LONDON. The funeral of King Henry the Fifth, great war hero and father to the infant Henry the Sixth. The dead king's closest advisors, including Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester; Henry, Bishop of Winchester; John, Duke of Bedford, Regent of France; Richard, Duke of Warwick; and John, Duke of Somerset, grieve the loss of the great man. A succession of messengers arrive delivering the news that Henry the Fifth's gains in France are under threat through rebellion, English apathy, and rumours of a holy warrior maiden, Joan of Arc. The lords pledge to strike out for France to quell the unrest.
ORLÉANS. Charles, Dauphin prince of France, meets with Reignier, King of Naples and Jerusalem, to discuss the English, who are weak and show little interest in besieging the town. Reignier encourages the Dauphin to launch an attack.
ORLÉANS. The French attack the English, who drive them back with great loss, and force the French to surrender Orléans.
ORLÉANS. Jean de Dunois, the Bastard of Orléans, approaches the Dauphin and sends word that the long-rumoured prophetess, Joan la Pucelle, craves an audience with him. The Dauphin agrees to meet with her, but asks Reignier to pose as him, to test her mettle.
ORLÉANS. Joan arrives and immediately recognises Reignier's ruse. She turns to the disguised Dauphin and begs for the right to lead the French forces. Unimpressed, the Dauphin challenges Joan to a trial by combat, to test her skill. Joan defeats the Dauphin and impresses him enough that Reignier and the Bastard are driven to gossip about how she has affected him. Reinvigorated, the Dauphin vows to recapture Orléans with Joan's help.
LONDON. The Duke of Gloucester arrives at the Tower of London to inspect the facility, only to find that he has been barred from entry, on command of the Bishop of Winchester, Gloucester's great rival. Woodville, the Lieutenant of the Tower, is steadfast in his refusal to allow their entry, which causes Gloucester's faction to attempt to enter by force.
LONDON. Winchester arrives with men of his faction, and the two groups face off against one another. The two noblemen trade barbs and insults.
LONDON. The conflict turns physical, with Gloucester's men beating out Winchester's. The Mayor of London arrives with his officers and begs the two fiery groups to settle down, with mixed results.
ORLÉANS. An ordinance Gunner from Orléans emerges on the city walls with his son, to observe the enemy English across the river. The Gunner identifies a weak point in the English observation posts, and tells his son he has loaded ordinance to ambush the next group of English that appears there. The Gunner leaves, giving his son charge of the trap.
ORLÉANS. On the English side, the Earl of Salisbury greets John Talbot, a great English war hero, after he is ransomed from his imprisonment with the French. Talbot tells the story of how he was imprisoned and humiliated thanks to his great reputation as an enemy of the French. Having been traded for a French prisoner, Talbot relishes his freedom. Without warning, the Gunner's Boy sets off his ordinance ambush, killing two gentlemen attendant on Salisbury, named Glansdale and Gargrave, and mortally wounding Salisbury. As Talbot grieves this loss, he hears ominous thunder and lightning.
ORLÉANS. A messenger approaches Talbot and warns him of the rumour of Joan of Arc's approach. Talbot, hearing Salisbury's final groans, vows to avenge his death.
ORLÉANS. The battle erupts, and sees Talbot come face-to-face with Joan, who engages him in hand to hand combat. Neither prevail, but the French take the upper hand and conquer Orléans, leaving the victorious Joan to leave to fight another day. Talbot attempts to remarshal his troops, but his losses are too great, and he must retreat.
ORLÉANS. The French appear on the walls of Orléans, basking in their victory. The Dauphin vows to toast their good fortune in feasting and celebration, and lauds Joan la Pucelle for her role.
ORLÉANS. Later that night on the walls of Orléans. A sentinel and his sergeant keep watch while the revelers carry on within. They do not notice Talbot, Bedford, and the Duke of Burgundy enter with their armies and scaling ladders, to mount a counter-offensive. Talbot tells the bemused men tales of Joan's valour, and vows to avenge Salisbury.
ORLÉANS. With a cry of 'St George' and 'A Talbot', the English counter-attack, flushing the French out of the city in their nightclothes. Reignier, the Bastard, the Dauphin, and Joan emerge from their unguarded chambers to exclaim at the English attack, but are frightened away by a single soldier, who enters calling on 'A Talbot', marvelling that he is able to use an intimidating phrase better than any sword.
