Course Hero Logo

Henry IV, Part 2 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Henry IV, Part 2 Study Guide." Course Hero. 16 Oct. 2017. Web. 31 Jan. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, October 16). Henry IV, Part 2 Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Henry IV, Part 2 Study Guide." October 16, 2017. Accessed January 31, 2023.


Course Hero, "Henry IV, Part 2 Study Guide," October 16, 2017, accessed January 31, 2023,

Henry IV, Part 2 | Act 1, Scene 1 | Summary



Lord Bardolph arrives at the earl of Northumberland's castle in what is likely Warkworth to relay news of the battle of Shrewsbury. He tells Northumberland the rebels were victorious, Hotspur killed Prince Hal, and King Henry was gravely wounded. He himself didn't see the battle, but he heard this from a gentleman.

Northumberland's servant, Travers, arrives bearing different news. He tells Northumberland that Hotspur failed and the rebels were defeated by the king's army. Lord Bardolph does not believe this account and even offers to give up his lands if he's wrong. Lord Morton backs Travers's version of events. He's come straight from the battlefield and saw for himself the rebels' defeat and Hotspur's death.

Northumberland is upset over the death of his son and vows vengeance against the king and the prince. Lords Bardolph and Morton remind Northumberland that the archbishop of York still has a sizable rebel army and needs his help. Moreover, the archbishop is using the murder of Richard II as a religious call to rebellion. Northumberland agrees to ally with York.


Rumor's foreshadowing in the Induction pays off in Act 1, Scene 1. Northumberland assumes that Hotspur has died even before hearing about it. Instead Lord Bardolph enters spouting false news that he didn't bother to corroborate himself. Northumberland is slow to believe it, but Bardolph is very insistent, suggesting that perception, in this play, is as powerful as truth.

Travers and then Lord Morton deliver the truth of Hotspur's defeat at the hands of Prince Hal. The language Morton uses is full of visual cues, driving home the battle and loss. Shakespeare uses beat down, earth, heavy, dead, spiritless, and other words to drive home the idea of death and loss. Such language and imagery also serve to attack Northumberland with the death of his son.

At the end of the scene, Morton speaks to Northumberland about the archbishop of York's plans for rebellion. Shakespeare via Morton brings up the history that led to these rebellions, with which a Renaissance English audience would have been familiar. The history plays rely on the audience's knowledge of the rebellions, and even with earlier plays in the series. Henry IV, Part 1 is a sequel to Richard II, which shows just how Henry Bolingbroke became King Henry IV. He rebelled against the unpopular King Richard II and overthrew him, sending him to prison where he was later murdered.

Lord Morton brings up Richard's death as the reason for the archbishop's rebellion now. He asserts that it is Henry IV's murder of Richard II that makes him a false king, and this is why they must rebel. Henry IV is not the true king. This justification is used frequently in Henry IV, Part 2. The Wars of the Roses started, in part, because there were multiple figures with viable claims to the throne of England.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Henry IV, Part 2? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!