HENRY IV, PART 1 is a history play by
William Shakespeare , believed
to have been written no later than 1597. It is the second play in
Shakespeare's tetralogy dealing with the successive reigns of Richard
II , Henry IV (two plays, including
Henry IV, Part 2 ), and Henry V .
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 1 depicts a span of history that begins with Hotspur 's
battle at Homildon in Northumberland against Douglas late in 1402 and
ends with the defeat of the rebels at Shrewsbury in the middle of
1403. From the start it has been an extremely popular play both with
the public and critics.
* 1 Characters
* 2 Synopsis
* 3 Sources
* 4 Date and text
The Dering Manuscript
The Dering Manuscript
* 5 Criticism and analysis
* 5.1 Themes and interpretations
* 5.2 Oldcastle controversy
* 6 Adaptations
* 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 9 External links
Of the King's party
* King Henry the Fourth – King of England.
* Henry, Prince of
Wales (nicknamed "
Prince Hal " or "Harry") –
eldest son of Henry IV
* John of Lancaster – represented in the play as the King's second
son, although he was actually the third
* Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland
* Sir Walter Blount ("Blunt")
* Sir John
Falstaff – a knight who befriends Prince Hal.
Mistress Quickly – hostess of the Boar\'s Head
* Francis – tapster
* Vintner – tavern keeper
* Two Carriers
* Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland
* Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester – Northumberland's brother
* Harry Percy (nicknamed "Hotspur") – Northumberland's son
* Edmund Mortimer – Hotspur's brother-in-law and Glendower's
Owen Glendower – leader of the Welsh rebels
* Archibald, Earl of Douglas – leader of the Scottish rebels
* Sir Richard Vernon
Richard le Scrope
Richard le Scrope ("Scroop"), Archbishop of York
* Sir Michael – a friend to the Archbishop of York
* Lady Percy ("Kate", though her real name was Elizabeth) -
Hotspur's wife and Mortimer's sister
* Lady Mortimer (Catrin) - Glendower's daughter and Mortimer's wife
* Lords, Officers, Drawers, Messengers, and Attendants
John Farmanesh-Bocca as
Prince Hal in the Carmel Shakespeare
Festival production of Henry IV, Part 1.
Henry Bolingbroke—now King Henry IV —is having an unquiet reign.
His personal disquiet at the usurpation of his predecessor Richard II
would be solved by a crusade to the
Holy Land , but broils on his
Wales prevent that. Moreover, he is
increasingly at odds with the Percy family, who helped him to his
throne, and Edmund Mortimer, the
Earl of March
Earl of March , Richard II's chosen
Adding to King Henry's troubles is the behaviour of his son and heir,
the Prince of
Wales . Hal (the future Henry V ) has forsaken the Royal
Court to waste his time in taverns with low companions. This makes him
an object of scorn to the nobles and calls into question his royal
worthiness. Hal's chief friend and foil in living the low life is Sir
Falstaff . Fat, old, drunk, and corrupt as he is, he has a
charisma and a zest for life that captivates the Prince.
The play features three groups of characters that interact slightly
at first, and then come together in the
Battle of Shrewsbury
Battle of Shrewsbury , where
the success of the rebellion will be decided. First there is King
Henry himself and his immediate council. He is the engine of the play,
but usually in the background. Next there is the group of rebels,
energetically embodied in Henry Percy ("Hotspur") and including his
father, the Earl of Northumberland and led by his uncle Thomas Percy,
Earl of Worcester . The Scottish Earl of Douglas, Edmund Mortimer and
Owen Glendower also join. Finally, at the centre of the
play are the young
Prince Hal and his companions Falstaff, Poins,
Bardolph, and Peto. Streetwise and pound-foolish, these rogues manage
to paint over this grim history in the colours of comedy.
