Act 1, Scene 1 Setting: The Parliament House, London

York, his sons, and Warwick discuss their victory over the Lancastrians at St. Albans as they await for the Parliament to be assembled. Richard shows off the head of Somerset, whom he killed in battle, and it is mentioned that Buckingham is most likely dead, along with Clifford, although the king was able to escape. When Henry comes in the rebels mean to press York's right to the throne. At this point, King Henry and his train (which includes the Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland and Lord Clifford, among others) enter and find York sitting on the throne. A lengthy argument ensues between the two sides over who is the rightful king of the realm, and numerous threats are made on each side. Finally, the king agrees that York and his sons shall be heirs to the throne under the condition that they shall respect Henry as their rightful king during his lifetime. Henry's followers are extremely disappointed with this agreement, and York and his followers are, of course, more than content with it. The king's followers all leave in anger while the Yorkists leave in peace, leaving Henry alone with the Duke of Exeter. Before they are able to depart themselves, Queen Margaret and Henry's son, Prince Edward, arrive. The queen is infuriated to say the least and severely reprimands Henry for disinheriting their son from the throne. Henry claims that he was forced by York and his followers to do so, and Margaret is angered further, saying that she shall command an army out of the north herself against the Yorkists. She and Prince Edward depart to join their army while the king is left with the difficult task of informing the Yorkists of the latest developments in the storyline.

Act 1, Scene 2 Setting: York's castle, Sandal

Edward, Richard and the Marquis of Montague argue over who should represent their cause as orator when York enters. York's sons urge their father to still further pursue the crown, despite the fact that a truce has been made for Henry to reign peacefully during his own lifetime. Richard argues that, since the Lancastrians usurped the throne in the first place, it would not be a crime to usurp it from them. This is all the convincing that York needs, and he agrees to do battle once again with the king and his followers. As he is giving commands to his sons on how they should organize their armies and those of their followers, a messenger enters bringing news that Queen Margaret is outside the castle with an army of twenty thousand soldiers. York's uncles, John and Hugh Mortimer, arrive to reinforce the Yorkists, and York prepares to do battle with the queen's forces, despite the insurmountable odds against them.

Act 1, Scene 3 Setting: A battlefield between Sandal and Wakefield

York's youngest son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, attempts, with his tutor, to escape the Lancastrians on the battlefield. They are discovered, however, by Clifford, who sends off the tutor and tells Rutland that he shall die by his hands as a result of York killing his father. Despite all the begging and pleadings of Rutland, Clifford stabs him to death and vows to do the same to all the members of the house of York.

Act 1, Scene 4 Setting: The battlefield

York wanders the battlefield, lamenting the deaths of his uncles and knowing that the queen has won the battle. The queen, Clifford and Northumberland enter and capture York. After York is subdued, Margaret delivers a scathing speech to the duke, mocking him of his losses, including the recent loss of his son Rutland, and even goes so far as to place a paper crown on his head to simulate his "coronation." York delivers a sad lament over his son's death and returns Margaret's insults by referring to her father's poverty, despite his immense titles. This speech brings pity to Northumberland, but Margaret and Clifford are unaffected. The queen and Clifford both stab York, killing him. Margaret orders his head to be put at the gates of York.

Act 2, Scene 1 Setting: Fields in the Marches

Edward and Richard roam the English-Welsh border wondering if their father was able to escape the Lancastrians. They then see a phenomenon in the sky: three suns which then come together to form one single sun. This they take to be the three remaining sons of Richard Plantagenet coming together to cover the whole world. At this point, a messenger arrives and informs the men of their father's death, the tauntings of Margaret and Clifford before they killed him and how his head now stands at the gates of York. Edward and Richard both lament their father's death before Warwick and Montague enter with their men. Warwick, who already knew of York's death, tells the men that he attempted to do battle with the queen's army, but was defeated easily. He also tells how the Duke of Norfolk is awaiting with his soldiers, and York's other son, George, is returning from France with an army. The men agree that, if they combine their forces, they will have a chance at doing battle with the queen's army; they all vow to overthrow Henry and his followers and crown Edward King of England. Finally, a messenger arrives with news that Queen Margaret would like to meet with the rebels.

