King John simplified

Synopsis

William of Normandy invaded and conquered England in 1066.  As a result of his success, he became known for all time as William the Conqueror.  He became England’s William I.  One of William I’s great-great-grandsons was King John, the man who ruled England and portions of France from 1199 through 1216.  By far the most important event during King John’s reign was the signing of the Magna Charta, forced on the English king in 1215, a document that is the foundation of the rights and privileges the public in the U.S. and England and beyond enjoy today.  But the Magna Charta, the most significant matter of that era, wasn’t covered in this play. 

King John’s father, the late Henry II, William I’s great grandson, had died in 1189.  He was succeeded to the throne by his oldest living son, Richard I, who ruled England for ten years. King John, his younger and only living brother, succeeded him. Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine had four sons and one daughter; John being the youngest of the five. 

King John’s father may be deceased, but his mother Eleanor is very much alive, active and influential early in the play.  In this era, Henry II was the trunk of this powerful family tree, much as Edward III was in Shakespeare’s history series that runs through the fifteenth century.  Henry II’s second son, Richard I, is better remembered as Richard Coeur de Lion or as Richard the Lion-Hearted.  Richard the Lion-Hearted had an illegitimate son, known here as the Bastard, a fine man. His role is central to the play. 

How King John came to succeed his brother Richard at his death in 1199 is never addressed, and that issue is a central theme in the play.  Another central issue is the role played by the Bastard, Philip Faulconbridge, his mother being Lady Faulconbridge.  We learn that Philip Faulconbridge looks just like his father, Richard I.  Early in the play Philip is knighted as Richard Plantagenet, an honorary name given to him by King John, a name that will ring loud and strong in England for centuries.  It’s said Plantagenet, a French word, became the surname for England’s royal family through a nickname tagged to King John’s grandfather, Geoffrey of Anjou, Anjou being a French province. The nickname came to be, it’s been said, as a result of Geoffrey’s habit of wearing of a sprig in his cap.  So there you go.  Moving forward, Henry II’s third son, Geoffrey, also had (as had Henry II’s first son) predeceased his father, another important issue in the play.  At his death, Geoffrey had left a young son, Arthur, and a strong and ambitious-for-her-son widow, Constance.  Constance believes her son should be king, her late husband, as we say, having been Henry II’s third son; John being the fourth. She has a point. For political reasons, Philip II, the king of France, also thinks the very young Arthur should be England’s king, England controlling at that time large portions of France.

Eleanor, Henry II’s fourth child (and as we say his only daughter), given the same name as her mother, is a widow. She has a daughter, Blanche.  When it comes to selecting a king, the earliest of those born into the royal family don’t want to be passed over, nor do they want their children to be passed over.  These matters are at the heart of the play. 

The Bastard, the illegitimate son of the second born (and deceased) Richard I; the young Arthur, the son of third born (and deceased) Geoffrey; and Blanche, the daughter of fourth born Eleanor, all have big roles in the play.  Succession issues inside the Plantagenet family were central to most of Shakespeare’s histories, an issue that must have been appealing and consuming for London’s theatergoers. 

The play opens in London when Chatillion, the French ambassador, lets King John know that the king of France believes that Arthur Plantagenet “in right and true behalf” as “thy deceased brother Geoffrey’s son, lays most lawful claim to this fair island and its territories.”  So, right out of the gate, the challenge is thrown and war appears imminent, King John rejecting Chatillion’s comments out of hand.

Soon after the French ambassador leaves, a sheriff enters advising King John that there are two men at the door who want to see him. The king says “let them approach.”  The two young men are the Faulconbridge brothers, Philip and Robert.  They have approached the king to settle a family matter: which one of them is the rightful heir to the land of the recently deceased Sir Robert Faulconbridge. The boys have the same mother, but Philip’s father, as noted, was Richard the Lion-Hearted, where Robert was the legitimate son of Sir Robert.  Philip is the older.  Both boys were reared by Sir Robert and his wife, Lady Faulconbridge. King John lets Robert know that his brother Philip “must have your father’s land” since Philip is the older. But then aside, Queen Eleanor says to the king that Philip “hath a trick of Coeur de Lion’s face” at which point the king responds to his mother “mine eye hath well examined his parts and finds them perfect Richard.”  King John changes his mind.  He knights Philip (the Bastard) as Richard Plantagenet, officially acknowledging that Philip is his brother’s son. Philip gets the honor of being recognized as a king’s son; Robert gets the lands.  As Robert exits graciously and the king and his entourage prepare to leave for France to meet with King Philip II, Philip fantasizes in a soliloquy about his new-found status as “Sir Richard,” letting us know his thoughts and plans, a young man not quite believing this turn of good fortune.

Philip’s mother soon arrives looking for her other son, Robert.  The Bastard outspokenly says “Is it Sir Robert’s son that you seek so?”  The comment upsets his mother. Philip boldly says “Madam, I was not old Sir Robert’s son.”  He then says “Let me know my father --- some proper man, I hope. Who was it, mother?”  After a moment’s reflection, she says “King Richard Coeur de Lion was thy father” as she proceeds to beautifully defend herself, saying “Thou art the issue of my dear offense, which was so strongly urged past my defense.”  He says to his mother “with all my heart I thank thee for my father.” 

Near the city of Angiers in France, King Philip II, the Dauphin (the king’s son, the prince), the duke of Austria, Constance (Geoffrey’s widow), and her son Arthur are discussing current events, mostly the who-should-be-England’s-king issue, when Constance says “My lord Chatillion may from England bring that right in peace which here we urge in war.”  Chatillion does soon enter, warning them that King John and his forces are about to arrive.  King John, the Bastard, Queen Eleanor and Blanche enter.  King Philip and King John have a civil conversation, King Philip letting King John firmly know that he believes that young Arthur is the legitimate heir to England’s crown, and therefore heir to certain French provinces and cities such as Anjou, Angiers, Aquitaine and Normandy.  The conversation quickly deteriorates when Austria (wearing a lion’s hide), King Philip II, Queen Eleanor and Constance seriously bicker with each other, each trying to protect his or her own self interest. 

Soon a citizen standing on the wall of the city of Angiers cries out to the kings: “Who is it that hath warned us to the walls?” King John makes a plea that he is the citizens-of-Angiers’ rightful king.  King Philip quickly follows with his own argument. Challenging the kings, the citizen says “to he that proves the king, to him will we prove loyal.”  King Philip says “Mount, chevaliers! To arms!”  King John cries to his men “Up higher to the plain.”  The Bastard says “Speed, then, to take advantage of the field.”  King Philip cries to his officers “It shall be so, and at the other hill.”  At the city’s gates, the French Herald cries “you men of Angiers, open wide your gates, and let young Arthur in.”  The English then demand that the city open its gates to them.  The Angiers’ citizen’s response: “Both are alike. One must prove greatest.”  The Bastard suggests the two forces “be friends awhile” and together bombard the city.  They agree to his suggestion.  Hearing of the frightening plan, an alarmed city of Angiers’ citizen suggests England’s Princess Blanche marry France’s Dauphin, Louis.  The kings agree.  Louis and Blanche agree to marry, each quickly falling for the other.  However, Constance, Arthur’s mother, is distraught, her son being left out of the compromised solution.  At this point the Bastard offers some interesting thoughts to himself on how the kings’ self-interest has won out, and that he too will plan to pursue self-interest, what Shakespeare calls “Commodity.”

An infuriated Constance rails at Salisbury, an English nobleman, letting him know in no uncertain terms that she believes King Philip has done her wrong; has abandoned her son Arthur, and that Salisbury should do something about it.  The kings enter, Philip II letting Constance know that Louis and Blanche’s wedding is to be that day.  She cries out at the duke of Austria.  At this point, Pandulph, a cardinal from Milan, known as the legate, an emissary representing the pope, enters.  Pandulph promptly scolds King John for not accepting a Stephen Langton as the Archbishop of Canterbury, appointed to the position by the pope.  King John quickly responds to Pandulph, telling him that he does not need to respond to the pope’s wishes, he being God’s agent over England’s territories. Pandulph proceeds to excommunicate England’s king, the Bastard and Eleanor supporting King John.  On the other side of this very powerful political, religious and emotional issue, Austria, the Dauphin and Constance beg King Philip to support the cardinal.  Caught between his loyalty to the pope and his pledge to King John, Phillip II says “I am perplexed and know not what to say.”  Pandulph firmly presses his case that Philip II’s first loyalty is to the Church.

The Dauphin soon enters crying “Father, to arms.”  Blanche responds to her husband of one hour “upon thy wedding day?”  The kings decide they need a war to settle things.  As an interesting turn of events, The Bastard returns with Austria’s head, having been asked by King John to assemble his army.  Having forced the French troops to retreat and having secured Angiers, King John quietly takes young Arthur into his custody. The English forces leave for England. King John asks Hubert, one of his aides, to do him a favor: “kill Arthur.”  Hubert responds “he shall not live.” 

Having “lost” her son and looking disheveled with her hair unbound, an angry Constance enters.  She seriously berates Rome’s emissary in the immediate presence of Philip II and the Dauphin. Pandulph responds “Lady, you utter madness and not sorrow.”  Constance binds up her hair and in a more calm way continues to lecture Pandulph. When Constance leaves, Pandulph encourages the Dauphin to chase down King John in England, telling him “As John plots against you, the times conspire with you.”  The Dauphin makes plans to invade England. 

As Act 4 begins, Hubert, with help from an executioner, makes plans with a set of hot irons to put out the eyes of the young and imprisoned Arthur.  A naïve Arthur enters the room, greeting Hubert with kindness and warmth, saying “Are you sick, Hubert? You look pale today.”  Hubert says he has no option but to put out the boy’s eyes, but Arthur, in a most smooth and compassionate way, as only Shakespeare can do it, talks him out of it, the kind-hearted executioner having left the irons cold.  Unable to complete his task, Hubert says “I’ll fill these dogged spies with false reports.”  Hubert tells the king that Arthur is dead.  The English nobles, Salisbury and Pembroke, break with the king, leaving to find young Arthur’s grave.  A messenger enters to tell the king that his mother Eleanor and Constance have both died, and that the Dauphin has landed in England with a force of thousands.  The Bastard enters to tell the king that “the people are full of fear.”  Hubert re-enters to tell the king that “old men in the streets” are upset to hear of Arthur’s death.  After a back-and-forth, in a who-said-what-to-whom-when conversation, Hubert reveals to the king that “young Arthur is alive.” 

