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I thought upon one pair of English legs
Did march three Frenchmen.

      — King Henry V, Act III Scene 6


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History of Henry VI, Part III


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Scene 1. A forest in the north of England.

Scene 2. London. The palace.

Scene 3. France. KING LEWIS XI’s palace.


Act III, Scene 1

A forest in the north of England.

      next scene .

[Enter two Keepers, with cross-bows in their hands]

  • First Keeper. Under this thick-grown brake we'll shroud ourselves;
    For through this laund anon the deer will come;
    And in this covert will we make our stand,
    Culling the principal of all the deer. 1370
  • First Keeper. That cannot be; the noise of thy cross-bow
    Will scare the herd, and so my shoot is lost.
    Here stand we both, and aim we at the best:
    And, for the time shall not seem tedious, 1375
    I'll tell thee what befell me on a day
    In this self-place where now we mean to stand.

[Enter KING HENRY VI, disguised, with a prayerbook]

  • Henry VI. From Scotland am I stol'n, even of pure love, 1380
    To greet mine own land with my wishful sight.
    No, Harry, Harry, 'tis no land of thine;
    Thy place is fill'd, thy sceptre wrung from thee,
    Thy balm wash'd off wherewith thou wast anointed:
    No bending knee will call thee Caesar now, 1385
    No humble suitors press to speak for right,
    No, not a man comes for redress of thee;
    For how can I help them, and not myself?
  • First Keeper. Ay, here's a deer whose skin's a keeper's fee:
    This is the quondam king; let's seize upon him. 1390
  • Henry VI. Let me embrace thee, sour adversity,
    For wise men say it is the wisest course.
  • Henry VI. My queen and son are gone to France for aid; 1395
    And, as I hear, the great commanding Warwick
    Is thither gone, to crave the French king's sister
    To wife for Edward: if this news be true,
    Poor queen and son, your labour is but lost;
    For Warwick is a subtle orator, 1400
    And Lewis a prince soon won with moving words.
    By this account then Margaret may win him;
    For she's a woman to be pitied much:
    Her sighs will make a battery in his breast;
    Her tears will pierce into a marble heart; 1405
    The tiger will be mild whiles she doth mourn;
    And Nero will be tainted with remorse,
    To hear and see her plaints, her brinish tears.
    Ay, but she's come to beg, Warwick to give;
    She, on his left side, craving aid for Henry, 1410
    He, on his right, asking a wife for Edward.
    She weeps, and says her Henry is deposed;
    He smiles, and says his Edward is install'd;
    That she, poor wretch, for grief can speak no more;
    Whiles Warwick tells his title, smooths the wrong, 1415
    Inferreth arguments of mighty strength,
    And in conclusion wins the king from her,
    With promise of his sister, and what else,
    To strengthen and support King Edward's place.
    O Margaret, thus 'twill be; and thou, poor soul, 1420
    Art then forsaken, as thou went'st forlorn!
  • Second Keeper. Say, what art thou that talk'st of kings and queens?
  • Henry VI. More than I seem, and less than I was born to:
    A man at least, for less I should not be;
    And men may talk of kings, and why not I? 1425
  • Henry VI. Why, so I am, in mind; and that's enough.
  • Henry VI. My crown is in my heart, not on my head;
    Not decked with diamonds and Indian stones, 1430
    Nor to be seen: my crown is called content:
    A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.
  • Second Keeper. Well, if you be a king crown'd with content,
    Your crown content and you must be contented
    To go along with us; for as we think, 1435
    You are the king King Edward hath deposed;
    And we his subjects sworn in all allegiance
    Will apprehend you as his enemy.
  • Henry VI. But did you never swear, and break an oath?
  • Henry VI. Where did you dwell when I was King of England?
  • Henry VI. I was anointed king at nine months old;
    My father and my grandfather were kings,
    And you were sworn true subjects unto me: 1445
    And tell me, then, have you not broke your oaths?
  • First Keeper. No;
    For we were subjects but while you were king.
  • Henry VI. Why, am I dead? do I not breathe a man?
    Ah, simple men, you know not what you swear! 1450
    Look, as I blow this feather from my face,
    And as the air blows it to me again,
    Obeying with my wind when I do blow,
    And yielding to another when it blows,
    Commanded always by the greater gust; 1455
    Such is the lightness of you common men.
    But do not break your oaths; for of that sin
    My mild entreaty shall not make you guilty.
    Go where you will, the king shall be commanded;
    And be you kings, command, and I'll obey. 1460
  • First Keeper. We are true subjects to the king, King Edward.
  • Henry VI. So would you be again to Henry,
    If he were seated as King Edward is.
  • First Keeper. We charge you, in God's name, and the king's,
    To go with us unto the officers. 1465
  • Henry VI. In God's name, lead; your king's name be obey'd:
    And what God will, that let your king perform;
    And what he will, I humbly yield unto.


