Henry VI, Part 1


--national decline

--excuses for national decline: witchcraft, internal squabbling, poor leadership

--joan called a witch, evil

--martial virtues, martial recklessness

Overview & Remarks:

--sometimes staged with Parts 1,2, 3 combined to make one play


--Orleans was the Stalingrad of the One Hundred Years War

--Reign of Henry VI signaled the end of the One Hundred Years War (1337-1453)

--Signaled the Beginning of the War of the Roses (1455-1485)

--Reign of Henry VI: 1421-1471

--The French owe their victory to the English defeat of themselves. Why? 1. Witchcraft 2. Internal Squabbling 3. Poor Leadership (Henry VI only 8 when he ascends the throne

--Play primarily about two people: Talbot and Joan of Arc (Pucelle)

Important question: What does S’peare think about Talbot? What does S’peare think about Joan of Arc

Play Opens With Lament Over the Loss of Henry V

Henry V: St. Crispin’s Day Speech


Non Nobis:


(contrast Aragorn’s speech before Gates of Gondor:


--Talbot, War, and Honor (“The English Achilles”)

SCENE II. France. Before Rouen.

Enter JOAN LA PUCELLE disguised, with four Soldiers with sacks upon their backs


These are the city gates, the gates of Rouen,

Through which our policy must make a breach:

Take heed, be wary how you place your words;

Talk like the vulgar sort of market men

That come to gather money for their corn.

If we have entrance, as I hope we shall,

And that we find the slothful watch but weak,

I'll by a sign give notice to our friends,

That Charles the Dauphin may encounter them.

First Soldier

Our sacks shall be a mean to sack the city,

And we be lords and rulers over Rouen;

Therefore we'll knock.



[Within] Qui est la?


Paysans, pauvres gens de France;

Poor market folks that come to sell their corn.


Enter, go in; the market bell is rung.


Now, Rouen, I'll shake thy bulwarks to the ground.




France, thou shalt rue this treason with thy tears,

If Talbot but survive thy treachery.

Pucelle, that witch, that damned sorceress,

Hath wrought this hellish mischief unawares,

That hardly we escaped the pride of France.



Foul fiend of France, and hag of all despite,

Encompass'd with thy lustful paramours!

Becomes it thee to taunt his valiant age

And twit with cowardice a man half dead?

Damsel, I'll have a bout with you again,

Or else let Talbot perish with this shame.


Are ye so hot, sir? yet, Pucelle, hold thy peace;

If Talbot do but thunder, rain will follow.

Act IV, Scene 4


He fables not; I hear the enemy:

Out, some light horsemen, and peruse their wings.

O, negligent and heedless discipline!

How are we park'd and bounded in a pale,

A little herd of England's timorous deer,

Mazed with a yelping kennel of French curs!

If we be English deer, be then in blood;

Not rascal-like, to fall down with a pinch,

But rather, moody-mad and desperate stags,

Turn on the bloody hounds with heads of steel

And make the cowards stand aloof at bay:

Sell every man his life as dear as mine,

And they shall find dear deer of us, my friends.

God and Saint George, Talbot and England's right,

Prosper our colours in this dangerous fight!

Act IV, Scene 5


O young John Talbot! I did send for thee

To tutor thee in stratagems of war,

That Talbot's name might be in thee revived

When sapless age and weak unable limbs

Should bring thy father to his drooping chair.

But, O malignant and ill-boding stars!

Now thou art come unto a feast of death,

A terrible and unavoided danger:

Therefore, dear boy, mount on my swiftest horse;

And I'll direct thee how thou shalt escape

By sudden flight: come, dally not, be gone.


Is my name Talbot? and am I your son?

And shall I fly? O if you love my mother,

Dishonour not her honourable name,

To make a bastard and a slave of me!

The world will say, he is not Talbot's blood,

That basely fled when noble Talbot stood.


Fly, to revenge my death, if I be slain.

