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Henry VI, Part 1 Scenes

Scene 1

London. The Parliament House.

(King Henry the Sixth; Duke of Exeter; Duke of Gloucester; Bishop of Winchester; Earl Warwick; Duke of Somerset; Earl of Suffolk; Richard Plantagenet; Mayor of London; Winchester’s Serving Attendant; Gloucester’s First Serving Attendant; Gloucester’s Second Serving Attendant)

At Parliament, Gloucester attempts to present a written list of complaints against Winchester, but the Bishop grabs it and rips it up, telling Gloucester to speak it all directly, charging that if the accusations are true there is no need to take the time to write them down. The two quarrel violently, despite the King’s attempts to pacify them. The Mayor enters, begging for help in keeping Gloucester and Winchester’s men from fighting, as they have started to throw stones at each other now that they are forbidden to carry actual weapons, and risk inflicting great damage on the citizens’ property. The fighting spills into the parliament, where the servants refuse to be pacified. Warwick urges Gloucester and Winchester to reconcile, as the only way to prevent civil war. Gloucester yields, but Winchester must be coerced; he finally takes Gloucester’s hand, but does not intend to keep his word. Richard Plantagenet is restored to his place as Duke of York, and pledges his loyalty to the King; Somerset is disgusted. Gloucester proposes that the King be crowned a second time, as King of France, to reinvigorate the English cause in France. Henry agrees with his uncle. Exeter is worried, seeing that the dissension between the nobles does not bode well for the war in France; he recalls a prophecy that Henry of Monmouth (the dead Henry V) would win all, but Henry born at Windsor (Henry VI) would then lose it. (207 lines)

Flourish. Enter King, Exeter, Gloucester, Winchester, Warwick, Somerset, Suffolk, Richard Plantagenet, and others.

Gloucester offers to put up a bill; Winchester snatches it, tears it.


Com’st thou with deep premeditated lines,

With written pamphlets studiously devis’d?

Humphrey of Gloucester, if thou canst accuse,

Or aught intend’st to lay unto my charge,

Do it without invention, suddenly,

As I with sudden and extemporal speech

Purpose to answer what thou canst object.


Presumptuous priest, this place commands my patience,

Or thou shouldst find thou hast dishonor’d me.

Think not, although in writing I preferr’d

The manner of thy vile outrageous crimes,

That therefore I have forg’d, or am not able

Verbatim to rehearse the method of my pen.

No, prelate, such is thy audacious wickedness,

Thy lewd, pestiferous, and dissentious pranks,

As very infants prattle of thy pride.

Thou art a most pernicious usurer,

Froward by nature, enemy to peace,

Lascivious, wanton, more than well beseems

A man of thy profession and degree;

And for thy treachery, what’s more manifest?

In that thou laidst a trap to take my life,

As well at London Bridge as at the Tower.

Beside, I fear me, if thy thoughts were sifted,

The King, thy sovereign, is not quite exempt

From envious malice of thy swelling heart.


Gloucester, I do defy thee. Lords, vouchsafe

To give me hearing what I shall reply.

If I were covetous, ambitious, or perverse,

As he will have me, how am I so poor?

Or how haps it I seek not to advance

Or raise myself, but keep my wonted calling?

And for dissension, who preferreth peace

More than I do, except I be provok’d?

No, my good lords, it is not that offends,

It is not that that hath incens’d the Duke:

It is because no one should sway but he,

No one, but he, should be about the King;

And that engenders thunder in his breast,

And makes him roar these accusations forth.

But he shall know I am as good—


As good?

Thou bastard of my grandfather!


Ay, lordly sir; for what are you, I pray,

But one imperious in another’s throne?


Am I not Protector, saucy priest?


And am not I a prelate of the Church?


Yes, as an outlaw in a castle keeps

And useth it to patronage his theft.


Unreverent Gloucester!


Thou art reverent

Touching thy spiritual function, not thy life.


Rome shall remedy this.


Roam thither then.


To Winchester

My lord, it were your duty to forbear.


Ay, so the Bishop be not overborne.

Methinks my lord should be religious,

And know the office that belongs to such.


Methinks his lordship should be humbler,

It fitteth not a prelate so to plead.


Yes, when his holy state is touch’d so near.


State holy or unhallow’d, what of that?

Is not his Grace Protector to the King?



Plantagenet, I see, must hold his tongue,

Lest it be said, “Speak, sirrah, when you should;

Must your bold verdict enter talk with lords?”

Else would I have a fling at Winchester.


Uncles of Gloucester and of Winchester,

The special watchmen of our English weal,

I would prevail, if prayers might prevail,

To join your hearts in love and amity.

O, what a scandal is it to our crown

That two such noble peers as ye should jar!

Believe me, lords, my tender years can tell,

Civil dissension is a viperous worm

That gnaws the bowels of the commonwealth.

A noise within.

“Down with the tawny-coats!”

What tumult’s this?


An uproar, I dare warrant,

Begun through malice of the Bishop’s men.

A noise again.

“Stones! Stones!”

Enter Mayor of London, attended.


O my good lords, and virtuous Henry,

Pity the city of London, pity us!

