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History of Henry VI, Part III

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Act I, Scene 1

London. The Parliament-house.



  • Earl of Warwick. I wonder how the king escaped our hands.
  • 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.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Speak thou for me and tell them what I did.

[Throwing down SOMERSET's head]

  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Richard hath best deserved of all my sons. 20
    But is your grace dead, my Lord of Somerset?
  • Duke of Norfolk. Such hope have all the line of John of Gaunt!
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Thus do I hope to shake King Henry'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
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Assist me, then, sweet Warwick, and I will;
    For hither we have broken in by force.
  • Duke of Norfolk. We'll all assist you; he that flies shall die.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Thanks, gentle Norfolk: stay by me, my lords;
    And, soldiers, stay and lodge by me this night. 35

[They go up]

  • Earl of Warwick. And when the king comes, offer no violence,
    Unless he seek to thrust you out perforce.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). The queen this day here holds her parliament,
    But little thinks we shall be of her council: 40
    By words or blows here let us win our right.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Arm'd as we are, let's stay within this house.
  • 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.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Then leave me not, my lords; be resolute;
    I mean to take possession of my right.
  • 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 Northumberland. If I be not, heavens be revenged on me!
  • Lord Clifford. The hope thereof makes Clifford mourn in steel.
  • 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.
  • Earl of Northumberland. Well hast thou spoken, cousin: be it so.
  • Henry VI. Ah, know you not the city favours them,
    And they have troops of soldiers at their beck?
  • Duke of Exeter. But when the duke is slain, they'll quickly fly. 75
  • 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.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). I am thine.
  • Duke of Exeter. For shame, come down: he made thee Duke of York.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). 'Twas my inheritance, as the earldom was. 85
  • Duke of Exeter. Thy father was a traitor to the crown.
  • Earl of Warwick. Exeter, thou art a traitor to the crown
    In following this usurping Henry.
  • Lord Clifford. Whom should he follow but his natural king?
  • Earl of Warwick. True, Clifford; and that's Richard Duke of York. 90
  • Henry VI. And shall I stand, and thou sit in my throne?
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). It must and shall be so: content thyself.
  • Earl of Warwick. Be Duke of Lancaster; let him be king.
  • 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.
  • Earl of Warwick. Poor Clifford! how I scorn his worthless threats!
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Will you we show our title to the crown?
    If not, our swords shall plead it in the field. 110
  • 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.
  • Earl of Warwick. Talk not of France, sith thou hast lost it all.
  • Henry VI. The lord protector lost it, and not I:
    When I was crown'd I was but nine months old.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). You are old enough now, and yet, methinks, you lose. 120
    Father, tear the crown from the usurper's head.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Sweet father, do so; set it on your head.
  • Marquess of Montague. Good brother, as thou lovest and honourest arms,
    Let's fight it out and not stand cavilling thus.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Sound drums and trumpets, and the king will fly. 125
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Sons, peace!
  • 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.
  • Earl of Warwick. Prove it, Henry, and thou shalt be king.
  • Henry VI. Henry the Fourth by conquest got the crown.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). 'Twas by rebellion against his king. 140
  • Henry VI. [Aside] I know not what to say; my title's weak.—
    Tell me, may not a king adopt an heir?
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). What then?
  • 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.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). He rose against him, being his sovereign,
    And made him to resign his crown perforce.
  • 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?
  • Duke of Exeter. His is the right, and therefore pardon me. 155
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Why whisper you, my lords, and answer not?
  • Duke of Exeter. My conscience tells me he is lawful king.
  • 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 Warwick. Deposed he shall be, in despite of all.
  • 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
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Henry of Lancaster, resign thy crown.
    What mutter you, or what conspire you, lords?
  • 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
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Confirm the crown to me and to mine heirs,
    And thou shalt reign in quiet while thou livest.
  • Henry VI. I am content: Richard Plantagenet,
    Enjoy the kingdom after my decease.
  • Lord Clifford. What wrong is this unto the prince your son! 185
  • Earl of Warwick. What good is this to England and himself!
  • Earl of Westmoreland. Base, fearful and despairing Henry!
  • Lord Clifford. How hast thou injured both thyself and us!
  • Earl of Westmoreland. I cannot stay to hear these articles.
  • Earl of Northumberland. Nor I. 190
  • Lord Clifford. Come, cousin, let us tell the queen these news.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. Farewell, faint-hearted and degenerate king,
    In whose cold blood no spark of honour bides.
  • Earl of Northumberland. Be thou a prey unto the house of York,
    And die in bands for this unmanly deed! 195
  • Lord Clifford. In dreadful war mayst thou be overcome,
    Or live in peace abandon'd and despised!


  • Earl of Warwick. Turn this way, Henry, and regard them not.
  • Duke of Exeter. They seek revenge and therefore will not yield. 200
  • Henry VI. Ah, Exeter!
  • Earl of Warwick. Why should you sigh, my lord?
  • 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.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). This oath I willingly take and will perform.
  • Earl of Warwick. Long live King Henry! Plantagenet embrace him.
  • Henry VI. And long live thou and these thy forward sons!
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Now York and Lancaster are reconciled. 215
  • Duke of Exeter. Accursed be he that seeks to make them foes!

[Sennet. Here they come down]

  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Farewell, my gracious lord; I'll to my castle.
  • Earl of Warwick. And I'll keep London with my soldiers.
  • Duke of Norfolk. And I to Norfolk with my followers. 220
  • 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. Exeter, so will I.
  • Queen Margaret. Nay, go not from me; I will follow thee. 230
  • 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.
  • Queen Margaret. Thou hast spoke too much already: get thee gone. 275
  • Henry VI. Gentle son Edward, thou wilt stay with me?
  • Queen Margaret. Ay, to be murder'd by his enemies.
  • Prince Edward. When I return with victory from the field
    I'll see your grace: till then I'll follow her.
  • Queen Margaret. Come, son, away; we may not linger thus. 280


  • 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
  • Duke of Exeter. And I, I hope, shall reconcile them all.