Study Guide

Henry VI Part 1 Act 1, Scene 4

By William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scene 4

Read the full text of Henry VI Part 1 Act 1 Scene 4 with a side-by-side translation HERE.


  • Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or actually the town of Orleans in France, we meet the Master Gunner and his boy. The Gunner reminds the boy that the town is besieged, and that the English have actually taken the suburbs (no more shopping at those big malls outside the city for the French).
  • The Boy says he's often shot at the English, but keeps missing them; he has something to prove.
  • The Master Gunner says he has something to prove, too, and unfolds his plan. The English have a sneaky plot to spy out the French position, but he's placed a cannon so he can shoot at them when they do it. He has to go see the Governor, so the boy will have to take over. The Boy agrees.
  • Back to the English camp at Orleans. Remember Talbot, the English leader who was taken prisoner in Scene 1? He's free and back with the English. The English leader Salisbury greets him warmly and asks him how he got out. Talbot says that the French and English traded prisoners.
  • Talbot's happy that the prisoner they traded him for is a brave leader, and he complains that at one point they were going to trade him for someone less courageous. He says he'd rather die than be ransomed in such a way, and so he's pleased at how the trade eventually worked. He also complains about the cowardice of Sir John Fastolfe, and then he goes all classic Western movie and says he would execute him with his bare fists he got his hands on him. Remember Fastolfe's cowardice is what caused Talbot to be captured in the first place.
  • Salisbury asks how the French treated Talbot. Badly, it turns out. They dragged him to the marketplace and made fun of him in public. He says he broke free of the guards and threw rocks at the crowd, which is pretty impressive given that he was completely outnumbered and a prisoner. Apparently the French were so impressed they stationed snipers all around him after that. Okay, snipers like in The Bourne Identity didn't exist yet. But you get the picture.
  • Salisbury says he's grieved to hear what happened to Talbot, but not to worry since they'll get revenge. They start spying out the French camp from the location the French Gunner mentioned, deciding where to attack.
  • The French gunners are ready, and shoot at them. They get Salisbury and another English leader, and Talbot mourns and promises revenge.
  • Suddenly, there's a loud noise and a lot of thunder and lightning. A messenger enters. Ominous entry, anyone? This is like that big drum roll and frantic strings in a movie when bad news is coming.
  • Turns out, the news is pretty bad: The French have a new champion, Joan Puzel, and she's thought to be a holy prophetess. To be clear, in this time period people really want to say God is on their side in a battle.
  • Salisbury, who's dying, groans.
  • Talbot is definitely not scared. He vows revenge even more strongly and says he'll take Salisbury's place in attacking the French.