Trailer: The Green Berets (1968)


Imdb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063035/

Cover of The Green Berets


Talbot outwits the French countess:


--Personality of the Boy-King Henry VI

-”Warwick, who was in charge of the King’s education, followed the stern policy of beatings for slight offenses, and Henry VI was constantly terrorized as a child. This did not cause him to learn what he was required to learn, for he never betrayed a strong intellect. In fact, he seems to have inherited the mental instability of his mother’s father, Charles VI of France, though this was never so extreme in Henry VI. Beating never succeeded in forcing intelligence into Henry VI, and to the end of his life he remained a gentle nonentity, lovable in his genuine piety and in his unwillingness to do hard, but an utterly incompetent king who did England more harm (unintentionally) than a strong tyrant would have done.”

By the end of the play, Henry VI is 23 years old. “However, he remained a child in many ways all his life. He was never able to take independent action, was aleays glad to be led by any stronger personality. He would indeed have preferred being left to his books and his prayers, and he was never interested in women.”

“Marriage, uncle! alas, my years are young,

And fitter is my study and my books

Than wanton dalliance with a paramour (Act V:1:21-23)

Act V, Scene 5


Whether it be through force of your report,

My noble Lord of Suffolk, or for that

My tender youth was never yet attaint

With any passion of inflaming love,

I cannot tell; but this I am assured,

I feel such sharp dissension in my breast,

Such fierce alarums both of hope and fear,

As I am sick with working of my thoughts.

Take, therefore, shipping; post, my lord, to France;

Agree to any covenants, and procure

That Lady Margaret do vouchsafe to come

To cross the seas to England and be crown'd

King Henry's faithful and anointed queen:

For your expenses and sufficient charge,

Among the people gather up a tenth.

Be gone, I say; for, till you do return,

I rest perplexed with a thousand cares.

And you, good uncle, banish all offence:

If you do censure me by what you were,

Not what you are, I know it will excuse

This sudden execution of my will.

And so, conduct me where, from company,

I may revolve and ruminate my grief.



Ay, grief, I fear me, both at first and last.



Thus Suffolk hath prevail'd; and thus he goes,

As did the youthful Paris once to Greece,

With hope to find the like event in love,

But prosper better than the Trojan did.

Margaret shall now be queen, and rule the king;

But I will rule both her, the king and realm.


--Joan d’Arc

“Down to the present day, Joan of Arc has remained a significant figure in Western culture. From Napoleon onward, French politicians of all leanings have invoked her memory. Famous writers and composers who have created works about her include: Shakespeare (Henry VI, Part 1), Voltaire (The Maid of Orleans poem), Schiller (The Maid of Orleans play), Verdi (Giovanna d'Arco), Tchaikovsky (The Maid of Orleans opera), Mark Twain (Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc), Arthur Honegger (Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher), Jean Anouilh (L'Alouette), Bertolt Brecht (Saint Joan of the Stockyards), George Bernard Shaw (Saint Joan), Mark Twain (Joan of Arc) and Maxwell Anderson (Joan of Lorraine). Depictions of her continue in film, theatre, television, video games, music and performance.”

Joan of Arc has been a political symbol in France since the time of Napoleon. Liberals emphasised her humble origins. Early conservatives stressed her support of the monarchy. Later conservatives recalled her nationalism. During World War II, both the Vichy Regime and the French Resistance used her image: Vichy propaganda remembered her campaign against the English with posters that showed British warplanes bombing Rouen and the ominous caption: "They Always Return to the Scene of Their Crimes." The resistance emphasised her fight against foreign occupation and her origins in the province of Lorraine, which had fallen under Nazi control.

Three separate vessels of the French Navy have been named after her, including a helicopter carrier which was retired from active service on 7 June 2010. At present the controversial French far-right political party Front National holds rallies at her statues, reproduces her likeness in party publications, and uses a tricolor flame partly symbolic of her martyrdom as its emblem. This party's opponents sometimes satirize its appropriation of her image.[69] The French civic holiday in her honour is the second Sunday of May.

Trailer: The Messenger


SCENE IV. Camp of the YORK in Anjou.

Enter YORK, WARWICK, and others


Bring forth that sorceress condemn'd to burn.

Enter JOAN LA PUCELLE, guarded, and a Shepherd


Ah, Joan, this kills thy father's heart outright!

