London. A room in the palace.
(King Henry the Sixth; Duke of Gloucester; Duke of Exeter; Bishop of Winchester; Ambassador from the Emperor; Ambassador from the Earl of Armagnac; Papal Legate)
The King and Gloucester discuss arrangements for a peace treaty with France, by which Henry shall marry the daughter of the Earl of Armagnac. Henry fears he is too young to marry, as he much prefers studying to wasting his time with women. Winchester, now a Cardinal, is sent to represent England at the peace negotiations. Winchester takes the Papal Legate aside to pay the bribe money for his new position, and swears that he will never be inferior to Gloucester again. (62 lines)
Sennet. Enter King, Gloucester, and Exeter.
Have you perus’d the letters from the Pope,
The Emperor, and the Earl of Armagnac?
I have, my lord, and their intent is this:
They humbly sue unto your Excellence
To have a godly peace concluded of
Between the realms of England and of France.
How doth your Grace affect their motion?
Well, my good lord, and as the only means
To stop effusion of our Christian blood,
And stablish quietness on every side.
Ay, marry, uncle, for I always thought
It was both impious and unnatural
That such immanity and bloody strife
Should reign among professors of one faith.
Beside, my lord, the sooner to effect
And surer bind this knot of amity,
The Earl of Armagnac, near knit to Charles,
A man of great authority in France,
Proffers his only daughter to your Grace
In marriage, with a large and sumptuous dowry.
Marriage, uncle? Alas, my years are young;
And fitter is my study and my books
Than wanton dalliance with a paramour.
Yet call th’ ambassadors, and as you please,
So let them have their answers every one.
I shall be well content with any choice
Tends to God’s glory and my country’s weal.
Enter Winchester in cardinal’s habit and three Ambassadors, one of them a Papal Legate.
What, is my Lord of Winchester install’d,
And call’d unto a cardinal’s degree?
Then I perceive that will be verified
Henry the Fifth did sometime prophesy:
“If once he come to be a cardinal,
He’ll make his cap co-equal with the crown.”
My lords ambassadors, your several suits
Have been consider’d and debated on.
Your purpose is both good and reasonable;
And therefore are we certainly resolv’d
To draw conditions of a friendly peace,
Which by my Lord of Winchester we mean
Shall be transported presently to France.
To the Ambassador from Armagnac.
And for the proffer of my lord your master,
I have inform’d his Highness so at large,
As liking of the lady’s virtuous gifts,
Her beauty, and the value of her dower,
He doth intend she shall be England’s queen.
In argument and proof of which contract,
Bear her this jewel, pledge of my affection.
And so, my Lord Protector, see them guarded
And safely brought to Dover, wherein shipp’d,
Commit them to the fortune of the sea.
Exeunt all but Winchester and Legate.
Stay, my lord legate, you shall first receive
The sum of money which I promised
Should be delivered to his Holiness
For clothing me in these grave ornaments.
I will attend upon your lordship’s leisure.
Now Winchester will not submit, I trow,
Or be inferior to the proudest peer.
Humphrey of Gloucester, thou shalt well perceive
That neither in birth, or for authority,
The Bishop will be overborne by thee.
I’ll either make thee stoop and bend thy knee,
Or sack this country with a mutiny.