However, late that night Arthur tries to escape the prison by jumping from the prison’s walls. But a bed of rocks lay below the prison walls and Arthur dies in his attempt to escape.  While looking for Arthur’s grave, Pembroke and Salisbury learn that the Dauphin wants to see them at Bury Saint Edmunds. They soon find Arthur’s body beneath the prison’s walls.  Hubert rushes in to tell them that “Arthur doth live; the king hath sent for you,” but he quickly is told that Arthur in fact is dead. Salisbury and Pembroke, both distressed over the turn of events, leave to visit the Dauphin at Bury.  The Bastard remains with Hubert, saying to him “I do suspect thee very grievously,” but he accepts what is.  Hubert leaves as the act ends, giving the Bastard the opportunity to give us some thoughts on how he plans to move forward from here.

King John has Pandulph administer a second coronation, “having yielded up into your hand my crown,” the English king having decided to support Pandulph’s position.  Now that he is back in the good graces of Rome, King John sends Pandulph on a mission to tell the French “to stop their marches ‘fore we are inflamed.”  The Bastard soon enters and tells King John that “all Kent has yielded” and that “London hath received like a kind host the Dauphin” and that Arthur has been found dead. The Bastard re-encourages the demoralized king. King John gives him authority to “manage the present time.”

Pandulph enters to tell the Dauphin that “King John hath reconciled himself” and that he should therefore wind things up.  The Dauphin responds “You tell me John hath made his peace with Rome? What is that peace to me? Am I Rome’s slave?”  The Bastard asks Pandulph “how you have dealt with him?”  Pandulph lets him know “The Dauphin will not lay down his arms.”  The Bastard immediately demeans the young Dauphin and his effort. The Dauphin tells the Bastard “there end thy bravado and go away in peace” as Pandulph tries to get a word in edgewise.  Responding to the Bastard and Pandulph, the Dauphin says “We will attend to neither. Let the tongue of war plead for our interest and our being here.” 

King John learns that the French reinforcements have been lost at sea “sunk on Goodwin Sands.”  A seriously wounded Count Melun, a Frenchman with English ties, enters to warn Salisbury and two other nobles that if the Dauphin wins the war he plans to promptly put the English nobles to death.

A messenger soon enters to tell the Dauphin that Melun has died.  The Bastard and Hubert enter.  Hubert lets the Bastard know that the king “is poisoned by a monk” and that he is being attended by his son, Prince Henry.  The Bastard quickly decides to leave to be with the king, saying “I doubt he will be dead before I come.”  Salisbury and Pembroke are at the king’s side.  The Bastard enters, telling the king that the Dauphin and his forces are moving forward, and that many of England’s troops have been “devoured by the unexpected flood.”  The king promptly dies. 

Soon after the king’s death, Salisbury lets the Bastard know that the Dauphin has accepted “such offers of our peace to leave this war.”  The Bastard, taking charge, turns to Prince Henry, kneels and says “With all submission on my knee I do bequeath my faithful services and true subjection everlastingly.”  Salisbury, Pembroke and Bigot also kneel and pledge their support to the young prince “forevermore.”  The time is 1216.  Prince Henry is now Henry III. 

Principal Characters

Arthur:  Arthur is the young son of Geoffrey and Constance, Henry II’s third son and his wife.  Geoffrey died in 1186, leaving the strong-willed Constance to look after the interests of her son, a young man who has a legitimate claim to England’s crown.  Early on, Arthur is caught-up as a pawn in the power-play between England’s king and France’s king at the gates of Angiers.  Young Arthur dies in Act 4, having leaped from the prison’s wall onto a bed of rocks, risking death to escape.  But his best moment is his convincing Hubert, very early in Act 4, not to put his eyes out and to spar him.  Arthur wins the moment, and the moment is real good.

Bastard:  The Bastard is Philip Faulconbridge, the illegitimate son of Richard the Lion-Hearted or Richard I.  Philip’s mother is Lady Faulconbridge, whose husband, Sir Robert Faulconbridge, was Richard I’s ambassador to Germany at the time Philip was conceived.  Philip Faulconbridge, known throughout the play as the Bastard, is enormously proud of his heritage, and quite the good man, serving King John beautifully, as you will see.  Richard the Lion-Hearted earned this nickname after he, having reached down a lion’s throat, plucked out the lion’s heart, the lion having been placed in his jail cell to devour him.  Who wouldn’t like to have a father with that reputation?  Early in the play, King John knights the Bastard with the honorary name of Richard Plantagenet, certainly one of the revered names in all of English history.  The Bastard is one of our favorite Shakespeare characters.

Constance:  Constance was the widow of Geoffrey, Henry II’s third son.  Constance’s role in this play is as the mother of the young Arthur, a legitimate heir to England’s throne.  With England in 1200 AD controlling major portions of France, France’s king Philip II hopes to have Arthur installed as England’s king, Philip II and Constance seeming to get along just fine. Constance is a strong promoter of her son Arthur’s future.   At about the time Arthur dies from his leap from the prison’s wall, it is reported to King John that in France “The Lady Constance in a frenzy died.” 

Dauphin:  France’s King Philip II’s son Louis is the Dauphin, the heir to the French crown.  The Dauphin is a young man who spends his time accompanying his father, until he marries and invades England.  A citizen of Angiers, a major city in France under the control of the legitimate English king (but just who that might be is an important element in the play) suggests that perhaps the marriage of the Dauphin to Blanche, the daughter of Eleanor, the late King Henry II of England’s only daughter (and his fourth born) would settle the question of who has authority over Angiers. The Dauphin and Blanche fall for each other promptly and do marry. At the time of Arthur’s death, Pandulph, the pope’s agent in France, suggests to the Dauphin that he exercise his right as Blanche’s husband and attack England, whip them, and become England’s king.  That effort doesn’t work out for the Dauphin, but this matter is a big part of the story. 

Duke of Austria  We don’t know quite how the duke of Austria comes to be so closely associated with France’s Philip II, but he is one of the French king’s confidants, offering the king important support.  But, most interestingly, the duke walks around wearing the hide of a lion as his cape.  When the hopes for a peaceful reconciliation between King John and King Philip II collapses, and King John asks the Bastard to “draw our army together” the Bastard exits and returns with the head of the duke of Austria. 

King John:  King John becomes England’s king in 1199, succeeding his older brother, Richard I, who died that year.  King John has a son, Prince Henry.  Prince Henry comes into the play only at the play’s end, as his father is dying.  King John delegates much of his military duties to the Bastard, his older brother’s illegitimate son. King John signed on to the Magna Charta in 1215, but that rather significant issue is not addressed in this play. We know nothing about the young Prince Henry’s mother, but we do believe King John was a pretty good guy, perhaps overwhelmed with events. 

Pandulph:  Pandulph is identified as the pope’s legate in France, or emissary, and has a huge role in the play.  He is a cardinal from Milan. He plays the Church “card” well, giving us some insight into the power plays that developed between church and state in 1200 AD.  He is no lightweight and stands firm with the English and French kings, no lightweights themselves.  He is eloquent and forceful, Shakespeare giving him some of the best lines in the play.  

Queen Eleanor:   She is Henry II’s widow and King John’s mother.  With King John being the only one of her four sons still living, Queen Eleanor is no wilting violet in terms of looking after her son John’s interest.  Her daughter is also named Eleanor, Eleanor being the mother of Blanche, the young Spanish woman (her father being Alfonso VIII of Castile) who, as we say, becomes the French Dauphin’s wife.  Queen Eleanor’s daughter Eleanor was her fourth born; John being her fifth.  This all plays into the succession issue, an interesting issue it seems for Shakespeare’s public. Early in the play Eleanor supports her daughter Blanche no less that Constance supports her son Arthur. 

SalisburyThe earl of Salisbury is one of only three English nobles that Shakespeare brings into this history play.  Salisbury supports the king, on balance, but chooses to leave the king when he learns of Arthur’s death.  He and Pembroke and Bigot join the Dauphin at St. Bury, but when Count Melun, a French royal (whose grandsire, so he says, was an Englishman) lets Salisbury know that the Dauphin plans to put the three of them to death if he wins the battle with the English. At that point Salisbury and the other English royals return to King John, pledging their support to the young Prince Henry. 

