Henry VI, part 3

Henry VI, part 3

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Henry VI, Part 3 or The Third Part of Henry the Sixt (often written as 3 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"...

 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 1 Henry VI
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, Part 1 or The First Part of Henry the Sixt is a history play by William Shakespeare, and possibly Thomas Nashe, believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England...

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...

, and 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...

focuses on the King's inability to quell the bickering of his nobles, and the inevitability of armed conflict, 3 Henry VI deals primarily with the horrors of that conflict, as the once ordered nation is thrown into chaos and barbarism
Societal collapse
Societal collapse broadly includes both quite abrupt societal failures typified by collapses , as well as more extended gradual declines of superpowers...

 as families break down and moral codes
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

 are subverted in the pursuit of revenge
Revenge is a harmful action against a person or group in response to a grievance, be it real or perceived. It is also called payback, retribution, retaliation or vengeance; it may be characterized, justly or unjustly, as a form of justice.-Function in society:Some societies believe that the...

 and power.

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 3 features the longest soliloquy
A soliloquy is a device often used in drama whereby a character relates his or her thoughts and feelings to him/herself and to the audience without addressing any of the other characters, and is delivered often when they are alone or think they are alone. Soliloquy is distinct from monologue and...

 in all of Shakespeare (3.2.124–195), and has more battle scenes (four on stage, one reported) than any of Shakespeare's plays
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...



Of the King's Party
  • King Henry VI – King of England
  • Queen 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...

    – Queen to Henry VI
  • Edward, Prince of Wales – their son
  • Lord Clifford
    John Clifford, 9th Baron de Clifford
    John Clifford, 9th Baron de Clifford, also 9th Lord of Skipton was a Lancastrian military leader during the Wars of the Roses...

  • Duke of Exeter
    Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter
    Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter was a Lancastrian leader during the English Wars of the Roses. He was the only son of John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter and his first wife Lady Anne Stafford. His maternal grandparents were Edmund Stafford, 5th Earl of Stafford and Anne of Gloucester.He inherited...

  • Duke of Somerset (a conflation of Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset
    Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset
    Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset was an important Lancastrian military commander during the English Wars of the Roses. He is sometimes numbered the 2nd Duke of Somerset, since the title was re-created for his father after his uncle died...

     and Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset
    Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset
    Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset, 6th Earl of Somerset, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, 3rd Earl of Dorset was an English nobleman and military commander during the Wars of the Roses....

    , his younger brother)
  • Earl of Northumberland
    Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland
    Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland was the son of Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland and Lady Eleanor Neville, daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland and his second wife Joan Beaufort.-Family:...

  • Earl of Westmorland
    Ralph Neville, 2nd Earl of Westmorland
    Ralph Neville, 2nd Earl of Westmorland was an English peer.The eldest son of John Neville, Lord Neville, he became heir apparent to his grandfather Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland upon his father's death in 1420...

  • Earl of Oxford
    John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford
    John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford , the second son of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, and Elizabeth Howard, was one of the principal Lancastrian commanders during the English Wars of the Roses...

  • Henry, Earl of Richmond
    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....

    (non-speaking role)
  • Somerville – messenger

Of the Duke of York's Party
  • Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York – asserts he should be King
  • Edward Plantagenet, Earl of March
    Edward IV of England
    Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England...

    – later King Edward IV; York's eldest son
  • George Plantagenet
    George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
    George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, 1st Earl of Salisbury, 1st Earl of Warwick, KG was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the brother of kings Edward IV and Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the...

    – later Duke of Clarence
    Duke of Clarence
    Duke of Clarence is a title which has been traditionally awarded to junior members of the English and British Royal families. The first three creations were in the Peerage of England, the fourth in the Peerage of Great Britain, and the fifth in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.The title was first...

    ; York's son
  • Richard Plantagenet
    Richard III of England
    Richard III was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty...

    – later Duke of 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...

    ; York's son
  • Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Rutland
    Edmund, Earl of Rutland
    Edmund, Earl of Rutland was the fifth child and second surviving son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville...

    – York's youngest son
  • Rutland's tutor
  • 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...

  • Duke of Norfolk
    John de Mowbray, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
    Sir John de Mowbray, 3rd Duke of Norfolk KG, Earl Marshal was an important player in the Wars of the Roses.He was the son of John Mowbray, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and Lady Katherine Neville...

  • Montague (two different 'versions' of the character appear in the play, each one representing a different historical figure. The Act 1 persona is that of the Earl of Salisbury
    Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury
    Richard Neville, jure uxoris 5th Earl of Salisbury and 7th and 4th Baron Montacute, KG, PC was a Yorkist leader during the early parts of the Wars of the Roses.-Background:...

    , Warwick's father, and a major character in 2 Henry VI. From Act 2 onwards, the character represents Salisbury's son and Warwick's younger brother John Neville, Marquis of Montague
    John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu
    John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu KG was a Yorkist leader in the Wars of the Roses, best-known for eliminating Lancastrian resistance in the north of England during the early part of the reign of Edward IV of England....

  • Earl of Pembroke (non-speaking role)

  • Lord Stafford
    Humphrey Stafford, 1st Earl of Devon
    Humphrey Stafford, 1st Earl of Devon was a dominant magnate in south-western England in the mid-15th century, and a participant in the Wars of the Roses. A distant relative of the earls of Stafford, Humphrey Stafford became the greatest landowner in the county of Dorset through fortunes of...

  • Lord Hastings
    William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings
    William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings KG was an English nobleman. A follower of the House of York, he became a close friend and the most important courtier of King Edward IV, whom he served as Lord Chamberlain...

  • Sir William Stanley
    William Stanley (Battle of Bosworth)
    Sir William Stanley was an English soldier and the younger brother of Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby. Stanley fought with his troops in several battles of the Wars of the Roses.-Private life:...

  • Sir John Mortimer – York's uncle
  • Sir Hugh Mortimer – York's uncle
  • Sir John Montgomery
  • Lady Grey
    Elizabeth Woodville
    Elizabeth Woodville was Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Edward IV from 1464 until his death in 1483. Elizabeth was a key figure in the series of dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Her first husband, Sir John Grey of Groby was killed at the Second Battle of St Albans...

    – later Queen Elizabeth to Edward IV
  • Lord Rivers
    Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers
    Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers was an English nobleman, courtier, and writer.He was the eldest son of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Like his father, he was originally a Lancastrian, fighting on that side at the Battle of Towton, but later became a Yorkist...

    – her brother
  • Prince Edward
    Edward V of England
    Edward V was King of England from 9 April 1483 until his deposition two months later. His reign was dominated by the influence of his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who succeeded him as Richard III...

    – Elizabeth and Edward IV's son (non-speaking role)

The French
  • King Louis XI of France
    Louis XI of France
    Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

  • Lady Bona of Savoy
    Bona of Savoy
    Bona of Savoy, Duchess of Milan was a the second spouse of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan and a member of the noble Italian House of Savoy. She served as regent of Milan during the minority of her son 1476–1481....

    – Louis' sister-in-law
  • Lord Bourbon
    Jean V de Bueil
    Jean V de Bueil , called le Fléau des Anglais "plague of the English", count of Sancerre, vicount of Carentan, lord of Montrésor, Château-la-Vallière, Saint-Calais, Vaujours, Ussé and Vailly, son of Jean IV de Bueil and Margarete Dauphine of Auvergne. He is the author of Le Jouvencel Jean V de...

    Admiral of France
    Admiral of France
    The title Admiral of France is one of the Great Officers of the Crown of France, the naval equivalent of Marshal of France.The title was created in 1270 by Louis IX of France, during the Eighth Crusade. At the time it was equivalent to the office of Constable of France. The Admiral was responsible...

     (non-speaking role)

  • Mayor 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...

  • Alderman
    An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law. The term may be titular, denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a council member chosen by the elected members themselves rather than by popular vote, or a council...

     of York
  • Mayor of Coventry
    Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although...

  • Lieutenant of the Tower (a conflation of John Tiptoft, 1st Earl of Worcester
    John Tiptoft, 1st Earl of Worcester
    John Tiptoft, 1st Earl of Worcester KG , English nobleman and scholar, was the son of John Tiptoft, 1st Baron Tiptoft and Joyce Cherleton, co-heiress of Edward Charleton, 5th Baron Cherleton. He was also known as the Butcher of England...

     and John Sutton, 6th Baron Dudley)
  • Son that kills his father
  • Father that kills his son
  • Two gamekeeper
    A gamekeeper is a person who manages an area of countryside to make sure there is enough game for shooting, or fish for angling, and who actively manages areas of woodland, moorland, waterway or farmland for the benefit of game birds, deer, fish and wildlife in general.Typically, a gamekeeper is...

  • Watchmen
  • Huntsman
  • Soldiers, messengers, drummers, attendants, etc.


The play begins immediately where 2 Henry VI left off; with the victorious Yorkists
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...

 (York, Edward, Richard, Warwick, Montague [i.e. Salisbury] and Norfolk) pursuing Henry and Margaret from the battlefield in the wake of the First Battle of St Albans
First Battle of St Albans
The First Battle of St Albans, fought on 22 May 1455 at St Albans, 22 miles north of London, traditionally marks the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. Richard, Duke of York and his ally, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, defeated the Lancastrians under Edmund, Duke of Somerset, who was killed...

. Upon reaching the parliamentary chambers
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

 in London, York seats himself in the throne
A throne is the official chair or seat upon which a monarch is seated on state or ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many expressions such as "the power behind the...

, and a confrontation ensues between his supporters and those of Henry
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...

. Threatened with violence by Warwick, who has brought part of his army with him, Henry brokers a deal with York whereby Henry will remain king until his death, at which time the throne will permanently pass to the House of York and all its descendents thereafter. Disgusted at this decision, as it disinherits Henry's son, Prince Edward, Henry's supporters, led by his wife, Margaret, abandon him, and Margaret declares war on the Yorkists, supported by Clifford, who is determined to exact revenge for the death of his father at the hands of York during the battle at St Albans
St Albans
St Albans is a city in southern Hertfordshire, England, around north of central London, which forms the main urban area of the City and District of St Albans. It is a historic market town, and is now a sought-after dormitory town within the London commuter belt...


Margaret attacks York's castle at Wakefield
Wakefield is the main settlement and administrative centre of the City of Wakefield, a metropolitan district of West Yorkshire, England. Located by the River Calder on the eastern edge of the Pennines, the urban area is and had a population of 76,886 in 2001....

 and the Yorkists lose the ensuing battle
Battle of Wakefield
The Battle of Wakefield took place at Sandal Magna near Wakefield, in West Yorkshire in Northern England, on 30 December 1460. It was a major battle of the Wars of the Roses...

. During the conflict, Clifford murders York's twelve-year old son, Rutland. Margaret and Clifford then capture and taunt York himself, while he is on a molehill they give him a handkerchief
A handkerchief , also called a handkercher or hanky, is a form of a kerchief, typically a hemmed square of thin fabric that can be carried in the pocket or purse, and which is intended for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping one's hands or face, or blowing one's nose...

 covered with Rutland's blood to wipe his brow and place a paper crown
Crown (headgear)
A crown is the traditional symbolic form of headgear worn by a monarch or by a deity, for whom the crown traditionally represents power, legitimacy, immortality, righteousness, victory, triumph, resurrection, honour and glory of life after death. In art, the crown may be shown being offered to...

 on his head, before stabbing him to death. After the battle, as Edward and Richard lament York's death, Warwick brings news that his own army has been defeated by Margaret's at the Second Battle of St Albans
Second Battle of St Albans
The Second Battle of St Albans was a battle of the English Wars of the Roses fought on 17 February, 1461, at St Albans. The army of the Yorkist faction under the Earl of Warwick attempted to bar the road to London north of the town. The rival Lancastrian army used a wide outflanking manoeuvre to...

, and Henry has returned to London and, under pressure from Margaret, revoked his deal with York. It is subsequently revealed that Warwick's father, Salisbury, has been captured and executed. However, George Plantagenet, Richard and Edward's brother, has vowed to join their cause, having been encouraged to do so by his sister, the Duchess of Burgundy
Margaret of York
Margaret of York – also by marriage known as Margaret of Burgundy – was Duchess of Burgundy as the third wife of Charles the Bold and acted as a protector of the Duchy after his death. She was a daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the sister of...

. Additionally, Warwick has been joined by his own younger brother, Montague. The Yorkists regroup, and at the Battle of Towton
Battle of Towton
In 1461, England was in the sixth year of the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster over the English throne. The Lancastrians backed the reigning King of England, Henry VI, an indecisive man who suffered bouts of madness...

, Clifford is killed and the Yorkists romp to victory. Following the battle, Edward is proclaimed king, George is proclaimed Duke of Clarence and Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately north-east of Bristol, and south-southwest of Birmingham....

,though he says this is an ominous dukedom. Edward and George leave the court, and Richard reveals to the audience his own machinations to rise to power and take the throne from his brother, although, as of yet, he is unsure how exactly he might go about it.

After Towton, Warwick heads to France to secure for Edward the hand of Louis XI's sister-in-law, Lady Bona, thus ensuring peace between the two nations by uniting in marriage their two monarchies. In France, Warwick arrives at court to find that Margaret, Prince Edward and the Earl of Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 have come to Louis to seek his aid in the conflict in England. Just as Louis is about to acquiescence and supply Margaret with troops, Warwick intervenes, and convinces Louis that it would be in his own best interests to support Edward and approve the marriage. Back in England, however, the recently widowed Lady Grey (Elizabeth Woodeville) has come to King Edward requesting a suit. Edward marries her, a commoner, out of lust, taken by her stunning beauty. His marriage is against the advice of both George and Richard. Upon hearing of this, and feeling he has been made to look a fool despite all his service to the House of York, Warwick denounces Edward, and switches allegiances to the Lancastrians, promising his daughter's
Anne Neville
Lady Anne Neville was Princess of Wales as the wife of Edward of Westminster and Queen of England as the consort of King Richard III. She held the latter title for less than two years, from 26 June 1483 until her death in March 1485...

 hand in marriage to Prince Edward as a sign of his loyalty to their cause. Shortly thereafter, George and Montague also defect
In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state or political entity in exchange for allegiance to another. More broadly, it involves abandoning a person, cause or doctrine to whom or to which one is bound by some tie, as of allegiance or duty.This term is also applied,...

 from Edward's side, joining Warwick and the Lancastrians. Warwick then leads an invasion of French troops into England, and Edward is taken prisoner. Henry is restored to the throne and appoints Warwick and George as his 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...


Soon thereafter, however, Edward is rescued by Richard, Hastings and Stanley. News of the escape reaches Henry's court, and the young Earl of Richmond is shipped into exile in France for safety. Richmond is a descendant of John of Gaunt
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster , KG was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault...

, uncle of 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...

 and son of Edward III
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...

, and therefore a potential Lancastrian heir, should anything happen to Henry and the Prince, hence the need to protect him. Meanwhile, Edward reorganises his forces and confronts Warwick's army. At the Battle of Barnet
Battle of Barnet
The Battle of Barnet was a decisive engagement in the Wars of the Roses, a dynastic conflict of 15th-century England. The military action, along with the subsequent Battle of Tewkesbury, secured the throne for Edward IV...

, George betrays Warwick, and rejoins the Yorkists. This throws Warwick's forces into disarray, and the Yorkists win the battle, during which both Warwick and Montague are killed. Oxford and the Duke of Somerset
The ceremonial and non-metropolitan county of Somerset in South West England borders Bristol and Gloucestershire to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east, and Devon to the south-west. It is partly bounded to the north and west by the Bristol Channel and the estuary of the...

 now assume command of the Lancastrian forces, and they join with a second battalion newly arrived from France, led by Margaret and Prince Edward. Meanwhile, Henry sits on the molehill York was on and laments his problems. He is met by a father that has killed his son, and a son that has killed his father, representing the horrors of the civil war. Henry is captured by two gamekeepers loyal to Edward, and 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...

