The First Part of Henry the Sixth. The numeral is invariably spelled 'Sixt' in the old editions, the new form of the word being very rare in Shakespeare's time. So 'fift' for 'fifth' as for instance in the opening stage direction and in line 6 below.
I. i. 1. Hung be the heavens with black. This meteorological reference receives added point from the Elizabethan practice of draping the stage in black when a tragedy was to be acted. Cf., for example, lines 74, 75 of the Induction to A Warning for Fair Women (perhaps by Thomas Heywood), printed in 1599:
'The stage is hung with black, and I perceive
The auditors prepar'd for Tragedy.'
The play cited was acted by Shakespeare's company.
I. i. 50. marish. Pope's emendation for the Nourish (i.e., nurse?) of the Folios, which many modern editors retain.
I. i. 60, 61. These lines illustrate the freedom with which the play everywhere alters historic fact. Two of the places named, Orleans and Poitiers, were not in English possession. The others were not lost till periods varying from seven to nearly thirty years after the date represented in the scene. Possibly we should understand that the first Messenger is reporting exaggerated rumors. His statement in regard to Orleans is contradicted by what the third Messenger says in line 157 (cf. also line 111).
I. i. 92. Another anachronism. The crowning of Charles VII at Rheims, the culmination of Joan of Arc's triumphs, actually occurred seven years later (July 12, 1429). Charles had, however, been crowned at Poitiers in 1422. The Bastard of Orleans, mentioned in the next line, was Jean, Count Dunois (1402-1468), illegitimate son of the Duke of Orleans and first cousin of Charles VII. He was one of the finest soldiers of his age, and is introduced in a conspicuous rôle in Schiller's play, Die Jungfrau von Orleans, as well as in Voltaire's earlier mock-heroic, La Pucelle d'Orléans.
I. i. 110, 111. The tenth of August last . . . the siege of Orleans. These lines and those which follow describe the Battle of Patay (June 18, 1429), of which another account is introduced in IV. i. 19-26. The general issue of the battle is correctly given and it is rightly said to have followed the British retirement from the siege of Orleans (May 8, 1429); but the allusion to Patay in the present lines is out of place, since the raising of the siege of Orleans is portrayed in a later part of the play (I. v and vi).
I. i. 116. wanted pikes to set before his archers. The military tactics of the day directed that the archers, often stationed on the flanks of the army, should be protected from charges of cavalry by rows of pikes fixed in the ground, points outward. Holinshed's statement is that the English set their pikes (stakes) before the archers in the usual way, but had no time afterwards to arrange their line of battle.
I. i. 124. flew. The Folios have the easy misprint 'slew' (with long s), which a very few editors are quixotic enough to champion.
I. i. 131. Sir John Fastolfe. This episode of Fastolfe's cowardice is four times employed in the play. Cf. I. iv. 35-37; III. ii. 104-109; IV. i. 9-47. Modern historians represent Fastolfe as a general of distinction and of unblemished valor, but the chroniclers of Shakespeare's day accepted the libel incorporated in the play. The chief interest of the figure here is his connection with the great Falstaff of the Henry IV plays. It is to be noted that the early editions of the present play invariably call Fastolfe Sir John Falstaffe, a fact which suggests that, in the minds of the editors of the First Folio, at least, the two were identified. J. B. Henneman (Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc., xv, 1900) gives a number of reasons for assuming that when Shakespeare chose the name Falstaff for the fat knight of Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor (originally called Sir John Oldcastle), he was actuated by reminiscence of Fastolfe in the present play. L. W. V. Harcourt identifies Falstaff with another Sir John Fastolf. See the articles on Fastolf mentioned in Appendix E.
I. i. 132. in the vaward,—plac'd behind. Almost a contradiction in terms, which editors have sought to harmonize by emendation ('rearward' for vaward) or by casuistry. The most reasonable interpretation is perhaps that of H. C. Hart: 'Fastolfe was in support (placed behind) of the vanguard, which was probably led by Talbot himself.'
I. i. 148. His ransom there is none but I shall pay. An ambiguous line which may be paraphrased in two ways: (1) 'I will pay any ransom that may be named'; (2) 'I alone will pay his ransom,' i.e., leave it to me.
