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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Elisa

King Henry VI part 2

Updated: Jan 12

Setting: 1445-1455 AD

London, UK


My really abridged plot summary: King Henry has married Margaret of Anjou (much to the frustration of his people), and France has been allowed to retain its land won by Henry V as a part of the marriage negotiations. Gloucester, a very popular duke by the people and the King, is one of the major obstacles in Margaret and Suffolk's plot to control the King. His wife, Eleanor, is ambitious for the throne and hires a witch (planted by Suffolk) to aid her in helping advance her husband. She is caught and banished for dabbling in necromancy, thus beginning the fall of Gloucester. York tells Warwick and Salisbury about his previously discovered claim to the throne (see part 1), and they vow to support him in his campaign for the throne. The Duchess bids farewell to Gloucester on her way to banishment and warns him that someone is out to get him. Henry holds a meeting with the Lords, where they accuse Gloucester of treason and he is arrested, after which Henry laments his ability to protect the innocent. The Lords plot to kill Gloucester, but news of unrest in Ireland arrives and York is given an army to suppress it. Meanwhile, Suffolk sends assassins to kill Gloucester, leaving Henry distressed. Suffolk is accused of murder and is banished. He and Margaret say their goodbyes in a surprisingly tender scene. Suffolk is captured and killed at sea, and his head is stent back to London. Margaret haunts the halls carrying the head of her deceased lover (what a slay). The rebel Cade attacks London, and he is successful until Lord Clifford convinces his supporters to abandon the cause. Cade is killed a few days later. York returns to London and accuses Henry of being a weak King, and here's where things get complicated. York then declares himself the rightful King and we see the nobles forced to pick sides: the Yorkists and the Lancastrians (Henry's supporters). This play ends with Henry, Margaret and Clifford (whose father was killed by York) fleeing back to London pursued by York, Warwick, Salisbury, and Edward and Richard (sons of York). We are standing on the precipice of the Wars of the Roses... to be continued in part 3.

My favorite quotes:

Could I come near your beauty with my nails,

I'd set my Ten Commandments in your face.

~Eleanor, I.iii


  • Overall Impression: 8- So so so much political intrigue, sabotage, murder, and manipulation. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's the OG Game of Thrones. This one definitely has more action and drama than part 1 does.

  • Use of Language: 7- We have some absolutely fire banter in this one! Love the petty banter between Margaret and Eleanor.

  • Protagonist Arc: 7- I don't think Henry is an effective King, or honestly even a protagonist, but I will say how interesting it is to have a very different type of King represented on stage.

  • Female Characters: 9- This play gives us the beginning of the making of THE Margaret of Anjou... a. bad*ss if I've ever seen one. I LOVE her! What an absolute powerhouse, she loses points for not supporting other women, actually sabotaging them, but I respect the hustle. Eleanor is also pretty cool, dabbling in necromancy to help her husband attain more power (which he didn't even want?) He doesn't deserve her. A bunch of Girlbosses. Period.

  • Fits Genre: 10- It is what it is, and very sabatoge-y!

  • Overall Enjoyment: 8- I liked this one, I love the Histories, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Also, Margaret is seen wandering the halls and screaming at people while carrying the severed head of her lover? Iconic.

  • Hype Worthy: 7- The Histories aren't for everyone, and that's fine. But, I do think they're underrated. I mean it's literally a tragedy, but set in recent-ish British history!

  • Emotional Impact: 6- We have a tender scene between Margaret and Suffolk, but also they're not good people, so this is a weird one to score? You can't help but have some pity for Henry, so there's that as well.

Total: 62/80

Average: 7

*4 out of 5 stars*

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