Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Wars of the Roses #7

King Henry VI, Part 3

Rate this book
This new edition to the Oxford Shakespeare series, based on the 1623 First Folio text, challenges conventional thinking about the nature and relationship of the earliest texts. It contributes substantial new evidence about Shakespeare's revision of the plays and the introduction and commentary focus on stage-oriented discussions of the play's meaning and reception.

460 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1592

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

William Shakespeare

27.8k books42.3k followers
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. Scholars believe that he died on his fifty-second birthday, coinciding with St George’s Day.

At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's.

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians hero-worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are consistently performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

According to historians, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets throughout the span of his life. Shakespeare's writing average was 1.5 plays a year since he first started writing in 1589. There have been plays and sonnets attributed to Shakespeare that were not authentically written by the great master of language and literature.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,782 (25%)
4 stars
2,492 (35%)
3 stars
1,972 (27%)
2 stars
581 (8%)
1 star
252 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 504 reviews
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews47 followers
February 11, 2022
King Henry VI, Part 3 (Wars of the Roses #7), William Shakespeare

Henry VI, Part 3, is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England.

The play begins where part 2 Henry VI left off, with the victorious Yorkists (York, Edward, Richard, Warwick, Montague and Norfolk) pursuing Henry and Margaret from the battlefield in the wake of the First Battle of St Albans (1455).

Upon reaching the parliamentary chambers in London, York seats himself in the throne, and a confrontation ensues between his supporters and Henry's. Threatened with violence by Warwick, who has brought part of his army with him, the King reaches an agreement with York which will allow him to remain king until his death, at which time the throne will permanently pass to the House of York and its descendants. Disgusted with this decision, which would disinherit the King's son, Prince Edward, the King's supporters, led by his wife, Margaret, abandon him, and Margaret declares war on the Yorkists, supported by Clifford, who is determined to exact revenge for the death of his father at the hands of York during the battle of St Albans. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهارم ماه سپتامبر سال2014میلادی

عنوان: هنری ششم - بخش یا قسمت سوم؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ موضوع نمایشنامه های نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده17م

هنری ششم سه قسمت دارد: قسمت نخست: نمایشنامه‌ ای تاریخی اثر «ویلیام شکسپیر» است، که در حدود سال‌های1590میلادی تا سال1592میلادی نگاشته شده‌ است؛ «شکسپیر» شناسان عموماً آن را، نخستین نمایشنامه ی تاریخی ایشان می‌دانند؛ همچنین دو نمایشنامه ی دیگر، که دربرگیرنده ی مطالب دو قسمت دیگر از سه گانه «هنری ششم شکسپیر» هستند، با عنوان‌های: «اولین بخش مجادله بین دو خانواده ی معروف یورک و لنکستر»؛ و «تراژدی حقیقی ریچارد دوک اهل یورک»؛ که این دو نمایشنامه را عده‌ ای به «شکسپیر» نسبت می‌دهند؛ منتقدان درباره این دو نمایشنامه و ارتباطشان با نمایشنامه قسمت اول «هنری ششم»، دو باور دارند: نخست: «مجادله» و «تراژدی حقیقی» دستنویس‌های خام و بازبینی نشده ی «هنری ششم» و قسمت‌های دوم و سوم آن هستند؛ دوم: «مجادله» و «تراژدی حقیقی» توسط «شکسپیر» نوشته نشده‌ اند، و نسخه‌ های تقلبی هستند

ماخذ اصلی «هنری ششم: قسمت سوم»؛ «سیر تاریخ انگلستان، اسکاتلند و ایرلند» اثر «رافائل هالینشد (سال1586میلادی- سال1587میلادی)»؛ و همچنین «اتحاد دو خانواده مشهور و درخشان لنکستر و یورک» اثر «ادوارد هال (سال1547میلادی)» است؛

تاریخ رخداد رویدادهای این نمایشنامه: «هنری ششم قسمت سوم»، در بر گیرنده ی رویدادهای سال‌های1455میلادی، تا سال1471میلادی است؛ از جمله این رویدادهای تاریخی، که در نمایشنامه «شکسپیر» به آن‌ها اشاره شده، و از جمله رویدادهای تأیید شده ی عصر «هنری ششم (تاریخ سلطنت سال1422میلادی تا سال1471میلادی)» شناخته می‌شوند؛ می‌توان به این موارد اشاره کرد: «جنگ‌های گل رز»؛ «ادعای یورک به ولیعهدی (سال1460میلادی)»؛ «پیروزی طرفداران لنکستر در نبرد ویکفیلد و مرگ یورک (سال1460میلادی»؛ و ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 17/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 21/11/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.9k followers
September 8, 2019

A thoroughly accomplished piece of playcraft and a significant work of literature, this complex account of civil war is filled with broken oaths, betrayals, and labyrinthine patterns of multi-generational revenge, and Shakespeare gives us a coherent thread of narrative to guide us through the bewildering crowd of incidents.

