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History of Henry VI, Part III

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Act I, Scene 1

London. The Parliament-house.



  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). While we pursued the horsemen of the north,
    He slily stole away and left his men: 5
    Whereat the great Lord of Northumberland,
    Whose warlike ears could never brook retreat,
    Cheer'd up the drooping army; and himself,
    Lord Clifford and Lord Stafford, all abreast,
    Charged our main battle's front, and breaking in 10
    Were by the swords of common soldiers slain.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Lord Stafford's father, Duke of Buckingham,
    Is either slain or wounded dangerously;
    I cleft his beaver with a downright blow:
    That this is true, father, behold his blood. 15
  • Marquess of Montague. And, brother, here's the Earl of Wiltshire's blood,
    Whom I encounter'd as the battles join'd.

[Throwing down SOMERSET's head]

  • Earl of Warwick. And so do I. Victorious Prince of York,
    Before I see thee seated in that throne 25
    Which now the house of Lancaster usurps,
    I vow by heaven these eyes shall never close.
    This is the palace of the fearful king,
    And this the regal seat: possess it, York;
    For this is thine and not King Henry's heirs' 30

[They go up]

  • Earl of Warwick. And when the king comes, offer no violence,
    Unless he seek to thrust you out perforce.
  • Earl of Warwick. The bloody parliament shall this be call'd,
    Unless Plantagenet, Duke of York, be king,
    And bashful Henry deposed, whose cowardice 45
    Hath made us by-words to our enemies.
  • Earl of Warwick. Neither the king, nor he that loves him best,
    The proudest he that holds up Lancaster, 50
    Dares stir a wing, if Warwick shake his bells.
    I'll plant Plantagenet, root him up who dares:
    Resolve thee, Richard; claim the English crown.
    [Flourish. Enter KING HENRY VI, CLIFFORD,]
  • Henry VI. My lords, look where the sturdy rebel sits,
    Even in the chair of state: belike he means,
    Back'd by the power of Warwick, that false peer,
    To aspire unto the crown and reign as king.
    Earl of Northumberland, he slew thy father. 60
    And thine, Lord Clifford; and you both have vow'd revenge
    On him, his sons, his favourites and his friends.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. What, shall we suffer this? let's pluck him down: 65
    My heart for anger burns; I cannot brook it.
  • Henry VI. Be patient, gentle Earl of Westmoreland.
  • Lord Clifford. Patience is for poltroons, such as he:
    He durst not sit there, had your father lived.
    My gracious lord, here in the parliament 70
    Let us assail the family of York.
  • Henry VI. Ah, know you not the city favours them,
    And they have troops of soldiers at their beck?
  • Henry VI. Far be the thought of this from Henry's heart,
    To make a shambles of the parliament-house!
    Cousin of Exeter, frowns, words and threats
    Shall be the war that Henry means to use.
    Thou factious Duke of York, descend my throne, 80
    and kneel for grace and mercy at my feet;
    I am thy sovereign.
  • Earl of Warwick. Exeter, thou art a traitor to the crown
    In following this usurping Henry.
  • Henry VI. And shall I stand, and thou sit in my throne?
  • Earl of Westmoreland. He is both king and Duke of Lancaster;
    And that the Lord of Westmoreland shall maintain. 95
  • Earl of Warwick. And Warwick shall disprove it. You forget
    That we are those which chased you from the field
    And slew your fathers, and with colours spread
    March'd through the city to the palace gates.
  • Earl of Northumberland. Yes, Warwick, I remember it to my grief; 100
    And, by his soul, thou and thy house shall rue it.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. Plantagenet, of thee and these thy sons,
    Thy kinsman and thy friends, I'll have more lives
    Than drops of blood were in my father's veins.
  • Lord Clifford. Urge it no more; lest that, instead of words, 105
    I send thee, Warwick, such a messenger
    As shall revenge his death before I stir.
  • Henry VI. What title hast thou, traitor, to the crown?
    Thy father was, as thou art, Duke of York;
    Thy grandfather, Roger Mortimer, Earl of March:
    I am the son of Henry the Fifth,
    Who made the Dauphin and the French to stoop 115
    And seized upon their towns and provinces.
  • Henry VI. The lord protector lost it, and not I:
    When I was crown'd I was but nine months old.
  • Marquess of Montague. Good brother, as thou lovest and honourest arms,
    Let's fight it out and not stand cavilling thus.
  • Henry VI. Peace, thou! and give King Henry leave to speak.
  • Earl of Warwick. Plantagenet shall speak first: hear him, lords;
    And be you silent and attentive too,
    For he that interrupts him shall not live. 130
  • Henry VI. Think'st thou that I will leave my kingly throne,
    Wherein my grandsire and my father sat?
    No: first shall war unpeople this my realm;
    Ay, and their colours, often borne in France,
    And now in England to our heart's great sorrow, 135
    Shall be my winding-sheet. Why faint you, lords?
    My title's good, and better far than his.
  • Henry VI. Henry the Fourth by conquest got the crown.
  • Henry VI. [Aside] I know not what to say; my title's weak.—
    Tell me, may not a king adopt an heir?
  • Henry VI. An if he may, then am I lawful king;
    For Richard, in the view of many lords, 145
    Resign'd the crown to Henry the Fourth,
    Whose heir my father was, and I am his.
  • Earl of Warwick. Suppose, my lords, he did it unconstrain'd, 150
    Think you 'twere prejudicial to his crown?
  • Duke of Exeter. No; for he could not so resign his crown
    But that the next heir should succeed and reign.
  • Henry VI. Art thou against us, Duke of Exeter?
  • Henry VI. [Aside] All will revolt from me, and turn to him.
  • Earl of Northumberland. Plantagenet, for all the claim thou lay'st,
    Think not that Henry shall be so deposed. 160
  • Earl of Northumberland. Thou art deceived: 'tis not thy southern power,
    Of Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, nor of Kent,
    Which makes thee thus presumptuous and proud,
    Can set the duke up in despite of me. 165
  • Lord Clifford. King Henry, be thy title right or wrong,
    Lord Clifford vows to fight in thy defence:
    May that ground gape and swallow me alive,
    Where I shall kneel to him that slew my father!
  • Henry VI. O Clifford, how thy words revive my heart! 170
  • Earl of Warwick. Do right unto this princely Duke of York,
    Or I will fill the house with armed men,
    And over the chair of state, where now he sits, 175
    Write up his title with usurping blood.
    [He stamps with his foot and the soldiers show]
  • Henry VI. My Lord of Warwick, hear me but one word:
    Let me for this my life-time reign as king. 180
  • Henry VI. I am content: Richard Plantagenet,
    Enjoy the kingdom after my decease.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. Farewell, faint-hearted and degenerate king,
    In whose cold blood no spark of honour bides.
  • Lord Clifford. In dreadful war mayst thou be overcome,
    Or live in peace abandon'd and despised!


