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Henry VI, Part 2 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry VI, Part 2 | Characters

Character Description
King Henry VI King Henry is a mild and pious ruler who is ill-equipped to solve England's problems; he is caught off guard by York's attempt to seize the throne. Read More
Queen Margaret Queen Margaret, the daughter of a French nobleman, is married to King Henry as part of a truce between England and France; in many respects she is the real power behind the throne, enlisting the help of her lover Suffolk to quash their political enemies. Read More
Duke of Gloucester Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, is King Henry's uncle and Lord Protector of England; he resigns his post early in the play and is murdered soon afterward. Read More
Duchess of Gloucester The Duchess of Gloucester despises Queen Margaret and dreams of seizing the crown for herself; she foolishly enlists the help of magicians and is banished for dabbling in the occult. Read More
Duke of York Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, is the main adversary to King Henry; he sees himself as the rightful ruler of England, though he keeps this opinion largely to himself until the final act of the play. Read More
Jack Cade Jack Cade is a Kentishman who leads a popular uprising against King Henry; he is the dominant character of Act 4 but dies an ignoble death in that act's final scene. Read More
Duke of Suffolk The Duke of Suffolk seeks to gain control of the English throne through his lover, Queen Margaret; his plans are thwarted when he is banished for the murder of Gloucester. Read More
Beadle The Beadle of Saint Albans is a minor church official who punishes Sander Simpcox for pretending to be handicapped.
Cardinal Beaufort Cardinal Beaufort is the great-uncle of King Henry and a powerful churchman; he colludes with Suffolk in murdering Gloucester but then dies of a sudden and terrible disease.
Bevis Bevis is one of the workingmen who support Jack Cade.
Roger Bolingbroke Roger Bolingbroke is a conjurer who helps to perform the spirit-summoning ceremony on behalf of the Duchess of Gloucester; he is later sentenced to hanging for his occult dealings.
Duke of Buckingham The Duke of Buckingham is a supporter of King Henry against the Duke of York; he harbors an ambition to be Lord Protector and plays a part in Gloucester's downfall.
Clerk of Chartham The Clerk of Chartham is a learned man who has the misfortune to cross paths with Jack Cade; he is sentenced to hanging for the crime of being able to read and write.
First citizen Citizens appear as "extras" in Act 4 during Jack Cade's march on London; the first citizen, who alone has a speaking role, informs Lord Scales of the battle's progress.
Lord Clifford Lord Clifford is a loyal supporter of King Henry; he negotiates a pardon for Jack Cade's rebels but is then killed at the Battle of Saint Albans.
Dick Dick the butcher is one of Jack Cade's more prominent followers; he is promised a great reward for his role in the rebellion.
Edward Edward, Earl of March, is the elder son of the Duke of York; he plays only a minor role in Part 2 but will be crowned Edward IV at the very end of the trilogy.
First gentleman The first gentleman is one of the Englishmen captured by pirates in Act 4; he is set free to collect ransom for the others and takes Suffolk's body with him.
Second gentleman The second gentleman, like the First, is seized by the same pirates who capture Suffolk; he is held for ransom, and his ultimate fate is left unstated.
Holland Holland is another of the workingmen who join Jack Cade in his uprising; although he supports Cade he does not mind making jokes behind his leader's back.
Thomas Horner Thomas Horner, armorer to the Duke of York, is accused by his apprentice Peter Thump of calling King Henry a usurper; only after he is mortally wounded in a duel does he admit to making this seditious remark.
Sir John Hume Sir John Hume is a priest hired by the Duchess of Gloucester to arrange a spirit-summoning ritual on her behalf; what the duchess does not realize is that Hume is a double agent, working to implicate her in criminal activity.
Alexander Iden Alexander Iden is a Kentish gentleman who kills the fugitive Jack Cade in a sword fight; he presents Cade's head to King Henry and is rewarded with a knighthood.
Lieutenant The lieutenant is the captain of the pirate ship that captures Suffolk; he grows tired of Suffolk's posturing and orders the nobleman's execution.
Man The unnamed man of Saint Albans announces the "miracle" that occurs while King Henry and his entourage are visiting; he brings word that Sander Simpcox, a blind man, has been blessed with sight.
Margery Jourdain Margery Jourdain is a witch who assists in summoning a spirit for the Duchess of Gloucester; she is arrested and later sentenced to burning at the stake.