Also, by the middle of the play, Shakespeare's first great character--Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III)--has fully emerged, giving us a clear promise of the great work which is to come.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book935 followers
June 29, 2021
The final episode of the Henry VI ten-thousand-verses-long saga (which follows Henry V and precedes Richard III and is, therefore, a big saga within a still bigger saga!) covers the actual War of the Roses. What came before it was, for the most part, flamboyant bickering, jocular scheming and plotting and ornate backstabbing within the King’s family circle. Now, this is the genuine “winter of our discontent”: open civil war (battles of Wakefield, Towton, Barnet and Tewkesbury), barbaric child-slaughter (Rutland, Prince Edward) and severed heads on top of spikes (York, Clifford).

Shakespeare’s intention is quite explicitly to create an English version of the Trojan War (e.g., II, 2 144 sqq.). Greeks and Trojans are now Team York and Team Lancaster. While the Homeric conflict was fought on account of adorable Helen, here at least part of the fighting is because of Lady Grey — and the fact that Edward Plantagenet is thinking with his cock when he sees her.

Meanwhile, the French court (notably King Louis XI and Lady Bona) is, as always, a bunch of dimwits. And meanwhile, Gloucester (not the Lord Protector, who was killed in Part 2, but the future Richard III, who will be killed soon enough) is already delivering reams and reams of soliloquy about his bitterness and ambition (see III, 2, 124 sqq.). In my view, the real protagonist of this play is the headstrong Earl of Warwick, who, depending on his fickle allegiances, makes and removes the pretenders to the throne of England. Also, in my opinion, Henry’s quiet meditation on the molehill (II, 5), while darkness is covering his realm and chaos is raging around him, is one of the most gripping moments in the whole saga.

In the end, this imposing drama in three parts depicts a sunsetting world where fake politics, corrupted subservience, obscene disrespect for women, stifling of basic decency is prevalent. In short, dog eats dog. In short, our world.

Edit: Just watched BBC’s Hollow Crown adaptation of this last part of Henry VI. It is indeed as graphic and gore as any HBO series, but quite faithful to the spirit of Shakespeare's play. Worth noting: both Tom Sturridge (Henry VI) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Gloucester, future Richard III) are both in a league of their own.

> Previous play in The War of the Roses: King Henry VI, Part 2
> Next and last (but not least) play: Richard III
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,635 followers
April 6, 2022
A very lively end to the Henry VI trilogy, this one sees the fortunes of Henry VI and his heir Edward IV wane as the evil star of Richard III prepares his entry in the last episode!

The high point is probably the great soliloquy of Richard III as he begins his bloody ascent.
Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile,
And cry "Content" to that which grieves my heart,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
And frame my face to all occasions.

Henry VI Part 3, Act 3, scene ii

This speech will be rephrased at the beginning of Richard III with the famous "Winter of our discontent" soliloquy so amazingly performed by Laurence Olivier in this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5JF9...
One of my friends pointed me to a hilarious parody of this same scene with Peter Sellers:

In any case, it is best to read this one and see how Edward IV comes to the throne because the denouement of the whole story in Richard III is so absolutely stupefying.

I found that the BBC's Hollow Crown Season 2 did an interesting job with this one although they compressed the three Henry VI plays into 2 episodes eliminating the Jack Cade rebellion. That being said, Benedict Cumberbatch was an extraordinary Richard III in this production. Any suggestions for other versions are welcome!

Fino's Reviews of Shakespeare and Shakespearean Criticism
The Comedy of Errors (1592-1593
The Taming of the Shrew (1593-1594)
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1594-1595)
Love's Labour's Lost (1594-1595)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595-1596)
The Merchant of Venice (1596-1597)
Much Ado About Nothing (1598-1599)
As You Like It (1599-1600)
Twelfth Night (1599-1600)
The Merry Wives of Windsor (1600-1601)
All's Well That Ends Well (1602-1603)
Measure for Measure (1604-1605)
Cymbeline (1609-1610)
A Winter's Tale (1610-1611)
The Tempest (1611-1612)
Two Noble Kinsmen (1612-1613)

Henry VI Part I (1589-1590)
Henry VI Part II (1590-1591)
Henry VI Part III (1590-1591)
Richard III (1593-1594)
Richard II (1595-1596)
King John (1596-1597)
Edward III (1596-1597)
Henry IV Part I (1597-1598)
Henry IV Part II (1597-1598)
Henry V (1598-1599)
Henry VIII (1612-1612)

Titus Andronicus (1592-1593)
Romeo and Juliet (1594-1595)
Julius Caesar (1599-1600)
Hamlet (1600-1601)
Troilus and Cressida (1601-1602)
Othello (1604-1605)
King Lear (1605-1606)
Macbeth (1605-1606)
Anthony and Cleopatra (1606-1607)
Coriolanus (1607-1608)
Timon of Athens (1607-1608)
Pericles (1608-1609)

