Heart's content Introduction
I'm Henry VI. I'm the king of England so loads of people try to take advantage of me. And because I'm pretty weak, a lot of them succeed. And you know what I think?
Her sight did ravish; but her grace in speech,
Her words y-clad with wisdom's majesty,
Makes me from wondering fall to weeping joys;
Such is the fullness of my heart's content.
Lords, with one cheerful voice welcome my love. (1.1.32-36)
Who Said It and Where
Henry VI, Part 2 opens with King Henry VI and a bunch of his nobles getting together to celebrate a peace treaty they just made with France. The treaty is read aloud and not everyone is as thrilled about it as Henry is. Did we say celebrate? We meant critique and grumble about…
Who cares? Henry's king, so he can do what he wants. But more importantly, he's got bigger matters on his mind. He's more concerned with his new wife, Margaret. She's a spitfire and she sure knows how to play ball. For starters, she enters with an over-the-top speech about her undying love and admiration for her new hubby (even though she just romanced another guy right before).
Maybe it's time for a little backstory. Margaret is a poor girl from France. After she was captured in the war, Suffolk wooed her for Henry. Unfortunately, all of Henry's nobles can't stand her. Well it's not her, per se, but the fact that marrying her means that England had to sacrifice two crucial bits of land to the French. Why couldn't he marry a girl with some kind of political affiliation or land?
Back in Shakey's day, kings married off their daughters as a way of securing a political alliance. So England might say to France, hey, let's join up. One way of making sure neither side when back on their end of the bargain was to marry them together. Families don't usually like fighting each other. Except for the Plantagenets and the Yorks, that is, who fight six ways to Sunday in the Henry VI plays.
And now, back to the story. So Margaret and Henry VI are making a big scene of how amazing the other one is, when he says that his heart is content with her. He couldn't love her more. He doesn't care what anyone thinks about her. He thinks she's the bee's knees.