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History of Henry VI, Part I

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Act I, Scene 1

Westminster Abbey.


[Dead March. Enter the Funeral of KING HENRY the] [p]Fifth, attended on by Dukes of BEDFORD, Regent of [p]France; GLOUCESTER, Protector; and EXETER, Earl of [p]WARWICK, the BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, Heralds, &c]

  • Duke of Bedford. Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night! 5
    Comets, importing change of times and states,
    Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
    And with them scourge the bad revolting stars
    That have consented unto Henry's death!
    King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long! 10
    England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.
  • Duke of Gloucester. England ne'er had a king until his time.
    Virtue he had, deserving to command:
    His brandish'd sword did blind men with his beams:
    His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings; 15
    His sparking eyes, replete with wrathful fire,
    More dazzled and drove back his enemies
    Than mid-day sun fierce bent against their faces.
    What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech:
    He ne'er lift up his hand but conquered. 20
  • Duke of Exeter. We mourn in black: why mourn we not in blood?
    Henry is dead and never shall revive:
    Upon a wooden coffin we attend,
    And death's dishonourable victory
    We with our stately presence glorify, 25
    Like captives bound to a triumphant car.
    What! shall we curse the planets of mishap
    That plotted thus our glory's overthrow?
    Or shall we think the subtle-witted French
    Conjurers and sorcerers, that afraid of him 30
    By magic verses have contrived his end?
  • Winchester. He was a king bless'd of the King of kings.
    Unto the French the dreadful judgement-day
    So dreadful will not be as was his sight.
    The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought: 35
    The church's prayers made him so prosperous.
  • Duke of Gloucester. The church! where is it? Had not churchmen pray'd,
    His thread of life had not so soon decay'd:
    None do you like but an effeminate prince,
    Whom, like a school-boy, you may over-awe. 40
  • Winchester. Gloucester, whate'er we like, thou art protector
    And lookest to command the prince and realm.
    Thy wife is proud; she holdeth thee in awe,
    More than God or religious churchmen may.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Name not religion, for thou lovest the flesh, 45
    And ne'er throughout the year to church thou go'st
    Except it be to pray against thy foes.
  • Duke of Bedford. Cease, cease these jars and rest your minds in peace:
    Let's to the altar: heralds, wait on us:
    Instead of gold, we'll offer up our arms: 50
    Since arms avail not now that Henry's dead.
    Posterity, await for wretched years,
    When at their mothers' moist eyes babes shall suck,
    Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,
    And none but women left to wail the dead. 55
    Henry the Fifth, thy ghost I invocate:
    Prosper this realm, keep it from civil broils,
    Combat with adverse planets in the heavens!
    A far more glorious star thy soul will make
    Than Julius Caesar or bright— 60

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. My honourable lords, health to you all!
    Sad tidings bring I to you out of France,
    Of loss, of slaughter and discomfiture:
    Guienne, Champagne, Rheims, Orleans, 65
    Paris, Guysors, Poictiers, are all quite lost.
  • Duke of Bedford. What say'st thou, man, before dead Henry's corse?
    Speak softly, or the loss of those great towns
    Will make him burst his lead and rise from death.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Is Paris lost? is Rouen yielded up? 70
    If Henry were recall'd to life again,
    These news would cause him once more yield the ghost.
  • Messenger. No treachery; but want of men and money.
    Amongst the soldiers this is muttered, 75
    That here you maintain several factions,
    And whilst a field should be dispatch'd and fought,
    You are disputing of your generals:
    One would have lingering wars with little cost;
    Another would fly swift, but wanteth wings; 80
    A third thinks, without expense at all,
    By guileful fair words peace may be obtain'd.
    Awake, awake, English nobility!
    Let not sloth dim your horrors new-begot:
    Cropp'd are the flower-de-luces in your arms; 85
    Of England's coat one half is cut away.
  • Duke of Exeter. Were our tears wanting to this funeral,
    These tidings would call forth their flowing tides.
  • Duke of Bedford. Me they concern; Regent I am of France.
    Give me my steeled coat. I'll fight for France. 90
    Away with these disgraceful wailing robes!
    Wounds will I lend the French instead of eyes,
    To weep their intermissive miseries.