Messengers Messengers appear throughout Henry VI, Part 1 to report on offstage action; they show up frequently in Act 4 to update the audience on the course of Jack Cade's rebellion.
Michael Michael, a follower of Jack Cade, appears only in Act 4, Scene 2; he informs Cade that the Staffords' army is approaching.
First murderer The first murderer is one of the men who kills Gloucester; he comes across as colder and more calculating than his accomplice.
Second murderer The second murderer assists in the killing of Gloucester in Act 3; unlike the First Murderer he displays remorse for having killed the duke.
Neighbors Three neighbors of Thomas Horner appear as a group in Act 2, Scene 3; they goad Horner into drinking heavily before his fight with Peter Thump.
First petitioner The first petitioner mistakes Suffolk for the Duke of Gloucester; he asks for Suffolk's help in a domestic dispute.
Second petitioner The second petitioner brings a complaint on behalf of his entire town; unfortunately for him the complaint is against Suffolk, and Queen Margaret tears up the petition.
Post The post is a messenger who brings news of the rebellion in Ireland; he appears only in Act 3, Scene 1.
Prentices Three apprentices (i.e., "prentices") appear at the duel between Peter Thump and Thomas Horner; they toast their friend Peter and wish him luck in the fight.
Richard Richard, younger son of the Duke of York, appears in Act 5 just long enough to take part in the Battle of Saint Albans; he plays a much more prominent role in Part 3 and gets his own play in Richard III.
Earl of Salisbury The Earl of Salisbury is an elderly nobleman who pledges his loyalty to the Duke of York early in the play; despite his advanced age he fights for the Yorkist cause in the Battle of Saint Albans.
Lord Saye Lord Saye is targeted for assassination by Jack Cade's rebels; despite the danger to himself he remains in London rather than fleeing alongside King Henry.
Lord Scales Lord Scales is one of King Henry's defenders during Jack Cade's rebellion; he appears only in Act 4, Scene 5 where he is supervising the defense of the Tower of London.
Sheriff The sheriff escorts the Duchess of Gloucester through her penitential procession; he then releases her to the custody of Sir John Stanley.
Sander Simpcox Sander Simpcox, a poor resident of Saint Albans, appears as comic relief in Act 2; he pretends to have been cured of blindness, but Gloucester sees through his ruse.
Smith Smith the weaver is one of Jack Cade's rebels; like Dick the butcher, Smith amuses himself by making crude jokes at Cade's expense.
Duke of Somerset The Duke of Somerset is a supporter of King Henry and a bitter enemy of the Duke of York; his death in Act 5 is a serious blow to the king's faction.
John Southwell John Southwell is a priest who assists at the Duchess of Gloucester's summoning ceremony; he is arrested and hanged for his role in the ritual.
Spirit The spirit is summoned by conjurers at the instigation of the Duchess of Gloucester; it gives cryptic answers to questions about the fate of England's nobility.
Sir Humphrey Stafford Sir Humphrey Stafford leads the army that is sent out to subdue Jack Cade and his rebels; he is killed in the clash with Cade's forces.
William Stafford Sir Humphrey Stafford's brother William joins him in a failed attempt to stop Jack Cade's rebellion; like Humphrey he is killed in combat.
Sir John Stanley Sir John Stanley is charged with escorting the Duchess of Gloucester to the Isle of Man, where she has been banished; he promises the duke that he will treat the duchess kindly.
Peter Thump Peter Thump, an armorer's apprentice, comes to the palace claiming his employer Horner called the king a usurper; he is forced to prove his own innocence by combat with Horner.
Vaux Vaux appears in a single scene in Act 3, where he announces that the cardinal has fallen ill and is on his deathbed.
Walter Whitmore Walter Whitmore is one of the pirates who captures Suffolk en route to France; he decapitates Suffolk on the Lieutenant's orders.
Earl of Warwick The Earl of Warwick is Salisbury's son; like his father he pledges to support the Duke of York in his claim to the throne.
Wife The wife of Sander Simpcox attempts to corroborate his story about being miraculously restored to sight; she fails and is driven out of town alongside her husband.
Young Clifford Young Clifford is the son of Lord Clifford and, like his father, a supporter of King Henry; he vows revenge on the House of York after his father is killed in battle.
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