Friday, September 23, 2016

Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare

Henry VI, Part OneHenry VI, Part One by William Shakespeare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this historical play. I particularly enjoyed how bad ass Joan of Arc was, and the very moving scene between Talbot and his son urging each other to flee from certain death.

I don't usually do summaries of the books I review, but I'm going to do it for this play, mainly to get it straight in my head. It was pretty confusing to me since I didn't remember the chronology of events from studying European history.

England 1422
Henry V died in 1422. His brothers were the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester. His son and heir Henry VI was still a baby. Bedford went to France to command the army, while Gloucester stayed to rule England until Henry VI is crowned.

Meanwhile in France
At this time there were military setbacks in France, where Charles "the Dauphin" was leading a rebellion against the English. Lord Talbot was the Constable of France, and a heroic English fighter. He's taken captive by the French.

Joan la Pucelle, (Joan of Arc!) convinced Charles to put her in charge of the army because she claimed to have religious visions of how to win the war and because she "proved" this by beating Charles in a one-on-one sword fight with him.

Bedford negotiated the release of Talbot. Joan won the next attack. Talbot and Bedford won the next one.

Wars of the Roses
Richard Plantagenet and the Duke of Somerset had a symbolic fight over red or white roses that's really about two houses of the Plantagenet splitting. Somerset is the red rose (of Lancaster), and Richard is the white rose (of York). Richard lost and was super angry forever.

Edmund Mortimer was a great-great-grandson of King Edward III, and was heir to King Richard II, his first cousin twice removed, but Henry the Fourth seized power from Richard II. Mortimer was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and told Richard Plantagenet that King Henry V had Richard Plantagenet's father (Richard of Conisburgh, grandson of King Edward III) executed. Mortimer said that once he dies, Richard Plantagenet will be the rightful heir to the throne, not Henry VI. Richard was pretty angry about this.

Henry VI Crowned
After Mortimer died, Richard petitioned the recently crowned Henry, who reinstated Richard's title, making him Richard 3rd Duke of York.

Henry then leaves for France, with Gloucester, Exeter, Winchester, Richard and Somerset. The French retook and quickly relost cities. Bedford died, and Talbot took control of the army.

Charles was scared, so Joan persuaded the Duke of Burgundy to stop fighting for the English and switch sides to the French. Henry arrived in Paris, heard about Burgundy switching sides, and sent Talbot to speak to him.

Henry asked Richard and Somerset to stop fighting about red and white roses, and and then chooses a red rose, Somerset's side.

Talbot was caught by the French again. Richard and Somerset were too busy fighting about the roses to save him. The English army was destroyed, and Talbot and his bastard son were killed. This part is super sad.

England Wins Anyway?
Joan was captured by Richard, acted like an angry witch, and then was burned at the stake.

Henry sued for peace. The French pretended to agree to the English terms. Charles is to be a viceroy to Henry. They still wanted to expel the English from France.

Suffolk captured a young French princess, Margaret of Anjou. He was into her. He plotted to keep her as a mistress and marry her to Henry so he can control the king through her.

Entire play available here:

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