Henry VI, Part 3 | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry VI, Part 3 | Characters

Character Description
King Henry VI King Henry is the unfortunate monarch whose downfall forms the central plot of Henry VI, Part 3; unable or unwilling to lead, he inspires contempt in his enemies and pity—but not respect—in his loyal followers. Read More
Queen Margaret Queen Margaret is the wife of King Henry and the central figure of the Lancastrian faction. As her husband retreats further and further from the responsibilities of rule, Margaret picks up the slack, becoming a powerful if somewhat cruel military leader. Read More
Prince Edward Prince Edward is the son of King Henry and Queen Margaret, making him the heir to the English throne; after Henry is coerced into making the Duke of York his heir, Edward and his mother fight to restore the previous order of succession. Late in the play he is assassinated by the Yorkists at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Read More
Earl of Warwick The Earl of Warwick, known to posterity as the Kingmaker, is the Duke of York's principal support in his campaign against King Henry; he continues to support York's sons in the ongoing Wars of the Roses but shifts allegiances in Act 3 after a perceived slight from Edward IV. Read More
Duke of York Richard, Duke of York, is the rival claimant to the English throne when the play begins; he is slain at the Battle of Wakefield while attempting to repel the army of Queen Margaret. Read More
King Edward IV Edward is the eldest son of the Duke of York; after his father is killed at Wakefield, he inherits the dukedom and with it, his father's rival claim to the English throne. As King Edward IV, he is Henry's main antagonist for the latter half of the play. Read More
Richard Richard is the third son of the Duke of York; an outcast on account of his misshapen appearance, Richard is more than happy to take on the dirty work of murdering his rivals. Read More
Lady Bona Lady Bona is the sister-in-law to King Lewis XI of France; her planned marriage to Edward IV is broken off when Edward hastily marries Lady Grey instead.
Lord Clifford Moved to a rage by the death of his father of the same name, Lord Clifford vows vengeance on the entire House of York; he slays both Rutland and the Duke of York before being fatally wounded in battle.
Duke of Exeter The Duke of Exeter is a Lancastrian loyalist who, in Act 1, is briefly swayed by York's claim to be the lawful king; in Act 4 he is captured along with King Henry in Edward's surprise raid on the palace.
Father In the aftermath of the Battle of Towton, an unnamed father discovers he has killed his son; his loss symbolizes the human toll of the battle, the bloodiest of the war.
First gamekeeper The first gamekeeper is one of the two men who arrests the disguised King Henry and turns him over to King Edward's officers.
Second gamekeeper The second gamekeeper assists the first in capturing the deposed King Henry.
George George is the second son of the Duke of York; when his brother Edward becomes king, George is created Duke of Clarence. He shares Richard's concerns about Edward's impulsive nature and womanizing tendencies.
Lady Grey Lady Grey is a widow of knightly rank who resists Edward IV's attempts at seduction but then agrees to marry him; as wife of the king she becomes known as Queen Elizabeth. Late in the play she gives birth to Edward's heir, the future Edward V.
Lord Hastings Lord Hastings is one of Edward IV's most loyal supporters; unlike Edward's brothers, who openly criticize him, Hastings is something of a yes-man and defends the king's sometimes dubious decisions.
Huntsman The huntsman, who appears only in Act 4, is responsible for watching the captive King Edward as he takes his daily exercise; when Edward is rescued by his brother, the huntsman joins them rather than staying to be punished for his failure to guard the king.
King Lewis XI of France King Lewis XI—known outside the play as Louis—is the ruler of France throughout most of the Wars of the Roses; both the Earl of Warwick and Queen Margaret petition him for help in ending the conflict.
Lieutenant of the Tower The lieutenant is King Henry's chief jailer at the Tower of London; he treats the deposed king well and, when Henry is released, asks forgiveness for having imprisoned him.
Mayor of York The Mayor of York initially denies Edward entrance to his city but relents when Edward claims to be reconciled to King Henry.
First messenger The first messenger appears in Act 5, bearing news of the Duke of Oxford's approach.
Second messenger The second messenger also appears in Act 5, where he announces the approach of the Marquess of Montague's troops.
Marquess of Montague For most of the play, the Marquess of Montague is a supporter of the Yorkist cause; he undergoes an unexplained shift of loyalties in Act 4 and spends the rest of the play fighting on the Lancastrian side.
Sir John Montgomery Sir John Montgomery appears in a single scene in Act 4, where he raises an army on Edward IV's behalf in preparation for the Battle of Barnet.
Sir John Mortimer Sir John Mortimer is the uncle of the Duke of York; he fights on the Yorkist side at the Battle of Wakefield in Act 1.
Nobleman An unnamed nobleman appears in Act 3 to announce the capture of the deposed King Henry.
Duke of Norfolk The Duke of Norfolk is a leading Yorkist supporter, but he seldom appears onstage after Act 1.
Earl of Northumberland The Earl of Northumberland is one of King Henry's supporters, though his disgust with Henry's timidity nearly leads him to abandon the king; he later fights alongside Queen Margaret in her attempt to subdue the Yorkists.
Earl of Oxford The Earl of Oxford is a Lancastrian supporter who travels with Queen Margaret to France, then returns to England to fight the Yorkists; he is taken prisoner during the Battle of Tewkesbury in Act 5.
Post Postal messengers appear in multiple scenes; almost invariably their letters tell of a sudden reversal of fortune.
Henry, Earl of Richmond Henry, Earl of Richmond is a noble youth who first appears in Act 4; King Henry VI prophesies he will assume the throne one day. (He's right: after the events of Richard III the Earl of Richmond will accede as King Henry VII.)
Earl Rivers Earl Rivers is the brother of Lady Grey (later Queen Elizabeth); he appears in a single scene, where he asks his sister for news of the war between York and Lancaster.
Rutland Rutland is the youngest son of the Duke of York; a school-aged boy, he attempts to flee the Battle of Wakefield but is cut down by Lord Clifford.
Soldier Soldiers of various ranks appear throughout the play, but only one has a speaking role; he proclaims Edward king of England in Act 4, Scene 8.
Duke of Somerset The Duke of Somerset initially supports the Yorkists but later declares allegiance to King Henry; he is captured at the battle of Tewkesbury and executed shortly thereafter.
Sir John Somerville Sir John Somerville is a minor Lancastrian supporter who appears only in Act 5, where he briefly announces the approach of allied armies.
Son A son who has unwittingly slain his father appears in Act 2, after the Battle of Wakefield; his grief over his father's death moves King Henry to tears.
Tutor The tutor attempts to help his student Rutland escape from the Battle of Wakefield but is dragged offstage by Lord Clifford's men.
First watch The first watch is one of a trio of watchmen tasked with protecting King Edward IV as he camps outside the town of Warwick; he fails to prevent the ambush that leads to Edward's capture.
Second watch The second watch, like the First, ineffectually guards King Edward IV on the night he is captured by Warwick.
Third watch The third watch, like his companions, fails to defend King Edward IV from his captors in Act 4, Scene 3.
Earl of Westmorland The Earl of Westmorland is a supporter of King Henry VI against the Yorkists; he leaves the king in a fit of anger after Henry makes York his heir.
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