[Enter to them another Messenger]

  • Messenger. Lords, view these letters full of bad mischance. 95
    France is revolted from the English quite,
    Except some petty towns of no import:
    The Dauphin Charles is crowned king of Rheims;
    The Bastard of Orleans with him is join'd;
    Reignier, Duke of Anjou, doth take his part; 100
    The Duke of Alencon flieth to his side.
  • Duke of Exeter. The Dauphin crowned king! all fly to him!
    O, whither shall we fly from this reproach?
  • Duke of Gloucester. We will not fly, but to our enemies' throats.
    Bedford, if thou be slack, I'll fight it out. 105
  • Duke of Bedford. Gloucester, why doubt'st thou of my forwardness?
    An army have I muster'd in my thoughts,
    Wherewith already France is overrun.

[Enter another Messenger]

  • Messenger. My gracious lords, to add to your laments, 110
    Wherewith you now bedew King Henry's hearse,
    I must inform you of a dismal fight
    Betwixt the stout Lord Talbot and the French.
  • Winchester. What! wherein Talbot overcame? is't so?
  • Messenger. O, no; wherein Lord Talbot was o'erthrown: 115
    The circumstance I'll tell you more at large.
    The tenth of August last this dreadful lord,
    Retiring from the siege of Orleans,
    Having full scarce six thousand in his troop.
    By three and twenty thousand of the French 120
    Was round encompassed and set upon.
    No leisure had he to enrank his men;
    He wanted pikes to set before his archers;
    Instead whereof sharp stakes pluck'd out of hedges
    They pitched in the ground confusedly, 125
    To keep the horsemen off from breaking in.
    More than three hours the fight continued;
    Where valiant Talbot above human thought
    Enacted wonders with his sword and lance:
    Hundreds he sent to hell, and none durst stand him; 130
    Here, there, and every where, enraged he flew:
    The French exclaim'd, the devil was in arms;
    All the whole army stood agazed on him:
    His soldiers spying his undaunted spirit
    A Talbot! a Talbot! cried out amain 135
    And rush'd into the bowels of the battle.
    Here had the conquest fully been seal'd up,
    If Sir John Fastolfe had not play'd the coward:
    He, being in the vaward, placed behind
    With purpose to relieve and follow them, 140
    Cowardly fled, not having struck one stroke.
    Hence grew the general wreck and massacre;
    Enclosed were they with their enemies:
    A base Walloon, to win the Dauphin's grace,
    Thrust Talbot with a spear into the back, 145
    Whom all France with their chief assembled strength
    Durst not presume to look once in the face.
  • Duke of Bedford. Is Talbot slain? then I will slay myself,
    For living idly here in pomp and ease,
    Whilst such a worthy leader, wanting aid, 150
    Unto his dastard foemen is betray'd.
  • Messenger. O no, he lives; but is took prisoner,
    And Lord Scales with him and Lord Hungerford:
    Most of the rest slaughter'd or took likewise.
  • Duke of Bedford. His ransom there is none but I shall pay: 155
    I'll hale the Dauphin headlong from his throne:
    His crown shall be the ransom of my friend;
    Four of their lords I'll change for one of ours.
    Farewell, my masters; to my task will I;
    Bonfires in France forthwith I am to make, 160
    To keep our great Saint George's feast withal:
    Ten thousand soldiers with me I will take,
    Whose bloody deeds shall make all Europe quake.
  • Messenger. So you had need; for Orleans is besieged;
    The English army is grown weak and faint: 165
    The Earl of Salisbury craveth supply,
    And hardly keeps his men from mutiny,
    Since they, so few, watch such a multitude.
  • Duke of Exeter. Remember, lords, your oaths to Henry sworn,
    Either to quell the Dauphin utterly, 170
    Or bring him in obedience to your yoke.
  • Duke of Bedford. I do remember it; and here take my leave,
    To go about my preparation.


  • Duke of Gloucester. I'll to the Tower with all the haste I can, 175
    To view the artillery and munition;
    And then I will proclaim young Henry king.


  • Duke of Exeter. To Eltham will I, where the young king is,
    Being ordain'd his special governor, 180
    And for his safety there I'll best devise.


  • Winchester. Each hath his place and function to attend:
    I am left out; for me nothing remains.
    But long I will not be Jack out of office: 185
    The king from Eltham I intend to steal
    And sit at chiefest stern of public weal.