Shakespearean Criticism
The Wheel of Fire by Wilson Knight
A Natural Perspective by Northrop Frye
Shakespeare After All by Marjorie Garber
Shakespeare's Roman Plays and Their Background by M W MacCallum
Shakespearean Criticism 1919-1935 compiled by Anne Ridler
Shakespearean Tragedy by A.C. Bradley
Shakespeare's Sexual Comedy by Hugh M. Richmond
Shakespeare: The Comedies by R.P. Draper
Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics by Stephen Greenblatt
1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro

Collections of Shakespeare
Venus and Adonis, the Rape of Lucrece and Other Poems
Shakespeare's Sonnets and a Lover's Complaint
The Complete Oxford Shakespeare
Profile Image for E. G..
1,112 reviews684 followers
April 30, 2018
General Introduction
The Chronology of Shakespeare's Works
Introduction, by Gillian Day
The Play in Performance
Further Reading

--The Third Part of King Henry the Sixth

An Account of the Text
Genealogical Tables
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,255 followers
June 19, 2018
This is that Empire Strikes Back time in the history plays where Henry is defeated and reeling. Ah, but he shall Return!
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 11 books2,531 followers
March 2, 2017
The third of Shakespeare's earliest plays, about the Wars of the Roses, concludes with the end of King Henry VI's reign and the rise of the York faction to the throne. Although the powerhouse of this historical collection of historical plays, Richard III, is yet to come (next), the third part of King Henry VI is the most exciting and dramatic of the three Henry plays, with power moving back and forth between Yorkists and Lancastrians almost by the scene. Shakespeare's skill as a writer and poet is visibly growing, and his characterizations are stronger than ever, especially with the introduction of the wildly colorful Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the misshapen and ignoble noble whose rampant ambition for the throne will culminate in one of Shakespeare's greatest plays.
Profile Image for David Sarkies.
1,813 reviews315 followers
July 6, 2015
England in Flames
30 August 2012

As I read through this play I began to realise how closely connected it is to Richard III, which is not surprising since this play was written shortly after Henry VI. In many way, much of the action in Richard III, as well as a number of the characters, stem from this play. I remember watching the Ian McKellan version of Richard III and seeing this woman, Margaret, making an appearance and wondering about her connection to the play. After reading this play (as well as the previous two) and also once again over the synopsis, it began to make sense. In fact I am almost tempted to watch it again, though I am also tempted to order the DVD series, The Age of Kings, which includes all of Shakespeare's history plays from this cycle, beginning with Richard II and ending with Richard III, from Amazon.

I will not go into any detailed discussion on whether this play is good or not namely because since it is Shakespearian its quality as literature goes without saying (even though it may be nowhere near as good as some of his other works). I will also try not to go into details about Shakespeare's warnings of revolution against an established monarch as I will look at that further when I discuss the three plays as a whole. However, I will try to look at this particular play, even though it effectively forms the middle part of a trilogy, composing of Henry VI part 2, Henry VI part 3, and Richard III. In fact, this play begins straight after the previous play ends, though Richard III begins sometime after the end of this play.

Another thing that struck me is how much this play reminded me of Game of Thrones. Granted, George Martin did indicate that he based his series on the War of the Roses, though I must admit that that aspect seem to arise only in the two series that I have seen (since only the first two books have been made for television at the time of my originally writing this review). Both have a child king (though Henry is nowhere near as psychotic as Joffrey) and both have the sudden beheading of a major character as well as a strong female character that seems to be the power behind the throne. While I suspect that this play is a major influence on Martin's work, I have also noticed that he seems to borrow ideas from a lot of other places as well.

The play begins after the Lancastrian forces loose the opening battle of the war and make peace with the Yorkists in return for handing the throne to the Duke of York. However not all of his forces are agreeable to this, in particular Queen Margaret. Noting that much time has passed since Henry married her as a child, we begin to see her take a much more active role in running the country, and in fact she takes the reigns of the country from Henry and begins to run it herself. I guess this is the main reason that Henry is seen as such a weak king, and even though he regains his throne for a time, the dispute between the two houses are so fierce that once that stage is reached there is no turning back. However, it is Margaret's actions in capturing, killing, and displaying York's head on the gates of York that really inflame the situation. While York was alive there was always a chance for peace, but once York is killed the chance of reconciliation was over.

Remember, this play is about the collapse of government and throughout the play England is in flames. This is represented by the father killing a son and a son killing a father: family loyalties have been divided and even the nobles, such as Warwick, are constantly changing sides. However, throughout the play I am always conscious of the fact that the Lancastrians seem to be in the weaker position. They lose more battles than they win, and even with French auxilaries, they are unable to turn the tide in their favour.

Like any war, we also see the belligerents appealing to history. The Yorkists and the Plantagenats claim a common ancestry and they recall the deposing of Richard II by Henry Bollingbroke as the reason for their claim to the throne. However, for those of us familiar with Richard III, we also notice that Edward's claim to the throne is quite tenuous as well. It seems that the idea that usurping the throne will never bring about peace, it will only create a precedent which brings about many more claimants who are willing to seize the throne by whatever means necessary.

