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King Henry VI, Part 3

(Wars of the Roses #7)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  6,648 ratings  ·  461 reviews
This new edition to the Oxford Shakespeare series, based on the 1623 First Folio text, challenges conventional thinking about the nature and relationship of the earliest texts. It contributes substantial new evidence about Shakespeare's revision of the plays and the introduction and commentary focus on stage-oriented discussions of the play's meaning and reception. ...more
Paperback, Arden Shakespeare: Third Series, 460 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare (first published 1592)
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Peter Castine Hard to really judge, because there is so much about Richard historians disagree upon. Perhaps worth keeping in mind that Shakespeare's histories are …moreHard to really judge, because there is so much about Richard historians disagree upon. Perhaps worth keeping in mind that Shakespeare's histories are really "docudramas" (even if the word hadn't been invented in Elizabethan English). And Shakespeare's histories were arguably written with a certain amount of "agenda." So the short answer is that historical accuracy was almost always trumped by either dramatic impact or what the governing leadership of the day wanted people to believe.

In any case, I understand there is now a fairly broad consensus that Richard was not as physically "misshapen" as Shakespeare (and many other 16th to 19th century writers) claimed. The claims of guile and deceitfulness are also questionable (but harder to ascertain one way or the other). And, yes, Richard *appears* to have remained loyal to Edward to the end… but that's what a deceitful charmer would want you to believe, isn't it? About the only thing there seems to be much agreement on is that Richard was an able strategist and warrior on the field.

So take Shakespeare's depiction with a few grains of salt. If you want a really full answer and are willing to wade through the differing views, you could start with the Wikipedia article and follow up with some of the references cited. You possibly only wanted a short answer, in which case two sentences from my first paragraph may be all you need. Apologies for going on so long.(less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
King Henry VI, Part 3 (Wars of the Roses #7), William Shakespeare

Henry VI, Part 3, is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England.

The play begins where part 2 Henry VI left off, with the victorious Yorkists (York, Edward, Richard, Warwick, Montague 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 L
Barry Pierce
This one doesn't really have a plot, it's more a series of stabbings. ...more
Bill Kerwin
Jun 30, 2009 rated it really liked it

A thoroughly accomplished piece of playcraft and a significant work of literature, this complex account of civil war is filled with broken oaths, betrayals, and labyrinthine patterns of multi-generational revenge, and Shakespeare gives us a coherent thread of narrative to guide us through the bewildering crowd of incidents.

Also, by the middle of the play, Shakespeare's first great character--Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III)--has fully emerged, giving us a clear promise of the great wor
Leonard Gaya
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The final episode of the Henry VI ten-thousand-verses-long saga (which follows Henry V and precedes Richard III and is, therefore, a big saga within a still bigger saga!) covers the actual War of the Roses. What came before it was, for the most part, flamboyant bickering, jocular scheming and plotting and ornate backstabbing within the King’s family circle. Now, this is the genuine “winter of our discontent”: open civil war (battles of Wakefield, Towton, Barnet and Tewkesbury), barbaric child-sl ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
A very lively end to the Henry VI trilogy, this one sees the fortunes of Henry VI and his heir Edward IV wane as the evil star of Richard III prepares his entry in the last episode!

The high point is probably the great soliloquy of Richard III as he begins his bloody ascent.
Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile,
And cry "Content" to that which grieves my heart,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
And frame my face to all occasions.

Henry VI Part 3, Act 3, scene ii

This speech will be rephr
E. G.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
General Introduction
The Chronology of Shakespeare's Works
Introduction, by Gillian Day
The Play in Performance
Further Reading

--The Third Part of King Henry the Sixth

An Account of the Text
Genealogical Tables
Jason Koivu
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: play
This is that Empire Strikes Back time in the history plays where Henry is defeated and reeling. Ah, but he shall Return!
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The third of Shakespeare's earliest plays, about the Wars of the Roses, concludes with the end of King Henry VI's reign and the rise of the York faction to the throne. Although the powerhouse of this historical collection of historical plays, Richard III, is yet to come (next), the third part of King Henry VI is the most exciting and dramatic of the three Henry plays, with power moving back and forth between Yorkists and Lancastrians almost by the scene. Shakespeare's skill as a writer and poet ...more
David Sarkies
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
England in Flames
30 August 2012

