Chorus sets the stage for the actions that are to take place between England and France.
Act 1, Scene 1 Setting: Within the palace of the King of England
The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely discuss a bill that was up for debate during the reign of Henry IV that would be highly detrimental, and expensive, to the church, and how the new king is contemplating putting it into practice. They then discuss how well the king has adjusted to his new position and how much he has matured since his rise to the throne. Canterbury claims that the king seems to be more towards the side of the clergy on the subject of the bill and that he has offered the king more money to fund the wars in France than any other past church official has and reminds him of certain claims that he possesses to certain titles, namely the crown of France. The two men then depart to meet with the French ambassador.
Act 1, Scene 2 Setting: The presence chamber of the palace
The king and his lords are met by the two bishops to discuss his claim to the throne of France. First, the king gives a serious warning to Canterbury that the claim he will explain to him must be legitimate because much blood will be shed if it is. Canterbury says it is indeed legitimate and that Henry has a claim through his great-great-grandmother Isabella (mother to King Edward III). France claims to have a Salic Law in effect (a law that bans succession through the females). Yet, as Canterbury claims, the territory that the Salic Law was put into effect is now a part of Germany, not France. Therefore, with the Salic Law not being in effect within the realm of France, Henry is the rightful heir to the throne. After hearing this, the king is continuously urged by both the bishops and his lords to invade France and pursue his rightful claim. The king, however, is worried about the impending danger posed by the Scots. Canterbury calms the king's fears by using an analogy with bees: The king should divide his army into four contingents, sending one into France, leaving the other three to defend against a possible Scottish invasion. Henry is convinced by Canterbury's words and agrees to pursue his claim. At this point, the French ambassadors are sent in. They deliver a message from the Dauphin of France saying that Henry has no right to claim any of the dukedoms of France in the name of Edward III. The ambassadors than deliver a gift to Henry from the Dauphin which turns out to be a sarcastically given box of tennis balls. To this, the king is angry and delivers a long speech, ordering the ambassadors to tell their master that he will invade France and take what is rightfully his. After the ambassadors depart, the king discusses his plans for war.
Act 2, Chorus
Chorus describes the English preparations for the war in France and the fear the French display when they here of the impending invasion. He then tells of a conspiracy being hatched against King Henry by three English lords in alliance with the French and that the scene must now shift to Southampton.
Act 2, Scene 1 Setting: A London street
Nym and Bardolph discuss Nym's hatred for Pistol. Bardolph says he will arrange a breakfast between the two, who are at odds over Pistol's marriage to Mistress Quickly, who Nym was originally betrothed to. Nym says he will do his best to behave. Pistol and his wife arrive, and he and Nym almost immediately draw their swords on one another. Both Bardolph and Quickly act as peacemakers, and the two ultimately put their swords away, though not without many nasty words. Falstaff's page enters, bringing news that Falstaff is grievously ill and Quickly goes off to tend to him. While she is away, Nym and Pistol resume their argument (which now includes Pistol owing Nym money), and Bardolph, once again, must keep the peace. In the end, the two men agree to be civil, since they must soon go off to France together to fight in the wars. Quickly reenters to tell the men they must come stand by an increasingly sick Falstaff.
Act 2, Scene 2 Setting: The king's quarters at Southampton
Exeter, Bedford and Westmorland discuss the conspiracy against the king, and Bedford notes that the king is aware of the plot against his person; yet the conspirators are unaware that he knows. The king and the three conspirators - Lord Scroop, Sir Thomas Grey and the Earl of Cambridge - then enter, and the king asks for their advice on certain matters concerning the French expeditions. Henry claims he does not doubt that all are in agreement with him on the topic of the French War, and the three conspirators flatter him immensely, claiming that all of his father's enemies are now faithful to him. The king then speaks of a man who drunkenly spoke out against him and how he should not be punished for his outburst. Scroop and the others then say that the man should be punished in order to set an example, yet the king says he will pardon the man (who is obviously fictitious) despite their objections and gives the conspirators, who were summoned to be commissioners of England in the king's absence, their charges. The papers given to them turn out to be documents that reveal their plot to murder the king, and the men immediately beg mercy. The men, who just asked the king not to give mercy to another man for a much lighter offense, are harshly rebuffed and arrested for high treason. All three men seem to take their sentences well, asking only for forgiveness for their souls, not their bodies. The king says it is up to God to give their souls mercy and sentences them to death. After the conspirators are led off, Henry speaks of the future English success in France and how they shall not leave their enemy country until he is proclaimed king.