The Play


  • Act 1, Scene 1
  • King John, Queen Eleanor, the Chatillion of France (France’s ambassador) and others are on stage.
  • KING JOHN
  • Now say, Chatillion, what does the king of France want with us?
  • CHATILLION
  • Through me the King of France speaks to the borrowed majesty of England here.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • A strange beginning: ‘borrowed majesty”!
  • CHATILLION
  • Put the title into the young Arthur’s hand, thy nephew and right royal sovereign.
  • KING JOHN
  • What follows if we disallow of this?
  • CHATILLION
  • The proud control of fierce and bloody war.
  • KING JOHN
  • Here have we war for war and blood for blood: so answer France.
  • CHATILLION
  • Then take my king’s defiance from my mouth.
  • KING JOHN
  • Bear mine to him, and so depart in peace. The thunder of my cannon shall be heard. Farewell, Chatillion.
  • Chatillion exits.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR ASIDE TO KING JOHN
  • Have I not ever said how that ambitious Constance would not cease till she had kindled France and all the world upon the right and party of her son?
  • KING JOHN ASIDE TO ELEANOR:
  • Our strong possession and our right for us.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR ASIDE TO KING JOHN
  • Your strong possession much more than your right, which none but God and you and I shall hear.
  • A sheriff enters and speaks to Essex.
  • ESSEX
  • My liege, here is the strangest controversy that e’er I heard. Shall I produce the men?
  • Sheriff exits. Robert and Philip Faulconbridge enter.
  • KING JOHN
  • What men are you?
  • PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE
  • Your faithful subject I, and eldest son, as I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge of Coeur de Lion knighted in the field.
  • KING JOHN TO ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE:
  • What art thou?
  • ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE
  • The son and heir to that same Faulconbridge.
  • KING JOHN
  • Is that the elder, and art thou the heir? You came not of one mother then, it seems.
  • PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE
  • Most certain of one mother, mighty king, that is well known, and, as I think, one father.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • Out on thee, rude man! Thou dost shame thy mother.
  • PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE
  • I, madam? No, I have no reason for it. That is my brother’s plea, and none of mine.
  • KING JOHN
  • Why, being younger born, doth he lay claim to thine inheritance?
  • PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE
  • I know not why, except to get the land. But once he slandered me with bastardy. Compare our faces and be judge yourself. If old Sir Robert did beget us both and were our father, and this son like him, O old Sir Robert, father, on my knee I give heaven thanks I was not like to thee!
  • KING JOHN
  • Why, what a madcap hath heaven lent us here!
  • QUEEN ELEANOR ASIDE TOKING JOHN
  • He hath a characteristic expression of Coeur de Lion’s face; the accent of his tongue affecteth him. Do you not read some tokens of my son in the large physique of this man?
  • KING JOHN ASIDE TO QUEEN ELEANOR
  • Mine eye hath well examined his parts and finds them perfect Richard.
  • KING JOHN TO ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE
  • What doth move you to claim your brother’s land?
  •  
  •  
  • Robert Faulconbridge to King John
  •  
  • My gracious liege, your brother Richard did
  • Much employ my father, having once bid
  • Him as ambassador to Germany,
  • Where he did confer with the Emperor
  • On high affairs of that time. But in the
  • Absence of my father, the king wore
  • A path to my mother, taking undo
  • Advantage of my father, ashamed to
  • Speak as I am. But truth is truth and ‘tween
  • Them this man was got; upon his deathbed
  • He bequeathed his lands to me. As can be seen,
  • This other son was none of his, he said.
  • My liege, let me have what is justly mine,
  • Provided in my father’s final sign.
  • PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE
  • Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land. Your tale must be how he employed my mother.
  • King John to Robert Faulconbridge
  •  
  • If your brother is not your father’s son,
  • Yet your father’s wife did bear him, then one
  • Can say the fault was hers, a hazard borne
  • By husbands who marry wives. What if my
  • Brother, as said, did get this son, forlorn
  • As he may have been, and told the world I
  • Am the father of this calf, bred from this
  • Cow, and claim him for my own? This may miss
  • The mark, but in truth, your father well may
  • Have kept this calf, being none of his,
  • Protecting your guilty mother this way.
  • Your brother is legitimate. He is
  • The heir, my mother’s son’s son. Here’s my hand.
  • Your father’s heir must have your father’s land.
  • ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE
  • Shall then my father’s will be of no force to dispossess that child which is not his?
  • PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE
  • Of no more force to dispossess me, sir, than was his will to get me, as I think.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • Whether hadst thou rather: be a Faulconbridge and, like thy brother, to enjoy thy land, or the reputed son of Coeur de Lion, lord of thy presence, and no land besides?
  • BASTARD
  • Madam, an if my brother had my shape and I had his, Sir Robert’s his like him, I might never stir from off this place, I would give it every foot to have this face.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • I like thee well. Wilt thou forsake thy fortune, bequeath thy land to him, and follow me? I am a soldier and now bound to France.
  • BASTARD
  • Brother, take you my land. Madam, I’ll follow you unto the death.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • Nay, I would have you go before me thither.
  • BASTARD
  • Our country manners leave the way clear for our social betters.
  • KING JOHN
  • What is thy name?
  • BASTARD
  • Philip, my liege, so is my name begun, Philip, good old Sir Robert’s wife’s eldest son.
  • KING JOHN
  • Kneel thou down Philip, but rise more great.
  • Philip kneels. King John dubs him a knight.
  • KING JOHN
  • Arise Sir Richard and Plantagenet.
  • BASTARD, RISING, TO ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE
  • Brother, by th’ mother’s side, give me your hand. My father gave me honor, yours gave land.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • The very spirit of Plantagenet! I am thy grandam, Richard. Call me so.
  • BASTARD
  • Madam, by chance but not by truth. I am I, howe’er I was begot.
  • KING JOHN
  • Come, Richard. We must speed for France.
  • Bastard to Himself, No. 1
  •  
  • Brother, adieu, good fortune come to thee,
  • For thou wast born by way of honesty.
  • You are in honor much richer than I,
  • But much poorer in land, and I can now
  • Make any fair maid a lady. With my
  • New honor I can forget how to bow,
  • Or any man’s name, not needing to be
  • So considerate. Our society
  • Fits this ascending spirit as a sir
  • Who doth not slight courtesy, but doth sing
  • Inside himself the wish to deliver
  • Sweet flattery to the age’s liking.
  • Though I shall not practice to deceive, yet
  • Flattery shall make me a man well met.
  • Lady Faulconbridge and James Gurney enter.
  • BASTARD
  • But who comes in such haste in riding robes? O me, ‘tis my mother. How now, good lady? What brings you here to court so hastily?
  • LADY FAULCONBRIDGE
  • Where is that slave thy brother? Where is he that pursues my honor everywhere?
  • BASTARD
  • My brother Robert, old Sir Robert’s son? Is it Sir Robert’s son that you seek so?
  • LADY FAULCONBRIDGE
  • “Sir Robert’s son”? Ay, thou unreverent boy. He is Sir Robert’s son, and so art thou.
  • James Gurney exits.
  • BASTARD
  • Madam, I was not old Sir Robert’s son. We know his handiwork. Therefore, good mother, to whom am I beholding for these limbs?
  • LADY FAULCONBRIDGE
  • Hast thou conspired with thy brother too. What means this scorn, thou most untoward knave?
  • BASTARD
  • Knight, knight, good mother. But mother, I am not Sir Robert’s son. Let me know my father, some proper man, I hope. Who was it, mother?
  • LADY FAULCONBRIDGE
  • Hast thou denied thyself a Faulconbridge?
  • BASTARD
  • As faithfully as I deny the devil.
  • LADY FAULCONBRIDGE
  • King Richard Coeur de Lion was thy father. Heaven lay not my transgression to my charge! Thou art the issue of my dear offense, which was so strongly urged past my defense.
  • Bastard to Lady Faulconbridge
  •  
  • Now, if I were to be fathered again,
  • Mother, I would not wish a better sin.
  • Some sins have their advantage here on earth,
  • As yours; Your fault not being your folly.
  • The fierce lion that fought for all his worth
  • Could not keep his heart from Richard’s hand. He
  • Who can rob a lion of his heart may
  • Easily win a woman’s. Let me say,
  • Mother, with all my heart I thank thee for
  • My father. And to any who dare say
  • Thou didst not well I say for evermore
  • Let their souls rest in hell. To those who may
  • Say ‘twas a sin when Richard me begot,
  • I say they all do lie. I say ‘twas not.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 1
  • King Philip of France, Louis the Dauphin, Constance, Arthur, the duke of Austria and others enter near Angiers.
  • DAUPHIN
  • Before Angiers well met, brave Austria. Arthur, that great forerunner of thy blood, Richard, that robbed the lion of his heart. And at our importance hither is he come to rebuke the usurpation of thy unnatural uncle, English John.
  • ARTHUR
  • God shall forgive you Coeur de Lion’s death the rather that you give his offspring life, shadowing their right under your wings of war.
  • DAUPHIN
  • A noble boy. Who would not do thee right?
  • AUSTRIA TO ARTHUR
  • To my home I will no more return till Angiers and the right thou hast in France salute thee for her king. Till then, fair boy, will I not think of home, but follow arms.
  • CONSTANCE
  • O, take his mother’s thanks, a widow’s thanks.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Well, then, to work. Our cannon shall be bent against the brows of this resisting town. We will make it subject to this boy.
  • CONSTANCE
  • Stay for an answer to your embassy, lest unadvised you stain your swords with blood. My lord Chatillion may from England bring that right in peace which here we urge in war.
  • Chatillion enters.
  • KING PHILIP
  • A wonder, lady! Our messenger Chatillion is arrived. What England says say briefly, gentle lord. We coldly pause for thee. Chatillion, speak.
  • CHATILLION
  • Turn your forces from this paltry siege and stir them up against a mightier task. England hath put himself in arms. His marches are expedient to this town, his forces strong, his soldiers confident. With him along is come the Mother Queen; with her niece, the Lady Blanche of Spain; with them a bastard of the King’s deceased.
  • Drums sound.
  • CHATILLION
  • They are at hand, to parley or to fight, therefore prepare.
  • KING PHILIP
  • How much unlooked-for is this expedition.
  • AUSTRIA
  • Let them be welcome, then. We are prepared.
  • King John and his entourage enter.
  • KING JOHN
  • Peace be to France, if France in peace permit our just and lineal entrance to our own.
  •  
  •  
  • King Philip to King John
  •  
  • Peace be to you, if you return from France
  • To loving England, there to live by chance
  • In peace. We love England, but thou hast sought
  • To place yourself as king, having severed