It is also funny that this play also sort of reminded me of Star Wars, though I should point to part II in in this regards because Attack of the Clones ends with the opening battle of the Clone Wars and Henry VI part II ends with the opening battle of the War of the Roses. What is more interesting is that Revenge of the Sith ends with the usurpation of the throne by Palpatine in the same way that Henry VI part III looks forward to the usurpation of the throne by Richard. However I will consider this further as I look at all three plays as a whole.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,730 followers
March 7, 2017
"The smallest worm will turn, being trodden on."
― William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3


In the Henry VI trilogy, this is probably my least favorite. It wasn't bad and had some good lines (not enough great ones) and exciting sequences, but it just didn't have that extra-level, that super-float that Shakespeare sometimes gives his plays. This one just seemed a bit "bound" by this history. It was overshadowed by the other Henry VI plays, other Henry plays, other history plays, other Shakespeare plays. It was out played.

There were also several nice lines, specifically:

I am your butt, and I abide your shot.

I know, I am too mean to be your queen;
And yet too good to be your concubine.

What fates impose, that men must needs abide;
It boots not to resist both wind and tide.

Why, I can smile, and murder while I smile.

Down, down to hell; and say I sent thee thither.

Then, since the heavens have shap'd my body so,
Let hell make crook'd my mind to answer it.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
February 9, 2017
I'm very happy with this play. It's easily up to the standards we're used to in Shakespeare, proper, lifting us out of his early and unsure works into something very entertaining. Some people might disagree, but here's the fact: history was this fucked up.

Some liberties are made to make the play much more streamlined and dramatic, of course, but that's only to be expected when we're putting 30 years into the space of 3 plays. By this point in the action, though, we're steeped in nothing but action and strife. We have the benefit of characters we've grown to know and love on both sides of the fence, too, full of all these past enmities and woe, rising to a complete clusterfuck of civil war from nearly equally matched foes that JUST WON'T END.

There's talk of Water versus Wind, and that's not a bad analogy at all for this war.

Hell, this play is about a hot potato in the shape of a crown.

You might as well use sports metaphors, too. They pass the crown across the rink so many times, with so many players being knocked down or injured or screamed at or outright killed, it just reminds me of a friendly game of hockey.

I loved Warwick, the kingmaker. I REALLY loved Margaret, the Queen. She's always been a fantastically strong character, but in this play, she's a merciless hell-beast of valor. Clarence was a dream of vengeance, all the York, especially young Richard who becomes Richard III, is displayed just as much as the iconoclastic villain from his later play and just as interesting here as there.

The conflicts are both emotional and sooo bloody. The only source of peace anywhere in the play comes only from Henry VI, himself, while being generally an valor-less pansy, always sticks to his guns as a peacemaker and conciliator, even when Richard stabs him in the Tower at the end. He never changes. He never grows wrathful, merely depressed and resigned, which I think I understand and sympathize with, entirely.

I was enraged with each new twist and horror in the play, though, so perhaps Henry gets lost in the fray... perhaps except for readers who are more than willing to rest his or her bruised mind and wonder at the sheer insanity of this hell-sport, wishing rather the world would come to rest and peace rather than even one more second of this horror. Just see how he is when he learns that his son is dead.

It, at least, raises him up in my eyes as someone just as strong as all the rest, just different and even a bit alien to the spirit of either the times or even what people would assume might be natural. BUT, he is always in tune with the spirit of Christ, in always forgiving his enemies no matter the wrongs they do him, and even when we drop our jaws at all the wrongs that have been done to him, he holds to his ideals.

No real pansy could pull that off.

Truly, this play was pretty damn powerful.
Profile Image for Trish.
2,016 reviews3,435 followers
September 6, 2016
The play begins with Henry VI and his queen being chased away by the victorious Yorkists after the first Battle of St. Albans.
Shakespeare makes a point of (accurately) displaying the original agreement between Henry VI and the Duke of York that Henry can remain king until his death, upon which the House of York (Richard, his son Edward and all his heirs) will reign permanently.
Margaret of Anjou, naturally, does NOT agree since she has given birth to a son and declares war on the Yorkists.

