In “Henry IV: The Mystery of a Headless King,” authors Stephane Gabet and Philippe Charlier claim to have solved the enduring enigma of what happened to the king’s remains — specifically, his head. They insist that a mummified head found five years ago in a box in the attic of a retired tax collector, Jacques Bellanger, is that of Henri.
After his death on May 14, 1610, Henry IV was buried with previous kings in the Saint Denis basilica outside Paris. In 1793, French revolutionaries dug up his remains and tossed them unceremoniously into a mass grave.
The fates of the wives can be remembered as "Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived."
King Henry the Eighth in his youth was much like William Shakespeare's description of — he was much more interested in arms and armor, swordplay, jousting, hunting, and women than in kingship.
King Henry IV, Part I Characters Analysis features noted Shakespeare scholar William Hazlitt's famous critical essay about the characters of
The exemplar rulers who display a distinct awareness of humanity and its necessity all suffer from a failure within the play. First of all, Falstaff comes to represent humanity through his comedic everyman persona claiming "If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked." Moreover, he displays a relatable multitude of flaws but accepts them stating "Tis no sin for a man to labour in his vocation." He uses these natural foibles to carve his own niche as the ruler of the world of the tavern. In turn he brings Hal under his wing and grants him access to the lower strata of Elizabethan society in Eastcheap. From this he learns to drink with "any tinker in his own language" thus displaying a common touch. However, this quality is disparaged by King Henry as symptomatic of Richard II, the "skipping" King, who was usurped by popular pressure and the current King's own manoeuvring. The transformation of Hal from wastrel to "so sweet a hope" for England revolves around his acceptance of royal duties and a touch with the commoners of the tavern. At first he believes "he shall command all the good lads in Eastcheap" but the urgings of Falstaff for him to "practise an answer" lead him to "banish" this part of society for the sake of his own rule. Falstaff attempts to sway him back from this position of emotional poverty, imploring him, partly out of self-interest, not to cut all ties with him: "banish plump Jack, and banish all the world." This apparent dichotomy between royalty and humanity is the crux of Hal's struggle as he moves from being a "degenerate" to the King the audience expects to see at Agincourt.
Of the other prominent passages, his account of his pretended resistance to the robbers, "who grew from four men in buckram into eleven" as the imagination of his own valour increased with his relating it, his getting off when the truth is discovered by pretending he knew the Prince, the scene in which in the person of the old king he lectures the Prince and gives himself a good character, the soliloquy on honour, and description of his new-raised recruits, his meeting with the chief justice, his abuse of the Prince and Poins, who overhear him, to Doll Tearsheet, his reconciliation with Mrs. Quickly who has arrested him for an old debt, and whom he persuades to pawn her plate to lend him ten pounds more, and the scenes with Shallow and Silence, are all inimitable. Of all of them, the scene in which Falstaff plays the part, first, of the King, and then of Prince Henry, is the one that has been the most often quoted. We must quote it once more in illustration of our remarks.
"Falstaff, But, Hal, I pr'ythee trouble me no more with
vanity. I would to God thou and I knew where a com-
modity of good names were to be bought: an old lord of
council rated me the other day in the street about you, sir;
but I mark'd him not, and yet he talked very wisely, and
in the street too.
P. Henry. Thou didst well, for wisdom cries out in the
street, and no man regards it.
Falstaff. O, thou hast damnable iteration, and art indeed
able to corrupt a saint. Thou hast done much harm unto
me, Hal; God forgive thee for it. Before I knew thee,
Hal, I knew nothing, and now I am, if a man should speak
truly, little better than one of the wicked. I must give over
this life, and I will give it over, by the Lord; an I do not,
I am a villain. I'll be damned for never a king's son in
P. Henry. Where shall we take a purse to-morrow, Jack?
Falstaff. Where thou wilt, lad, I'll make one ; an I do
not, call me villain, and baffle me.
P. Henry. I see good amendment of life in thee, from
praying to purse-taking.
Falstaff. Why, Hal, 'tis my vocation, Hal. 'Tis no sin
for a man to labour in his vocation."
King Henry VIII, however, was no longer a young man; he had become corpulent, and an old wound in his leg had never healed but remained an oozing sore — hardly the romantic ideal for a young woman.