I. i. 154. Saint George's feast. Properly, April 23 (the day of Shakespeare's death and traditionally his birthday). Bonfires in honor of St. George, however, would be appropriate on any day of English victory.
I. i. 162. your oaths to Henry sworn. Holinshed relates how Henry V on his deathbed admonished the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester and the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick never to make a treaty with the Dauphin by which any part of France might be relinquished, and how he commanded Bedford as Regent of France 'with fire and sword to persecute the Dolphin, till he had either brought him to reason and obeisance, or else to driue and expell him out of the realme of France.' He adds: 'The noble men present promised to obserue his precepts, and to performe his desires.'
I. i. 170. Eltham. A village nine miles southeast of London, on the road to Dartford and Canterbury. The Palace, of which picturesque remains still exist, was a favorite residence of the English sovereigns from the thirteenth to the middle of the sixteenth century. In line 176, steal is a modern emendation (by Mason) for 'send' of the Folios. Though not inevitable, the change is supported by the rime, frequent at the close of scenes, and it has been adopted in most recent texts. On the other hand, support for the Folio reading may perhaps be found in the words of Holinshed, who refers to Winchester's alleged purpose 'to set hand on the kings person, and to haue remooued him from Eltham, the place that he was in, to Windsor.'
I. ii. 1. Mars his true moving. The planet Mars has a very eccentric orbit, and his apparently irregular course puzzled astronomers till explained by Kepler in 1609. Editors have noted a strikingly similar allusion in Thomas Nashe's preface to Have with you to Saffron Walden (1596): 'you are as ignorant . . . as the Astronomers are in the true mouings of Mars, which to this day they could neuer attaine too.' (McKerrow's Nashe, iii. 20.)
I. ii. 56. the nine sibyls of old Rome. The Cumaean Sibyl offered King Tarquin nine books. The poet has transferred the number to the sibyls themselves, of whom various numbers (but not nine) are reckoned.
I. ii. 105. the sword of Deborah. Cf. Judges, chapters 4 and 5.
I. ii. 110. Excellent Pucelle, if thy name be so. Holinshed's Chronicle introduces Joan of Arc as 'Ione Are' or more fully, 'Ione de Are, Pusell de dieu.' The Folio text of the play usually refers to her simply as Pucelle (spelled 'Puzel' or 'Pucell'). The stage direction after line 63 of this scene calls her 'Ioane Puzel,' that after line 103 'Ioane de Puzel' (so also in I. vi. 3 and V. iii. S. d.). In II. i and V. iv she appears as 'Ioane,' but is only twice called Joan of Arc ('Acre' or 'Aire' in the Folio; cf. II. ii. 20 and V. iv. 49). Mr. Fleay attempted to find in these differences of name a clue to the play's authorship.
I. ii. 131. Saint Martin's summer. Summer in the midst of autumn. The reference is to the unseasonably warm weather often occurring about St. Martin's Day (November 11).
I. ii. 138, 139. The allusion is to a common but probably unhistoric story recorded in Plutarch's Life of Cæsar. During the war with Pompey, when the latter's navy commanded the sea, Cæsar embarked on a small pinnace incognito 'as if he had bene some poore man of meane condition,' with the idea of crossing to his army at Brundisium. A storm arose and the commander of the vessel ordered his men to put back. 'Cæsar, hearing that, straight discouered himselfe vnto the Maister of the pynnase, who at the first was amazed when he saw him: but Cæsar then taking him by the hand sayd vnto him, Good fellow, be of good cheare, and forwards hardily, feare not, for thou hast Cæsar & his fortune with thee.' (North's translation, 1579.) Peele mentions the episode in a similar manner in his Farewell to Norris and Drake (1589):
'and let me say
To you, my mates, as Cæsar said to his,
Striving with Neptune's hills; you hear, quoth he,
Cæsar, and Cæsar's fortune in your ships.'
