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

Continuing Richard II, Henry IV is now king and is fighting a revolt led by the Welshman Owen Glendower and the Percies. Henry IV wishes he could switch sons with Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, whose son is Henry Percy (Hotspur), a valiant soldier. The third Percy is Thomas Percy, the Earl of Worcester and brother to Northumberland. Henry IV is mad at Henry V because Henry V hangs out with John (Jack) Falstaff (who calls Henry V, Hal) and Poins. At the tavern, Poins convinces Falstaff, Bardolph, and Peto to rob some travelers. Poins and Henry V plan to then rob Falstaff et. al. of the loot. Back at the palace, Henry IV demands that Hotspur turn over the Scottish prisoners he has. As insurance, Henry IV holds Hotspur's brother-in-law Mortimer as hostage (Hotspur's wife Kate is Mortimer's sister and Mortimer's wife is Glendower's daughter). Ironically, Mortimer was proclaimed heir to the English throne by Richard II, though Henry IV became king. The Percies explain to Henry IV that they are revolting because Henry IV has placed unreasonable demands on them, even after they helped him (as Bolingbroke) become king.

Returning to Falstaff et. al., they rob the king's transport then Poins and Hal rob them and Falstaff et. al. flee. At the pub, Falstaff makes up extravagant lies about the robbery. Hal rebukes him, proving Falstaff false. In jest, the two pretend to be King Henry IV and Hal and Hal (as Henry IV) tells Falstaff (as Hal) that the man Falstaff is a thief and Hal promises to banish him for his crimes. Moving to the revolt, Mortimer, Worcester, and Hotspur plan the revolt, overseen by Glendower. Oddly, Mortimer speaks no Welsh and his wife speaks no English, so her father interprets for them. Back to Henry IV, he criticizes Henry V for this deeds and associations. Henry IV tells Henry V that Hotspur is more deserving of the crown than Henry V, whereby Henry V vows to prove himself by killing Hotspur in battle. Back at the tavern we learn that Hal repaid the travelers from whom the money was stolen, and that Hal has arranged for Falstaff to lead some forces in the king's army.

Hotspur's father (Northumberland) becomes sick, greatly weakening the revolting forces since his men cannot attend the battle. This news, and Prince Hal's newfound leadership, and a report that Glendower will arrive late disheartens Hotspur, yet he overcomes these setbacks with renewed vigor. Falstaff, as military leader, hires very poor and unfit soldiers. Prince Hal and the Earl of Westmoreland observe this, but do nothing. Hotspur wishes to fight the first battle at nighttime, but delays after Sir Walter Blunt brings kind greetings from the king. Worcester meets the king the next morning, but no agreement is made, though the king offers to pardon all the revolters. Worcester, however, lies to Hotspur and tells him the king readies for battle, since Worcester does not believe Henry IV will pardon them and doesn't want Hotspur to back off. In battle, Archibald, the Earl of Douglas (Percies' side) kills Blunt, thinking Blunt is Henry IV due to a disguise. Henry V then rescues Henry IV from Douglas' sword. Falstaff and Douglas fight and Falstaff pretends to die. Henry V and Hotspur fight and Henry V kills Hotspur. Falstaff arises and stabs Hotspur in the leg, then claims to have killed him. Henry IV wins the battle (of Shrewsbury) and executes Worcester and Sir Richard Vernon, but lets Douglas go free. Henry IV also divides his power with Henry V and Hal's brother John of Lancaster. This is a play concerning honor, as reasoned by Falstaff.

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Last Modified April 17, 2002