Scene 1

King Edward IV is reprimanded by his mother, the Duchess of York, for marrying Elizabeth Grey, a widowed commoner. As the king and his lords attempt to reassure the duchess and to tell her that it is better to marry for love than out of dynastic necessity (and that she will soon have grandchildren out of the marriage), the duchess laments on how many people, particularly the nobles, will oppose the marriage. Queen Elizabeth further reassures the duchess by informing her that she does have some noble blood within her and that she is virtuous nonetheless. Despite the duchess's protests, the king will not be persuaded, and the party prepares to sit down to dinner. However, a messenger enters and informs the king that the bastard Falconbridge is up in rebellion with twenty thousand men in an attempt to free King Henry VI from the tower. Edward had already anticipated this event and says he shall put down the rebellion presently.

Scene 2

The bastard Falconbridge and his followers (Chub, Spicing and Smoke) prepare to invade London to free Henry VI from the tower. Falconbridge does his best to inspire his farcical soldiers by telling of how they are undertaking a just cause by freeing the just and rightful King of England and putting him back on his throne over the usurper Edward IV. The men talk of all the riches they will encounter within the city before setting off on their task.

Scene 3

The Lord Mayor of London, Master Shore and Master Josselyn discuss their strategy and preparedness for the upcoming invasion of the city by Falconbridge, being shortly joined by the master recorder, who proceeds to give his input on the situation. A messenger enters and informs the men that the rebels are close at hand, prompting them to prepare for battle.

Scene 4

Falconbridge and his men attempt to gain entrance into London in the name of Henry VI but are met with scorn by the mayor and his associates. Despite Falconbridge's extreme confidence (he feels his cause is just, and he even claims he will sleep with Shore's wife that evening), the men deny him entrance into the city. The rebels claim they will get in one way or the other.

Scene 5

The mayor and his men are preparing for an assault from the rebels, and two young apprentices state their eagerness to defend the city. When the rebels arrive, they criticize the apprentices for involving themselves in a battle, which they claim is their duty as citizens. Fighting then breaks out between the two sides, and the apprentices prove themselves to be sincere. The mayor then vows to open London's gates and deal with the angry rebels head on.

Scene 6

The rebels are beaten back by the citizens of London, and Spicing, discouraged, believes they should retreat. For this offense, Falconbridge accuses him of being a coward, which prompts Spicing to attempt to leave. Falconbridge then (falsely) praises Spicing to make him stay and says they will retreat. Spicing tells the rebel leader not to insult his honor in such a way again, and the rebels retreat to bide their time and get reinforcements.

Scene 7

The mayor praises the two apprentices for their services against the rebels and, hearing that they are resting not too far off, feels they should pursue them at this point. However, Josselyn feels they should sit down and figure out a more solid plan, which the mayor agrees to.

Scene 8

Shore assures his wife Jane that the worst is past, and that the rebels have been chased away, and informs her that he had to fight for his king and for her honor (after Falconbridge had threatened to rape her). An officer then arrives and informs Shore that the rebels are regrouping and that they must do battle with them soon, with Shore being one of the commanders. Despite Jane's emotional pleadings, Shore departs to go fight the rebels, stating that it would be cowardly to stay when other men are fighting and reassuring Jane that, if he should die, she would easily find a new husband and would be left with a substantial fortune.

Scene 9

The rebels and the Londoners meet on the battlefield and exchange words before engaging in battle. Though the advantage seems to be with both sides at certain points, the Londoners are successful in the end and drive the rebels away. As soon as the rebels are gone, King Edward and his lords arrive to be informed of the good news. The king knights Crosby, the mayor; Urswick, the recorder; and Josselyn as a reward for their services. When Edward attempts to knight Shore though, Shore informs him that he is not worthy of such an honor, and the king says he will find another way to reward him. The king then informs the Londoners that he has left his new wife to meet with them and must return to her.

Scene 10

Falconbridge and Spicing argue over who is to blame for the failure of their rebellion to the point where they engage in a physical altercation before Chub enters to break up the fight and inform the men that there is a price of a thousand crowns on both their heads. Both Falconbridge and Spicing have plans to turn the other in, save themselves and collect the reward, while Chub has intentions of turning both men in. The men inform each other of their plans before a miller enters, to whom Chub reveals the identities of the men present. Falconbridge flees but the miller says that both Spicing and Chub shall be turned in to the mayor for their part in the rebellion. The mayor and Josselyn arrive, and the miller turns in Spicing to them. They are happy that Spicing has been found, but they also recognize Chub as one of the rebels. The miller informs the men that it was Chub who turned in Spicing to him, and the mayor says Chub shall be pardoned for his part in the rebellion and receive a share of the thousand mark reward if he hangs Spicing. Chub gladly agrees to this condition and, after the London men depart, leads his fellow rebel off to his place of execution.