I. ii. 140. Was Mahomet inspired with a dove? This alludes to a trick ascribed to Mahomet by several Elizabethan writers. Thomas Nashe has two references to it, and Nashe's most recent editor quotes the following from an earlier work, Strange Things out of Seb. Munster (1574): 'For he [Mahomet] accustomed and taught a Doue to be fedde and fetch meate [i.e., food] at his eares, the which Doue his moste subtile and craftye maister called the holy Ghoste. He preached openly, and made his bragges like a most lying villen that this Doue did shew vnto him the most secrete counsel of God, as often as the simple fowle did flye vnto his eares for nourishment.' (McKerrow's Nashe, iv. 200.)
I. ii. 142. Helen, the mother of great Constantine. The reputed discoverer of the True Cross. Two frescoes representing this legend adorned the Guild Chapel at Stratford in Shakespeare's time. See reproductions in Ward, Shakespeare's Town and Times, p. 33.
I. ii. 143. Saint Philip's daughters. Referred to in Acts 21. 9 as 'Virgins, which did prophesy.'
I. iii. 19. The Cardinal of Winchester. Editors have pointed out that the mention of Winchester's cardinalate in this scene is inconsistent with the fact that he is represented as only just made cardinal in V. i. 28 ff. and is called bishop in III. i. 53 and IV. i. 1. Winchester became cardinal in 1427, but the chroniclers report that there had been much previous talk of his probable elevation.
I. iii. 22. Woodvile. Holinshed records that when Gloucester wished to enter the Tower, 'Richard Wooduile esquier (hauing at that time the charge of the keeping of the Tower) refused his desire; and kept, the same Tower against him vndulie and against reason, by the commandement of my said lord of Winchester.' Woodvile became a person of great consequence upon the marriage, nearly forty years later, of his daughter to Edward IV, and in 1466 was created Earl Rivers.
I. iii. 34. Thou that contriv'dst to murder our dead lord. The fourth of five charges brought against Winchester by Gloucester (in 1426) relates to the former's alleged complicity in an attempt to murder the Prince of Wales, later Henry V. The same scandal has been more obscurely insinuated by Gloucester in I. i. 33, 34.
I. iii. 35. The disorderly houses on the Southwark bank of the Thames were under the control of the Bishop of Winchester and paid him a revenue. The proximity of these houses to the Rose Theatre, where this play appears to have been first acted (and to the later Globe), doubtless gave point to the allusion.
I. iii. 39. This be Damascus, be thou cursed Cain. Several popular mediaeval works (Mandeville's Travels, Higden's Polychronicon) gave currency to the belief that Abel was slain on the site of Damascus.
I. iv. 23-56. This passage involves several anachronisms. Salisbury's mortal wound was received at Orleans in October, 1428. Talbot was captured at Patay in June, 1429, and was not released by exchange with Santrailles till 1433.
I. iv. 95. Plantagenet. Montacute, not Plantagenet, was Salisbury's name. Furthermore, the appellation Plantagenet was not adopted by the English royal family till after Salisbury's death. It first appears in public records in 1460, being revived by one of the characters in this play, Richard Duke of York, as a means of expressing superiority of descent over the Lancastrian line (cf. D. N. B. s. v. Plantagenet).
like thee. The reading of the First Folio, meaning 'I will be as unconcernedly remorseless as you have been.' The next line carries with it a subordinate reminiscence of the well-known story of Nero, which led the later Folios to alter like thee to 'Nero-like will.' Malone then blended the two readings into the vapid 'like thee, Nero,' a perversion which nearly all modern editors have unfortunately accepted.
I. iv. 107. dolphin or dogfish. Dogfish, a small shark, was commonly used as an opprobrious epithet. Dolphin is the invariable form of the French title Dauphin in the early editions of the play. Modern editors substitute the present spelling in all cases except this, where the pun requires retention of the older form. It should be remarked that the Dauphin of the play was from the legitimist French point of view King of France (Charles VII) through the entire course of the action, since the death of his father, Charles VI, occurred only two months after that of Henry V. The English, however, ignored Charles VII's pretensions to the throne and continued to employ his old title.
I. v. 6. Blood will I draw on thee, thou art a witch. Johnson asserted the existence of a superstition that 'he that could draw the witch's blood was free from her power'; but no confirmation of this has apparently been found in Elizabethan literature.