Seriously, this play, if nothing else, makes her character shine. The real-life Margaret of Anjou must have been a force to be reckoned with - almost never giving up, intelligent and ferocious and strong (if not without faults herself). In this play, Shakespeare gives credit to her which is quite unusual considering her reputation during the Wars of the Roses and that the legitimacy of her son was questioned quite often. Her part alone is why I gave this last part of Henry VI a star more than the others.
The Wakefield battle is shown as well as the famous paper crown scene of York's death (one of the most disgusting and actually accurate things during the WotR). That scene with Margaret of Anjou having the final laugh (or so she thinks) though. *shudders*
At the second Battle of St. Albans, the Lancasters win and Henry returns to court where all the agreements from the beginning of the play are revoked.
The next battle is the most horrible one during the entire 32-year-struggle, Towton, at the Bloody Meadow. After the battle, Edward of York is crowned King Edward IV. Funny at this point in the play is that Edward's youngest brother, Richard, complains about the dukedom he receives, calling it a bad omen.
After all these battles, we get more political struggles, like Warwick trying to secure a marriage between Edward and a French princess in order to instigate peace with France. In France, Warwick stops an attempt by Margaret of Anjou to get French help for claiming back her kingdom.
The problem? Well, in the meantime good young Edward has set his eyes on a beautiful commoner and married her secretly. Shakespeare names this as the point in time Warwick changes sides but in fact it was much later (this was just the starting point after which there was much dispute over power between Warwick and the queen's family).
Anyway, since we have to speed things up, the play then shows how prince Edward is promised to one of Warwick's daughters to show his loyalty to the Lancasters and he invades England with French troops. He even manages to capture Edward IV and puts Henry VI back on the throne.
Then the play gets really inaccurate by showing how Edward is rescued by his brother Richard and escapes to France (he did flee to France, much later during another struggle and Richard didn't free him). There, Edward reorganizes his forces and fights Warwick and his brother George (who was on Warwick's side) at the Battle of Barnet. George betrays Warwick, the Yorkists win and Warwick himself is killed. Another inaccuracy shows that a second batallion of Lancasters is then led by Margaret of Anjou and her son while Henry sits on a hill (the same molehill Edward's father had sat on previously) and ... well, whines about his problems and hard life. He is met by a father who has killed his son, and a son who has killed his father, representing the horrors of the civil war (inaccurate again because this view was only spread by later Tudor historians; at the time the war was not considered a war or THAT influential on day-to-day life; the only "horrific incident" having been the battle of Towton).
Henry is then recaptured (it's not Shakespeare's fault, this tug-of-war was actually what happened), at the Battle of Tewkesbury the Yorkists defeat the Lancasters and imprison Margaret of Anjou, her son and others (wrong again: she escapes for a while, hiding for months before being captured, her son is killed either during the battle or right after). Margaret is banished (wrong again, she was first imprisoned, then pardoned and put under house arrest, much later being allowed to go back to France where she died in poverty) and the young prince is dramatically stabbed by all three York brothers. Richard then goes to London to kill Henry; they argue and he stabs Henry in a fit of rage (again, very dramatic). With his dying breath, Henry prophesies Richard's future villainy and the chaos that will engulf the country (even more dramatic).

The play ends with Edward ordering celebrations that the civil unrest is now finally over but there are already hints at his borther's schemes.

All I can say is that at this stage I was just happy for it to be over. Much like with the non-fiction book I read simultaneously, I just wanted it to end. The everlasting tug-of-war, back and forth, win and lose, making promises and breaking them, being on this side then defecting to the other side ... it was seriously getting on my nerves.
Some of the liberties taken by Shakespeare are also clearly there to please the Tudor queen under which he lived.
However, this was written in a better style then some before it - i guess good ol' Will finally got the hang of it.

To compelte the theme, I am now also reading Richard III to see what Shakespeare make out of THAT. Should be fun. ;)
Profile Image for Matt.
431 reviews
August 25, 2023
2023 Shakespeare Complete works challenge

#22 - Henry VI, Part 3

Read - 8/23/23 - 8/25/23

Rating: 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


A powerful and telling scene of Henry VI’s character is in Act II, Scene 5 when he witnesses a father bearing his own son that he had slain as well as a son bearing his own father that he had slain. The War of the Roses was a great and long civil war in England - fathers killing sons, sons killing fathers, brothers killing brothers. All the war and devastation broke King Henry VI’s heart and he was not the war-like king his father was.

The play closes with another piece of foreshadowing that Edward’s brother Richard covets the crown for himself.

I enjoyed this play a lot.

Next up in my challenge will be Measure for Measure
Profile Image for B. P. Rinehart.
747 reviews256 followers
April 17, 2018
"Duke of York:
The army of the queen hath got the field.
My uncles both are slain in rescuing me;
And all my followers to the eager foe
Turn back and fly like ships before the wind,
Or lambs pursu'd by hunger-starved wolves.
My sons—God knows what hath bechanced them;
But this I know,—they have demean'd themselves
Like men born to renown by life or death.
Three times did Richard make a lane to me,
And thrice cried 'Courage, father! fight it out!'
And full as oft came Edward to my side
With purple falchion painted to the hilt
In blood of those that had encount'red him;
And when the hardiest warriors did retire
Richard cried 'Charge! and give no foot of ground!'
And cried 'A crown, or else a glorious tomb!
A sceptre, or an earthly sepulchre!'
With this, we charg'd again; but, out, alas!
We budg'd again, as I have seen a swan
With bootless labour swim against the tide
And spend her strength with overmatching waves.
" Act I, Scene IV

