Man stands on stage silhouetted with white feathers falling overhead

Henry VI Part III

William Shakespeare

Henry VI Part III, written around 1591 - 92, is part of Shakespeare’s trilogy centred on the Wars of the Roses. The battle between the houses of York and Lancaster continues, with much bloodshed, leading to the eventual death of Henry VI and the reign of the house of York.


Having won the battle of St Albans, the Duke of York, Richard Plantagenet, sits on the throne of England. 

Margaret rises

To his wife’s dismay, King Henry agrees to York's demand that he disinherit his son, Edward, Prince of Wales. Margaret abandons Henry and vows to destroy York. She enlists the support of Clifford and others to raise an army.

York falls

Margaret's forces meet York's in battle, and York's youngest son, Rutland, is killed by Clifford. York is then captured by Clifford and Northumberland, taunted with details of Rutland's death, and brutally murdered. Edward and Richard are told of their father's murder and unite with Warwick, who proclaims Edward the new Duke of York. They raise an army and defeat the Lancastrians at Towton. Henry, Margaret and their son are forced to flee north and Clifford is killed. Henry is captured and brought to London, where he is placed in the Tower by the new King Edward.

A broken promise

In France, Margaret and Warwick meet at the court of King Louis. News reaches them that Edward has married Lady Elizabeth Grey, in spite of his agreement to marry Louis' sister, Lady Bona. This insult turns both Warwick and Louis against Edward. Warwick pledges support to Margaret, releasing Henry from the Tower and restoring him as King of England.

The battle is won

Warwick leaves London to muster his army, during which time Edward returns and recaptures Henry. The forces of Edward and Warwick meet at Barnet, where Warwick is killed. Margaret arrives in England with reinforcements. Her forces encounter Edward's for the last time at Tewkesbury, where, after much bloodshed, the Yorkists are victorious. The Wars of the Roses seem finally to be over.