Scene 11

Hobs, the tanner of Tamworth, talks about various aspects of his business when he is accosted successively by the queen, the duchess and two huntsmen; Lords Howard and Sellinger (who are searching for the king); and a disguised King Edward IV, all of whom he engages in comical interludes with, before he realizes his servant and his horse are missing and sets off in search of them with the incognito king in his company.

Scene 12

The two huntsmen discuss the hunting abilities of the queen and the duchess but are unhappy that they were not paid well enough for their services. Both men know that, if the king were present, they would have been paid a great amount more. Therefore, they go off in search of him.

Scene 13

Hobs the tanner and Edward IV talk about various topics before a conversation is begun about who is better liked, Edward IV or Henry VI. Edward IV goes out of his way to say he loves Henry VI better, but Hobs gives a more complex answer and lists good and bad traits for both kings, greatly impressing Edward with his vast knowledge. The king then claims to be Edward IV's butler and offers to take Hobs to court so he may press any issue with the king he feels he needs to. Hobs, however, refuses to go to court, saying he has no place there, but offers Edward his hospitality at his own house, which the king accepts. After Hobs departs, Howard and Sellinger arrive and inform their master that the queen and duchess are dining at the house of one Humphrey Bowes and wish him to join them. Edward, though, kindly turns down the invitation and says that he will dine with Hobs the tanner and take Sellinger with him. A messenger then enters and brings news from the king's brother Gloucester that King Henry VI is dead. The king is happy with this news and sets off to dinner with Hobs, saying he will meet his wife and mother for breakfast the next morning.

Scene 14

Hobs and his daughter, Nell, make dinner preparations for their guests, who will soon be arriving. The king and Sellinger arrive and are kindly greeted by the tanner. They sit down to dinner and talk of certain topics. Edward IV compliments the beauty of Hobs's daughter, and Hobs says he will provide a generous dowry if he were to take her as his wife, but only if he were to switch to a more humble occupation. The king then goes on to inform the tanner that Henry VI has died. Hobs offers the men a bed for the night, but they refuse, saying they have to return to court. They thank Hobs for his hospitality and say he will be treated the same way if he ever decides to travel to court.

Scene 15

Morton, Vice-Admiral of England, and the Captain of the Isle of Wight have captured the rebel Falconbridge (who had garnered the support of the French) and are in the process of leading him to his execution. Falconbridge handles his situation bravely and even still insists that Henry VI is the rightful King of England and that Edward IV is a usurper. He forgives the hangman, pays him and is led off to be beheaded. After he departs, Morton and the captain receive a messenger, who informs them of the death of Henry VI and that no one knows whether he was murdered or died a natural death. The men say they are only responsible for the rebel who has just been beheaded in their charge.

Scene 16

Lord Mayor Crosby delivers a soliloquy where he expresses his happiness on being knighted and on the honor he is about to receive from the king (who will shortly be arriving to dine with him), but he remembers to mention his humble beginnings as well. The Shores arrive and Jane will be sitting in as Lady Mayoress (since Crosby's wife has passed away). At this point, the king and the lords arrive and greatly thank Crosby for his hospitable nature. When Edward IV meets Jane Shore he is immediately taken with her and states, in several asides, that he has fallen in love with her, though his conscience is guilty for it. When letters arrive for him, stating that the Duke of Burgundy and the constable of France mean to give aid to him in his quest for the French crown, the king can only think on Mistress Shore. Therefore, to clear his mind, Edward claims to be sick and abruptly leaves the banquet with his apologies. Crosby is greatly upset with the king's sudden departure, but is consoled by the Shores, who agree to dine with him that evening.

Scene 17

Jane is discussing some business with the apprentices at her husband's shop when Edward IV, disguised once again, enters and begins to bargain for a jewel that Jane wears around her neck. The conversation becomes sexually charged when it becomes apparent that the disguised king is interested in a more precious jewel than the literal one Jane is wearing. After this continues on for some time, the king reveals himself, and Jane tells him she owes all obedience to him but cannot give up her honor. Shore returns to his shop and believes, at first, that the man is simply there to bargain for jewelry, but as he leaves, Shore recognizes him as the king and informs his wife of his thoughts. The goldsmith is immediately distraught and knows exactly why the king would be visiting his shop. Jane, however, reassures him that he has no reason to doubt her love. Edward IV returns one more time to bargain for the "jewel," but departs after Jane tells him to bargain with her husband.