  • The sequence of royal succession and brought
  • Us to this, having openly labored
  • To deny Arthur. This little abstract,
  • As the sure hand of time shall draw, doth lack
  • None of his father’s greatness. Since England
  • Was Geoffrey’s right, and this his son, Geoffrey
  • Being thy elder brother born, which hand
  • Of God hath anointed thee a king? We
  • Hear blood beat in these temples we behold
  • That own the crown that thou doth falsely hold.
  • KING JOHN
  • From whom hast thou this great commission, France, to draw my answer from thy articles?
  • KING PHILIP
  • That supernal judge hath made me guardian to this boy.
  • KING JOHN
  • Alack, thou dost usurp authority.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • Who is it thou dost call usurper, France?
  • CONSTANCE
  • Let me make answer: thy usurping son.
  • AUSTRIA
  • Peace!
  • BASTARD
  • Hear the crier!
  • AUSTRIA
  • What the devil are thou?
  • BASTARD
  • One that will play the devil, sir, with you.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Louis, determine what we shall do straight.
  • DAUPHIN
  • King John, this is the very sum of all: England and Ireland, Anjou, Touraine, Maine, in right of Arthur do I claim of thee. Wilt thou resign them and lay down thy arms?
  • KING JOHN
  • My life as soon! Arthur of Brittany, yield yourself to my hand.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • Come to thy grandam, child.
  • CONSTANCE
  • Do, child, give grandam kingdom, and your grandam will give you a plum, a cherry, and a fig.
  • ARTHUR WEEPING
  • Good my mother, peace.
  • KING JOHN
  • Bedlam, have done.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Peace, lady. Pause, or be more temperate. Let us hear these men of Angiers speak whose title they admit. Arthur’s or John’s.
  • Trumpets sound. Citizens enter upon the walls.
  • CITIZEN
  • Who is it that hath warned us to the walls?
  • KING PHILIP
  • ‘Tis France, for England.
  • KING JOHN
  • England, for itself. You men of Angiers, and my loving subjects ---
  • KING PHILIP
  • You loving men of Angiers, Arthur’s subjects ---
  •  
  •  
  • King John to Citizens of Angiers
  •  
  • Citizens of Angiers, hear us first. These
  • Flags of France that they have raised here to please
  • The eye have advanced to your danger. Their
  • Cannons are full of wrath, ready to spit
  • Forth their indignation ‘gainst your walls, where
  • They plan a bloody siege. But as is writ,
  • Angiers is yours and what is yours is ours,
  • But on the sight of your king in these hours,
  • The French condescended to a parley,
  • And now, instead of bullets wrapped in fire
  • They shoot but calming words fraudulently
  • To lead you faithlessly as a liar
  • Would. Your king, before this openness stalls,
  • Craves shelter within your fair city’s walls.
  • KING PHILIP
  • When I have said, make answer to us both.
  • He takes Arthur by the hand.
  •  
  •  
  • King Philip II to Citizens of Angiers
  •  
  • Lo, in this right hand stands young Prince Arthur
  • Plantagenet, the son to the elder
  • Brother of this man and king o’er him. Be
  • Pleased to pay that duty which you truly
  • Owe to Arthur who owns it, and then we
  • Will seal up our cannons, and you will see
  • Us retreat with unhacked swords and helmets
  • All unbruised, leaving you in peace. But let’s
  • Understand, if you foolishly pass this
  • Offer, your rounded old-faced walls cannot
  • Hide you from our malice, and you will miss
  • Your wives and children. Shall you cast your lot
  • With Arthur, or be as one who cowers
  • As we stalk in blood to all that is ours?
  • CITIZEN
  • In brief, we are the King of England’s subjects. For him, and in his right, we hold this town.
  • KING JOHN
  • Acknowledge then the king and let me in.
  • CITIZEN
  • That can we not. But he that proves the king. To him will we prove loyal. Till that time have we rammed up our gates against the world.
  • KING JOHN
  • Doth not the crown of England prove the king?
  • CITIZEN
  • Till you agree whose right is worthiest, we for the worthiest hold the right from both.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Mount, chevaliers! To arms!
  • BASTARD
  • Saint George, teach us some use of defense.
  • BASTARD TO AUSTRIA
  • Sirrah, where I at home, at your den, I would set an ox head to your lion’s hide and make a monster of you.
  • AUSTRIA
  • Peace! No more.
  • BASTARD
  • O, tremble, for you hear the lion roar.
  • KING JOHN TO HIS OFFICERS
  • Up higher to the plain, where we’ll set forth in best appointment all our regiments.
  • BASTARD
  • Speed, then, to take the highest ground of the field.
  • KING PHILIP
  • It shall be so, and at the other hill command the rest to stand.
  • They exit. Citizens remain on the city’s walls. The Herald of France enters.
  • FRENCH HERALD
  • You men of Angiers, open wide your gates and let young Arthur, Duke of Brittany, in.
  • The Herald of England enters.
  • ENGLISH HERALD
  • Rejoice, you men of Angiers. King John, your king and England’s, doth approach. Open your gates, and give the victors way.
  • CITIZEN
  • Heralds, from off our towers we might behold both your armies, whose equality by our best eyes cannot be judged. Both are alike, and both alike we like. One must prove greatest.
  • The two kings with their powers enter.
  • KING JOHN
  • France, hast thou yet more blood to cast away?
  • KING PHILIP
  • England, thou hast not saved one drop of blood in this hot trial more than we of France, rather lost more.
  • BASTARD ASIDE
  • Ha, majesty! How high thy glory towers when the rich blood of kings is set on fire! Why stand these royal fronts amazed thus? Cry havoc, kings! Back to the stained field. You equal potentates, fiery-kindled spirits, then let confusion of one part confirm the other’s peace. Till then, blows, blood, and death!
  • KING JOHN
  • Whose party do the townsmen yet admit?
  • KING PHILIP
  • Who’s your king?
  • CITIZEN
  • The King of England, when we know the king. A greater power than we denies all this. We do lock our strong-barred gates, until our fears resolved be by some certain king purged and deposed.
  •  
  •  
  • Bastard to Kings John and Philip
  •  
  • By heaven, these wretches of Angiers flout
  • You, kings, as on their walls they stand about
  • As in a theater, gaping and pointing
  • At your scenes and acts of death. For awhile
  • Be friends, as conjointly you sharply wring
  • These scoundrels for their contemptuous guile.
  • That done, dissever your united strengths
  • And part your mingled flags at distant lengths;
  • Then turn on each other face to face. In
  • A moment Lady Fortune shall give us
  • Her darling, giving him the day and win
  • Along with the kiss of a glorious
  • Victory. How sounds this counsel, mighty
  • Kings? Does it not smack of good policy?
  • KING JOHN
  • I like it well. France, shall we knit our powers and lay this Angiers even with the ground, then after fight who shall be king of it?
  • BASTARD TO KING PHILIP
  • An if thou hast the mettle of a king, turn thou the mouth of thy artillery, as we will ours, against these saucy walls. And when that we have dashed them to the ground, why, then, defy each other and pell-mell wreak havoc upon ourselves, for heaven or hell.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Let it be so. Say, where will you assault?
  • KING JOHN
  • We from the west will send destruction into this city’s bosom.
  • AUSTRIA
  • I from the north.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Our thunder from the south shall rain their shower of bullets on this town.
  • BASTARD ASIDE
  • From north to south, Austria and France shoot in each other’s moth. I’ll stir them to it.
  • CITIZEN
  • Hear us, great kings. Persevere not, but hear me, mighty kings.
  • KING JOHN
  • Speak on with favor. We are bent to hear.
  •  
  •  
  • Citizen of Angiers to Kings
  •  
  • Since Spain’s lovely Lady Blanche is quite near
  • To England and the blessed Dauphin here
  • Is left to be finished by such as she,
  • And she a fair excellence whose fullness
  • Of life lies in him, a union should be.
  • In search of beauty and virtue, witness
  • She. If you marry these silver currents
  • The bounding banks shall be you, kings. Events
  • Being what they are, this union shall do
  • More than bombarding our fast-closed gates. At
  • This match we’ll open our gates, giving you
  • Fair entrance. But without this match, know that
  • Lions are not as confident as we,
  • Nor as determined, to keep this city.
  • King Philip and Louis the Dauphin walk aside and talk.
  • BASTARD ASIDE
  • Here’s a stay that shakes the rotten carcass of old Death out of his rags! He speaks plain cannon fire, and smoke and bounce. He gives the beating with his tongue. Our ears are cudgeled. Zounds, I was never so bethumped with words since I first called my brother’s father dad.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR ASIDE TO KING JOHN
  • Son, list to this proposal to unite the Dauphin and Lady Blanche; make the match. Give with our niece a dowry large enough, for by this knot thou shalt so surely tie thy now uncertain assurance to the crown that you green boy shall have no sun to ripe the bloom that promiseth a might fruit. I see a yielding in the looks of France. Mark how they whisper.
  • CITIZEN
  • Why answer not the double majesties this friendly treaty of our threatened town?
  • KING PHILIP
  • Speak England first, that hath been forward first to speak unto this city.
  • KING JOHN
  • If that the Dauphin there, thy princely son, can in this book of beauty read “I love,” herd dowry shall weight equal with a queen. For Anjou and fair Touraine, Maine, Poitiers, and all that we upon this side the sea --- except this city now by us besieged --- find liable to our crown and dignity, shall gild her bridal bed and make her rich in titles, honors, and promotions.
  • KING PHILIP
  • What sayst thou, boy? Look in the lady’s face.
  • DAUPHIN
  • I do, my lord, and in her eye I find a wonder or a wondrous miracle. I do protest I never loved myself till now fixed I beheld myself drawn in the flattering table of her eye.
  • He whispers with Blanche.
  • BASTARD ASIDE
  • “Drawn in the flattering table of her eye”? He doth detect himself love’s traitor.
  • BLANCHE ASIDE TO DAUPHIN
  • My uncle’s will in this respect is mine. I can with each translate it to my will. Further I will not flatter you, my lord, that all I see in you is worthy love, than this: that nothing do I see in you, that I can find should merit any hate.
  • KING JOHN
  • What say these young one? Speak Prince Dauphin. Can you love this lady?
  • DAUPHIN
  • Nay, ask me if I can refrain from love, for I do love her most unfeignedly.
  • KING JOHN
  • Then do I give Volquessen, Touraine, Maine, Poitiers and Anjou, these five provinces with her to thee, and this addition more: full thirty thousand marks of English coin. Philip of France, if thou be pleased withal, command thy son and daughter to join hands.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Young princes, close your hands.
  • AUSTRIA
  • And your lips too.
  • Dauphin and Blanche join hands and kiss.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Now, citizens of Angiers, open your gates. Let in that amity which you have made for at Saint Mary’s Chapel presently the rites of marriage shall be solemnized. Is not the Lady Constance in this troop? I know she is not, for this match made up her presence would have interrupted much. Where is she and her son? Tell me, who knows.
  • DAUPHIN
  • She is sad and grieved at your Highness’ tent.
  • KING PHILIP