, whilst Edward heads to meet the Lancastrian/French force. In the subsequent Battle of Tewkesbury
Battle of Tewkesbury
The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV...

, the Yorkists rout the Lancastrians, capturing Margaret, Prince Edward, Somerset and Oxford. Somerset is sentenced to death, Oxford to life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

, Margaret is banished
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

, and Prince Edward is stabbed to death by the three Plantagenet brothers, who fly into a fit of rage after he refuses to recognise the House of York as the legitimate royal family
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

. At this point, Richard heads to London to kill Henry. Upon arriving in the Tower, the two engage in an argument, and in a rage, Richard stabs him. With his dying breath, Henry prophesies Richard's future career of villainy and the chaos that will engulf the country because of it. Back in court, Edward orders celebrations to begin, as he believes the wars are finally over and lasting peace
Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the...

 is now at hand. He is unaware, however, of Richard's scheming and his desire for power at any cost.


Shakespeare's primary source for 3 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, when Henry is urged by Clifford, Northumberland and Westmoreland to engage the Yorkists in combat within the parliamentary chambers, he is reluctant to do so, arguing that the Yorkists have more support in London than the Lancastrians; "Know you not the city favours them,/And they have troops of soldiers at their beck" (1.1.67–68). Both Hall and Holinshed report that the Yorkists invaded the parliament house, but only Hall reports that Henry chose not to engage them because the majority of the people supported York's claim to the throne. Rutland's death scene (1.3) is also based on Hall rather than Holinshed. Although Clifford is reported as murdering Rutland in both Hall and Holinshed, only in Hall is Rutland's tutor present, and only in Hall do Rutland and Clifford engage in a debate
Debate or debating is a method of interactive and representational argument. Debate is a broader form of argument than logical argument, which only examines consistency from axiom, and factual argument, which only examines what is or isn't the case or rhetoric which is a technique of persuasion...

 about revenge prior to the murder. The depiction of Edward's initial meeting with Lady Grey (3.2) is also based on Hall rather than Holinshed. For example, Hall is alone in reporting that Edward seemingly offered to make her his queen merely because he wanted to have sex with her; Edward "affirming farther that if she would thereunto condescend [to sleep with him], she might so fortune of his paramour
Intimate relationship
An intimate relationship is a particularly close interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy is characterized by romantic or passionate love and attachment, or sexual activity. The term is also sometimes used euphemistically for a sexual...

 and concubine
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

 to be changed to his wife and lawful bedfellow." Later, Holinshed does not mention any instance where George and Richard express their dissatisfaction with Henry's decision (depicted in the play in 4.1), or their questioning of Edward as to why he is favouring the relations of his wife over his own brothers. Such a scene only occurs in Hall, who writes that George declared to Richard, "We would make him know that we were all three one man's sons, of one mother and one lineage
Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections....

 descended, which should be more preferred and promoted than strangers of his wife's blood [...] He will exalt or promote his cousin or ally, which little careth for the fall or confusion of his own line and lineage." A more general aspect unique to Hall is the prominence of revenge as a motive for much of the cruelty
Cruelty can be described as indifference to suffering, and even positive pleasure in inflicting it. If this is supported by a legal or social framework, then receives the name of perversion. Sadism can also be related to this form of action or concept....

 seen throughout the play. Revenge is cited many times by numerous different characters as a guiding force behind their actions; Northumberland, Westmoreland, Clifford, Richard, Edward and Warwick all declare at some point in the play that they are acting out of a desire to achieve vengeance on their enemies. Revenge however plays little part in Holinshed, who hardly mentions the word, and certainly doesn't offer it as a major theme of the war.

On the other hand, some aspects of the play are unique to Holinshed rather than Hall. For example, during the torture of York (1.4), only in Holinshed is there reference to a false crown and a molehill
A molehill is a conical mound of loose soil raised by small burrowing mammals, including moles, but also similar animals such as mole-rats, marsupial moles and voles...

. Both Hall and Holinshed represent Margaret and Clifford torturing and taunting York after the Battle of Wakefield, but Hall makes no mention of the crown or the molehill, both of which are alluded to in Holinshed (although in the chronicle, the crown is made of sedges
Cyperaceae are a family of monocotyledonous graminoid flowering plants known as sedges, which superficially resemble grasses or rushes. The family is large, with some 5,500 species described in about 109 genera. These species are widely distributed, with the centers of diversity for the group...

, not paper); "The duke was taken alive and in derision caused to stand upon a molehill, on whose head they put a garland
A garland is a class of decoration, of which there are many types.Garland may also refer to:-Places:*Garland, Arkansas, a town in Miller County*Garland County, Arkansas*Garland, Maine, a town in Penobscot County...

 instead of a crown, which they had fashioned and made of sedges or bulrushes." More evidence that Shakespeare must have used Holinshed is found when Warwick is in France, after he has joined the Lancastrians (3.3), and Louis assigns his Admiral, Lord Bourbon, to aid Warwick in assembling an army. In Holinshed, the Admiral is referred to as 'Lord Bourbon' as he is in the play (and as he was in reality), but in Hall, the Admiral is erroneously called 'Lord Burgundy'. Another aspect of the play found only in Holinshed is when Edward offers Warwick peace terms prior to the Battle of Barnet; "Now Warwick, wilt thou ope the city gates,/Speak gentle words and humbly bend thy knee?/Call Edward king, and at his hands beg mercy,/And he shall pardon thee these outrages" (5.1.21–24). This offer from Edward is not reported in Hall, who makes no reference of any kind to a Yorkist attempt to parley
Parley is a discussion or conference, especially one between enemies over terms of a truce or other matters. The root of the word parley is parler, which is the French verb "to speak"; specifically the conjugation parlez "you speak", whether as imperative or indicative.Beginning in the High Middle...

 with Warwick. Such an incident is found only in Holinshed.

Although Shakespeare's main sources for factual material were Hall and Holinshed, he seems to have used other texts as well, often for thematic and structural purposes. Such a source was almost certainly 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), a play about a deposed king who divides his land between his children, and which Shakespeare also used as a source for his later play King Lear
King Lear
King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after foolishly disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological...

. Gorboduc was reprinted in 1590, the year before Shakespeare wrote 3 Henry VI, and he seems to have used it as his "model for exploring and representing the destruction of civil society by factional conflict." More specifically, Gorboduc is the only known pre-seventeenth century text containing a scene where a son unknowingly kills his father, and a father unknowingly kills his son, and as such, almost certainly served as the source for Act 2, Scene 5, where Henry witnesses just such an incident.

Another thematic source may have been William Baldwin
William Baldwin (author)
-Life:From the West Country, England, Baldwin studied logic and philosophy at Oxford. On leaving Oxford, he became a corrector of the press to the printer Edward Whitchurch. During the reigns of Edward VI and Queen Mary, it appears that Baldwin was employed in preparing theatrical exhibitions for...

's Mirror for Magistrates
Mirror for Magistrates
Mirror for Magistrates is a collection of English poems from the Tudor period by various authors which retell the lives and the tragic ends of various historical figures.-Background:...

(1559; 2nd edition, 1578), a well-known series of poems spoken by deceased, controversial historical figures, who have come forward to speak of their life and death, and to warn contemporary society not to make the same mistakes as they did. Three such figures are Margaret of Anjou, King Edward IV and Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York. York's final scene, and his last speech in particular (1.4.111–171), is often identified as being the 'type' of scene suitable to a traditional tragic hero
Tragic hero
A tragic hero is the main character in a tragedy. Tragic heroes appear in the dramatic works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Seneca, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Webster, Marston, Corneille, Racine, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Strindberg, and many other writers.-Aristotle's tragic hero:Aristotle...

 who has been defeated by his own ambition
Ambition is the desire for personal achievement. It provides the motivation and determination necessary to achieve a particular end or condition. Ambitious people are characterised by their strong desire for attainment, power, or superiority...

, and this is very much how York presents himself in Mirror; a tragic hero whose dynastic
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 ambitions caused him to reach too far and led to his ruin.

Thomas Kyd
Thomas Kyd
Thomas Kyd was an English dramatist, the author of The Spanish Tragedy, and one of the most important figures in the development of Elizabethan drama....

's The Spanish Tragedy
The Spanish Tragedy
The Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronimo is Mad Again is an Elizabethan tragedy written by Thomas Kyd between 1582 and 1592. Highly popular and influential in its time, The Spanish Tragedy established a new genre in English theatre, the revenge play or revenge tragedy. Its plot contains several violent...

(1582–1591) may also have served as a minor influence. Of specific importance is the handkerchief soaked in Rutland's blood which Margaret produces during York's torture in Act 1, Scene 4. This could have been influenced by the recurring image of a bloody handkerchief in the immensely popular Tragedy, insofar as a handkerchief which has been soaked in the blood of his son, Horatio, is carried by the protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

, Hieronimo
Hieronimo is one of the principal characters in Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy. He is the knight marshal of Spain and the father of Horatio. In the onset of the play he is a dedicated servant to the King of Spain...

, throughout the play.

A minor source that we can be certain of was Arthur Brooke's The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet
The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet
The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet is a narrative poem, first published in 1562 by Arthur Brooke, who is reported to have translated it from an Italian novella by Matteo Bandello...

(1562), which was also Shakespeare's source for Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular archetypal stories of young, teenage lovers.Romeo and Juliet belongs to a...

. Much of Margaret's speech to her army in Act 5, Scene 4 is taken almost verbatim from Brooke. In Romeus and Juliet, Friar Laurence advises Romeus to toughen up, stand up to his troubles, and be brave and discerning in the face of great danger;

A wise man in the midst of troubles and distress

Still stands not wailing present harm, but seeks his harm's redress.

As when the winter flaws with dreadful noise arise,

And heave the foam
-Definition:A foam is a substance that is formed by trapping gas in a liquid or solid in a divided form, i.e. by forming gas regions inside liquid regions, leading to different kinds of dispersed media...

y swelling wave
In physics, a wave is a disturbance that travels through space and time, accompanied by the transfer of energy.Waves travel and the wave motion transfers energy from one point to another, often with no permanent displacement of the particles of the medium—that is, with little or no associated mass...

s up to the starry skies,

So that the bruis'd barque
A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts.- History of the term :The word barque appears to have come from the Greek word baris, a term for an Egyptian boat. This entered Latin as barca, which gave rise to the Italian barca, Spanish barco, and the French barge and...

 in cruel seas betost,

Despaireth of the happy haven, in danger to be lost.

The pilot
A helmsman is a person who steers a ship, sailboat, submarine, or other type of maritime vessel. On small vessels, particularly privately-owned noncommercial vessels, the functions of skipper and helmsman may be combined in one person. On larger vessels, there is a separate officer of the watch,...

 bold at helm
Ship's wheel
A ship's wheel is the modern method of adjusting the angle of a boat or ship's rudder in order to cause the vessel to change its course. Together with the rest of the steering mechanism it forms part of the helm. It is typically connected to a mechanical, electric servo, or hydraulic system...

, cries, 'Mates, strike now your sail
A sail is any type of surface intended to move a vessel, vehicle or rotor by being placed in a wind—in essence a propulsion wing. Sails are used in sailing.-History of sails:...


And turns her stem
Stem (ship)
The stem is the very most forward part of a boat or ship's bow and is an extension of the keel itself and curves up to the wale of the boat. The stem is more often found on wooden boats or ships, but not exclusively...

 into the waves that strongly her assail.

Then driven hard upon the bare and wreckful shore
A shore or shoreline is the fringe of land at the edge of a large body of water, such as an ocean, sea, or lake. In Physical Oceanography a shore is the wider fringe that is geologically modified by the action of the body of water past and present, while the beach is at the edge of the shore,...


In greater danger to be wrecked than he had been before,

He seeth his ship full right against the rock to run,

But yet he doth what lieth in him the perilous rock to shun.

Sometimes the beaten boat, by cunning government -

The anchor
An anchor is a device, normally made of metal, that is used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the vessel from drifting due to wind or current. The word derives from Latin ancora, which itself comes from the Greek ἄγκυρα .Anchors can either be temporary or permanent...

s lost, the cables broke, and all the tackle
Fishing tackle
Fishing tackle, is a general term that refers to the equipment used by fishermen when fishing. Almost any equipment or gear used for fishing can be called fishing tackle. Some examples are hooks, lines, sinkers, floats, rods, reels, baits, lures, spears, nets, gaffs, traps, waders and tackle...


The rudder
A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

 smitten off, and overboad the mast
Mast (sailing)
The mast of a sailing vessel is a tall, vertical, or near vertical, spar, or arrangement of spars, which supports the sails. Large ships have several masts, with the size and configuration depending on the style of ship...


Doth win the long desir'd port, the stormy danger past.

But if the master dread, and overpressed with woe,

Begin to wring his hands, and lets the guiding rudder go,

The ship rents on the rock or sinketh in the deep,

And eke the coward drench'd is: So, if thou still beweep

And seek not how to help the changes that do chance,

Thy cause of sorrow shall increase, thou cause of thy mischance.

This is very similar to Margaret's speech in 3 Henry VI;

Great lords, wise men ne'er sit and wail their loss

But cheerly seek how to redress their harms.

What though the mast be now blown overboard,

The cable broke, the holding-anchor lost,

And half our sailors swallowed in the flood?

Yet lives our pilot still. Is't meet that he

Should leave the helm and, like a fearful lad,

With tearful eyes add water to the sea,

And give more strength to that which hath too much,

Whiles in his moan the ship splits on the rock

Which industry and courage might have saved?

Ah what a shame, ah what a fault were this.

Say Warwick was our anchor, what of that?

And Montague our topmast
The masts of traditional sailing ships were not single spars, but were constructed of separate sections or masts, each with its own rigging. The topmast is one of these.The topmast is semi-permanently attached to the upper front of the lower mast, at the top...

, what of him?

Our slaughtered friends the tackles, what of these?

Why, is not Oxford here another anchor?

And Somerset another goodly mast?

The friends of France our shrouds
Shroud (sailing)
On a sailboat, the shrouds are pieces of standing rigging which hold the mast up from side to side. There is frequently more than one shroud on each side of the boat....

 and tacklings?

And, though unskilful, why not Ned and I

For once allowed the skilful pilot's charge?

We will not from the helm to sit and weep,

But keep our course, though the rough wind say no,

From shelves
Shoal, shoals or shoaling may mean:* Shoal, a sandbank or reef creating shallow water, especially where it forms a hazard to shipping* Shoal draught , of a boat with shallow draught which can pass over some shoals: see Draft...

 and rocks that threaten us with wrack.

As good to chide the waves as speak them fair;

And what is Edward but a ruthless sea?

What Clarence but a quicksand
Quicksand is a colloid hydrogel consisting of fine granular matter , clay, and water.Water circulation underground can focus in an area with the optimal mixture of fine sands and other materials such as clay. The water moves up and then down slowly in a convection-like manner throughout a column...

 of deceit?

And Richard but a ragged fatal rock -

All these the enemies to our poor barque?

Say you can swim; alas 'tis but a while.

Tread on the sand; why, there you quickly sink;

Bestride the rock; the tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

 will wash you off

Or else you famish – that's a threefold death.

This speak I, lords, to let you understand,

In case some one of you would fly from us,

That there's no hoped-for mercy with the brothers

More than with ruthless waves, with sands and rocks.

Why, courage then, what cannot be avoided

'Twere childish weakness to lament or fear.

