Study Guide

Henry VI Part 1 Act 5, Scene 1

By William Shakespeare

Act 5, Scene 1

Read the full text of Henry VI Part 1 Act 5 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.


  • The King, Gloucester, and Exeter are discussing the King's mail. The Pope, who is a figure of great political power as well as spiritual significance, has written and asked England and France to make peace.
  • The King asks Gloucester's advice, and Gloucester says it would be nice if they could stop killing each other and live a quiet life.
  • We also learn that the Earl of Armagnac, a powerful man in France, has offered his daughter in marriage with a magnificent dowry if that will help conclude the peace deal.
  • The King says he's pretty young to get married, and should probably be doing his homework instead of wooing a bride. He calls the marriage a "wanton dalliance," which seems a little harsh on poor Mademoiselle Armagnac—it sounds more like the way you'd describe a mistress than a wife. Henry may just be too young and clueless to realize that this could be offensive; he certainly doesn't seem to know much about love.
  • He does say he'll be content with any choice that will advance God's glory and the good of his country. This is a noble sentiment, but doesn't seem like the most passionate idea of marriage out there.
  • Winchester and some ambassadors turn up. Exeter gives Winchester a hard time about advancing to the rank of cardinal, and says that Henry the Fifth thought Winchester would be trying to equal the King if he got the Cardinal's role.
  • The King says he's good with peace and it will all be arranged.
  • Gloucester tells the ambassador from the Earl of Armagnac that the King likes the Earl's daughter and wants to make her queen. This is kind of odd: Shouldn't Henry be saying this himself? And shouldn't he have decided one way or the other earlier in the scene? This is probably another way of showing his youth and naiveté.
  • The King does send a jewel to the Earl's daughter at least. Fingers crossed it's a nice one.
  • As the scene ends, we get a presumably private moment where Winchester pays off the Pope's representative for making him a cardinal. He also says how happy he is that he'll now be of equal rank with Gloucester, adding that he'll make Gloucester bow to him or else he'll sack the whole country with a mutiny. Which seems a little excessive.