  • This league that we have made will give her sadness very little cure. Brother of England, how may we content this widow lady?
  • KING JOHN
  • We will heal up all, for we’ll create young Arthur Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond, and this rich, fair town we make him lord of. Call the Lady Constance.
  • Salisbury exits. All but the Bastard exit.
  •  
  •  
  • Bastard to Himself, No. 2
  •  
  • ‘Tis surely a mad world when John, to stop
  • Arthur, doth a part of France quickly crop,
  • And France, who as God’s own soldier brought zeal
  • To the field, whispers in the ear of that
  • Same purpose-changer, self-interest, the real
  • Bias of the world. Perhaps I shout at
  • This self-interest ‘cause he hath not wooed me?
  • Yet in this unasked hand gold coins would be
  • Welcome. Well, while a beggar, I will rail
  • And say there is no sin but to be rich;
  • And that time when I am rich, I shall hail
  • My virtue, and let the beggars’ palms itch.
  • Since kings choose in the self-interest they see,
  • Gain be my lord and I will worship thee.
  • He exits.
  • Act 3, Scene 1
  • Constance, Arthur and Salisbury enter.
  • CONSTANCE TO SALISBURY
  • Gone to be married? Gone to swear a peace? Shall Louis have Blanche and Blanche those provinces? It is not so. Thou hast misspoke, misheard. Believe me, I do not believe thee, man. A widow, husbandless, subject to fears, a woman naturally born to fears. Why dost thou look so sadly on my son? Speak again, whether thy tale be true.
  • SALISBURY
  • As true as I believe you think them false.
  • CONSTANCE
  • O, if thou teach me to believe this sorrow, teach thou this sorrow how to make me die. Louis marry Blanche? France friend with England? What becomes of me? Fellow, be gone. I cannot brook thy sight.
  • SALISBURY
  • What other harm have I, good lady, done but spoke the harm that is by others done?
  • ARTHUR
  • I do beseech you, madam, be content.
  • CONSTANCE
  • Son, thou art fair, and at thy birth, dear boy, Nature and Fortune joined to make thee great. But Fortune, O, she is corrupted. France is a go-between Fortune and King John, that strumpet Fortune, that usurping John. Speak to him with bitter words, or get thee gone and leave those woes alone which I alone am bound to endure.
  • SALISBURY
  • Pardon me, madam, I may not go without you to the kings.
  • CONSTANCE
  • Thou mayst, thou shalt, I will not go with thee.
  • She sits down.
  • CONSTANCE
  • My grief’s so great that no supporter but the huge firm earth can hold it up. Here I and sorrows sit. Here is my throne; bid kings come bow to it.
  • King John, King Phil, the Dauphin, Blanche, Queen Eleanor, the Bastard and Austria enter.
  • KING PHILIP TO BLANCHE
  • ‘Tis true, fair daughter, and this blessed day ever in France shall be kept festival. To solemnize this day the glorious sun stays in his course and plays the alchemist. The yearly course that brings this day about shall never see it but a holy day.
  • CONSTANCE RISING
  • Q wicked day, and not a holy day! Nay, rather turn this day out of the week, this day of shame, oppression, perjury.
  • KING PHILIP
  • By heaven, lady, you shall have no cause to curse the fair proceedings of this day. Have I not pledged to you my majesty?
  • CONSTANCE
  • You have beguiled me with an imitation resembling majesty, which proves valueless. Arm, arm, you heavens, against these perjured kings! A widow cries; be husband to me, God, and before sunset set armed discord ‘twixt these perjured kings. Hear me, O, hear me!
  • AUSTRIA
  • Lady Constance, peace.
  • CONSTANCE
  • War, war, no peace! Peace is to me a war. O Austria, thou wretch, thou coward, great in villainy, thou ever strong upon the stronger side, thou Fortune’s champion, that dost never fight but when her humorous ladyship is by to teach thee safety. Thou cold-blooded slave, hast thou not spoke like thunder on my side? And dost thou now fall over to my foes? Thou wear a lion’s hide! Doff it for shame, and hang a calfskin on those cowardly limbs.
  • AUSTRIA
  • O, that a man should speak those words to me!
  • BASTARD
  • “And hang a calfskin on those cowardly limbs.”
  • AUSTRIA
  • Thou dar’st not say so, villain, for thy life!
  • BASTARD
  • “And hang a calfskin on those cowardly limbs.”
  • KING JOHN
  • We like not this.
  • Pandulph enters.
  • PANDULPH
  • Hail you anointed deputies of heaven! To thee, King John, my holy errand is, I, Pandulph from Pope Innocent, do in his name religiously demand why thou against the Church so willfully dost spurn. This, in our foresaid Holy Father’s name, Pope Innocent, I do demand of thee.
  •  
  •  
  • King John to Cardinal Pandulph
  •  
  • What early set of questions can force the
  • Free breath of a sacred king? Dost thou see,
  • Cardinal, thou canst not devise a name
  • Less worthy to charge me to answer so,
  • Or ridiculous as the pope. The same
  • Goes for his aides who doth attempt to go
  • Hand-to-hand, to tithe or tax in these our
  • Lands. As we reign under the tower
  • Of God, we will alone uphold without
  • The assistance of a mortal hand. Why
  • Are we led by this pardoning, devout
  • Priest who accepts gold as sin’s ransom? I
  • Most outspokenly alone do oppose
  • The church’s pope, and count his friends my foes.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Brother of England, you blaspheme in this.
  • PANDULPH
  • Then, by the lawful power that I have, thou shalt stand cursed and excommunicated.
  • CONSTANCE
  • O, good father cardinal, cry thou “Amen” to my keen curses, for without my wrong there is no tongue hath power to curse him right.
  • PANDULPH
  • There’s law and warrant, lady, for my curse.
  • CONSTANCE
  • Law cannot give my child his kingdom here, for he that holds his kingdom holds the law.
  • PANDULPH
  • Philip of France, on peril of a curse, let go the hand of that arch-heretic, and raise the power of France upon his head unless he do submit himself to Rome.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • Look’st thou pale, France? Do not let go thy hand.
  • AUSTRIA
  • King Philip, listen to the Cardinal.
  • BASTARD
  • And hang a calfskin on his cowardly limbs.
  • KING JOHN
  • Philip, what sayst thou to the Cardinal?
  • DAUPHIN
  • Bethink you, father, for the difference is purchase of a heavy curse from Rome, or the light loss of England for a friend. Forgo the easier.
  • CONSTANCE
  • O Louis, stand fast! The devil tempts thee here in likeness of a new unadorned bride.
  • BLANCHE
  • The Lady Constance speaks not from her faith, but from her need.
  • CONSTANCE TO KING PHILIP
  • O, if thou grant my need, which only lives but by the death of faith, that faith would live again by death of need.
  • KING PHILIP
  • I am perplexed and know not what to say.
  • PANDULPH
  • What canst thou say but will perplex thee more, if thou stand excommunicated and cursed?
  •  
  •  
  • King Philip to Cardinal Pandulph
  •  
  • Good reverend father, put yourself in
  • My place. See yourself in my position.
  • This royal hand and mine, being newly knit,
  • Joined in faith through our inward souls, and with
  • The strength of sacred vows solemnly writ,
  • Sought peace ‘tween our kingdoms, beyond the myth
  • Of wishes. Shall these hands, lately purged of
  • Blood, each so strong and newly joined in love,
  • Now unyoke this grasp, break this new found tie
  • Of true sincerity by stooping low,
  • Unswearing faith sworn? O holy sir, my
  • Reverend father, let it not be so.
  • Out of your grace, impose some gentle end,
  • Letting us go on as each other’s friend.
  • PANDULPH
  • Therefore to arms! Be champion of our Church, or let the Church, our mother, breathe her curse on a revolting son. France, thou mayst sooner hold a serpent by the tongue than keep in peace that hand which thou dost hold.
  • KING PHILIP
  • I may disjoin my hand, but not my agreement.
  •  
  •  
  • Pandulph to King Philip II
  •  
  • O, let thy vow first made to God be thy
  • Commanding vow, the vow to hold most high:
  • To be champion of our Church. What thou
  • With England hast swor’st is deceiving
  • To thyself. This new vow ‘gainst thy first vow
  • Doth renounce your God, as if rebelling
  • Against thyself. Ne’er a better conquest
  • Of challenges you must face than to best
  • Arm thyself against giddy temptations,
  • On which our prayers come in, you accept
  • Them. But if you choose to not, know that one’s
  • Peril of our modest curses is set
  • So strong that thou shalt not escape their fate,
  • But in despair die ‘neath their deadly weight.
  • AUSTRIA
  • Rebellion, flat rebellion!
  • BASTARD
  • Will thou never be quiet? Will not a calfskin stop that mouth of thine?
  • DAUPHIN
  • Father, to arms!
  • BLANCHE
  • Upon thy wedding day? Against the blood that thou hast married?
  • She kneels.
  • BLANCHE
  • O husband, hear me. Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms against mine uncle.
  • CONSTANCE KNEELING
  • I do pray to thee, thou virtuous Dauphin, alter not the doom premeditated by heaven!
  • BLANCHE TO DAUPHIN
  • What motive may be stronger with thee than the name of wife?
  • CONSTANCE
  • O, thine honor, Louis, thine honor!
  • PANDULPH
  • I will denounce a curse upon his head.
  • KING PHILIP DROPPING KING JOHN’S HAND
  • Thou shalt not need. England, I will fall from thee.
  • CONSTANCE RISING
  • O, fair return of banished majesty!
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • O, foul revolt of French inconstancy!
  • KING JOHN
  • France, thou shalt rue this hour within this hour.
  • BLANCHE RISING
  • The sun’s o’ercast with blood. Fair day, adieu. Which is the side that I must go withal? I am with both, each army hath a hand, and in their rage, I have hold of both. Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose. Assured loss before the match be played.
  • DAUPHIN
  • There where my fortune lives, there my life dies.
  • KING JOHN TO BASTARD
  • Cousin, go draw our army together.
  • Bastard exits.
  • KING JOHN
  • France, I am burned up with inflaming wrath.
  • KING PHILIP
  • The rage shall burn thee up. Thou art in jeopardy.
  • KING JOHN
  • No more than he that threats.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 2
  • The Bastard enters with Austria’s head.
  • BASTARD
  • Now, by my life, this day grows wondrous hot. Austria’s head lie there, while Philip breathes.
  • King John, Arthur and Hubert enter.
  • KING JOHN
  • Hubert, keep this boy. My mother is assailed in our tent and ta’en, I fear.
  • BASTARD
  • My lord, I rescued her. Her Highness is in safety, fear you not.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 3
  • Alarms signal a retreat. King John, Queen Eleanor, Arthur, Bastard, Hubert and others enter.
  • KING JOHN TO QUEEN ELEANOR
  • So shall it be. Your Grace shall stay behind so strongly guarded.
  • KING JOHN TO ARTHUR
  • Cousin, look not sad. Thy uncle will as dear be to thee as thy father was.
  • ARTHUR
  • O, this will make my mother die with grief!
  • KING JOHN TO BASTARD
  • Cousin, away for England! And ere our coming see thou shake the bags of hoarding abbots; imprisoned angels set at liberty.
  • BASTARD
  • The excommunication curse shall not drive me back when gold and silver becks me to come on. Grandam, I will pray, if ever I remember to be holy, for your fair safety.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR
  • Farewell, gentle cousin.
  • Bastard exits.
  • QUEEN ELEANOR TO ARTHUR
  • Come hither, little kinsman.
  • They walk aside.
  • KING JOHN
  • Come hither, Hubert.
  • He takes Hubert aside.
  • KING JOHN TO HUBERT
  • Give my thy hand. By heaven, Hubert, I am almost ashamed to say what good respect I have of thee.
  • HUBERT
