Henry VI Part 1
Independently Published, Sep 12, 2018 - 147 pages
PART 1 Henry VI was probably written in 1592. One of Shakespeare's history plays, this work concerns the events following the death of Henry V, covering the origins of the War of the Roses and the loss of Britain's territories in France. The genre of the history play held a particular fascination for the English public in the 1590s and helped create a sense of a collective national memory. (See Analysis for more details on the history play.) Patriotic sentiment probably ran particularly high in the years following 1588, when the English repulsed an attack by the invading Spanish Armada. The history play drew upon such sentiments. 1 Henry VI, in particular, appears to reference the specific event of the English campaign in France, led by Queen Elizabeth's charismatic nobleman Essex. The play's depiction of 15th-century noblemen attacking the city of Rouen would certainly have called to mind Essex's 1592 efforts at Rouen to aid the French in quashing a Protestant uprising.Shakespeare wrote two other plays about the reign of Henry VI, 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI. Interestingly, the second two plays were published first, and some believe them to have been written first, as well, though no one knows whether the Shakespearean plays' order of publication actually reflects their order of composition. The Henry VI plays figure among Shakespeare's first forays into the genre of history play, and they were followed by plays tracing the years after Henry VI's death and the ensuing civil wars over succession. Only later in his career did Shakespeare look back to the events prior to Henry VI's kingship, including that of his father Henry V (see Shakespeare's Henry V).Shakespeare probably made use of contemporary chronicles of the 15th century and the struggles during these years between the Yorks and the Lancasters in the War of the Roses. Raphael Holingshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland seem a particularly likely source for many of his history plays.Some scholars theorize that Thomas Nashe authored portions of 1 Henry VI; some believe Shakespeare himself wrote only the scene in the Temple Garden and the battle scenes in which Talbot and his son meet their death. Other scholars believe Shakespeare wrote the whole play, adding that the playwright would not likely have collaborated with other authors so early in his career.