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The play begins with the victory of the first battle of St. Albans on
May 22, 1455 by Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York. This is
depicted in the final sequence of Henry VI, Part II. After winning
the first battle of St. Albans, York goes straight to London's
Houses of Parliament and proclaims himself the lawful heir to the
throne. King Henry is compelled to acknowledge York as heir to
the crown in 1460. He disinherits his own son and agrees to give
the sons of York the right to the throne although he must reign as
King during his lifetime. York's sons Edward and Richard
persuade their father to go back on his oath and claim the throne by
force, which he does but a battle ensues and York is defeated and
killed at the battle of York. The Yorkists are defeated again at the
second battle of St. Albans in 1461, but the Lancastrians then
withdraw north, while York's eldest son Edward is proclaimed
King in London.
The next month, Edward marches northwards and wins the battle
of Towton. This victory establishes him on the throne and Henry
takes refuge in Scotland. His son and wife go into exile in France.
Henry is captured again and brought to the Tower of London, and
imprisoned. He is restored to the throne by the 'Kingmaker'
Warwick, who is enraged with the news that Edward by his own
desire has made a private marriage with the widow Elizabeth Lady
Grey, while Warwick was abroad negotiating for the hand of a
French Princess for the new king. In April 1471, after losing the
battle of Barnet, in which Warwick is killed, Henry falls into the
hands of Edward again. Queen Margaret is defeated by Edward's
younger brother, Richard of Gloucester, at the battle of
Tewkesbury the next month. Henry is recommitted to the Tower
where on the night of Edward's return, he is murdered by Richard.
The sequence ends with the birth of Edward's young son, later
Edward V. The reign is a pattern of disorder, a mirror on the
dynastic strife centered on personal ambition rather than any desire
for political reform.
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