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THIS and The Third Part of King Henry VI contain that troublesome period of this prince's reign, which took in the whole contention betwixt the houses of York and Lancaster: and under that title were these two plays first acted and published The present scene opens with King Henry's marriage, which was in the twenty-third year of his reign [A. D. 1445: and closes with the first battle fought at St. Alban's, and won by the York faction, in the thirty-third year of his reign [A. D. 1455]: so that it comprises the history and transactions of ten years. Theobald.

This play was altered by Crowne, and acted in the year 1681.


In a note prefixed to the preceding play, I have briefly stated my opinion concerning the drama now before us, and that which follows it; to which the original editors of Shakspeare's works in folio have given the titles of The Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI.

The Contention of the Two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, in two parts, was published in quarto, in 1600; and the first part was entered on the Stationers' books, (as Mr. Steevens has observed) March 12, 1593-4. On these two plays, which I believe to have been written by some preceding author, before the year 1590, Shakspeare formed, as I conceive, this and the following drama; altering, retrenching, or amplifying, as he thought proper. The reasons on which this hypothesis is founded, I shall subjoin at large at the end of The Third Part of King Henry VI. At present it is only necessary to apprize the reader of the method observed in the printing of these plays. All the lines printed in the usual manner, are found in the original quarto plays (or at least with such minute variations as are not worth noticing); and those, I conceive, Shakspeare adopted as he found them. The lines to which inverted commas are prefixed, were, if my hypothesis be well founded, retouched, and greatly improved by him; and those with asterisks were his own original production; the embroidery with which he ornamented the coarse stuff that had been awkwardly made up for the stage by some of his contemporaries. The speeches which he new-modelled, he improved, sometimes by amplification, and sometimes by retrenchment.

These two pieces, I imagine, were produced in their present form in 1591. See the Dissertation at the end of The Third Part of King Henry VI. Dr. Johnson observes very justly, that these two parts were not written without a dependance on the first. Undoubtedly not; the old play of King Henry VI (or, as it is now called, The First Part,) certainly had been exhibited before these were written in any form. But it does not follow from this concession, either that The Contention of the Two Houses, &c. in two parts, was written by the author of the former play, or that Shakspeare was the author of these two pieces as they originally appeared. Malone.

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King Henry the Sixth:

Humphrey, duke of Gloster, his uncle.

Cardinal Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, great uncle to the king.

Richard Plantagenet, duke of York:

Edward and Richard, his sons.

Duke of Somerset,

Duke of Suffolk,

Duke of Buckingham,

Lord Clifford,

Young Clifford, his son,

Earl of Salisbury,

Earl of Warwick,

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Lord Say.

Lord Scales, governor of the tower.

Sir Humphrey Stafford, and his brother. Sir John


A sea-captain, master, and master's mate, and Walter

Two gentlemen, prisoners with Suffolk.
A herald. Vaux.

Hume and Southwell, two priests.

Bolingbroke, a conjurer. A spirit raised by him:
Thomas Horner, an armourer. Peter, his man.

Clerk of Chatham. Mayor of St. Alban's.

Simpcox, an impostor.

Jack Cade, a rebel:

Two murderers.

George, John, Dick, Smith, the weaver, Michael, &c.

his followers.

Alexander Iden, a Kentish gentleman.

Margaret, queen to king Henry.

Eleanor, duchess of Gloster.

Margery Jourdain, a witch. Wife to Simpcox.

Lords, ladies, and attendants; petitioners, aldermen, a beadle, sheriff, and officers; citizens, prentices, falconers, guards, soldiers, messengers, &c.


Dispersedly in various parts of England.




London. A Room of State in the Palace.

Flourish of Trumpets: then Hautboys. Enter, on one side, King HENRY, Duke of GLOSTER, SALISBURY, WARWICK, and Cardinal BEAUFORT; on the other, Queen MARGARET, led in by SUFFOLK; YORK, SoMERSET, BUCKINGHAM, and others following.

Suf. As by your high1 imperial majesty I had in charge at my depart for France,

As procurator to your excellence,2

To marry princess Margaret for your grace;
So, in the famous ancient city, Tours,-

1 As by your high &c.] Vide Hall's Chronicle, fol. 66, year 23, init. Pope.

It is apparent that this play begins where the former ends, and continues the series of transactions of which it presupposes the first part already known. This is a sufficient proof that the second and third parts were not written without dependance on the first, though they were printed as containing a complete period of history. Johnson.

