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Henry VI, Part 1

(Wars of the Roses #5)

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  5,756 ratings  ·  524 reviews
Henry VI, Part 1 is an uncompromising celebration of early English nationalism that contrasts the English with the French, portrayed here as effeminate and scheming.

A boy king, Henry VI, is on the English throne, and the indomitable Talbot leads the English cause in France. Joan La Pucelle (Joan of Arc), who becomes captain of the French, claims to be chosen by the Virgin
Paperback, 123 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1592)
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Bill Kerwin
May 16, 2009 rated it really liked it

Henry VI Part 1, whether it be a genuine Part 1 or a prequel (critics differ), is nevertheless one of the first three plays Shakespeare wrote. It is a marvelously well-constructed piece of stage craft, particularly given the necessarily episodic story it has to tell, involving the three-fold narrative of England's loss of France through Joan of Arc, the quarrels between Gloucester the Lord Protector and Beaufort the Bishop of Winchester, and the rise of the conflict between the Houses of York an
Barry Pierce
In this play: death! speeches! Joan of Arc! more death! more speeches! wait, Joan of Arc!?
Leonard Gaya
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Henry VI, Part 1 opens right at the funeral of Henry V (the friend of Falstaff, the victor of Agincourt and the conqueror and king of France, albeit for a short time). From the first scene onward, the squabbles between the English lords — all descendants of King Edward III, therefore all relatives to some degree or other, and all thirsty for power: Gloucester, Bedford, Exeter, Winchester and al. The rest of the play unfolds the antagonism between them all, primarily through the rivalry between t ...more
E. G.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
General Introduction
The Chronology of Shakespeare's Works
Introduction, by Jane Kingsley-Smith
The Play in Performance
Further Reading

--The First Part of King Henry the Sixth

An Account of the Text
Genealogical Tables
Jan 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: shakespeare, 2017, drama
“Good Lord, what madness rules in brainsick men”
― William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 1


Henry VI, Part I is considered by some to have been written AFTER Henry VI, Part II and Part III so I'm technically reading this one a bit early. However, for narrative flow I am reading it first. Along with the other two Henry VI plays, and along with Richard III it makes up Shakespeare's War of the Roses tetralogy.

I wasn't super impressed. I mean this isn't Richard III or Hamlet or Macbeth. But this is youn
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Oh goodness. I think it's time for me to be a bit annoyed, not that the play as bad in any way, because as a piece of fiction it fits its times, plays up to the prejudices of its people, makes good story out of a horribly contradictory piece of history, and blatantly evokes imagery that didn't come into service until.. oh, wait... the imagery of the red and white roses started here? Oh. Yeah. I guess this WAS a propaganda piece! :)

After all, Joan of Arc is a lying piece of trash who'd slutted he
Michael Finocchiaro
Henry VI starts his reign with strife and confronts the improbable heroine Joan The Pucelle (Joan of Arc) in this first of the Henry VI trilogy. It also sets the stage for the War of the Roses which will occupy the trilogy as well as Richard III which brings it to an incredibly bloody conclusion.

The play is full of foreboding:
WARWICK: And here I prophesy: this brawl today ... Shall send, between the red rose and the white,
A thousand souls to death and deadly night.

Henry VI, Part 1, Act 2, scene

BBC2 The Hollow Crown

Description: The Wars of the Roses: 1. Henry VI Part 1: Against the backdrop of wars in France, the English nobility quarrel. News of the English defeat at Orleans reaches the duke of Gloucester and other nobles. After the funeral of Henry V, his son, the infant Henry VI, is proclaimed king.

Seventeen years later, Henry sits on the throne whilst the rivalries at court continue - Plantagenet has learned of his own strong claim to the crown. After Rouen falls to the French, Pla
Aug 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
You see, Manny is probably right – this play really would have been a better play if Jean of Arc had been portrayed as the central character and had been seen as the tragic heroine. That might have been asking a bit much of an English dramatist at the time, but it would have made a much more interesting play, not least as she is easily the most interesting character in the play, even in this play where she is made to sound a whore.