I. v. 14 S. d. Joan here goes from the lower to the upper stage of the Elizabethan theatre, lines 15–18 being spoken from the upper or balcony stage.
I. v. 21. like Hannibal. The allusion is perhaps to the stratagem recorded by Livy (bk. xxii. c. 16, 17); Hannibal extricated his forces from an unfavorable position by driving against Fabius's army during the night two thousand oxen with blazing fagots tied to their horns.
I. v. 28. tear the lions out of England's coat. The armorial dress of the kings of England was embroidered with three lions (or leopards).
I. vi. 4. Astræa's daughter. That is, daughter of Justice, in allusion to the myth that Astræa forsook the world when it became corrupt, and carried her divine scales to the constellation of Libra. Spenser develops the legend elaborately at the opening of the fifth book of the Fairy Queen; and Peele's Descensus Astrææ turns it into a pageant in honor of the installation of a new lord mayor of London in 1591.
I. vi. 6. Adonis' gardens. What these were in classic literature has been acrimoniously disputed, but a beautiful and extended description, which perhaps inspired the present line, is given by Spenser, Fairy Queen, bk. iii. canto vi.
I. vi. 22. Rhodope's of Memphis. One of the most beautiful pyramids was said to have been built by Rhodope, a Greek courtesan who married the king of Memphis. The reading in the text is a conjecture of Capell for 'Rhodophes or Memphis' of the Folios.
I. vi. 25. the rich-jewell'd coffer of Darius. Alexander the Great is said to have kept Homer's poems under his pillow at night and during the day to have carried them 'in the rich iewel cofer of Darius, lately before vanquished by him in battaile.' (Puttenham, Art of English Poesie, 1589.)
II. i. 7 S. d. dead march. The dead march is in honor of Salisbury, whose body is carried with the army. Cf. line 4 of the next scene. (Hart.)
II. i. 8. redoubted Burgundy. Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, had been alienated from the Dauphin by the treacherous murder of his father in 1419. He was the ally of the English from the time of the treaty of Troyes (1420) till 1435. He was the second cousin of Charles VII and father of the famous Charles the Bold.
II. i. 38 S. d. The French leap o'er the walls in their shirts. This entire episode, which the dramatist has transferred to Orleans, is based upon an incident that really occurred in May, 1428 (a year before the relief of Orleans), at Le Mans in the adjacent province of Maine. Holinshed, following earlier chroniclers, records that the Frenchmen, surprised by an early morning counter-attack, 'got vp in their shirts, and lept ouer the walles.'
II. iii. 6. As Scythian Tomyris by Cyrus' death. The story of Herodotus is that Tomyris, Queen of the Massagetæ, led her troops to battle after her husband's death, slew Cyrus the Great (B. C. 529), and in scorn of his bloodthirstiness dropped his severed head into a wine skin filled with blood. Compare the countess's address to Talbot in line 34.
II. iii. 22. this is a child, a silly dwarf. The countess exaggerates greatly. Talbot was eighty years of age when he fell in battle, and the examination of his bones, when they were exhumed in 1874, showed that he could not have been undersized. 'The bones generally were remarkably well developed, and had evidently belonged to a muscular man.'
II. iv. 6. Or else was wrangling Somerset in th' error? Capell changed error to 'right' and Rolfe, retaining the old text, wished to interpret else as 'in other words.' Neither, probably, is justified. Richard's apparent alternatives amount to the same thing. From craft or from impetuosity he leaves the hearers to whom he appeals but one answer. It is 'heads, I win; tails, Somerset loses.'
II. iv. 7. Faith, I have been a truant in the law. Shakespeare brilliantly imagines the quarrel of the roses to have started among a group of young aristocrats, studying law in the Temple.
II. iv. 81. the yeoman. Somerset's slur is explained in his next speech. The execution of Plantagenet's father for treason (as recorded in the play of Henry V) deprived his heir of all titles of nobility. Lionel of Clarence, third son of Edward III, was not the grandfather, as Warwick states in line 83, but the great-great-grandfather of Plantagenet. See the genealogical table on next page.