Scene 18

Two justices, Sir Humphrey Bowes and Master Aston tell all those present, which includes Hobs the tanner and several other tradesmen, that Edward IV means to journey to France with an army to press his claim to the throne of that country, but since there has been so much civil war in England lately, he is short on funds. The men immediately know that they are being asked to lend money so that the king may make his expedition possible. Lord Howard arrives from court and asks the men what they may spare. Some of the men willingly lend the money, while others are extremely hesitant. Hobs, however, not only convinces all the other men to be generous towards the king, but gives a large sum of his own cash. The tanner then inquires of Howard the well-being of the king and his butler Ned (who, of course, was merely the king in disguise). Howard says they are doing well, and he will take him to court to visit them if he likes. Hobs agrees to this and means to press the case of his troublesome son (who has been arrested for robbery) to the court.

Scene 19

Jane Shore talks with her friend, Mistress Blage, about the solicitations she is receiving from the king. Mistress Blage admits that Jane has a difficult and awkward problem to deal with: on the one hand, if she agrees to give in to the king's advances, she will be dishonoring her husband and herself; on the other hand, if Jane turns down the king, she could face his wrath, which in the case of kings is, in some cases, death. However, Blage goes on to say that, if Jane does agree to become the king's mistress, she and all those closely associated with her, will be advanced in status and will receive generous rewards. As this conversation is going on, Jane's boy informs her that the man who was in the shop before (the king in disguise) is back to see her. Jane dismisses her friend and receives the king, who immediately resumes his courting of the married woman. In the end, the king convinces Jane (though reluctant) to go to court with him, to be his mistress and to allow her friends and family to be advanced. 

Scene 20

Shore speaks with the Lord Mayor and Francis Emersley, Jane's uncle and brother, respectively, about the illicit solicitations his wife has been receiving from Edward IV. At first, the men refuse to believe Shore's words and write them off to the jealousy of a man who has an attractive wife that others will be interested in. Shore defends himself by saying that the king has no other reason to disguise himself as a common servant than to win over his wife, in addition to the fact that, whenever he calls to the shop, he asks only for Jane. However, Shore's paranoia is confirmed when Jane's boy enters and informs the men that Jane has been taken off to court to join the king. All present are shocked by this revelation, and Shore vows to go abroad to escape the situation, leaving all his possessions under the control of Emersley.

Scene 21

Edward IV tells his lords how grateful he is for the generosity of the citizens of England for their money to fund his expedition to France. Howard and Sellinger tell the king that Hobs the tanner was the most generous of all and that he is on his way to London to procure a pardon for his son who is condemned for robbery. The king agrees to receive Hobs but wants to have a bit more fun with him first. Finally, the lord mayor enters and informs Edward that he has delivered a speech to the people of London, thanking them for their generosity, before the king sets off to the tower.

Scene 22

Shore is preparing to head abroad when he sees an elegantly dressed woman who is being followed by a number of suitors. He asks one of the watermen, who are helping him with his luggage, to inquire out who the woman is, and he is immediately devastated when he finds out that the lady is none other then his own wife, Jane Shore, whom Edward IV now regards as his most beloved mistress. Jane receives each of the men present, listens to their respective suits and does her best to grant them in the king's name. She then suspects that Shore, whom she does not recognize at first, is yet another suitor. But when she does recognize him, she laments at the fact that she deserted such an honest man as her husband and vows to return home to him. However, Shore is well aware of the fact that, where a king has once been, he of all people has no more place in. Therefore, the two say farewell, and Shore departs.

Scene 23

Edward IV and Sellinger disguise themselves in their former disguises in preparation to receive Hobs. When Hobs arrives he is greeted kindly by the men who listen to his request for a pardon for his unruly son. However, the master of St. Katherine's and the widow Norton enter and address the disguised king directly, causing Hobs to swoon when he realizes who he has been speaking so casually. To ease his troubles, Edward IV says that both Hobs and his son shall be fully pardoned for any offenses they may have caused. The master and the widow then give their share of money for the upcoming French expedition, and the king even offers Hobs, who is a widower, the widow Norton to be his wife, which Hobs promptly refuses. Edward IV then says that Hobs shall accompany him to court and sets off to finalize his preparations for the French expedition to end the play.

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