The end of the House of Lancaster; the consolidation of the House of York. This play marks the third play of Shakespeare and the penultimate of his first cycle of "War of the Roses" plays. Though this and the preceding plays are often overshadowed by the sequel Richard III, this play is no less bloody and dramatic, and Richard is just as evil as he was in his sequel. But this play is not really about the future Richard III/current Duke of Gloster. This play wraps of the tragic and pathetic demise of King Henry VI and the House Lancaster. Now Henry VI, Part 1 & Henry VI, Part 2 covers the decline of the Lancastrians and the seeds for the civil war that undoes that royal house, but the main flaw is Henry VI's inability for strong, ruthless leadership in a strong ruthless era. Henry was not alpha-heroic like his father Henry V nor as Machiavellian as his grandfather Henry IV, Part 1 . Henry VI was a measured, enlightened, pious, liberal man....who lived in the medieval-era when none of those attributes were useful to ensure good governance of a nation-state. Henry's reluctance to be a political realist was noted by France and the House of York and the state of nature went its course. Because this play happens during a civil war between nobles descended of the same family, names and titles get mixed up all over the place.

The two standout characters of this play and the whole Henry VI saga are, for me, Queen Margaret and Richard, Duke of Gloster, with the Earl of Warrick at a close third. When I said in my review of Twelfth Night that Viola was Shakespeare's best female character, I had not read the Henry VI plays. Margaret was definitely the strongest leader of the House of Lancaster and if she had complete control of the crown, much of the conflict in Henry VI part 2 & 3 would not have happened because she was as ruthless as Richard III and as clever as Henry IV--everything her husband was not.
"Queen Margaret: Great lords, wise men ne'er sit and wail their loss,
But cheerly seek how to redress their harms...Say you can swim; alas, 'tis but a while!
Tread on the sand; why, there you quickly sink;
Bestride the rock; the tide will wash you off,
Or else you famish,—that's a threefold death.
This speak I, lords, to let you understand,
If case some one of you would fly from us,
That there's no hop'd-for mercy with the brothers
More than with ruthless waves, with sands, and rocks.
Why, courage then! what cannot be avoided
'T were childish weakness to lament or fear.
" - Act V, scene 4
Of course anyone who has read Richard III knows how cunning and deadly the Duke of Gloster is and he is getting a good head start in the body-count tally for characters in this tetralogy. He tries to be as gracious as possible to his family and comrades, but you start to suspect Gloster's motives...and of course in Act III, scene 2 he gives his infamous soliloquy detailing his plans for the future. Richard kills a lot of the key players in these War of the Roses plays, but he overlooks one (silent) character in this play who comes back to haunt him, the Earl of Richmond a.k.a. Henry Tudor.

Of course, standard disclaimer about Shakespeare's English history plays: Shakespeare was patronized by both the Tudor and Stuart families who claimed decent from the House of Lancaster. So any subject dealing with the Lancaster family had to legitimize them while de-legitimizing the House of York. One needs to take this as it is and realize the Yorks were not as evil and Lancastrians not as good etc, etc....

"Earl of Warrick: These eyes, that now are dimm'd with death's black veil,
Have been as piercing as the midday sun,
To search the secret treasons of the world;
The wrinkles in my brows, now fill'd with blood,
Were liken'd oft to kingly sepulchres,
For who liv'd king but I could dig his grave?
And who durst smile when Warwick bent his brow?
Lo, now my glory smear'd in dust and blood!
My parks, my walks, my manors that I had,
Even now forsake me, and of all my lands
Is nothing left me but my body's length.
Why, what is pomp, rule, reign, but earth and dust?
And live we how we can, yet die we must.
" - Act V, scene 2.
Profile Image for Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~.
1,632 reviews112 followers
March 28, 2023
Oh, Henry, Henry, Henry. Not a smart move, dude. You do not promise your throne to your usurper in favor of your own son and heir. Thankfully, Margaret was smart enough to see the loophole and took full advantage of it. Who would've thought I'd end up liking Margaret as much as I did? She's ruthless, gutsy and not afraid to get her hands dirty. Now that's a queen, lol.

Edward, on the other hand, while also ruthless, was pompous and full of himself, constantly talking about himself in the third person. Not even the royal "we". No, bro, just don't.

Not sure why, but I was able to concentrate on this one better than the previous two parts. I was invested by this point, I guess, lol. But Henry VI suffers the same fate as most title characters. No surprise, I suppose, given this was when the War of the Roses really heated up. It'll chill for awhile, but there's still one more of these to go.

What these plays completely fail to get across is the passage of time. I'm constantly surprised when I got to Wikipedia and see how much time passed between all these various events. With the plays, you'd think they happened within weeks or months of each other.