As the play opens, the king is angry with Hotspur for refusing him
most of the prisoners taken in a recent action against the Scots at
Holmedon . Hotspur, for his part, would have the king ransom Edmund
Mortimer (his wife's brother) from Owen Glendower, the Welshman who
holds him. Henry refuses, berates Mortimer's loyalty, and treats the
Percys with threats and rudeness. Stung and alarmed by Henry's
dangerous and peremptory way with them, they proceed to make common
cause with the Welsh and Scots, intending to depose "this ingrate and
cankered Bolingbroke." By Act II, rebellion is brewing. Hal
Falstaff with his lies in Henry IV, Part 1, engraving
after Robert Smirke
Meanwhile, Henry's son Hal is joking, drinking, and thieving with
Falstaff and his associates. He likes
Falstaff but makes no pretense
at being like him. He enjoys insulting his dissolute friend and makes
sport of him by joining in Poins’ plot to disguise themselves and
rob and terrify
Falstaff and three friends of loot they have stolen in
a highway robbery, purely for the fun of watching
Falstaff lie about
it later, after which Hal returns the stolen money. Rather early in
the play, in fact, Hal informs us that his riotous time will soon come
to a close, and he will re-assume his rightful high place in affairs
by showing himself worthy to his father and others through some
(unspecified) noble exploits. Hal believes that this sudden change of
manner will amount to a greater reward and acknowledgment of
prince-ship, and in turn earn him respect from the members of the
The revolt of Mortimer and the Percys very quickly gives him his
chance to do just that. The high and the low come together when the
Prince makes up with his father and is given a high command. He vows
to fight and kill the rebel Hotspur, and orders
Falstaff (who is,
after all, a knight ) to take charge of a group of foot soldiers and
proceed to the battle site at Shrewsbury. An 1829 watercolor by
Johann Heinrich Ramberg of Act II, Scene iv:
Falstaff enacts the part
of the king.
The battle is crucial because if the rebels even achieve a standoff
their cause gains greatly, as they have other powers awaiting under
Northumberland, Glendower, Mortimer, and the Archbishop of York. Henry
needs a decisive victory here. He outnumbers the rebels, but Hotspur,
with the wild hope of despair, leads his troops into battle. The day
wears on, the issue still in doubt, the king harried by the wild Scot
Prince Hal and Hotspur, the two Harrys that cannot share
one land, meet. Finally they will fight – for glory, for their
lives, and for the kingdom. No longer a tavern brawler but a warrior,
the future king prevails, ultimately killing Hotspur in single combat.
On the way to this climax, we are treated to Falstaff, who has
"misused the King's press damnably", not only by taking money from
able-bodied men who wished to evade service but by keeping the wages
of the poor souls he brought instead who were killed in battle ("food
for powder, food for powder"). Left on his own during Hal's battle
Falstaff dishonourably counterfeits death to avoid
attack by Douglas. After Hal leaves Hotspur's body on the field,
Falstaff revives in a mock miracle. Seeing he is alone, he stabs
Hotspur's corpse in the thigh and claims credit for the kill. Though
Hal knows better, he allows
Falstaff his disreputable tricks. Soon
after being given grace by Hal,
Falstaff states that he wants to amend
his life and begin "to live cleanly as a nobleman should do".
The second edition of
Raphael Holinshed 's Chronicles of England,
Scotlande, and Irelande, printed in 1587.
The play ends at Shrewsbury, after the battle. The death of Hotspur
has taken the heart out of the rebels, and the king's forces prevail.
Henry is pleased with the outcome, not least because it gives him a
chance to execute Thomas Percy, the Earl of Worcester, one of his
chief enemies (though previously one of his greatest friends).
Meanwhile, Hal shows off his kingly mercy in praise of valour; having
taken the valiant Douglas prisoner, Hal orders his enemy released
without ransom. But the war goes on; now the king's forces must deal
with the Archbishop of York, who has joined with Northumberland, and
with the forces of Mortimer and Glendower. This unsettled ending sets
the stage for
Henry IV, Part 2 .
Shakespeare's primary source for Henry IV, Part 1, as for most of his
chronicle histories, was the second edition (1587) of Raphael
Holinshed 's Chronicles , which in turn drew on
Edward Hall 's The
Union of the Two Illustrious Families of Lancaster and York. Scholars
have also assumed that Shakespeare was familiar with
Samuel Daniel 's
poem on the civil wars. Another source for this (and the following
Henry plays) is the anonymous
The Famous Victories of Henry V .
