Henry VI, Part One On Plain and Simple English (Digital Download)
Intrigue, Ambition, and the Prelude to War

Delve deep into one of Shakespeare's most renowned histories, "Henry VI, Part I." This vibrant drama unravels the complex tale of England's loss of its French territories, setting the stage for a nation on the brink of internal chaos. Witness the perilous descent as the English political landscape is fractured by ambition, envy, and personal vendettas, culminating in the preludes to the tumultuous Wars of the Roses.

While "Henry VI, Part II" portrays a King overwhelmed by the strife of his nobility and the looming shadow of war, and "Henry VI, Part III" reveals the brutal realities of that conflict, "Part I" masterfully sets the scene. It beckons readers into a world of shifting alliances, where the stakes are high, and the nation's fate hangs in the balance.

These plays, together with "Richard III," form a sweeping tetralogy, offering a panoramic view of the Wars of the Roses – a period spanning from the demise of Henry V in 1422 to the ascent of Henry VII in 1485.

But let's be candid; Shakespeare's intricate prose can be a maze for many. If you've ever felt adrift in the currents of his language, you're far from alone.

Enter BookCaps with a refreshing lifeline: a modern translation of "Henry VI, Part I." This rendition preserves the depth and drama of the original, while offering a contemporary clarity, making the play not just comprehensible, but truly captivating.

Immerse yourself in the political intrigue, ambitions, and historic moments of "Henry VI, Part I." With BookCaps, Shakespeare's genius is not just relived but revitalized for a new generation of readers.






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Act I


Westminster Abbey.


Dead March. Enter the funeral of King Henry the Fifth, attended


by the Duke of Bedford, Regent of France; the Duke of Gloucester,

Protector; the Duke of Exeter, the Earl of Warwick, the Bishop of


Winchester, Heralds, &c.


Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!

Comets, importing change of times and states,

Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,

And with them scourge the bad revolting stars

That have consented unto Henry's death!

King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long!

England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.

Hang the skies with black, day give way to night!

Comets, showing the change of times and nations,

stream your crystal tails across the sky,

and with them whip the horrid rebellious stars

which agreed to let Henry die!

King Henry the Fifth, too great for a long life!

England never lost such a valuable king.



England ne'er had a king until his time.

Virtue he had, deserving to command:

His brandish'd sword did blind men with his beams:

His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings;

His sparkling eyes, replete with wrathful fire,

More dazzled and drove back his enemies

Than mid-day sun fierce bent against their faces.

What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech:

He ne'er lift up his hand but conquered.

England never had a true king until him.

He had goodness, he deserved to lead:

when he waved his sword it blinded men with its reflection:

his arms spread wider than a dragon's wings;

his sparkling eyes, full of angry fire,

drove back and dazzled his enemies

more than the midday sun shining straight in their faces.

What can I say? There are no words to express his great deeds:

he never moved without conquering.


We mourn in black:  why mourn we not in blood?

Henry is dead and never shall revive:

Upon a wooden coffin we attend,

And death's dishonourable victory

We with our stately presence glorify,

Like captives bound to a triumphant car.

What! shall we curse the planets of mishap

That plotted thus our glory's overthrow?

Or shall we think the subtle-witted French

Conjurers and sorcerers, that afraid of him

By magic verses have contriv'd his end?

We mourn by wearing black: why do we not mourn by shedding blood?

Henry is dead and will never come back:

we are waiting on a wooden coffin,

and death's dishonourable victory

is being glorified by our stately presence,

like prisoners tied to a chariot in a triumph.

What! Are we going to think that unlucky stars

overthrew the glory of our king?

Or do we believe that the cunning French

magicians and sorcerers, through fear of him,

cast magic spells to bring about his death?


He was a king bless'd of the King of kings;

Unto the French the dreadful judgment-day

So dreadful will not be as was his sight.

The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought:

The Church's prayers made him so prosperous.

He was a king blessed by Jesus;

the French won't find Judgement Day

as terrible as facing him.

He fought his battles for God:

the prayers of the church ensured his success.