The Bishop and the Duke of Gloucester’s men,

Forbidden late to carry any weapon,

Have fill’d their pockets full of pebble stones;

And, banding themselves in contrary parts,

Do pelt so fast at one another’s pate

That many have their giddy brains knock’d out;

Our windows are broke down in every street,

And we, for fear, compell’d to shut our shops.

Enter Servingmen of both parties, in skirmish, with bloody pates.


We charge you, on allegiance to ourself,

To hold your slaught’ring hands and keep the peace.

Pray, uncle Gloucester, mitigate this strife.


Nay, if we be forbidden stones, we’ll fall to it with our teeth.


Do what ye dare, we are as resolute.

Skirmish again.


You of my household, leave this peevish broil,

And set this unaccustom’d fight aside.


My lord, we know your Grace to be a man

Just and upright; and, for your royal birth,

Inferior to none but to his Majesty;

And ere that we will suffer such a prince,

So kind a father of the commonweal,

To be disgraced by an inkhorn mate,

We and our wives and children all will fight,

And have our bodies slaught’red by thy foes.


Ay, and the very parings of our nails

Shall pitch a field when we are dead.

Begin again.


Stay, stay, I say!

And if you love me, as you say you do,

Let me persuade you to forbear a while.


O, how this discord doth afflict my soul!

Can you, my Lord of Winchester, behold

My sighs and tears, and will not once relent?

Who should be pitiful, if you be not?

Or who should study to prefer a peace,

If holy churchmen take delight in broils?


Yield, my Lord Protector, yield, Winchester,

Except you mean with obstinate repulse

To slay your sovereign and destroy the realm.

You see what mischief, and what murder too,

Hath been enacted through your enmity.

Then be at peace, except ye thirst for blood.


He shall submit, or I will never yield.


Compassion on the King commands me stoop,

Or I would see his heart out ere the priest

Should ever get that privilege of me.


Behold, my Lord of Winchester, the Duke

Hath banish’d moody discontented fury,

As by his smoothed brows it doth appear.

Why look you still so stern and tragical?


Here, Winchester, I offer thee my hand.


Fie, uncle Beauford, I have heard you preach

That malice was a great and grievous sin;

And will not you maintain the thing you teach,

But prove a chief offender in the same?


Sweet King! The Bishop hath a kindly gird.

For shame, my Lord of Winchester, relent!

What, shall a child instruct you what to do?


Well, Duke of Gloucester, I will yield to thee;

Love for thy love and hand for hand I give.



Ay, but, I fear me, with a hollow heart.—

See here, my friends and loving countrymen,

This token serveth for a flag of truce

Betwixt ourselves and all our followers.

So help me God, as I dissemble not!



So help me God, as I intend it not!


O loving uncle, kind Duke of Gloucester,

How joyful am I made by this contract!

Away, my masters, trouble us no more,

But join in friendship, as your lords have done.


Content, I’ll to the surgeon’s.


And so will I.


And I will see what physic the tavern affords.

Exeunt Servingmen, Mayor, etc.


Accept this scroll, most gracious sovereign,

Which in the right of Richard Plantagenet

We do exhibit to your Majesty.


Well urg’d, my Lord of Warwick; for, sweet prince,

And if your Grace mark every circumstance,

You have great reason to do Richard right,

Especially for those occasions

At Eltam Place I told your Majesty.


And those occasions, uncle, were of force:

Therefore, my loving lords, our pleasure is

That Richard be restored to his blood.


Let Richard be restored to his blood,

So shall his father’s wrongs be recompens’d.


As will the rest, so willeth Winchester.


If Richard will be true, not that alone

But all the whole inheritance I give

That doth belong unto the house of York,

From whence you spring by lineal descent.


Thy humble servant vows obedience

And humble service till the point of death.


Stoop then and set your knee against my foot,

And in reguerdon of that duty done,

I girt thee with the valiant sword of York:

Rise, Richard, like a true Plantagenet,

And rise created princely Duke of York.


And so thrive Richard as thy foes may fall!

And as my duty springs, so perish they

That grudge one thought against your Majesty!


Welcome, high prince, the mighty Duke of York!



Perish, base prince, ignoble Duke of York!


Now will it best avail your Majesty

To cross the seas and to be crown’d in France.

The presence of a king engenders love

Amongst his subjects and his loyal friends,

As it disanimates his enemies.


When Gloucester says the word, King Henry goes,

For friendly counsel cuts off many foes.


Your ships already are in readiness.

Sennet. Flourish.

Exeunt. Manet Exeter.


Ay, we may march in England, or in France,

Not seeing what is likely to ensue.

This late dissension grown betwixt the peers

Burns under feigned ashes of forg’d love,

And will at last break out into a flame:

As fest’red members rot but by degree,

Till bones and flesh and sinews fall away,

So will this base and envious discord breed.

And now I fear that fatal prophecy

Which in the time of Henry nam’d the Fifth

Was in the mouth of every sucking babe,

That Henry born at Monmouth should win all,

And Henry born at Windsor lose all:

Which is so plain that Exeter doth wish

His days may finish ere that hapless time.



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