ORLÉANS. Talbot, Bedford, and Burgundy enter having retaken Orléans. Talbot displays the body of Salisbury in tribute to the victory taken in his name. A messenger arrives from the Countess of Auvergne, a noble lady who has invited Talbot to feast at her house as a token of her admiration. Reluctantly, Talbot agrees.
AUVERGNE. The Countess of Auvergne nervously awaits Talbot's arrival, and schemes with her Porter to secure the home. Talbot arrives and is immediately ridiculed for not resembling his legendary reputation. Talbot politely excuses himself only to be told that he is now a prisoner, in retaliation for his actions against the French people. Talbot assures the Countess that he would not be so foolish to attend alone, and a peal of ordinance outside reminds her that his army awaits. Abashed, the Countess then invites Talbot and his men to feast as guests, not prisoners.
LONDON. In the Temple Garden in London, the assembled lords continue to pick at one another. A conflict between Richard Plantagenet and the Duke of Somerset over inheritance rights begins to swell and take form. Taking advantage of the garden setting, Plantagenet picks a white rose from a bush and demands all those who support his house's claim to do the same. Somerset responds by plucking a red rose, asking those who follow him to mimic his action. Warwick follows Plantagenet; Suffolk follows Somerset. Casting insults across at one another, the two groups finally resolve to part, having set the future conflict in motion.
LONDON. In the Tower of London, Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, is an aged prisoner, close to the end of his life. He awaits a visit from his nephew, Richard Plantagenet, who has just finished pledging his commitment to oppose the Lancastrian claim on the kingdom. Plantagenet approaches the old Earl, a former heir to the throne prior to the usurpation of Henry the Fourth, to demand the validity of his claim, and to confirm that he is considered old Mortimer's heir. After running through their family history, Mortimer dies, leaving Plantagenet with the news he needed.
LONDON. Gloucester and Winchester continue to squabble, but this time in front of the young king, Henry the Sixth, who appears for the first time. As Henry attempts to calm the conflict between the two, a riot from outside spills in to the court, with several citizens accompanying the Mayor of London to press their dissatisfaction with Winchester. Gloucester's supporters, prevented from carrying weapons, have resorted to using flagstones from the street to riot with, and it is not until they are entreated by the King and Gloucester that the citizens relent.
LONDON. The riot quelled, Warwick presents a bill to the King, begging him to reinstate the title of the Duke of York, of which Richard Plantagenet is rightful heir to. Henry gladly accepts this suggestion after Plantagenet swears his allegiance, much to the disgust of his enemies. Gloucester then urges the king to travel to France, to be crowned king in Paris, and to claim his father's right. The king agrees, and the court resolves to move.
LONDON. Remaining behind, Warwick reflects on the dissent between the peers, and sadly notes that trouble is not far away.
ROUEN. Joan of Arc, disguised, approaches the walls of the English-held town of Rouen, with a group of soldiers who pretend to be arriving for market. Tricking the Watchman, Joan enters Rouen, intent on capturing the town.
ROUEN. The Dauphin, the Bastard, and Reignier reveal themselves disguised outside of Rouen, watching for Joan's signal. Joan thrusts a burning torch from the top of the City walls, demonstrating that she has been successful. Soon, Talbot emerges, vanquished by Joan's troops. He vows his revenge.
ROUEN. The French leadership luxuriate in their victory on the walls of Rouen, in the faces of Talbot, Bedford, and Burgundy who find themselves defeated on the outside. The English demand the French emerge to meet them in the field, but the French laughingly decline. The sickly Bedford, close to death, is given the chance to remove himself from the battlefield, but he instead chooses to sit in a chair to watch the proceedings.
ROUEN. Outside of the walls of Rouen, an English captain notices an English knight, Sir John Falstaff, cravenly retreating from the battle. He questions him, but is rebuffed.
ROUEN. On the English counter-attack, the French are routed and fly from the town. Joan and the Dauphin are chased away, and Bedford lives long enough to se it happen. He dies happily in Talbot's glory.
ROUEN. The French regroup and question Joan about her tactics in the losing cause. Joan reassures the men and tells them that their trump card is at hand. The English forces are marching to Paris to pay tribute to the king, and march in procession past their position. When the Duke of Burgundy's troops pass by, the French hail him over and question his loyalty to France. Joan speaks convincingly and forces him to change his mind. Burgundy vows to join the French cause.
PARIS. At the king's new court in Paris, Talbot presents himself to the young king to offer him tribute. The king is impressed by the war hero and creates him the Earl of Shrewsbury. The court passes on in preparation for the coronation.