It has also been suggested that Shakespeare may have used several mystery cycles
Mystery play
Mystery plays and miracle plays are among the earliest formally developed plays in medieval Europe. Medieval mystery plays focused on the representation of Bible stories in churches as tableaux with accompanying antiphonal song...

 as sources. Randall Martin, in his 2001 edition of the play 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:...

notes the similarities between York's torture in Act 1, Scene 4 and the torture of Christ as depicted in The Buffeting and Scourging of Christ, Second Trial Before Pilate and Judgement of Jesus. He also suggests a debt of influence for the murder of Rutland in Act 1, Scene 3 from Slaughter of the Innocents. Emrys Jones further suggests that Shakespeare may have been influenced in York's death scene by Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus , known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and a theologian....

' Tragicus Rex and Thomas More
Thomas More
Sir Thomas More , also known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor...

's Utopia
Utopia (book)
Utopia is a work of fiction by Thomas More published in 1516...

(1516) and History of King Richard III (1518), from which some of Richard's soliloquy in Act 5, Scene 6 is taken, especially the references to the need to play the actor.

Date and text

The play must have been written by 1595 as 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 was published that year by the bookseller Thomas Millington
Thomas Millington
Thomas Millington was a London publisher of the Elizabethan era, who published first editions of three Shakespearean plays...

, and printed by Peter Short
Peter Short (printer)
Peter Short was a London printer of the later Elizabethan era. He printed several first editions and early texts of Shakespeare's works....

, under the title 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. This octavo is often theorised to be a reported text
Memorial reconstruction
The theory of memorial reconstruction refers to the hypotheses concerning the transcription of 17th century plays from memory by actors who had played parts in them, and the subsequent publication of those transcripts...

 of a performance of what is today called 3 Henry VI. This places the latest possible date of composition of the play as 1595.

However, there is evidence that the play was written several years earlier and was on stage by September 1592. Robert Greene's pamphlet A Groatsworth of Wit
Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit
Greenes, Groats-worth of Witte, bought with a million of Repentance is a tract published as the work of the recently deceased playwright Robert Greene...

(registered in September 1592) parodies a line from 3 Henry VI whilst mocking Shakespeare, to whom Greene refers as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his 'tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide', supposes that he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse
Blank verse
Blank verse is poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the sixteenth century" and Paul Fussell has claimed that "about three-quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse."The first...

 as the best of you, and being an absolute Johannes fac totum
Jack of all trades, master of none
"Jack of all trades, master of none" is a figure of speech used in reference to a person that is competent with many skills but is not necessarily outstanding in any particular one....

, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country." This parodies 3 Henry VI, 1.4.138, where York refers to Margaret as a "tiger's heart wrapped in woman's hide". This parody proves that 3 Henry VI was well known by at least September 1592, which means it must have been staged prior to 23 June, as that was when the government shut the theatres to prevent an outbreak of plague. As such, for the play to have been on stage by 23 June, it had to have been written in either 1591 or early 1592.

When the play came to be called Part 3 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 3, or any derivative thereof, prior to 1623.

The 1595 octavo text of True Tragedy was reprinted twice; in 1600 (in 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:...

) and 1619 (in folio). The 1600 text was printed by William White for Millington. The 1619 text was part of William Jaggard
William Jaggard
William Jaggard was an Elizabethan and Jacobean printer and publisher, best known for his connection with the texts of William Shakespeare, most notably the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays...

's False Folio
False Folio
False Folio is the term that Shakespeare scholars and bibliographers have applied to William Jaggard's printing of ten Shakespearean and pseudo-Shakespearean plays together in 1619, the first attempt to collect Shakespeare's work in a single volume....

, which was printed for Thomas Pavier
Thomas Pavier
Thomas Pavier was a London publisher and bookseller of the early seventeenth century. His complex involvement in the publication of early editions of some of Shakespeare's plays, as well as plays of the Shakespeare Apocrypha, has left him with a "dubious reputation."-Life and work:Pavier came to...

. This text was printed together with a version of 2 Henry VI which had been printed in quarto in 1594 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. In the False Folio, the two plays were grouped under the general title The Whole Contention betweene the Two Famous Houses, Lancaster and Yorke. Also printed with The Whole Contention was Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Pericles, Prince of Tyre is a Jacobean play written at least in part by William Shakespeare and included in modern editions of his collected works despite questions over its authorship, as it was not included in the First Folio...


The text of the play that today forms 3 Henry VI was not published until the 1623 First Folio, under the title The third Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Duke of Yorke.

Due to the quarto title of 2 Henry VI (The First Part of the Contention), and with the publication of True Tragedy in 1595, which makes no 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 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 in 2 Henry VI, whereas in 1 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI the device is 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 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
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:...

 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) couple 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...

 between 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 dramatists. 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) that the plays were most likely written in order. E.A.J. Honigmann also agrees, in his 'early start' theory of 1982 (which argues that Shakespeare's first play was 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...

, which Honigmann posits was written in 1586). Likewise, Michael Hattaway, in both his 1990 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 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.

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."

Along with 1 Henry VI, 3 Henry VI has traditionally been seen as one of Shakespeare's weakest plays, 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 Gorboduc 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, 3 Henry VI, with its four on-stage battles 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
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:...

 praised battle scenes in general as oftentimes being intrinsic to the play and not simply vulgar distractions for the illiterate. In Piers Penniless his Supplication to the Devil (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, speaking of 1 Henry VI, 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 unweildly chronicle."

In line with this thinking, recent scholarship has tended to look at the play as being a more complete dramatic text, rather than a series of battle scenes loosely strung together with a flimsy narrative. Certain modern productions in particular have done much to bring about this re-evaluation (such as Peter Hall's and 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....

's in 1963 and 1964, 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:...

' in 1977, 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:...

's in 1986, 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:...

s' in 1988, 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...

's in 1994, 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...

's in 2000 and Michael Boyd's in 2000 and 2006). Based upon this revised way of thinking, and looking at the play as more complex than has traditionally been thought, some critics now argue that the play "juxtaposes the stirring 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...

 appeal of martial action with discursive reflection on the political causes and social consequences."

The question of artistic integrity, however, is not the only critical disagreement which 3 Henry VI has provoked. There are numerous other issues about which critics are divided, not the least aspect of which concerns its relationship to True Tragedy.

True Tragedy as a reported text

Over the years, critics have debated the connection between True Tragedy and 3 Henry VI, to the point where four main theories have emerged:
  1. True Tragedy is a reconstructed version of a performance of what we today call 3 Henry VI; a 'bad octavo'
    Bad quarto
    Bad quarto is a term and concept developed by twentieth-century Shakespeare scholars to explain some problems in the early transmission of the texts of Shakespearean works...

    , an attempt by actors to reconstruct the original play from memory and sell it. . Originated by 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...

     in 1765 and refined by Peter Alexander in 1928.
  2. True Tragedy is simply an early draft of the play that was published in the 1623 First Folio under the title The Third Part of Henry the Sixt. Originated by Edmond Malone in 1790 as an alternate theory to Johnson's memorial report theory. Championed today by critics such as Steven Urkowitz.
  3. True Tragedy is both a reported text and an early draft of 3 Henry VI. This theory has been gaining increasing support from the later half of the 20th Century, and is supported by many modern editors of the play.
  4. Shakespeare didn't write True Tragedy at all; it was an anonymous
    Anonymous work
    Anonymous works are works, such as art or literature, that have an anonymous, undisclosed, or unknown creator or author. In the United States it is legally defined as "a work on the copies or phonorecords of which no natural person is identified as author."...

     play which he used as the basis for 3 Henry VI. Originated by Georg Gottfried Gervinus
    Georg Gottfried Gervinus
    Georg Gottfried Gervinus was a German literary and political historian.-Biography:Gervinus was born in Darmstadt. He was educated at the gymnasium of the town, and intended for a commercial career, but in 1825 he became a student of the university of Giessen...

     in 1849, this theory remained popular throughout the nineteenth century, with Thomas Lodge
    Thomas Lodge
    Thomas Lodge was an English dramatist and writer of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.-Early life and education:...

     and 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...

     the leading candidates as possible authors. It has fallen out of favour in the twentieth century.

Traditionally, critical opinion has tended to favour the first theory; that True Tragedy is a bad quarto, a memorial reconstruction. Samuel Johnson originated this theory in 1765, but it was challenged by Edmond Malone in 1790, when he suggested the possibility that True Tragedy could be an early draft of 3 Henry VI. Malone's view was the dominant one until 1929, when Peter Alexander re-established the dominance of the bad quarto theory.

One of his main arguments hinged on the start of Act 4, Scene 1, where Richard and Clarence reproach Edward for favouring his wife's relatives over themselves. In True Tragedy, after Edward has been informed of Warwick's allegiance with the Lancastrians, he is upbraided by his brothers for his recent actions;


...Lord Hastings well deserves,

To have the daughter and heir of the Lord Hungerford.


And what then? It was our will it should be so.


Ay, and for such a thing too the Lord Scales

Did well deserve at your hands, to have the

Daughter of the Lord Bonfield, and left your

Brothers to go seek elsewhere.

This implies that Lord Hastings is set to marry the daughter of Lord Hungerford, and Lord Scales is set to marry the daughter of Lord Bonfield. In 3 Henry VI, however, the lines are different;


...Lord Hastings well deserves

To have the heir of the Lord Hungerford.


What of that? It was my will and grant,

And for this once, my will shall stand as law.


And yet methinks your Grace hath not done well

To give the heir and daughter of Lord Scales

Unto the brother of your loving bride;

She better would have fitted me, or Clarence,

But in your bride you bury brotherhood.


Or else, you would not have bestowed the heir,

Of the Lord Bonville
William Bonville, 6th Baron Harington
William Bonville, 6th Baron Harington was an English nobleman who was a loyal adherent of the House of York during the dynastic conflict in England in the 15th century known as the Wars of the Roses...

 on your new wife's son,

And leave your brothers to go speed elsewhere.

This explains that it was Lord Scales' daughter (Elizabeth de Scales)
Elizabeth Woodville, Countess Rivers
Elizabeth Woodville, Countess Rivers and 8th Baroness Scales , born Elizabeth de Scales, was the sole heir of the 7th Baron Scales.-Family:Elizabeth first married Henry Bourchier, second son of the 1st Earl of Essex....

 who was to marry Lady Grey's brother (Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl of Rivers), and Lady Grey's son (Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset
Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset
Thomas Grey, 7th Baron Ferrers of Groby, 1st Earl of Huntingdon and 1st Marquess of Dorset, KG , was an English nobleman, courtier and a man of mediocre abilities pushed into prominence by his mother Elizabeth Woodville's second marriage to the king, Edward IV.-Family:Thomas was born about 1455,...

) who was to marry the daughter of Lord Bonville (Cecily Bonville). As such, based on the inconsistency between Scales marrying Bonfield's daughter in True Tragedy and Scales' daughter marrying Grey's brother in 3 Henry VI, Alexander argued that the representation of the scene in True Tragedy is completely nonsensical and probably came about because the reporter became confused about who was married whom. Furthermore, unlike the account in True Tragedy, the version in 3 Henry VI corresponds closely to the chronicle material found in Hall ("the heir of the Lord Scales [Edward] hath married to his wife's brother, the heir also of the Lord Bonville and Harrington he hath given to his wife's son, and the heir of the Lord Hungerford he hath granted to the Lord Hastings"). In relation to mistakes like this, it has been argued that "no one who understood what he was writing, that is – no author – could have made such error[s], but someone parroting someone else's work of which he himself had but a dim understanding – that is, a reporter – could have."
However, even more telling than the difference between the details of the proposed marriages is the contrast between the two names; Bonfield in True Tragedy and Bonville in 3 Henry VI. Bonfield is never mentioned in the chronicles, and there is no known historical personage of that name. Bonville on the other hand is mentioned numerous times by both Hall and Holinshed, and is a known historical figure. However, there is a minor character named Bonfield in the Robert Greene play George a Greene, the Pinner of Wakefield (1587–1590), where he is a member of a group of staunch opponents of Edward III. George a Greene was published in quarto in 1599, and the title page states that it was performed by Sussex's Men
Sussex's Men
The Earl of Sussex's Men was a playing company or troupe of actors in Elizabethan and Jacobean England, most notable for their connection with the early career of William Shakespeare.-First phase:...

. In 1594, Sussex's Men had performed Titus Andronicus, which, according to the title page of the 1594 quarto, was also performed by 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...

 (i.e. Derby's Men) and Pembroke's Men
Pembroke's Men
The Earl of Pembroke's Men was an Elizabethan era playing company, or troupe of actors, in English Renaissance theatre. They functioned under the patronage of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. Early and equivocal mentions of a Pembroke's company reach as far back as 1575; but the company is...

. Furthermore, according to the title page of the 1595 octavo of True Tragedy, it was performed by Pembroke's Men. As such, Pembroke's Men performed both True Tragedy and Titus Andronicus, whereas Sussex's Men performed both George a Greene and Titus Andronicus, thus creating a link between True Tragedy and George a Greene, and perhaps suggesting that either Sussex's Men could have performed True Tragedy or Pembroke's Men could have performed George a Greene, or both. Taken together, the name of Bonfield "in two historically unrelated texts performed by companies that shared scripts and personnel indicates that the name is a non-authorial interpolation by players." That this could be the case is further supported by the fact that reported texts often use material from other plays. For example, The Contention uses material from 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...

's The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (c1592), Edward II
Edward II (play)
Edward II is a Renaissance or Early Modern period play written by Christopher Marlowe. It is one of the earliest English history plays. The full title of the first publication is The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England, with the Tragical Fall of Proud...

(c1593) and even a line from 3 Henry VI; "If our King Henry had shook hands with death" (1.4.103).

More evidence of reporting is found in Act 2 Scene 5. In this scene, in True Tragedy, after realising that the Battle of Towton is lost, Exeter, Margaret and Prince Edward urge Henry to flee, with Exeter exclaiming, "Away my Lord for vengeance comes along with him" (l.1270). However, this is totally unqualified – there is no indication whatsoever of who "he" is. In 3 Henry VI however, the line is "Away; for vengeance comes along with them" (l.124). In this case, "them" is Warwick, Richard and Edward, all of whom are mentioned by Prince Edward and Margaret in the lines immediately preceding Exeter's. As such, the line in True Tragedy can only be understood if one refers to the equivalent scene in 3 Henry VI. This type of anomaly, where vital pieces of qualifying information are omitted, is common in the bad quartos.

A similar piece of evidence is found in Act 5, Scene 1. After Warwick and his troops have entered Coventry and are awaiting the arrival of Oxford, Somerset, Montague and Clarence, Richard urges Edward to storm the city and attack Warwick immediately. In True Tragedy, Edward refuses, arguing "No, some other may set upon our backs/We'll stay till all be entered and then follow them" (ll.2742–2743). In 3 Henry VI however, Edward says, "So other foes may set upon our backs./Stand we in good array: for they no doubt/Will issue out again, and bid us battle" (ll.61–63). The difference between the two passages is that in True Tragedy, Edward knows more regiments are coming ("we'll stay till be all be entered"), but in the context of the play, he has no way of knowing this, he should be unaware that Oxford, Somerset, Montague and Clarence are heading to Coventry. In 3 Henry VI however, he merely feels that attacking would be a bad idea as it would leave their rear defenceless ("so other foes may set upon our backs"). This suggests that in True Tragedy, the reporter was thinking ahead, anticipating the arrival of the others and anachronistically having a character aware of their inevitable arrival. Again, as with the omission of important information, this illogical foreknowledge of events is the type of mistake which characterises the bad quartos in general.

