Timeline

Act 1

The Prologue

In the prologue to Act 1, the Chorus enters and appeals directly to the audience to use their imagination to create the world of the play they are about to see. The Chorus apologises that it is impossible to tell the story of 'two mighty monarchies' going to war with just a few actors in a theatre. Therefore, the audience are encouraged to imagine 'the vasty fields of France', the soldiers that 'did affright the air' and the horses that printed 'their proud hoofs i’th’receiving earth'.

The church distracts Henry

Henry V_ 1965_ the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely_1965_Photo by Reg Wilson _c_ RSC_185581

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely in the 1965 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Reg Wilson Browse and license our images
At the palace of King Henry V, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely discuss the money the church will lose if a new law is passed by Parliament. They believe Henry will forget about the new law if they help raise money to fund his claim to the French throne.

Henry wants proof

Henry V_ 2015_ the Archbishop of Canterbury_2015_Photo by Keith Pattison _c_ RSC_171372

Jim Hooper as the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 2015 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
The Archbishop of Canterbury assures Henry that his claim to the French throne is legitimate. He urges him to call on the 'warlike spirit' of his ancestors and take back the throne that is rightfully his.

The Dauphin insults Henry

Henry V production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Keith Pattison _c_ RSC_171386

Henry receives some tennis balls in the 2015 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
The French Ambassador enters with an enormous treasure chest, a gift for Henry from the Dauphin. The chest is full of tennis balls and Henry sends back a threatening message that he will turn the tennis balls into cannon balls that will destroy France and 'strike the Dauphin blind to look on us'.

Act 2

The Second Prologue

Henry V_ 1951_ Michael Redgrave as Chorus_1951_Photo by Angus McBean _c_ RSC_107878

Michael Redgrave as the Chorus in the 1951 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Angus Mcbean Browse and license our images
In a prologue to Act 2, the Chorus tells the audience that the youth of England 'are on fire' and ready for war, while the French 'Shake in their fear'. The audience are warned that there are three English traitors (the Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop and Sir Thomas Grey), who have taken money from France to kill Henry. The Chorus asks us to imagine that we are in Southampton, waiting for the King to arrive, and to picture the sea voyage as he sails from Southampton to France.

Henry's old friends argue

Bardolph and Nym are talking about the coming war. Nym is angry because their friend Pistol has married his fiancé, Mistress Quickly. Pistol and Mistress Quickly enter and the former friends draw swords, but Bardolph breaks up the fight. The Boy runs in, saying that Falstaff, King Henry’s old drinking friend, is 'very sick'. They all agree that Falstaff is dying because 'the King has killed his heart' by abandoning him as a friend.

Henry punishes the traitors

Henry V_ 1975_ Henry and Lord Scroop_1975_Photo by Reg Wilson _c_ RSC_198096

Henry and Lord Scroop in the 1975 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Reg Wilson Browse and license our images
In Southampton, Henry talks to the three traitors (the Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop and Sir Thomas Grey). Henry tells a story about a drunk man who insulted him in public and he asks the traitors if he should forgive the man. The traitors say he should be punished 'lest example / Breed, by his suffrance more of such a kind'. Henry gives them each a document to read which contains proof of their plot and the traitors are taken off to prison.

Falstaff dies

Henry V_ 1975_ Pistol says goodbye to Mistress Quickly_1975_Photo by Reg Wilson _c_ RSC_59071

Mistress Quickly and Pistol in the 1975 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Reg Wilson Browse and license our images
The friends mourn the death of their beloved Falstaff. Nell describes his final moments: 'So a cried out, ‘God, God, God!’ three or four times.' Pistol, Nym and Bardolph decide they’ve done enough grieving and it’s time to set off to France to fight.

The French discuss the English threat

Henry V_ 2007_ Charles VI and the Dauphin_2007_Photo by Ellie Kurttz _c_ RSC_119906

Charles VI and the Dauphin in the 2007 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
In France, King Charles worries about how close the English army is. His son, the Dauphin, dismisses his fears, thinking Henry is a 'vain, giddy, shallow, humorous youth' but Charles reminds him that Henry’s ancestors have humiliated France in the past. Henry’s ambassador, Exeter, enters with a warning that if the French don’t back down, Henry will come 'In thunder and in earthquake, like a Jove'. Charles says he’ll consider it but the Dauphin wants 'Nothing but odds with England'.

Act 3

The Eastcheap three go to fight

As Henry leads his troops into the 'breach', Pistol and Nym pull Bardolph back to avoid the fighting. 'I have not a case of lives' says Nym. Captain Fluellen, a Welshman, shouts at them to fight and chases them after the troops. Alone onstage, the Boy tells the audience that the Eastcheap Three have been stealing but he refuses to join in as it 'makes much against my manhood'.