The Librivox recording had several instances were different people were reading lines that were assigned to different characters other than the ones they were reading. This was especially prevalent with Edward's lines. I even went looking up the text online to see if there was a difference between that and the text I was following along with, and there wasn't. So I'm not sure what happened there.
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews925 followers
October 17, 2020
War of the Roses tetralogy >>>> Henriad and no I am not taking constructive criticism at this time.
Profile Image for max theodore.
467 reviews132 followers
August 14, 2021
okay i'm still first and foremost a henriad stan but this one was definitely the best henry vi imo! i really enjoyed getting to actually SEE the titular man himself (and margaret... margaret my beloved she has an ARMY this time... 1.4... fucking girlboss behavior...). probably would be a solid 3 stars but im adding one for richard my bestie richard my good friend richard. the third
Profile Image for Melora.
575 reviews143 followers
February 7, 2017
Update. First read this June 23, 2016. Reread Feb. 2, 2017, and it's only gotten better.

Okey doke! Now this is more like it! In Part 3 we get rousing action and great characters! Plus, more dramatic death scenes (I count six, where the person dying gets an exit speech, though there might be more) than you would imagine it was possible to cram into a three hour play.

Spoilers ahead.

Queen Margaret and Gloucester (Richard III) come in neck-and-neck for the title of Most Fiendishly Evil Character. Gloucester is ahead by one murder, but Margaret carries around a napkin soaked in young Rutland's blood in order to be able to rub it in his father, York's, face so I give her some credit for that kill too. Richard is ice cold, but Margaret becomes positively operatic in her demonically furious tirades. Joan of Arc, back in Part I, was practically demure next to her. Richard is deliciously sly, but Margaret is utterly shameless in her self-serving hypocrisy, raging in Act 5 at Edward, Clarence, and Richard for killing a child (her son) despite having gleefully taunted York with his young son's death in Act 1, and also in rallying her troops in passionate support of a husband she scorns. In any other play, Clifford would hold the title of Most Evil, but here, while putting forth a fine, workmanlike effort, he lacks the pizzazz of his rivals and comes in a humble third.

One thing that surprised me was the way in which Henry VI, previously a pious but uninspiring “wet noodle” sort of character, here, in Part 3, becomes quite sympathetic. Not that you want him to be king – heck, even he doesn't much want that – but you can't help wishing Margaret and Warwick would have just left him alone and let him wander off to live quietly somewhere in the boonies, with his books and his beads. In some ways he reminded me of Richard II, only with much less ambition and greed. I guess it's the sadness and the introspective speeches. Well, and the fact that I watched a version of Richard II with David Tennant as Richard, and Tennant read the part of Henry VI in the Archangel recordings I listened to while reading the Henry VI trilogy. That certainly contributed to the impression. Anyway, in a play with a real shortage of “nice” characters, Henry doesn't have much competition.

This earns a solid 4 stars, and now I'm on to Richard III, where I'm looking forward to seeing a bit more of Edward IV's clever new bride, Elizabeth, and, of course, the diabolical Richard!
Profile Image for Alp Turgut.
405 reviews126 followers
October 24, 2020
Artık hikayenin Kral VI. Henry tragedyası tarafına odaklanıldığı "Kral VI. Henry, Bölüm III", üçlemenin en can alıcı ve sürükleyici parçası olmasının yanında IV. Edward’dan çok Richard’ın yükselişinin temellerini barındırıyor. Oyunu okudukça Richard’ın büyüsüne aynı Shakespeare gibi kendinizi kaptırdığınızı hissettiğiniz oyunun her perdesinde farklı bir vurucu olay mevcut. Somerset’in öldürülmesiyle açılış yapan hikaye sırasıyla George, York, Clifford, Warwick ve Prens’le devam ederek oyunun finaline kadar bol skorluk bir spor müsabakasını andırıyor. Köşe kapmacanın her sahnede yer değiştirdiği finalde biçimsiz Richard’ın sinsi planlarının yavaş yavaş kök saldığına tanıklık ediyoruz. Dürüstlük ve onurun taht savaşında dezavantaja dönüştüğünü etkili bir biçimde okuyucuya sunan Shakespeare’in II. Richard’la başlayan lanetin etkilerini her oyunla bu kadar zenginleştirebilmesi gerçekten inanılmaz.

Londra, Birleşik Krallık

Alp Turgut
Profile Image for Katie Dimtses.
20 reviews
February 5, 2020
Flashes of the Richard we will soon see become the villainous machiavel we all know and love is this play’s only saving grace. Honourable mention for few of Henry VI’s sad boy speeches, but they lack Richard II’s poetic heights.

2 back-stabbing betrayals out of 5.
Profile Image for Sharon.
990 reviews73 followers
August 23, 2021
And, gallant Warwick, do but answer this: / What is the body when the head is off?

I'm not going to lie, this one slaps. A real banger.

I read 1 and 2 Henry VI in summer 2020 and found myself really burned out, so I put this 3 Henry VI aside for a later date, not knowing I was sleeping on a masterpiece.
We have the horrors of war, staged powerfully in the 1500s, back-stabbings, front-stabbings, political intrigue, and lots and lots and lots of my man Richard III. What's not to like?

