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MonkeyNotes-King Henry VI, Part 3 by William Shakespeare
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SCENE Summaries and Notes

Act I, SCENE 1

The play opens with allusions to the battle of St. Albans in 1455
which historically marks the beginning of the War of Roses or the
fight for the crown between the house of Lancaster as represented
by Henry VI and that of Mortimer as represented by the Duke of
York. As Act I starts, the Duke of York is in Parliament after the
victory at St. Albans and ready to accede to the throne. Alarums
are heard and the Duke of York enters along with his sons, Richard
and Edward, as well as his retinue: Norfolk, Falconbridge,
Warwick and soldiers with white roses in their hats that reveal
their loyalties. Warwick explains how the King had escaped their
hands, and York replies that while they followed the horsemen of
the north, the king had left his men secretly and ran away. The
great Lord of Northumberland, who can never accept defeat,
cheered the tired army. Edward and Falconbridge reveal their
achievements in the battle by slaying respectively the Duke of
Buckingham and the Earl of Wiltshire. Yet the greatest coup of all
is when his son Richard throws down the head of the Duke of
Somerset. He says of all his sons, Richard has done him the most
good by killing the man he wanted to. Richard says he hopes to
shake the head of King Henry one day and Warwick vows that
only after removing King Henry from the throne and seeing York
seated in the throne shall he give up the fight. He urges York to
possess the throne and let it not be for Henry's heirs. Upon hearing
these comforting words of Warwick, York requests that he help
him when the king arrives so that he can take possession of his
right to the crown. Warwick daringly says that neither the King nor
his well wishers will dare to oppose him and inspires Richard to
claim the English crown, which he does by sitting on the throne.

When a flourish is heard, the King enters along with Clifford,
Northumberland, Westmoreland, Exeter and others with red roses
in their hats. The King sees York sitting on his throne and exclaims
how impertinent he is. A few threats are made by the King's men
about the impudence of such an act as well as the relatives they
have killed but the King pacifies them and tells them to be patient.
He warns them that the whole city favors York and they have
troops of soldiers at their back. The King says that he doesn't wish
to make a shambles of Parliament. He appeals humbly to the Duke
of York to descend his throne and kneel for mercy at his feet since
he is their King. When Exeter points out to York that that the latter
should be ashamed for forgetting the fact that King Henry had
made him the Duke of York, and that York's father was a traitor to
the crown, York coolly replies that the earldom was his inheritance
and that Henry had usurped what was his rightful position.
Warwick says that Exeter was also now a traitor in following the
usurping of Henry. Warwick proclaims that Richard, the Duke of
York is the rightful king and that Henry is actually the Duke of
Lancaster.

King Henry attempts to defend his position as king, turning to the
historical legacy of his father, Henry V, but in doing so he realizes
that his title is tenuous since his father had taken it by conquest, or
as he says in an aside, "I know not what to say, my title's weak."
After further discussion about whom has entitlement to the crown,
Exeter joins the conversation and says that the King's title is weak
and York is the true King. He decamps to York's side and Henry is
shocked and fears that all his supporters will abandon him. Yet
Clifford proclaims that he will fight in defense of Henry whether
his title is right or wrong. He vows never to kneel down before
York, who has killed his father. Warwick and York urge Henry to
resign his crown, and Warwick threatens to fill the house with
armed men and write up his title with usurping blood. Very
humbly, King Henry requests that Warwick let him reign as king
for this lifetime and that he will pass the crown to the Duke after
Henry dies.

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MonkeyNotes-King Henry VI, Part 3 by William Shakespeare
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