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Displaying the bold vision and growing skill of a young playwright, these are Shakespeare's first three history plays, covering some sixty tumultuous years of English history. Their pageantry, violence, and stirring speeches excite audiences with action as well as character, and midway through the final play in this trilogy, a shocking, clever, inimitably evil new voice is heard-that of Richard of Gloucester, destined to become England's most fearsome and hated ruler of all time, Richard III.After Henry V's death and while Henry VI is young, nobles rule England and fight the French, including Joan of Arc. As Henry VI becomes King, the noble houses begin to divide and take sides between York and Lancaster. The war with France winds down, and the nobles try to find Henry a wife and disagree about who Henry chooses. Against the wishes of the nobles, King Henry marries the penniless Margaret who plots against him with her lover. As tensions between York and Lancaster build, the Duke of York gathers supporters for his claim to the throne. York secretly leads a rebellion, his supporters proclaim him king, and Henry is forced to flee.After York's claims to the throne, Henry changes the succession and makes York his heir, disinheriting his own son. Henry's queen kills York, and York's son Edward seizes the throne. Henry is imprisoned several times and eventually killed by King Edward's brother, Richard.Westminster Abbey.Dead March. Enter the Funeral of KING HENRY the Fifth, attended on by Dukes of BEDFORD, Regent of France; GLOUCESTER, Protector; and EXETER, Earl of WARWICK, the BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, Heralds, etc.BEDFORDHung be the heavens with black, yield day to night Comets, importing change of times and states, Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky, And with them scourge the bad revolting stars That have consented unto Henry's death King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.GLOUCESTEREngland ne'er had a king until his time. Virtue he had, deserving to command: His brandish'd sword did blind men with his beams: His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings; His sparking eyes, replete with wrathful fire, More dazzled and drove back his enemies Than mid-day sun fierce bent against their faces. What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech: He ne'er lift up his hand but conquered.EXETERWe mourn in black: why mourn we not in blood? Henry is dead and never shall revive: Upon a wooden coffin we attend, And death's dishonourable victory We with our stately presence glorify, Like captives bound to a triumphant car. What shall we curse the planets of mishap That plotted thus our glory's overthrow? Or shall we think the subtle-witted French Conjurers and sorcerers, that afraid of him By magic verses have contrived his end? BISHOPOF WINCHESTERHe was a king bless'd of the King of kings. Unto the French the dreadful judgement-day So dreadful will not be as was his sight. The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought: The church's prayers made him so prosperous.GLOUCESTERThe church where is it? Had not churchmen pray'd, His thread of life had not so soon decay'd: None do you like but an effeminate prince, Whom, like a school-boy, you may over-awe. BISHOPOF WINCHESTERGloucester, whate'er we like, thou art protector And lookest to command the prince and realm. Thy wife is proud; she holdeth thee in awe, More than God or religious churchmen may.