Shakespeare was sometimes too good at writing villains, because if I had been living in Elizabethan England, I probably would have been executed for treason over how much I love the House of York. I'm not normally a villain girl, but man, I cannot get over Richard III.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,111 reviews3,028 followers
June 9, 2019
Ugh. This was so boring in comparison to part one, I was actually disappointed. Nonetheless, I have to admit that the Bard's histories are starting to grow on me ... I find it fascinating that the Wars of the Roses can actually be read as one huge saga. It's so much fun to rediscover characters that we already know and see all of the dramas that they get themselves into.
My Crown is in my heart, not on my head:
Not deck'd with Diamonds, and Indian stones:
Nor to be seen: my Crown is call'd Content,
A Crown it is, that seldom Kings enjoy.
Although the Henry VI trilogy may not have been written in chronological order, the three plays are often grouped together with Richard III to form a tetralogy covering the entire Wars of the Roses saga, from the death of Henry V in 1422 to the rise to power of Henry VII in 1485. It was the success of this sequence of plays that firmly established Shakespeare's reputation as a playwright. Some critics argue that the Henry VI trilogy were the first ever plays to be based on recent English history, and as such, they deserve an elevated position in the canon, and a more central role in Shakespearean criticism.

I can definitely see why these plays tend to be more overlooked in Shakespeare's canon (especially in the public's eye) since his comedies are much more fun and his tragedies pull a better punch, but in my humble opinion his histories are well worth a read (...I never thought I would end up saying this, look how far I've come). They might drag in some places and include a lot of overblown and boring fight scenes but they tend to have a more captivating nature and leave a more lasting impression on me.
Profile Image for Katja Labonté.
Author 19 books192 followers
May 4, 2022
4 stars & 4/10 hearts. Soooo I really feel very sorry for Henry, and I still don’t like Margaret or Prince Edward. The horrors of the war are really very saddening. Richard of Gloucester is terrible; Edward of York isn’t much better. Warwick is a cunning old hypocritical sinner (though I understand his anger at Edward in part). Louis of France is actually decent; so is Elizabeth, surprisingly! Basically, this shows what happens in civil war and when rebellion is indulged in… and ambition is wrongly encouraged.

Content: Murder; Edward attempt to seduce Elizabeth.
Profile Image for Jim.
2,098 reviews700 followers
February 10, 2015
The concluding part of William Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses trilogy ends with Edward IV firmly in charge and with about half the cast of the play dead -- but with Richard Crookback in the wings waiting to make his own grab at the crown, which he will do in Richard III.

Henry VI, Part 3 is full of of "alarums and excursions" as the partisans of York and Lancaster find it out to the bitter end. The play is Shakespeare's lesson as to what happens to the kingdom when the king is weak. And Henry VI is weak indeed, too full of the milk of human kindness to fight off the forces arrayed against him. Only in Act V, as he is confronted by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in the Tower of London does he rise to any degree of courage, but only to be stabbed by Richard -- but not before cursing out his would-be assassin and insulting him to the point of drawing his dagger.

This is a play with a plethora of characters, such that I would imagine it would be better to see it than read it, what with all its short battle scenes.

The War of the Roses trilogy is not often read today, but it is worth the effort. Although not the best of the Bard, nor yet even the best of the histories, it still tells us a great deal about the times, which tend to be somewhat neglected even by historians.

Profile Image for Clara Biesel.
357 reviews11 followers
June 1, 2016
Pretty striking anti-war literature, and I had forgotten how strong the writing is in this play. The paper crown, Richard gets his two big monologues, the wooing of Lady Grey, so many people changing sides, and hating each other so vehemently. It's forceful stuff.
Profile Image for king bitchard 💜.
135 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2022
you know that scene in shaun of the dead? where they’re like “ed! kill the queen!” and then they start taking turns beating up a zombie to the rhythm of don’t stop me now? that’s what reading the rose tetralogy is like. also queen margaret is an actress and a warrior and a twisted fucking cycle path i want her i want her so bad :( the only person who can remotely rival her in BPE (big pussy energy) is richard gloucester-plantagenet. misshapen dick my beloved <3
Profile Image for Sean Morrow.
136 reviews1 follower
August 1, 2019
All English noblemen are apparently either named Henry, Richard, Edward, or George, which makes tracking the characters in these plays slightly confusing.
Profile Image for Pyramids Ubiquitous.
495 reviews26 followers
December 6, 2022
Part III of Henry VI is an absolute bloodbath and is by far the most interesting of this early “trilogy” work for Shakespeare. Treachery abounds as we follow Henry VI's reign to its conclusion. As someone who is not familiar with this period of history, I was eagerly anticipating the outcome. There is a great balance in the acts of the play and there are major plot points that define each of them. What's very interesting to me is that this series of plays serves almost as a parable to the dangers of leaving life to providence. It seemed as though Henry VI was impossibly incapable of exercising any kind of free will, as such his country bled, and his legacy was destroyed.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 504 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.