Act IV sees Henry crowned as king of France in Paris. Immediately after the coronation ceremony, he learns Burgundy has switched sides, so Talbot is dispatched to deal with the traitor. Vernon and Bassett, the partisans who want to fight each other in the name of their respective roses, arrive and demand satisfaction from the king. Henry tells the gang he’s got enough problems in France, he doesn’t need this headache at home as well. As a demonstration of his inclusiveness, he wears a red rose and puts the Duke of York in charge of France, ordering his rival Somerset to join forces with him. York chafes at the fact that the king wore Somerset’s rose, but wisely holds his tongue.
The rest of the act is pretty violent, with Talbot attempting to take Bordeaux for England, only to find the Dauphin and Joan hot on his heels with a superior force. York can’t give him any support because Somerset still hasn’t sent the promised reinforcements. Somerset won’t send his troops to York because he claims the plan proposed by the white rose is too weak and his troops would all perish. In the meantime, Talbot is trying to hold out against a much larger army. His son arrives in the middle of the fray and father and son spend a scene-and-a-half arguing over which one of them should turn tail and run from the battle. Guess what? They’re both too honorable to run away, so they both stay and fight. The son dies in the father’s arms after a particularly violent skirmish with the French. Talbot, hero of the age, dies of heartbreak with his dead son in his arms. The French arrive and Charles exclaims how lucky it is that Talbot didn’t get any help from his countrymen because the English surely would have won then. An English nobleman enters to inquire about the fate of Lord Talbot. Joan laughs and points at the body saying, “…Stinking and fly-blown lies here at our feet”. I mean, dang Joan! You didn’t have to like the guy, but a little respect for the dead, please.
Next time, the thrilling conclusion to Henry VI Part One!