The Third Part of King Henry VI
The Third Part of King Henry VI is a play by William Shakespeare about the long wars of roses and temporary victory of the House of York. King Henry VI is defeated by Edward, Duke of York, who becomes King Edward IV. The wars lead to the death of King Henry VI at the hands of Edward IV's brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
The play opens with the Duke of York's victory over King Henry. The Duke of York claims the crown, but is appeased by King Henry to wait until King Henry's death. However, Queen Margaret is angered by this seeking her son's best interests. She rallies an army against the Duke of York, whom she defeats in battle. The Duke of York is killed cruelly, by Queen Margaret and the angered Lord Clifford. The Duke of York's sons rise up and overthrow the Queen and her powers. The oldest of York's sons is then crowned King Edward IV. Margaret and her loyalists flee to France, while Henry is captured and imprisoned. Edward sends his greatest supporter, the Earl of Warwick, to arrange a marriage in France. However, Edward marries to another woman and Warwick takes offense, as does the French court. King Lewis of France arranges forces for Margaret and Warwick pledges allegiance to King Henry VI. Edward is captured, but his brother, Richard of Gloucester and several Lords escape. One of his brothers, George, joins Warwick. Edward manages to escape from prison and rally another army. His brother, George, returns to him again and together they defeat Henry's forces. Henry's son, Edward, is killed by Edward and his brothers, Margaret is sent back to France, and Henry VI is stabbed in the Tower by Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Richard claims that Henry will not be the last person he seeks to destroy. His main ambition is the crown.
King Henry VI: The disputed King of England. He is weak and never in battle. He is constantly captured and imprisoned. He dies in the Tower at the hands of Richard of Gloucester.
Queen Margaret: The angry Queen of Henry. She fights in battle and is not like any woman. "A tiger's heart, wrapped in a woman's hide." She loses her husband and son and is sent back to France.
Prince Edward: The son of King Henry. He is as proud as his mother. He fights to the last for his claim, but is killed by Edward IV, George and Richard.
Richard, Duke of York: The rival against Henry for the throne. He makes his claim, but is killed early on in the play. He dies at Margaret's hands.
Edward, Earl of March: The eldest son of the Duke of York. At his father's death he claims the crown and wins it from Henry VI, despite much fighting. He becomes King Edward IV.
George, Duke of Clarence: Another son of York. He temporarily joins Henry, but returns to his brother in the end.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester: A younger son of York. He is very ambitious and fights very hard for his brother. His main ambition is the crown of England.
Edmund, Earl of Rutland: The young son of York. He is slaughtered by Clifford, despite he is only a child.
Earl of Warwick: Loyal to the Duke of York, he fights for Edward, but turns later on to King Henry VI. He is killed by Edward's forces.
Lord Clifford: A vengeful lord against York. He is killed by Edward's forces midway through the play.
Lines and Quotes
- "O tiger's heart wrapped in a woman's hide!" -Richard, Duke of York, Act I, Scene 4
- "Ill blows the wind that profits nobody." -Son that has killed his father, Act II, Scene 5
- Great Books: Shakespeare, Vol. 1, edited by William George Clarke and William Aldis Wright, Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 1952, pp.69-104.
Open Source Shakespeare - Henry VI, Part 3