presented as the first part of the tetralogy (all four adaptations directed by Howell) with linked casting; Henry was played by Peter Benson
Peter Benson (actor)
Peter Benson is a British actor probably best known as Bernie Scripps in the popular ITV1 TV-series Heartbeat, a drama about the police in Aidensfield in the 1960s. Benson has played Bernie Scripps in the series since 1995. In the TV-series 'Bernie' Scripps is running Aidensfield Garage, and the...

, Margaret by Julia Foster
Julia Foster
Julia Foster is a British actress.Foster's credits include the films The Bargee with Harry H. Corbett, Alfie with Michael Caine, Half a Sixpence with Tommy Steele, and Percy with Hywel Bennett...

, Talbot by Trevor Peacock
Trevor Peacock
Trevor Peacock is an English stage and television character actor. He was born in Tottenham, London, the son of Alexandria and Victor Edward Peacock.-Television and Film Career:...

 and Joan by Brenda Blethyn
Brenda Blethyn
Brenda Anne Blethyn, OBE is an English actress who has worked in theatre, television and film. Blethyn has received two Academy Award nominations, two SAG Award nominations, two Emmy Award nominations and three Golden Globe Award nominations, winning one...

. All four plays were set in a children's playground area, which decayed and became more and more dilapidated as the plays went on and social order became more fractious.

For the most part, Howell's The First Part of Henry the Sixt is taken word-for-word from the First Folio, with only some relatively minor differences. For example, the adaptation opens differently to the play, with Henry VI singing a lament for his father. Another difference is that Fastolf's escape from Rouen is seen rather than merely mentioned. Also worth noting is that Act 5, Scene 1 and Act 5, Scene 2 are reversed so that Act 4, Scene 7 and Act 5, Scene 2 now form one continuous piece.

Additionally, numerous lines were cut from almost every scene. Some of the more notable omissions include; in Act 1, Scene 1, absent are Bedford's references to children crying and England becoming a marsh
In geography, a marsh, or morass, is a type of wetland that is subject to frequent or continuous flood. Typically the water is shallow and features grasses, rushes, reeds, typhas, sedges, other herbaceous plants, and moss....

 since Henry V died; "Posterity await for wretched years/When, at their mothers' moistened eyes, babes shall suck,/Our isle be made a marish of salt tears,/And none but women left to wail the dead" (ll.48–51). In Act 1, Scene 2, Alençon's praise of the resoluteness of the English army is absent; "Froissart, a countryman of ours, records/England all Olivers and Rolands bred/During the time Edward the Third did reign./More truly now may this be verified,/For none by Samsons and Goliases/It sendeth forth to skirmish." (ll.29–34). In Act 1, Scene 3, some of the dialogue between Gloucester and Winchester outside the Tower is absent (ll.36–43), whilst in Act 1, Scene 5, so too is Talbot's complaint about the French wanting to ransom him for a prisoner of less worth; "But with a baser man-of-arms by far,/Once in contempt they would have bartered me –/Which I, disdaining, scorned, and crav'd death/Rather than I would be so vile-esteemed" (ll.8–11). In Act 1, Scene 7, some of Charles' praise of Joan is absent; "A statelier pyramis
A pyramid is a structure whose outer surfaces are triangular and converge at a single point. The base of a pyramid can be trilateral, quadrilateral, or any polygon shape, meaning that a pyramid has at least three triangular surfaces...

 to her I'll rear/Than Rhodope's
Queen Rhodope
In Greek mythology, Queen Rhodope of Thrace was the wife of Haemus. Haemus was vain and haughty and compared himself and Rhodope to Zeus and Hera, who were offended and changed the couple into mountains . The story is mentioned by the Roman poet Ovid at Metamorphoses 6.87-89....

 of Memphis
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

 ever was./In memory of her, when she is dead,/Her ashes, in an urn more precious/Than the rich-jewelled coffer of Darius,/Transported shall be at high festivals/Before the kings and queens of France" (ll.21–27). In Act 3, Scene 1, some of Warwick’s attack on Winchester is absent; "You see what mischief – and what murder too –/Hath been enacted through your enmity" (ll.27–28). In Act 4, Scene 6, some of the dialogue between Talbot and John has been removed (ll.6–25). The most interesting omissions come in Act 4, Scene 7. In this scene, twelve of Joan's sixteen lines have been cut; the entire seven line speech where she says John Talbot refused to fight her because she is a woman (ll.37–43); the first three lines of her five line mockery of Lucy's listing of Talbot's titles, "Here's a silly, stately style indeed./The Turk, that two-and-fifty kingdoms hath,/Writes not so tedious a style as this" (ll.72–75); and the first two lines of her four line speech where she mocks Lucy, "I think this upstart is old Talbot's ghost,/He speaks with such a proud commanding spirit" (ll.86–88). These omissions reduce Joan's role in this scene to a virtual spectator, and coupled with this, Brenda Blethyn portrays the character as if deeply troubled by something.