True Tragedy as early draft

Steven Urkowitz has spoken at great length about the debate between the bad quarto theory and the early draft theory, coming down firmly on the side of the early draft. Urkowitz argues that the quarto of 2 Henry VI and the octavo of 3 Henry VI actually present scholars with a unique opportunity to see a play evolving, as Shakespeare edited and rewrote certain sections; "the texts of 2 and 3 Henry VI offer particularly rich illustrations of textual variation and theatrical transformation." Urkowitz argues that the Bonfield/Bonville variant in True Tragedy/3 Henry VI "is dramatically defensible because it still supports Clarence's complaint against Edward and motivates his ensuing defection to the Lancastrians. This change therefore, gets across the intent of the chronicle history." Urkowitz argues that "such fine-tuning of dramatic themes and actions are staples of professional theatrical writing." As such, the differences in the texts are exactly the types of differences one tends to find in texts which were altered from an original form, and Urkowitz cites Eric Rasmussen, E.A.J. Honigmann and Grace Ioppolo as supporting this view. He particularly refers to the case of Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan was an Irish-born playwright and poet and long-term owner of the London Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. For thirty-two years he was also a Whig Member of the British House of Commons for Stafford , Westminster and Ilchester...

's The School for Scandal
The School for Scandal
The School for Scandal is a play written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. It was first performed in London at Drury Lane Theatre on May 8, 1777.The prologue, written by David Garrick, commends the play, its subject, and its author to the audience...

(1777), which existed in an earlier form, also by Sheridan, in a two-part play The Slanderers and Sir Peter Teazel, and which he argues contain the same type of modifications as is found in the Henry VI plays.

Urkowitz is not alone in finding evidence to support the early draft theory. One of the main arguments as to the early draft theory is how True Tragedy and 3 Henry VI use Holinshed and Hall. Whereas in True Tragedy, Shakespeare uses Hall more than Holinshed, in 3 Henry VI the use of Hall and Holinshed is roughly equal. The argument is that this difference cannot be accounted for by faulty reporting, and instead must represent revision on Shakespeare's part; "The nature of the differences between True Tragedy and 3 Henry VI in terms of factual details, diction, and interpretive commentary by Hall and Holinshed reasonably suggests a direction of change, as well as the presence of an informed agency at work in revising the play reported by True Tragedy."

An example of this can be found when Clarence returns to the Yorkist forces in Act 5, Scene 1. In True Tragedy, his turn is anticipated;


Clarence, Clarence for Lancaster.


Et tu, Brute
Et tu, Brute?
"Et tu, Brute?" is a Latin phrase often used poetically to represent the last words of Roman dictator Julius Caesar to his friend Marcus Brutus at the moment of his assassination. It can be variously translated as "Even you, Brutus?","And you, Brutus?", "You too, Brutus?", "Thou too, Brutus?" or...

, wilt thou stab Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....


A parley sir, to George of Clarence.

Sound a parley, and Richard and Clarence whisper together, and then Clarence takes his red rose out of his hat, and throws it at Warwick.


Come Clarence come, thou wilt if Warwick call.


Father of Warwick, know you what this means?

I throw mine infamy at thee.

In this version of the scene, Richard is shown as primarily responsible for turning Clarence back to the Yorkist side; whatever he says during their parley convinces Clarence to rejoin his brothers. This is how the incident is represented in Hall; "Richard Duke of Gloucester, brother to [Clarence and Edward], as though he had been made arbiter between them, first rode to [Clarence] and with him communed very secretly; from him he came to King Edward and with like secretness so used him that in conclusion no unnatural war but a fraternal amity was concluded and proclaimed and both the brethren lovingly embraced, and familiarly communed together."

In 3 Henry VI however, the scene plays out differently;

Enter Clarence with Drum and Soldiers bearing colours.


And lo, where George of Clarence sweeps along.

Of force enough to bid his brother battle:

With whom, in upright zeal to right, prevails

More than the nature of a brother's love

Come Clarence, come: thou wilt if Warwick call.


Father of Warwick, know you what this means?

He shows his red rose.

Look here, I throw my infamy at thee.

This version of the scene corresponds to Holinshed, where Richard plays no part in Clarence's decision; "the Duke of Clarence began to weigh with himself the great inconvenience into the which as well his brother King Edward, as himself and his younger brother the Duke of Gloucester were fallen through the dissension betwixt them (which had been compassed and brought to pass by the politic working of the Earl of Warwick)." The argument here is that the difference in 3 Henry VI could not simply be the result of faulty reporting, or even interpolation on the part of a reporter, but must represent authorial agency, hence, True Tragedy must represent an earlier draft of 3 Henry VI.
Also important in this argument is the action which is implied as taking place between Act 5, Scene 4 and Act 5, Scene 5. In both True Tragedy and 3 Henry VI, after Margaret rallies her troops, they exit the stage to the sounds of battle, followed by the entry of the victorious Yorkists. The difference in the two texts is in the presentation of this victory. In True Tragedy, Margaret, Prince Edward, Oxford and Somerset are all introduced together, all taken captive at the same time, which is how the incident is reported in Hall; all the Lancastrian leaders were captured in the field and brought to the Yorkist camp together. However, in 3 Henry VI, Margaret, Oxford and Somerset are introduced initially, and subsequently Prince Edward is led into the camp (l.11; "And lo where youthful Edward comes"). This separate capture of Edward follows Holinshed, which outlines that Edward fled the field, was captured in a nearby house, and then brought to the camp alone to be with his fellow Lancastrians, who were already prisoners there (including Margaret, Oxford and Somerset). Again, the implication is that Shakespeare initially used Hall when composing True Tragedy, but some time after 1594, and for whatever reason, he modified his thinking, and changed the scene to reflect the account in Holinshed instead.

However, the theory that True Tragedy may be an early draft does not necessarily imply that it could not also represent a bad quarto as well. Traditionally, most critics (such as Alexander, McKerrow and Urkowitz) have looked at the problem as an either-or situation; True Tragedy is either a reported text or an early draft, but recently there has been some argument that it may be both. For example, this is the theory supported by Randall Martin in his Oxford Shakespeare edition of the play. It is also the theory advanced by Roger Warren in his Oxford Shakespeare edition of 2 Henry VI. The crux of the argument is that both the evidence for the bad quarto theory and the evidence for the early draft theory are so compelling that neither is able to completely refute the other. As such, if the play contains evidence of being both a reported text and an early draft, it must be both; i.e. True Tragedy represents a reported text of an early draft of 3 Henry VI. Shakespeare wrote an early version of the play, which was staged. Shortly after that staging, some of the actors constructed a bad quarto from it and had it published. In the meantime, Shakespeare had rewritten the play into the form found in the First Folio. Martin argues that this is the only theory which can account for the strong evidence for both reporting and revision, and it is a theory which is gaining increased support in the late twentieth/early twenty-first century.

Differences between True Tragedy and 3 Henry VI

If one accepts that Shakespeare made a conscious decision to use Holinshed more frequently during his re-editing of True Tragedy, one must ask why he may have done so. True Tragedy is roughly one thousand lines shorter than 3 Henry VI, and whilst many of the differences are simple aesthetic changes and alternate phraseology (much of which is easily attributable to inaccurate reporting), one major difference between the two that runs throughout is how they each handle violence. On the whole, 3 Henry VI is far more restrained in its depiction of war, whereas True Tragedy has more explicit and sustained on-stage combat and more royal processions and celebrations after combat. Much more so than does 3 Henry VI, True Tragedy conforms to the so-called Tudor myth
Tudor myth
The "Tudor myth" is the tradition in English history, historiography and literature that presents the period of the 15th century, including the Wars of the Roses, in England as a dark age of anarchy and bloodshed. It is even claimed it was a punishment by God...

 that the Wars of Roses were God's punishment for people straying from the path laid out for them, and His means of purging the country of evil and opening the way for the righteous Tudor dynasty
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

 to establish peace. Traditionally, this has been a common way of interpreting the entire octalogy; advocated and elaborated upon by critics as diverse as August Wilhelm Schlegel, Hermann Ulrici
Hermann Ulrici
Hermann Ulrici was a German philosopher. He was co-editor of the philosophical journal Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik. He also wrote under the pseudonym of Ulrich Reimann....

, Georg Gottfried Gervinus, Irving Ribner, M.M. Reese, Robert Rentoul Reed
Robert Rentoul Reed
Robert Rentoul Reed was a Whig member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.Robert R. Reed was born in Washington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington in 1824 and from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1829...

, and, most famously, E.M.W. Tillyard, with whom the phrase Tudor myth is now most associated.

Some critics, however, such as Henry Ansgar Kelly, A.P. Rossiter, A.L French, David Frey, J.P Brockbank, David Riggs, Michael Hattaway, Michael Taylor, Randall Martin and Ronald Knowles, argue that this is the main reason Shakespeare chose to use Holinshed rather than Hall, as Holinshed's attitude to violence was less celebratory than Hall's, his patriotic fervour less pronounced, and his attitude to carnage more ambiguous; i.e. Shakespeare had become less enamoured of the Tudor view of history, and altered his play accordingly. As Paola Pugliatti puts it, "Source manipulation and sheer invention may be read as a distinctly critical gesture, in that they show the need to question the official historiographical tradition."

Examples of the difference in depictions of violence between True Tragedy and 3 Henry VI include Act 2, Scene 6; in True Tragedy, the stage direction dictates that Clifford enter "with an arrow in his neck", whereas in 3 Henry VI, he simply enters "wounded". In Act 4, Scene 3, when Warwick surprises Edward in his tent, in 3 Henry VI, Richard and Hastings simply flee, but in True Tragedy, there is a short battle between Warwick's and Richard's soldiers. Similarly, in True Tragedy, Act 5, Scene 5 begins with "Alarms to the battle, York flies, then the chambers be discharged. Then enter the King, Clarence and Gloucester and the rest, and make a great shout, and cry "For York, for York", and then the Queen is taken, and the Prince and Oxford and Somerset, and then sound and enter all again". 3 Henry VI begins with the far less grandiose "Flourish. Enter Edward, Gloucester, Clarence, and Soldiers, with Queen Margaret, Oxford and Somerset prisoners".

Taking all of these differences into account, the argument is that "Shakespeare reconceived the action, toning down the sound and fury, and thereby altering the overall effect and meaning of 3 Henry VI as a play whose attitude to war is more rueful."

Montague problem

Another aspect of the play which has provoked critical disagreement is the character of Montague. He is introduced in Act 1, Scene 1 as a Yorkist supporter who fought at the Battle of St Albans (dramatised at the end of 2 Henry VI), and he accompanies York, Richard, Edward, Warwick and Norfolk from the battlefield to London in pursuit of Henry, Margaret and Clifford. In Act 1, Scene 2, upon realising that Margaret is set to attack, York sends Montague to London to get Warwick; "My brother Montague shall post to London./Let noble Warwick, Cobham
Edward Brooke, 6th Baron Cobham
Edward Brooke, 6th Baron Cobham was a late medieval aristocrat.His parents were Sir Thomas Brooke and Joan Braybroke, 5th Baroness Cobham....

, and the rest/Whom we have left protectors of the King,/With powerful policy strengthen themselves" (ll.55–58). Montague duly leaves, and when Warwick returns in Act 2, Scene 1, he is accompanied by a character called Montague, but who he introduces as an apparently new character; "...Therefore Warwick came to seek you out,/And therefore comes my brother Montague." (ll.166–167).

As such, the character of Montague seems to represent two separate historical personages in the play, and whilst this is not unusual in Shakespearean histories, the manner of the dual representation is. For example, in 1 Henry VI and 2 Henry VI, the character of Somerset represents both 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...

. Similarly, in 3 Henry VI, another character called Somerset represents both Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset and his younger brother Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset. However, both Somerset in 1 Henry VI and 2 Henry VI and Somerset in 3 Henry VI are presented as consistent characters within the play, i.e. Somerset in 1 Henry VI and 2 Henry VI does not represent John Beaufort sometimes and Edmund Beaufort at others; he is consistently the same character in the milieu of the play. The same is true of Somerset in 3 Henry VI; as a character, he is always the same person.

Montague however, seems to represent two different people at different times in the play; i.e. the character himself changes identities during the play. Initially he seems to represent Salisbury, Warwick's father (Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury – a major character in 2 Henry VI) and subsequently, he seems to represent Salisbury's son and Warwick's brother, John Neville (1st Marquis of Montague – a new character). In 3 Henry VI, at 1 January 2014, 1.1.117–118 and 1.2.60, Montague refers to York as his 'brother'. Similarly, at 1.2.4, 1.2.36 and 1.2.55, York refers to Montague as his 'brother'. If Montague here represents Salisbury, their reference to one another as 'brother' makes sense, as Salisbury was York's brother-in-law (York was married to Salisbury's sister, Cecily Neville). However, if Montague here represents John Neville, his and York's references to 'brother' are inaccurate. Subsequently, at 2.1.168, Warwick refers to Montague as brother, and he is also called Marquis for the first time, neither descriptions of which could be applied to Salisbury or to any character who describes himself as a brother to York. As such, in 1.1 and 1.2, Montague seems to be York's brother-in-law, and Warwick's father, Richard Neville, but from that point forward, after his re-introduction in Act 2, he seems to represent Salisbury's son and Warwick's younger brother, John Neville. Salisbury is a major character in 2 Henry VI, as he is in both Hall and Holinshed's chronicles, and in reality, as outlined in the chronicles, he was killed at Pontefract
Pontefract is an historic market town in West Yorkshire, England. Traditionally in the West Riding, near the A1 , the M62 motorway and Castleford. It is one of the five towns in the metropolitan borough of the City of Wakefield and has a population of 28,250...

 in 1461 having been captured by Margaret at the Battle of Wakefield (depicted in 1.3 and 1.4).

Interestingly, in True Tragedy (which treats the character of Montague as one consistent persona throughout the play), Salisbury's death is reported by Richard;

Thy noble father in the thickest throngs,

Cried full for Warwick, his thrice valiant son,

Until with thousand swords he was beset,

And many wounds made in his aged breast,

As he tottering sat upon his steed,

He waft his hand to me and cried aloud:

'Richard, commend me to my valiant son',

And still he cried 'Warwick revenge my death',

And with those words he tumbled off his horse,

And so the noble Salisbury gave up the ghost.

In the corresponding scene in 3 Henry VI however, Richard reports the death of another of Warwick's brothers, Thomas Neville, who never features as a character in any of the Henry VI plays;

Thy brother's blood the thirsty earth hath drunk,

Broached with the steely point of Clifford's lance,

Until with thousand swords he was beset,

And in the very pangs of death he cried,

Like to a dismal clangor heard from afar

'Warwick revenge, brother, revenge my death.'

So underneath the belly of their steeds,

That stained their fetlock
Fetlock is the common name for the metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints of horses, large animals, and sometimes dogs. It is formed by the junction of the third metacarpal or metatarsal bones proximad and the proximal phalanx distad...

s in his smoking blood,

The noble gentleman gave up the ghost.

It is generally agreed amongst critics that the differences between these two passages represents authorial revision as opposed to faulty reporting, leading one to ask the question of why Shakespeare removed the references to Salisbury, and why he wrote the preceding lines where Warwick re-introduces Montague as his brother. There is no definitive answer to this question, nor is there any answer to the question of why Shakespeare changed the character's name from Salisbury to Montague and then, after Act 1, equated him with another personage entirely.

Obviously, such a character discrepancy can create a problem for productions of the play. As an example of one way in which productions can resolve the problem, in Act 1, Scene 1 of the 1981 BBC 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, Montague is not present in either the persona of Salisbury or that of John Neville. As such, his first two lines, "Good brother, as thou lov'st and honour'st arms,/Let's fight it out and not stand cavilling thus" (ll.117–118), are reassigned to Clarence and altered to "Set it on your head good father/If thou lov'st and honour'st arms,/Let's fight it out and not stand cavilling thus." Montague's second line, "And I unto the sea from when I came" (l.210), is entirely absent. As a character, Montague is then introduced in Act 1, Scene 2, played by 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...

