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Henry V
Henry V
by William Shakespeare
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Henry V Act 1, Scene 1 Summary

  • At King Henry V's swanky English palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely chat about a bill that's been raised by Parliament.
  • It turns out that the bill was raised years ago during Henry IV's reign, but it got pushed off to the side during the chaos of the civil wars. (How convenient!) Now that England is no longer at war, the bill has resurfaced.
  • If the bill passes, the Church will lose a ton of money and land that it has collected over the years from generous rich people. Some of this money and property would go to the king's treasury and some of it would be used to fund the army and feed the poor.
  • Canterbury and Ely want to make the bill disappear ASAP so the Church gets to keep the money. (Hmm. Looks like feeding the poor with Church money isn't high up on their "To Do" list.)
  • Canterbury and Ely go off on a tangent about how lucky they all are that King Henry has recently undergone a miraculous transformation. Back in the day, Henry was a wild young prince who spent all his time drinking and carousing with his low-life pals. These days, he's the perfect king.
  • We learn that Canterbury has recently offered the Henry the biggest chunk of change that's ever been given to a monarch by the Church. This money will come in handy, because King Henry's thinking about declaring war on France and helping himself to the French crown. (Hmm. This sounds a little bit like a bribe, don't you think?)
Next Page: Act 1, Scene 2
Previous Page: Prologue

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