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 2

London. The palace.

      next scene .


  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Brother of Gloucester, at Saint Alban's field
    This lady's husband, Sir Richard Grey, was slain,
    His lands then seized on by the conqueror:
    Her suit is now to repossess those lands;
    Which we in justice cannot well deny, 1475
    Because in quarrel of the house of York
    The worthy gentleman did lose his life.
  • Queen Elizabeth. Right gracious lord, I cannot brook delay:
    May it please your highness to resolve me now; 1490
    And what your pleasure is, shall satisfy me.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). [Aside to CLARENCE] Ay, widow? then I'll warrant
    you all your lands,
    An if what pleases him shall pleasure you.
    Fight closer, or, good faith, you'll catch a blow. 1495


  • Queen Elizabeth. My love till death, my humble thanks, my prayers;
    That love which virtue begs and virtue grants. 1545
  • Queen Elizabeth. My mind will never grant what I perceive
    Your highness aims at, if I aim aright. 1550
  • Queen Elizabeth. Why, then mine honesty shall be my dower;
    For by that loss I will not purchase them. 1555
  • Queen Elizabeth. Herein your highness wrongs both them and me.
    But, mighty lord, this merry inclination
    Accords not with the sadness of my suit:
    Please you dismiss me either with 'ay' or 'no.' 1560
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). [Aside] Her looks do argue her replete with modesty;
    Her words do show her wit incomparable;
    All her perfections challenge sovereignty: 1570
    One way or other, she is for a king;
    And she shall be my love, or else my queen.—
    Say that King Edward take thee for his queen?
  • Queen Elizabeth. 'Tis better said than done, my gracious lord:
    I am a subject fit to jest withal, 1575
    But far unfit to be a sovereign.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Sweet widow, by my state I swear to thee
    I speak no more than what my soul intends;
    And that is, to enjoy thee for my love.
  • Queen Elizabeth. And that is more than I will yield unto: 1580
    I know I am too mean to be your queen,
    And yet too good to be your concubine.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). No more than when my daughters call thee mother. 1585
    Thou art a widow, and thou hast some children;
    And, by God's mother, I, being but a bachelor,
    Have other some: why, 'tis a happy thing
    To be the father unto many sons.
    Answer no more, for thou shalt be my queen. 1590

[Enter a Nobleman]

  • Nobleman. My gracious lord, Henry your foe is taken,
    And brought your prisoner to your palace gate.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). See that he be convey'd unto the Tower:
    And go we, brothers, to the man that took him,
    To question of his apprehension. 1610
    Widow, go you along. Lords, use her honourably.

[Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER]

  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Ay, Edward will use women honourably.
    Would he were wasted, marrow, bones and all,
    That from his loins no hopeful branch may spring, 1615
    To cross me from the golden time I look for!
    And yet, between my soul's desire and me—
    The lustful Edward's title buried—
    Is Clarence, Henry, and his son young Edward,
    And all the unlook'd for issue of their bodies, 1620
    To take their rooms, ere I can place myself:
    A cold premeditation for my purpose!
    Why, then, I do but dream on sovereignty;
    Like one that stands upon a promontory,
    And spies a far-off shore where he would tread, 1625
    Wishing his foot were equal with his eye,
    And chides the sea that sunders him from thence,
    Saying, he'll lade it dry to have his way:
    So do I wish the crown, being so far off;
    And so I chide the means that keeps me from it; 1630
    And so I say, I'll cut the causes off,
    Flattering me with impossibilities.
    My eye's too quick, my heart o'erweens too much,
    Unless my hand and strength could equal them.
    Well, say there is no kingdom then for Richard; 1635
    What other pleasure can the world afford?
    I'll make my heaven in a lady's lap,
    And deck my body in gay ornaments,
    And witch sweet ladies with my words and looks.
    O miserable thought! and more unlikely 1640
    Than to accomplish twenty golden crowns!
    Why, love forswore me in my mother's womb:
    And, for I should not deal in her soft laws,
    She did corrupt frail nature with some bribe,
    To shrink mine arm up like a wither'd shrub; 1645
    To make an envious mountain on my back,
    Where sits deformity to mock my body;
    To shape my legs of an unequal size;
    To disproportion me in every part,
    Like to a chaos, or an unlick'd bear-whelp 1650
    That carries no impression like the dam.
    And am I then a man to be beloved?
    O monstrous fault, to harbour such a thought!
    Then, since this earth affords no joy to me,
    But to command, to cheque, to o'erbear such 1655
    As are of better person than myself,
    I'll make my heaven to dream upon the crown,
    And, whiles I live, to account this world but hell,
    Until my mis-shaped trunk that bears this head
    Be round impaled with a glorious crown. 1660
    And yet I know not how to get the crown,
    For many lives stand between me and home:
    And I,—like one lost in a thorny wood,
    That rends the thorns and is rent with the thorns,
    Seeking a way and straying from the way; 1665
    Not knowing how to find the open air,
    But toiling desperately to find it out,—
    Torment myself to catch the English crown:
    And from that torment I will free myself,
    Or hew my way out with a bloody axe. 1670
    Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile,
    And cry 'Content' to that which grieves my heart,
    And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
    And frame my face to all occasions.
    I'll drown more sailors than the mermaid shall; 1675
    I'll slay more gazers than the basilisk;
    I'll play the orator as well as Nestor,
    Deceive more slily than Ulysses could,
    And, like a Sinon, take another Troy.
    I can add colours to the chameleon, 1680
    Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
    And set the murderous Machiavel to school.
    Can I do this, and cannot get a crown?
    Tut, were it farther off, I'll pluck it down.


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 3

France. KING LEWIS XI’s palace.


[Flourish. Enter KING LEWIS XI, his sister BONA,] [p]his Admiral, called BOURBON, PRINCE EDWARD, QUEEN [p]MARGARET, and OXFORD. KING LEWIS XI sits, and [p]riseth up again]