  • Henry VI. Not for myself, Lord Warwick, but my son,
    Whom I unnaturally shall disinherit.
    But be it as it may: I here entail 205
    The crown to thee and to thine heirs for ever;
    Conditionally, that here thou take an oath
    To cease this civil war, and, whilst I live,
    To honour me as thy king and sovereign,
    And neither by treason nor hostility 210
    To seek to put me down and reign thyself.
  • Henry VI. And long live thou and these thy forward sons!

[Sennet. Here they come down]

  • Marquess of Montague. And I unto the sea from whence I came.
    WARWICK, NORFOLK, MONTAGUE, their Soldiers, and
  • Henry VI. And I, with grief and sorrow, to the court. 225


  • Duke of Exeter. Here comes the queen, whose looks bewray her anger:
    I'll steal away.
  • Henry VI. Be patient, gentle queen, and I will stay.
  • Queen Margaret. Who can be patient in such extremes?
    Ah, wretched man! would I had died a maid
    And never seen thee, never borne thee son,
    Seeing thou hast proved so unnatural a father 235
    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 nourish'd him as I did with my blood,
    Thou wouldst have left thy dearest heart-blood there, 240
    Rather than have that savage duke thine heir
    And disinherited thine only son.
  • Prince Edward. Father, you cannot disinherit me:
    If you be king, why should not I succeed?
  • Henry VI. Pardon me, Margaret; pardon me, sweet son: 245
    The Earl of Warwick and the duke enforced me.
  • Queen Margaret. Enforced thee! art thou king, and wilt be forced?
    I shame to hear thee speak. Ah, timorous wretch!
    Thou hast undone thyself, thy son and me;
    And given unto the house of York such head 250
    As thou shalt reign but by their sufferance.
    To entail him and his heirs unto the crown,
    What is it, but to make thy sepulchre
    And creep into it far before thy time?
    Warwick is chancellor and the lord of Calais; 255
    Stern Falconbridge commands the narrow seas;
    The duke is made protector of the realm;
    And yet shalt thou be safe? such safety finds
    The trembling lamb environed with wolves.
    Had I been there, which am a silly woman, 260
    The soldiers should have toss'd me on their pikes
    Before I would have granted to that act.
    But thou preferr'st thy life before thine honour:
    And seeing thou dost, I here divorce myself
    Both from thy table, Henry, and thy bed, 265
    Until that act of parliament be repeal'd
    Whereby my son is disinherited.
    The northern lords that have forsworn thy colours
    Will follow mine, if once they see them spread;
    And spread they shall be, to thy foul disgrace 270
    And utter ruin of the house of York.
    Thus do I leave thee. Come, son, let's away;
    Our army is ready; come, we'll after them.
  • Henry VI. Stay, gentle Margaret, and hear me speak.
  • Henry VI. Gentle son Edward, thou wilt stay with me?
  • Prince Edward. When I return with victory from the field
    I'll see your grace: till then I'll follow her.


  • Henry VI. Poor queen! how love to me and to her son
    Hath made her break out into terms of rage!
    Revenged may she be on that hateful duke,
    Whose haughty spirit, winged with desire, 285
    Will cost my crown, and like an empty eagle
    Tire on the flesh of me and of my son!
    The loss of those three lords torments my heart:
    I'll write unto them and entreat them fair.
    Come, cousin you shall be the messenger. 290