Henry VI Part 1

by: William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scenes iv-viii

Summary Act 1, Scenes iv-viii


Gloucester arrives at the Tower of London with his blue-clad servants. One of his men knocks on the gates of the tower, but the warders inside refuse to let him in. Gloucester, angered that he, the Protector of the realm, would be barred entrance, orders his men to storm the gates. Woodville, inside the tower, demands to know what is going on. Sighting Gloucester, he explains that Winchester has ordered him to forbid entrance to this nobleman.

Then, Winchester and his men enter, distinguished by their tawny-colored coats. Gloucester demands to know if Woodville speaks the truth, and Winchester confirms his earlier order: he declares he refuses to submit to Gloucester in his role of Protector. The two men curse each other, then all their men draw their swords, and the blue coats fight with the tawny coats. Gloucester's men beat Winchester's men, then the Mayor of London and his officers enter the scene.

The mayor demands that they stop fighting and explain themselves. Gloucester says Winchester has shut everyone out of the tower, but Winchester accuses Gloucester of wanting to gain access to the artillery housed there in order to overthrow the young king and usurp the throne. The two groups start fighting again, and the mayor stops them again, commanding them to cease using weapons or face execution. Winchester and Gloucester agree to obey the law and to voice their disagreement in another venue. The mayor expresses amazement at the lords' appetite for conflict and violence.

In Orléans, the Master Gunner orders his boy to watch a nearby tower, which he has heard the English lords use as a lookout over Orléans to plan their assault. The Gunner has aimed a piece of artillery at the tower should the lords reappear there, and he leaves his son to watch.

Salisbury, Talbot, Gargrave, and Glasdale stand on turrets overlooking Orléans. Salisbury asks how Talbot escaped the French jail, and Talbot explains how Bedford ransomed him by exchanging him for a French nobleman prisoner. Talbot narrates his time with the French, who were so frightened of him that they had a guard of marksmen aim their arrows at him even while he slept.

The soldiers look out over the roofs of Orléans and plan their attack. Just then the tower convulses in explosions, and Salisbury and Gargrave fall. Talbot rushes to Salisbury, cursing fate. Salisbury, he exclaims in grief, won 13 battles in a row, was trained by Henry V, and was always a terror in the field. Then, Talbot hears great thundering, and a messenger enters to tell of a French attack, led by Joan la Pucelle. Salisbury groans, so Talbot orders him conveyed to his tent while he deals with the French.