Prince Escalus of Verona has the misfortune of ruling over a state where two major families are locked in an unending war.
The mere authority of his presence is no longer enough to make people pay attention to him: he must back it up with threats of torture and death. He does not even summon Capulet and Montague to appear together before him, but gives them separate appointments. When a further brawl not only kills one of the chief troublemakers but also the Prince’s own kinsman, Mercutio, he exiles the killer Romeo and attempts to bring peace by hitting the two families in their pocketbook. He soon loses another kinsman, County Paris, and concludes to his own guilt in the affair for not having been severe enough with the warring families. Despite the power of his speeches, his authority seems rather disregarded.