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Summary Act 3

SCENE 1

Adamant that if he dares, the Duke of Gloucester should defame him openly, the Bishop of Winchester intercepts and tears up Gloucester’s bill which was intended for King Henry VI’s perusal. Indignant, Gloucester delivers an oratory, highlighting Winchester’s sins and crimes; namely, sex trafficking and treachery vis-à-vis Gloucester. Winchester refutes Gloucester, arguing that if he is guilty of sex trafficking then he ought to be wealthy which he is not, and that his antagonism towards Gloucester is the result of Gloucester begrudging anyone else the right to counsel the King. As the two continue to verbally wrangle, the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Somerset respectively intercede on behalf of Gloucester and Winchester, while Richard Plantagenet, who allies himself with Gloucester, keeps silent as he has a suit of his own to plead. Presently, there is a noise in the streets followed by the appearance of the Mayor of London who reports that a violent fight, involving the hurling of stones, has broken out between the respective men of Gloucester and Winchester. Gloucester pleads with his men to forbear, but it takes the King’s and Warwick’s entreaties to persuade Winchester to accept Gloucester’s hand as a token of his peace. Subsequently, Gloucester’s men disperse and the King, pleased with the turn of events, presently addresses Plantagenet’s suit that he be reinstated to his noble status as the Duke of York. The King is all for it and officially authorizes the reinstatement. Everyone is pleased except Somerset. There is one more matter on the docket. It is Gloucester’s suggestion that the King sail for France where his mere presence will affect events to England's advantage. The King agrees that that's a good idea. As the meeting breaks up, the Duke of Exeter remains behind to soliloquize on just what exactly had occurred. He is convinced that the brokered peace between Gloucester and Winchester meant nothing, that the two are bitter enemies still, that their animosity will only make England suffer, and that the prophecy claiming King Henry VI’s reign will end badly will in fact come to pass.

SCENE 2

Under the pretext of selling grain in the town market and accompanied by a few French soldiers, Joan La Pucelle disguises herself as a French peasant and gains admittance to Rouen. Once safely in she gives the signal to Charles, Bastard of Orleans, Alencon, Reignier, and the rest of the French soldiers as to where to enter the city gates on account of their weak fortifications. Consequently, the English are driven out of Rouen, compelling Pucelle to mock the English from atop the city walls of the newly captured French city. Not rattled, Talbot dares Alencon and the rest of the French nobles to come out and fight if they dare. Wisely, by Pucelle’s counsel, the French refuse to bite Talbot’s bait and retire within the walls of the city. Meanwhile, the Duke of Bedford, who has been fatally wounded, refuses to be treated and cared for, and vows that he will stay where he is and be within view of the men if only to inspire them. Talbot obliges Bedford’s dying wish. Presently, he and the Duke of Burgundy, who have made a pact to regain Rouen or die in the attempt, assault the city. As the fighting proceeds, an English captain, incredulous at Sir John’s Falstaff’s cowardice, queries the knight if he would really run away and abandon Lord Talbot. Falstaff replies that he would abandon all the Talbots in the world to save his own life. Meanwhile, Talbot and Burgundy, having reclaimed Rouen, decide to pay their respects to the Duke of Bedford who has died, fortify Rouen, and then go to Paris where King Henry VI awaits.

SCENE 3

Joan La Pucelle exhorts her countrymen not to be discouraged as she will yet come up with a strategy that will turn the tide of war in France’s favor. Charles and the rest give her their votes of confidence and promise her that if she comes up with the winning strategy that her name will live on forever. Pucelle argues that it would be a boon to the French if the Duke of Burgundy can be persuaded to align himself with the French. Charles and the rest agree that that would indeed turn the war decidedly in favor of the French. Presently, they witness the English, led by Talbot, on the march to Paris. The Duke of Burgundy and his army is marching in the rear, making it ideal for Charles, Pucelle, and the rest to have a word with Burgundy. By and by, Pucelle speaks to Burgundy of behalf of Dauphin Charles. She argues that the Duke of Burgundy is French by heritage, that he should be killing the English rather than the French, that the English are only using him to their advantage, and that the English are really his enemies as evidenced by their release of the Duke of Orleans, Burgundy’s enemy, from imprisonment. Despite himself, Burgundy finds himself persuaded by Puculle and agrees to join the French.

SCENE 4

Having arrived in Paris, Talbot kneels before the King to avow his allegiance. Speaking of Talbot’s fearsome reputation as related to him by his father, and on account of Talbot’s remarkable achievements in France which includes the reclamation of fifty fortresses, twelve cities, and seven walled towns, the King pronounces Talbot the Earl of Shrewsbury. Presently, the assembly relocates for the Henry VI's official coronation as the king of both England and France. Meanwhile Vernon and a lawyer named Bassett resume a quarrel that was begun while they were en route to France from England. When Bassett asserts that the Duke of Somerset is as good a man as the Duke of York, Vernon strikes Bassett as proof that York is the better man. Indignant, Bassett vows to get even by taking the matter up with the King.

William Shakespeare