  • King Lewis XI. Fair Queen of England, worthy Margaret, 1690
    Sit down with us: it ill befits thy state
    And birth, that thou shouldst stand while Lewis doth sit.
  • Queen Margaret. No, mighty King of France: now Margaret
    Must strike her sail and learn awhile to serve
    Where kings command. I was, I must confess, 1695
    Great Albion's queen in former golden days:
    But now mischance hath trod my title down,
    And with dishonour laid me on the ground;
    Where I must take like seat unto my fortune,
    And to my humble seat conform myself. 1700
  • King Lewis XI. Why, say, fair queen, whence springs this deep despair?
  • Queen Margaret. From such a cause as fills mine eyes with tears
    And stops my tongue, while heart is drown'd in cares.
  • King Lewis XI. Whate'er it be, be thou still like thyself,
    And sit thee by our side: 1705
    [Seats her by him]
    Yield not thy neck
    To fortune's yoke, but let thy dauntless mind
    Still ride in triumph over all mischance.
    Be plain, Queen Margaret, and tell thy grief; 1710
    It shall be eased, if France can yield relief.
  • Queen Margaret. Those gracious words revive my drooping thoughts
    And give my tongue-tied sorrows leave to speak.
    Now, therefore, be it known to noble Lewis,
    That Henry, sole possessor of my love, 1715
    Is of a king become a banish'd man,
    And forced to live in Scotland a forlorn;
    While proud ambitious Edward Duke of York
    Usurps the regal title and the seat
    Of England's true-anointed lawful king. 1720
    This is the cause that I, poor Margaret,
    With this my son, Prince Edward, Henry's heir,
    Am come to crave thy just and lawful aid;
    And if thou fail us, all our hope is done:
    Scotland hath will to help, but cannot help; 1725
    Our people and our peers are both misled,
    Our treasures seized, our soldiers put to flight,
    And, as thou seest, ourselves in heavy plight.
  • King Lewis XI. Renowned queen, with patience calm the storm,
    While we bethink a means to break it off. 1730
  • Queen Margaret. O, but impatience waiteth on true sorrow.
    And see where comes the breeder of my sorrow!


  • King Lewis XI. Welcome, brave Warwick! What brings thee to France?

[He descends. She ariseth]

  • Queen Margaret. Ay, now begins a second storm to rise; 1740
    For this is he that moves both wind and tide.
  • Earl of Warwick. From worthy Edward, King of Albion,
    My lord and sovereign, and thy vowed friend,
    I come, in kindness and unfeigned love,
    First, to do greetings to thy royal person; 1745
    And then to crave a league of amity;
    And lastly, to confirm that amity
    With a nuptial knot, if thou vouchsafe to grant
    That virtuous Lady Bona, thy fair sister,
    To England's king in lawful marriage. 1750
  • Earl of Warwick. [To BONA] And, gracious madam, in our king's behalf,
    I am commanded, with your leave and favour,
    Humbly to kiss your hand, and with my tongue
    To tell the passion of my sovereign's heart; 1755
    Where fame, late entering at his heedful ears,
    Hath placed thy beauty's image and thy virtue.
  • Queen Margaret. King Lewis and Lady Bona, hear me speak,
    Before you answer Warwick. His demand
    Springs not from Edward's well-meant honest love, 1760
    But from deceit bred by necessity;
    For how can tyrants safely govern home,
    Unless abroad they purchase great alliance?
    To prove him tyrant this reason may suffice,
    That Henry liveth still: but were he dead, 1765
    Yet here Prince Edward stands, King Henry's son.
    Look, therefore, Lewis, that by this league and marriage
    Thou draw not on thy danger and dishonour;
    For though usurpers sway the rule awhile,
    Yet heavens are just, and time suppresseth wrongs. 1770
  • Earl of Warwick. Because thy father Henry did usurp;
    And thou no more are prince than she is queen.
  • Earl Oxford. Then Warwick disannuls great John of Gaunt, 1775
    Which did subdue the greatest part of Spain;
    And, after John of Gaunt, Henry the Fourth,
    Whose wisdom was a mirror to the wisest;
    And, after that wise prince, Henry the Fifth,
    Who by his prowess conquered all France: 1780
    From these our Henry lineally descends.
  • Earl of Warwick. Oxford, how haps it, in this smooth discourse,
    You told not how Henry the Sixth hath lost
    All that which Henry Fifth had gotten?
    Methinks these peers of France should smile at that. 1785
    But for the rest, you tell a pedigree
    Of threescore and two years; a silly time
    To make prescription for a kingdom's worth.
  • Earl Oxford. Why, Warwick, canst thou speak against thy liege,
    Whom thou obeyed'st thirty and six years, 1790
    And not bewray thy treason with a blush?
  • Earl of Warwick. Can Oxford, that did ever fence the right,
    Now buckler falsehood with a pedigree?
    For shame! leave Henry, and call Edward king.
  • Earl Oxford. Call him my king by whose injurious doom 1795
    My elder brother, the Lord Aubrey Vere,
    Was done to death? and more than so, my father,
    Even in the downfall of his mellow'd years,
    When nature brought him to the door of death?
    No, Warwick, no; while life upholds this arm, 1800
    This arm upholds the house of Lancaster.
  • King Lewis XI. Queen Margaret, Prince Edward, and Oxford,
    Vouchsafe, at our request, to stand aside,
    While I use further conference with Warwick. 1805

