Act III of Henry VI Part One begins in Parliament with Gloucester and the Bishop of Winchester bickering much as they did in the first act. Only now, Gloucester says that Winchester is his illegitimate uncle, the product of his grandfather’s indiscretion. Somerset seems to be sympathetic to Winchester and we know already that he is of the red rose faction, meaning Richard Plantagenet will be on Gloucester’s side. The young king pipes up and scolds Winchester for being a jerk and that’s when I realized that Henry had gone from being a baby to a young king who has some agency. I have no idea how much time has gone by between acts, but it seems considerable. Anyway, the argument continues to heat up and outside, the followers of Winchester and Gloucester are making a ruckus. Turns out that since they have been denied any weapons, they are having a good-old-fashioned rock fight. You know, just like little kids. Eventually, the king persuades Winchester to call off his men, and the gang gets down to the business of ennobling Richard Plantagenet once again. He is now the Duke of York and seems to be publicly allied with Henry, though I have to wonder if that relationship will eventually sour as Richard’s aspirations to the throne take hold.
The next scene is at Rouen where Joan is sneaking into the city to open the gates for the Dauphin and his army to stroll in and take it away from the English. Her plan, such as it is, works, and Talbot is furious that his city was taken so easily. He fights back and Joan and Charles are expelled almost immediately after taking the city. Joan tells the Dauphin not to worry, it’s a minor setback. She then tells Charles her plan to get the Duke of Burgundy to switch sides and abandon Talbot to come work for the French. As Burgundy is travelling to Paris for Henry’s French coronation, Joan & Co. stop him to parley. He tells them to make it snappy and Joan tells him he’s a Frenchman first, so he should come fight for the French rather than the foreign occupation. Burgundy says sure, tell him more. Joan says he’ll never be more than a lackey to the English. Burgundy says she’s right and leaves Talbot forthwith. I can’t say Joan’s persuasiveness is on display as written, so I’m assuming the acting will showcase how good she is at talking Burgundy into betraying his comrade-in-arms after a two minute parley.
In Paris, Henry and the other noblemen have gathered at the palace for the coronation. Talbot welcomes young Henry to France and Henry is so impressed by the old campaigner that he makes him the Earl of Shrewsbury on the spot. I wonder if Shrewsbury is a nice place to Earl over. Also present at the proceedings are Vernon and Bassett, partisans of Plantagenet and Somerset, respectively. They start arguing during the coronation, making their bosses look bad. Vernon goes so far as to slap Bassett, who then promises to convince the king to let him hit back. It all feels so very petty.
Now that Henry is king in both England and France, will the pressures from within tear the kingdom apart even while Joan and Charles are attempting the same from without? Or will Henry lead his people to peace and prosperity? Probably not the latter, I’m guessing.