Character Directory


Henry V is victorious leader of an English invasion of France during the Hundred Years War. (The same individual appears as Prince Hal in 1 and 2 Henry IV.) Henry may be seen in two very different ways, in accordance with the play's essential ambivalence. The play may be taken either as an epic patriotic drama or as a satirical exposure of vicious hypocrisy, depending on one's interpretation of its protagonist; many episodes support both points of view. Henry has two dramatic functions: he is a hero whose exuberant leadership carries England to triumph over a traditional foe, yet he is also a coldly Machiavellian politician who is indifferent to the human costs of war. 

Henry's stature as a model of kingship is evident from the outset. In 1.1 the Archbishop of Canterbury extols Henry as a thoughtful and devout ruler, praising his understanding of religious, military, and political matters. The king's statesmanship is demonstrated in 2.1, when he solemnly warns of the grave consequences of war. Once agreed that honor requires him to invade France, his inflammatory response to the French Ambassador displays an invincible martial spirit. Henry's rule is secure within his realm, and he easily foils the assassination plot of Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey in 2.2 and sentences the conspirators to death. The skill with which he manipulates them demonstrates his ability to handle men, while his clemency to the drunken soldier, described in 2.2.39-43, mitigates his severity. On the eve of the invasion of France, we are told, 'all the youth of England are on fire ... following the mirror of all Christian kings' (2.Chorus.l-6). Henry inspires his forces with one of the most famous patriotic speeches in English literature (3.1.1-34). His chivalric behavior stands out especially by comparison with his boastful opponents, the vain and foolish French. His anger at the mocking delivery of tennis balls from the Dauphin in 1.2 is proportionate to the foolishness of the gift. On the battlefield Henry's dignified refusal to avoid conflict in 3.6 is followed immediately by the prattle of the cocky French nobility. 

At Agincourt, in Act 4, we see the King at his most heroic. Henry shares the anxieties of the common soldiers in 4.1, and his triumphant courage and high spirits are reflected in his officers, particularly after another famous morale-raiser, the 'St Crispin's Day' speech (4.3.18-67). His weeping response to the deaths of York and Suffolk in 4.6 belongs to an ancient tradition of vignettes in which great heroes grieve for their slain companions. Displaying the decisiveness of a great general, he reacts harshly in a moment of danger, ordering death for the French prisoners in 4.6.37, but this action is associated in the next two scenes with revenge for a French atrocity. In 4.7 Henry's righteous anger and the approval of Gower and Fluellen reflect the opinion of both Shakespeare's sources and 16th-century military theory that Henry's act was praiseworthy. 

Following the battle, Henry is betrothed to Princess Katarineof France. This completes the portrait of an epic hero, who, especially if he is a king, must produce offspring to carry on his line. Henry predicts that their son shall be a great Christian hero, rescuing Constantinople from the Turks. Further, by a dramatic convention of the day, the marriage signifies a happy ending: the war has been resolved, and a bright future is promised. 

Most important to Henry's stature as an epic hero, God is on his side. His battle cry asserts, 'God for Harry . . .' (3.1.34), and the traitors acknowledge God's hand in their downfall (2.2.151, 158). Henry utters frequent prayers and assertions that earthly affairs are controlled by God. He is particularly concerned about his relations with heaven in view of his father's sins of usurpation and murder, as he reveals in his prayer for victory on the eve of Agincourt (4.1. 295-311). He refuses credit for the subsequent victory, saying, 'Praised be God, and not our strength, for it!' (4.7.89) and orders that psalms of thanksgiving be sung. 

Henry seems a proper epic hero, but a contrary view is also suggested from the first. The sincerity of Canterbury's praise in 1.1 is dubious, for the archbishop frankly wants to win the king's support against Parliament. The sentimental 2.1 and 2.3, in which Falstaff’s followers regret his illness and then mourn his passing, place the king in a moral shadow, for the knight's death is expressly attributed to Henry—'The king hath killed his heart' (2.1.88), the Hostess says, referring to Falstaff’s rejection in 2 Henry IV. For many, this act is a coldly ungrateful example of personal betrayal, however appropriate in terms of public policy; a germ of disapproval towards Henry is thus planted before he even appears. 

Henry often seems sanctimonious rather than genuinely religious. He chiefly calls on God to justify his own intentions, and he turns ostensibly religious sentiment into a casual anti-French slur in 3.6.166-167. More significantly, Henry's prayer for victory in 4.1. 295-311 may be seen as a crass material bargain with God, an invoice, as it were, for the charitable works he has paid for since becoming King. Henry's prayer follows a long passage on the difficulties of kingship, during which it did not occur to him to seek divine assistance. Had Shakespeare intended his hero as a seriously religious person, that would have been a telling and touching moment to have him turn to God. This omission is not in itself very important, but it contributes to a sense that Henry does not truly possess the Christian spirit that he projects. 

These suspicions of hypocrisy are supported by the impression that Henry is that most un-Christian figure, the ruthless militarist. The morality of Henry's war is sharply questioned. In 1.1 the play's only formal representatives of Christianity plot to foment a war to protect church property, and we must doubt the propriety of Henry's cause. In Henry's angry speech to the French Ambassadors he justifies himself as an instrument of God's will, but he brandishes ugly threats that are far from Christian in spirit. His God seems to offer an all too convenient excuse to do what he already wants to do—that is, conquer France. At this point we may recall the advice that Henry received from his dying father in 2 Henry IV— namely, to fight a foreign war to distract potential rivals at home.  

The apparent dishonesty of the archbishop's justification for war, noted above, is striking; that it is the archbishop and not Henry who makes the argument is equally telling. Henry has placed the onus on the prelate, having cautioned him, in 1.2.13-28, that the making of war is a mighty responsibility that he refuses to accept himself. This evasion recurs when the soldier Williams makes a similar point in 4.1. Henry responds with a lecture on the sinfulness of all the soldiers (4.1.150-192), cleverly deflecting moral responsibility away from himself.  

Henry's military heroism has a negative side as well, for he repeatedly reveals a nasty viciousness. His spirited reply to the French Ambassadors is also brutally violent, threatening death to 'many a thousand' and grief for those 'yet ungotten and unborn' (1.2.284, 287) as vengeance for a petty insult. His handling of the traitors in 2.2 is effective, but it also suggests a catlike delight in cruelty as Henry toys with his prey. The king's threats to Harfleur, though not carried out—the town surrenders and spares him the trouble—are extreme, promising a list of horrors including 'naked infants spitted upon pikes' (3.3.38). The references to his killing of prisoners (4.6.37,4.7.9-10, 4.7.65), while justifying the act, are all seemingly insistent on the image of the king as executioner. And lastly his cool response to Burgandy’s plea for peace in 5.2—'... you must buy that peace' (5.2.70)—is quite chilling when viewed in light of Henry's demonstrated brutality on the battlefield. 

In less political contexts Henry also seems unfeeling. As we have seen, the death of Falstaff raises this point in Act 2, and the fat knight's rejection is referred to again in 4.7.47-53, where it is associated with Alexander the Great's murder of a friend. Moreover, in 3.6.110 Henry lets Bardolph die for a petty offence in the name of discipline. The king's cold, Machiavellian nature is thus illustrated several times, contributing to the portrait, alongside that of the epic hero, of a cynical politician. 