  • I am much obliged to your Majesty.
  • KING JOHN
  • Yet it shall come for me to do thee good. I had a thing to say --- but let it go. I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts. But, ah, I will not. Yet I love thee well, and by my troth I think thou lov’st me well.
  • HUBERT
  • So well that what you bid me undertake, by heaven, I would do it.
  • KING JOHN
  • Do not i know thou wouldst? Hubert, throw thine eye on yon young boy. I’ll tell thee what, my friend, he is a very serpent in my way. Dost thou understand me? Thou art his keeper.
  • HUBERT
  • And I’ll keep him so that he shall not offend your Majesty.
  • KING JOHN
  • Death.
  • HUBERT
  • My lord?
  • KING JOHN
  • A grave.
  • HUBERT
  • He shall not live.
  • KING JOHN
  • Enough. I could be merry now. Hubert, I love thee.
  • KING JOHN TO ARTHUR
  • For England, cousin, go. Hubert shall be your personal servant attend on you with all true duty. On toward Calais, ho!
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 4
  • King Philip II, the Dauphin, Pandulph and others enter.
  • KING PHILIP
  • So, by a roaring tempest on the sea, a whole armada is scattered and disjoined from fellowship.
  • PANDULPH
  • Courage and comfort. All shall yet go well.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Are we not beaten? Is not Angiers lost? Arthur ta’en prisoner? And bloody England into England gone?
  • DAUPHIN
  • What he hath won, that hath he fortified. Who hath read or heard of any similar action like to this?
  • KING PHILIP
  • Well could I bear that England had this praise, so we could find some pattern of our shame.
  • Constance enters with her hair unbound.
  • KING PHILIP
  • Look who comes here! A grave unto a soul. I prithee, lady, go away with me.
  • CONSTANCE
  • Lo, now, now see the issue of your peace!
  • KING PHILIP
  • Patience, good lady.
  • CONSTANCE
  • No, I defy all counsel. O amiable, lovely death, come grin on me, and I will think thou smil’st, and kiss thee as thy wife. Misery’s love, O come to me!
  • KING PHILIP
  • O fair affliction, peace!
  • PANDULPH
  • Lady, you utter madness and not sorrow.
  •  
  •  
  • Constance to Pandulph, No. 1
  •  
  • Thou art not holy to so belie me.
  • I’m not mad. I was the wife of Geoffrey;
  • Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost.
  • I wish to heaven I were mad, for then
  • I might faint and die, ending the high cost
  • Of this sorrow. You’ll be canonized when
  • You can preach philosophy to make me
  • Mad, cardinal! Knowing I’m sad and be
  • Not mad, my reasonable part teaches me
  • To be delivered of these woes is to
  • Kill myself. I’d forget him, or madly
  • Think him a rag doll, if mad. I am too
  • Well, cardinal. I am so well that I
  • Harbor the pain of each calamity.
  • PANDULPH
  • You hold too heinous respect of grief.
  • CONSTANCE
  • He talks to me that never had a son.
  • KING PHILIP
  • You are as fond of grief as of your child. Bind up those tresses.
  • CONSTANCE TO PHILIP
  • Yes, that I will. And why will I do it? I tore them from their bonds and cried aloud “O, that these hands could so redeem my son, as they have given these hairs their liberty!” But now I envy at their liberty, and will again commit them to their bonds, because my poor child is a prisoner.
  • She binds up her hair.
  •  
  •  
  • Constance to Pandulph, No. 2
  •  
  • Now father cardinal, I’ve heard you say
  • That we’ll know our friends in heaven that day.
  • If that be true, then he for whom I grieve,
  • My son, will soon be seen by me; my son
  • Who did but yesterday it seems first breathe.
  • But now worms will eat my most graceful one,
  • Chasing from his cheek his native beauty,
  • Making him look as a ghost, causing me
  • To not know him, forcing anger to vent
  • When I meet him in heaven’s court above.
  • Grief doth fill up the room of my absent
  • Child. Have I not reason to be fond of
  • Grief? You would have been able to rely
  • More on me had you such a loss as I.
  • She exits.
  • KING PHILIP
  • I fear some violence, and I’ll follow her.
  • He exits.
  • DAUPHIN
  • There’s nothing in this world can make me joy. Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale, vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.
  • PANDULPH
  • Before the curing of a strong disease, the illness is strongest. What have you lost by losing of this day’s battle?
  • DAUPHIN
  • All days of glory, joy and happiness.
  • PANDULPH
  • When Fortune means to men most good, she looks upon them with a threat’ning eye. ‘Tis strange to think how much King John hath lost in this which he accounts so clearly won. Are not you grieved that Arthur is his prisoner?
  • DAUPHIN
  • As heartily as he is glad he hath him.
  • PANDULPH
  • Now hear me speak with a prophetic spirit. The breath of what I mean to speak shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub, out of the path which shall directly lead thy foot to England’s throne. A scepter snatched with an unruly hand must be as boisterously maintained as gained.
  • DAUPHIN
  • Maybe he will not touch young Arthur’s life, but hold himself safe in his prisonment.
  • PANDULPH
  • How green you are and fresh in this old world! You, in the right of Lady Blanche your wife, may then make all the claim that Arthur did.
  • DAUPHIN
  • And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did.
  •  
  •  
  • Pandulph to Dauphin
  •  
  • As John lays plots for you, the times conspire
  • With you, for he who steeps his peace in fire
  • And blood finds his peace bloody. The fall of
  • Arthur, so that John may stand, shall so cool
  • The hearts of the people that they will love
  • All steps taken and support any rule
  • To shorten his reign. Any natural
  • Occurrence of nature shall portend ill
  • Upon John. With the bastard offending
  • The church and charities, his people will
  • Soon revolt and rush to him offering
  • Change, no longer willing to remain still.
  • O, ‘tis wonderful what Fortune hath sent;
  • It’s a gift formed out of their discontent.
  • PANDULPH
  • For England, go. I will urge on the king.
  • DAUPHIN
  • Strong reasons make strange actions. Let us go. If you say ay, the king will not say no.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 1
  • Hubert and an executioner are in a room.
  • HUBERT
  • Make sure these irons are hot. Rush forth and bind the boy fast to the chair.
  • EXECUTIONER
  • I hope your warrant will bear out the deed.
  • Executioner exits.
  • HUBERT
  • Young lad, come forth.
  • Arthur enters.
  • ARTHUR
  • Good morrow, Hubert.
  • HUBERT
  • Good morrow, little prince.
  • ARTHUR
  • You are sad.
  • HUBERT
  • Indeed, I have been merrier.
  • ARTHUR
  • Mercy on me! Methinks nobody should be sad but I. If I were out of prison and kept sheep, I should be as merry as the day is long. I fear my uncle plots more harm to me. He is afraid of me, and I of him. Is it my fault that I was Geoffrey’s son?
  • HUBERT ASIDE
  • If I talk to him he will awake my mercy, which lies dead.
  • ARTHUR
  • Are you sick, Hubert? You look pale today. I would you were a little sick that I might sit up all night and stay awake in order to tend to you.
  • HUBERT ASIDE
  • His words do take possession of my bosom.
  • He shows Arthur a paper.
  • HUBERT
  • Read here, young Arthur.
  • HUBERT ASIDE
  • I must be brief lest resolution drop out at mine eyes in tender womanish tears.
  • HUBERT
  • Can you not read it? Is it not fair writ?
  • ARTHUR
  • Too fairly, Hubert. Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes?
  • HUBERT
  • Young boy, I must.
  • ARTHUR
  • And will you?
  • HUBERT
  • And I will. I have sworn to do it. and with hot irons must I burn them out.
  • Executioner enters.
  • ARTHUR
  • O, save me, Hubert, save me! My eyes are out even with the fierce looks of this bloody man.
  • HUBERT TO EXECUTIONER
  • Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here. Go stand within, Let me alone with him.
  • ARTHUR
  • Is there no remedy?
  • HUBERT
  • None but to lose your eyes.
  •  
  •  
  • Arthur to Hubert
  •  
  • Have you the heart? If the heaven we trust
  • Chooses you to use me ill, then you must.
  • But will you put out mine eyes, these eyes that
  • Never did nor never shall so much as
  • Frown on you? If an angel came and sat
  • By me, telling me my friend Hubert has
  • Plans to put out mine eyes, I’d not believe
  • Him. Don’t bind me to this chair. I’ll not leave,
  • Wince nor speak. Let the executioner,
  • He who hath a stern look but gentle heart,
  • Return, that his compassion shown may stir
  • Life in yours. What if my speech could not start?
  • Hubert, cut out my tongue as a disguise,
  • Provided of course I may keep my eyes.
  • Arthur seizes the iron.
  • ARTHUR
  • Lo, by my troth, the instrument is cold. And would not harm me.
  • Hubert takes back the iron.
  • HUBERT
  • I can heat it, boy.
  • ARTHUR
  • No, in good sooth. The fire is dead with grief. The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out.
  • HUBERT
  • But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
  • ARTHUR
  • An if you do, you will but make it blush and glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert. Nay, like a dog that is compelled to fight, it will snap at his master that doth incite him to fight. Only you do lack that mercy which the fierce fire and iron extends.
  • HUBERT
  • Well, see to live. I will not touch thine eye for all the treasure that thine uncle owes.
  • ARTHUR
  • O, now you look like Hubert. All the while you were disguised.
  • HUBERT
  • Peace. No more. Adieu. Your uncle must not know but that you are dead. I’ll fill these dogged spies with false reports. And sleep secure that Hubert will not offend you.
  • ARTHUR
  • O heaven! I thank you, Hubert.
  • HUBERT
  • Silence. No more. Much danger do I undergo for thee.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 2
  • King John, Pembroke, Salisbury and other lords enter. King John ascends the throne.
  • KING JOHN
  • Here once again we sit, once again crowned and looked upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.
  • PEMBROKE
  • You were crowned before, and that high royalty was ne’er plucked off, the allegiances of men ne’er stained with revolt.
  • SALISBURY
  • Therefore, to be possessed with double pomp, to guard a title that was rich before, to gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw a perfume on the violet is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
  • PEMBROKE
  • This act is an ancient tale new told, and causing annoyance.
  • SALISBURY
  • To this effect, before you were now-crowned, we communicated our counsel; but it pleased your Highness to overrule it, and we are all well pleased since all of what we would doth make a stand at what your Highness will.
  • KING JOHN
  • Some reasons of this double coronation I have possessed you with, and think them strong, but ask what you would have reformed that is not well, and I will both hear and grant you your requests.
  • PEMBROKE
  • Then I heartily request the release from imprisonment of Arthur. If what you have in right you hold, why then your fears? Let it be our suit that you have bid us ask that he have his liberty.
  • KING JOHN
  • Let it be so. I do commit his youth to your direction.
  • Hubert enters and he and King John step aside and talk.
  • PEMBROKE
  • This is the man should do the bloody deed. The image of a wicked heinous fault lives in his eye. I do fearfully believe ‘tis done what we so feared he had a charge to do.
  • King John comes forward with Hubert.
  • KING JOHN
  • The suit which you demand is gone and dead. He tells us Arthur is deceased tonight.