[They stand aloof]

  • King Lewis XI. Now Warwick, tell me, even upon thy conscience,
    Is Edward your true king? for I were loath
    To link with him that were not lawful chosen. 1810
  • King Lewis XI. Then further, all dissembling set aside,
    Tell me for truth the measure of his love 1815
    Unto our sister Bona.
  • Earl of Warwick. Such it seems
    As may beseem a monarch like himself.
    Myself have often heard him say and swear
    That this his love was an eternal plant, 1820
    Whereof the root was fix'd in virtue's ground,
    The leaves and fruit maintain'd with beauty's sun,
    Exempt from envy, but not from disdain,
    Unless the Lady Bona quit his pain.
  • Bona. Your grant, or your denial, shall be mine:
    [To WARWICK]
    Yet I confess that often ere this day,
    When I have heard your king's desert recounted,
    Mine ear hath tempted judgment to desire. 1830
  • King Lewis XI. Then, Warwick, thus: our sister shall be Edward's;
    And now forthwith shall articles be drawn
    Touching the jointure that your king must make,
    Which with her dowry shall be counterpoised.
    Draw near, Queen Margaret, and be a witness 1835
    That Bona shall be wife to the English king.
  • Queen Margaret. Deceitful Warwick! it was thy device
    By this alliance to make void my suit:
    Before thy coming Lewis was Henry's friend. 1840
  • King Lewis XI. And still is friend to him and Margaret:
    But if your title to the crown be weak,
    As may appear by Edward's good success,
    Then 'tis but reason that I be released
    From giving aid which late I promised. 1845
    Yet shall you have all kindness at my hand
    That your estate requires and mine can yield.
  • Earl of Warwick. Henry now lives in Scotland at his ease,
    Where having nothing, nothing can he lose.
    And as for you yourself, our quondam queen, 1850
    You have a father able to maintain you;
    And better 'twere you troubled him than France.
  • Queen Margaret. Peace, impudent and shameless Warwick, peace,
    Proud setter up and puller down of kings!
    I will not hence, till, with my talk and tears, 1855
    Both full of truth, I make King Lewis behold
    Thy sly conveyance and thy lord's false love;
    For both of you are birds of selfsame feather.

[Post blows a horn within]

[Enter a Post]

  • Post. [To WARWICK] My lord ambassador, these letters are for you,
    Sent from your brother, Marquess Montague:
    These from our king unto your majesty: 1865
    And, madam, these for you; from whom I know not.

[They all read their letters]

