Yearning to be in England, the deposed King Henry, who has been granted asylum in Scotland, sneaks into a forested area of England where he is being observed by two keepers who are there to hunt deer. As the former king speaks of his plight, the keepers listen. Queen Margaret and the Prince of Wales have gone to France to seek aid on behalf of Henry, but Henry fears that their effort will be undermined by Warwick offer's, which will be a generous one and which if the French accept, as they most likely will, will consolidate King Edward’s rule. Subsequently, the keepers, whose initial intention was to let the stranger pass, make a citizens’ arrest in the name of King Edward. Henry objects, arguing that they, having broken their oaths once already, oaths owed King Henry, can break them again, oaths they now owe King Edward. The keepers are determined to do their will, however, compelling King Henry to concede.
Lady Elizabeth Grey, whose lands had been confiscated when her husband died while fighting for the York faction, has come to petition to have those lands reinstated in her family’s name. Judging by how King Edward is dragging out the process, the Dukes of Gloucester and Clarence whisper, sharing their thoughts as to the King’s intention with regards the widow. Presently, craving some private words with Lady Grey, the King dismisses Gloucester and Clarence. Alone with the widow, the King makes his offer. Her lands will be reinstated provided Lady Grey sleeps with the King. Lady Grey rejects the offer and is about leave when the King offers to marry her and make her the Queen. Lady Grey objects, arguing that she isn’t fit to be a queen, and moreover that the King will find the task of regarding her sons his own irksome. But the King argues that he would be pleased to have her sons become his own and makes his intention of marrying her all but official by announcing it to Gloucester and Clarence. His brothers aren’t sure if the King is in earnest, but the King assures them that he isn’t joking and moreover that the widow’s lands have been reinstated in her name. Presently, a messenger arrives with news of King Henry’s capture. The King orders Henry to be taken to the Tower and goes to see about the men who had captured Henry. Alone, Gloucester resolves to claim the crown for himself regardless of who stands in the way nor what foul practices he must resort to. In light of his deformity which rules out philandering, Gloucester concludes that for him usurping the crown is the only sport worth engaging in.
Having arrived at King Lewis’ court in France, Queen Margaret explains her predicament. King Henry has sought asylum in Scotland, while Edward has usurped England’s throne. Unless King Lewis can provide Queen Margaret with the means to strike back, Edward will consolidate his ill-gotten crown and the Prince of Wales will be bereft of his rightful crown. Margaret is thus pleading her case when the Earl of Warwick arrives to speak on behalf of King Edward IV. Warwick explains that Edward wishes to form an alliance with France and that the best way to affect the alliance is for Edward to marry King Lewis’ sister-in-law Lady Bona. Warwick assures King Lewis that Edward has the highest regard for Lady Bona and would happily marry her if permission is granted. King Lewis confers with Lady Bona who replies that she would gladly abide by the King’s decision. Subsequently, King Lewis agrees to the proposed marriage, has the articles that would need to be honored by both nations in light of the new alliance drawn up, and informs Queen Margaret of his decision to wed France’s fortunes to England’s King Edward’s. Understandably, Margaret is distressed when a messenger arrives with letters for her as well as for Warwick and King Lewis. The letters inform one and all of King Edward’s marriage to Lady Grey. Consequently, Warwick repudiates his allegiance to King Edward, obtains Margaret’s pardon, and pleads with King Lewis to provide him with the means to remove King Edward from the throne. To prove that he can be trusted, Warwick promises to have his daughter married to no else but Margaret’s son the Prince of Wales. Satisfied, King Lewis agrees to provide Warwick with five thousand soldiers.