The Talbot (don’t you love when people somehow get the definite
Sep 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading these plays in parallel to a non-fiction book about the Wars of the Roses was definitely a brilliant idea. Not only does it help to entertain, it also helps to cement knowledge - although Shakespeare took quite some liberties at times.

This play, which is part 1 of 3 about King Henry VI, is a bit of a mess. Maybe it's because, allegedly, it was not written by Shakespeare alone?
The play deals with the beginning of Henry VI's reign (in fact, we start at the funeral of his father wh
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was surprisingly good. :O I am still shocked by how much I enjoyed reading this history play. I basically flew threw it within the span of two hours and found that by the second act I was completely emerged in the plot and all of the petty drama... I mean the English nobles really need to get their shit together. It was so amusing to see how they basically wracked havoc on themselves by being so greedy and mistrustful. Serves them right.

Whereas Henry VI, Part 2 deals with the King's inabili
David Sarkies
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: History Buffs and Shakespeare Lovers
Recommended to David by: Nobody in particular.
Shelves: historical
England's defeat
6 June 2012

First I shall be clear as to why I put this book on the historical shelf rather than the history shelf. The main reason is because a book that goes on the history self is non-fiction where as an historical book is a story, based on fact or otherwise, that was written at a time after the actual events that are portrayed. For instance, Herodotus is history because it is a non-fiction account of the Persian Wars (as well as being an anthropological text), while a book ca
As everyone knows, Othello isn't racist. The Merchant of Venice isn't antisemitic. And, I understand, The Taming of the Shrew should be read ironically, and not as straightforward instructions on how to get a bitch to show some respect.

So I imagine that it's quite feasible to consider Henry VI, Part i as a sensitive, nuanced, proto-feminist portrayal of Jeanne d'Arc. If someone can just give me a hint about how to get started, I'm sure I can fill in the rest of it...
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful play. So happy I read it – and re-read it, and watched it, then read it online – at least four-five times. :D

This is a play which has been heavily examined, reviewed, critiqued, and studied. (What play of Shakespeare’s has not?) But this one has come in for some meticulous scrutiny. First off there is the question of who wrote what when. Well, isn’t this the case with ALL his plays? And aren’t there multiple theories concerning the various supposed writers who really wrote the plays? N
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: shakespeare
Pretty good. Perhaps on a second reading, or if I get the chance to watch a performance I might appreciate this more. If action were enough to satisfy me this would earn four stars, but I need a character I care about, and Henry VI pt 1 failed to provide any really notable characters. Talbot could have been the guy, but he never gets fleshed out. Joan has potential, but, again, remains flat. Suffolk shows “slimy villain” promise – maybe he'll develop in Pt. II?

The Archangel recording of this, w
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics, history, poetry

This is potentially Shakespeare's first play. AND IT'S ACTUALLY BAD.
From BBC Two:
Against the backdrop of wars in France, the English nobility quarrel. News of the English defeat at Orleans reaches the duke of Gloucester and other nobles. After the funeral of Henry V, his son, the infant Henry VI, is proclaimed king.

Seventeen years later, Henry sits on the throne whilst the rivalries at court continue - Plantagenet has learned of his own strong claim to the crown. After Rouen falls to the French, Plantagenet, Exeter and Talbot pledge to recapture the city from th
João Fernandes
May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, shakespeare
I had the pleasure of reading this book whilst punting across Cambridge University, hearing about how this college was founded by Henry VI and that one by Margaret of Anjou, and so forth.
It really was a great setting to read Shakespeare!
This play immediately follows the magnanimous events of Henry V's conquest of France and the Battle of Agincourt. His son, Henry VI, struggles not only to keep France but is also completely oblivious to the dissent fomenting between his nobles, and York's slow as
Cindy Rollins
This is the play where we find Henry V dead and his young and weak son Henry VI on the throne constantly intrigued by his advisers of both red and white roses. Things go badly in France and we met Joan of Arc from a thoroughly English perspective. Finally, we watch Suffolk manipulate Henry into marrying Margaret, setting us up for Henry VI, Part II.