Henry's aggressive courtship of Princess Katharine, while possessing a certain bluff charm, may also seem repellent. Not only is the king falsely humble, claiming to be a 'plain soldier', (5.2.153) but he is clearly aware that she is already properly his as a trophy of war. This scene harbors the crowning irony of the play: as Henry crows over the prospective greatness of his and Katharine's future child, we know that this son is to be the hopelessly ineffective Henry VI, who will lose the conquests Henry is presently celebrating. This is bluntly stated in the Epilogue, ending the play on a note of resignation and loss that flatly oppose the idea of Henry as an epic hero. 

Nonetheless, Henry V was undeniably a monumental figure in the eyes of Elizabethan England, universally accepted as a great king, and Shakespeare took this status as a given. The king is the major figure in the play in either interpretation, and the playwright took pains to emphasize his importance. It appears that Falstaff was removed from the play after it was written, presumably in order to avoid impinging on Henry's significance. Further, Shakespeare altered the historical reality of Henry's reign to the same purpose. The battle ofAgincourt, fought in 1415, is the central event of the play and appears to lead directly to the surrender of France. But the decisive campaign in Normandy in 1417-1419, and the importance of naval warfare in its success, is not mentioned; nor is the English alliance with Burgundy, which made Henry's final victory possible five years after Agincourt. In the battle itself the king's role is overstated by the striking omission of a crucial and well-known element, the devastation wrought by the English longbowmen. This aspect of the English victory was already legendary in Shakespeare's time, but it was not suited to the playwright's focus on Henry. 

Henry V must dominate the play, for the play's essential ambivalence towards power depends entirely on the extraordinary dual nature of the protagonist, who must function as two quite different figures at the same time. Henry V is in this way unparallelled in Shakespearean drama, though many characters are greater than he in other respects. Thus he brings us to a renewed awareness of the range of his creator's genius. 


Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (1390-1447) is the youngest son of King Henry IV and the brother of King Henry V and the dukes of Clarence and Lancaster. He is an important figure in the aristocratic disputes of the Henry VI plays, presented as the chief cause of the English loss to France in the Hundred Years War. In the later works, where he is a younger man, he is a minor character. 

In the Henry VI plays Gloucester engages in a running dispute with his uncle the Bishop of Wincester. He is depicted as a valorous defender of England's honor, whereas Winchester is an opportunistic politician. Their feud rages through 3.1 of Part 1, after which it is replaced in importance by that between York and Somerset. In Part 2 Gloucester's wife, the Duchess of Gloucester, is convicted on charges of witchcraft and banished. Then, in 3.1, Gloucester himself is arrested at Bury ST. Edmunds, falsely charged with treason, and killed. Hired murderers fjee the scene of the crime at the beginning of 3.2; the Second Murderer regrets the deed because the duke's death had been marked by religious penitence. 

After Gloucester's death the country slides into civil war, and we are meant to see him as having been the guardian against such an event. In order to magnify the duke's virtues, two otherwise irrelevant anecdotes are inserted into the story. In 2.1 Gloucester demonstrates his perceptiveness by exposing the imposter Simpcox, and in 3.1 he wisely postpones a potentially explosive issue, York's appointment as regent in France, until a marginally related dispute can be resolved. These incidents demonstrate the qualities of prudence and judgment that are shortly to be denied the country by the duke's murder. 

The historical Gloucester was very different from the 'good Duke Humphrey' (2 Henry VI, 3.2.322) of these plays. Shakespeare, following his sources and the established opinion of his own time, was opposed to the political position of Gloucester's enemies and he thus depicted Humphrey as a patriot. Winchester headed a 'peace party' that advocated a withdrawal from a war virtually lost. Gloucester and the 'hawks' of the day, however, insisted that the war go on. In the History Plays Shakespeare presents the view that the French were able to drive the English from France only because of English disunity, and Gloucester's insistence on continuing the war was taken to demonstrate a patriotic faith in English arms that the 'peace party' lacked. 

Gloucester was in fact selfishly ambitious, quite willing to pursue his own interests at the expense of the country's, once the restraining influence of Henry V was gone. After Henry's death Gloucester's power was restricted by a council of nobles who recognized his headstrong selfishness. He rebelled; the dispute with Winchester at the Tower of London (1 Henry VI, 1.3) reflects Gloucester's actual coup attempt of 1425. A year later, he eloped with the wife of a close friend of the Duke of Burgandy, England's most important ally, and then recruited an army to support his new wife's claims. A duel with Burgundy was avoided only by the annulment of the marriage. This affair was among the grievances that Burgundy cited when he eventually defected from the English alliance against France. Later Gloucester scandalously married his mistress, Eleanor Cobham, who, as Duchess of Gloucester, was found guilty of treason and witchcraft. No evidence has ever been offered to support the belief that Gloucester was murdered. Although he died while in Suffolk's custody, historians generally believe that his death was natural. No question of murder arose at the time, and Suffolk's banishment only occurred some years later, for different reasons. 

In 2 Henry IV and Henry V, set years earlier, Gloucester's role is minor. He is present at his father's deathbed in 4.4 and 4.5 of the first play, and in 5.2 he commiserates with the Chief Justice on the treatment the jurist expects to receive from the new king, whom he believes is an enemy. In Henry V Gloucester is an almost anonymous member of the king's entourage.


John Plantagenet, Duke of Bedford (1389-1435) is the younger brother of King Henry V and uncle of Henry VI. (The same individual appears as Prince John of Lancaster, in 1 and 2 Henry IV.) In 1 Henry VI Bedford is a regent, ruling France for the infant King Henry. Bedford opens the play memorably, mourning the deceased Henry V in portentous terms: 'Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!' (1.1.1). In Act 2 Bedford proves himself a capable warrior when Orleans is captured, but in Act 3 he is an aged invalid, confined to a chair, whom Joan La Pucelle taunts as 'good grey-beard' (3.2.50). He dies happily after witnessing the English victory at Rouen. 

The historical Bedford did die in Rouen, though at the age of 45 or 46, while the city was under English rule; the battle scene in the play is fictitious. He outlived Joan of Arc by several years. In fact, he played a major role in Joan's capture and trial, but Shakespeare transferred this important aspect of his career to York in order to lend importance to the character who was to be a leading figure in the civil wars to come.

In Henry V a younger Bedford is an inconsequential member of the King's entourage. The historical Bedford, however, played an important role in the English conquest of France. Although he is present at the battle of Agincourt in the play, he was actually in England at the time, ruling in Henry's absence. Then he won a crucial naval battle in the second of Henry's campaigns in France. This campaign is ignored by Shakespeare, although it was actually more important than Agincourt in precipitating the final French surrender depicted in 5.2.


Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter (1337-1427) is the illegitimate son of John of Gaunt and younger brother of the Bishop of Winchester. In 1 Henry VI Exeter speaks of his position as the 'special governor' (1.1.171) of the infant King Henry VI, which reflects his historical appointment, under the will of Henry V, as the new King's tutor. Although the historical Exeter died a few years thereafter, before most of the events of the play, Shakespeare kept him alive to function as a periodic commentator on the action, like a Greek Chorus, predicting disaster for the feuding English. For instance, he closes 3.1 with a grim forecast of the Wars of the Roses, hoping that his own 'days may finish ere that hapless time' (3.1.189-201). 

In Henry V, set a decade earlier, Exeter is a valued follower of his nephew the King, but he has no distinctive personality. He bears a boldly defiant message from Henry to the French King and the Dauphin in 2.4, and in 4.6 he recounts the death of the Duke of York at Agincourt, in tones reminiscent of courtly epic poetry. Thus Exeter's formulaic speeches help to maintain a distinctive tone in both plays. 

The historical Exeter, though born a bastard, was granted princely titles and incomes even before being legitimized by his father at the age of 40. He was an important military commander under both Henry IV and Henry V, and he was named an executor of the latter's will. As in Henry V, 3.3.51-54, Exeter was made Governor of Harfleur after its capture by Henry, though it is unclear whether or not he fought at Agincourt. He was not named Duke of Exeter until after most of the events of Henry V; Shakespeare took this minor inaccuracy from Holinshed’s Chronicles.


Edward, Duke of York (c. 1373-1415) (The same figure appears as the Duke of Aumerle in Richard II.) In 4.3 York asks King Henry V for permission to lead the vanguard at the battle of Agincourt, offering an instance of English valor. His brave death in combat is touchingly reported by the Duke of Exeter in 4.6.  7-32, a passage that helps to maintain the epic tone of the play's presentation of the battle.

The historical York inherited the title from his father, the York of Richard II, several years after the time of that play. He was pardoned by Henry V for his rebellions against Henry IV(one of which is enacted in Richard II). As he demonstrated at Agincourt, he remained loyal to the new king, but his younger brother, the Earl of Cambridge, was executed for treason, as is enacted in Henry V, 2.2. When York died childless, the title passed to Cambridge's son, the Duke of York of the Henry VI plays. The York of Henry V died at Agincourt, but not in the courageous manner described in the play. Quite fat, York suffered a heart attack or some other sort of fatal seizure after falling from his horse. His heroic death is Shakespeare's invention; he may have had in mind the great popularity of his earlier description of John  Talbot's death in battle in 1 Henry VI, 4.7.


Thomas Montague Salisbury (Montacute), Earl of (1388-1428) Historical figure and minor character in 1 Henry VI and Henry V, an English general. In 1 Henry VI Salisbury appears only in 1.4, to be killed by a cannon-ball fired from the walls of Orleans, dying in the arms of Talbot. The incident emphasizes the increasing revival of French fortunes in the Hundred Years War. In his even briefer appearance in Henry V, set 13 years earlier, Salisbury adds a note of epic valour to the victory of the badly outnumbered English at Agincourt, saying, just before the battle, If we no more meet till we meet in heaven, then, joyfully, . . . adieu!' (3.3.7-10). 

The historical Salisbury chiefly served King Henry V as a diplomat and administrator, and under Henry VI he was one of England's most successful generals. Salisbury was indeed killed by a cannon-ball at Orleans, but he did not die immediately, lingering in pain for a week. Talbot was not present, and Salisbury's funeral in 2.2 is also fictitious, for his body was in fact brought back to England for burial.


Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland (1364-1425) In 1 and 2 Henry IV, Westmoreland is a loyal adviser to King Henry IV, though he is rather faceless. In 1.1 of 1 Henry IV he brings grave news of military setbacks, introducing the unrest that besets Henry's reign. He later appears briefly at the battle of Shrewsbury. In 2 Henry IV Westmoreland is again a solid supporter of the king, defending Henry against the rebellious noblemen's claims of mistreatment. In 4.2 he seconds Prince John of Lancaster in his fraudulent offer of a truce to the rebels at Gaultree Forest, and he arrests the leaders after they have unsuspectingly sent their troops home. In 4 4 he brings news of the final defeat of the rebels, closing the history of revolts against Henry.  

In Henry V Westmoreland has a minor role and is notable only for expressing a wish for reinforcements just before the battle of Agincourt, provoking King Henry V famed 'St. Crispin's Day' speech (4.3.18-b7). The historical Westmoreland was not present at Agincourt, having been placed in command of the Scottish border. His more prominent role in the Henry IV plays reflects his historical position more accurately, though here, too, Shakespeare altered reality Westmoreland backed Bolingbroke, later Henry IV, in his deposition of Richard II, although Richard had granted him his earldom. He served the new king loyally, as the plays show. It was he who actually tricked the rebel leaders at Gaultree, not Prince John who was a youth at the time. Shakespeare de-emphasized Westmoreland in order to keep the focus on Henry s family.  Westmoreland married twice and fathered 16 children, and several of his descendants appear in Shakespeare's plays. By his first wife he was the grandfather of the Westmoreland who appears in 3 Henry VI-by the second he was the father of the Earl of Salisbury of 2 Henry VI and grandfather of the Earl of Warwick, known as the 'kingmaker', of 2 and 3 Henry VI.


Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (1382-1439) Historical figure and character in 1 Henry VI, 2 Henry IV, and Henry V. In 1 Henry VI Warwick declares for Plantagenet in 2.4, and in 3.1 he presents King Henry VI with a petition in favor of Plantagenet's restoration as Duke of York. He is present but unimportant in later scenes. In 2 Henry IV and Henry V we see Warwick as a younger man. In 2 Henry IV he is an adviser to King Henry IV. He soothes the king's melancholy and rouses him to action in 3.1, and he defends Prince Hal in 4.5, asserting that his debauchery is instructing the young man in the ways of evil, from which he will reform himself. This passage is intended to confirm the essential nobility of the future King Henry V. In Henry V Warwick speaks only one line as a member of the King's court. 

The historical Warwick was much more important in the affairs of his time than the character is in the plays. As a young man, under Henry IV, he distinguished himself in the army, serving against Glendower’s Welsh rebellion and at the battle of Shrewsbury. He was a highly successful general under Henry V and governed the occupied towns of Calais and Rouen at various times. Upon the king's death, the infant Henry VI was placed in Warwick's care. In 1Henry VI Warwick is overshadowed by York, whom Shakespeare wished to emphasize, although the earl was actually a more successful and prominent figure. When he died, Warwick was governing occupied France as regent for Henry VI. 

Shakespeare confused Richard Beauchamp with Richard Neville, a later holder of the same title: in 2 Henry IV, 3.1.66, Beauchamp is misnamed Neville, and in 2 Henry VI, 1.1.117-120, episodes from his military career are claimed by Neville. It is sometimes thought that Neville was expressly intended as the Warwick of 1 Henry VI, but, although the chronology of that play is hopelessly skewed, certain key features point to Beauchamp.  Although Shakespeare was seemingly unaware of the distinction, it seems likely that Richard Beauchamp is the Warwick depicted.


Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury, (1362-1443) who gives King Henry V a rationale for going to war with France. In 1.1 Canterbury, speaking with the Bishop of Ely, expresses his hope that a state of war—especially when supported by the large donation he has offered the King—will divert the introduction of legislation requiring a vast state seizure of church property. In 1.2 he presents the King with a long, legalistic argument in support of his hereditary claim to the French crown, and he joins others in encouraging a conquest of France. 

Shakespeare's portrayal of Canterbury is flawed, though only because his sources were. The historical Henry Chichele did not become Archbishop until some time after the war began; until then he was Henry's ambassador to France. Shakespeare followed Hall in this error. More significantly, the church was not particularly instrumental in promoting the war, and the Archbishop's motives, although Shakespeare took them from Holinshed, are unhistorical. In fact, although the legislation to seize church property had been proposed under King Henry IV (as Canterbury observes in 1.1.2-3), it was not reintroduced under Henry V. Thus the church had no reason to promote the war, and, although it contributed to the King's war fund, as was customary, its donation was not exceptionally great, as it is in the play.


John Fordham, Bishop of Ely (d. 1435) Historical figure and character in Henry V who supports the Archbishop of Canterbury in urging war to King Henry V. In 1.1 Ely and Canterbury express their hope that a state of war—especially when supported by a large donation from the church—will forestall the introduction of legislation requiring a vast state seizure of church property. In 1.2 Ely, Canterbury, and others encourage Henry to invade France.


Richard York, Earl of Cambridge (1376-1415) Historical figure and character in Henry V, a traitor who plans to assassinate King Henry V but is foiled and condemned to death. In 2.2 Henry, who knows of the intended treason, asks Cambridge and his co-conspirators, Lord Scroop and Sir Thomas Grey, how to deal with a drunken soldier who has spoken against him. They all insist that Henry be firm against any hint of disloyalty. Then Henry reveals his knowledge of their treason and applies their own advice, denying them clemency and sentencing them to death.  Cambridge, who has no distinctive personality, welcomes death with conventional remorse, as do the others, in a passage intended to emphasize Henry's godlike majesty.  

The historical Cambridge benefited from Henry's benevolence, for the King had restored his older brother to the dukedom of York, despite his history of rebellion against Henry IV, and had elevated Cambridge to his earldom. However, the Earl firmly opposed Henry IV's usurpation of the throne from Richard III, and he continued to rebel. In Henry V French gold alone motivates the traitors, although in 2.2.155-157 Cambridge observes that he wants the cash for a purpose that Shakespeare did not specify because he wished his audience to focus on Henry's enemies in France. The historical traitors, however, planned to replace Henry on the throne with Edmund Mortimer, Cambridge's brother-in-law, whose father was held to have been the rightful heir to Richard II. Mortimer himself was loyal and turned in the conspirators, which Shakespeare does not mention, but his claim to the throne was revived by Cambridge's son, the Duke of York of the Henry VI plays, and the Wars of the Roses ensued as a result. Thus this minor scene in Henry V carries the germ of future English disasters, as many people in Shakespeare's original audiences will have recognized.


Henry Scroop (c.1376-1415) a traitor who plans to assassinate King Henry V but fails and is sentenced to death. Scroop and his fellow conspirators, the Earl of Cambridge and Sir Thomas Grey, are asked by Henry to advise him on punishing a drunken soldier who has defamed him. They all recommend severity. Then the king reveals his knowledge of their plot and applies their own rule to them, refusing them mercy. They each thank God for preventing their success, in conventional speeches intended to emphasize Henry's own majesty. 

Henry judges Cambridge and Grey in a few words, but he chastises Scroop at great length (2.2.93-142).'Scroop's treason is deemed particularly heinous, for he has been Henry's close friend and confidant for many years. Henry goes so far as to call Scroop's offence 'another fall of man' (2.2.142). The combination of Henry's grief at his friend's betrayal and his unswerving sternness demonstrates both the humanity and the maturity of the king. 

The historical Scroop was indeed close to Henry, but he was also associated with a history of rebellion against the Lancaster dynasty. Although Shakespeare does not mention it in Henry V, Scroop's father, Stephen Scroop, had been a supporter of Richard II, who was deposed by Henry's father. Lord Bolingbroke, later King Henry IV, as is enacted in Richard II. Further, Scroop's uncle, the Archbishop of the Henry IV plays, led two revolts against Henry IV.  Scroop and his father disassociated themselves from the Archbishop, and Scroop was given high official under Henry V. Accordingly, his involvement in Cambndge's plot was punished with particular rigour Grey and Cambridge were each beheaded, while Scroop was drawn and quartered.


Thomas Grey (d. 1415) is a traitor who plans to assassinate King Henry V but is captured and sentenced to death. In 2.2 Henry, who knows of their plot, asks Grey and his fellow conspirators, Lord Scroop and the Earl of Cambridge, for advice about a drunken soldier who has criticized him. They all recommend severity, insisting that Henry be firm against any hint of disloyalty. Then Henry reveals his awareness of their treason and applies their own rule against them, sentencing them to death. Grey, like the others, offers a conventionally remorseful speech, thanking God for the defeat of the conspiracy and welcoming death. Grey has no personality; the episode merely serves to emphasize Henry's godlike majesty. The historical Grey was a landowner in Northumberland and is thought to have been allied to the Percy family, persistent rebels against King Henry IV. The revolt led by Cambridge may have been a final spasm of the civil conflict enacted in 1 and 2 Henry IV.


Sir Thomas Erpingham (1357-1428) is an officer in the army of King Henry V. In 4.1, on the eve of the battle of Agincourt, Erpingham rejects Henry's suggestion that he is too old to sleep on the hard ground, asserting that he enjoys being able to say, 'Now lie I like a king' (4.1.17). Henry congratulates him on his spirit, thus contributing to the episode's emphasis on the high morale of the English army.  The historical Erpingham supported the King's father, Henry Bolingbroke, later King Henry IV, when he deposed King Richard II (enacted in Richard II) and later served as his chancellor. He was one of the highest-ranking officers at Agincourt.


Gower is an officer in the army of King Henry V. Gower functions chiefly as a foil to Fluellen, a calm and restraining friend of—and audience for—the irascible Welshman. Gower, a stolid military man, reveals his own personality only when he voices his heartfelt disapproval of Pistol, whom he sees as a petty thief and braggart impersonating a soldier, in 3.6.67-82, his sole substantial speech.


Fluellen is a Welsh officer in the army of King Henry V. Fluellen, although hot-tempered, rather humorless, and pedantic, is open, honest, and courageous as well. He is further distinguished by a comically extravagant Welsh accent. His prickly insistence on military traditions leads him to speak sharply to Captain Macmorris in 3.2, Pistol in 3.6, Williams in 4.8, and Gower at several points. Irked by Pistol's anti-Welsh mockery, Fluellen forces him to eat a leek, the Welsh national emblem, in 5.1. The king remarks that Fluellen is 'touch'd with choler, hot as gunpowder' (4.7.185). 