 (as he is for the rest of the production). His first line in this scene however, "But I have reasons strong and forcible" (l.3) is reassigned to Clarence. Later, when York is giving his men instructions, his order to Montague, "Brother, thou shalt to London presently" (l.36) is changed to "Cousin, thou shalt to London presently", and York's reiteration of the order "My brother Montague shall post to London" (l.54) is changed to "Hast you to London my cousin Montague". Additionally, Montague's "Brother, I go, I'll win them, fear it not" (l.60) is changed to "Cousin, I go, I'll win them, fear it not." This all serves to establish a single figure who is York's cousin and Warwick's brother (i.e. John Neville).

How the adaptation handles the report of the death of Warwick and Montague's brother Thomas Neville in Act 2, Scene 3 is also worth noting. The text from 3 Henry VI reporting the death of Neville is used, but it is altered so as the report becomes about Salisbury;

Thy father's blood the thirsty earth hath drunk,

Broached with the steely point of Clifford's lance,

Until with thousand swords he was beset,

And in the very pangs of death he cried,

Like to a dismal clangor heard from afar

'Warwick revenge, son, revenge my death.'

So underneath the belly of their steeds,

That stained their fetlock
Fetlock is the common name for the metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints of horses, large animals, and sometimes dogs. It is formed by the junction of the third metacarpal or metatarsal bones proximad and the proximal phalanx distad...

s in his smoking blood,

The noble Salisbury gave up the ghost.

From this point forward, the character remains consistent as Warwick's brother, and there is no further alteration of the text. As such, in this adaptation, the character is presented as one figure throughout – that of John Neville, Warwick's brother, Salisbury's son and York's cousin, and any lines which seemingly contradict that have been changed accordingly.


Language has an extremely important role throughout the play, especially in terms of repetition. Several motifs
Motif (narrative)
In narrative, a motif is any recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story. Through its repetition, a motif can help produce other narrative aspects such as theme or mood....

, words and allusions occur time and again, serving to contrast characters and situations, and to foreground certain important themes.
Perhaps the most obvious recurring linguistic motif in the play is that of state power as specifically represented by the crown and the throne. Both words occur multiple times throughout the play. For example, in Act 1, Scene 1 (which is set in parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

, with York spending most of the scene sitting on the throne), Warwick introduces the imagery, saying to York "Before I see thee seated in that throne,/Which now the House of Lancaster usurps,/I vow by heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

 these eyes shall never close" (ll.22–24). He then introduces the word 'crown'; "Resolve thee Richard, claim the English crown" (l.49). Immediately after York sits in the throne, Henry enters, exclaiming, "My lords, look where the sturdy rebel
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...

 sits,/Even in the chair of state. Belike he means,/Backed by the power of Warwick, that false peer
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

,/To aspire unto the crown and reign as king" (ll.50–54). During the subsequent debate over legitimacy, Exeter tells York "Thy father
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....

 was a traitor
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...

 to the crown" (l.80), to which York replies "Exeter, thou art a traitor to the crown" (l.81). Also during the debate, Henry asks York, "And shall I stand, and thou sit in my throne?" (l.85). York next asks Henry, "Will you we show our title to the crown? (l.103), to which Henry says "What title hast thou, traitor, to the crown?" (l.105). As the debate reaches an impasse
A bargaining impasse occurs when the two sides negotiating an agreement are unable to reach an agreement and become deadlocked. An impasse is almost invariably mutually harmful, either as a result of direct action which may be taken such as a strike in employment negotiation or sanctions/military...

, Richard urges York, "Father, tear the crown from the usurper's head" (l.115). Henry refuses to yield however, declaring "Think'st thou that I will leave my kingly throne?" (l.125). Subsequently, during the debate about the conflict between Henry Bolingbrook
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...

 and Richard II, York asks Exeter if Richard's 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...

 "was prejudicial to his crown?" (l.145) to which Exeter responds "No, for he could not so resign his crown" (l.146). York then demands that Henry "Confirm the crown to me and to mine heirs" (l.173), to which Henry reluctantly agrees, "I here entail/The crown to thee and to thine heirs forever" (ll.195–196).

Although not all subsequent scenes are as heavily saturated with references to monarchical power as is the opening scene, the imagery does recur throughout the play. Other notable examples include Richard's "How sweet a thing it is to wear a crown,/Within whose circuit is Elysium
Elysium is a conception of the afterlife that evolved over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects, and cults. Initially separate from Hades, admission was initially reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes...

/And all that poets feign of bliss and joy" (1.2.29–31) and Edward's battle cry, "A crown or else a glorious tomb,/A spectre, or an earthly sepulchre" (1.4.16). Also significant is the torture of York in Act 1, Scene 4, where he is forced to wear a paper crown, whilst Margaret alludes to both the real crown and the throne numerous times;

Ay, marry sir, now looks he like a King.

Ay, this is he that took King Henry's chair,

And this is he was his adopted heir.

But how is it, that great Plantagenet
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...

Is crowned so soon and broke his solemn oath
An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...


As I bethink me, you should not be king,

Till our King Henry had shook hands with death.

And will you pale your head in Henry's glory

And rob his temples of the diadem
Diadem may refer to:*Diadem, a type of crown-Military:*HMS Diadem was a 64-gun third rate ship of the line in the Royal Navy launched in 1782 at Chatham and participated in the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1787...

Now in his Life, against your holy oath?

O 'tis a fault too too unpardonable.

Off with the crown; and with the crown, his head,

And whilest we breath, take time to do him dead.

Later, York takes off the crown and throws it at Margaret, exclaiming "There, take the crown, and with the crown my curse" (l.164).

Another example of language foregrounding authority by references to the crown and throne is found in Act 2, Scene 1, as Edward laments the death of his father; "His dukedom and his chair with me is left" (l.90), to which Richard answers, specificially foregrounding the issue of language and the importance of words, "For 'chair and dukedom', 'throne and kingdom' say" (l.93). Warwick says something similar later in the scene, calling Edward "No longer Earl of March, but 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...

;/The next degree is England's royal throne" (l.192–193). After decapitating York, Margaret points out the head to Henry, saying, "Yonder's the head of that arch-enemy/That sought to be encumbered with your crown" (2.2.2–3). Later, Edward asks Henry, "Wilt thou kneel for grace/And set thy diadem upon my head?" (2.2.81–82). Edward then says to Margaret, "You that are king, though he do wear the crown" (2 February 1990). Later, in Act 2, Scene 6, when Edward is blaming Margaret for the civil war, he says to Henry that if she hadn't provoked the House of York "thou this day hadst kept thy chair in peace" (l.19). He then says to Warwick, "For in thy shoulder do I build my seat" (l.99). In Act 3, Scene 1, Henry then debates with the gamekeepers the importance of the crown to the role of kingship;


But if thou be a king, where is thy crown?


My crown is in my heart, not on my head,

Not decked with diamonds and Indian stones
A pearl is a hard object produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk. Just like the shell of a mollusk, a pearl is made up of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other...


Nor to be seen: my crown is called content,

A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.


Well, if you be a king crowned with content,

Your crown content and you must be contented

To go along with us.

During his lengthy soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 2, Richard also mentions the crown numerous times;

I'll make my heaven to dream upon the crown,

And whiles I live t'account this world but 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...

Until my misshaped trunk that bears this head

Be round impal'd with a glorious crown.

And yet I know not how to get the crown.

In Act 3, Scene 3, after Warwick has joined the Lancastrians, he vows to Margaret "to force the tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

 from his seat by war" (l.206), and promises "I'll uncrown him ere't be long" (l.232). He also muses to himself "I was the chief that raised him to the crown,/And I'll be chief to bring him down again" (ll.263–264). In Act 4, Scene 6, after Warwick has successfully deposed Edward, Henry says to him, "Warwick, although my head still wear the crown,/I here resign my government to thee" (l.24). Finally, upon meeting Richmond (the future Henry VII), Henry proclaims, "His head by nature framed to wear a crown,/His hand to wield a sceptre, and himself/Likely in time to bless a regal throne" (ll.72–74).

Another recurring motif is animal imagery, and in particular, bird imagery. The first example is in Act 1, Scene 1, when Warwick says "[No-one] dares stir a wing if Warwick shake his bells" (l.47), a reference to falconry
Falconry is "the taking of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained raptor". There are two traditional terms used to describe a person involved in falconry: a falconer flies a falcon; an austringer flies a hawk or an eagle...

. Again in the opening scene, Henry accuses York of "like an empty eagle
Eagles are members of the bird family Accipitridae, and belong to several genera which are not necessarily closely related to each other. Most of the more than 60 species occur in Eurasia and Africa. Outside this area, just two species can be found in the United States and Canada, nine more in...

/Tire on the flesh of me and my son" (ll.269–270). Later, as York describes his failed attempts to win the recently concluded battle, he muses to himself, "We botched again, as I have often seen a swan
Swans, genus Cygnus, are birds of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae...

/With bootless labour swim against the tide" (1.4.19–20). Subsequently, as Clifford tells York he will soon die, York declares "My ashes, as the Phoenix
Phoenix (mythology)
The phoenix or phenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Indian and Phoenicians....

', may bring forth/A bird that will revenge upon you all" (1.4.35–36), to which Clifford replies "So cowards fight when they can fly no further,/So doves peck the falcon
A falcon is any species of raptor in the genus Falco. The genus contains 37 species, widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia, and North America....

's piercing talons" (1.4.40–41). After the news of York's death has reached them, Richard encourages Edward to take York's place; "If thou be that princely eagle's bird" (2.1.91). Later, Warwick points out that Henry has been compelled to rescind his oath to yield the throne to the House of York; "Clifford and the Lord Northumberland/And of their feather
Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on birds and some non-avian theropod dinosaurs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates, and indeed a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty. They...

 many more proud birds,/Have wrought the easy-melting King like wax
thumb|right|[[Cetyl palmitate]], a typical wax ester.Wax refers to a class of chemical compounds that are plastic near ambient temperatures. Characteristically, they melt above 45 °C to give a low viscosity liquid. Waxes are insoluble in water but soluble in organic, nonpolar solvents...

" (2.1.169–171). When Clifford is urging Henry to protect the Prince's birthright, he attempts to illustrate to Henry that doing the right thing for his children should be a natural course of action; "Doves will peck in safeguard of their brood" (2.2.18). During the debate about the rightful king, Edward refers to Clifford as "that fatal screech owl/That nothing sung but death to us and ours" (2.6.55–56). Bird imagery continues to be used contemptuously in France, where Margaret says of Edward and Warwick, "both of you are birds of selfsame feather" (3.3.161). Prior to the Battle of Barnet, as Somerset attempts to rally the troops, he says "And he that will not fight for such a hope,/Go home to bed, and like the owl
Owls are a group of birds that belong to the order Strigiformes, constituting 200 bird of prey species. Most are solitary and nocturnal, with some exceptions . Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish...

 by day,/If he arise, be mocked and wondered at" (5.4.55–57). When Richard visits Henry in the tower, Henry defends his suspicion of Richard's intentions; "The bird that hath been lim'd in a bush,/With trembling wing
A wing is an appendage with a surface that produces lift for flight or propulsion through the atmosphere, or through another gaseous or liquid fluid...

s misdoubteth every bush" (5.6.13–14). Birds also play an important part in Henry's prophecy of Richard's future evil reign, as he points out the many ill omen
An omen is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change...

s accompanying Richard's birth; "The owl shrieked at thy birth, an evil sign,/The night-crow
Crows form the genus Corvus in the family Corvidae. Ranging in size from the relatively small pigeon-size jackdaws to the Common Raven of the Holarctic region and Thick-billed Raven of the highlands of Ethiopia, the 40 or so members of this genus occur on all temperate continents and several...

 cried, aboding luckless time,/Dogs howled and hideous tempest
A storm is any disturbed state of an astronomical body's atmosphere, especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather...

 shook down trees,/The raven
Raven is the common name given to several larger-bodied members of the genus Corvus—but in Europe and North America the Common Raven is normally implied...

 rooked her on the chimney's top,/And chatt'ring pies
Magpies are passerine birds of the crow family, Corvidae.In Europe, "magpie" is often used by English speakers as a synonym for the European Magpie, as there are no other magpies in Europe outside Iberia...

 in dismal discords sung" (5.6.44–48).
Another commonly recurring animal motif is that of lambs and wolves
Gray Wolf
The gray wolf , also known as the wolf, is the largest extant wild member of the Canidae family...

. This is introduced in the opening scene when Margaret chastises Henry for yielding to York's demands and relinquishing the throne to the House of York; "Such safety finds/The trembling lamb environ'd with wolves" (ll.243–244). Later, as York watches his army lose the Battle of Wakefield, he laments "All my followers to the eager foe/Turn back and fly, like ships before the wind/Or lambs pursued by hunger-starv'd wolves" (1.4.3–5). After being captured by the Lancastrians, York then refer to Margaret as "She-wolf of France, but worse than wolves of France" (1.4.111). During the Battle of Tewkesbury, as Richard and Clifford fight, they are interrupted by Warwick, and Clifford flees. Warwick attempts to pursue him, but Richard says, "Nay Warwick, single out some other chase,/For myself will hunt this wolf to death" (2.4.13). Prior to the battle of Barnet, Margaret rallies her troops by claiming Edward has destroyed the country and usurped the throne, then pointing out "And yonder is the wolf that makes this spoil" (5.4.80). Finally, upon being left alone with Richard in the Tower, Henry proclaims "So flies the reckless shepherd
A shepherd is a person who tends, feeds or guards flocks of sheep.- Origins :Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations, beginning some 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool...

 from the wolf,/So first the harmless sheep doth yield his fleece
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

,/And next his throat, unto the butcher's knife" (5.6.7–9).

A third recurring image is that of the lion. This is introduced by Rutland in Act 1, Scene 3; "So looks the pent-up lion o'er the wretch" (l.174). Later, Richard, speaking of York, says "Methought he bore him in the thickest troop/As doth a lion in a herd
Herd refers to a social grouping of certain animals of the same species, either wild or domestic, and also to the form of collective animal behavior associated with this or as a verb, to herd, to its control by another species such as humans or dogs.The term herd is generally applied to mammals,...

 of neat
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

" (2.1.13–14). As Clifford chastises Henry for disinheriting Prince Edward, he asks "To whom do lions cast their gentle looks?/Not to the beast that would usurp the den" (2.2.11–12). Lions are then mentioned in conjunction with lambs during the Battle of Tewkesbury; "While lions roar and battle for their dens/Poor harmless lambs abide their enmity
Hatred is a deep and emotional extreme dislike, directed against a certain object or class of objects. The objects of such hatred can vary widely, from inanimate objects to animals, oneself or other people, entire groups of people, people in general, existence, or the whole world...

" (2.5.74–75). Lions and lambs are again combined when, just before his second capture, Henry is wondering why the people prefer Edward to him; "And when the lion fawns upon the lamb,/The lamb will never cease to follow him" (4.8.49–50). Warwick later combines lions and birds during his death speech, "I must yield my body to the earth/And by my fall, the conquest to my foe./Thus yields the cedar to the axe's edge,/Whose arms gave shelter to the princely eagle,/Under whose shade the ramping lion slept" (5.2.9–13).