As I read through this play I began to realise how closely connected it is to Richard III, which is not surprising since this play was written shortly after Henry VI. In many way, much of the action in Richard III, as well as a number of the characters, stem from this play. I remember watching the Ian McKellan version of Richard III and seeing this woman, Margaret, making an appearance and wondering about her connection to the play. After reading this play (as wel
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare, 2017, drama
"The smallest worm will turn, being trodden on."
― William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3


In the Henry VI trilogy, this is probably my least favorite. It wasn't bad and had some good lines (not enough great ones) and exciting sequences, but it just didn't have that extra-level, that super-float that Shakespeare sometimes gives his plays. This one just seemed a bit "bound" by this history. It was overshadowed by the other Henry VI plays, other Henry plays, other history plays, other Shakespeare pla
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm very happy with this play. It's easily up to the standards we're used to in Shakespeare, proper, lifting us out of his early and unsure works into something very entertaining. Some people might disagree, but here's the fact: history was this fucked up.

Some liberties are made to make the play much more streamlined and dramatic, of course, but that's only to be expected when we're putting 30 years into the space of 3 plays. By this point in the action, though, we're steeped in nothing but acti
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The play begins with Henry VI and his queen being chased away by the victorious Yorkists after the first Battle of St. Albans.
Shakespeare makes a point of (accurately) displaying the original agreement between Henry VI and the Duke of York that Henry can remain king until his death, upon which the House of York (Richard, his son Edward and all his heirs) will reign permanently.
Margaret of Anjou, naturally, does NOT agree since she has given birth to a son and declares war on the Yorkists.

B. P. Rinehart
"Duke of York:
The army of the queen hath got the field.
My uncles both are slain in rescuing me;
And all my followers to the eager foe
Turn back and fly like ships before the wind,
Or lambs pursu'd by hunger-starved wolves.
My sons—God knows what hath bechanced them;
But this I know,—they have demean'd themselves
Like men born to renown by life or death.
Three times did Richard make a lane to me,
And thrice cried 'Courage, father! fight it out!'
And full as oft came Edward to my side
With purp
War of the Roses tetralogy >>>> Henriad and no I am not taking constructive criticism at this time.
max theodore
Aug 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: billy-shakes, 4-stars
okay i'm still first and foremost a henriad stan but this one was definitely the best henry vi imo! i really enjoyed getting to actually SEE the titular man himself (and margaret... margaret my beloved she has an ARMY this time... 1.4... fucking girlboss behavior...). probably would be a solid 3 stars but im adding one for richard my bestie richard my good friend richard. the third ...more
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare
Update. First read this June 23, 2016. Reread Feb. 2, 2017, and it's only gotten better.

Okey doke! Now this is more like it! In Part 3 we get rousing action and great characters! Plus, more dramatic death scenes (I count six, where the person dying gets an exit speech, though there might be more) than you would imagine it was possible to cram into a three hour play.

Spoilers ahead.

Queen Margaret and Gloucester (Richard III) come in neck-and-neck for the title of Most Fi
Katie Dimtses
Flashes of the Richard we will soon see become the villainous machiavel we all know and love is this play’s only saving grace. Honourable mention for few of Henry VI’s sad boy speeches, but they lack Richard II’s poetic heights.

2 back-stabbing betrayals out of 5.
And, gallant Warwick, do but answer this: / What is the body when the head is off?

I'm not going to lie, this one slaps. A real banger.

I read 1 and 2 Henry VI in summer 2020 and found myself really burned out, so I put this 3 Henry VI aside for a later date, not knowing I was sleeping on a masterpiece.
We have the horrors of war, staged powerfully in the 1500s, back-stabbings, front-stabbings, political intrigue, and lots and lots and lots of my man Richard III. What's not to like?