Have I sought every country far and near,

And, now it is my chance to find thee out,

Must I behold thy timeless cruel death?

Ah, Joan, sweet daughter Joan, I'll die with thee!


Decrepit miser! base ignoble wretch!

I am descended of a gentler blood:

Thou art no father nor no friend of mine.


Out, out! My lords, an please you, 'tis not so;

I did beget her, all the parish knows:

Her mother liveth yet, can testify

She was the first fruit of my bachelorship.


Graceless! wilt thou deny thy parentage?


This argues what her kind of life hath been,

Wicked and vile; and so her death concludes.


Fie, Joan, that thou wilt be so obstacle!

God knows thou art a collop of my flesh;

And for thy sake have I shed many a tear:

Deny me not, I prithee, gentle Joan.


Peasant, avaunt! You have suborn'd this man,

Of purpose to obscure my noble birth.


'Tis true, I gave a noble to the priest

The morn that I was wedded to her mother.

Kneel down and take my blessing, good my girl.

Wilt thou not stoop? Now cursed be the time

Of thy nativity! I would the milk

Thy mother gave thee when thou suck'dst her breast,

Had been a little ratsbane for thy sake!

Or else, when thou didst keep my lambs a-field,

I wish some ravenous wolf had eaten thee!

Dost thou deny thy father, cursed drab?

O, burn her, burn her! hanging is too good.



Take her away; for she hath lived too long,

To fill the world with vicious qualities.


First, let me tell you whom you have condemn'd:

Not me begotten of a shepherd swain,

But issued from the progeny of kings;

Virtuous and holy; chosen from above,

By inspiration of celestial grace,

To work exceeding miracles on earth.

I never had to do with wicked spirits:

But you, that are polluted with your lusts,

Stain'd with the guiltless blood of innocents,

Corrupt and tainted with a thousand vices,

Because you want the grace that others have,

You judge it straight a thing impossible

To compass wonders but by help of devils.

No, misconceived! Joan of Arc hath been

A virgin from her tender infancy,

Chaste and immaculate in very thought;

Whose maiden blood, thus rigorously effused,

Will cry for vengeance at the gates of heaven.


Ay, ay: away with her to execution!


And hark ye, sirs; because she is a maid,

Spare for no faggots, let there be enow:

Place barrels of pitch upon the fatal stake,

That so her torture may be shortened.


Will nothing turn your unrelenting hearts?

Then, Joan, discover thine infirmity,

That warranteth by law to be thy privilege.

I am with child, ye bloody homicides:

Murder not then the fruit within my womb,

Although ye hale me to a violent death.


Now heaven forfend! the holy maid with child!


The greatest miracle that e'er ye wrought:

Is all your strict preciseness come to this?


She and the Dauphin have been juggling:

I did imagine what would be her refuge.


Well, go to; we'll have no bastards live;

Especially since Charles must father it.


You are deceived; my child is none of his:

It was Alencon that enjoy'd my love.


Alencon! that notorious Machiavel!

It dies, an if it had a thousand lives.


O, give me leave, I have deluded you:

'Twas neither Charles nor yet the duke I named,

But Reignier, king of Naples, that prevail'd.


A married man! that's most intolerable.


Why, here's a girl! I think she knows not well,

There were so many, whom she may accuse.


It's sign she hath been liberal and free.


And yet, forsooth, she is a virgin pure.

Strumpet, thy words condemn thy brat and thee:

Use no entreaty, for it is in vain.


Then lead me hence; with whom I leave my curse:

May never glorious sun reflex his beams

Upon the country where you make abode;

But darkness and the gloomy shade of death

Environ you, till mischief and despair

Drive you to break your necks or hang yourselves!

Exit, guarded


Break thou in pieces and consume to ashes,

Thou foul accursed minister of hell!

Key Passages

Act I, Scene 1, all

Act I, Scene 2, 46ff (“Where’s the Prince Dauphin?”)

Act I, Scene 5, 100ff (“My Lord, My Lord . . .”)

Act I, Scene 6 all


Joan d’Arc



© Hank Edmondson 2012