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Edward III Scenes

Scene 1

Picardy. The English camp before Calais.

(King Edward; Queen Philippa; Derby; Soldiers; Six Citizens of Calais; Copland; King David; Salisbury; English Herald; Prince Edward; King John; Philip; Audley; Artois)

King Edward angrily orders an assault on the town when the six rich men of Calais finally arrive to offer their lives for the city. They beg him to remember his word, but they are so filthy and malnourished that he refuses to believe that they are in fact the richest men of Calais. They explain that it is the siege that has brought them to this, and Edward agrees to accept the capitulation, though he orders all is to be sent instantly to their deaths. Queen Philippa protests, arguing that he can only be called King of France if there are Frenchmen left alive. He yields to her and spares their lives. Copland, the esquire who captured the King of Scots, enters with his prisoner. He does not deny refusing to hand the King of Scots over, but excuses himself on the grounds of the need to think of his own repute, having decided to hand over his prisoner only to the King in person, which he now does. Edward bids his Queen to forgive him, and knights him. Salisbury arrives and gives Edward Mountford’s coronet, but also has to report his certainty that Prince Edward is dead. The Queen is distraught and the King little better, but a herald comes in to announce the arrival of the Prince, his army and his captives. Overjoyed, the King greets his son with great honor and King John with great sarcasm. The Prince asks his father to give him more opportunities to show his worth in battle. King Edward, however, announces a momentary end to the fighting and prepares to return to England with all the royal captives and his family. (243 lines)

Enter King Edward, Queen Philippa, Derby, soldiers.


No more, Queen Philip, pacify yourself;

Copland, except he can excuse his fault,

Shall find displeasure written in our looks.

And now unto this proud resisting town!

Soldiers, assault: I will no longer stay,

To be deluded by their false delays;

Put all to sword, and make the spoil your own.

Enter six Citizens of Calais in their shirts, barefoot, with halters about their necks.


Mercy, king Edward, mercy, gracious lord!


Contemptuous villains, call ye now for truce?

Mine ears are stopped against your bootless cries:—

Sound, drums alarum; draw threatening swords!

1. CIT. CAL.

Ah, noble Prince, take pity on this town,

And hear us, mighty king:

We claim the promise that your highness made;

The two days’ respite is not yet expired,

And we are come with willingness to bear

What torturing death or punishment you please,

So that the trembling multitude be saved.


My promise? Well, I do confess as much:

But I do require the chiefest citizens

And men of most account that should submit;

You, peradventure, are but servile grooms,

Or some felonious robbers on the sea,

Whom, apprehended, law would execute,

Albeit severity lay dead in us:

No, no, ye cannot overreach us thus.

2. CIT. CAL.

The sun, dread lord, that in the western fall

Beholds us now low brought through misery,

Did in the Orient purple of the morn

Salute our coming forth, when we were known;

Or may our portion be with damned fiends.


If it be so, then let our covenant stand:

We take possession of the town in peace,

But, for yourselves, look you for no remorse;

But, as imperial justice hath decreed,

Your bodies shall be dragged about these walls,

And after feel the stroke of quartering steel:

This is your doom;—go, soldiers, see it done.


Ah, be more mild unto these yielding men!

It is a glorious thing to stablish peace,

And kings approach the nearest unto God

By giving life and safety unto men:

As thou intendest to be King of France,

So let her people live to call thee king;

For what the sword cuts down or fire hath spoiled,

Is held in reputation none of ours.


Although experience teach us this is true,

That peaceful quietness brings most delight,

When most of all abuses are controlled;

Yet, insomuch it shall be known that we

As well can master our affections

As conquer other by the dint of sword,

Philip, prevail; we yield to thy request:

These men shall live to boast of clemency,

And, tyranny, strike terror to thyself.

2. CIT. CAL.

Long live your highness! Happy be your reign!


Go, get you hence, return unto the town,

And if this kindness hath deserved your love,

Learn then to reverence Edward as your king.—

Exeunt Citizens of Calais.

Now, might we hear of our affairs abroad,

We would, till gloomy winter were o’er spent,

Dispose our men in garrison a while.

But who comes here?

Enter Copland and King David.


Copland, my lord, and David, King of Scots.


Is this the proud presumptuous esquire of the north,

That would not yield his prisoner to my Queen?


I am, my liege, a northern esquire indeed,

But neither proud nor insolent, I trust.


What moved thee, then, to be so obstinate

To contradict our royal Queen’s desire?


No willful disobedience, mighty lord,

But my desert and public law at arms:

I took the king myself in single fight,

And, like a soldiers, would be loath to lose

The least pre-eminence that I had won.

And Copland straight upon your highness’ charge

Is come to France, and with a lowly mind

Doth vale the bonnet of his victory:

Receive, dread lord, the custom of my fraught,

The wealthy tribute of my laboring hands,

Which should long since have been surrendered up,

Had but your gracious self been there in place.


But, Copland, thou didst scorn the king’s command,

Neglecting our commission in his name.


His name I reverence, but his person more;

His name shall keep me in allegiance still,

But to his person I will bend my knee.


I pray thee, Philip, let displeasure pass;

This man doth please me, and I like his words:

For what is he that will attempt great deeds,

And lose the glory that ensues the same?

All rivers have recourse unto the sea,

And Copland’s faith relation to his king.

Kneel, therefore, down: now rise, king Edward’s knight;

And, to maintain thy state, I freely give

Five hundred marks a year to thee and thine.

Enter Salisbury.

Welcome, lord Salisbury: what news from Britain?


This, mighty king: the country we have won,

And John de Mountford, regent of that place,

Presents your highness with this coronet,

Protesting true allegiance to your Grace.


We thank thee for thy service, valiant Earl;

Challenge our favor, for we owe it thee.


