Siteseen Logo

Henry VI (Part 3)

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Summary of the plot or story
Richard, Duke of York, takes the throne of England but when confronted by King Henry VI he agrees that he will not take the crown and will leave Henry in peace if his own family are named as the rightful heirs to the throne. Queen Margaret is furious as her weak husband King Henry VI has thus disinherited their own son, Edward, Prince of Wales.

The sons of York berate their father for not taking the throne for himself. York goes back on his agreement with King Henry and once again attempts to seize the crown and become King.

Margaret raises an army and fights a battle with York at Wakefield. York is taken prisoner his son, Edmund, is killed. Margaret taunts York who is eventually stabbed and killed by Margaret and Lord Clifford - the head of the Duke of York is placed on the gates of York.

The fighting continues and the Earl of Warwick is defeated by the Queen. Warwick informs York's sons, Edward and Richard, of the defeat and the Queen's plans to march on London and reclaim the throne for Henry. Warwick believes that they, the Yorkists, can still win and Edward, who has now become Duke of York following his father's death, can then claim the crown. The armies meet and the timid and weak King just watches the battle. The Yorkists win the battle and the Queen flees to France with her son and Clifford is beheaded. The weak King Henry is captured in the north of England and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Edward, Duke of York, is proclaimed Edward IV. Warwick insists that the new monarch should forge ties and allies with France and marry Lady Bona, the sister of the King of France. Warwick goes to France to make the arrangements.

Edward is king, his brother Richard becomes Duke of Gloucester and George, another brother, becomes Duke of Clarence. Edward falls in love and marries Elizabeth Woodville, Widow of Sir Richard Grey and therefore referred to as Lady Grey, and she becomes Queen. Warwick is so incensed by this action that he changes sides and tells Margaret that he wishes to help place Henry back on the throne. At the same time the hunchback, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, is plotting to overthrow his brother Edward and claim the crown.

The French King Louis decides to support Warwick and Margaret providing they pledge their loyalty to him. Warwick then offers his oldest daughter to Margaret's son, Prince Edward and when the prince accepts the proposal, Louis appoints his high admiral, Lord Bourbon, to ferry troops to England. 

Back in England many of King Edward's followers are also unhappy with his marriage. Edward's own brother, the Duke of Clarence joins Warwick and agrees to marry the youngest daughter of Warwick.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, stands by his brother , but only because he hopes to take the crown for himself. Warwick' s forces enter England and they capture the monarch and free Henry from the Tower of London and reinstall him as king. However, the meek man has had enough of Kingship and he asks Warwick and Clarence to rule jointly in his stead so that he may pursue a quiet life of prayer. 

Edward, helped by Gloucester, escapes to Burgundy and raises an army. He returns to England to reclaim the throne. He and Gloucester capture Henry, return him to the Tower of London and engage Warwick in battle at Coventry. Clarence then decides to switch sides again to fight with his brothers. Margaret then arrives from France with fresh troops. But she is defeated near Tewkesbury, and she and her son are taken prisoner. Margaret's son insults the brothers and they stab him to death. Gloucester then returns to London and he stabs Henry. Edward is restored to the throne, Margaret is exiled to France and Gloucester lies in waiting...

Information provided about the play
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 ( a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of Williamís plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date first performed
It is believed that King Henry VI was first performed between 1592 and 1593. In the Elizabethan era 
there was a huge demand for new entertainment and the drama would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.

Date first printed
It is believed that the script was first printed in 1594 although this is not substantiated. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The settings for Henry VI (Part 3)
The settings are England and France.

Theme of Henry VI (Part 3)
The play is categorised as a History

Number of words in Henry VI (Part 3)
The number of words in the script, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 26,195.

Most important characters
The most important characters in Henry VI (Part 3) are:
King Henry VI, Queen Margaret and members of the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions.

Famous Quotes / Quotations
The following quote from the drama is amongst Shakespeare's most famous 'Having nothing, nothing can he lose'. Details of this famous quote follows, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that this quotation can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"Having nothing, nothing can he lose". (Act III, Scene III).

The series of Henry VI plays revolve around the War of the Roses which lasted from 1455 to 1485.The war was fought between two branches of the Plantagenet family, the Houses of Lancaster and York. The War of the Roses were named after the emblems of the parties, the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. 
House of Lancaster
Henry IV ("Bolingbroke," son of the Duke of Lancaster), 1399-1413. 
Henry V (son of Henry IV), 1413-1422.
Henry VI (son of Henry V, deposed), 1422-1471. 
House of York:
Edward IV (son of duke of York), 1461-1483.
Edward V (son of Edward IV), 1483.
Richard III ("Crookback," brother of Edward IV) 1483-1485.

We recommend the following link to access facts, information, a biography and timeline of
King Henry VI

William Shakespeare's Main Source
The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed 

The Cast and Characters
Click the link to access a list of all the cast and characters of King Henry VI.

Full text - script of Henry VI (Part 3) play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in Henry VI (Part 3) play by William Shakespeare
Index of plays by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare Site Map
Page Back
William Shakespeare Index

Privacy Statement

Cookie Policy

© 2017 Siteseen Ltd