Fluellen's bravery and sense of military honor mark him as a fine soldier, and his enthusiasm for Henry—especially in his humorous comparison of the king and Alexander the Great (4.7.12-55)—supports the play's presentation of the king as an epic hero. On the other hand, his fiery irrationality and suffocating self-confidence are also to be associated with the king and thus color the alternative view that Henry is a vicious militarist and the play a satirical picture of war and political power. Shakespeare intended both aspects of the play to be felt, and Fluellen, in his small way, contributes to this effect.

Fluellen's name is a variant of the more common Welsh name Llewelyn; Shakespeare may have borrowed the surname of one William Fluellen, an associate of his father, John Shakespeare. Fluellen's Welshness helps to demonstrate the unity of the peoples of Britain under Henry V, especially in the 'international scene' (3.2), where Wales, England, Ireland, and Scotland are represented by Fluellen, Gower, Macmorris, and Jamy respectively. Also, the emphasis on Fluellen's accent probably reflects the presence of a Welshman in Shakespeare's acting company


Macmorris is an Irish officer in the army of King Henry V. Macmorris appears only in the 'international' scene, 3.2, with the Welsh Fluellen, the Scottish Jamy, and the English Gower.  Hot-tempered, Macmorris takes offence at Fluellen's reference to the Irish, presuming he means an insult, and they nearly come to blows, though both respond professionally to the call of duty and postpone their quarrel. The episode exploits ethnic stereotypes to demonstrate the diversity of British subjects working to a common end under King Henry.


Jamy Character in Henry V, a Scottish officer in the army of King Henry V. Jamy appears only in the 'international' scene, 3.2, with the Welsh Fluellen, the English Gower, and the Irish Macmorris. The episode emphasizes the diversity of British subjects serving together under Henry. Although Fluellen speaks of him as a fine soldier, Jamy merely lends color, uttering commonplaces in an almost impenetrable brogue.


John Bates is one of the soldiers who encounter the incognito King Henry V on the eve of the battle ofAgincourt. Bates is a grumbler who wishes he were elsewhere, even if the King were left alone in France, but he also says, 'yet I determine to fight lustily for him' (4.1.196). He tries to allay the quarrel between Williams and the stranger (the King), saying, 'Be friends, you English fools, be friends: we have French quarrels enow . . .' (4.1.228-229). Bates is a typical English soldier, part of the scene's varied presentation of the army's morale before the battle.


Alexander Court is a soldier who meets the incognito King Henry V on the eve of the battle of Agincourt. His companions, Bates and Williams, converse with the king, but Court speaks only one line.


Michael Williams is a soldier who unknowingly disputes with King Henry V, who is disguised as a common soldier, in 4.1. Henry finds that Williams doubts the virtue of the English invasion of France and asserts that, if Henry's cause is not righteous, the king must accept responsibility before God for the sin of unjustifiable killing committed by his men. Henry argues irrelevantly that the king cannot be held accountable for the soldiers' sins committed before the battle, and Williams concedes the point but doubts the king's reputed promise to fight to the death rather than be ransomed. The two men exchange gloves, to be worn on their hats as identification, and each agrees to challenge the other to a fight if he sees him after the forthcoming battle of Agincourt. However, when Henry, undisguised, sees Williams in 4.7, he does not acknowledge their prior meeting but sends the soldier on an errand. He then gives the glove that he holds to Fluellen and sends him to the same place as Williams, ensuring an encounter. When the two meet in 4.8, they prepare to fight; Henry appears and explains matters but demands a defense from Williams for having dared to abuse the monarch.  Williams makes the obvious explanation—that he could not have known the king—and Henry returns him his glove, filled with money. Williams sharply rejects Fluellen's offer of a further, gratuity.

This episode may be viewed in either of two lights, depending on one's interpretation of the play, which Shakespeare deliberately made ambiguous. If King Henry is seen as an epic hero, his encounter with Williams may be seen as evidence of the king's commendable ability to relate to the common soldiers of his army. The dispute in 4.1, from this point of view, offers the king a lesson in humility by displaying the virtues of forthright courage that may be found in all men, and it leads to the king's great soliloquy (4.1. 236-290) in which he regrets his royalty. When the king generously rewards Williams in 4.8, he recalls the magnanimity of his youth as Prince Hal, enacted in 7 and 2 Henry IV. On the other hand, if the play is taken as a satire on war and politics, and Henry as a hypocritical militarist, then emphasis shifts to Williams' scepticism about the morality of Henry's war. The soldier's honest doubt is shuffled off by a sophistic evasion. The business of the gloves displays Williams as a courageous commoner who is patronized by a superior who first makes a riskless challenge and then diverts it to Fluellen, seemingly for mere entertainment. Shakespeare set up a number of such ambivalent situations in this play, and Williams, a convincing British soldier—his name suggests that he may be Welsh—contributes much to the realism of this one.


Pistol appears in Henry IV, Part 2, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Henry V and is a braggart soldier and follower of Falstaff. The comical Pistol serves as Falstaff’s aide in King Henry IV's campaign against the rebels in Henry IV, Part 2. He first appears at Falstaff s dinner party at the Boar’s Heard Tavern in 2.4, and he offends everyone present with grandiose insults while asserting his chivalric honor with distorted snatches of rhetoric from Elizabethan drama and literature. This vigorous mode of address is Pistol's principal attribute in all of his appearances. To some extent. Pistol satirizes military pretensions, but his rhetoric is more pointedly a literary parody; Shakespeare exaggerates the florid language of Marlowe and his followers. Pistol is called an ancient; ancient, or ensign (standard-bearer), is a military rank, the equivalent of lieutenant, which Bardolph calls Pistol in Henry V, 2.1.38.  Pistol may actually be an ancient, or he may have simply appropriated the title, for part of his absurdity is his singular unsuitability for command.

Like the 16th-century sidearm for which he is named. Pistol is violently loud but incapable of serious damage. Also, the pistol was commonly associated, in Elizabethan humor, with the penis; much is made of this in Henry IV, Part 2 2.4.109-135.  When the Quarto edition of Henry IV, Part 2 was published in 1600, its subtitle made particular reference to Pistol, whose appeal was already recognized, and he has been among Shakespeare's most popular characters ever since. His extravagant rhetoric makes him hilarious even to audiences for whom the original parodies are meaningless.

In The Merry Wives Pistol is again in Falstaff’s entourage (apparently as a civilian), but he refuses to deliver his master's love letters, rejecting the task as unsoldierly, and Falstaff fires him. He and Nym seek revenge, and they inform Ford and Page that Falstaff has designs on their wives, thereby triggering the principal sub-plot of Ford's jealousy. Pistol is insignificant thereafter, although he does appear in the final Masque like scene, disguised as a fairy. This may simply reflect the employment of the actor who played Pistol in another role, but Pistol's appearance in character might have been taken by 16th-century audiences as a clue to the ceremonial nature of the scene, in which personality is wiped out.

In Henry V, Pistol mourns the passing of Falstaff with his new wife, the Hostess, whom he has presumably dazzled with his extravagant braggadoccio.  Once on campaign in France, he proves himself a coward in 3.2; following this episode, the Boy remarks on the villainy of Pistol, Nym, and Bardolph.  In 3.6 Pistol pleads unsuccessfully for Fluellen’s intercession on behalf of Bardolph, who has been sentenced to death for looting; in 4.1 he is one of the soldiers whom the incognito King Henry V encounters the night before the battle of Agincourt, though he has little to say, merely making a nasty remark about Fluellen.

