A quick overview of what happens in the plot of Henry V. 
  • The English church supports the claim King Henry V has on the French throne and Henry decides to go to war with France after they send him a mocking gift.

  • Henry’s old drinking partners, Mistress Quickly, Pistol, Bardolph and Nym, are getting ready to go to France when they hear that their old friend, Falstaff, is dying.

    Did you know? Falstaff

    Sir John Falstaff appears in three of Shakespeare’s plays. He is Henry’s wild drinking partner in Henry IV Parts I and II. He was such a popular character that Shakespeare reintroduced him in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

  • Henry uncovers three English traitors, the Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop and Sir Thomas Grey, and orders them to be executed for plotting with the French against him.

  • In France, King Charles VI and his son, the Dauphin, prepare for battle. Henry’s uncle and ambassador, Exeter, arrives and warns them that fighting the English will destroy France.

  • Henry attacks the French town of Harfleur. He makes terrible threats until the town surrenders.

  • In the French palace, Katherine tries to learn English, while Bardolph is caught looting and is executed on Henry’s orders.

  • Henry refuses an invitation from the French to withdraw. The night before battle, Henry walks around the English camp in disguise and discusses the rights and wrongs of war with some of the soldiers.

  • On the morning of the battle of Agincourt, the English army are outnumbered by five to one. Henry gives a powerful speech to his men, promising that all who fight will be remembered.

  • Against all odds, the English win the Battle of Agincourt and Henry orders the execution of all prisoners taken in the fighting.

    Did you know? Agincourt

    Historically, Henry and his English Army fought the famous Battle of Agincourt on the 25 October. This was a feast day for the two Christian saints Crispin and Crispinian. One of the reasons the English were so successful was because their longbows could pierce the armour of the French knights.

  • Henry agrees to peace if his demands are met, including marrying Katherine. Left alone with Katherine, Henry talks to her in broken French and she says she will marry him.

Teacher Notes

The following school synopsis is a great way to introduce the story of Henry V to a group of students who are getting to know the play.

School Synopsis

The synopsis can be used for a reading activity or divided between groups and used to help them stage their own summary of the story.

You can also print the ten lines on this page and ask students to work in pairs to arrange them in the order they take place in the play.