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History of Henry VI, Part II

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Act I, Scene 3

The palace.


[Enter three or four Petitioners, PETER, the] [p]Armourer's man, being one]

  • First Petitioner. My masters, let's stand close: my lord protector
    will come this way by and by, and then we may deliver
    our supplications in the quill. 390
  • Second Petitioner. Marry, the Lord protect him, for he's a good man!
    Jesu bless him!


  • Peter. Here a' comes, methinks, and the queen with him.
    I'll be the first, sure. 395
  • Second Petitioner. Come back, fool; this is the Duke of Suffolk, and
    not my lord protector.
  • First Petitioner. I pray, my lord, pardon me; I took ye for my lord
    protector. 400
  • Queen Margaret. [Reading] 'To my Lord Protector!' Are your
    supplications to his lordship? Let me see them:
    what is thine?
  • First Petitioner. Mine is, an't please your grace, against John
    Goodman, my lord cardinal's man, for keeping my 405
    house, and lands, and wife and all, from me.
  • Earl of Suffolk. Thy wife, too! that's some wrong, indeed. What's
    yours? What's here!
    'Against the Duke of Suffolk, for enclosing the 410
    commons of Melford.' How now, sir knave!
  • Peter. [Giving his petition] Against my master, Thomas
    Horner, for saying that the Duke of York was rightful
    heir to the crown. 415
  • Queen Margaret. What sayst thou? did the Duke of York say he was
    rightful heir to the crown?
  • Peter. That my master was? no, forsooth: my master said
    that he was, and that the king was an usurper.
  • Earl of Suffolk. Who is there? 420
    [Enter Servant]
    Take this fellow in, and send for
    his master with a pursuivant presently: we'll hear
    more of your matter before the King.

[Exit Servant with PETER]

  • Queen Margaret. And as for you, that love to be protected
    Under the wings of our protector's grace,
    Begin your suits anew, and sue to him.
    [Tears the supplication]
    Away, base cullions! Suffolk, let them go. 430
  • All. Come, let's be gone.


  • Queen Margaret. My Lord of Suffolk, say, is this the guise,
    Is this the fashion in the court of England?
    Is this the government of Britain's isle, 435
    And this the royalty of Albion's king?
    What shall King Henry be a pupil still
    Under the surly Gloucester's governance?
    Am I a queen in title and in style,
    And must be made a subject to a duke? 440
    I tell thee, Pole, when in the city Tours
    Thou ran'st a tilt in honour of my love
    And stolest away the ladies' hearts of France,
    I thought King Henry had resembled thee
    In courage, courtship and proportion: 445
    But all his mind is bent to holiness,
    To number Ave-Maries on his beads;
    His champions are the prophets and apostles,
    His weapons holy saws of sacred writ,
    His study is his tilt-yard, and his loves 450
    Are brazen images of canonized saints.
    I would the college of the cardinals
    Would choose him pope, and carry him to Rome,
    And set the triple crown upon his head:
    That were a state fit for his holiness. 455
  • Earl of Suffolk. Madam, be patient: as I was cause
    Your highness came to England, so will I
    In England work your grace's full content.
  • Queen Margaret. Beside the haughty protector, have we Beaufort,
    The imperious churchman, Somerset, Buckingham, 460
    And grumbling York: and not the least of these
    But can do more in England than the king.
  • Earl of Suffolk. And he of these that can do most of all
    Cannot do more in England than the Nevils:
    Salisbury and Warwick are no simple peers. 465
  • Queen Margaret. Not all these lords do vex me half so much
    As that proud dame, the lord protector's wife.
    She sweeps it through the court with troops of ladies,
    More like an empress than Duke Humphrey's wife:
    Strangers in court do take her for the queen: 470
    She bears a duke's revenues on her back,
    And in her heart she scorns our poverty:
    Shall I not live to be avenged on her?
    Contemptuous base-born callet as she is,
    She vaunted 'mongst her minions t'other day, 475
    The very train of her worst wearing gown
    Was better worth than all my father's lands,
    Till Suffolk gave two dukedoms for his daughter.
  • Earl of Suffolk. Madam, myself have limed a bush for her,
    And placed a quire of such enticing birds, 480
    That she will light to listen to the lays,
    And never mount to trouble you again.
    So, let her rest: and, madam, list to me;
    For I am bold to counsel you in this.
    Although we fancy not the cardinal, 485
    Yet must we join with him and with the lords,
    Till we have brought Duke Humphrey in disgrace.
    As for the Duke of York, this late complaint
    Will make but little for his benefit.
    So, one by one, we'll weed them all at last, 490
    And you yourself shall steer the happy helm.
    [Sound a sennet. Enter KING HENRY VI, GLOUCESTER,]
    WARWICK, and the DUCHESS]
  • Henry VI. For my part, noble lords, I care not which; 495
    Or Somerset or York, all's one to me.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. If Somerset be unworthy of the place,
    Let York be regent; I will yield to him. 500
  • Earl of Warwick. Whether your grace be worthy, yea or no,
    Dispute not that: York is the worthier.
  • Winchester. Ambitious Warwick, let thy betters speak.
  • Earl of Salisbury. Peace, son! and show some reason, Buckingham,
    Why Somerset should be preferred in this.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Madam, the king is old enough himself 510
    To give his censure: these are no women's matters.
  • Queen Margaret. If he be old enough, what needs your grace
    To be protector of his excellence?
  • Duke of Gloucester. Madam, I am protector of the realm;
    And, at his pleasure, will resign my place. 515
  • Earl of Suffolk. Resign it then and leave thine insolence.
    Since thou wert king—as who is king but thou?—
    The commonwealth hath daily run to wreck;
    The Dauphin hath prevail'd beyond the seas;
    And all the peers and nobles of the realm 520
    Have been as bondmen to thy sovereignty.
  • Winchester. The commons hast thou rack'd; the clergy's bags
    Are lank and lean with thy extortions.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. Thy sumptuous buildings and thy wife's attire
    Have cost a mass of public treasury. 525
  • Duke of Buckingham. Thy cruelty in execution
    Upon offenders, hath exceeded law,
    And left thee to the mercy of the law.
  • Queen Margaret. They sale of offices and towns in France,
    If they were known, as the suspect is great, 530
    Would make thee quickly hop without thy head.
    [Exit GLOUCESTER. QUEEN MARGARET drops her fan]
    Give me my fan: what, minion! can ye not?
    [She gives the DUCHESS a box on the ear]
    I cry you mercy, madam; was it you? 535
  • Eleanor. Was't I! yea, I it was, proud Frenchwoman:
    Could I come near your beauty with my nails,
    I'd set my ten commandments in your face.
  • Henry VI. Sweet aunt, be quiet; 'twas against her will.
  • Eleanor. Against her will! good king, look to't in time; 540
    She'll hamper thee, and dandle thee like a baby:
    Though in this place most master wear no breeches,
    She shall not strike Dame Eleanor unrevenged.