  • SALISBURY
  • Indeed, we feared his sickness was past cure.
  • PEMBROKE
  • Indeed, we heard how near his death was before the child himself felt he was sick.
  • KING JOHN
  • Why do you bend such solemn brows on me? Have I control over the pulse of life?
  • SALISBURY
  • It is apparent foul play, and ‘tis shame that greatness should so grossly offer it. And so farewell.
  • PEMBROKE
  • Stay yet, Lord Salisbury. I’ll go with thee. And find th’ inheritance of this poor child, his little kingdom of a forced grave.
  • Pembroke, Salisbury and others exit.
  • KING JOHN
  • They burn in indignation. I repent. There is no sure foundation set on blood, no certain life achieved by others’ death.
  • A messenger enters.
  • KING JOHN
  • A frightened eye thou hast. How goes all in France?
  • MESSENGER
  • The tidings come that they are all arrived.
  • KING JOHN
  • O, where hath our intelligence been drunk? Where hath it slept? Where is my mother’s care, that such an army could be drawn in France and she not hear of it?
  • MESSENGER
  • My liege, the first of April died your noble mother. And as I hear, my lord, the Lady Constance in a frenzy died three days before. If true or false, I know not.
  • KING JOHN ASIDE
  • What? My mother dead? How wildly then walks my estate in France! Under whose conduct came these powers of France that are landed here?
  • MESSENGER
  • Under the Dauphin.
  • The Bastard and Peter of Pomfret enter.
  • KING JOHN TO BASTARD
  • Do not seek to stuff my head with more ill news, for it is full.
  • BASTARD
  • But if you be afeard to hear the worst, then let the worst, unheard, fall on your head.
  • KING JOHN
  • Speak it of what it will.
  • BASTARD
  • How I have sped among the clergymen the sums I have collected shall express. But as I traveled hither through the land, I find the people full of fear. Here’s a prophet that I brought with me from forth the streets of Pomfret, to whom he sung that before the next Ascension Day at noon, your Highness should deliver up your crown.
  • KING JOHN TO PETER
  • Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst thou so?
  • PETER
  • Knowing beforehand that the truth will fall out so.
  • KING JOHN
  • Hubert, away with him! Imprison him. And on that day at noon, whereon he says I shall yield up my crown, let him be hanged.
  • Hubert and Peter exit.
  • KING JOHN
  • O my gentle cousin, hear’st thou the news abroad, who are arrived?
  • BASTARD
  • The French, my lord. Men’s mouths are full of it. Besides, I met Lord Bigot and Lord Salisbury going to seek the grave of Arthur, whom they say is killed tonight on your suggestion.
  • KING JOHN
  • Gentle kinsman, go and thrust thyself into their companies. Bring them before me.
  • BASTARD
  • I will seek them out.
  • KING JOHN
  • Nay, but make haste, as fast as you can!
  • BASTARD
  • The spirit of time shall tech me speed.
  • He exits.
  • KING JOHN
  • My mother dead!
  • Hubert enters.
  • HUBERT
  • Young Arthur’s death is common in the mouths of old men in the streets. They shake their heads and whisper one another in the ear. I saw a smith stand with a hammer when told of many thousand warlike French that were embattled and ranked in Kent. Another lean, unwashed craftsman cuts off his tale and talks of Arthur’s death.
  • KING JOHN
  • Why seek’st thou to possess me with these fears? Thy hand hath murdered him. I had a mighty cause to wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
  • HUBERT
  • Why, did you not urge me?
  • KING JOHN
  • It is the curse of kings to be attended by slaves that take their humors for a warrant to interpret an order.
  • Hubert shows the king a paper.
  • HUBERT
  • Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
  • KING JOHN
  • O, when the last judgment twixt heaven and earth is to be made, then shall this hand and seal witness against us to damnation. Finding thee fit for bloody villainy, I faintly mentioned with thee of Arthur’s death; and thou, to be endeared to a king, made it no conscience to destroy a prince.
  • HUBERT
  • My lord ----
  • KING JOHN
  • Hadst thou but shook thy head or made a pause when I spake darkly what I purposed, then those thy fears might have wrought fears in me. But thou didst understand me by my signs; yea, without hesitation didst let thy heart consent to act the deed which both our tongues held vile to name. Out of my sight, and never see me more. Hostility and civil tumult reigns between my conscience and my cousin’s death.
  • HUBERT
  • I’ll make a peace between your soul and you. Young Arthur is alive. Within this bosom never entered yet the dreadful motion of a murderous thought.
  • KING JOHN
  • Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the peers, the angry lords with all expedient haste. Throw this report on their incensed rage, and make them tame to their obedience. Forgive the comment that my passion made, for my rage presented thee more hideous than thou art.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 3
  • Arthur enters on the walls of the prison.
  • ARTHUR
  • The wall is high, and yet will I leap down. Good ground, be pitiful and hurt me not. I am afraid, and yet I’ll venture it.
  • He jumps.
  • ARTHUR
  • O me, my uncle’s spirit is in these stones. Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones.
  • He dies. Pembroke, Salisbury (with a letter) and Bigot enter.
  • SALISBURY
  • Lords, I will meet the Dauphin at Bury Saint Edmunds.
  • PEMBROKE
  • Who brought that letter from the Cardinal?
  • SALISBURY
  • The Count Melun, a noble lord of France.
  • BIGOT
  • Tomorrow morning let us meet him, then.
  • Bastard enters.
  • BASTARD
  • Once more today well met, distempered lords. The King by me requests your presence straight.
  • SALISBURY
  • We will not attend the foot that leaves the print of blood where’er it walks. Return and tell him so.
  • BASTARD
  • Whate’er you think, good words I think were best.
  • SALISBURY
  • Our griefs and not our manners reason now.
  • BASTARD
  • But there is little reason in your grief.
  • PEMBROKE
  • Sir, sir, impatience has its privilege.
  • SALISBURY
  • This is the prison.
  • He sees Arthur’s body.
  • SALISBURY
  • What is he lies here?
  • PEMBROKE
  • O Death, made proud with pure and princely beauty!
  • SALISBURY
  • Murder doth lay it open to urge on revenge.
  • SALISBURY TO BASTARD
  • This is the height of murder’s arms. This is the bloodiest shame that ever staring rage presented to the tears of soft remorse.
  • PEMBROKE
  • All murders past do stand excused in this.
  • BASTARD
  • It is a damned and bloody work, the graceless action of a heavy hand, if that it be the work of any hand.
  • SALISBURY
  • If that it be the work of any hand? It is the shameful work of Hubert’s hand, the practice and the purpose of the King, from whose obedience I forbid my soul, kneeling before this ruin of sweet life, a holy vow: never to be conversant with ease and idleness till I have set a glory to this hand by giving it the worship of revenge.
  • Hubert enters.
  • HUBERT
  • Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking you. Arthur doth live; the King hath sent for you.
  • SALISBURY
  • Be gone, thou hateful villain, get thee gone!
  • HUBERT
  • I am no villain.
  • Salisbury draws his sword.
  • BASTARD
  • Your sword is bright, sir. Put it up again.
  • HUBERT
  • Stand back, Lord Salisbury, stand back, I say. By heaven, I think my sword’s as sharp as yours.
  • He puts his hand on his sword.
  • SALISBURY
  • Thou art a murderer.
  • HUBERT
  • Do not prove me so. Yet I am none. Who speaks not truly, lies.
  • BIGOT
  • Who killed this prince?
  • HUBERT
  • ‘Tis not an hour since I left him well. I honored him.
  • He weeps.
  • SALISBURY
  • Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes. Away with me, for I am stifled with this smell of sin.
  • BIGOT
  • Away, toward Bury, to the Dauphin there.
  • PEMBROKE
  • There, tell the King, he may inquire us out.
  • Lords exit.
  • BASTARD
  • Knew you of this fair work? If thou didst this deed of death, art thou damned, Hubert.
  • HUBERT
  • Do but hear me, sir.
  • BASTARD
  • Ha! I’ll tell thee what. There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell as thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child.
  • HUBERT
  • Upon my soul ---
  • BASTARD
  • I do suspect thee very grievously.
  • HUBERT
  • If I be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath, let hell want pains enough to torture me. I left him well.
  • BASTARD
  • Go, bear him in thine arms.
  •  
  •  
  • Bastard to Hubert
  •  
  • I am bewildered, me thinks, feeling hurled
  • Into the thorns and dangers of this world.
  • How easily doth thou accept that Arthur,
  • The life and truth of all this realm, has fled
  • To heaven, leaving us here to endure
  • The damage to the state he could have led?
  • Now dogged war doth raise its ire, snarling
  • Into the eyes of peace as invading
  • Powers and discontents at home unite,
  • And confusion waits, as does a buzzard
  • For the decay of wrested pomp. Be light
  • With that child. Follow me. Wait for my word.
  • We face a thousand matters near at hand,
  • As heaven itself frowns upon the land.
  • They exit, with Hubert carrying Arthur’s body.
  • Act 5, Scene 1
  • King John, Pandulph, carrying the crown, and others enter.
  • KING JOHN
  • Thus have I yielded up into your hand my crown.
  • Pandulph hands the crown to King John
  • PANDULPH
  • Take again from this my hand, as deriving your title from the pope, your sovereign greatness and authority.
  • KING JOHN
  • Now keep your holy word. Go meet the French, and from his Holiness use all your power to stop their marches ‘fore we are inflamed. Our discontented counties do revolt.
  • PANDULPH
  • It was my breath that blew this tempest up, following your stubborn usage of the pope. On this Ascension Day, remember well: upon your oath of service to the pope, go I do make the French lay down their arms.
  • He exits.
  • KING JOHN
  • Is this Ascension Day? Did not the prophet say that before Ascension Day at noon my crown I should give off? Even so I have. I did suppose it should be on constraint, but, God be thanked, it is but voluntary.
  • The Bastard enters.
  • BASTARD
  • All Kent hath yielded. London hath received like a kind host the Dauphin and his powers. Your nobles will not hear you, but are gone to offer service to your enemy.
  • KING JOHN
  • Would not my lords return to me again after they heard young Arthur was alive?
  • BASTARD
  • They found him dead.
  • KING JOHN
  • That villain Hubert told me he did live!
  • BASTARD
  • So, on my soul, he did, for all he knew. But wherefore do you droop? Why look you sad? Be great in act, as you have been in thought.
  •  
  •  
  • Bastard to King John
  •  
  • Let not the world see fear and sad distrust
  • In the movement of your kingly eyes. Thrust
  • Your might as fire on fire, looking down at
  • The threat’ner as you outface the brow of
  • Bragging foes. So shall those younger lives, that
  • Borrow their behavior from the great, love
  • You for your courage, leading them to run
  • Free with your spirited resolution.
  • Glister like the god of war, aspiring
  • Confidence when you grace the field. Let it
  • Be said you greet trouble ‘fore it can ring
  • Your forces and freight them here. Do not sit
  • On hope, letting your defense all but cease,
  • For perchance Pandulph cannot make your peace.
  • BASTARD
  • Shall a beardless boy, a pampered silken wanton, defy our fields and lead to bloodshed with his spirit on our soil, mocking the air with flags carelessly spread, and find no check? Let us, my liege, to arms!
  • KING JOHN