Another notable stylistic technique used in the adaptation is the multiple addresses direct-to-camera. Much more so than in any of the sequels, the adaptation of 1 Henry VI has multiple characters addressing the camera continually throughout the play, oftentimes for comic effect. The most noticeable scene in this respect is Act 2, Scene 3, where Talbot meets the Countess of Auvergne. Almost all of her dialogue prior to line 32 ("If thou be he, then thou art prisoner") is delivered direct to camera, including her incredulous description of the difference between the real Talbot, and the reports she has heard of him. At one point during this speech, Auvergne exclaims "Alas, this is a child, a silly dwarf" (l.21), at which point Talbot himself looks at the camera in disbelief. The comedy of the scene is enhanced by having the 5 foot 10 actor Trevor Peacock playing Talbot, and the 6 foot 3 actress Joanna McCallum
Joanna McCallum
Joanna McCallum is a British theatre, film and television actress. She is the daughter of British actress Googie Withers and Australian actor John McCallum...

 playing Auvergne. Elsewhere, addresses to the camera are found throughout the play. For example, as Bedford, Gloucester, Exeter and Winchester leave in Act 1, Scene 1, each one reveals their intentions direct-to-camera (ll.166–177). Other examples are Joan's confession of where she got her sword (1.2.100–101); the Mayor's last two lines at the Tower (1.3.89–90); Talbot's "My thoughts are whirl'd like a potter's wheel./I know not where I am nor what I do./A witch, by fear, not force, like Hannibal,/Drives back our troops and conquers as she lists" (1.6.19–22); some of Mortimer's monologue prior to the arrival of Richard (2.5.22–32); Richard's "Plantagenet, I see, must hold his tongue,/Lest it be said, 'Speak, sirrah, when you should:/Must your bold verdict enter talk with lords?'/Else would I have a fling at Winchester" (3.1.61–64); Exeter's soliloquy at the end of Act 3, Scene 1 (ll.190–203); Exeter's soliloquy at the end of Act 4, Scene 1 (ll.182–194); most of the dialogue between Suffolk and Margaret as they ignore one another (5.4.16–64); and Suffolk's soliloquy which closes the play (5.6.102–109) Also to-camera is Joan's "Poor market folks that come to sell their corn" (3.2.14), which is delivered as if it were a translation of the preceding line for the benefit of the non-French speaking audience.

In 1964, Austrian channel ORF2
ORF2 is an Austrian television channel owned by ORF.ORF2 was launched on 11 September 1961 as a technical test programme. Since 1970, ORF2 broadcasts on seven days a week. Today it is one of the three public TV channels in Austria.Where as ORF1 focuses on tv series and movies, ORF2 broadcasts...

 presented an adaptation of the trilogy by Leopold Lindtberg
Leopold Lindtberg
Leopold Lindtberg was an Austrian Swiss film and theatre director...

 under the title Heinrich VI. The cast list from this production has been lost. In 2003, German channel ZDF
Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen , ZDF, is a public-service German television broadcaster based in Mainz . It is run as an independent non-profit institution, which was founded by the German federal states . The ZDF is financed by television licence fees called GEZ and advertising revenues...

 presented a filmed version of the 1967 Peter Palitzsch presentation of the tetralogy in Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....



In 1923, extracts from all three Henry VI plays were broadcast on BBC Radio
BBC Radio
BBC Radio is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927. For a history of BBC radio prior to 1927 see British Broadcasting Company...

, performed by the Cardiff Station Repertory Company as the third episode of a series of programs showcasing Shakespeare's plays, entitled Shakespeare Night. In 1947, BBC Third Programme
BBC Third Programme
The BBC Third Programme was a national radio network broadcast by the BBC. The network first went on air on 29 September 1946 and became one of the leading cultural and intellectual forces in Britain, playing a crucial role in disseminating the arts...

 aired a one hundred and fifty minute adaptation of the trilogy as part of their Shakespeare's Historical Plays series, a six-part adaptation of the eight sequential history plays, with linked casting. Adapted by Maurice Roy Ridley
Roy Ridley
Maurice Roy Ridley was a writer and poet, Fellow and Chaplain of Balliol College, Oxford. He was a model for the fictional character Lord Peter Wimsey.-Life:...