II. iv. 96. attached, not attainted. Literally, arrested, but not formally condemned, as by bill of attainder, to the legal consequences of treason. It is evident that the speaker is splitting hairs, but it
The following table illustrates the relationships of the various members of the English royal family.
(the Black Prince)
(died in infancy)
(Duke of Clarence)
|John of Gaunt|
(Duke of Lancaster)
(Duke of York)
|Philippa (married Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March)||Henry IV|
(Duke of York; slain at Agincourt)
(Earl of Cambridge; beheaded 1415)
(Earl of March)
(Duke of Bedford)
(Duke of Gloucester)
(Duke of York)
(Earl of March)
(married Richard, Earl of Cambridge)
(Duke of York)
does appear that Richard was permitted to succeed to his inheritances without the formal restoration to his blood which the play represents (III. i. 148 ff.). See D. N. B.
II. v. 6. Nestor-like aged, in an age of care. That is, trebly aged by care. 'The care that has afflicted my life has made me as old as Nestor' (who lived through three mortal lifetimes).
II. v. 7. Edmund Mortimer. The poet adopts without essential alteration the statement of the chroniclers. Holinshed says: 'Edmund Mortimer, the last earle of March of that name (which long time had beene restreined from his libertie . . .) deceassed without issue; whose inheritance descended to the lord Richard Plantagenet.' Modern commentators point out that the chronicles, and with them Shakespeare, are wrong, since this Mortimer died in freedom in 1424. Apparently, they confused Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, with his cousin, Sir John Mortimer, who after long captivity was executed in the same year (1424). It is evident, moreover, from the use of the word 'mother' rather than 'grandmother' in line 74, that Shakespeare further confuses Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, with an older Edmund Mortimer, his uncle, just as he does in the first part of Henry IV. (See note on I. iii. 145, 146 of that play in the present edition.)
II. v. 96. the rest I wish thee gather. Probably gather is used in the well-authenticated Shakespearean sense of 'infer,' and Mortimer desires cautiously to remind his nephew of the full significance of his heirship; namely, the claim to the crown that it carries with it.
II. v. 129. 'Or make my injuries an instrument for attaining my ambition.' The Folios read 'will' instead of ill, the latter being one of Theobald's convincing emendations.
III. i. The historical place of this scene was Leicester, where Parliament met in 1426 (three years before the relief of Orleans depicted in Act I). Line 77 shows, however, that the dramatist thought of the events as occurring in London. King Henry, who plays a precocious part in the scene, was actually in his fifth year.
III. i. 22, 23. Gloucester's third charge against Winchester, as reported by the chroniclers, was that he had put men at arms and archers in ambush at the Southwark end of London Bridge, with intent to slay the Protector if he attempted to pass that way to the young king at Eltham. The reference to the trap laid at the Tower alludes of course to the incident dramatized in I. iii.
III. i. 51. Rome . . . Roam. The words were not identical in sound. Elsewhere in Shakespeare Rome rimes with 'doom,' 'groom,' 'room,'—words which have not essentially changed their pronunciation, while roam has presumably the vowel sound in modern 'broad.' Probably the pun in the present line was consciously inexact. Otherwise one might argue that Shakespeare was not its author.
III. i. 63. enter talk. On the precedent of the participle entertalking in Golding's translation of Ovid (1565-67), Hart changed this phrase to a single word: entertalk. The New English Dictionary does not recognize the word.
III. i. 78-85. This reference to the use of pebble stones, when weapons were forbidden the adherents of the contending noblemen, appears to show that the author of the scene had recourse to the ancient chronicler Fabyan. The episode is not mentioned by Holinshed.
III. i. 163-165. Richard Plantagenet inherited the earldom of Cambridge from his father and the dukedom of York from his father's elder brother, who had died (at Agincourt; cf. Henry V, IV. vi.) without issue. To these great estates were added by inheritance from his mother's side the titles of the Mortimers, Earls of March.