It is probably important to note that Shakespeare did not write his histories in order not even this trilogy was written in order. He wrote Part 2 f
Katie Dimtses
Skirmish, skirmish, skirmish; Joan of Arc(!!!); Wars ft. Roses; skirmish, skirmish, skirmish; Margaret of Anjou; creepy Suffolk.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it

edit 10/22; bumping this up from a 2.5 to a 3.75 just cause our discussion in class made me understand and enjoy it MUCH more

I'm just really not a big fan of Shakespeare's history plays. Especially this one was just WAY too much war to read about and too many battles. I'm sure its pretty entertaining to watch on the stage, but reading it just wasn't that great. Joan is pretty cool. But like i didn't care about anything else.

my response for class:

“Burgundy: Is it even so? Nay, then I s
Laurel Hicks
There's a lot of humor amid the grim events in this play, especially in Shakespeare's treatment of Joan of Arc. ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently learned about what the scholars have called Shakespeare's two tetralogies. The first quartet includes Henry VI Part 1, 2 and 3 and Richard III and the second includes Richard II, Henry IV Part 1 and 2 and Henry V. When I discovered these organizations, my eyes bulged and I may have vacuumed all oxygen from the room. I love order. As an example of my quirk, I found a collection of Hardy Boys books tucked away in the storage crevices of my parent's basement and, after seeing numeric lab ...more
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great play. I am not one who loves all Shakespeare (especially the histories) but this one is very accessible. The language isn't too arcane plus it involves historical events that many will recognize (Joan of Arc, the War of the Roses, the 100 Years War etc.)

Read as part of my Kindle edition of "The Complete Works of Shakespeare"
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
I know why people call Part 1 the weakest in the Henry VI plays but I’ve always liked it and this reread has actually cemented it as a favorite Shakespeare play. But what is done to Joan of Arc is absolutely abysmal. I understand why she was characterized and talked about in that way but it’s one of the poorer aspects of Part 1.
WARWICK: Between two hawks, which flies the higher pitch;
Between two blades, which bears the better temper;
Between two horses, which doth bear him best;
Between two girls, which hath the merriest eye;
I have perhaps some shallow spirit of judgement;
But in these nice sharp quillets of the law,
Good faith, I am no wiser than a daw.
- Act II Scene IV

Since I have a collection of Shakespeare's works in chronological order, I was sure to come across Henry VI in good time. Now, I know what people say time
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread, plays, shakespeare
I had read this many years ago, remembering nothing after the passage of time. Upon rereading, I find it is an interesting comment on our own times. Unlike most of William Shakespeare's history plays, the eponymous king, Henry VI, is a mere stripling who has not yet come into his own. Most of the action takes place in France, where England is losing many of its territories won in the Hundred Years War as a result of divisions in the ranks: between the White Rose of the Duke of York and the Red R ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm really not a fan of Shakespeare's history plays. The main reason is because I don't know about most of the Kings and Queens of England. I feel like to actually enjoy these you have to accept the fact that these are most likely highly fabricated or you have to know the actual history. These histories to me read a little like propaganda as well. Keep in mind Shakespeare wasn't writing for you or me. He was mainly writing for the Monarchy of England's approval. They were the ones actually watch ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-read, re-read
20 February 2017 Review: I re-read in preparation for my Hollow Crown Series 2 watch, and despite the very clear episode title that Episode 1 was Henry VI, Part 1 it was in fact a seriously truncated Henry VI, Part 1 and half of Part 2. (Joan of Arc totally got jobbed in the episode, btw. Damn the patriarchy.)

20 March 2013 Review: That Shakespeare sure could write a good soap opera. Fashion! Adultery! Bitchiness! Joan of Arc sass! Poor Talbot got jobbed! This was really good, yo.
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This isn't my favorite play by Shakespeare, but it was entertaining, and I still enjoyed it. ...more
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more

Other books in the series

Wars of the Roses (8 books)
  • Richard II
  • King Henry IV, Part 1
  • Henry IV, Part 2
  • Henry V
  • King Henry VI, Part 2
  • King Henry VI, Part 3
  • Richard III

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