Act 2, Scene 3 Setting: A London street
In this scene, we are informed that Falstaff has died, swearing off sack in the process. The old tavern group reminisce of their old friend until the men have to depart to fight in the wars in France.
Act 2, Scene 4 Setting: Within the palace of the French king
The French king and his lords discuss their plan of action for the pending English invasion, while the Dauphin insults King Henry. However, the constable and the king both agree that Henry can not be underestimated and that he is a formidable enemy. At this point, a messenger brings word of the arrival of the English, and the Duke of Exeter is brought in. Exeter tells the king that he must give up the crown of France and swear allegiance to Henry, the supposedly rightful King of France, or a bloody conflict will ensue. He also delivers a stern message to the Dauphin, saying that he shall pay if he does not right the wrong he committed in sending Henry the tennis balls. The Dauphin, of course, answers defiantly. Exeter tells the men that Henry is already in France, so a quick reply is advisable. The king says they shall have his answer the following day.
Act 3, Chorus
Chorus tells of King Henry's departure from England and arrival in France where he lays siege to the French city of Harfleur. In order to prevent the English from destroying the city, the French king offers his daughter, Katherine, and several miniscule dukedoms to Henry as a peace offering. Henry refuses the offer, and the stage is set for further wars.
Act 3, Scene 1 Setting: Before the walls of Harfluer
This scene consists entirely of an inspirational speech delivered by King Henry to his men. After the speech, the English army attacks Harfluer.
Act 3, Scene 2 Setting: Before the walls of Harfluer
The tavern group stands around idly outside of Harfleur, when they are driven towards the action by Fluellen, a Welsh soldier. After their departure, the boy tells of the less than honorable actions the men are capable of and says he needs to find more reputable men to associate with. He then departs. Fluellen and Gower, an English soldier, enter and discuss the actions of the war. Gower claims that Fluellen must go to the mines under the orders of the Duke of Gloucester, who is being ordered around by Macmorris, an Irish soldier. Fluellen is clearly displeased with this action and declares that Macmorris knows nothing of the methods of war. Macmorris and Jamy, a Scottish soldier, enter. Fluellen has nothing but kind words to say to Jamy but has some questions about the art of war for Macmorris, which he asks after Macmorris tells of the French retreat. Macmorris tells Fluellen there is no time for talking of such things right now and is offended by Fluellen's comments. Gower ultimately stops the argument between the two men but Fluellen vows to finish the conversation at a more convenient time.
Act 3, Scene 3 Setting: Before the walls of Harfluer at the gates
King Henry delivers a speech outside the gates of Harfluer, demanding they surrender or he will burn the city to the ground, rape the women and kill the children and elderly. The governor of the city appears and tells the king that the Dauphin is not able to ready his troops in time to rescue them; therefore, they will yield to Henry and face the consequences. The king tells his uncle, Exeter, to go in and treat the people of the city kindly. He ends the scene by saying they will stay in Harfluer for the night, but since his soldiers are growing increasingly sick, they must retire to Calais for the winter.
Act 3, Scene 4 Setting: Within the palace of the French king
This scene consists entirely of a conversation, in French, between Katherine, daughter to the King of France, and Alice, an old gentlewoman. Katherine asks Alice, who spent some time in England, to teach her how to speak the English language. The two then discuss the English words for several different body parts, some of which Katherine mistakes for vulgar words in French, before going to dinner.
Act 3, Scene 5 Setting: The French king's quarters at Rouen
The French King verifies that Henry has retreated to Calais, and the lords present all urge him to attack the English in their weakened state. This is followed by a series of derogatory comments about the English people. The king agrees with his lords and gives the order to attack Henry and his starved and ill troops. Furthermore, the constable claims that, since they are outnumbered and at a complete disadvantage, Henry will tremble at the very sight of the French army and offer himself up for ransom immediately. The king orders Montjoy the herald to the English camp to discover how much Henry is willing to pay as ransom.