, King Henry VI starred John Byron as Henry and Gladys Young as Margaret. Almost the entirety of 1 Henry VI was cut, with everything related to the conflict in France being removed. In 1952, Third Programme aired an adaptation of the tetralogy by Peter Watts and John Dover Wilson under the general name The Wars of the Roses. The tetralogy was adapted into a trilogy but in an unusual way. 1 Henry VI was simply removed, so the trilogy contained only 2 Henry VI, 3 Henry VI and Richard III. The adaptation starred Valentine Dyall
Valentine Dyall
Valentine Dyall was an English character actor, the son of veteran actor Franklin Dyall. Dyall was especially popular as a voice actor, due to his very distinctive sepulchral voice, he was known for many years as "The Man in Black", narrator of the BBC Radio horror series Appointment With Fear.In...

 as Henry and Sonia Dresdel
Sonia Dresdel
Sonia Dresdel was an English actress, whose career ran between the 1940s and 1970s.She was born Lois Obee in Hornsea, East Riding of Yorkshire, England and was educated at Aberdeen High School for Girls....

 as Margaret. In 1971, BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3 is a national radio station operated by the BBC within the United Kingdom. Its output centres on classical music and opera, but jazz, world music, drama, culture and the arts also feature. The station is the world’s most significant commissioner of new music, and its New Generation...

 presented a two-part adaptation of the trilogy by Raymond Raikes. Part 1 contained an abridged 1 Henry VI and an abridged version of the first three acts of 2 Henry VI. Part 2 presented Acts 4 and 5 of 2 Henry VI and an abridged 3 Henry VI. Nigel Lambert
Nigel Lambert
Nigel Lambert is best known for his role as the narrator of the first series of the BBC comedy series Look Around You.He is the voice of Mr Curry in The Adventures of Paddington Bear television series and also "Papa" in the Dolmio pasta sauce puppet commercials.He also contributed extensively to...

 played Henry, Barbara Jefford played Margaret, Francis de Wolff
Francis de Wolff
Francis de Wolff was an English character actor. Large, bearded, and beetle-browed, he was often cast as villains in both film and television....

 played Talbot and Elizabeth Morgan
Elizabeth Morgan (actor)
Elizabeth Morgan is a British actress, primarily in supporting roles, in films, television, and onstage. She was often credited as "Liz Morgan".-External links:...

 played Joan. In 1977, BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 presented a 26-part serialisation of the eight sequential history plays under the general title Vivat Rex (long live the King). Adapted by Martin Jenkins
Martin Jenkins
Martin J. Jenkins is a justice of the California Court of Appeal for the First District, located in San Francisco, and a former federal judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.-Early life:...

 as part of the celebration of the Silver Jubilee
Silver Jubilee
A Silver Jubilee is a celebration held to mark a 25th anniversary. The anniversary celebrations can be of a wedding anniversary, ruling anniversary or anything that has completed a 25 year mark...

 of Elizabeth II, 1 Henry VI comprised episodes 15 ("Joan of Arc") and 16 ("The White Rose and the Red"). James Laurenson
James Laurenson
James Laurenson is a New Zealand actor, who has performed many classical roles on stage and television.Laurenson was born in Marton, New Zealand...

 played Henry, Peggy Ashcroft played Margaret, Clive Swift played Talbot, Hannah Gordon
Hannah Gordon
Hannah Cambell Grant Gordon is a Scottish actress who is well known in the United Kingdom for her television work, including Upstairs, Downstairs, Telford's Change, My Wife Next Door, Joint Account and an appearance in the final episode of One Foot in the Grave.-Early life:Gordon was born in...

 played Joan, and Richard Burton
Richard Burton
Richard Burton, CBE was a Welsh actor. He was nominated seven times for an Academy Award, six of which were for Best Actor in a Leading Role , and was a recipient of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Tony Awards for Best Actor. Although never trained as an actor, Burton was, at one time, the highest-paid...


In America, in 1936, a heavily edited adaptation of the trilogy was broadcast as part of NBC Blue
Blue Network
The Blue Network, and its immediate predecessor, the NBC Blue Network, were the on-air names of an American radio production and distribution service from 1927 to 1945...

's Radio Guild series. Comprising three sixty minute episodes aired a week apart, the adaptation was written by Vernon Radcliffe and starred Henry Herbert
Henry Herbert (actor)
Henry Herbert was an English stage actor and producer, who became well known in the United States.He appears to have commenced his early career with Ben Greet's Company, and with Sir Frank Benson; for some years he managed Benson's No.2 Company on tour, as well as playing leading parts...

 as Henry and Janet Nolan as Margaret. In 1954, CBC Radio
CBC Radio
CBC Radio generally refers to the English-language radio operations of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC operates a number of radio networks serving different audiences and programming niches, all of which are outlined below.-English:CBC Radio operates three English language...

 presented an adaptation of the trilogy by Andrew Allen, who combined 1 Henry VI, 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI into a one hundred and sixty minute episode. There is no known cast information for this production.

In 1985, German radio channel Sender Freies Berlin
Sender Freies Berlin
Sender Freies Berlin was the ARD public radio and television service for West Berlin from 1 June 1954 until 1990 and for Berlin as a whole from German reunification until 30 April 2003...

 broadcast a heavily edited seventy-six minute two-part adaptation of the octology adapted by Rolf Schneider, under the title Shakespeare's Rosenkriege.

External links