  • Have thou the management of this present time.
  • BASTARD
  • Away then with good courage!
  • BASTARD ASIDE
  • Yet I know our party may well meet a prouder foe.
  • They exit
  • Act 5, Scene 2
  • The Dauphin, Salisbury, Melun, Pembroke, Bigot and others enter.
  • The Dauphin hands a paper to Melun
  • DAUPHIN
  • Return the original to these lords that they may know wherefore we took received communion and keep our promises firm and inviolable.
  • SALISBURY
  • Upon our sides it never shall be broken. And, noble Dauphin, albeit we swear a voluntary zeal and unurged faith to your proceedings, it grieves my soul that I must draw this metal from my side to be a widow-maker. But we cannot deal but with the very hand of stern injustice and confused wrong. O my grieved friends, so sad to see that we step after a stranger and fill up England’s enemies’ ranks. I must withdraw and weep upon the spot of this cause that I am forced to join.
  • He weeps.
  • DAUPHIN
  • Lift up thy brow, renowned Salisbury, and with a great heart heave away this storm. Come, come; for thou shalt thrust thy hand as deep into the purse of rich prosperity as Louis himself. So, nobles, knit your sinews to the strength of mine.
  • Pandulph enters.
  • PANDULPH
  • Hail, noble prince of France. The next is this: King John hath reconciled himself to Rome. Therefore thy threat’ning colors now wind up.
  • DAUPHIN
  • Your Grace shall pardon me; I will not withdraw. You taught me how to know the face of right, acquainted me with interest to this land, yea, thrust this enterprise into my heart. And come you now to tell me John hath made his peace with Rome? What is that peace to me? I, by the honor of my marriage bed, after young Arthur claim this land for mine. Am I Rome’s slave? What penny hath Rome borne? What men provided? Have I not here the best cards for the game to win this easy match played for a crown? And shall I now give o’er the yielded set? No, no, on my soul, it never shall be said.
  • PANDULPH
  • You look but on the outside of this work.
  • DAUPHIN
  • Outside or inside, I will not return till my attempt so much be glorified to win renown even in the jaws of danger and of death.
  • A trumpet sounds. The Bastard enters.
  • BASTARD
  • According to the fair play of the world, let me have audience. I am sent to speak, my holy lord of Milan, from the King. I come to learn how you have dealt with him.
  • PANDULPH
  • The Dauphin flatly says he’ll not lay down his arms.
  • BASTARD
  • By all the blood that ever fury breathed, now hear our English king, for his royalty doth speak in me.
  •  
  •  
  • Bastard to Dauphin
  •  
  • The king is prepared to strip this dwarfish
  • War from his lands, smiling at the apish
  • And unseemly approach, the unadvised
  • Reveling and unheard-of insolence
  • Shown by your boyish troops. He who chastised
  • You in your towns and counties doesn’t sense
  • You’ll find wished for renown. Like an eagle
  • That swoops down on an annoyance that’ll
  • Approach his nest, know that our monarch is
  • In arms, prepared to make your rebels heir
  • To eternal shame for believing ‘tis
  • Their right to be here in England. Each fair
  • Maiden warrior who trips after the drum
  • Will live with a spiteful disposition.
  • DAUPHIN
  • There end thy bravado and go away in peace. We grant thou canst out scold us. Fare thee well. We hold our time too precious to be spend with such a brabbler.
  • PANDULPH
  • Give me leave to speak.
  • BASTARD
  • No, I will speak.
  • DAUPHIN
  • We will attend to neither. Strike up the drums, and let the tongue of war plead for our interest and our being here.
  • BASTARD
  • Indeed, your drums being beaten will cry out, and so shall you, being beaten. At hand, not trusting to this halting legate here, is warlike John
  • DAUPHIN
  • Strike up our drums to find this danger out.
  • BASTARD
  • And thou shalt find it, Dauphin, do not doubt.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 3
  • King John and Hubert enter.
  • KING JOHN
  • How goes the day with us? O, tell me, Hubert.
  • HUBERT
  • Badly, I fear. How fares your Majesty?
  • KING JOHN
  • This fever that hath troubled me so long lies heavy on me.
  • A messenger enters.
  • MESSENGER
  • My lord, your valiant kinsman, Faulconbridge, desires your Majesty to leave the field and send him word by me which way you go.
  • KING JOHN
  • Tell him toward Swinstead, to the abbey there.
  • MESSENGER
  • Be of good comfort, for the great supply that was expected by the Dauphin here are wracked three nights ago on Goodwin Sands. The French fight coldly and retire themselves.
  • KING JOHN
  • Ay me, this tyrant fever burns me up and will not let me welcome this good news. Set on toward Swinstead. I am faint.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 4
  • Salisbury, Pembroke and Bigot enter.
  • SALISBURY
  • I did not think the king so supplied with friends.
  • PEMBROKE
  • Put spirit in the French. If they are destroyed, we too are destroyed.
  • SALISBURY
  • That misbegotten devil, Faulconbridge, in spite of spite, upholds the day.
  • PEMBROKE
  • They say King John, sore sick, hath left the field.
  • A wounded Melun enters.
  • MELUN
  • Lead me to the rebels of England here.
  • SALISBURY
  • When we were happy, we had other names.
  • PEMBROKE
  • It is the Count Melun.
  • SALISBURY
  • Wounded to death.
  • MELUN
  • Fly, noble English; you are betrayed. Seek out King John and fall before his feet, for if the French be lords of this loud day, the Dauphin means to recompense the pains you take by cutting off your heads.
  • SALISBURY
  • May this be true?
  •  
  •  
  • Melun to Salisbury
  •  
  • I hold what’s left of life as if it were
  • A statue of wax losing his figure
  • ‘Gainst the fire. What would make me now deceive
  • Since I must lose the profit of deceit?
  • Why should I be false since I must soon leave
  • Here for heaven since I cannot defeat
  • Death; to live in the hereafter by truth?
  • If Louis wins the day, I say in sooth,
  • He hath sworn those eyes of yours shall never
  • Again behold the break of day. I yield,
  • For my grandsire was an Englishman. Sir,
  • Bear me from the din of the battlefield
  • Where I may part this shell where less doth stir
  • And quietly contemplate my future.
  • SALISBURY
  • My arm shall give thee help to bear thee hence, for I do see the cruel pangs of death right in thine eye. Away, my friends! New flight, and happy newness, that maintains old right.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 5
  • Louis, the Dauphin and his entourage enter.
  • DAUPHIN
  • The sun of heaven, it seemed to me, was loath to set, but stayed and made the western sky blush, when English traversed backward their own ground in faint retreat.
  • A messenger enters.
  • DAUPHIN
  • What news?
  • MESSENGER
  • The Count Melun is slain. The English lords, by his persuasion, have withdrawn from allegiance, and your reinforcements, which you have wished so long, are cast away and sunk on Goodwin Sands.
  • DAUPHIN
  • Ah, foul, shrewd news. I did not think to be so sad tonight as this hath made me.
  • MESSENGER
  • Whoever spoke it, it is true, my lord.
  • DAUPHIN
  • Well, keep good watch, and good care tonight.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 6
  • The Bastard and Hubert enter separately.
  • HUBERT
  • Who’s there? Speak quickly, or I shoot.
  • BASTARD
  • A friend. What art thou?
  • HUBERT
  • Of the English side.
  • BASTARD
  • Whither dost thou go?
  • HUBERT
  • What’s that to thee?
  • BASTARD
  • Hubert, I think?
  • HUBERT
  • Thou hast a perfect thought.
  • BASTARD
  • Who thou wilt. An if you please, I come one way of the Plantagenets.
  • HUBERT
  • Unkind remembrance! Thou and endless night have done me shame.
  • BASTARD
  • Come, come. What news abroad?
  • HUBERT
  • O my sweet sir, news fitting to the night, black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible.
  • BASTARD
  • Show me the very wound of this ill news.
  • HUBERT
  • The king, I fear, is poisoned by a monk.
  • BASTARD
  • Who did taste to him?
  • HUBERT
  • A monk, I tell you, a resolved villain. The king yet speaks and perhaps may recover.
  • BASTARD
  • Who didst thou leave to tend his Majesty?
  • HUBERT
  • Why, know you not? The lords are all come back, and brought Prince Henry in their company, at whose request the king hath pardoned them, and they are all about his Majesty.
  • BASTARD
  • Conduct me to the king. I doubt he will be dead before I come.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 7
  • Prince Henry, Salisbury and Bigot enter.
  • PRINCE HENRY
  • It is too late. The life of all his blood and his pure brain doth, by the idle commends that it makes, foretell the ending of mortality.
  • Pembroke enters.
  • PEMBROKE
  • His Highness yet doth speak.
  • PRINCE HENRY
  • Let him be brought into the orchard here.
  • Bigot exits.
  • PEMBROKE
  • He is more patient than when you left him.
  • PRINCE HENRY
  • O vanity of sickness! The most intense agonies, as they continue, are no longer felt by those who suffer them. His siege is now against the mind.
  • SALISBURY
  • Be of good comfort, prince, for you are born to set a form upon that chaos which he hath left so shapeless and so rude.
  • King John is brought in.
  • KING JOHN
  • Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow-room. I am a scribbled form drawn with a pen upon a parchment, and against this condition do I shrink up.
  • PRINCE HENRY
  • How fares your Majesty?
  • KING JOHN
  • Poisoned. I do not ask you much.
  • PRINCE HENRY
  • O, that there were some virtue in my tears that might relieve you!
  • KING JOHN
  • The salt in them is hot.
  • Bastard enters.
  • BASTARD
  • O, I am scalded with my violent motion and spleen of speed to see your Majesty.
  • KING JOHN
  • O cousin, thou art come to close my eyes.
  • BASTARD
  • The Dauphin is preparing to come this way. In the night the greater part of my forces were in the Washes all unwarily devoured by the unexpected flood.
  • King John dies.
  • SALISBURY
  • You breathe these dead news in as dead an ear. But now a king, now this.
  • PRINCE HENRY
  • Even so must I run on, and even to stop. What hope, what support, when this was now a king and now is clay?
  • BASTARD
  • Art thou gone so? I do but stay behind to do the office for thee of revenge. Immediately let us seek, or immediately we shall be sought; the Dauphin rages at our very heels.
  • SALISBURY
  • It seems you know not, then, so much as we. The Cardinal Pandulph, who half an hour since came from the Dauphin, and brings from him such offers of our peace to leave this war.
  • BASTARD
  • He will the rather do it when he sees ourselves strong to our defense.
  • SALISBURY
  • Nay, ‘tis in a manner done already. If you think it suitable, this afternoon go in haste to consummate this business happily.
  • BASTARD
  • Let it be so. Any you, my noble prince, shall wait upon your father’s funeral.
  • PRINCE HENRY
  • At Worcester must his body be interred. For so he willed it.
  • BASTARD
  • Thither shall it, then and happily may your sweet self put on the lineal state and glory of the land. With all submission on my knee I do bequeath my faithful services and true subjection everlastingly.
  • He kneels. Salisbury, Pembroke and Bigot kneel.
  • PRINCE HENRY
  • I have a kind soul that would give you thanks and knows not how to do it but with tears.
  • They rise.
  • BASTARD
  • This England never did nor never shall lie at the proud foot of a conqueror but when it first did help to wound itself.
  • They exit, bearing the body of King John.

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