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King Henry IV Part 2

The History of Henry the Fourth, Part Two (a History)

This play, contrasting with 1 Henry IV, is a play concerning justice, sickness and betrayal. Lord Bardolph tells the Earl of Northumberland (Henry Percy) the rumor that Hotspur killed Hal in battle, but Morton reveals the truth of Hotspur's death to his father (Northumberland). Morton also reports that the Richard Scroop, the Archbishop of York is rebelling against Henry IV. Back in London, the Chief Justice talks to Falstaff about his crimes and comments that Henry IV has separated Falstaff from Henry V (Hal) by sending Falstaff with Prince John of Lancaster (the Duke of Bedford; Henry IV's son) to fight Scroop and Northumberland. At the battlefield, Lord Hastings and Scroop decide to fight Henry IV's men before Northumberland gets there, even though Lord Bardolph suggests waiting for reinforcements.

Back again in London, Henry V returns from fighting the Welsh (in 1 Henry IV) and discusses with Ned Poins Henry IV's sickness and Falstaff's pompous letter to Hal. Hal and Poins pretend to be waiters for Falstaff's supper. Meanwhile, Northumberland's wife and his daughter-in-law (Hotspur's widow) successfully convince him not to fight in the ensuing battle, criticizing him for abandoning Hotspur in the Battle of Shrewsbury (even though he was sick). The ladies convince Northumberland to flee to Scotland and hide (far from battle). At Mistress Quickly's tavern, Falstaff meets Mistress Doll Tearsheet. Tearsheet argues with Pistol upon his arrival and Falstaff chases him out with a sword, wounding him in the shoulder, impressing Tearsheet. Soon after, Hal (disguised) catches Falstaff talking badly of Hal, then toys with Falstaff about it, but is stopped when they all have to leave for battle.

Henry IV, sick, cannot sleep. The Earl of Warwick (with the Earl of Surrey and Sir Walter Blunt) assure Henry IV that Northumberland will be defeated, though Henry IV repeats Richard II's prediction that Northumberland, who helped Henry IV to the throne, would eventually revolt and win. On his way to battle, Sir John Falstaff arrives at Justice Shallow's home seeking old friends (commoners) to be soldiers. Falstaff conscripts Moldy, Shadow, Wart, Feeble, and Bullcalf, though Bullcalf and Moldy bribe Bardolph (Falstaff's friend) to not have to fight. At the battlefield, Scroop, Mowbray, and Hastings learn that Northumberland will not help them. The Earl of Westmoreland meets Scroop and receives a list of grievances to be given to Henry IV. Prince John responds personally and yields to Scroop's demands, granting protection to the rebelling nobles, who quickly tell their armies to disperse. Westmoreland and Prince John, though, then betray Hastings, Scroop, and Mowbray and arrests them for treason. Falstaff captures Sir John Coleville of the Dale (a rebel) without a fight. Prince John sends Coleville with the other rebel nobles to be executed. Falstaff, alone, complains that Prince John never smiles, blaming it on the fact that Prince John doesn't drink. Falstaff likes Hal, though, because Hal does drink.

Back in London, Henry IV vows to go on a crusade to the Holy Land if the rebellion is suppressed. When it is, he is happy, though still sick because Henry V is still associating with criminals. Hal arrives while Henry IV is asleep, and takes his father's crown. Henry IV wakes, calling Hal back, and rebukes Hal for wishing him dead and taking the crown, though Hal claims he only though his father dead and wanted to protect the crown. Henry IV advises Henry V to wage foreign wars as king to occupy Britain's time and to increase Henry V's popularity, then Henry IV dies. Henry V becomes king and swears to be kind to all, even the Chief Justice who once jailed Henry V. Falstaff quickly returns to London, hoping to receive favors from the now king Henry V. However, in a coronation march, Henry V meets Falstaff and banishes him (quasi-betraying Falstaff) and his gang from approaching Henry V within 10 miles, after which Falstaff is arrested for his crimes.

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Recent Forum Posts on King Henry IV Part 2

too many questions...

which pairs of characters seem to get compared in the play? and how? who is Prince Harry ultimately loyal to? how do you feel about the banishment of Falstaff?


Henry IV was a usurper and not much of a king. His son, Hal appeared to be unreliable and painteFalstaffd the town red with Falstaff and his gang. However, Hal found himself between a rock and a hard place and thus, he had to dismiss Falstaff. It has been called 'betrayal', and to a degree it is but there had to come a time when Henry V, as he now was, had to grow up.
Personally speaking, I much prefered Hotspur! I think he would have made a better king...I doubt that Henry V would have won Agincourt without his marvellous Cheshire and Welsh lowbow archers...they were the winners of the day!
Just a note that may interest: The Longbow, invented by the Welsh, was 7 feet in height and its arrow was a yard long...called a 'clotharrow' because a yard measuredcloth!!!! It was deadly accurate at about 400 ft. but could hurt you from about 500ft ! So good were these achers that when the Scots caught them, they removed the first 2 fingers of the archer's right hand so they'd never be able to aim an arrow again...from that came 2 finger sign!

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