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King Henry IV, Part 1

William Shakespeare

Book Overview: 

King Henry IV, Part 1 is the second of Shakespeare’s eight Wars of the Roses history plays, with events following those of King Richard II. As the play opens, King Henry IV (formerly Henry Bolingbroke) and Henry Percy (Hotspur) argue over the disposition of prisoners from the Battle of Holmedon. The King’s attitude toward Mortimer and the Percy family prompts them to plot rebellion. In the meantime, his son Prince Hal is living the low life in the company of Sir John Falstaff. As the time of battle nears, Prince Hal joins his father and is given a high command. The play’s climax is the Battle of Shrewsbury, in which Prince Hal and Hotspur meet and fight, with Prince Hal and the forces of the King prevailing. The action continues in King Henry IV, Part 2. From the start this has been an extremely popular play both with the public and with critics.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .foot, thou still lett'st slip.

Why, it cannot choose but be a noble plot:—
And then the power of Scotland and of York
To join with Mortimer, ha?

And so they shall.


In faith, it is exceedingly well aim'd.

And 'tis no little reason bids us speed,
To save our heads by raising of a head;
For, bear ourselves as even as we can,
The King will always think him in our debt,
And think we think ourselves unsatisfied,
Till he hath found a time to pay us home:
And see already how he doth begin
To make us strangers to his looks of love.

He does, he does: we'll be revenged on him.

Cousin, farewell: no further go in this
Than I by letters shall direct your course.
When time is ripe,— which . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Bill, Hank, and I done good on this one.

There are two very deep, dark wormholes I’ve disappeared into recently, one involves my hapless efforts to master the perfect (or even, remotely edible) sourdough loaf, the second is William Shakespeare and his historical plays. Regarding the first, I have nurtured and even named my starter (he’s Fr

The introduction of the old, lecherous Oldcastle (later renamed Falstaff due to complaints from the real Oldcastle family) was a real pleasure here. He offered a comedic respite to the bloodshed and politic intrigues which the Bard was describing from the later years of Henry IV's reign after his co

After Richard II, this is the second episode of Shakespeare’s major Histories (the events that will lead up to the Wars of the Roses). This play is not so much about Bolingbroke/Henry IV, as it is the first of a vast trilogy on Prince Hal/Henry V — from Eastcheap to Azincourt. The first part of Henr

While William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 is a different experience than Richard II, it is a fantastic play! The action picks up shortly after the conclusion of Richard II (after Bolingbroke has deposed the now dead Richard and become King Henry). It still has a serious side, but this play subver

How hard it must be to fight an enemy you admire; how hard it must be to realise your enemy is a stronger, and perhaps more worthy, man than your son, and how great it must be to realise that you are such a hypocritical fool, and that your son is more than you ever dreamed. But first, you must lamen

I have read this play many times, and--although Shakespeare always shows me something new--this reading gave me little insight and few surprises. I was struck with two parallels, however--one within the play itself, and one within Shakespeare's body of work.

First of all, I appreciated the subtle pa

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