Henry VI, Part 1

The play is possibly the one noted by Philip Henslowe as ‘Harey the vi’, performed at the Rose Theatre on 3rd March 1592, when it may have been new: the success of this play and the character Talbot were referred to by Thomas Nashe, later in 1592.

The play wasn’t printed before appearing in the First Folio. It was probably typeset from manuscripts – either the drafts by Shakespeare and his collaborators, or a copy of the drafts – corrected by Heminge and Condell.

Henry VI, Part 1

‘Break thou in pieces and consume to ashes,
Thou foul accursed minister of hell!’

Henry VI, Part 1, V iv

Brief synopsis of the play

Crises emerge following Henry V’s death: at home, his infant son inherits the crown while rivals vie for political control; abroad, the English army faces fierce resistance from the French, led by Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc). As years pass, the two feuding houses of York and Lancaster emerge, and their quarrelling hampers the efforts of the beleaguered English forces in France. The play sees the weak Henry VI’s efforts to make peace over-run by events.