The Chorus takes us to France

In Act Three’s prologue, the Chorus asks the audience to use their senses to bring to life Henry’s sea voyage from Dover to the shores of Harfleur in France. We are also told to imagine we’ve just seen Henry reject a peace offering from France.

Key Scene

Henry rouses his troops

Henry V_ 1965_ Henry rallies his troops_1965_Photo by Reg Wilson _c_ RSC_57182

Henry rallies his troops in the 1965 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Reg Wilson Browse and license our images
Henry gives a rousing speech to his army to urge them through the hole or 'breach' they’ve just created in the town wall at Harfluer saying to them 'Once more unto the breach, dear friends, / once more'. He tells them to 'imitate the action of the tiger' and fight with everything they’ve got; this will make even the farmers amongst them into noble men. He leads them on with one final shout: 'Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’'

The Captains argue

Henry V_ 1965_ quarreling over nationality within the ranks_ Act 3 Scene 3._Photo by Reg Wilson _c_ RSC_57960

Quarreling over nationality within the ranks in the 1965 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Reg Wilson Browse and license our images
Fluellen and three other Captains: Gower, MacMorris (an Irishman) and Jamy (Scottish), argue about the art of war.

Harfleur surrenders

Henry V_ 1975_ Duke of Exeter and Henry V_1975_Photo by Reg Wilson _c_ RSC_59511

Henry and the Duke of Exeter in the 1975 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Reg Wilson Browse and license our images
Henry gives a threatening speech to the Governor of Harfleur, telling him to surrender or he could lose control of his troops who will then slaughter them, 'mowing like grass / Your fresh fair virgins and your flow’ring infants'. The Governor surrenders and Henry leaves Exeter in charge of Harfleur and leads his men back towards Calais in hope of rest.

Katherine learns English

Henry V production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Keith Pattison _c_ RSC_171448

Katherine and her lady-in waiting in the 2015 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
At the French palace, Princess Katherine asks Alice, her lady-in-waiting, to teach her some words in English to prepare her for a possible marriage to Henry. Katherine says the English words foot and gown making them sound like offensive French words.

The French discuss the threat

Henry V production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Keith Pattison _c_ RSC_171455

Simon Thorp as the King of France in the 2015 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
King Charles and the Dauphin discuss Henry’s advance through France. The rumour is that Henry’s men are exhausted and weak and Charles orders his troops to overcome them and capture Henry.

Henry has Bardolph executed

Henry V_ 2007_ Bardolph blusters_2007_Photo by Ellie Kurttz _c_ RSC_120484

 Bardolph blusters in the 2007 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
Bardolph has been caught looting from a church. Pistol argues with Fluellen for Bardolph’s life. Gower recognises Pistol as a well-known thief and when Henry arrives with his troops he agrees that his old friend Bardolph should be hanged. Montjoy then arrives with a warning from King Charles that the French will crush the English if they don’t retreat. Henry tips Montjoy money and says to reply that the English are tired but 'upon one pair of English legs / Did march three Frenchmen.'

Key Scene

The Dauphin is impatient for battle

Henry V _2007_93483

The dauphin's horse in the 2007 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
At the French camp, the Dauphin and his Dukes are impatiently waiting. The Constable brags about his armour and the Dauphin brags about his horse 'I once writ a sonnet in his praise'. The others mock him and when the Dauphin leaves, the Constable tells Orléans he’s all words and will be useless in battle. They both agree that Henry is a fool and that his army are doomed.

Act 4

The Chorus sets the scene

Henry V production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Keith Pattison _c_ RSC_171419

The Chorus in the 2015 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
In the prologue to Act 4, the Chorus tells the audience that the French are overconfident that they will beat 'The poor condemne`d English’ and King Henry has been visiting the camp trying to cheer up the English soldiers. The Chorus apologises again that the theatre is too limited to create the massive battle of Agincourt.

Key Scene

Henry disguises himself

Henry V production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Keith Pattison _c_ RSC_171482

Henry in disguise in the 2015 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
Henry walks around the camp in disguise to see how his men are feeling. Pistol talks to him and is full of praise for the king. Henry then meets a soldier, Williams, who says 'if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it'. Henry, still in disguise, defends 'the King’ but Williams doesn’t agree. they decide to meet again to settle their disagreement after the battle and swap gloves so they can find each other. Left alone, Henry describes the loneliness and difficulties of kingship saying ' O, hard condition, / Twin-born with greatness'.

The French prepare

Henry V_ 1951_ The Constable of France_ the French King and the Dauphin_1951_Photo by Angus McBean _c_ RSC_120539

The Constable of France, the French King and the Dauphin in the 1951 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Angus Mcbean Browse and license our images
At the enemy camp, the French are still confident. A messenger reports that the English are lined up and ready and the jester, Constable, jokes that they are lined up to die. They all then leave to fight.