DATE AND TEXT
1 Henry IV was almost certainly in performance by 1597, given the
wealth of allusions and references to the
Falstaff character. The
earliest recorded performance occurred on the afternoon of 6 March
1600, when the play was acted at court before the Flemish Ambassador.
Other court performances followed in 1612 and 1625.
The play was entered into the Register of the Stationers Company on
25 Feb. 1598 and first printed in quarto later that year by stationer
Andrew Wise . The play was Shakespeare's most popular printed text:
new editions appeared in 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613, 1622, 1632, 1639, and
THE DERING MANUSCRIPT
The Dering Manuscript
The Dering Manuscript
The Dering Manuscript
The Dering Manuscript
The Dering Manuscript, the earliest extant manuscript text of any
Shakespearean play, provides a single-play version of both Part 1 and
Part 2 of Henry IV. The consensus of Shakespeare scholars is that the
Dering MS. represents a redaction prepared around 1623, perhaps for
family or amateur theatrics, by Edward Dering (1598–1644), of
Surrenden Manor ,
Pluckley , Kent, where the manuscript was
discovered. A few dissenters have argued that the Dering MS. may
indicate that Shakespeare's Henry IV was originally a single play,
which the poet later expanded into two parts to capitalise on the
popularity of the Sir John
Falstaff character. The Dering MS. is part
of the collection of the
Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington,
CRITICISM AND ANALYSIS
"Rise from the ground like feathered Mercury/ And vaulted with
such ease into his seat/ As if an angel dropp'd down from the clouds/
To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus/ And witch the world with noble
horsemanship." Act IV, Scene i, Hal's transformation, William Blake
THEMES AND INTERPRETATIONS
At its first publication in 1597 or 1598 the play was titled THE
HISTORY OF HENRIE THE FOURTH and its title page advertised only the
presence of Henry Percy and the comic Sir John
Falstaff ; Prince Hal
was not mentioned. Indeed, throughout most of the play's performance
history, Hal was staged as a secondary figure, and the stars of the
stage, beginning with
James Quin and
David Garrick often preferred to
play Hotspur. It was only in the twentieth century that readers and
performers began to see the central interest as the coming-of-age
story of Hal, who is now seen as the starring role.
In the "coming-of-age" interpretation, Hal's acquaintance with
Falstaff and the tavern lowlife humanises him and provides him with a
more complete view of life. At the outset,
Prince Hal seems to pale in
comparison with the fiery Henry Percy , the young noble lord of the
North (whom Shakespeare portrays considerably younger than he was in
history in order to provide a foil for Hal). Many readers interpret
the history as a tale of
Prince Hal growing up, evolving into King
Henry V , perhaps the most heroic of all of Shakespeare's characters,
in what is a tale of the prodigal son adapted to the politics of
medieval England . The low proportion of scenes featuring the title
character, the king, has also been noted, with some authors suggesting
that the play contrasts the authority of Henry IV, and his struggle to
stay in control of the situation, with the chaotic forces of the
rebels and Falstaff.
The title page from the first quarto edition of the play,
printed in 1599.
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 1 caused controversy on its first performances in
1597, because the comic character now known as "
Falstaff " was
originally named "Oldcastle" and was based on
John Oldcastle , a
famous proto-Protestant martyr with powerful living descendants in
Although the character is called
Falstaff in all surviving texts of
the play, there is abundant external and internal evidence that he was
originally called Oldcastle. The change of names is mentioned in
seventeenth-century works by Richard James ("Epistle to Sir Harry
Bourchier", c. 1625) and
Thomas Fuller (Worthies of England, 1662). It
is also indicated in details in the early texts of Shakespeare's
plays. In the quarto text of
Henry IV, Part 2 (1600), one of
Falstaff's speech prefixes in Act I, Scene ii is mistakenly left
uncorrected, "Old." instead of "Falst." In III, ii, 25-6 of the same
Falstaff is said to have been a "page to Thomas Mowbray, Duke of
Norfolk"—which was true of the historical Oldcastle. In Henry IV,
Part 1, I,ii,42,
Prince Hal calls
Falstaff "my old lad of the castle."