Act 2, Scene 2 Setting: Before the walls of York

The king and queen and their followers stand on the walls of York with York's head. Margaret is quite pleased with the prize she won, but Henry is nothing but upset. Clifford then delivers a long speech telling the king that he must not feel pity for York because he brought about his own fall by his ambitions of seizing the throne. Henry is still not convinced that they did the right thing by killing York. Margaret attempts to sooth his pain by reminding him he promised to knight their son. Edward is knighted, and a messenger enters with news that the rebels are close at hand with a large army. Clifford and Margaret both suggest that the king depart for the fighting but he insists on staying. The rebels arrive, and Edward immediately demands to be crowned king. The rest of the scene consists of the trading of insults between the two factions which culminates in them preparing to do battle with one another.

Act 2, Scene 3 Setting: Fields near York

Warwick, Edward and George all enter separately, retreating from their enemies. It is only when Richard enters and delivers an inspirational speech that the men are revived in their efforts to take the crown. After Richard's words, the men vow never to surrender until they achieve their goal.

Act 2, Scene 4 Setting: Fields near York

Richard and Clifford meet in the battlefield and vow revenge upon one another. They begin to fight and Warwick rescues Richard, forcing Clifford to flee. Richard tells Warwick to allow him to take care of Clifford himself.

Act 2, Scene 5 Setting: Fields near York

King Henry delivers a long and powerful soliloquy about the pointlessness of war and how it would be nice to live the life of a simple countryman. A Lancastrian soldier comes in bragging about how he will rob the corpse of a Yorkist soldier he has just killed. He takes off the helmet of the dead man and realizes it was his own father he has just killed. Another soldier enters with a dead body, takes off the helmet and realizes that he has just killed his own son. Henry laments the sorrows with the two soldiers before they depart. Prince Edward, Margaret and Exeter then enter in retreat from the rebels and tell the king he must retreat with them if he is to be saved.

Act 2, Scene 6 Setting: Fields near York

Clifford, who has been fatally wounded by an arrow to his neck, delivers a sad lament, telling of the ultimate downfall of the house of Lancaster, and faints. The rebels enter and celebrate their victory over the Lancastrians before they notice the nearly dead Clifford. The men deliver insult after insult over Clifford before he dies. After they finish with these insults, Warwick suggests that he will go to France to procure a marriage between Edward, who all feel is the new King of England, and Lady Bona, the French king's sister-in-law. Edward agrees to the marriage and creates Richard Duke of Gloucester and George Duke of Clarence.

Act 3, Scene 1 Setting: A forest in northern England, near the Scottish border

Two gamekeepers discuss their hunting strategies when King Henry enters in disguise, lamenting his situation. The gamekeepers recognize him as the former king and say they will turn him in to the authorities. First, Henry reveals that the queen the prince have gone to France to ask for aid. At the same time, Warwick has gone to ask for Lady Bona's hand in marriage for Edward. Henry is unsure who will win the war of words between the two sides but feels that he will come out on the losing end. The gamekeepers come forward and lay hands on Henry. Despite his arguments, the two men take him to the authorities.

Act 3, Scene 2 Setting: The palace, London

A widow, Elizabeth Lady Grey, who's husband was killed at St. Albans, requests from the new King Edward IV that her husband's lands be returned to her and her three children. Edward and Lady Grey discuss the issue while Richard and George stand aside making sexual comments about the two. The king says he will grant Lady Grey's wishes if she will become his queen. Lady Grey gives opposition to Edward, but Edward continues his suit, despite the objections of his brothers to the match. A messenger comes in and informs Edward that Henry has been captured. The king commands that he be put in the tower and departs with the others, leaving Richard alone. Richard then proceeds to deliver a lengthy soliloquy, revealing his own intentions of seizing the crown of England, no matter what he has to do to achieve his goals.

Act 3, Scene 3 Setting: The king's palace, France

Queen Margaret and Prince Edward, along with the Earl of Oxford, visit King Louis in France in order to ask for his aid against the Yorkists. No sooner has Margaret pleaded her case than does Warwick enter with the proposition for Lady Bona to marry Edward. The two sides argue back and forth on behalf of their respective factions before Louis asks for a private conference with Warwick. After talking with Warwick, Louis agrees to marry off Lady Bona to King Edward. This is, of course, upsetting to Margaret, but soon after, a post arrives bringing letters for Margaret, Warwick and Louis, all of which reveal Edward's proposed marriage to Lady Grey. Louis is angered that he has been mocked by the proposed marriage to his sister, and Warwick immediately defects to the Lancastrian faction after feeling insulted by Edward's marriage. Warwick is welcomed with open arms by Margaret, and he also reveals that Edward's brother George, who also is not happy with the marriage, has plans to defect from the Yorkists. In addition, Louis agrees to give aid to Margaret to avenge his sister. To assure his loyalty, Warwick agrees to marry off his daughter to Prince Edward. The marriage is agreed to, and the Lancastrians and the French prepare their armies. Warwick ends the scene with a soliloquy revealing that he will have Edward deposed not because he pities Henry, but for revenge for Edward making him look foolish.