  • Earl Oxford. I like it well that our fair queen and mistress
    Smiles at her news, while Warwick frowns at his. 1870
  • Prince Edward. Nay, mark how Lewis stamps, as he were nettled:
    I hope all's for the best.
  • King Lewis XI. Warwick, what are thy news? and yours, fair queen?
  • King Lewis XI. What! has your king married the Lady Grey!
    And now, to soothe your forgery and his,
    Sends me a paper to persuade me patience?
    Is this the alliance that he seeks with France?
    Dare he presume to scorn us in this manner? 1880
  • Queen Margaret. I told your majesty as much before:
    This proveth Edward's love and Warwick's honesty.
  • Earl of Warwick. King Lewis, I here protest, in sight of heaven,
    And by the hope I have of heavenly bliss,
    That I am clear from this misdeed of Edward's, 1885
    No more my king, for he dishonours me,
    But most himself, if he could see his shame.
    Did I forget that by the house of York
    My father came untimely to his death?
    Did I let pass the abuse done to my niece? 1890
    Did I impale him with the regal crown?
    Did I put Henry from his native right?
    And am I guerdon'd at the last with shame?
    Shame on himself! for my desert is honour:
    And to repair my honour lost for him, 1895
    I here renounce him and return to Henry.
    My noble queen, let former grudges pass,
    And henceforth I am thy true servitor:
    I will revenge his wrong to Lady Bona,
    And replant Henry in his former state. 1900
  • Queen Margaret. Warwick, these words have turn'd my hate to love;
    And I forgive and quite forget old faults,
    And joy that thou becomest King Henry's friend.
  • Earl of Warwick. So much his friend, ay, his unfeigned friend,
    That, if King Lewis vouchsafe to furnish us 1905
    With some few bands of chosen soldiers,
    I'll undertake to land them on our coast
    And force the tyrant from his seat by war.
    'Tis not his new-made bride shall succor him:
    And as for Clarence, as my letters tell me, 1910
    He's very likely now to fall from him,
    For matching more for wanton lust than honour,
    Or than for strength and safety of our country.
  • Bona. Dear brother, how shall Bona be revenged
    But by thy help to this distressed queen? 1915
  • Queen Margaret. Renowned prince, how shall poor Henry live,
    Unless thou rescue him from foul despair?
  • Bona. My quarrel and this English queen's are one.
  • King Lewis XI. And mine with hers, and thine, and Margaret's. 1920
    Therefore at last I firmly am resolved
    You shall have aid.
  • King Lewis XI. Then, England's messenger, return in post,
    And tell false Edward, thy supposed king, 1925
    That Lewis of France is sending over masquers
    To revel it with him and his new bride:
    Thou seest what's past, go fear thy king withal.
  • Bona. Tell him, in hope he'll prove a widower shortly,
    I'll wear the willow garland for his sake. 1930
  • Queen Margaret. Tell him, my mourning weeds are laid aside,
    And I am ready to put armour on.
  • Earl of Warwick. Tell him from me that he hath done me wrong,
    And therefore I'll uncrown him ere't be long.
    There's thy reward: be gone. 1935

[Exit Post]

  • King Lewis XI. But, Warwick,
    Thou and Oxford, with five thousand men,
    Shall cross the seas, and bid false Edward battle;
    And, as occasion serves, this noble queen 1940
    And prince shall follow with a fresh supply.
    Yet, ere thou go, but answer me one doubt,
    What pledge have we of thy firm loyalty?
  • Earl of Warwick. This shall assure my constant loyalty,
    That if our queen and this young prince agree, 1945
    I'll join mine eldest daughter and my joy
    To him forthwith in holy wedlock bands.
  • Queen Margaret. Yes, I agree, and thank you for your motion.
    Son Edward, she is fair and virtuous,
    Therefore delay not, give thy hand to Warwick; 1950
    And, with thy hand, thy faith irrevocable,
    That only Warwick's daughter shall be thine.
  • Prince Edward. Yes, I accept her, for she well deserves it;
    And here, to pledge my vow, I give my hand.

[He gives his hand to WARWICK]

  • King Lewis XI. Why stay we now? These soldiers shall be levied,
    And thou, Lord Bourbon, our high admiral,
    Shalt waft them over with our royal fleet.
    I long till Edward fall by war's mischance,
    For mocking marriage with a dame of France. 1960

[Exeunt all but WARWICK]

  • Earl of Warwick. I came from Edward as ambassador,
    But I return his sworn and mortal foe:
    Matter of marriage was the charge he gave me,
    But dreadful war shall answer his demand. 1965
    Had he none else to make a stale but me?
    Then none but I shall turn his jest to sorrow.
    I was the chief that raised him to the crown,
    And I'll be chief to bring him down again:
    Not that I pity Henry's misery, 1970
    But seek revenge on Edward's mockery.