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History of Henry VI, Part II

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Act I, Scene 1

London. The palace.


[Flourish of trumpets: then hautboys. Enter KING] [p]HENRY VI, GLOUCESTER, SALISBURY, WARWICK, and [p]CARDINAL, on the one side; QUEEN MARGARET, SUFFOLK, [p]YORK, SOMERSET, and BUCKINGHAM, on the other]

  • Earl of Suffolk. As by your high imperial majesty 5
    I had in charge at my depart for France,
    As procurator to your excellence,
    To marry Princess Margaret for your grace,
    So, in the famous ancient city, Tours,
    In presence of the Kings of France and Sicil, 10
    The Dukes of Orleans, Calaber, Bretagne and Alencon,
    Seven earls, twelve barons and twenty reverend bishops,
    I have perform'd my task and was espoused:
    And humbly now upon my bended knee,
    In sight of England and her lordly peers, 15
    Deliver up my title in the queen
    To your most gracious hands, that are the substance
    Of that great shadow I did represent;
    The happiest gift that ever marquess gave,
    The fairest queen that ever king received. 20
  • Henry VI. Suffolk, arise. Welcome, Queen Margaret:
    I can express no kinder sign of love
    Than this kind kiss. O Lord, that lends me life,
    Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!
    For thou hast given me in this beauteous face 25
    A world of earthly blessings to my soul,
    If sympathy of love unite our thoughts.
  • Queen Margaret. Great King of England and my gracious lord,
    The mutual conference that my mind hath had,
    By day, by night, waking and in my dreams, 30
    In courtly company or at my beads,
    With you, mine alder-liefest sovereign,
    Makes me the bolder to salute my king
    With ruder terms, such as my wit affords
    And over-joy of heart doth minister. 35
  • Henry VI. Her sight did ravish; but her grace in speech,
    Her words y-clad with wisdom's majesty,
    Makes me from wondering fall to weeping joys;
    Such is the fulness of my heart's content.
    Lords, with one cheerful voice welcome my love. 40
  • All. [Kneeling] Long live Queen Margaret, England's


  • Earl of Suffolk. My lord protector, so it please your grace, 45
    Here are the articles of contracted peace
    Between our sovereign and the French king Charles,
    For eighteen months concluded by consent.
  • Duke of Gloucester. [Reads] 'Imprimis, it is agreed between the French
    king Charles, and William de la Pole, Marquess of 50
    Suffolk, ambassador for Henry King of England, that
    the said Henry shall espouse the Lady Margaret,
    daughter unto Reignier King of Naples, Sicilia and
    Jerusalem, and crown her Queen of England ere the
    thirtieth of May next ensuing. Item, that the duchy 55
    of Anjou and the county of Maine shall be released
    and delivered to the king her father'—

[Lets the paper fall]

  • Duke of Gloucester. Pardon me, gracious lord; 60
    Some sudden qualm hath struck me at the heart
    And dimm'd mine eyes, that I can read no further.
  • Henry VI. Uncle of Winchester, I pray, read on.
  • Winchester. [Reads] 'Item, It is further agreed between them,
    that the duchies of Anjou and Maine shall be 65
    released and delivered over to the king her father,
    and she sent over of the King of England's own
    proper cost and charges, without having any dowry.'
  • Henry VI. They please us well. Lord marquess, kneel down:
    We here create thee the first duke of Suffolk, 70
    And gird thee with the sword. Cousin of York,
    We here discharge your grace from being regent
    I' the parts of France, till term of eighteen months
    Be full expired. Thanks, uncle Winchester,
    Gloucester, York, Buckingham, Somerset, 75
    Salisbury, and Warwick;
    We thank you all for the great favour done,
    In entertainment to my princely queen.
    Come, let us in, and with all speed provide
    To see her coronation be perform'd. 80