Iambic pentameter verse lines in both parts are irregular when using
the name "Falstaff", but correct with "Oldcastle". Finally, there is
the blatant disclaimer at the close of
Henry IV, Part 2 that
discriminates between the two figures: "for Oldcastle died martyr,
and this is not the man" (Epilogue, 29–32). In Act III sc. 1,
Hotspur, promised all of England north of the Trent , proposes
diverting the river southwards to give him a still greater share. The
plan highlights his destructive and argumentative nature.
There is even a hint that
Falstaff was originally Oldcastle in The
Merry Wives of Windsor too. When the
First Folio and quarto texts of
that play are compared, it appears that the joke in V,v,85–90 is
Falstaff incriminates himself by calling out the first
letter of his name, "O, O, O!," when his fingertips are singed with
candles—which of course works for "Oldcastle" but not "Falstaff."
There is also the "castle" reference in IV,v,6 of the same play.
The name change and the Epilogue disclaimer were required, it is
generally thought, because of political pressure: the historical
Oldcastle was not only a Protestant martyr, but a nobleman with
powerful living descendants in Elizabethan England. These were the
William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham (died 6 March 1597),
was Warden of the Cinque Ports (1558–97),
Knight of the Order of the
Garter (1584), and member of the Privy Council (1586–97); his son
Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham , was granted the paternal post of
Warden of the Cinque Ports upon his father's death, and made a Knight
Order of the Garter
Order of the Garter in 1599. Even more so, Frances Brooke, the
10th Baron's wife and 11th Baron's mother, was a close personal
favourite of Her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth I .
Lord Cobham even had a strong negative impact upon the
lives of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the theatre. The
company of actors formed by Shakespeare,
Richard Burbage , Will Kempe
and the others in 1594 enjoyed the patronage of Henry Carey, first
Lord Hunsdon, then serving as
Lord Chamberlain ; they were, famously,
Lord Chamberlain\'s Men . When Carey died on 22 July 1596, the
Lord Chamberlain was given to William Brooke,
Lord Cobham, who
definitely was not a friend to the players, and who withdrew what
official protection they had enjoyed. The players were left to the
mercies of the local officials of the
City of London , who had long
wanted to drive the companies of actors out of the City. Thomas Nashe
, in a contemporary letter, complained that the actors were "piteously
persecuted by the
Lord Mayor and the aldermen" during this period.
Fortunately, for the players and for English literature, this interval
did not last; when Cobham died less than a year later, the post of
Lord Chamberlain went to Henry Carey's son George, 2nd baron Hunsdon,
and the actors regained their previous patronage.
The name was changed to "Falstaff", based on Sir
John Fastolf , an
historical person with a reputation for cowardice at the Battle of
Patay , and whom Shakespeare had previously represented in Henry VI,
Part 1 . Fastolf had died without descendants, making him safe for a
Shortly afterward, a team of playwrights wrote a two-part play
John Oldcastle , which presents a heroic dramatisation of
Oldcastle's life and was published in 1600.
In 1986, the
Oxford Shakespeare edition of Shakespeare's works
rendered the character's name as Oldcastle, rather than Falstaff, in
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 1 (although not, confusingly, in Part 2), as a
consequence of the editors' aim to present the plays as they would
have appeared during their original performances. No other published
editions have followed suit.
A photograph of John Jack as
Falstaff in a late 19th century
performance of the play.
There have been three BBC television films of Henry IV, Part 1. In
the 1960 mini-series
An Age of Kings , Tom Fleming starred as Henry
Robert Hardy as Prince Hal,
Frank Pettingell as
Sean Connery as Hotspur. The 1979
BBC Television Shakespeare
BBC Television Shakespeare version
Jon Finch as Henry IV,
David Gwillim as Prince Hal, Anthony
Tim Pigott-Smith as Hotspur. In the 2012
series The Hollow Crown ,
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 1 was directed by Richard
Eyre and starred
Jeremy Irons as Henry IV,
Tom Hiddleston as Prince
Simon Russell Beale
Simon Russell Beale as
Falstaff and Joe Armstrong as Hotspur.