But now, my lord, as this is joyful news,

So must my voice be tragical again,

And I must sing of doleful accidents.


What, have our men the overthrow at Poictiers?

Or is our son beset with too much odds?


He was, my lord: and as my worthless self

With forty other serviceable knights,

Under safe conduct of the Dauphin’s seal,

Did travail that way, finding him distressed,

A troop of lances met us on the way,

Surprised, and brought us prisoners to the king,

Who, proud of this, and eager of revenge,

Commanded straight to cut off all our heads:

And surely we had died, but that the Duke,

More full of honor than his angry sire,

Procured our quick deliverance from thence;

But, ere we went, “Salute your king,” quoth he,

“Bid him provide a funeral for his son:

To day our sword shall cut his thread of life;

And, sooner than he thinks, we’ll be with him,

To quittance those displeasures he hath done.”

This said, we past, not daring to reply;

Our hearts were dead, our looks diffused and wan.

Wandering, at last we climbed unto a hill,

From whence, although our grief were much before,

Yet now to see the occasion with our eyes

Did thrice so much increase our heaviness:

For there, my lord, oh, there we did descry

Down in a valley how both armies lay.

The French had cast their trenches like a ring,

And every barricado’s open front

Was thick embossed with brazen ordinance;

Here stood a battaile of ten thousand horse,

There twice as many pikes in quadrant wise,

Here crossbows, and deadly wounding darts:

And in the midst, like to a slender point

Within the compass of the horizon,

(As twere a rising bubble in the sea,

A hazel wand amidst a wood of pines,

Or as a bear fast chained unto a stake),

Stood famous Edward, still expecting when

Those dogs of France would fasten on his flesh.

Anon the death procuring knell begins:

Off go the cannons, that with trembling noise

Did shake the very mountain where they stood;

Then sound the trumpets’ clangor in the air,

The battles join: and, when we could no more

Discern the difference twixt the friend and foe,

So intricate the dark confusion was,

Away we turned our watery eyes with sighs,

As black as powder fuming into smoke.

And thus, I fear, unhappy have I told

The most untimely tale of Edward’s fall.


Ah me, is this my welcome into France?

Is this the comfort that I looked to have,

When I should meet with my beloved son?

Sweet Ned, I would thy mother in the sea

Had been prevented of this mortal grief!


Content thee, Philip; ’tis not tears will serve

To call him back, if he be taken hence:

Comfort thyself, as I do, gentle Queen,

With hope of sharp, unheard of, dire revenge.—

He bids me to provide his funeral,

And so I will; but all the peers in France

Shall mourners be, and weep out bloody tears,

Until their empty veins be dry and sere:

The pillars of his hearse shall be his bones;

The mould that covers him, their city ashes;

His knell, the groaning cries of dying men;

And, in the stead of tapers on his tomb,

An hundred fifty towers shall burning blaze,

While we bewail our valiant son’s decease.

After a flourish, sounded within, enter an English Herald.


Rejoice, my lord; ascend the imperial throne!

The mighty and redoubted prince of Wales,

Great servitor to bloody Mars in arms,

The Frenchman’s terror, and his country’s fame,

Triumphant rideth like a Roman peer,

And, lowly at his stirrup, comes afoot

King John of France, together with his son,

In captive bonds; whose diadem he brings

To crown thee with, and to proclaim thee king.


Away with mourning, Philip, wipe thine eyes;—

Sound, trumpets, welcome in Plantagenet!

Enter Prince Edward, King John, Philip, Audley, Artois.

As things long lost, when they are found again,

So doth my son rejoice his father’s heart,

For whom even now my soul was much perplexed.


Be this a token to express my joy,

Kisses him.

For inward passion will not let me speak.


My gracious father, here receive the gift.

Presenting him with King John’s crown.

This wreath of conquest and reward of war,

Got with as mickle peril of our lives,

As ere was thing of price before this day;

Install your highness in your proper right:

And, herewithall, I render to your hands

These prisoners, chief occasion of our strife.


So, John of France, I see you keep your word:

You promised to be sooner with our self

Than we did think for, and ’tis so indeed:

But, had you done at first as now you do,

How many civil towns had stood untouched,

That now are turned to ragged heaps of stones!

How many people’s lives mightst thou have saved,

That are untimely sunk into their graves!


Edward, recount not things irrevocable;

Tell me what ransom thou requirest to have.


Thy ransom, John, hereafter shall be known:

But first to England thou must cross the seas,

To see what entertainment it affords;

How ere it falls, it cannot be so bad,

As ours hath been since we arrived in France.


Accursed man! Of this I was foretold,

But did misconster what the prophet told.


Now, father, this petition Edward makes

To thee, whose grace hath been his strongest shield,

That, as thy pleasure chose me for the man

To be the instrument to shew thy power,

So thou wilt grant that many princes more,

Bred and brought up within that little Isle,

May still be famous for like victories!

And, for my part, the bloody scars I bear,

And weary nights that I have watched in field,

The dangerous conflicts I have often had,

The fearful menaces were proffered me,

The heat and cold and what else might displease:

I wish were now redoubled twenty fold,

So that hereafter ages, when they read

The painful traffic of my tender youth,

Might thereby be inflamed with such resolve,

As not the territories of France alone,

But likewise Spain, Turkey, and what countries else

That justly would provoke fair England’s ire,

Might, at their presence, tremble and retire.


Here, English lords, we do proclaim a rest,

An intercession of our painful arms:

Sheath up your swords, refresh your weary limbs,

Peruse your spoils; and, after we have breathed

A day or two within this haven town,

God willing, then for England we’ll be shipped;

Where, in a happy hour, I trust, we shall

Arrive, three kings, two princes, and a queen.



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