  • Duke of Gloucester. Brave peers of England, pillars of the state,
    To you Duke Humphrey must unload his grief,
    Your grief, the common grief of all the land.
    What! did my brother Henry spend his youth, 85
    His valour, coin and people, in the wars?
    Did he so often lodge in open field,
    In winter's cold and summer's parching heat,
    To conquer France, his true inheritance?
    And did my brother Bedford toil his wits, 90
    To keep by policy what Henry got?
    Have you yourselves, Somerset, Buckingham,
    Brave York, Salisbury, and victorious Warwick,
    Received deep scars in France and Normandy?
    Or hath mine uncle Beaufort and myself, 95
    With all the learned council of the realm,
    Studied so long, sat in the council-house
    Early and late, debating to and fro
    How France and Frenchmen might be kept in awe,
    And had his highness in his infancy 100
    Crowned in Paris in despite of foes?
    And shall these labours and these honours die?
    Shall Henry's conquest, Bedford's vigilance,
    Your deeds of war and all our counsel die?
    O peers of England, shameful is this league! 105
    Fatal this marriage, cancelling your fame,
    Blotting your names from books of memory,
    Razing the characters of your renown,
    Defacing monuments of conquer'd France,
    Undoing all, as all had never been! 110
  • Winchester. Nephew, what means this passionate discourse,
    This peroration with such circumstance?
    For France, 'tis ours; and we will keep it still.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Ay, uncle, we will keep it, if we can;
    But now it is impossible we should: 115
    Suffolk, the new-made duke that rules the roast,
    Hath given the duchy of Anjou and Maine
    Unto the poor King Reignier, whose large style
    Agrees not with the leanness of his purse.
  • Earl of Salisbury. Now, by the death of Him that died for all, 120
    These counties were the keys of Normandy.
    But wherefore weeps Warwick, my valiant son?
  • Earl of Warwick. For grief that they are past recovery:
    For, were there hope to conquer them again,
    My sword should shed hot blood, mine eyes no tears. 125
    Anjou and Maine! myself did win them both;
    Those provinces these arms of mine did conquer:
    And are the cities, that I got with wounds,
    Delivered up again with peaceful words?
    Mort Dieu! 130
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). For Suffolk's duke, may he be suffocate,
    That dims the honour of this warlike isle!
    France should have torn and rent my very heart,
    Before I would have yielded to this league.
    I never read but England's kings have had 135
    Large sums of gold and dowries with their wives:
    And our King Henry gives away his own,
    To match with her that brings no vantages.
  • Duke of Gloucester. A proper jest, and never heard before,
    That Suffolk should demand a whole fifteenth 140
    For costs and charges in transporting her!
    She should have stayed in France and starved
    in France, Before—
  • Winchester. My Lord of Gloucester, now ye grow too hot:
    It was the pleasure of my lord the King. 145
  • Duke of Gloucester. My Lord of Winchester, I know your mind;
    'Tis not my speeches that you do mislike,
    But 'tis my presence that doth trouble ye.
    Rancour will out: proud prelate, in thy face
    I see thy fury: if I longer stay, 150
    We shall begin our ancient bickerings.
    Lordings, farewell; and say, when I am gone,
    I prophesied France will be lost ere long.


  • Winchester. So, there goes our protector in a rage. 155
    'Tis known to you he is mine enemy,
    Nay, more, an enemy unto you all,
    And no great friend, I fear me, to the king.
    Consider, lords, he is the next of blood,
    And heir apparent to the English crown: 160
    Had Henry got an empire by his marriage,
    And all the wealthy kingdoms of the west,
    There's reason he should be displeased at it.
    Look to it, lords! let not his smoothing words
    Bewitch your hearts; be wise and circumspect. 165
    What though the common people favour him,
    Calling him 'Humphrey, the good Duke of
    Clapping their hands, and crying with loud voice,
    'Jesu maintain your royal excellence!' 170
    With 'God preserve the good Duke Humphrey!'
    I fear me, lords, for all this flattering gloss,
    He will be found a dangerous protector.
  • Duke of Buckingham. Why should he, then, protect our sovereign,
    He being of age to govern of himself? 175
    Cousin of Somerset, join you with me,
    And all together, with the Duke of Suffolk,
    We'll quickly hoise Duke Humphrey from his seat.
  • Winchester. This weighty business will not brook delay:
    I'll to the Duke of Suffolk presently. 180


  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. Cousin of Buckingham, though Humphrey's pride
    And greatness of his place be grief to us,
    Yet let us watch the haughty cardinal:
    His insolence is more intolerable 185
    Than all the princes in the land beside:
    If Gloucester be displaced, he'll be protector.
  • Duke of Buckingham. Or thou or I, Somerset, will be protector,
    Despite Duke Humphrey or the cardinal.


