Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
This scene introduces the Princess of France and her three attending ladies: Rosaline, Maria, and Katherine. They are accompanied by three escorting lords, one of whom is named Boyet. Boyet takes it upon himself to tell the Princess how to conduct herself while in the court at Navarre, keeping in mind her status as a noble princess and the King of Navarre's status as the "sole inheritor/of all perfections that a man may owe." He reminds her that she is not here to seek love, but to take back some land given to the King by her father as payment for a loan. To encourage her on her mission, Boyet praises her beauty excessively. She grows impatient with him and sends him to find out whether her entourage will be able to gain admittance to the King since she has heard about the new statutes concerning women in the court.
Once Boyet has left the ladies alone, the Princess gently mocks the notorious vows of the men at Navarre and inquires from her ladies who besides the King has agreed to the oath. The three ladies reveal that Biron, Dumain, and Longaville have agreed to the vows; they also admit their warm feelings for the three lords. Maria is partial to Longaville, describing how she met him at a marriage feast in Normandy. To her, Longaville, although willful and controlling, is a "man of sovereign parts" and "well fitted in arts." Katherine prefers Dumain, whom she has seen at the Duke of Alencon's. Rosaline names Biron as her choice and lists all his strengths and talents. The Princess is incredulous at the lofty words she hears and states that her friends must all be in love since they have "garnished" the lords with such high praise.
Boyet enters with the news that the King intends to honor his vow and not allow his female visitors to stay in the court. The King, however, arrives with his three lords, welcomes the princess, and greets her with praise. The princess, annoyed that she has been made to wait at the gates of Navarre, points out that she has not been made to feel welcome and does not approve of superficial praise. The King, in light of her obvious irritability, somewhat falteringly goes on to explain the present situation and attempts to excuse his discourtesy. The princess cuts him short, asking him to resolve the business between them so that she may take her leave.
While the King peruses the contents of the document handed to him, Biron takes the opportunity to renew his acquaintance with Rosaline, but is rebuffed by her. Having read the parchment, the King explains to the princess that he is unable to surrender Aquitaine since he has not received the entire payment for it and is still owed "a hundred thousand crowns". The princess claims to have proof of the payment, but the crucial document is not in her possession. Until she can prove her claim, the King will not return the land. As a result, she is compelled to stay in Navarre until her business is completed, even though she is perturbed with the King.
Biron tries once again to interest Rosaline in conversation, but she proves too sharp-witted for him. He is finally forced to leave, following the King, Longaville, and Dumain, who have already exited. As Biron exits, Dumain re-enters, questioning Boyet about the identity of Katherine. As he leaves again, Longaville enters and inquires about Maria. Biron is the last to return with an inquiry, and is overjoyed to find that Rosaline is as yet unmarried. When the ladies are finally left alone with Boyet, he tells the princess that the King has fallen in love with her. The Princess dismisses Boyet's comment before they all exit.