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Henry VI, Part 3

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7972123,818 (3.69)43
In their lively and engaging edition of this sometimes neglected early play, Cox and Rasmussen make a strong claim for it as a remarkable work, revealing a confidence and sureness that very few earlier plays can rival. They show how the young Shakespeare, working closely from his chronicle sources, nevertheless freely shaped his complex material to make it both theatrically effective and poetically innovative. The resulting work creates, in Queen Margaret, one of Shakespeares strongest female roles and is the source of the popular view of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick as kingmaker. Focusing on the history of the play both in terms of both performance and criticism, the editors open it to a wide and challenging variety of interpretative and editorial paradigms.… (more)
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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Henry VI, Part 3
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play
Pages: 266
Words: 77K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The play begins where 2 Henry VI left off, with the victorious Yorkists (Duke of York, Edward, Richard, Warwick, Montague [i.e. Salisbury] and Norfolk) pursuing Henry and Margaret from the battlefield in the wake of the First Battle of St Albans (1455). Upon reaching the parliamentary chambers in London, York seats himself in the throne, and a confrontation ensues between his supporters and Henry's. Threatened with violence by Warwick, who has brought part of his army with him, the King reaches an agreement with York which will allow him to remain king until his death, at which time the throne will permanently pass to the House of York and its descendants. Disgusted with this decision, which would disinherit the King's son, Prince Edward, the King's supporters, led by his wife, Margaret, abandon him, and Margaret declares war on the Yorkists, supported by Clifford, who is determined to exact revenge for the death of his father at the hands of York during the battle of St Albans.

Margaret attacks York's castle at Wakefield, and the Yorkists lose the ensuing battle (1460). During the conflict, Clifford murders York's twelve-year-old son, Rutland. Margaret and Clifford then capture and taunt York himself; forcing him to stand on a molehill, they give him a handkerchief covered with Rutland's blood to wipe his brow, and place a paper crown on his head, before stabbing him to death. After the battle, as Edward and Richard lament York's death, Warwick brings news that his own army has been defeated by Margaret's at the Second Battle of St Albans (1461), and the King has returned to London, where, under pressure from Margaret, he has revoked his agreement with York. However, George Plantagenet, Richard and Edward's brother, has vowed to join their cause, having been encouraged to do so by his sister, the Duchess of Burgundy. Additionally, Warwick has been joined in the conflict by his own younger brother, Montague.

The Yorkists regroup, and at the Battle of Towton (1461), Clifford is killed and the Yorkists are victorious. During the battle, Henry sits on a molehill and laments his problems. He observes a father who has killed his son, and a son who has killed his father, representing the horrors of the civil war. Following his victory, Edward is proclaimed king and the House of York is established on the English throne. George is proclaimed Duke of Clarence and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, although he complains to Edward that this is an ominous dukedom. King Edward and George then leave the court, and Richard reveals to the audience his ambition to rise to power and take the throne from his brother, although as yet he is unsure how to go about it.

After Towton, Warwick goes to France to secure for Edward the hand of Louis XI's sister-in-law, Lady Bona, thus ensuring peace between the two nations by uniting in marriage their two monarchies. Warwick arrives at the French court to find that Margaret, Prince Edward and the Earl of Oxford have come to Louis to seek his aid in the conflict in England. Just as Louis is about to agree to supply Margaret with troops, Warwick intervenes, and convinces Louis that it is in his interests to support Edward and approve the marriage. Back in England, however, the recently widowed Lady Grey (Elizabeth Woodville) has come to King Edward requesting her late husband's lands be returned to her. Edward is captivated by her beauty and promises to return her husband's lands to her if she becomes his mistress, but Lady Grey refuses. The two exchange sexually-charged banter, but Lady Grey continues to refuse Edward on the grounds of preserving her honor. Edward declares that, besides being beautiful, she is also clever and virtuous, and decides to marry her against the advice of both George and Richard. Upon hearing of this, Warwick, feeling he has been made to look a fool despite service to the House of York, denounces Edward, and switches allegiance to the Lancastrians, promising his daughter Anne's hand in marriage to Prince Edward as a sign of his loyalty. Shortly thereafter, George and Montague also defect to the Lancastrians. Warwick then invades England with French troops, and Edward is taken prisoner and conveyed to Warwick's brother, the Archbishop of York, while heavily pregnant Lady Grey (now Queen Elizabeth) flees to sanctuary.

However, Edward is soon rescued by Richard, Lord Hastings and Sir William Stanley. Henry, having been restored to the throne, appoints Warwick and George as his Lords Protector. News of the escape reaches Henry's court, and the young Earl of Richmond is sent into exile in Brittany for safety. Richmond is a descendant of John of Gaunt, uncle of Richard II and son of Edward III, and therefore a potential Lancastrian heir should anything happen to Henry and his son; hence the need to protect him.