  • Earl of Salisbury. Pride went before, ambition follows him.
    While these do labour for their own preferment,
    Behoves it us to labour for the realm.
    I never saw but Humphrey Duke of Gloucester
    Did bear him like a noble gentleman. 195
    Oft have I seen the haughty cardinal,
    More like a soldier than a man o' the church,
    As stout and proud as he were lord of all,
    Swear like a ruffian and demean himself
    Unlike the ruler of a commonweal. 200
    Warwick, my son, the comfort of my age,
    Thy deeds, thy plainness and thy housekeeping,
    Hath won the greatest favour of the commons,
    Excepting none but good Duke Humphrey:
    And, brother York, thy acts in Ireland, 205
    In bringing them to civil discipline,
    Thy late exploits done in the heart of France,
    When thou wert regent for our sovereign,
    Have made thee fear'd and honour'd of the people:
    Join we together, for the public good, 210
    In what we can, to bridle and suppress
    The pride of Suffolk and the cardinal,
    With Somerset's and Buckingham's ambition;
    And, as we may, cherish Duke Humphrey's deeds,
    While they do tend the profit of the land. 215
  • Earl of Warwick. So God help Warwick, as he loves the land,
    And common profit of his country!
  • Earl of Warwick. Unto the main! O father, Maine is lost; 220
    That Maine which by main force Warwick did win,
    And would have kept so long as breath did last!
    Main chance, father, you meant; but I meant Maine,
    Which I will win from France, or else be slain,


  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Anjou and Maine are given to the French;
    Paris is lost; the state of Normandy
    Stands on a tickle point, now they are gone:
    Suffolk concluded on the articles,
    The peers agreed, and Henry was well pleased 230
    To change two dukedoms for a duke's fair daughter.
    I cannot blame them all: what is't to them?
    'Tis thine they give away, and not their own.
    Pirates may make cheap pennyworths of their pillage
    And purchase friends and give to courtezans, 235
    Still revelling like lords till all be gone;
    While as the silly owner of the goods
    Weeps over them and wrings his hapless hands
    And shakes his head and trembling stands aloof,
    While all is shared and all is borne away, 240
    Ready to starve and dare not touch his own:
    So York must sit and fret and bite his tongue,
    While his own lands are bargain'd for and sold.
    Methinks the realms of England, France and Ireland
    Bear that proportion to my flesh and blood 245
    As did the fatal brand Althaea burn'd
    Unto the prince's heart of Calydon.
    Anjou and Maine both given unto the French!
    Cold news for me, for I had hope of France,
    Even as I have of fertile England's soil. 250
    A day will come when York shall claim his own;
    And therefore I will take the Nevils' parts
    And make a show of love to proud Duke Humphrey,
    And, when I spy advantage, claim the crown,
    For that's the golden mark I seek to hit: 255
    Nor shall proud Lancaster usurp my right,
    Nor hold the sceptre in his childish fist,
    Nor wear the diadem upon his head,
    Whose church-like humours fits not for a crown.
    Then, York, be still awhile, till time do serve: 260
    Watch thou and wake when others be asleep,
    To pry into the secrets of the state;
    Till Henry, surfeiting in joys of love,
    With his new bride and England's dear-bought queen,
    And Humphrey with the peers be fall'n at jars: 265
    Then will I raise aloft the milk-white rose,
    With whose sweet smell the air shall be perfumed;
    And in my standard bear the arms of York
    To grapple with the house of Lancaster;
    And, force perforce, I'll make him yield the crown, 270
    Whose bookish rule hath pull'd fair England down.