In 4.4 Pistol captures a French Soldier and demands ransom of him, threatening to kill him otherwise. Since he speaks no French and the soldier no English, the scene is comical, but Pistol is unquestionably an unpleasant character, vicious and overbearing.The Boy acts as interpreter, saving the soldier's life, and he remarks afterwards of Pistol, 'I did never know so full a voice issue from so empty a heart' (4.4.69-70).  Pistol is last seen in 5.1, where Fluellen forces him to eat a leek. The last survivor of FalstafFs followers, Pistol in Henry V serves to show that the anarchic element represented by Falstaff is finally rendered both harmless and completely disreputable. On the other hand. Pistol may also be seen as a symbolic parallel to King Henry's militarism: he satirizes notions of military honor, while most of the combat actually presented involves Pistol at his most degenerate. Most strikingly, his threat to kill his prisoner in 4.4 foreshadows Henry's own order that 'every soldier kill his prisoner' (4.6.37).

It is thought that Falstaff appeared in an early, unacted version of Henry V and was then excised by Shakespeare, with remnants of his part going to Pistol, who displays Falstaffian characteristics in several scenes, particularly 5.1. This theory cannot be proven, but it is supported by textual evidence. 


Nym appears in The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry V and is a follower of Falstaff. In The Merry Wives Nym is a minor figure, being dismissed by his master early in the play for refusing to deliver love letters. But in three brief scenes he is memorably established as an eccentric character, using the word 'humour' in almost every speech, applying it in every imaginable way, to the point where it ceases to have meaning. This word was a fashionable and widely parodied term in late 16th-century London (see ‘Comedy of Humours’; in fact, a character in a play of 1596, George Chapman’s The Blinding Beggar of Alexandria, had the same verbal habit and clearly seems to have influenced Shakespeare's creation of Nym.

In Henry V Nym feuds with Pistol, who has married the Hostess, to whom Nym was engaged. Bardolph reconciles the two. Nym is one of the companions of Falstaff who mourn his death in 2.3, but he says little. In 3.2, as part of King Henry V's army in France, Nym is cowardly and is upbraided by Fluellen. The Boy comments on the villainous characters of Nym, Pistol, and Bardolph in 3.2.28-56, describing them as braggarts, petty thieves, and cowards.  In 4.4.72 the Boy reports that Nym has been hung, apparently for theft. In The Merry Wives, Nym's function is comical, although he remains an undeveloped character. In Henry V, his more unsavory aspects are stressed; he is part of the underworld that is put down by King Henry. His very name suggests petty villainy; it meant 'steal' or 'filch' in Elizabethan English.


Bardolph is a Character in 1 and 2 Henry IV, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Henry V, a follower of Falstaff. In 1 Henry IV Bardolph participates in the highway robbery of 2.2, and in 2 Henry IV he assists the fat knight in his illicit recruiting efforts in 3.2, collecting bribes from men who wish to avoid service. When Falstaff is rejected by Prince Hal in 5.5, Bardolph goes to prison with him. In The Merry Wives Bardolph is only a minor figure who occasionally delivers messages to Falstaff. In Henry V he is a soldier in the army of King Henry V. In 2.1 he defuses the feud between Pistol and Nym. In 3.2.28-57 the Boy convincingly describes him as a coward and thief. In 3.6 we learn that Bardolph is to be executed for having stolen a sacramental vessel from a French church, and in 4.4 the Boy reports that Bardolph has indeed been hung.  

Despite his swaggering, he has little distinctive personality. His peacemaking role in Henry V ironically counters King Henry V's bellicosity in an anti-war reading of the play, but if one interprets Henry as a epic hero, then Bardolph remains a comic soldier, a petty villain whose end helps to demonstrate the King's dedication to justice. Bardolph's most prominent characteristic is his diseased facial complexion, florid and fiery, 'all bubukles, and whelks, and knobs, and Hames o' fire' (Henry V, 3.6.105-106). He is teased mercilessly about his skin disorder by Falstaff and other characters, finding himself compared to lamps, torches, blushing maids, red wine, red petticoats, hellfire, and even 'Lucifer's privy kitchen' (2 Henry IV, 2.4.330).  

Bardolph was originally called Rossill, but after 2 Henry IV was written the name was changed, probably to avoid offending a prominent aristocrat, William Russill, Earl of Bedford. The fact that the name Bardolph had already been assigned to another character in 2 Henry IV, Lord Bardolph, is only one instance of Shakespeare's tolerance for minor confusions and inconsistencies in his plays.


Robin goes by several ‘names’ in different plays.  In Merry Wives, he uses his proper name but in Henry IV, Part 2 he is known as Page and Henry V, he goes by Boy.  In Henry IV, Part 2 he simply performs routine tasks and says little. However, in 2.2, where he ; bests Bardolph in a battle of wits and is rewarded with money by Prince Hal and Poins, the Page saucily comes into his own, in the manner of the part 'young pages in the plays of John Lyly, whose works were well known to Shakespeare.  Robin’s diminutive stature is frequently referred to in humorous terms by the other characters.

In Henry V he accompanies his late master's cronies to France as part of King Henry V’s army. In 3.2.28-57 he elicits our sympathy by regretting his association with such cowardly thieves. At the battle of Agincourt he acts as an interpreter between Pistol and the captive French Solider in 4.4, and after this sorry episode he again bemoans his continued connection with Pistol; he also reveals that Bardolph and Nym have been hung. In this speech (4.4.69-80) he remarks that only he and other boys guard the English baggage train, which would thus make a good target for the French, if only they knew the situation. With this observation the Boy grimly heralds his own death, for in 4.7.5 Gower reports the French massacre of all these youngsters.


French King (Charles VI of France, 1368-1422) is the opponent of King Henry V. The French King plays an inconsequential role. He presents a brief history of earlier English conquests in France in 2.4.48-64; he encourages his noblemen before the battle of Agincourt in 3.5; and in 5.2 he accepts the terms of the treaty of Troyes, surrendering to Henry the inheritance of his crown, as well as the hand of his daughter, Princess Katharine. The ineffectual French King complements another model of French inadequacy, the caricature of foolish bravado that is his son the Dauphin. 

This perfunctory portrait omits the most important fact about the historical Charles VI: he was intermittently insane. His illness—later to surface in his grandson King Henry VI of England—was known to Shakespeare, but the playwright, who had not touched on madness in the Henry VI plays either, may have disliked pointing out defects in the ancestral line of his own ruler. Queen Elizabeth. Also, focusing on Henry V's greatness, he probably did not wish to elaborate on France's weakness. For in failing to mention Charles' lunacy, Shakespeare also omitted its most important consequence—a state of virtual civil war in France that made the English conquest much easier. 