Act 4, Scene 1 Setting: The palace, London

As King Edward enters with his new queen, Lady Grey, he is immediately chided by his brothers George and Richard. George, in particular, criticizes Edward for angering King Louis of France and alienating Warwick with his marriage, in addition to marrying a woman that is well beneath his social standing. Edward cares not what his brothers have to say and merely says that he shall have his will since he is king. The post comes in from France and tells Edward that Louis, Margaret and Warwick are preparing to do battle with him to take back the throne. Edward seems confident of his chances of victory until his own brother, George, along with the Duke of Somerset (son of the duke from 2 Henry VI), go off to join with the Lancastrians. The king seems less optimistic, but still prepares for battle with the remaining men he has.

Act 4, Scene 2 Setting: Fields near Warwick

Warwick and the Earl of Oxford discuss their battle strategy when George and Somerset arrive to join their faction. They are welcomed by Warwick, who agrees that George shall marry his youngest daughter. Warwick then delivers an inspirational speech, saying that they will capture Edward and reinstate Henry to the throne.

Act 4, Scene 3 Setting: King Edward's camp, near Warwick

Three watchman at King Edward's camp discuss how the king will not sleep in a bed until the rebellion is subdued. Warwick and the other rebels enter quietly, take the men by surprise and mean to take Edward prisoner.

Act 4, Scene 4 Setting: King Edward's camp

Warwick and the others capture King Edward as Richard and Lord Hastings escape. Edward is insulted when Warwick refers to him simply as "duke," yet Warwick says he is unfit to run the kingdom and will therefore reinstate Henry. They lead Edward off to the Archbishop of York, Warwick's brother, and prepare to march to London to retrieve Henry from prison.

Act 4, Scene 5 Setting: The palace, London

Queen Elizabeth informs her brother, Earl Rivers, about Edward's capture at the hands of Warwick. She says she will take sanctuary while she still can to save Edward's heir, whom she is pregnant with.

Act 4, Scene 6 Setting: The Archbishop of York's park, near Warwick

Richard, along with Lord Hasting and Sir William Stanley, wait in the woods outside the Archbishop of York's lands for Edward, who hunts on the grounds during his captivity, to pass by. Edward and a huntsman enter and are accosted by Richard and the others. The plan is to take Edward to Lynn and to Flanders. The men depart, taking the huntsman with them.

Act 4, Scene 7 Setting: The Tower, London

King Henry is freed from the Tower of London and declares that he shall reign as king with Warwick as protector of the realm. Warwick then suggest that George should be protector. The two gently argue over the issue before Henry declares that they shall both be protectors, while he reigns quietly, living a life dedicated to God. This is agreed to on all sides, and Henry is introduced to the young Earl of Richmond. Henry gives the young earl his blessing and declares that he will be England's savior (he is indeed the future King Henry VII). The post enters and informs everyone that Edward has escaped and fled to Burgundy, where he will most likely be able to levy an army. Warwick and the others exit to prepare themselves against him. Somerset and Oxford both agree that Richmond should be taken safely to Brittany to prevent his ultimate execution should Edward take back the throne.

Act 4, Scene 8 Setting: Outside the walls of York

Edward, Richard and the others stand before the walls of York looking to gain entry to the city. The Mayor of York appears on the walls and says they are loyal to King Henry and can therefore not allow them entrance. Edward claims that he has only returned to claim his position of Duke of York (ironically recalling Henry Bolingbroke's actions when he seized the crown from Richard) and is a loyal subject to King Henry. The mayor believes him, comes down from the walls and gives Edward the keys to the city. Sir John Montgomery, a soldier, enters with an army claiming that he is ready to do battle for King Edward. Edward still claims that he has only come to reclaim his dukedom and that they are not strong enough to do battle with the forces of the Lancastrians yet. Montgomery says he will not support him if he means not to be king and, after being persuaded by Richard and Hastings, Edward agrees to take back the crown from Henry. The forces set off to do battle with Warwick's forces.