Jun 03, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again, my review is informed by the wonderful production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. In an essay in the theatre programme, Lauren Johnson explores the irony that Henry's kindness, humanity and gentleness make him very poorly equipped to be a medieval king in the midst of a vicious civil war!! Throughout this play there is a ruthless machismo (what we might , in modern times, refer to as 'toxic masculinity') which dictates that violence and cruelty are necessary to gain and and keep po ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. This was so boring in comparison to part one, I was actually disappointed. Nonetheless, I have to admit that the Bard's histories are starting to grow on me ... I find it fascinating that the Wars of the Roses can actually be read as one huge saga. It's so much fun to rediscover characters that we already know and see all of the dramas that they get themselves into.
My Crown is in my heart, not on my head:
Not deck'd with Diamonds, and Indian stones:
Nor to be seen: my Crown is call'd Cont
Katja Labonté
4 stars & 4/10 hearts. Soooo I really feel very sorry for Henry, and I still don’t like Margaret or Prince Edward. The horrors of the war are really very saddening. Richard of Gloucester is terrible; Edward of York isn’t much better. Warwick is a cunning old hypocritical sinner (though I understand his anger at Edward in part). Louis of France is actually decent; so is Elizabeth, surprisingly! Basically, this shows what happens in civil war and when rebellion is indulged in… and ambition is wron ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, shakespeare
The concluding part of William Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses trilogy ends with Edward IV firmly in charge and with about half the cast of the play dead -- but with Richard Crookback in the wings waiting to make his own grab at the crown, which he will do in Richard III.

Henry VI, Part 3 is full of of "alarums and excursions" as the partisans of York and Lancaster find it out to the bitter end. The play is Shakespeare's lesson as to what happens to the kingdom when the king is weak. And Henry VI
Clara Biesel
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Pretty striking anti-war literature, and I had forgotten how strong the writing is in this play. The paper crown, Richard gets his two big monologues, the wooing of Lady Grey, so many people changing sides, and hating each other so vehemently. It's forceful stuff. ...more
Henry VI's! They're like buses. You wait for ages, and then three come by at once. ...more
king bitchard 💜
Feb 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
you know that scene in shaun of the dead? where they’re like “ed! kill the queen!” and then they start taking turns beating up a zombie to the rhythm of don’t stop me now? that’s what reading the rose tetralogy is like. also queen margaret is an actress and a warrior and a twisted fucking cycle path i want her i want her so bad :( the only person who can remotely rival her in BPE (big pussy energy) is richard gloucester-plantagenet. misshapen dick my beloved <3
Sean Morrow
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
All English noblemen are apparently either named Henry, Richard, Edward, or George, which makes tracking the characters in these plays slightly confusing.
Lucinda Elliot
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this a gripping tale. As with Part I, there are several battle scenes and much treachery. As with Part II there is an intriguing love story. All is told with the usual economy of style and richness of imagery.
As with so many of Shakespeare's plays, there have been difficulties and disputes over how best to retrieve a definitive version from various faulty manuscripts. The end result is so impressive, that as ever with Shakespeare, I sigh to think of how brilliant the lost version must h
What follows are the collective observations of the entire trilogy:

1 Henry VI -- 2.5 to 3 stars
2 Henry VI -- 3+ stars
3 Henry VI -- 4 stars

I don't have much to say about part 1 of Shakespeare's Henry VI. It's not a bad play; it's just not the Bard at his best. It has its moments but the impression I carry away from it is that Shakespeare either didn't care all that much about the project or he never found the time to polish it. (Interestingly, it was written several years after parts 2 and 3.)

Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My favorite so far in this tetralogy. I found the vigorous seesaw of victories and defeats very compelling, as Henry dwindles to a mild nonentity, Richard of Gloucester hacks his way out of a metaphorical wood and into the spotlight, and many children are butchered along the way. I didn't expect to be so disturbed by the murdered children - in King John I found poor Arthur's death unexpectedly hilarious! - but both scenes, Rutland slaughtered in front of his pleading tudor and Edward tag-team-st ...more
Angelique Simonsen
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked the conclusion to the Henry Vi series. Conspiracies, changing alliances, war and lots of stabbings. Great entertainment
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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
  • Henry VI, Part 1
  • King Henry VI, Part 2
  • Richard III

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