Henry VI Part 1 minimized

The French princess Katherine and Henry V have married; she’s beautiful; the king was a hero; the war with France is over.  But to everyone’s dismay, the king has just died.  The year is 1422.  He and Katherine left an heir, however. He is now King Henry VI.  He is eight months old.

1. The English nobles jostle for position, each seeking a personal advantage.  The French have taken Orleans, capturing England’s Talbot. The English retake the city. An angry Dauphin, now Charles VII, accepts Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc) as a military leader.  She retakes Orleans. In London, English nobles fuss over control of weapons held in the Tower.  An escaped-from-prison Talbot retakes Orleans.

2. Richard Plantagenet (a Yorkist leader) and Somerset (a Lancastrian leader) have a throwing-down-the-gage moment in a secluded London garden. Plantagenet picks a white rose. Somerset picks a red rose. The long War of the Roses has begun.

3. Humphrey and the Bishop of Winchester have a serious squabble.  Each a Lancastrian, but Humphrey represents the Legitimate line; Winchester the Beaufort line. Joan of Arc wins and then loses Rouen. Prince John, the late Henry V’s brother, dies.  The year is 1435. In Paris, Talbot is honored by Henry VI. 

4. The English in Paris present Henry VI with the French crown.  Plantagenet and Somerset continue their spat. John Talbot and his son are lost in a battle at Bordeaux, Shakespeare offering us a beautiful conversation between the two of them. 

5. The French accept a new peace agreement with the English. Humphrey suggests Henry VI marry Armagnac’s daughter, she having a “large and sumptuous dowry.” The charming and persuasive Suffolk, to Humphrey’s chagrin, convinces Henry VI that Margaret, the beautiful daughter of a relatively poor French noble and one who has caught the married Suffolk’s eye, would make the better queen.  Suffolk wins.  Joan of Arc is captured and taken away.

 

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