Orson Welles '
Chimes at Midnight (1965) compiles the two Henry IV
plays into a single, condensed storyline, while adding a handful of
scenes from Henry V and dialogue from Richard II and The Merry Wives
of Windsor . The film stars Welles himself as Falstaff, John Gielgud
as King Henry, Keith Baxter as Hal,
Margaret Rutherford as Mistress
Norman Rodway as Hotspur.
BBC Television's 1995 Henry IV also combines the two Parts into one
Ronald Pickup played the King, David Calder Falstaff,
Jonathan Firth Hal and
Rufus Sewell Hotspur.
Adapted scenes in flashback from Henry IV are included in the 1989
film version of Henry V (1989) with
Robbie Coltrane portraying Sir
Kenneth Branagh playing the young Prince Hal.
Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant 's 1991 film
My Own Private Idaho is loosely based on
Part 1 of Henry IV.
The one-man hip-hop musical Clay is loosely based on Henry IV.
The 2016 app Cycle of Kings features the entire play Henry IV, Part 1
in interactive form, as well as a modern English translation.
* ^ Saccio, pp. 47–50.
* ^ Weil and Weil, p 1.
* ^ Henry IV, Part 1, 1.3.137, in Bevington (1997).
* ^ Henry IV, Part 1, 4.3.30, 4.4.19, in Bevington (1997).
* ^ Henry IV, Part 1, 4.2.12, in Bevington (1997)
* ^ Henry IV, Part 1, 4.2.64, in Bevington (1997).
* ^ Henry IV, Part 1, 5.4.110ff., in Norton (2008).
* ^ Henry IV, Part 1, 5.4.138ff., in Norton (2008).
* ^ Henry IV, Part 1, 55.19, in Bevington (1997).
* ^ Henry IV, Part 1, 5.5.28ff., in Norton (2008).
* ^ A B Kastan 2002 , p. 340.
* ^ Weil and Weil, p. 4.
* ^ Kastan 2002 , pp. 54,79.
* ^ Leaving aside MS Harley 7368 of the
British Library containing
the text of the play Sir Thomas More if this play does indeed contain
a contribution by Shakespeare. Folios 8-9a of that manuscript, which
contain the part supposed to be by Shakespeare, have even been
suggested to be a Shakespeare autograph . For further information see
the article dedicated to the play.
* ^ Halliday, Shakespeare Companion, p. 135.
* ^ Sanders 31.
* ^ Duthie 141.
* ^ Scoufos, Shakespeare's Typological Satire, p. 191.
* ^ Halliday, Shakespeare Companion, p. 107; Scoufos, p. 99.
* ^ "BFI Screenonline: An Age of Kings". Retrieved 2012-07-04.
* ^ "BFI Screenonline: Henry IV Part 1 (1979)". Retrieved
* ^ "Cultural Olympiad 2012: Shakespeare\'s History Plays", BBC
Media Centre, 24 November 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
* ^ Jones, Kenneth (27 August 2008). "Matt Sax\'s Hip-Hop Musical
\'Clay\' Plays KC Prior to NYC". Playbill On-Line. Retrieved 10
* Barker, Roberta. "Tragical-Comical-Historical Hotspur."
Shakespeare Quarterly 54.3 (2003): 288–307.
* Bevington, David , ed. The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Updated
Fourth Edition. University of Chicago, 1997.
* Duthie, George Ian. Shakespeare. London: Routledge, 1954.
* Greenblatt, Stephen . "Invisible Bullets: Renaissance Authority
and Its Subversion in Henry IV and Henry V." In Political Shakespeare,
Jonathan Dollimore and
Alan Sinfield , 18–47. 1985.
* Halliday, F. E. A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964. Baltimore,
* Saccio, Peter, Shakespeare's English Kings, 2nd edn, 2000.
* Sanders, Norman. "The True Prince and the False Thief."
Shakespeare Survey 30 (1977).
* Weil, Herbert and Judith Weil, eds. The First Part of King Henry
IV, 1997 (New Cambridge Shakespeare).
* Wright, Louis B, and Virginia A. LaMar, eds. The Folger Library
General Reader's Shakespeare: Henry IV, Part I.
* Shakespeare, William (2002). Kastan, David Scott, ed. King Henry
IV, Part 1. Third Series. Arden Shakespeare. ISBN 9781904271352 .
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