"Falstaff. Harry, I do not only marvel where thou spendest thy time, but also how thou art accompanied: for though the camomile, the more it is trodden on, the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears. That thou art my son, I have partly thy mother's word, partly my own opinion; but chiefly, a villainous trick of thine eye, and a foolish hanging of thy nether lip, that doth warrant me. If then thou be son to me, here lies the point;Why, being son to me, art thou so pointed at? Shall the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher, and eat blackberries? A question not to be ask'd. Shall the son of England prove a thief, and take purses? a question not to be ask'd. There is a thing, Harry, which thou hast often heard of, and it is known to many in our land by the name of pitch: this pitch, as ancient writers do report, doth defile; so doth the company thou keepest: for, Harry, now I do not speak to thee in drink, but in tears; not in pleasure, but in passion; not in words only, but in woes also:and yet there is a virtuous man, whom I have often noted in thy company, but I know not his name.
P. Henry. What manner of man, an it like your majesty?
Falstaff. A goodly portly man, i'faith, and a corpulent; of a cheerful look, a pleasing eye, and a most noble carriage; and, as I think, his age some fifty, or, by'r-lady, inclining to threescore; and now I do remember me, his name is Falstaff: if that man should be lewdly given, he deceiveth me; for, Harry, I see virtue in his looks. If then the fruit may be known by the tree, as the tree by the fruit, then peremptorily I speak it, there is virtue in that Falstaff: him keep with, the rest banish. And tell me now, thou naughty varlet, tell me, where hast thou been this month?
P. Henry. Dost thou speak like a king? Do thou stand for me, and I'll play my father.
Falstaff. Depose me? if thou dost it half so gravely, so majestically, both in word and matter, hang me up by the heels for a rabbit-sucker or a poulterer's hare.
P. Henry. Well, here I am set.
Falstaff. And here I stand:judge, my masters.
P. Henry. Now, Harry, whence come you?
Falstaff. My noble lord, from Eastcheap.
P. Henry. The complaints I hear of thee are grievous.
Falstaff. S'blood, my lord, they are false:nay, I'll tickle ye for a young prince, i'faith.
P. Henry. Swearest thou, ungracious boy? henceforth ne'er look on me. Thou art violently carried away from grace: there is a devil haunts thee, in the likeness of a fat old man; a tun of man is thy companion. Why dost thou converse with that trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swoln parcel of dropsies, that huge bom-bard of sack, that stuft cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manning-tree ox with the pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years? wherein is he good, but to taste sack and drink it? wherein neat and cleanly, but to carve a capon and eat it? wherein cunning, but in craft? wherein crafty, but in villainy? wherein villainous, but in all things? wherein worthy, but in nothing?
Falstaff. I would, your grace would take me with you;
whom means your grace?
P. Henry. That villainous, abominable mis-leader of
youth, Falstaff, that old white-bearded Satan.
Falstaff. My lord, the man I know.
P. Henry. I know thou dost.
Falstaff. But to say, I know more harm in him than in myself, were to say more than I know. That he is old (the more the pity) his white hairs do witness it: but that he is (saving your reverence) a whore-master, that I utterly deny. If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked! if to be old and merry be a sin, then many an old host that I know is damned: if to be fat be to be hated, then Pharaoh's lean kine are to be loved. No, my good lord; banish Peto, banish Bardolph, banish Poins: but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant, being as he is, old Jack Falstaff, banish not him thy Harry's company; banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.
P. Henry. I do, I will.
[Knocking; and Hostess and Bardolph go out.
One of the topics of exulting superiority over others most common in Sir John's mouth is his corpulence and the exterior marks of good living which he carries about him, thus "turning his vices into commodity." He accounts for the friend-ship between the Prince and Poins, from "their legs being both of a bigness," and compares Justice Shallow to "a man made after supper of a cheese-paring." There cannot be a more striking grada-tion of character than that between Falstaff and Shallow, and Shallow and Silence. It seems diffi-cult at first to fall lower than the squire; but this fool, great as he is, finds an admirer and humble foil in his cousin Silence. Vain of his acquaintance with Sir John, who makes a-butt of him, he exclaims, "Would, cousin Silence, that thou had'st seen that which this knight and I have seen!"-" Aye, Master Shallow, we have heard the chimes at midnight," says Sir John. To Falstaff's observation, "I did not think Master Silence had been a man of this mettle," Silence answers, "Who, I? I have been merry twice and once ere now." What an idea is here conveyed of a prodigality of living? What good husbandry and economical self-denial in his pleasures? What a stock of lively recollections? It is curious that Shakespear has ridiculed in Justice Shallow, who was "in some authority under the king," that disposition to unmeaning tautology which is the regal infirmity of later times, and which, it may be supposed, he acquired from talking to his cousin Silence, and receiving no answers.