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Free Study Guide-Henry VI, Part 2 by William Shakespeare-Free Book Notes
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The Duke of Buckingham

Humphrey Stafford, Constable of France and first Duke of Buckingham, is a member of the group that opposed Gloucester and supported the queen against York. He was the grandson of Thomas of Woodstock, the seventh son of Edward III. He is one of the king’s supporters and goes as ambassador to York to try to settle the rebellion by peaceful means. He is also the mediator sent by the king to suppress the Cade rebellion. He and Clifford convince the common people of Cade’s wickedness and urge them to abandon the rebellion.

The Duke of Somerset

Edmund Beaufort, the second Duke of Somerset, succeeded York as Regent over France. He is also one of the king’s supporters. Towards the end of the play, he is found to be in close association with the queen. He appears to be a strong enemy of York, who aims at separating Somerset from the king.

Lord Clifford

Thomas, the twelfth Baron Clifford of Clifford Castle in Herefordshire, is portrayed as one of the loyal supporters of Henry VI. Clifford and Buckingham come as ambassadors from the king to suppress the Cade rebellion. By contemptuously referring to the collective leadership, Clifford insults Cade’s claim to the throne. Clifford convinces the people that Cade will not be a good ruler and will not be able to guide them. He urges the people to unite and to go to France to regain what they have lost. He advises them to serve their king and to be loyal to their country. Hearing Clifford’s inspiring words, the people forsake Cade. Cade is defeated, and the rebels retreat.


The Duke of York

He is a descendant through his mother of the Mortimer line, which derived from Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the third son of Edward III. His father, who was descended from Edmund of Langley, was the fifth son of Edward III and the first Duke of York; he was executed for conspiring against Henry V.

In this play York’s long soliloquy in the first act reveals that his interest in the public good may in fact be a useful weapon in his struggle against the House of Lancaster. Whereas Gloucester speaks for England’s honor, York sees the kingdom as a commodity, and his real interest is in private gain. When there is a rebellion in Ireland, York is dispatched with an army, which he then can use to pursue the crown. His soliloquy at the end of the scene (III, 1) shows how he, too, has the potential to seize this opportunity.

For all his talk, he watches and waits for the best chance to make his move. The audience finds in York a character silently conspiring against the king. He is ambitious in regard to both France and England. He decides to pry into the secrets of the state while the king enjoys his new life of marriage. Quietly, York begins to lure his noble friends and convince them of his title and right to the throne. He persuades a strong man from Kent, John Cade of Ashford, to make a commotion under the title of John Mortimer.

He plans to muster a mighty force and stir up revolt in England. The fury of the storm shall not subside until the golden crown is on his head. York returns from Ireland with a powerful army and proclaims that he is the rightful ruler of the country. York’s triumph is the political climax of the play. The play ends with York’s celebration of victory, from whence he proceeds to Parliament.

Earl of Salisbury

Neville was the first Earl of Salisbury. His loyalty to Henry was shattered when the latter lost his French territories. Then he joined York and was the chief commander at the first battle of St. Albans.

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