Other animals referred to in the play include dogs (1.4.56, 2.1.15 and 2.5.129), woodcock
The woodcocks are a group of seven or eight very similar living species of wading birds in the genus Scolopax. Only two woodcocks are widespread, the others being localized island endemics. Most are found in the Northern Hemisphere but a few range into Wallacea...

s (1.4.61), rabbit
Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

s (1.4.62), snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s (1.4.112 and 2.2.15), tiger
The tiger is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to and weighing up to . Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts...

s (1.4.138, 1.4.155 and 3.1.39), cattle (2.1.14), bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

s (2.1.15, 2.2.13 and 3.2.161), toad
A toad is any of a number of species of amphibians in the order Anura characterized by dry, leathery skin , short legs, and snoat-like parotoid glands...

s (2.2.138), bulls
The biological subfamily Bovinae includes a diverse group of 10 genera of medium to large sized ungulates, including domestic cattle, the bison, African buffalo, the water buffalo, the yak, and the four-horned and spiral-horned antelopes...

 (2.5.126), hare
Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Lepus. Hares less than one year old are called leverets. Four species commonly known as types of hare are classified outside of Lepus: the hispid hare , and three species known as red rock hares .Hares are very fast-moving...

s (2.5.131), chameleon
Chameleons are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of lizards. They are distinguished by their parrot-like zygodactylous feet, their separately mobile and stereoscopic eyes, their very long, highly modified, and rapidly extrudable tongues, their swaying gait, the possession by many of a...

s (3.2.191) and fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

s (4.7.25).

Another example of linguistic repetition creating a direct comparison between different characters is found in Act 1, Scene 4, during York's torture. Having listened to Margaret's taunts, York says, "There, take the crown, and with the crown my curse,/And in thy need such comfort come to thee/As now I reap at thy too cruel hand" (ll.164–166). Later, in Act 5, Scene 5, after Edward, Richard and Clarence have murdered Prince Edward, Margaret exclaims, "You have no children, butchers; if you had,/The thought of them would have stirred up remorse./But if you ever chance to have a child,/Look in his youth to have him cut off/As, deathsmen, you have rid this sweet young prince" (ll.63–67). York's curse is echoed in Margaret's, and as such, a direct comparison is established between the two. Also, as well as foregrounding the theme of children cut off in their youth, the comparison also serves to emphasise the barbarism and lack of empathy of which both sides of the conflict are more than capable.


One of the most obvious themes in the play is revenge, which is cited numerous times by various different characters as the driving force for their actions. At different points in the play, Henry, Northumberland, Westmoreland, Clifford, Richard, Edward and Warwick all cite a desire for revenge as a major factor in guiding their decisions, and revenge becomes a shared objective between both sides of the conflict, as each seek to redress the apparent wrongs perpetrated by the other; "In 3 Henry VI, we witness the final degradation 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...

: this play contains some of the most horrific scenes 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...

 as England's warlord
A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war...

s sacrifice honour
Honour or honor is an abstract concept entailing a perceived quality of worthiness and respectability that affects both the social standing and the self-evaluation of an individual or corporate body such as a family, school, regiment or nation...

 to a remorseless ethic of revenge."

The theme of revenge is introduced in the opening scene. Upon seeing York seated on the royal throne, Henry reminds his allies of their conflict with the Yorkists in an attempt to motivate them; "Earl of Northumberland, [York] slew thy father,/And thine Lord Clifford, and you both have vowed revenge/On him, his sons, his favourites and his friends" (1.1.54–56). Later, after Henry has resigned the crown to the House of York and has been abandoned by Clifford, Westmoreland and Northumberland, Exeter advises him, "They seek revenge and therefore shall not yield" (1.1.191).

Revenge, however, is not confined to the Lancastrians. Upon learning of the death of his brother, Warwick vows, "Here on my knee I vow to God above/I'll never pause again, never stand still,/Till either death hath closed these eyes of mine/Or fortune given me measure of revenge" (2.3.29–32). During his time in France, Warwick again cites revenge as part of his reason for joining the Lancastrians; "Did I let pass th'abuse done to my niece?" (3.3.188 – this is a reference to an incident reported in both Hall and Holinshed where Edward attempted to rape either Warwick's daughter or his niece; "Edward did attempt a thing once in the Earl's house which was much against the Earl's honesty (whether he would have deflowered his daughter or his niece, the certainty was not for both their honours openly known) for surely such a thing was attempted by King Edward"). Only a few lines later, Warwick then exclaims, "I will revenge [Edward's] wrong to Lady Bona" (3.3.197). He also acknowledges that revenge is his primary motive in joining the Lancastrians, not devotion to their cause; "I'll be the chief to bring [Edward] down again,/Not that I pity Henry's misery,/But seek revenge on Edward's mockery" (3.3.264–266). Indeed, it is perhaps Warwick who sums up the revenge ethic of the play; in Act 2, Scene 6, upon finding Clifford's body, Warwick orders that Clifford's head replace York's at the gates of the city, declaring "Measure for measure must be answer'd" (l.54).
Of all the characters who advocate revenge however, Clifford is by far the most passionate. His obsession with revenge for the death of his father takes root before the play even begins, in the penultimate scene of 2 Henry VI;

Wast thou ordained, dear father,

To lose thy youth in peace, and to achieve

The silver livery
A livery is a uniform, insignia or symbol adorning, in a non-military context, a person, an object or a vehicle that denotes a relationship between the wearer of the livery and an individual or corporate body. Often, elements of the heraldry relating to the individual or corporate body feature in...

 of advis'd age,

And in thy reverence and thy chair-days, thus

To die in ruffian battle? Even at this sight

My heart is turned to stone; and while 'tis mine

It shall be stony. York not our old men spares;

No more will I their babes. Tears virginal
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...

Shall be to me even as the dew
[Image:Dew on a flower.jpg|right|220px|thumb|Some dew on an iris in Sequoia National Park]]Dew is water in the form of droplets that appears on thin, exposed objects in the morning or evening...

 to fire,

And beauty that the tyrant oft reclaims

Shall to my flaming wrath be oil and flax
Linseed oil
Linseed oil, also known as flaxseed oil, is a clear to yellowish oil obtained from the dried ripe seeds of the flax plant . The oil is obtained by cold pressing, sometimes followed by solvent extraction...


Henceforth I will not have to do with pity
Pity originally means feeling for others, particularly feelings of sadness or sorrow, and was once used in a comparable sense to the more modern words "sympathy" and "empathy"...


Meet I an infant
A newborn or baby is the very young offspring of a human or other mammal. A newborn is an infant who is within hours, days, or up to a few weeks from birth. In medical contexts, newborn or neonate refers to an infant in the first 28 days after birth...

 of the house of York,

Into as many gobbet
A gobbet is a small chunk of meat, roughly the size of a mouthful. It is derived from the Old French gober which is related to the modern word gobble ....

s will I cut it

As wild Medea
Medea is a woman in Greek mythology. She was the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, niece of Circe, granddaughter of the sun god Helios, and later wife to the hero Jason, with whom she had two children, Mermeros and Pheres. In Euripides's play Medea, Jason leaves Medea when Creon, king of...

 young Absyrtus
Absyrtus, or Apsyrtus , was in Greek mythology the son of Aeëtes and a brother of Medea and Chalciope. His mother is variously given: Hyginus calls her Ipsia, Hesiod and Apollodorus call her Eidyia, Apollonius calls her Asterodeia, and others Neaera or Eurylyte.When Medea fled with Jason, she took...


In cruelty will I seek out my fame.

Early in 3 Henry VI, Clifford makes it clear that nothing has changed in his desire to revenge his father's death. When Warwick mentions his father, Clifford responds "Urge it no more, lest that instead of words,/I send thee, Warwick, such a messenger/As shall revenge his death before I stir" (1.1.99–101). Later, refusing to bow to York, Clifford exclaims "May that ground gape and swallow me alive/Where I shall kneel to him that slew my father" (1.1.162–163). The murder of Rutland is particularly important in terms of Clifford's pursuit of vengeance, as the scene is punctuated with a debate about the limits and moral implications of exacting revenge on someone who did no wrong in the first place;


Sweet Clifford, hear me speak before I die:

I am too mean a subject for thy wrath;

Be thou revenged on men
An adult is a human being or living organism that is of relatively mature age, typically associated with sexual maturity and the attainment of reproductive age....

, and let me live.


In vain thou speak'st, poor boy: my father's blood

Hath stopped the passage where thy words should enter.


Then let my father's blood open it again:

He is a man, and Clifford cope with him.


Had I thy brethren here, their lives and thine

Were not revenge sufficient for me:

No, if I digged up thy forefathers' graves

And hung their rotten coffins up in chains,

It could not slake mine ire, nor ease my heart.

The sight of any of the House of York

Is as a fury to torment my soul,

And till I root out their accurs'd line

And leave not one alive, I live in hell.

Therefore -

He lifts his hand.


O let me pray, before I take my death!

To thee I pray; sweet Clifford pity me.


Such pity as my rapier
A rapier is a slender, sharply pointed sword, ideally used for thrusting attacks, used mainly in Early Modern Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries.-Description:...

's point affords.


I never did thee harm, why wilt thou slay me?


Thy Father hath.


But 'twas ere I was born.

Thou hast one son: for his sake pity me,

Least in revenge thereof, sith God is just,

He be as miserably slain as I.

Ah, let me live in prison all my days,

And when I give occasion of offence,

Then let me die, for now thou hast no cause.


No cause? thy Father slew my Father: therefore die.

He stabs him.


Dii faciant laudis summa sit ista tuæ.


Plantagenet, I come Plantagenet,

And this thy son's blood cleaving to my blade

Shall rust upon my weapon, till thy blood

Congealed with this, do make me wipe off both.

Clifford subverts all notions of morality and chivalry in his dogged pursuit of revenge, determined to visit onto the House of York the same type of suffering as it delivered onto him with the death of his father. This culminates during the torture of York in Act 1, Scene 4. Only moments after capturing York, Clifford wants to execute him immediately, but is prevented from doing so by Margaret, who wishes to talk to, and taunt, York prior to killing him. When Margaret tells York that he will die soon, Clifford quickly points out, "That is my office, for my father's sake" (l.109). Clifford remains relatively silent throughout most of the scene, speaking only immediately prior to his stabbing of York, and again, citing revenge as foremost in his mind; "Here's for my oath, here's for my father's death" (l.175).

However, even with the death of his father's killer, Clifford seems to remain obsessed with revenge. During his single combat with Richard at the Battle of Towton, Clifford attempts to evoke a desire for revenge in Richard by pointing out how he killed two members of Richard's family;

Now Richard, I am here with thee alone,

This is the hand that stabbed thy father York

And this the hand that slew thy brother Rutland,

And here's the heart that triumphs in their death

And cheers these hands that slew thy sire and brother

To execute the like upon thyself;

And so have at thee.

Even at the point of his own death, Clifford cannot let go of revenge, transferring his own obsession onto his enemies, and assuming that in his death, they will have a measure of the revenge he so yearns for; "Come York and Richard, Warwick and the rest,/I stabbed your father's bosom, split my breast" (2.6.28–29).

Power and barbarism

Despite the prevalence of revenge in the earlier parts of the play, it loses significance as a motivating factor as the nature of the conflict changes and develops into a pursuit of power, without recourse to past antagonisms. Revenge ceases to be the primary driving force for many of the characters, with lust for rule taking over, and past conflicts rendered unimportant as each side desperately races for victory; "the revenge ethic has been outstripped by expedient violence with no aim other than the seizure of power."

For example, when Edward and Richard are urging York to break his oath to Henry, Edward says, "But for a kingdom, any oath may be broken;/I would break a thousand oaths to reign one year" (1.2.16–17), thus showing the attraction that power has for the characters, and what they would be willing to do to attain it. Later, echoing Warwick's statement about his reasons for joining the Lancastrians, Richard outlines why he has remained loyal to the Yorkists; "I stay not for the love of Edward but the crown" (4.1.125), again showing the attraction of power and the subversion of all other concerns, including familial relations. Another example is when Prince Edward is killed in Act 5, Scene 5. His death is brought about because he taunts the Plantagenet brothers, and they lose their temper with him, not because they are exacting revenge for an on-going feud with his family. Similarly, when Richard kills Henry, his motives
Motivation is the driving force by which humans achieve their goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. This article refers to human motivation...

 have nothing to do with the conflict between his family and Henry's. He murders him simply because Henry stands in the way of his attempts to gain the throne. As Michael Hattaway writes, "family loyalties may have been the initial cause of the feuds, but an audience watching 3 Henry VI is likely to feel that individual ambition rather than family honour is what fuels the vendettas that inform the play. Both [families] seem to have forgotten that the quarrel between [them] originally was a dynastic one: their claims to legitimacy and authority in this play are now validated only by the forces they can muster" As Jane Howell, director of the BBC Shakespeare adaptation argues, "anarchy is loosed and you're left with a very different set of values – every man for himself. You're into a time of change in which there is no code except survival of the fittest – who happens to be Richard."

As such, with power being seen by many of the characters as the ultimate goal, aside from revenge, the play also deals with themes of disloyalty and betrayal
Betrayal is the breaking or violation of a presumptive contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship amongst individuals, between organizations or between individuals and organizations...

, and outlines the results of political faction
Political faction
A political faction is a grouping of individuals, such as a political party, a trade union, or other group with a political purpose. A faction or political party may include fragmented sub-factions, “parties within a party," which may be referred to as power blocs, or voting blocs. The individuals...

alism and social breakdown; a once calm world is seen spiralling toward chaos as barbarism and immorality come to the fore. As E.M.W. Tillyard has written of the Henry VI trilogy; "The second part had showed us the murder of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, the rise of York, the destruction of two of Humphrey's murderers and the enmity of the two survivors, York and Queen Margaret. Through these happenings the country had been brought to the edge of chaos. In the third part, Shakespeare shows us chaos itself, the full prevalence of civil war, the perpetration of one horrible deed after another. In the second part there had remained some chivalric feeling […] But in the third part all the decencies of chivalric warfare are abandoned."

The play depicts what happens when "a nation turns on itself in epic savagery, dissolving its own social foundations
Social order
Social order is a concept used in sociology, history and other social sciences. It refers to a set of linked social structures, social institutions and social practices which conserve, maintain and enforce "normal" ways of relating and behaving....

." Significantly in this sense, the play has no antagonist
An antagonist is a character, group of characters, or institution, that represents the opposition against which the protagonist must contend...

, and both sides in the conflict are depicted as capable of atrocities in their pursuit of victory, and therefore authority. For example, the opening moments of the play see Richard introduced carrying the head of the Duke of Somerset, who he killed at the end of 2 Henry VI. The degradation of chivalric customs and human decency
Decency is the quality or state of conforming to social or moral standards of taste and propriety.-See also:*Taste *Communications Decency Act*Public indecency*Indecent exposure*Sodomy law*Norm *Grotesque body...

 is emphasised when York responds to Richard's arrival by 'talking' to the head itself; "But is your grace dead, my lord of Somerset" (1.1.18). Michael Hattaway sees this scene as an important prologue to the play insofar as "the act of desecration signifies the extinguishing of the residual chivalric code of conspicuous virtue, the eclipsing of honour by main force."

Another example of barbarism perpetrated by the Yorkists is the abuse of Clifford's body in Act 2, Scene 6, where Edward, Richard, Clarence and Warwick all speak to the corpse in derision, sardonically wondering why it doesn't answer them. Richard's treatment of Henry's body in the final scene is another example of the lack of reverence for the dead; after Henry's death, Richard stabs the corpse, proclaiming "Down, down to hell, and say I sent thee hither" (5.6.67). In the same way, the Lancastrians are shown to be capable of just as much barbarism as the Yorkists, the best examples of which are the murder of Rutland and the torture of York.

