William Shakespeare's First Part of King Henry the Sixth in the complete original text.
William Shakespeare's plays, sonnets and poems at AbsoluteShakespeare.com
Home Plays Sonnets Poems Quotes Summaries Essays Glossary Links Help

HOME > Plays > First Part of King Henry the Sixth > Act I. Scene I.

First Part of King Henry the Sixth

Study Guides
Julius Caesar
King Henry IV
King Lear
Merchant of Venice
Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest
Twelfth Night

Bard Facts
Globe Theatre

Act I. Scene I.

Act I. Scene I.—Westminster Abbey.

Dead March. Enter the Funeral of King
HENRY THE FIFTH attended on by the
the BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, Heralds, &c.

Bed. Hung be the heavens with black, yield
day to night!
Comets, importing change of times and states,
Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars,
That have consented unto Henry's death!
King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long!
England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.
Glo. England ne'er had a king until his time.
Virtue he had, deserving to command:
His brandish'd sword did blind men with his
His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings;
His sparkling eyes, replete with wrathful fire,
More dazzled and drove back his enemies
Than mid-day sun fierce bent against their
What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech:
He ne'er lift up his hand but conquered.
Exe. We mourn in black: why mourn we not
in blood?
Henry is dead and never shall revive.
Upon a wooden coffin we attend,
And death's dishonourable victory
We with our stately presence glorify,
Like captives bound to a triumphant car.
What! shall we curse the planets of mishap
That plotted thus our glory's overthrow?
Or shall we think the subtle-witted French
Conjurers and sorcerers, that, afraid of him,
By magic verses have contriv'd his end?
Win. He was a king bless'd of the King of
Unto the French the dreadful judgment-day
So dreadful will not be as was his sight.
The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought:
The church's prayers made him so prosperous.
Glo. The church! where is it? Had not
churchmen pray'd
His thread of life had not so soon decay'd:
None do you like but an effeminate prince,
Whom like a school-boy you may over-awe.
Win. Gloucester, whate'er we like thou art
And lookest to command the prince and realm.
Thy wife is proud; she holdeth thee in awe,
More than God or religious churchmen may.
Glo. Name not religion, for thou lov'st the
And ne'er throughout the year to church thou
Except it be to pray against thy foes.
Bed. Cease, cease these jars and rest your
minds in peace!
Let's to the altar: heralds, wait on us:
Instead of gold we'll offer up our arms,
Since arms avail not, now that Henry's dead.
Posterity, await for wretched years,
When at their mothers' moist eyes babes shall
Our isle be made a marish of salt tears,
And none but women left to wail the dead.
Henry the Fifth! thy ghost I invocate:
Prosper this realm, keep it from civil broils!
Combat with adverse planets in the heavens!
A far more glorious star thy soul will make,
Than Julius Cæsar, or bright—

Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My honourable lords, health to you all:
Sad tidings bring I to you out of France,
Of loss, of slaughter, and discomfiture:
Guienne, Champaigne, Rheims, Orleans,
Paris, Guysors, Poictiers, are all quite lost.
Bed. What sayst thou, man, before dead
Henry's corse?
Speak softly; or the loss of those great towns
Will make him burst his lead and rise from
Glo. Is Paris lost? is Roan yielded up?
If Henry were recall'd to life again
These news would cause him once more yield
the ghost.
Exe. How were they lost? what treachery
was us'd?
Mess. No treachery; but want of men and
Among the soldiers this is muttered,
That here you maintain several factions;
And, whilst a field should be dispatch'd and
You are disputing of your generals.
One would have lingering wars with little cost;
Another would fly swift, but wanteth wings;
A third thinks, without expense at all,
By guileful fair words peace may be obtain'd.
Awake, awake, English nobility!
Let not sloth dim your honours new-begot:
Cropp'd are the flower-de-luces in your arms;
Of England's coat one half is cut away.
Exe. Were our tears wanting to this funeral
These tidings would call forth their flowing tides.
Bed. Me they concern; Regent I am of
Give me my steeled coat: I'll fight for France.
Away with these disgraceful wailing robes!
Wounds will I lend the French instead of eyes,
To weep their intermissive miseries.
Enter another Messenger.
Sec. Mess. Lords, view these letters, full of
bad mischance.
France is revolted from the English quite,
Except some petty towns of no import:
The Dauphin Charles is crowned king in
The Bastard of Orleans with him is join'd;
Reignier, Duke of Anjou, doth take his part;
The Duke of Alençon flieth to his side.
Exe. The Dauphin crowned king! all fly
to him!
O! whither shall we fly from this reproach?
Glo. We will not fly, but to our enemies'
Bedford, if thou be slack, I'll fight it out.
Bed. Gloucester, why doubt'st thou of my
An army have I muster'd in my thoughts,
Wherewith already France is overrun.