Act 3, Scene 6 Setting: The English camp at Picardy
Fluellen arrives to tell Gower that the bridge under English control is being guarded valiantly by Exeter and Pistol, both of whom he holds in high esteem. No sooner does Gower say he does not know Pistol than he arrives. Pistol informs Fluellen that Bardolph has stolen a pax from a church and is sentenced to be executed for his crime under orders from Exeter. He asks if Fluellen can put in a good word with the king to stop the execution, but Fluellen says he deserves the sentence and would feel his own brother would deserve the same. Pistol curses Fluellen and departs. Gower then informs Fluellen that Pistol is nothing but a knave who comes to the wars occasionally to brag about his grand achievements, which there are none of to speak truthfully of, back in the taverns of London. Fluellen says if these accusations are really true, he will find out for himself. At this point, Henry and his army arrive and inquire about the bridge and the number of soldiers lost. Fluellen replies that the bridge is being guarded by the honorable Exeter, and the only soldier about to be lost is Bardolph, for robbing a church. The king agrees with the death sentence, and says the French people should be treated with respect and nothing should be stolen. Montjoy, the French herald, arrives and delivers a message from the French king: The French could have fought at Harfleur but thought it best to bide their time. They are well aware of the poor state of the English army and are willing to show mercy if Henry offers up a ransom that covers the losses the French have already suffered in the war. In reply, Henry says that he will give no ransom, and although his army is in poor shape, they will fight the French until the very end anyway. He then sends Montjoy away with this message, and the troops prepare to sleep for the night.
Act 3, Scene 7 Setting: The French camp near Agincourt
The Dauphin and the lords comically discuss matters such as their armor and horses to kill the time until morning. After the impatient Dauphin departs, some of the other lords do not think he possesses as much valor as some may think. A messenger enters and gives word that the English army is close at hand. The lords think it is foolish for the English not to retreat when they are clearly outnumbered and in bad shape. They prepare to do battle against Henry's army the following morning.
Act 4, Chorus
Chorus describes the scene at the English camp during the night and how Henry will walk through it, treating all his men as equals.
Act 4, Scene 1 Setting: The English camp near Agincourt
King Henry is discussing the dangers the English army shall soon face with his brothers when Sir Thomas Erpingham arrives. The king asks to borrow his cloak (to disguise himself) and then tells all he would like to be alone with his thoughts. After the lords depart, Pistol enters and converses with a disguised Henry. Pistol says some kind, and some not so kind, things about the king, and the king tells Pistol his name is Harry le Roy, a Welshman. When asked if he knows Fluellen, Henry answers that he does and that he is a kinsman of his. Pistol than curses them both and departs after telling Henry his name. Fluellen and Gower enter and briefly discuss how an army camp should be run, much to Henry's joy. They depart and three soldiers (John Bates, Alexander Court and Michael Williams) enter. Henry begins a long conversation with the men on the discourses of war and the relationship between monarch and subject, among other things. The king, still disguised, then says that he will never be ransomed; the soldiers claim that, if they die in battle, the king may ransom himself, and they would be none the wiser; and to this, Henry replies that he would never trust the king again if he were to do such a thing. Williams does not care for this comment against his monarch and challenges the disguised king to a duel if they both survive the battle. The two men exchange gages so they may remember one another, and the soldiers depart, allowing Henry to deliver a lengthy soliloquy on what it is to be a king. He is then summoned by Erpingham to rejoin his troops. When he leaves, Henry then prays to God not to be judged upon his father's usurpation of the throne from Richard and to give he and his men good fortune. He is then summoned once again by his brother Gloucester to end the scene.
Act 4, Scene 2 Setting: The French camp
The French army prepares itself to do battle with the English. A messenger arrives and informs them that the English are also ready to do battle. The Dauphin delivers an arrogant speech predicting the French victory, which is followed by an account by Grandpre, a French soldier, on the extremely poor condition of the English army. After several more derogative comments about the English, the French set off to battle.
Act 4, Scene 3 Setting: The English camp
Certain lords of England discuss their chances in battle against the French, and it is revealed that they are outnumbered five to one. After hearing the Earl of Westmorland wish for more men, the king delivers an inspirational speech, saying that they need no more men, and the current army they possess shall be more than enough. The lords are inspired, and they are prepared to do battle when Montjoy arrives. He offers (this time from the constable) the king one last chance to ransom himself and prevent a battle that he will surely lose. The king, of course, refuses this offer and delivers yet another patriotic speech in favor of the English. Montjoy leaves to return this answer. York, the king's cousin, asks if he may lead the vanguard; his wish is granted, and the English prepare for battle.
Act 4, Scene 4 Setting: The battlefield of Agincourt
Pistol threatens to kill a French soldier who begs for mercy from a man he thinks is a valiant gentleman. Using the boy as an a translator, Pistol threatens to cut the Frenchman's throat. The Frenchman, Master Fer, then claims he is from a rich house and offers to pay Pistol two hundred crowns if he spares his life. Pistol agrees, and the men depart. The boy then delivers a soliloquy on the foolishness of Pistol and reveals that even Bardolph and Nym, who at this point are both dead, look good in comparison to him.