Two factions vied with each other for the regency of France when the King was sick. When Henry invaded, the party in power at first refused to fight him, fearing that their rivals would seize Paris in their absence. This led to the Dauphin's failure to relieve Harfleur, of which its Governor complains in 3.3. The French pulled themselves together—note the French King's roll-call, including noblemen of both factions, in 3.5.40-45—but the victory at Agincourt saved the English. When Henry again entered France, in 1417, the same situation prevailed; as a result, the English were able to conquer Normandy and claim the French crown.


Lewis, the Dauphin (1396-1415) is the son of the French King. The Dauphin—who bore the traditional title of the eldest son of a king of France—leads the French nobles in their cocky over-confidence before the battle of Agincourt. In 1.2 the French Ambassador delivers a sneering message to Henry from the Dauphin, accompanied by a shipment of tennis balls, said to be appropriate weapons for so foolish a monarch; the insult gives Henry an occasion to declare war on France. When the English invade, the Dauphin and his friends are preposterously boastful and arrogant caricatures, presented only to be put down by events. In 4.5 a hysterically suicidal Dauphin is shown in defeat; his capture is reported in 4.8.78.  Shakespeare's Dauphin, besides being a stock figure, misrepresents the historical Dauphin in several small matters of fact as well. He mocks Henry for his youth, as in 2.4.28, but he was in fact nine years younger than his foe. Nor was he present at Agincourt; too sick to fight, he died two months after the battle.


Philip, Duke of Burgundy (1396-1467) is an ally of the English in the Hundred Years War who defects to the side of France. Early in 1 Henry VI Burgundy assists the English at Orleans and Rouen; then in 3.3 Joan La Pucelle persuades him to align himself with France. In Henry V, set some years earlier, a younger Burgundy encourages Henry V and the French King to make peace in 5.2.23-67. He speaks at length on the horrors of war, in a passage that contributes much to the play's modern reception as an anti-war work. Burgundy then attends the French King in the final negotiations of the treaty of Troyes, which occur off stage while Henry courts Katharine. Upon returning, Burgundy jests lewdly with Henry about his forthcoming marriage.

The historical Burgundy was not an ally of France at Troyes, and he was a much more important figure than his role suggests. He was a cousin of Charles VI, the French King of the play, and he ruled the most powerful of the independent French duchies. His father, Duke John (1371-1419), was the Duke of Burgundy mentioned in Henry V 3.5.42 and 4.8.99; Duke John fought against Henry at Agincourt. He was murdered in the factional disputes over the rule of France during Charles' frequent bouts of insanity, and Philip of Burgundy, upon inheriting the duchy, sought support from outside the circle of French rivalries. He sided with England and thus assured Henry V's victory, a phenomenon that Shakespeare, focusing on the accomplishments of the English King, ignored in Henry V. Burgundy's subsequent alliance with England under Henry VI was marred by many disputes over policy and by his feud with the Duke of Gloucester; he eventually restored his family's traditional amity with France, helping to drive the English from the country in the 1450s, as is depicted in 1 Henry VI.  However, both historically and in Shakespeare's sources, Joan of Arc had nothing to do with Burgundy's defection, which took place four years after her death. This alteration serves to amplify the importance of Joan, who is Shakespeare's chief representative of the deceitful and villainous French.


Charles, Duke of Orleans (1391-1465) Historical figure and character in Henry V, one of the fatuously over-confident French nobles before the battle of Agincourt. Like his fellows, Orleans has no distinctive personality; he joins them in feeble humor and idle insults to the English. They are simply caricatures, braggarts set up to take a fall.  The historical Orleans, nephew of Charles VI, the French King of the play, was an important figure in the complicated French politics of the time. He was married to the former English Queen Isabel, the widow of Richard II.  He was seriously wounded and captured at Agincourt (as is reported in 4.6.78), and he was imprisoned in England for 26 years. During his captivity, he began to write poetry, continuing to do so after his release, and he is regarded as one of the greatest French medieval poets.


Jean, Duke of Bourbon (1380-1434) is a French nobleman. In 4.5, in the confusion of the French defeat at Agincourt, Bourbon determines to launch a counterattack. However, in 4.8 he is a prisoner of King Henry V Following the Quarto edition of the play, some editions assign to Bourbon the lines of Bretagne in 3 5- this reflects the elimination of Bretagne's part in an early production. The Quarto also gives the lines of the Dauphin in 3.7 to Bourbon, suggesting that the actor who played the Duke in the same early production was held in high regard.  The historical Bourbon, after being taken prisoner at Agincourt, spent the rest of his life in captivity in England. The Bourbon who appears in 3 Henry VI was his illegitimate son.


Constable of France, is a high-ranking officer in the French army.  Although the Constable recognizes that King Henry V is not the dissolute figure the Dauphin believes him to be, he nonetheless falls prey to the over-confidence of the French prior to the battle of Agincourt. His death in the battle and his name are reported in 4.8.94.


Lord Rambures is a French nobleman who speaks only a few lines, shares in the French over-confidence prior to the battle of Agincourt in 3.7 and 4.2. His death is reported in 4.8.96, where he is said to have been the master of the cross-bows'. Shakespeare took this information—and the character's name—from the account of the battle in the Chronicles of Holinshed. In speech headings and stage directions of the Bad Quarto edition of the play (1600), Rambures is designated 'Gebon', presumably indicating the actor who played the part. Scholars suppose he was either Thomas Gibborne or Samuel Gilburne.


Grandpre is a French nobleman. Grandpre appears only once, to describe, in 4.2.38-55, the listless and dispirited English army just before the battle of Agincourt. The speech contributes to the presentation of French overconfidence.  Grandpre's death is reported in 4.8.101. Shakespeare apparently took the name from the list of casualties in Holinshed’s account of the battle.

French Soldier

French Soldier is a gentleman taken prisoner by Pistol at Agincourt. In a grimly comic scene Pistol, who speaks no French, attempts to extract ransom from the Soldier, who tries to offer it but does not speak English. Finally the Boy interprets, and Pistol agrees not to kill his captive.

GOVERNOR of Harfleur.

The Governor surrenders the port town Harfleur to Henry V, confessing in 3.3.44-50 that, without the support of the Dauphin, the town is indefensible.

MONTJOY a French Herald

Montjoy is a French herald. Montjoy arrogantly delivers the French King’s challenge in 3.6.122-141 and patronizingly offers mercy on behalf of the Constable in 4.3.79-88, but he must humbly concede French defeat at Agincourt in 4.7.72-85. He is a dramatic pawn without personality, adding to the chivalric tableau of medieval warfare while formally presenting French attitudes to England, a more civil version of the overconfident French nobility represented by the Dauphin and the Duke of Orleans. Montjoy was actually the title of the chief herald of France, not his name, though 3.6.142-143 suggests that Shakespeare did not know this.

Ambassadors to the King of England.

Two characters that deliver the Dauphin's message to King Henry in 1.1 with the Tennis Balls.  The message sent to covey that the king should reserve himself to more effeminate pastimes more suited to his character.  Instead it is the final insult that launches the king to invade Harfleur.