Enter a third Messenger.
Third Mess. My gracious lords, to add to
your laments,
Wherewith you now bedew King Henry's hearse,
I must inform you of a dismal fight
Betwixt the stout Lord Talbot and the French.
Win. What! wherein Talbot overcame? is't
Third Mess. O, no! wherein Lord Talbot was
The circumstance I'll tell you more at large.
The tenth of August last this dreadful lord,
Retiring from the siege of Orleans,
Having full scarce six thousand in his troop,
By three-and-twenty thousand of the French
Was round encompassed and set upon.
No leisure had he to enrank his men;
He wanted pikes to set before his archers;
Instead whereof sharp stakes pluck'd out of
They pitched in the ground confusedly,
To keep the horsemen off from breaking in.
More than three hours the fight continued;
Where valiant Talbot above human thought
Enacted wonders with his sword and lance.
Hundreds he sent to hell, and none durst stand
Here, there, and every where, enrag'd he flew:
The French exclaim'd the devil was in arms;
All the whole army stood agaz'd on him.
His soldiers, spying his undaunted spirit,
A Talbot! A Talbot! cried out amain,
And rush'd into the bowels of the battle.
Here had the conquest fully been seal'd up,
If Sir John Fastolfe had not play'd the coward.
He, being in the vaward,—plac'd behind,
With purpose to relieve and follow them,—
Cowardly fled, not having struck one stroke.
Hence grew the general wrack and massacre;
Enclosed were they with their enemies.
A base Walloon, to win the Dauphin's grace,
Thrust Talbot with a spear into the back;
Whom all France, with their chief assembled
Durst not presume to look once in the face.
Bed. Is Talbot slain? then I will slay myself,
For living idly here in pomp and ease
Whilst such a worthy leader, wanting aid,
Unto his dastard foemen is betray'd.
Third Mess. O no! he lives; but is took
And Lord Scales with him, and Lord Hunger-
Most of the rest slaughter'd or took likewise.
Bed. His ransom there is none but I shall
I'll hale the Dauphin headlong from his throne;
His crown shall be the ransom of my friend;
Four of their lords I'll change for one of ours.
Farewell, my masters; to my task will I;
Bonfires in France forthwith I am to make,
To keep our great Saint George's feast withal:
Ten thousand soldiers with me I will take,
Whose bloody deeds shall make all Europe
Third Mess. So you had need; for Orleans is
The English army is grown weak and faint;
The Earl of Salisbury craveth supply,
And hardly keeps his men from mutiny,
Since they, so few, watch such a multitude.
Exe. Remember, lords, your oaths to Henry
Either to quell the Dauphin utterly,
Or bring him in obedience to your yoke.
Bed. I do remember it; and here take my
To go about my preparation. [Exit.
Glo. I'll to the Tower with all the haste
I can,
To view the artillery and munition;
And then I will proclaim young Henry king.
Exe. To Eltham will I, where the young
king is,
Being ordain'd his special governor;
And for his safety there I'll best devise. [Exit.
Win. Each hath his place and function to
I am left out; for me nothing remains.
But long I will not be Jack-out-of office.
The king from Eltham I intend to steal,
And sit at chiefest stern of public weal. [Exit.
Copyright 2000-2005 AbsoluteShakespeare.com. All rights reserved.  Contact Us  Privacy  Awards