The church! where is it? Had not churchmen pray'd,

His thread of life had not so soon decay'd:

None do you like but an effeminate prince,

Whom, like a school-boy, you may over-awe.

The church! Where are they? If the churchmen hadn't prayed,

he would not have died so soon:

all you want is a girlish prince,

whom you can dominate like a schoolboy.


Gloucester, whate'er we like, thou art Protector,

And lookest to command the Prince and realm.

Thy wife is proud; she holdeth thee in awe,

More than God or religious churchmen may.

Gloucester, whatever we want, you are Regent,

and you have command over the Prince and the country.

Your wife is arrogant; she's the one who dominates you,

more than God or religious churchmen can.


Name not religion, for thou lov'st the flesh,

And ne'er throughout the year to church thou go'st,

Except it be to pray against thy foes.

Do not speak of religion, for you love worldly things,

and you never go to church at any time of year,

except to say prayers against your enemies.


Cease, cease these jars and rest your minds in peace:

Let's to the altar:  heralds, wait on us:

Instead of gold, we'll offer up our arms;

Since arms avail not, now that Henry's dead.

Posterity, await for wretched years,

When at their mothers' moist eyes babes shall suck,

Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,

And none but women left to wail the dead.

Henry the Fifth, thy ghost I invocate:

Prosper this realm, keep it from civil broils,

Combat with adverse planets in the heavens!

A far more glorious star thy soul will make

Than Julius Caesar or bright--

Stop these arguments and be peaceful:

let's go to the altar: heralds, attend us:

instead of gold, will make an offering of our weapons,

as we have no use for them now, now that Henry is dead.

We can expect the future to be wretched,

and babies shall drink the tears of their mothers,

the island shall feed on salt tears alone,

and there will be none but women left to mourn the dead.

Henry the Fifth, I summon up your ghost:

make this country prosperous, keep it from civil war,

fight the influence of the unlucky planets!

Your soul will make far more glorious start

than Julius Caesar, or bright–

[Enter a Messenger.]


My honourable lords, health to you all!

Sad tidings bring I to you out of France,

Of loss, of slaughter, and discomfiture:

Guienne, Champagne, Rheims, Orleans,

Paris, Guysors, Poictiers, are all quite lost.

My honourable lords, good health!

I bring you sad news from France,

of loss, slaughter and frustration:

Guienne, Champagne, Reims, Orleans,

Paris, Guysors, Poitiers, they have all been lost.


What say'st thou, man, before dead Henry's corse?

Speak softly; or the loss of those great towns

Will make him burst his lead and rise from death.

What are you saying, man, in front of the body of dead Henry?

Speak softly, or the loss of those great towns

will make him burst out of his coffin and rise from the dead.


Is Paris lost? Is Rouen yielded up?

If Henry were recall'd to life again,

These news would cause him once more yield the ghost.

Is Paris lost? Has Rouen been surrendered?

If Henry were called back to life,

this news would make him give up the ghost again.


How were they lost? What treachery was us'd?

How were they lost? What treachery was there?


No treachery; but want of men and money.

Amongst the soldiers this is muttered,

That here you maintain several factions,

And whilst a field should be dispatch'd and fought,

You are disputing of your generals:

One would have lingering wars with little cost;

Another would fly swift, but wanteth wings;

A third thinks, without expense at all,

By guileful fair words peace may be obtain'd.

Awake, awake, English nobility!

Let not sloth dim your honours new-begot:

Cropp'd are the flower-de-luces in your arms;

Of England's coat one half is cut away.

There was no treachery, there was a lack of men and money.

The soldiers are saying that

there are several different parties here at court,

and when the battles should be swiftly fought,

you are arguing over details:

one wants long wars with little expense;

another wants to act swiftly, but doesn't have the means;

a third thinks that peace can be got without

any expense, just through using cunning fair words.

Wake up, English noblemen!

Don't let laziness spoil your newly won honours:

the fleur-de-lis have been cropped from your coat of arms;

you have lost half of it.


Were our tears wanting to this funeral,

These tidings would call forth their flowing tides.

If this funeral was not making us cry,

this news would start us.
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