III. i. 185 S. d. Sennet. A sennet was a trumpet signal to mark the approach or departure of a procession.
III. i. 194. that fatal prophecy. The prophecy was very well known in Shakespeare's time—more so, doubtless, than in Henry V's. Holinshed thus reports it: 'The king, being certified [of the birth of his son at Windsor] gaue God thanks . . . But, when he heard reported the place of his natiuitie, were it that he [had been] warned by some prophesie, or had some foreknowledge, or else iudged himselfe of his sonnes fortune, he said vnto the lord Fitz Hugh, his trustie chamberleine, these words: "My lord, I Henrie, borne at Monmouth, shall small time reigne, & much get; and Henrie, borne at Windsore, shall long reigne, and all loose: but as God will, so be it."'
III. ii. S. d. The story of the capture of Rouen is apocryphal. This city remained in the hands of the English till 1449, eighteen years after Joan of Arc had been burned there. The particular stratagem here related may have been suggested by two different anecdotes found in the chroniclers, one referring to the capture of the castle of Cornill (Corville ?) by the English, the other to the capture of Le Mans by the French.
III. ii. 22. Where. This is Rowe's emendation, adopted regularly by subsequent editors. The Folios read Here, which may well be defended: Joan's signal is not to distinguish the safest passageway, but to indicate the practicability of that by which she entered.
III. ii. 28. Talbonites. A derivative formed from a Latinized version of Talbot's name: Talbo, Talbonis (though Talbottus is the form used by Camden). Modern editors seem all to accept Theobald's cacophonous emendation, 'Talbotites.' N. E. D. recognizes neither word.
III. ii. 40. the pride of France. Compare the pride of Gallia (IV. vi. 15). These sonorous phrases mean hardly more than 'the French.' They are echoes of Marlowe, who had rung the changes upon 'the pride of Asia,' 'the pride of Graecia.'
III. ii. 40 S. d. Alençon. The Folios make Reignier enter here, not Alençon, and for the speaker's name in lines 23 and 33 above they have 'Reig.,' not 'Alen.' This, probably, is only a careless slip. It is not at all likely that Alençon and Reignier were both on the walls (upper stage) in addition to Charles, Joan, and the Bastard; and the three cases just noted are the only mentions of Reignier in this scene or the next.
III. ii. 50. good grey-beard. John, Duke of Bedford, third son of Henry IV, was only about forty-five years of age when he died in 1435. Here his death is antedated, being thrown back into the lifetime of Joan, whom he actually survived by four years, and his age is greatly exaggerated. Bedford is called by Hume 'the most accomplished prince of his age, a skilful politician, as well as a good general.' Shakespeare, in the second part of Henry IV, paints an unfavorable portrait of him in his youth, as Prince John of Lancaster.
III. ii. 82, 83. Holinshed tells how Richard I 'willed his heart to be conueied vnto Rouen, and there buried; in testimonie of the loue which he had euer borne vnto that citie for the stedfast faith and tried loialtie at all times found in the citizens there.'
III. ii. 95, 96. This story is told of Uther Pendragon (King Arthur's father) by Geoffrey of Monmouth, followed by Malory (I. iv) and by Harding. Holinshed's later compilation refers the exploit to Pendragon's brother. Marlowe's Tamburlaine similarly puts his foes to flight when afflicted with mortal sickness.
III. iii. 19, 20. Burgundy's actual abandonment of the English for the French occurred several years after Joan's death. Knight, however, called attention to a letter (which the authors of the play can hardly have known), written by Joan to Burgundy on the very day of Charles VII's coronation at Rheims (July 17, 1429). In this she makes use of much the same arguments as in the scene before us.
III. iii. 69-73. The facts, as accurately stated by the chroniclers, are here greatly distorted. The Duke of Orleans, captured at Agincourt in 1415, was kept prisoner in England till 1440. His release thus took place five years after Burgundy's defection, and is stated to have been largely by reason of Burgundy's efforts.
III. iii. 85. Done like a Frenchman, etc. The apparent inconsistency of this line in Joan's mouth has been much discussed. It is not in character, but is a clear appeal from the original author of the play to the prejudice of his audience. Hart thinks that Joan, as an inhabitant of Lorraine, 'would not hesitate to speak thus of the French people.' But if Lorraine was not strictly French, neither was Burgundy. Warburton suggested that the line was 'an offering of the poet to his royal mistress's resentment for Henry the Fourth's last great turn in religion, in the year 1593,' i.e., his renunciation of Protestantism.
