The Princess of France arrives with her ladies, Rosaline, Maria, and Katherine, with Boyet, one of her attendants, and with two other lords.
Boyet gives us an exposition. The Princess is coming on behalf of her father the King, to negotiate with the King of Navarre about a piece of land called Aquitaine. Boyet reminds her to be charming and generous to the King.
The Princess shoots from the hip. She says that there's no need to flatter her, and wants to get to the point. She has heard that the King has taken a vow not to see any women, so she wants Boyet to announce their arrival and find out what's what.
The Princess asks her ladies what other lords have taken this vow with the King. It turns out they know the men and kind of like them!
Maria describes Longaville. He's intelligent, a good warrior, does everything well. The only problem is he's got a mouth on him.
Katherine describes Dumain. Virtuous, smart, and good-looking.
Rosaline has Berowne. It's all about his mind: he's the funniest, most eloquent man she's ever met.
Good lord, says the Princess – all my ladies are in love.
Boyet comes back with the news that the King intends for them to camp in the field, as though they were enemies.
The King enters with Longaville, Dumain, Berowne and attendants. The Ladies mask themselves.
When the King greets the Princess politely, she doesn't reciprocate. She's a little miffed she can't gain access to the court. The King tries to apologize and explain about his oath, receiving no end of teasing from the Princess. Then she remembers she's there on business, and gives him a letter from her father about Aquitaine.
Meanwhile Katharine – or Rosaline – has a battle of wits with Berowne. (There's some inconsistency in the names, so some scholars and directors assume this exchange should be with Rosaline. She's the one who just admitted acquaintance with Berowne.)
Back to the matter of Aquitaine. In response to the letter, the King gives a long speech. He claims that the Princess's father still owes him money for the land.
Nuh-uhh, says the Princess. We're all settled and Boyet has the papers to prove it.
The papers are still on the way. They'll have to wait till tomorrow to discuss the matter further.
The King won't let them in the gates, but he'll try to make them comfortable in the grounds. As comfortable as in his own heart.
He exits with Longaville and Dumain. Berowne stays behind to have a little flirt with Rosaline.
Dumain reenters, asking Boyet for Katharine's name.
Longaville reenters, asking after Maria. Boyet messes with him before giving it up.
Berowne inquires about Rosaline. Yes, she's single.
All the men exit with the necessary info. The ladies unmask. The game is on.
Katharine (or maybe Rosaline – same question about names as above) and Boyet have a wit session, but the Princess asks them to save it for the boys of Navarre.
Boyet has news for the Princess. The King thought she was attractive. He was ogling her the whole time he spouted that nonsense about Aquitaine.
The Princess can't believe what she's hearing. Neither can the other maidens. They decide to go to their camp.