Family conflict and family dissolution

Just as revenge gives way to a desire for power, so too does national political conflict give way to a petty interfamily feud. For example, the play opens in the aftermath of the First Battle of St Albans (1455), and immediately dramatises the agreement between Henry and York that the House of Lancaster will cede
The act of Cession, or to cede, is the assignment of property to another entity. In international law it commonly refers to land transferred by treaty...

 the throne to the House of York upon Henry's death. However, in reality, this agreement was brought about not by the First Battle of St Albans but by the Battle of Northampton
Battle of Northampton (1460)
The Battle of Northampton was a battle in the Wars of the Roses, which took place on 10 July 1460.-Background:The Yorkist cause seemed finished after the previous disaster at Ludford Bridge...

 in 1460, which Shakespeare chose not to dramatise. Furthermore, the legal settlement whereby Henry agreed to relinquish the crown to the House of York upon his death came about due to lengthy parliamentary debate, not a personal agreement between Henry and York, as it is depicted in the play. As such, a wide-ranging political debate spanning five years, and involving virtually every peer in the country is telescoped in the play to an immediate agreement between two men, thus illustrating the personal nature of the conflict.

Another example of a character who also personalises the national conflict and turns it from a political struggle into a personal quest is Clifford, whose desire for revenge for the death of his father seems to be his only reason for fighting. Clifford seems unconcerned with Henry's ability to lead the country, and his desire for personal vengeance seems to outweigh any sense he has of aiding the House of Lancaster because he believes it to be the right thing to do. Similarly, Warwick's later actions in the play, as he himself acknowledges, have nothing to do with ensuring Henry remain king, but are based wholly on his personal feelings towards Edward; he is more concerned with bringing down the House of York than elevating the House of Lancaster. As such, "the York-Warwick alliance degenerates into an inter-family feud, even more petty in its tit-for-tat predictability than York and Lancaster's squabbles." Although the conflicts depicted in the play are national, they are treated by many of the characters as personal quarrels.

This concentration on the personal and familial aspects of the war leads to another major theme in the play; the dissolution of Family. Throughout the play, family ties are shown to be fragile and constantly under threat. The first breach of familial bonds comes when Henry agrees to pass the crown to the House of York after his death. This disinherits his son and renders the crown a piece of transferable property, rather than a symbol of dynastic heritage or monarchic succession. All of Henry's followers are aghast at this decision, none more so than Margaret, who exclaims,

Ah, wretched man, would I had died a maid
A maidservant or in current usage housemaid or maid is a female employed in domestic service.-Description:Once part of an elaborate hierarchy in great houses, today a single maid may be the only domestic worker that upper and even middle-income households can afford, as was historically the case...

And never seen thee, never borne thee son,

Seeing thou hast proved so unnatural a father.

Hath he deserved to lose his birthright thus?

Hadst thou but loved him half so well as I,

Or felt that pain which I did for him once,

Or nourished him as I did with my blood,

Thou wouldst have left thy dearest heart-blood there,

Rather than have made that savage Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

 thine heir

And disinherited thine only son.

Margaret is not alone in her efforts to convince Henry that his decision is wrong. Clifford also attempts to persuade him, arguing that fathers who do not pass on their successes to their sons are unnatural;

Ambitious York, did level at thy crown,

Thou smiling, while he knit his angry brows.

He but a duke would have his son a king

And raise his issue like a loving sire
Sire may refer to:* Father, the counterpart of a dam, particularly in animal breeding. See also stallion* James W. Sire, author on worldviews* Sire Records, a record label* Sire Advertising, an advertising agency...


Thou being a king, blessed with a goodly son

Didst yield consent to disinherit him,

Which argued thee a most unloving father.

Unreasonable creatures feed their young,

And though man's face be fearful to their eyes,

Yet in protection of their tender ones,

Who hath not seen them, even with those wings

Which sometime they have used with fearful flight,

Make war with him that climbed unto their nest
A nest is a place of refuge to hold an animal's eggs or provide a place to live or raise offspring. They are usually made of some organic material such as twigs, grass, and leaves; or may simply be a depression in the ground, or a hole in a tree, rock or building...


Offering their own lives in their young's defence?

For shame, my liege, make them your precedent.

Were it not pity that this goodly boy

Should lose his birth-right by his father's fault,

And long hereafter say unto his child,

'What my great-grandfather and grandsire got,

My careless father fondly gave away'?

Ah what a shame were this! Look on the boy,

And let his manly face, which promiseth

Successful fortune, steel thy melting heart,

To hold thine own and leave thine own with him.

Henry however, disagrees with Clifford, arguing that passing on the burden of kingship is not necessarily the natural thing for a father to do, as it brings no reward. By disinheriting his son, Henry seems to think he is protecting the Prince, ensuring that he never suffer the hardships experienced by his father;

But Clifford tell me, didst thou never hear

That things ill got, had ever bad success?

And happy always was it for that son

Whose father for his hoarding went to hell?

I'll leave my son my virtuous
Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a positive trait or quality subjectively deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being....

 deeds behind,

And would my father had left me no more,

For all the rest is held at such a rate

As brings a thousandfold more care to keep

Then in possession any jot of pleasure.

As such, whilst Margaret and Clifford argue that Henry has destroyed his family in his deal with York, Henry himself seems to feel that he has done his offspring a favour and prevented him from experiencing future suffering.

York's deal with Henry doesn't just have implications for Henry's family however, it also has implications for York's. York willingly sacrifices personal glory for the sake of his heirs, electing not to become King himself with the promise that his sons and grandsons will be kings instead. However, almost immediately after his deal with Henry, York's family is torn apart. Act 1, Scene 2 symbolically begins with Edward and Richard arguing; "No quarrel but a slight contention" (l.6). Act 1, Scene 3 then depicts the murder of York's youngest son, whilst in Act 1, Scene 4, York himself is tortured and murdered, with the knowledge that Rutland is already dead. In this sense, York functions as a symbolic character insofar as "the personal losses underlining York's political 'tragedy' [magnify] the play's theme of civil war's destruction of family relationships."
The dissolution of the House of York however doesn't end with the death of York himself. Later, in Act 3, Scene 2, Richard further dissolves the family by revealing his ambition to usurp Edward's throne, and thereby disinherit Edward's children, his own nephews; "Ay, Edward, use women honourably./Would he were wasted, marrow
Bone marrow
Bone marrow is the flexible tissue found in the interior of bones. In humans, bone marrow in large bones produces new blood cells. On average, bone marrow constitutes 4% of the total body mass of humans; in adults weighing 65 kg , bone marrow accounts for approximately 2.6 kg...

, bones, and all,/That from his loin
The loins are the sides between the lower ribs and pelvis, and the lower part of the back. It is often used when describing the anatomy of humans and quadrupeds . The anatomical reference also carries over into the description of cuts of meat from some such animals, eg...

s no hopeful branch may spring/To cross me from the golden time I look for" (ll.124–127). After murdering Henry, Richard then outlines his plan to bring this about, vowing to turn Edward against Clarence;

Clarence beware, thou keep'st me from the light,

But I will sort a pitchy day for thee,

For I will buzz abroad such prophecies

That Edward shall be fearful of his life,

And then to purge his fear, I'll be thy death. (5.6.84–88)

In this ambition, Richard proves successful, utterly destroying his own family in the process.
Also important to the theme of family dissolution is Act 2, Scene 5, where a father unwittingly kills his son, and a son unwittingly kills his father. Stuart Hampton-Reeves argues that this scene is a symbolic one referring to the conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 debate in England during the 1580s and 1590s. The Dutch Revolt
Dutch Revolt
The Dutch Revolt or the Revolt of the Netherlands This article adopts 1568 as the starting date of the war, as this was the year of the first battles between armies. However, since there is a long period of Protestant vs...

 against the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 had begun in 1568, and although England and France were both supporting the Dutch, they had officially remained neutral
Neutrality (international relations)
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

 for fear of angering the Spanish. However, in 1585, Elizabeth I
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...

 signed the Treaty of Nonsuch
Treaty of Nonsuch
The Treaty of Nonsuch was signed by Elizabeth I of England and the Netherlands on 10 August 1585 at Nonsuch Palace in Surrey.-Background:The treaty was provoked by the signing of the Treaty of Joinville in 1584 between Philip II of Spain and the Catholic League in France in which Philip II promised...

, which officially brought England into the conflict, with the promise of 6,500 troops (which was then changed to 8,000 troops) for the Dutch. As such, to supply these troops, mobilisation
Mobilization is the act of assembling and making both troops and supplies ready for war. The word mobilization was first used, in a military context, in order to describe the preparation of the Prussian army during the 1850s and 1860s. Mobilization theories and techniques have continuously changed...

 was needed and the government thus replaced the traditional feudal system, whereby local nobles raised armies from among their own tenantry, with national conscription. This was not without controversy, and the incident involving the fathers and sons allude to both practices; the feudal system and the national system. Upon discovering he has killed his father, the son laments "From London by the king was I pressed forth./My father, being the Earl of Warwick's man,/Came on the part of York, pressed by his master" (2.5.64–66). The son had left the family home and travelled to London, where he had been conscripted into the king's army upon the outbreak of war. The father had stayed at home and had been compelled to join the army of the local noble (i.e. Warwick). Thus they ended up on opposite sides in the conflict, as regional stability gives way to national discord and social breakdown, and the war begins to quite literally tear families apart.


After the original 1592 performances, the complete text of 3 Henry VI seems to have been very rarely acted. The first definite performance in England after Shakespeare's day 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 1952, 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 3 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 a successful production of 2 Henry VI in 1951. 1 Henry VI would follow in 1953. 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 3 Henry VI featuring Alan Bridges
Alan Bridges
Alan Bridges is an English film and television director. He directed 40 films and television programmes between 1961 and 1991. He won the Grand Prix at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival for his film The Hireling...

 as Edward and Edgar Wreford as Richard. Although little was removed from the text, it did end differently to the written play. After Edward has spoken his last lines, everyone leaves the stage except Richard, who walks towards the throne, then turns and looks out to the audience, speaking the first thirty lines of his opening speech from Richard III (from "Now is the winter of our discontent" to "I am determined to prove a villain"), at which point the curtain falls. Additionally, in this production, Boxall as Margaret fully participated in the Battle of Tewkesbury, which was considered a bold move at the time.
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 Alfred Lynch
Alfred Lynch
Alfred Cornelius Lynch was a British actor on stage, film and television.Lynch was born in Whitechapel, London, the son of a plumber. After attending a Roman Catholic school, he worked in a draughtsman's office before entering national service...

 as Edward and Anton Lesser
Anton Lesser
Anton Lesser is a British actor. He attended Moseley Grammar School and the University of Liverpool before going to RADA in 1977 where he was awarded the Bancroft Gold Medal as the most promising actor of his year....

 as Richard.

In 1994, 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...

 directed the play as a stand-alone piece for 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) at The Other Place
The Other Place (theatre)
The Other Place was a black box theatre on Southern Lane, near to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. It was owned and operated by the Royal Shakespeare Company....

 theatre in Stratford, under the title Henry VI: The Battle for the Throne. Starring Jonathan Firth
Jonathan Firth
Jonathan Firth is a British actor best known for his roles in such noted British television productions as Middlemarch, Far from the Madding Crowd, and Victoria & Albert.-Early life:Jonathan Firth was born in Essex, England...

 as Henry, Ruth Mitchell as Margaret, Tom Smith as Richard and Lloyd Owen
Lloyd Owen
Lloyd Owen is a British actor of Welsh descent. Trained at the National Youth Theatre and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, he is probably best known for his portrayal of Indiana Jones's father Professor Dr. Henry Jones, Sr...

 as Edward, the play added dialogue (primarily anti-war material) from Gorboduc, Richard II, 2 Henry VI and Richard III. Mitchell cut all on-stage violence, resulting in York, Rutland, Prince Edward and Henry all being killed off-stage. The introduction of the head of Somerset was also removed, with the play beginning instead at line 25, "This is the palace of the fearful king." Also removed was much of Margaret's speech to rouse her army prior to Tewkesbury.

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, Fiona Bell as Margaret, Tom Beard as Edward and Aidan McArdle
Aidan McArdle
Aidan McArdle is an Irish actor.McArdle was born in Dublin. He studied for an Arts degree at University College Dublin before going on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England....

 as Richard. The play was presented with the other five 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 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, Katy Stephens as Margaret, Forbes Masson
Forbes Masson
Forbes Masson is a Scottish actor and writer. He is best known for his classical theatre roles and comedy partnership with Alan Cumming...

 as Edward and Jonathan Slinger
Jonathan Slinger
Jonathan Slinger is a British actor. He trained at RADA, graduating in 1994. From there, he went to work at the Royal National Theatre and Shakespeare's Globe...

 as Richard. 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. 3 Henry VI was performed under the title Henry VI, Part 3: The Chaos. 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 2010 in New York City, the independent theatre company Wide Eyed Productions, in association with Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

, mounted a stand-alone production of the play at the East 13th Street Theatre (home of Classic Stage Company
Classic Stage Company
Classic Stage Company, or CSC, is a classical Off-Broadway theater dedicated to reimagining the classical repertory for a contemporary American audience, presenting plays from the past that speak directly to today's issues. Founded in 1967, Classic Stage Company is one of Off-Broadway's...

). The production was directed by Adam Marple and featured Nat Cassidy as Henry, Candace Thompson as Margaret, Sky Seals as Edward and Ben Newman as Richard. It was noted as being a rare opportunity to see the play on its own and was well received – particularly for its staging of the conclusion, in which Henry's corpse remained onstage, doused in a steady rain of blood, throughout Edward IV's final scene, after which a naked and feral Richard bolts onstage and delivers the opening lines of Richard III, before literally eating the throne. The play also featured a huge portrait of Henry V wallpapered to the upstage wall that was steadily torn apart over the course of the play.

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 seventh 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. 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. In 1999, director Ruediger Burbach presented 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI at the Zurich Playhouse
Schauspielhaus Zürich
The Schauspielhaus Zürich is one of the most prominent and important theatres in the German-speaking world. It is also known as "Pfauenbühne" after its location on the Pfauen Square in Zürich, Switzerland. The large theatre has 750 seats...

. This production was unique insofar as a woman (Katharina Schmoelzer) played Henry. Margaret was played by Katharina von Bock.


Evidence for the first adaptation of 3 Henry VI is found during the Restoration, when, in 1681, John Crowne
John Crowne
John Crowne was a British dramatist and a native of Nova Scotia.His father "Colonel" William Crowne, accompanied the earl of Arundel on a diplomatic mission to Vienna in 1637, and wrote an account of his journey...

 created a two part play entitled Henry the Sixth, The First Part and The Misery of Civil War. Henry comprised Acts 1–3 of 2 Henry VI focusing on the death of Gloucester, Misery adapted the last two acts of 2 Henry VI and much of 3 Henry VI. Writing at the time of Popish Plot
Popish Plot
The Popish Plot was a fictitious conspiracy concocted by Titus Oates that gripped England, Wales and Scotland in Anti-Catholic hysteria between 1678 and 1681. Oates alleged that there existed an extensive Catholic conspiracy to assassinate Charles II, accusations that led to the execution of at...

, Crowne, who was a devout royalist
A royalist supports a particular monarch as head of state for a particular kingdom, or of a particular dynastic claim. In the abstract, this position is royalism. It is distinct from monarchism, which advocates a monarchical system of government, but not necessarily a particular monarch...

, used his adaptation to warn about the danger of allowing England to descend into another civil war, which would be the case should the Whig party rise to power. Changes to the text include a new, albeit silent scene just prior to the Battle of Wakefield where York embraces Rutland before heading out to fight; an extension of the courtship between Edward and Lady Grey, and the edition of two subplots; one concerning a mistress of Edward's who he accidentally kills in battle (an allusion to Francis Beaumont
Francis Beaumont
Francis Beaumont was a dramatist in the English Renaissance theatre, most famous for his collaborations with John Fletcher....

 and John Fletcher
John Fletcher (playwright)
John Fletcher was a Jacobean playwright. Following William Shakespeare as house playwright for the King's Men, he was among the most prolific and influential dramatists of his day; both during his lifetime and in the early Restoration, his fame rivalled Shakespeare's...