Act 4, Scene 5 Setting: The battlefield of Agincourt
The Dauphin and the other French lords frantically discuss the poor performance of the French army and that they are now the ones at a disadvantage. All of the men, though, agree to keep fighting.
Act 4, Scene 6 Setting: The battlefield of Agincourt
The king announces that the English have fought well in the battle, but there is still more work to be done. Exeter then announces the dramatic deaths of the Earl of Suffolk and the Duke of York. Henry is saddened by their deaths but is distracted by an alarum that announces the French have sent reinforcements into battle. He orders all of the French prisoners to be killed, and they return to battle.
Act 4, Scene 7 Setting: The battlefield of Agincourt
Gower and Fluellen discuss how the French brutally murdered the boys that were guarding the English tents and Henry's slaughtering of the French prisoners. They then talk of the king's greatness, comparing him to Alexander the Great. Fluellen even makes the comparison of Alexander killing his good friend, Cleitus, to Henry's shunning of Falstaff. The king enters and is infuriated by the senseless slaughtering of the boys. Shortly after, Montjoy appears and begs the king to allow them to retrieve the bodies of the many French soldiers that have died in the battle. He also reveals that the English have won the battle, which was fought before the town of Agincourt. Henry and Fluellen then engage in a conversation of Welsh patriotism, and Henry allows the French to retrieve their fallen soldiers. Williams then enters wearing the gage that Henry gave him while disguised. When the king inquires of the glove, Williams said he will box the ear of the man who gave it to him for his dishonorable words. The king agrees that he should keep his word and sends him to call for Gower. Henry then gives the glove to Fluellen and tells him it is from the Duke of Alencon, and any man who challenges it is an enemy to the king and should be arrested. Fluellen unknowingly accepts the charge and is ordered by Henry to retrieve Gower, therefore putting him in direct contact with Williams. The king reveals the ruse he just played on Fluellen to his lords and orders them to act as mediators since a fight will most certainly break out between Williams and the Welshman.
Act 4, Scene 8 Setting: The English camp
Gower and Williams are speaking when Fluellen enters. Williams immediately notices his glove on Fluellen's hat and strikes him. Fluellen, who now thinks Williams is an ally of Alencon, becomes enraged. The king and his party arrive, and he admits to Williams that it was he who actually challenged him. Williams defends himself by saying that he did not know he was challenging the king and, therefore, should not be punished. Henry commends the fact that Williams kept his word and gives him his glove back filled with crowns. Fluellen also offers Williams money, which he refuses, but Fluellen insists he take it anyway. An English herald arrives with the death count for both sides of the battle: The French lost a total of ten thousand men, many of whom were men of rank. In addition, the English captured around 1,500 men of rank of the French. The English, on the other hand, only lost a total of only 25 men. Henry thanks God for the tremendous victory he has awarded them and says they shall depart for Calais and then London.
Act 5, Chorus
Chorus tells of Henry's triumphant return to England and the modesty he shows when he arrives. He compares it to the historical Earl of Essex and the reaction he might receive when he returned from his Irish campaign. Henry will soon venture back to France to discuss terms of peace.
Act 5, Scene 1 Setting: The English camp
Gower and Fluellen discuss the knavish behavior of Pistol and how he embarrassed Fluellen in front of many people, when he arrives and is immediately greeted rudely by the Welshman. Pistol, who had ordered Fluellen to eat his leek, is now himself forced to eat the leek, which he does. Gower and Fluellen angrily depart, hoping Pistol has learned his lesson. Pistol then delivers a soliloquy telling of how Mistress Quickly has died of a venereal disease and that he will go to London and become a thief. He ends the scene by saying he will pretend to everyone he has been hurt in the war.
Act 5, Scene 2 Setting: Within the palace of the French King at Troyes
Henry and the French king exchange kind words over the peace that is upon them. The French king agrees to go over the terms of peace with the English lords, and Henry and Katherine are left alone, along with Alice. The two engage in a lengthy, semi-romantic conversation, in a combination of English and French, that ultimately results in the two being betrothed to one another. When the others return, the French King has agreed to all conditions of the treaty, namely that Henry is the heir to the French throne and that he shall take Katherine as his wife and queen. The two countries look forward to times of peace.
Chorus tells of the fact that, although Henry V achieved so much in his short reign, all would be lost during the reign of his son, Henry VI. He tells that this has already been shown in Shakespeare's Henry VI plays and, therefore, it must be accepted. At this point, the play ends.