III. iv. 18. I do remember how my father said. Malone acutely cited this line in defence of his contention that this play is not by Shakespeare or by the author of the early versions of 2 and 3 Henry VI. The author of the present play, he argued, did not know that Henry VI was a nine-months' infant when his father died. Shakespeare did know this (cf. Epilogue to Henry V), and so did the author of the True Tragedy (3 Henry VI), neither of whom could therefore have written Part I. On the other hand, it might be explained that we have here one of Shakespeare's purposeful tamperings with dramatic time. There is an advantage in making the King appear older than he really was without reminding the reader that the whole long time from infancy to maturity has elapsed since the play began (with the funeral of Henry V).
III. iv. 26. We here create you Earl of Shrewsbury. Talbot was thus ennobled in 1442, eleven years after the coronation of Henry, to which the king invites him in the next line.
III. iv. 38, 39. 'By the ancient common law . . . striking in the king's court of justice, or drawing a sword therein, was a capital felony.' (Blackstone.)
IV. i. Henneman notes the 'curious relation' which this scene bears to the previous one (III. iv). 'Both have the King in Paris; both have identically the same actors; both have the same two situations, viz., Talbot's interview with the King, and the quarrel of Vernon and Basset, the followers respectively of York and Somerset. But the second scene is developed far beyond the former, and the spirit of the two is equally different. One is condensed and compressed; the other elaborated and heightened by fresh details.' Annotators have observed that when Henry VI was crowned at Paris (1431), Talbot was still a prisoner to the French, Exeter was dead, and Gloucester in England serving as the King's lieutenant.
IV. i. 19. Patay. The Folios erroneously print 'Poictiers,' doubtless from confusion in the compositor's mind with the Black Prince's great victory at Poitiers seventy-three years before (1356). For the battle of Patay, cf. note on I. i. 110, 111.
IV. i. 181 S. d. Flourish. Modern editors place this 'Flourish' in the stage direction following line 173, after the exit of the king. It probably belongs there.
IV. ii. A lapse of twenty-two years, from Henry's coronation (1431) to Talbot's last campaign (1453), is covered rather skilfully by the concluding portion of the previous scene.
IV. ii. 10, 11. my three attendants, Lean famine, quartering steel, and climbing fire. These words furnish a significant parallel to those in the Prologue preceding Act I of Henry V, lines 6-8:
'and at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire
Crouch for employment.'
The figures are not identical, but each bears the Shakespearean stamp, and both (more particularly that in the present play) are reminiscent of a speech which the chroniclers report Henry V to have made to the besieged citizens of Rouen.
IV. iii. 47. vulture of sedition. A figurative allusion to the vulture which fed in the bosom of the bound Prometheus.
IV. iii. 50. scarce cold conqueror. Henry V had been dead thirty-one years when Talbot fell, but the hyperbole is dramatically effective and tends in a very Shakespearean way to give cohesion and the sense of rapid movement.
IV. iv. Modern editors designate this scene as occurring on 'Other Plains in Gascony,' but it is evident that there is no change of place, since Lucy continues upon the stage. (The later Folios inserted an 'Exit' after the last line of scene iii, but there is none in the original text.)
IV. iv. 13. Whither, my lord? Lucy impatiently echoes the question, which he scorns to answer. His concern is with the person from whom, not the one to whom, he is sent.
IV. vi. 44. On that advantage. Perhaps this can be construed in the sense of 'for the sake of that advantage,' i.e., personal safety. In that case the phrase must be understood as modifying fly in line 46. This, however, is strained, and it may be better to interpret 'Fie on that advantage' and supply an exclamation point for the comma at the end of line 45.