Queen Isabel of France (1370-1435) Historical figure and character in Henry V, the wife of the French King. Queen Isabel appears only in 5.2, where she blesses the marriage of King Henry V and her daughter, Princess Katharine.  The historical Queen Isabel was a Princess of Bavaria who married Charles VI, the French King of the play, at the age of 14. She was a notoriously self indulgent, licentious, and extravagant woman. When it became evident that her husband was insane, Isabel became a leader of the factional strife that was probably most responsible for the victories of Henry V. She went so far as to declare that her second son, the successor to the Dauphin as the heir to the throne, was illegitimate, her love life being too rich to permit identification of the father. He nevertheless managed to claim the crown upon the death of the king, and he appears as Charles VII in 1 Henry VI.


Princess Katharine (1401-1438) is the daughter of the French King, later betrothed to King Henry V. Princess Katharine is an innocent girl. She is comically instructed in English by her waiting-woman, Alice, in 3.4, and she is the upright but somewhat baffled subject of King Henry's aggressive courtship in 5.2. Most of her lines are in French or broken English. She has little personality; she is simply the object of King Henry's affections and part of his reward for victory over France. The historical Katherine of Valois was the youngest child of Charles VI, the French King of the play, and Queen Isabel. She was married to Henry as part of the treaty of Troyes. After Henry's death, she married an obscure Welsh nobleman, Owen Tudor; their grandchild was to become King Henry VII of England, and he appears as the Earl of Richmond in 3 Henry VI and Richard III.


Alice is the lady-in-waiting to Princess Katharine of France. In 3.4 Alice, said to have been in England, gives her mistress a brief lesson in English, telling her the names for such body parts as the hand, the fingers, and so on, in an exchange marked by comical mispronunciation and unintentional sexual references. This oddly charming episode, conducted entirely in French, appears immediately after King Henry V's dire threats to sack Harfleur and thus subtly contributes to the play’s sardonic presentation of Henry's career of conquest, parallel to its glorification of him. The scene also foreshadows Henry's aggressive bilingual courtship of Katharine in 5.2, where Alice is also present.


Hostess Character in 1 and 2 Henry IV and Henry V, the proprietress of the Boar’s Head Tavern in Eastcheap. The Hostess, a good-hearted woman whose affection for Falstaff withstands his exploitation of her purse, is comically loquacious. Aspiring to conversational brilliance, she displays a considerable vocabulary, but she unfortunately misplaces one word for another, in an ancient comedy routine, going so far, in a state of great excitement, as to confuse 'honeyseed' and 'honeysuckle' for 'homicide' and 'homicidal' (2 Henry IV, 2.1.49-51). She is a denizen of the quasicriminal underworld of London (she associates with highwaymen and harlots and is arrested when a murder is said to have occurred in her tavern), but no crimes are explicitly attributed to her. Indeed, her amiable and forgiving nature contains no hint of villainy.  

The Hostess' role in 1 Henry IV is very minor. In 2.4 she is an amused spectator of the mock drama played by Prince Hal and Falstaff, and in 3.3 she disputes with Falstaff over his debt to her. He mocks her, and his insults spark her honest indgination. 

In 2 Henry IV the Hostess is a somewhat more substantial character. She escalates her dispute with Falstaff by summoning two officers, Fang and Snare, to arrest the fat knight for debt. She elaborates on her complaint, remembering at length (2.1.83-101) that he had promised to marry her in order to borrow money. However, Falstaff not only talks her into calling off her legal action but also into lending him more money. She weeps, but she agrees, showing the gullibility and kindness that mark her relationship with him. In 2.4, when Falstaff is called to join the armies assembling to oppose the rebels against Henry IV, the Hostess displays her sentimental attachment to him, weeping and saying, 'Well, fare thee well. I have known thee these twenty-nine years, come peascodtime, but an honester and true-hearted man—Well, fare thee well' (2.4.379-382). Even the Hostess' credulousness does not extend to a belief in Falstaff’s honesty; she is merely expressing her love with conventional sayings that come first to her mind. The Hostess' tolerance and affection for Falstaff are important in Shakespeare's presentation of the fat rogue as an humane, though flawed, person. It comes as a shock when the Hostess and her friend Dolltearsheet are arrested in 5.4, in a demonstration of the rigorous law enforcement of the new regime, anticipating Prince Hal's rejection of Falstaff in 5.5. In Henry V the Hostess (now married to Pistol) has a small but striking role, as she describes her attendance at Falstaff’s death-bed, in a speech (2.3.9-27) that is one of the masterpieces of English comic literature, being simultaneously extremely funny, even bawdy, and touchingly tender. Her efforts to comfort a dying and conscience-stricken sinner reflect Shakespeare's own forgiving humanity. 

The Hostess is given the name Mistress Quickly in all three plays (e.g., in 7 Henry IV, 3.3.90; 2 Henry IV, 2.1.44; Henry V, 2.1.19), but she is plainly a different person from the Mistress Quickly of The Merry Wives of Windsor; Shakespeare simply reused the name and comical verbal habit of the Hostess with his customary disregard for questions of consistency. Some scholars hold that the correct pronunciation of Quickly should be 'quick-lie', a legitimate Elizabethan variant that carries an obvious implication that she is a prostitute.  Falstaff hints that she is (e.g., in 1 Henry IV, 3.3.128), but, although she consorts with Doll, who is a courtesan, there is no other evidence to support this. It is more probable that her name, pronounced ordinarily (as it commonly was in the 16th century), is simply intended to suggest the hustle and bustle of an innkeeper's life. 


Messengers are servants in the court of the French King. In 2.4 a Messenger announces the arrival of an English ambassador. In 3.7 and 4.2 Messengers, perhaps soldiers, bring word of English troop dispositions prior to the battle of Agincourt.


Chorus is an allegorical figure in Henry V, speaker of the Prologue(where he is identified in a, stage direction as the Prologue), an introduction to each act, and the Epilogue. The Chorus apologizes for the inadequacy of the theatre to present historical events in a sufficiently grand manner, and he therefore offers a supplementary account of the events dramatized. He uses a stylized and artificial diction that is in marked contrast with the realism of the dramatic scenes, and the Chorus' grand rhetoric contributes to the epic quality so important to the play. However, if Henry V is considered as an acid satire on politics, then the Chorus' epic voice has an ironic quality, sardonically at odds with the cynical waging of an unnecessary war by an hypocritically religious King. In the Epilogue—a formally correct Sonnet—the Chorus again remarks on the inadequacy of historical drama, and he praises the accomplishments of Henry V anew. Then he goes on to observe that all of Henry's gains in France were almost immediately lost under Henry VI, closing with a reference to Shakespeare's well-known Henry VI plays, which depict this loss. 

The Chorus repeatedly invokes imaginary scenes: in the Prologue he asks the audience to 'piece out our imperfections with your thoughts' (Prologue.23) and thereby to 'carry [characters] here and there, jumping o'er times' (line 29). In 3.Chorus.l8 he requests, 'Grapple your minds', and later, 'Work, work your thoughts, and therein see ...' (line 25), and lastly, 'eke out our performance with your mind' (line 35). Thus the Chorus, by insisting on the audience's part m shaping the narrative, supplying with their imaginations what cannot be provided in a theater, helps to provide an almost cinematic sweep of time and events.


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