The first play in the Henry VI trilogy, this tale of war and court rivalries is believed to have been written by Shakespeare in collaboration with another playwright.
Watch a synopsis of the play with BSL, voiceover and captions.
Following the death of his father, Henry V, the young Henry VI is proclaimed king but his uncles, the Dukes of Gloucester and Exeter, are the ones who hold power.
Meanwhile, war continues in France, with Joan la Pucelle, better known as Joan of Arc, leading the French army.
RIVALS FOR THE THRONE
The king’s great-uncle, the Bishop of Winchester, believes that Gloucester wants to usurp power from Henry, causing a fight outside the Tower of London.
Richard Plantagenet also believes he has a claim to the throne and falls out with the Duke of Somerset. They ask each nobleman in the court to take either a red or white rose to show whose side they support: white for Richard of York, red for the Duke and house of Lancaster.
In France, Joan spares the life of the captured general Lord Talbot when they fight one-on-one. She wins back Orleans briefly, but Talbot’s sneak attack forces the French army to abandon the town.
Talbot is later killed when the French Dauphin’s army encircles his men at Bordeaux and the rivalry between York and Somerset prevents them sending troop reinforcements.
AN UNEASY PEACE
Fortunes turn against the French and Joan is captured. Henry is encouraged to seek peace through marriage, and Charles is persuaded by his noblemen to accept a treaty to save French lives while planning to break the agreement later on.
A NEW QUEEN
The Earl of Suffolk arranges the king’s marriage to a young French princess, Margaret of Anjou, while secretly hoping to gain power by taking her as his mistress. Although Gloucester and many other lords don’t think Margaret is worthy of the king, Henry agrees to marry her and make her Queen of England.