2 As procurator to your excellence, &c.] So, in Holinshed, p. 625: "The marquesse of Suffolk, as procurator to king Henrie, espoused the said ladie in the church of Saint Martins. At the which marriage were present the father and mother of the bride; the French king himself that was uncle to the husband, and the French queen also that was aunt to the wife. There were also the dukes of Orleance, of Calabre, of Alanson, and of Britaine, seaven earles, twelve barons, twenty bishops," &c Steevens.

This passage Holinshed transcribed verbatim from Hall.


In presence of the kings of France and Sicil,

The dukes of Orleans, Calaber, Bretaigne, and Alençon, Seven earls, twelve barons, and twenty reverend bish


I have perform'd my task, and was espous❜d:
And humbly now upon my bended knee,
In sight of England and her lordly peers,
Deliver up my title in the queen

To your most gracious hands, that are3 the substance
Of that great shadow I did represent;

The happiest gift that ever marquess gave,
The fairest queen that ever king receiv'd.

K. Hen. Suffolk, arise.-Welcome, queen Margaret:

I can express no kinder sign of love,

Than this kind kiss.-O Lord, that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!
For thou hast given me, in this beauteous face,
A world of earthly blessings to my soul,

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* If sympathy of love unite our thoughts.

Q. Mar. Great king of England, and my gracious lord; The mutual conference that my mind hath hadBy day, by night; waking, and in my dreams;

In courtly company, or at my beads,

With you mine alder-liefest sovereign,5

Makes me the bolder to salute my king

With ruder terms; such as my wit affords,

And over-joy of heart doth minister.


K. Hen. Her sight did ravish: but her grace in speech,


that are] i. e. to the gracious hands of you, my sove. reign, who are, &c." In the old play the line stands: "Unto your gracious excellence that are" &c. 4 The mutual conference-] I am the bolder to address you, having already familiarized you to my imagination. Johnson.


mine alder-liefest sovereign,] Alder-lievest is an old Eng-. lish word given to him to whom the speaker is supremely attached: lievest being the superlative of the comparative levar, rather, from lief. So, Hall in his Chronicle, Henry VI, folio 12: “Ryght hyghe and mighty prince, and my ryght noble, and, after one, levest lord." Warburton.

Alder-liefest is a corruption of the German word aldre-liebste, beloved above all things, dearest of all.

The word is used by Chaucer; and is put by Marston into the mouth of his Dutch courtesan :

"O mine alder-liefest love," Steevens.'

'Her words y-clad with wisdom's majesty, Makes me, from wondering fall to weeping joys;" Such is the fulness of my heart's content.— 'Lords, with one cheerful voice welcome my love. All. Long live queen Margaret, England's happiness! Q. Mar. We thank you all.

[Flourish. Suf. My lord protector, so it please your grace, Here are the articles of contracted peace,

Between our sovereign and the French king Charles, For eighteen months concluded by consent.

Glo. [reads] Imprimis, It is agreed between the French king, Charles, and William de la Poole, marquess of Suffolk, ambassador for Henry king of England,that the said Henry shall espouse the lady Margaret, daughter unto Reignier king of Naples, Sicilia, and Jerusalem; and crown her queen of England, ere the thirtieth of May next ensuing.- -Item,―That the dutchy of Anjou and the county of Maine, shall be released and delivered to the king her father

6 Makes me, from wondering, fall to weeping joys;] This weeping joy, of which there is no trace in the original play, Shakspeare was extremely fond of; having introduced it in Much Ado about Nothing, King Richard II, Macbeth, and King Lear. This and the preceding speech stands thus in the original play in quarto. I transcribe them, that the reader may be the better able to judge concerning my hypothesis; and shall quote a few other passages for the same purpose. To exhibit all the speeches which Shakspeare has altered, would be almost to print the two plays twice:

"Queen. The excessive love I bear unto your grace,
"Forbids me to be lavish of my tongue,

"Lest I should speake more than beseems a woman.
"Let this suffice; my bliss is in your liking;

"And nothing can make poor Margaret miserable
"Unless the frowne of mightie England's king.

"Fr. King. Her lookes did wound, but now her speech
doth pierce.

"Lovely queen Margaret, sit down by my side;
"And uncle Gloster, and you lordly peeres,

"With one voice welcome my beloved queene." Malone.


and the county of Maine.] So the chronicles; yet when the Cardinal afterwards reads this article, he says: "It is further agreed that the duchies of Anjoy and Maine shall be released and delivered over," &c. But the words in the instrument could not thus vary, whilst it was passing from the hands of the Duke to those of the Cardinal. For the inaccuracy Shakspeare must answer, the author of the original play not having been guilty of

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