Act 4, Scene 9 Setting: The Bishop of London's palace

Warwick informs the king and the other lords that Edward and his followers are back in England, with many foreign soldiers under their command, and are marching towards London. All of the men do homage to Henry before they set off to muster their respective armies.

Act 4, Scene 10 Setting: The Bishop's palace

King Henry and Exeter discuss the chances for a Lancastrian victory against the Yorkists. Exeter hopes that Edward will not persuade any of Henry's followers to join forces with him. Henry is confident that, because of his piety and virtue, he will be looked at better than Edward. At this point, Edward and Richard enter and arrest Henry and Exeter. They then set off to do battle with Warwick, while the king is sent back to the tower.

Act 5, Scene 1 Setting: Before the walls of Coventry

Warwick is informed that the armies of his fellow Lancastrian supporters are close at hand. It is Edward's army, however, who arrives first to Coventry. Edward offers Warwick a complete pardon if he will swear allegiance to him, and he also announces that he has King Henry prisoner. Warwick resists and is soon joined by the armies of Oxford, Montague, Somerset and George respectively. When George arrives, however, Edward and Richard are able to convince him to return to their side. George throws defiance at Warwick and rejoins the Yorkists. Warwick then challenges Edward to do battle with him at Bartnet, which Edward gladly accepts.

Act 5, Scene 2 Setting: Near Bartnet

King Edward leaves a bloodied Warwick in the field to die and departs. Warwick delivers a sad lament of how he fell from greatness. Oxford and Somerset then arrive and inform the dieing earl that Margaret is on her way from France with a large army to do battle with the Yorkists. Warwick is happy by this news but wonders what has come of his brother Montague. Somerset informs him that Montague was killed in battle, crying out for his brother as he died. Warwick tells the men to flee to Margaret's army and dies.

Act 5, Scene 3 Setting: Near Bartnet

After they have defeated Warwick at Barnet, King Edward and his brothers worry about Margaret's army (which is thirty thousand strong) that has just arrived from France and is soon to be joined by those of Oxford and Somerset. The brothers prepare to do battle with the Lancastrians at Tewksbury.

Act 5, Scene 4 Setting: Fields near Tewksbury

Margaret delivers an inspirational speech to her army which makes the others more optimistic of their chances against the Yorkists. A messenger arrives with news that Edward and his followers have come to do battle with them. The Yorkists arrive, and the two sides prepare to do battle.

Act 5, Scene 5 Setting: Fields near Tewksbury

Margaret, Oxford and Somerset are brought in as prisoners to the Yorkists. Edward orders Oxford be thrown in prison and Somerset to be executed. Prince Edward is then brought in and immediately begins to chastise the Yorkists for usurping his father's throne and his inheritance. After exchanging insults on both sides, the Yorkists are at their wits ends and they all stab the prince, in turn, while Margaret is made to stand by as her son is murdered. Margaret then demands to be killed herself. Richard offers to do so but is stopped by Edward. After this, Richard informs George, privately, that he has some business to take care of in London and departs. Margaret continues to plead that they kill her but is ultimately led off, guarded. When Edward asks where Richard has gone, George, who secretly knows what his intentions are, merely makes up an excuse for his brother.

Act 5, Scene 6 Setting: The Tower, London

Richard goes to visit Henry in the tower and dismisses the lieutenant. Henry is aware that Richard is most likely there to kill him and sadly laments his son's death. He then begins to prophesize that many people will live to dread the day that Richard was born and continues to mock Richard's deformities. Finally, Richard, who cannot brook anymore of these harsh words, fatally stabs Henry. Henry asks God for forgiveness and dies. Richard then delivers a soliloquy, confirming the horrible things Henry said about him (that he was born with teeth and that he came out of the womb feet first, among other examples) and claims he will spread rumors about his brother Edward to tarnish his reputation, and will soon betray George as well, all so he may ultimately become King of England.

Act 5, Scene 7 Setting: The palace, London

King Edward brags about all the men they have triumphed over in order to achieve the throne of England and asks for his newborn son (the future Edward V) to be brought forth. The king asks his brothers to kiss the newborn prince. George willingly does so but Richard, who has been plotting against his brothers behind their backs, does so insincerely. Edward is happy to have his kingdom and the love of his brothers. George asks the king what he will do with Margaret, whose father has offered his kingdoms of Jerusalem and Sicily as ransom for her. King Edward ends the play by ordering Margaret to be promptly sent back to France and stating that he looks forward to more peaceful times in England.

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