Study Guide

Henry VI Part 1 Act 3, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

Act 3, Scene 2

Read the full text of Henry VI Part 1 Act 3 Scene 2 with a side-by-side translation HERE.


  • Back to France, where some sneaky spy stuff is going down. Joan Pucelle turns up in disguise—she and a few soldiers are trying to sneak into the city of Rouen disguised as poor farmers selling corn.
  • The Watch of the city is totally fooled, and lets them in. Apparently the Watch didn't watch their James Bond…
  • The French nobles turn up and wait for a signal from Joan. She'll hold out a torch from the window of a tower to show the weakest place to attack, and then they'll storm the town.
  • They charge in, planning to kill the watchmen and take over.
  • Talbot realizes what's happening and rallies to fight. He blames Joan Pucelle and says she's a witch.
  • Soon Joan and the French nobles are on the walls of the town, proving they've taken it over. She taunts the English and Burgundy, now outside the city.
  • Burgundy insults her back, saying she's a fiend and courtesan (prostitute). He basically says, "You'll regret this!"
  • Charles gets in on the act, taunting Burgundy as well, and pretty soon the insults are flying back and forth from all over.
  • It gets particularly bad when an older English lord who has to be carried in a chair says something and Joan picks on him about his age.
  • This enrages Talbot, who calls her "Foul fiend of France and hag of all despite" (3.2.52); he says she shouldn't pick on a brave old man and challenges her to combat. She says the French aren't going to fight for what's already theirs.
  • Talbot says he's not talking to her, but to the French lords. They also decline to fight. The French leave the walls and go about their business.
  • Talbot encourages Burgundy to take the town again, and then promises to take it himself or die. He lists English heroes who make him want to fight: the current king, the king's father Henry V who took Rouen originally, and Richard the lionhearted, whose heart was buried in Rouen.
  • Burgundy says he'll vow just as strongly as Talbot to take Rouen back.
  • Talbot offers to move the ailing Bedford to somewhere more comfortable, and Bedford insists on staying with them before the walls and suffering with them. Talbot congratulates his courage and invites Burgundy to gather the troops and charge. They fight.
  • Sir John Fastolfe runs away from battle. Again. Even though his side wins—he isn't sure who's winning, so he deserts the lines.
  • Bedford dies, proud that the English are winning.
  • Talbot and Burgundy come in, gleeful because they've just taken back Rouen. They congratulate each other and thank heaven for the victory, then Talbot makes fun of Joan and the French.
  • They set up some government for the town, then head off to meet King Henry, who's now in France. They also plan to honor Bedford with a good funeral before they go.