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Henry VI, Part 1

A scene from Bring Down the House Part 1

Introduction to the play

Henry VI, Part 1 is an uncompromising celebration of early English nationalism that contrasts the English with the French, portrayed here as effeminate and scheming.

A boy king, Henry VI, is on the English throne, and the indomitable Talbot leads the English cause in France. Joan La Pucelle (Joan of Arc), who becomes captain of the French, claims to be chosen by the Virgin Mary to liberate France. The English, however, consider her a sensual witch.

Many of the English nobility remain, quarreling, at home. Once in France, some seek permission to fight each other there. Talbot and his son cannot prevail; the English defeat themselves by preying on each other.

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Cover of the Folger Shakespeare edition of Henry VI, Part 1

The Folger Shakespeare

Our bestselling editions of Shakespeare's plays and poems

Fight till the last gasp.

Act 1, scene 2, line 130

She’s beautiful, and therefore to be wooed;
She is a woman, therefore to be won.

Act 5, scene 3, lines 78–79

Henry VI, Part 1 in our collection

A selection of Folger collection items related to Henry VI, Part 1. Find more in our digital image collection

Act 4, scene 7: The death of Lord Talbot and his son, John. By Alexandre Bida.
Act 1, scene 5: Joan of Arc fighting the English. Edward Corbould ; H. Cook.
Henry VI, part 1. By F. Howard.
From Heroines of Shakespeare, a series by John W. Wright.

Essays and resources from The Folger Shakespeare

Henry VI, Part 1

Learn more about the play, its language, and its history from the experts behind our edition.

About Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 1
An introduction to the plot, themes, and characters in the play

Graphic: England’s Claim to France

Graphic: Ancestry of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York

Shakespeare and his world

Learn more about Shakespeare, his theater, and his plays from the experts behind our editions.

Shakespeare’s Life
An essay about Shakespeare and the time in which he lived

Shakespeare’s Theater
An essay about what theaters were like during Shakespeare’s career

The Publication of Shakespeare’s Plays
An essay about how Shakespeare’s plays were published

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Teaching Henry VI, Part 1

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.