IV. vii. 63-71. Great Earl of Washford, etc. Great interest attaches to this list of Talbot's titles. No source for it has been discovered earlier than an epitaph of Talbot printed in 1599 (in Richard Crompton's Mansion of Magnanimitie) , which runs thus: 'here lieth the right noble knight, John Talbott, Earle of Shrewsbury, Washford, Waterford, and Valence, Lord Talbot of Goodrige, and Vrchengfield, Lord Strange of the blacke Meere, Lord Verdon of Alton, Lord Crumwell of Wingfield, Lord Louetoft of Worsop, Lord Furniuall of Sheffield, Lord Faulconbrige, knight of the most noble order of S. George, S. Michaell, and the Golden fleece, Great Marshall to king Henry the sixt of his realme of France . . .' It will be seen that this agrees almost verbatim with the text of the play, the only alterations in the latter being the omission of one title and the addition of a few words for metrical purposes. The prose of the epitaph is therefore treated in the very manner in which in the Roman plays Shakespeare treated much of the prose of North's Plutarch, and the whole passage has a strong Shakespearean flavor. Are we, then, to infer that Shakespeare made his alteration of the play not earlier than 1599, at about the time when he was writing Henry V? See Appendix on The History of the Play.
IV. vii. 89, 94. 'em. The First Folio has 'him' in both cases, owing probably to misreading of 'hem' (i.e., 'em) in the manuscript.
V. i. 1, 2. Two events, separated by a considerable time, are here combined: the intervention of the Emperor Sigismund and the Pope in 1435 to secure peace in France, and the proposal to marry Henry to the daughter of the Count of Armagnac in 1442. Both these incidents long antedated Talbot's death.
V. iii. 6. monarch of the north. Evil spirits were identified with various quarters of the compass, particularly the east and the north.
V. iii. 29 S. d. Burgundy and York fight. So the Folio editions. Modern editors make the fight take place between Joan and York, but without justification. Joan's power has now disappeared and her part is passive. Probably the Exit after line 29, though in the old texts, should be omitted, leaving Joan a spectator of the fight which follows.
V. iii. 63. Twinkling another counterfeited beam. That is, each twinkling beam, reflected by the water, seems doubled.
V. iii. 68. is she not here? This is the reading of the First Folio. The second, third, and fourth, apparently troubled by the fact that the line has but four feet, added 'thy prisoner' after here, and they have been followed by most modern editors, though the words supplied are quite otiose.
V. iii. 75. [Aside]. This stage direction, here and in the following lines, is added by modern editors. It will be observed that the speeches so marked are only partially inaudible.
V. iii. 78, 79. A quasi-proverbial saying, found in Titus Andronicus (II. i. 82, 83) and elsewhere.
V. iv. S. d. Rouen. Modern editors place this scene at the 'Camp of the Duke of York, in Anjou,' to connect it with the previous scene which they put 'Before Angiers.' Really there are here two scenes, which, save for the authority of convention, ought to be separated. The first, dealing with the death of Joan in 1431, must be localized at Rouen. The second, beginning at line 94, dramatizes the peace negotiations which took place at Arras in 1435. With the meeting between Joan and her father should be contrasted the different treatment of the same theme in Act IV, scene xi, of Schiller's play. (Schiller, for dramatic effect, places the father's denunciation at Rheims immediately after the coronation of Charles VII.)
V. iv. 74. Alençon! that notorious Machiavel. The reference to Machiavelli (1469-1527) is an anachronism in York's mouth, but no modern figure was more familiarly talked of by the Elizabethans. By them he was regarded as the symbol of heartless ambition. It is very likely that in coupling Alençon with Machiavel the author intended a by-reference to the notorious Duke of Alençon who came a wooing to Queen Elizabeth in 1579 and aroused the violent antipathy of her subjects.
V. iv. 121. poison'd. This can perhaps be interpreted to mean that the throat poisoned by choler chokes the voice. Many editors, however, and with good reason, accept Theobald's emendation, 'prison'd.'
V. v. 93. Among the people gather up a tenth. Levy a special tax of ten per cent on incomes. Suffolk's levy, however, is stated to have been a fifteenth, not a tenth, and in the first scene of the second part of the play we have the correct figure:
'That Suffolk should demand a whole fifteenth
For costs and charges in transporting her!'
(2 Henry VI, I. i. 134, 135.)