PARIS. As the group passes through, two gentlemen of the court, Vernon and Bassett, confront one another over an insult that Vernon perceived in Bassett on the voyage from London to France. Bassett agrees that he had, as a follower of Somerset, insulted Vernon, a follower of York. The two resolve to seek satisfaction of the king.
PARIS. The coronation of the king. Gloucester and Winchester continue to squabble as they place the crown on the young king's head, but are interrupted by Falstaff, the cowardly knight, who delivers a message that Burgundy has turned on the English side. He is then chastised for his actions in war. Falstaff is stripped of his garter by Talbot and leaves the court in disgrace.
PARIS. Vernon and Bassett enter, demanding the combat of the king. York and Somerset support their servants. Henry suggests that both sides reconcile, given the fact that they have enough to worry about with the French conflicts. The sides reluctantly agree, but tensions simmer.
BORDEAUX. Talbot approaches the walls of Bordeaux and challenges the French to the battle. The Bastard of Orléans appears on the walls and mocks Talbot, telling him that the Dauphin's army approaches him from the rear, and that he is well outnumbered. Talbot curses his fate and wonders about the reinforcement troops that he had been promised by both Somerset and York.
A FIELD. A messenger approaches York and suggests he sends his reinforcements to Talbot as promised, but York refuses to send men until he knows Somerset is also going to send troops. He knows inaction will lead to the English downfall, but he cannot let go of Somerset's betrayal. The messenger tells York that Talbot's son, John, is with his father, and both are doomed.
ANOTHER FIELD. Somerset holds back his army, despite the protestations of Sir William Lucy, who arrives to demand Somerset's attendance. Somerset defers, placing blame on York.
CASTILLON-LA-BATAILLE. John Talbot joins his father on the battlefield, despite Talbot's protestations. Talbot demands John save himself from this unwinnable battle, but the younger man refuses to consider it. The battle begins.
CASTILLON-LA-BATAILLE. In the thick of the action, John becomes surrounded, and then is saved by his father. They face the French together, knowing they are sure to die.
CASTILLON-LA-BATAILLE. In the aftermath of the Battle, Talbot is led, wounded, to the place where John Talbot's body lies. He tells the story of John's valour, and of how many French enemies he accounted for. Having eulogised his son, Talbot dies.
CASTILLON-LA-BATAILLE. The Dauphin and his retinue enter and survey the field. They delight in the death of Talbot, and when Sir William Lucy appears to account for the dead, they mock his sacrifice and allow Lucy to remove his corpse.
PARIS. The king and Gloucester discuss a proposed peace between England and France, as well as a potential marriage between the king and the daughter of a French earl. Winchester and three ambassadors arrive to take the king's wishes to France, and note the ambitious Gloucester's machinations.
A FIELD. The Dauphin regroups with news that the Parisians have begun to revolt against the English. Joan encourages the French to rise and take the coming battle.
A FIELD. The Dauphin's troops are routed, and Joan enters alone. She resolves that she will meet with her familiar spirits, to attempt to further her bargain with the devil. Joan conjures a group of Fiends, who she demands further power. The demons abandon Joan, and leave her vulnerable.
A FIELD. York enters and defeats Burgundy, and then encounters the powerless Joan. Joan surrenders and is taken away by York.
MAIN-ET-LOIRE. Outside Reignier's castle, Suffolk enters with Margaret of Anjou, Reignier's daughter, in hand. She is his prisoner, and he quickly falls in love with her, but as a married man he cannot act on it, so he decides to claim her for his king. After an awkward courtship, Suffolk demands her hand of Reignier, and agrees to return Reignier's lands to him in exchange for Margaret.
ANJOU (historically Rouen). Joan is brought in to be burned at the stake by York and Warwick. She is presented with her father, an old Shepherd, who begs her to repent, but she denies knowing him. She then claims to be pregnant, and begs for her life before being dragged away to the stake.
ANJOU. Winchester enters, and to York's disgust, delivers the news of Henry's truce with the French.
ANJOU. The French lords arrive and reluctantly agree to the terms of surrender, even though they have no intention of keeping their pact. York accepts their surrender.
LONDON. Suffolk's description of Margaret has captivated the king, and he has thus changes his mind about marrying the earl's daughter that Gloucester endorses. Warwick and Gloucester are surprised to find that Suffolk has refused a dowry for Margaret, meaning the match has cost England land and gained them nothing. The play ends with Suffolk resolving to use this match to control the king, and by extension, England.