  • Duke of Buckingham. Lord cardinal, I will follow Eleanor, 545
    And listen after Humphrey, how he proceeds:
    She's tickled now; her fume needs no spurs,
    She'll gallop far enough to her destruction.



  • Duke of Gloucester. Now, lords, my choler being over-blown
    With walking once about the quadrangle,
    I come to talk of commonwealth affairs.
    As for your spiteful false objections,
    Prove them, and I lie open to the law: 555
    But God in mercy so deal with my soul,
    As I in duty love my king and country!
    But, to the matter that we have in hand:
    I say, my sovereign, York is meetest man
    To be your regent in the realm of France. 560
  • Earl of Suffolk. Before we make election, give me leave
    To show some reason, of no little force,
    That York is most unmeet of any man.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). I'll tell thee, Suffolk, why I am unmeet:
    First, for I cannot flatter thee in pride; 565
    Next, if I be appointed for the place,
    My Lord of Somerset will keep me here,
    Without discharge, money, or furniture,
    Till France be won into the Dauphin's hands:
    Last time, I danced attendance on his will 570
    Till Paris was besieged, famish'd, and lost.
  • Earl of Warwick. That can I witness; and a fouler fact
    Did never traitor in the land commit.
  • Earl of Warwick. Image of pride, why should I hold my peace? 575
    [Enter HORNER, the Armourer, and his man]
    PETER, guarded]
  • Earl of Suffolk. Because here is a man accused of treason:
    Pray God the Duke of York excuse himself!
  • Henry VI. What mean'st thou, Suffolk; tell me, what are these?
  • Earl of Suffolk. Please it your majesty, this is the man
    That doth accuse his master of high treason:
    His words were these: that Richard, Duke of York,
    Was rightful heir unto the English crown 585
    And that your majesty was a usurper.
  • Henry VI. Say, man, were these thy words?
  • Thomas Horner. An't shall please your majesty, I never said nor
    thought any such matter: God is my witness, I am
    falsely accused by the villain. 590
  • Peter. By these ten bones, my lords, he did speak them to
    me in the garret one night, as we were scouring my
    Lord of York's armour.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Base dunghill villain and mechanical,
    I'll have thy head for this thy traitor's speech. 595
    I do beseech your royal majesty,
    Let him have all the rigor of the law.
  • Thomas Horner. Alas, my lord, hang me, if ever I spake the words.
    My accuser is my 'prentice; and when I did correct
    him for his fault the other day, he did vow upon his 600
    knees he would be even with me: I have good
    witness of this: therefore I beseech your majesty,
    do not cast away an honest man for a villain's
  • Henry VI. Uncle, what shall we say to this in law? 605
  • Duke of Gloucester. This doom, my lord, if I may judge:
    Let Somerset be regent over the French,
    Because in York this breeds suspicion:
    And let these have a day appointed them
    For single combat in convenient place, 610
    For he hath witness of his servant's malice:
    This is the law, and this Duke Humphrey's doom.
  • Peter. Alas, my lord, I cannot fight; for God's sake, pity 615
    my case. The spite of man prevaileth against me. O
    Lord, have mercy upon me! I shall never be able to
    fight a blow. O Lord, my heart!
  • Henry VI. Away with them to prison; and the day of combat 620
    shall be the last of the next month. Come,
    Somerset, we'll see thee sent away.

[Flourish. Exeunt]