Henry encourages his army

Henry V_ 2015_ Henry rallies his men_2015_Photo by Keith Pattison _c_ RSC_171497

 Henry rallies his men in the 2015 production of Henry V, 

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
At the English camp, we learn Henry’s Army is badly outnumbered. His commanders wish they had more men and Henry delivers a Patriotic speech to rouse his tired men, calling them 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers' and saying that everyone will remember who fought with him on St. Crispin's Day. Montjoy comes back to offer them another chance to surrender but Henry refuses.

Pistol captures a French soldier

Henry V_ 2015_ the Boy_2015_Photo by Keith Pattison _c_ RSC_171504

Martin Bassindale as the Boy in the 2015 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
On the battlefield, Pistol captures a French soldier who begs for his life. Pistol demands money but can’t speak French so the Boy translates everything. When alone onstage, the Boy complains to the audience that Pistol is a nothing but a boaster 'The empty vessel makes the greatest sound' and that Nym has also been hanged for stealing. The Boy then heads back to where the rest of the young pages guard the camp.

The French are losing

Henry V production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Keith Pattison _c_ RSC_171509

The Constable in the 2015 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
Elsewhere on the battlefield, the French are losing badly, despite having more men. The Dauphin and his men are devastated and Bourbon orders the French soldiers back to battle: 'Shame and eternal shame, nothing but shame!'

The English are winning

Henry V_ 2007_ Geoffrey Streatfeild as Henry V_2007_Photo by Ellie Kurttz _c_ RSC_119261

Geoffrey Streatfeild as Henry in the 2007 production of Henry. 

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
Exeter tells Henry that the Earl of Suffolk and Duke of York have been killed. Exeter apologises for his tears but Henry admits he is also moved. Henry hears that the French are returning to the fight and orders his men to kill all the French prisoners.

The Battle is won

Henry V_ 2007_Ellie Kurttz_120317

Henry mourns the death of the boy in the 2007 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
The French have slaughtered all the young pages in the English camp. Henry is horrified: 'I was not angry since I came to France / Until this instant.' He repeats his order to kill the prisoners. Montjoy arrives and asks if the French can collect their dead. Henry asks if that means the English have won. Montjoy replies that it does. Fluellen reminds Henry that he was born in Wales and says he is proud to be his Kinsman. Williams enters, wearing King Henry’s glove in his cap. Henry decides to play a trick on him. He sends Williams away and gives his glove to Fluellen, saying that it belongs to a Frenchman and if anyone claims it, he is a traitor.

Act 5

The Chorus describes two journeys

The Chorus delivers the final prologue by telling the audience about Henry’s journey to England and then his return to Calais. They describe 'How London doth pour out her citizens' for his victorious return and we learn that the Holy Roman Emperor visited England on 'behalf of France' to order peace. The Chorus then asks the audience to skip over these details and imagine Henry’s return to France to make his demands in person.

Pistol is forced to eat a leek

Henry V_ 2007_ Fluellen makes Pistol eat a leek_2007_Photo by Ellie Kurttz _c_ RSC_119795

Fluellen makes Pistol eat a leek in the 2007 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
In the English camp, Fluellen tells Gower that Pistol insulted him for wearing a leek in his hat, a symbol of his Welsh patriotism. When Pistol enters, Fluellen forces him to eat it, saying 'if you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek'. Pistol then reveals that his wife, Mistress Quickly, has died and now he plans to go back to England and steal.

Key Scene

Henry woos Katherine

Henry V_ 1946_ Henry V woos Katherine_1946_Photo by Angus McBean _c_ RSC_119975

Henry V woos Katherine in the 1946 production of Henry V. 

Photo by Angus Mcbean Browse and license our images
Henry woos Katherine. At the French palace, Henry meets with the French King and Queen to arrange the peace treaty. Their daughter Katherine is part of the negotiations. They meet and speak to each other, even though they struggle to understand each other’s languages. Henry apologises for his plain soldier talk but doesn’t give up. King Charles accepts all Henry’s demands and he and the Queen give Henry and Katherine their blessing.

The Chorus gives the Epilogue

The Chorus apologises again for the poor attempts of the playwright to tell this story in a 'little room confining mighty men.' The Chorus then fills the audience in on what happens after this play ends. We learn that, after Henry’s success in France, he and Katherine had a son who became Henry VI who unfortunately 'lost France and made his England bleed'.

Teacher Notes

The following activity is a great way to explore the story and introduce the role of the Chorus in presenting the story to an audience.

Reporting the War (2015)

The activity can be found on page 4 and takes approximately 30 minutes.

You can also ask students to create their own timelines of the play, physically arranging themselves in a line down the middle of the room or by creating their own versions.

We need your help

We’d love to know what you think about the Shakespeare Learning Zone. Help us by taking a short survey – it will only take a few minutes and will help us make the Shakespeare Learning Zone even better for everyone.