's Philaster
Philaster (play)
Philaster, or Love Lies a-Bleeding is an early Jacobean era stage play, a tragicomedy written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. One of the duo's earliest successes, the play helped to establish the trend for tragicomedy that was a powerful influence in early Stuart era drama.-Date and...

), the other involving an attempt by Warwick to seduce Lady Grey after her husband's death at the Second Battle of St. Albans (this is later used as a rationale for why Warwick turns against Edward). Also worth noting is that the role of Margaret in 3 Henry VI was removed almost entirely, reducing her to two scenes; the death of York and the death of Prince Edward.

3 Henry VI was also partly incorporated into Colley Cibber
Colley Cibber
Colley Cibber was an English actor-manager, playwright and Poet Laureate. His colourful memoir Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber describes his life in a personal, anecdotal and even rambling style...

's The Tragical History of King Richard the Third, containing the Distresses and Death of King Henry the Sixth
Richard III (1699 play)
Richard III is an adapted version of Shakespeare's history play of the same name , reworked for Williamite or Orange audiences by British Poet Laureate Colley Cibber....

(1699), one of the most successful Shakespearean adaptations of all time. The play was half Shakespeare, half new material. 3 Henry VI was used as the source for Act 1, which dramatised Henry's lamentation about the burdens of Kingship (2.5), the battle of Tewkesbury (Act 5 – although Margaret's speech in Act 5, Scene 1 was replaced with Henry V's "once more unto the breach" speech from Henry V and is spoken by Warwick) and Richard's murder of Henry in the tower (5.6). Richard's soliloquy in Act 2 of Tragical History was also based upon his soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 2 of 3 Henry VI.

Colley's son, Theophilus Cibber
Theophilus Cibber
Theophilus Cibber was an English actor, playwright, author, and son of the actor-manager Colley Cibber.He began acting at an early age, and followed his father into theatrical management. In 1727, Alexander Pope satirized Theophilus Cibber in his Dunciad as a youth who "thrusts his person full...

 wrote his own adaptation, King Henry VI: A Tragedy in 1723, using Act 5 of 2 Henry VI and Act 1 and 2 of 3 Henry VI. Performed 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,...

, Colley appeared as Winchester. As had Crowne, Cibber created a new scene involving Rutland; after the death of York, he and Rutland are laid side by side on the battlefield.

In 1817, 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, 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 from 3 Henry VI included the opening few scenes involving York taking the throne from Henry, preparing for battle, and then the battle itself.

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 and Esther Whitehouse played Margaret. Atkins himself played Richard.
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 down, with most of Act 4 removed, thus reducing the importance of Edward in the overall play. Seale again directed, with Paul Daneman again appearing as Henry, Alan Bridges as Edward and Edgar Wreford as Richard, 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. As with Seale's 1953 Birmingham production, the end of 3 Henry VI was altered to include the opening of Richard III.

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, Roy Dotrice
Roy Dotrice
Roy Dotrice, OBE is a British actor known for his Tony Award-winning Broadway performance in the revival of A Moon for the Misbegotten.-Life and career:...

 as Edward and Ian Holm
Ian Holm
Sir Ian Holm, CBE is an English actor known for his stage work and for many film roles. He received the 1967 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for his performance as Lenny in The Homecoming and the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in the title role of King Lear...

 as Richard. 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 immanent threat of extinction. The theatre is, therefore, examining fundamentals in staging the Henry VI plays."

Another major adaptation was staged in 1986 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 Adelaide
Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. Adelaide has an estimated population of more than 1.2 million...

, Australia. Following the structure established by Barton, Bogdanov combined 1 Henry VI and the first half of 2 Henry VI into one play, and the second half of 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI into another, using the same titles as Barton (Henry VI and The Rise of Edward IV). 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. 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 contemporary 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 Philip Bowen
Philip Bowen
Philip Bowen is a British actor who has appeared in a number of British film and television roles including in Agatha Christie's Poirot, Kavanagh QC and Soldier Soldier. He was born in Liverpool, Merseyside in 1949.-References:...

 as Edward and Andrew Jarvis as Richard.

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, Ken Bones
Ken Bones
Ken Bones is a British actor best known for his television, film and stage appearances. He is a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.-Theatre appearances:...

 as Edward and Anton Lesser as Richard, the production was extremely successful with both audiences and critics. This play ended with the line "Now is the winter of our discontent;" the opening line from Richard III.

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, Edward by John Jurcheck and Richard by Chip Persons.
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, Rami Posner played Edward and Thom Marriott played Richard.

Also in 2002, Edward Hall and the Propellor Company presented a one-play all-male cast modern dress adaptation of the trilogy 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...

. 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. 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, Tim Treloar as Edward and Richard Clothier as Richard. After a successful run at the Haymarket, 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, Fletcher McTaggart as Edward and Bruce A. Young
Bruce A. Young
Bruce A. Young is an American television, film, and stage actor who is perhaps best known for his role as Capt. Simon Banks in the UPN science fiction police drama The Sentinel. Young had roles in the films Risky Business, Jurassic Park III, The Color of Money, Basic Instinct, Into Temptation,...

 as Richard.

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.


Although 3 Henry VI itself has never been adapted directly for the cinema, extracts from it were used in the 1911 silent version of Richard III, directed by and starring F.R. Benson. The scenes included in the film were the murder of Prince Edward, the banishment of Queen Margaret and Richard's murder of Henry in the Tower.

The play also has the distinction of being the first Shakespearean text to be adapted as a sound film
Sound film
A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades would pass before sound motion pictures were made commercially...

, in the 1932 John G. Adolfi
John G. Adolfi
John G. Adolfi was an American silent film director, actor, and screenwriter who was involved in more than 100 productions throughout his career.-Biography:...

 movie The Show of Shows; a three-hour production featuring extracts from numerous plays, musicals and novels, read by John Barrymore
John Barrymore
John Sidney Blyth , better known as John Barrymore, was an acclaimed American actor. He first gained fame as a handsome stage actor in light comedy, then high drama and culminating in groundbreaking portrayals in Shakespearean plays Hamlet and Richard III...

. Richard's soliloquy from Act 3, Scene 2 was used in the film, representing the first time that cinema audiences had heard Shakespeare spoken.

Extracts from the play were also used in Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

's 1955 filmic adaptation of Richard III
Richard III (1955 film)
Richard III is a 1955 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's historical play of the same name, also incorporating elements from his Henry VI, Part 3. It was directed and produced by Sir Laurence Olivier, who also played the lead role. The cast includes many noted Shakespearean actors,...

, which begins with the coronation of Edward IV (in the play, the coronation is not dramatised, but it is implied to have occurred between 3.1 and 3.2). Additionally Richard's two soliloquies from 3.2 and 5.6 are included in the film, albeit edited somewhat.

Similarly, Richard Loncraine
Richard Loncraine
Richard Loncraine is a British film and television director.Loncraine received early training in the features department of the BBC, including a season directing items for Tomorrow's World...

's 1995 filmic adaptation of Richard III
Richard III (1995 film)
Richard III is a 1995 drama film adapted from William Shakespeare's play of the same name, starring Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, John Wood and Dominic West....

, written by and starring Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction...

, features material from both of Richard's soliloquies. The film also used a line from 3 Henry VI in its poster campaign – "I can smile and murder whiles I smile" (3.2.182).


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, Julian Glover
Julian Glover
Julian Wyatt Glover is a British actor best known for such roles as General Maximilian Veers in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the Bond villain Aristotle Kristatos in For Your Eyes Only, and Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.-Personal life:Glover was born in...

 as York and Paul Daneman as Richard. The twelfth episode, under the title 'The Morning's War' covered 3 Henry VI from Act 1 to 3. The thirteenth, 'The Sun in Splendour', presented Acts 4 and 5.

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 1982 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 third 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...

, Edward by 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...

 and Richard by Ron Cook
Ron Cook
Ron Cook is an English actor who has been active in the theatre, film and television since the 1970s. He is from South Shields, Co Durham, England and is a graduate of Rose Bruford College.- Stage appearances :...

. All four plays were performed on the same set , which decayed and became more and more dilapidated as the plays went on and social order became more fractious.

Although Howell's The Third Part of Henry the Sixt was based on the folio text rather than the octavo, it departed from that text in a number of places. For example, it opens differently to the play, with the first twenty-four lines absent. Instead it begins with Edward, Richard, Clarence, Warwick and Norfolk hacking down the door of parliament and Warwick proclaiming "This is the palace of the fearful king" (1.1.25). The opening scene also differs from the play insofar as Clarence is present from the start whereas in the play he is only introduced in Act 2, Scene 2 (Clarence was introduced, along with Edward and Richard, in the final scene of the preceding adaptation). As well as the opening twenty-four lines, numerous other lines were cut from almost every scene. Some of the more notable omissions include, in Act 1, Scene 1, York's "Stay by me my lords,/And soldiers stay and lodge by me this night" (ll.31–32) is absent, as are all references to Margaret chairing a session of parliament (ll.35–42). Also absent from this scene is some of the dialogue between Warwick and Northumberland as they threaten one another (ll.153–160) and Margaret's references to the pains of child birth, and Henry's shameful behaviour in disinheriting his son (ll.221–226). Absent from Act 1, Scene 3 is Rutland's appeal to Clifford's paternal instincts; "Thou hast one son: for his sake pity me,/Lest in revenge thereof, sith God is just,/He be as miserably slain as I" (ll.41–43). In Act 2, Scene 1, all references to Clarence's entry into the conflict (l.143; ll.145–147) are absent, as he had already been introduced as a combatant at the end of 2 Henry VI. In Act 2, Scene 2, two lines are missing from Henry's rebuke of Clifford's accusation that he has been unnatural by disinheriting the Prince; "And happy always was it for that son/Whose father for his hoarding went to hell" (ll.47–48). During the ensuing debate between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, Richard's "Northumberland, I hold thee reverentially" (l.109) is absent. In Act 2, Scene 3, Clarence's plans to rouse the army are absent "And call them pillars that will stand to us,/And if we thrive, promise them such rewards/As victors wear at the Olympian games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

" (ll.51–53). In Act 3, Scene 3, Oxford and Prince Edward's speculations as to the contents of the newly arrived letters is absent (ll.167–170), as is Warwick's reference to Salisbury's death and the incident with his niece, "Did I forget that by the House of York/My father came untimely to his death?/Did I let pass th'abuse done to my niece" (ll.186–188). All references to Lord Bourbon are also absent from this scene (ll.253–255). In Act 4, Scene 4, the first twelve lines are absent (where Elizabeth reports to Rivers that Edward has been captured). In Act 5, Scene 6, Henry's references to Daedalus
In Greek mythology, Daedalus was a skillful craftsman and artisan.-Family:...

 and Icarus
-Space and astronomy:* Icarus , on the Moon* Icarus , a planetary science journal* 1566 Icarus, an asteroid* IKAROS, a interplanetary unmanned spacecraft...

 are absent; "I Daedalus, my poor boy Icarus,/Thy father Minos
In Greek mythology, Minos was a king of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. Every year he made King Aegeus pick seven men and seven women to go to Daedalus' creation, the labyrinth, to be eaten by The Minotaur. After his death, Minos became a judge of the dead in Hades. The Minoan civilization of Crete...

 that denied our course,/The sun that seared the wings of my sweet boy/Thy brother Edward, and thyself the sea/Whose envious gulf did swallow up his life" (ll.21–25).

However, there were also some additions to the text, most noticeably some lines from True Tragedy. In Act 1, Scene 1, for example, four lines are added at the beginning of Henry's declaration that he would rather see civil war than yield the throne. Between lines 124 and 125, Henry states "Ah Plantagenet, why seekest thou to depose me?/Are we not both Plantagenets by birth?/And from two brothers lineally descent?/Suppose by right and equity thou be king...". Also in Act 1, Scene 1, a line is inserted between lines 174 and 175. When York asks Henry if he agrees to the truce, Henry replies "Convey the soldiers hence, and then I will." In Act 2, Scene 6, a line is inserted between lines 7 and 8; "The common people swarm like summerflies." Most significant however is Act 5, Scene 1, where the entirety of Clarence's return to the Lancastrians is taken from True Tragedy, which completely replaces the depiction of the scene in 3 Henry VI. Others changes include the transferral of lines to characters other than those who speak them in the Folio text, particularly in relation to Clarence, who is given numerous lines in the early part of the play. For example, in Act 2, Scene 1, it is Clarence who says Edward's "I wonder how our princely father scaped,/Or whether he be scaped away or no/From Clifford and Northumberland's pursuit" (ll.1–3). Clarence also speaks Richard's "Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun,/Not separated with the racking clouds/But severed in a pale clear-shining sky" (ll.26–28); Edward's "Sweet Duke of York, our prop to lean upon/Now thou art gone, we have no staff, no stay" (ll.68–69); and Richard's "Great lord of Warwick, if we should recount/Our baleful news, and at each word's deliverance/Stab poniards in our flesh till all were told,/The words would add more anguish than the wounds" (ll.96–100).

Another notable stylistic technique used in the adaptation is the multiple addresses direct to camera. For example, Henry's "I know not what to say, my title's weak" (1.1.135), "All will revolt from me, and turn to him" (1.1.152), "And I with grief and sorrow to the court" (1.1.211), and "Revenged may she be on that hateful Duke,/Whose haughty spirit, wing'd with desire,/Will cost my crown, and like an empty eagle/Tire on the flesh of me and my son" (1.1.267–270); Exeter's "And I, I hope, shall reconcile them all" (1.1.274); the entirety of York's soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 4; Warwick's pause to get his breath during the Battle of Barnet (2.3.1–5); all of Act 2, Scene 5 (including dialogue from Henry, the father and the son) up to the entry of Prince Edward at line 125; all of Henry's monologue in Act 3, Scene 1, prior to his arrest (ll.13–54); Richard's entire soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 2 (ll.124–195); Margaret's "Ay, now begins a second storm to rise,/For this is he that moves both wind and tide" (3.3.47–48); Warwick's soliloquy at the end of the Act 3, Scene 3 (ll.257–268); Richard's "I hear, yet say not much, but think the more" (4.1.85) and "Not I, my thoughts aim at a further matter:/I stay not for love of Edward but the crown" (141.124–125); Warwick's "O unbid spite, is sportful Edward come" (5.1.18); the entirety of Richard's soliloquy in Act 5, Scene 6, after killing Henry (ll.61–93) and Richard's "To say the truth, so Judas
Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot was, according to the New Testament, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He is best known for his betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver.-Etymology:...

 kissed his master/And cried 'All hail', whenas he meant all harm" (5.7.33–34).

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, Gladys Young as 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....

 as York and Stephen Murray as Richard. 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 reason for this was explained by Dover Wilson, who argued that 1 Henry VI is "patchwork in which Shakespeare collaborated with inferior dramatists." 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, 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, John Glen as Edward and Donald Wolfit
Donald Wolfit
Sir Donald Wolfit, KBE was a well-known English actor-manager.-Biography:Wolfit, who was "Woolfitt" at birth was born at New Balderton, near Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire and attended the Magnus Grammar School and made his stage début in 1920...

 as Richard. 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 and Ian McKellen played both York and Richard. 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, 3 Henry VI comprised episodes 19 ("Warwick the Kingmaker") and 20 ("The Tower"). 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, Ian Ogilvy
Ian Ogilvy
Ian Raymond Ogilvy is an English film and television actor.-Early life:He was born in Woking, Surrey, England, the son of advertising executive Francis Ogilvy and actress Aileen Raymond .He was educated at Sunningdale School, Eton College and at the Royal Academy of...

 played Edward 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.

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