Edward reorganizes his forces and confronts Warwick's army. Before the walls of Coventry, George betrays Warwick, and rejoins the Yorkists; this is lauded by Edward and Richard, and furiously condemned by the Lancastrians. The Yorkists achieve a decisive victory at the Battle of Barnet (1471), during which both Warwick and Montague are killed. Meanwhile, Edward's forces have captured Henry and sent him to the Tower of London.

Oxford and the Duke of Somerset now assume command of the Lancastrian forces, and join a second battalion newly arrived from France led by Margaret and Prince Edward. In the subsequent Battle of Tewkesbury (1471), the Yorkists rout the Lancastrians, capturing Margaret, Prince Edward, Somerset and Oxford. Somerset is sentenced to death, Oxford to life imprisonment, Margaret is banished, and Prince Edward is stabbed to death by the three Plantagenet brothers, who fly into a rage after he refuses to recognise the House of York as the legitimate royal family. At this point, Richard goes to London to kill Henry. At Richard's arrival at the Tower, the two argue, and in a rage Richard stabs Henry. With his dying breath, Henry prophesies Richard's future villainy and the chaos that will engulf the country.

Back at court, Edward is reunited with his queen and meets his infant son, who was born in sanctuary. Edward orders celebrations to begin, believing the civil wars are finally over and lasting peace is at hand. He is unaware, however, of Richard's scheming and his desire for power at any cost.

My Thoughts:

Henry the VI is a pussy and it gets him and his son killed. Henry the V is probably rolling in his grave at what a jackass his son was.

★★★☆☆ ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Jun 22, 2022 |
I wrote a whole other review and then Goodreads ate it.... oh well. The basics are: surprisingly good play, makes Richard III into an even better play, wish it had a different title so people would actually perform it.

Seriously, though, I’ve always been a bit dissatisfied by Richard’s character arc in Richard III, and I’ve now realized it’s because that play starts part of the way through his story. Henry VI Part 3, in addition to a lot of other good stuff, goes a long way towards making Richard seem more like a real person figuring out where he fits into the world, and it does that mostly by giving more time to the relationship between the three sons of York. Not that it makes him sympathetic, lol. But it explains him more.

Lots of good stuff as always from King Henry (the molehill speech and death prophecy) and Margaret (just her whole vibe). Four battles, which is maybe a bit much. Lots of people changing allegiance on a dime. Probably Shakespeare’s biggest play for on-screen child murder. ( )
  misslevel | Sep 22, 2021 |
The third part of Shakespeare's Henry VI deals with the War of the Roses and the horrors of this civil war. The play is often criticized for just being a collection of one battle scene after the other. Although there are a lot of battle scenes these help reinforce how awful the civil war is and reflects how is quick reversals affect the commoners in the kingdom. All of the leading figures make political and military blunders throughout the play.

King Henry VI is a weak king whose weak leadership helps trigger the civil war. The 3rd Act includes his reflections on how horrible the war is for everyone. In contrast, the future King Richard III shows himself to be decisive and relatively more successful as a leader. The play also shows him as he begins to develop his totally ruthless schemes to become king. Another key figure is Queen Margaret who show great decisiveness and also extreme ruthlessness. The contrast between these three figures is fascinating. Reading Henry VI parts 2 and 3 really help the reading of the more famous Richard III.

The Folger edition of this play is excellent. In addition to easily accessed footnotes, the concluding essay discussing Henry VI is better than what is found in most other Folger editions. Even better, the suggestions for further reading contains short summaries of the articles and books referenced which help the interpretation of the work. ( )
  M_Clark | May 2, 2021 |
The most Games-of-Thronesy entry yet in the Henriad. Weak king, strong king, Lancaster, York, they're all just spokes in the wheel. ( )
  poirotketchup | Mar 18, 2021 |
This 3rd play about King Henry VI wasn't as enjoyable for me as the first 2. Perhaps it is because, as an American, I didn't learn about these people as a child but I struggled with the fact that although the events in the play covered ~10 years, there were few markers about time passing. I also noted the Tudor bias about Richard of Gloucester and many of the other Planteganets much more in this one.

I listened to the LibriVox full cast audiobook which was good though a few of the minor characters were a little hard to follow. Luckily I was reading along in my Kindle omnibus "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare"! ( )
  leslie.98 | Mar 13, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (66 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Shakespeareprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brooke, C. F. TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cairncross, A. S.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ridley, M. R.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tennant, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I wonder how the king escaped our hands.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In their lively and engaging edition of this sometimes neglected early play, Cox and Rasmussen make a strong claim for it as a remarkable work, revealing a confidence and sureness that very few earlier plays can rival. They show how the young Shakespeare, working closely from his chronicle sources, nevertheless freely shaped his complex material to make it both theatrically effective and poetically innovative. The resulting work creates, in Queen Margaret, one of Shakespeares strongest female roles and is the source of the popular view of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick as kingmaker. Focusing on the history of the play both in terms of both performance and criticism, the editors open it to a wide and challenging variety of interpretative and editorial paradigms.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714677, 0141018437

 

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