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Henry VI, Part 1

With an underage boy now king of England, Henry VI, Part 1 depicts the collapse of England's role in France, as English nobles fight each other instead of the French and as Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc) brings military strength to the French army. The English hero Lord Talbot attacks Orleans, but is defeated by Joan.

In England, Gloucester, Henry VI’s Protector, and Gloucester's rival Winchester encourage their followers to attack each other in the streets. Richard Plantagenet (later the Duke of York) and Somerset are equally antagonistic, with their followers signaling their allegiance by wearing white or red roses.

Henry VI is crowned in Paris, and orders York and Somerset to fight the French instead of each other. As they squabble, French forces kill Talbot and his son. The English army captures and executes Joan. Suffolk arranges a marriage between Henry and Margaret, daughter of the king of Naples, in order to keep her near him and give him, though her, control of England.

Early printed texts

Henry VI, Part 1 was first published in the 1623 First Folio and that text serves as the source for all subsequent editions of the play.

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Item Title: 
Works. 1623] Mr. William Shakespeares comedies, histories, & tragedies : published according to the true originall copies.
Item Call Number: 
STC 22273 Fo.1 no.68
Item Creator: 
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Item Date: 
1623

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Item Title: 
Mr. VVilliam Shakespeares comedies, histories, and tragedies. : Published according to the true originall copies.
Item Call Number: 
STC 22274 Fo.2 no.07
Item Creator: 
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Item Date: 
1632

Picturing Henry VI, Part 1

As part of an NEH-funded project, the Folger digitized thousands of 18th-, 19th-, and early 20th-century images representing Shakespeare’s plays. Some of these images show actors in character, while others show the plays as if they were real-life events—telling the difference isn't always easy. A selection of images related to 1 Henry VI is shown below, with links to our digital image collection. 

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Joan of Arc (late 18th or early 19th century)

Joan of Arc (late 18th or early 19th century)

Item Title: 
[Joan of Arc donning her helmet] [graphic].
Item Call Number: 
ART File S528k3a no.4 (size XS)
Item Date: 
[S.l. : s.n., late 18th to early 19th century?]

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Joan on the battlefield (Act 1, scene 2; 1885)
Joan on the battlefield (Act 1, scene 2; 1885)
Item Title: 
Char. "Stay, stay thy hand! Thou art an Amazon, and fightest with the sword of Deborah", King Henry VI [part 1], act I, scene II [graphic] / F.O.C. Darley, 1885.
Item Call Number: 
ART Box D221 no.40 (size L)
Item Creator: 
Darley, Felix Octavius Carr, 1822-1888, artist.
Item Date: 
[1885]

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Ann Stuart as Joan (Act 1, scene 6; 1786)
Ann Stuart as Joan (Act 1, scene 6; 1786)
Item Title: 
Miss Stuart in Joan la Pucelle [in Shakespeare's] Henry VI, pt. I, act I, sc. 6, Advance our waving colours ... [graphic] / Ramberg, delt. ; Newnham, sculpt.
Item Call Number: 
ART File S930 no.1 (size XS)
Item Creator: 
Harcourt, George Simon Harcourt, Earl, 1736-1809, printmaker.
Item Date: 
London, Eng. : Printed for J. Bell, 1786.

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Painting by Alexandre Bida of the death of Lord Talbot and his son (act 4, scene 7; 19th century)
Painting by Alexandre Bida of the death of Lord Talbot and his son (Act 4, scene 7; 19th century)
Item Title: 
[Henry VI, Pt. 1, IV, 7, The death of Lord Talbot and his son, John] [graphic] / [Alexandre Bida].
Item Call Number: 
ART Box B584 no.18
Item Creator: 
Bida, Alexandre, 1813-1895, artist.
Item Date: 
[19th century]

More images of 1 Henry VI can be seen in our digital image collection. (Because of how they were cataloged, some images from other plays might appear in the image searches linked here, so always check the sidebar to see if the image is described as part of a larger group.)