Henry IV Part 1: Character Profiles

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  1. King Henry IV

    King Henry IV is King of England. He seized the throne from Richard II (in events recorded in Richard II), and his reign is marked by a series of civil wars. Henry IV is a ruthless, efficient leader, although the conflicts he is embroiled in have weighed him down with anxiety. He is also worried about his irresponsible son, Prince Hal. Henry IV's ambition is to take an army to the Holy Land to reclaim it from the infidels, but he cannot do this until he has established peace at home.

  2. Henry, Prince of Wales

    Henry, Prince of Wales (also known as Hal), is the son of Henry IV and the heir to the throne. He leads a wild, irresponsible life, hanging around with thieves and drunkards, including Sir John Falstaff, at the Boar's Head tavern in Eastcheap, London. But during the course of the play, Prince Hal reforms his behavior, promising the King that he will do himself justice in the coming battle. True to his word, he fulfils his duty at the battle of Shrewsbury, saving the King from being killed by Douglas, and then killing Hotspur. He becomes worthy of his status as heir to the throne.

  3. Prince John of Lancaster

    Prince John of Lancaster is the younger son of Henry IV, and brother of Prince Hal. He is the opposite of his wild brother, and is quick to take on responsibility in the King's councils. At the battle of Shrewsbury, he fights valiantly.

  4. Earl of Westmoreland

    The Earl of Westmoreland is a loyal and trusted ally of King Henry IV.

  5. Sir Walter Blunt

    Sir Walter Blunt is a supporter of King Henry IV. He serves as intermediary between the king and the rebels before the battle of Shrewsbury. He is killed by Douglas in the battle.

  6. Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester

    Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester, is the younger brother of Northumberland, and is Hotspur's uncle. It is he who hatches the plot to oppose the king and works out the details of the alliance between the different rebel armies. Worcester plays a key role in the action when he deliberately fails to convey to Hotspur the King's offer of a pardon for the rebels. During the battle, he is captured. The King sentences him to death.

  7. Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland

    Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland is a powerful nobleman who helped Henry IV seize the throne. He has now turned against Henry and is part of the plot against him. But he gets sick and is unable to take part in the battle at Shrewsbury.

  8. Henry Percy ("Hotspur")

    Hotspur is the son of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. He is a brave warrior and makes a name for himself by defeating Douglas the Scot and taking many Scottish prisoners. He then makes an alliance with the Scots and rebels against the King. Hotspur is excitable, impatient, impulsive and hot-tempered. He is quick to quarrel, but he is also full of exuberant life and humor, and these qualities make him an attractive character. He is eager to do battle with the Prince at Shrewsbury, and is not deterred by the absence of his father or of Glendower, or the fact that his army is outnumbered. Hotspur is killed by Prince Hal at the battle of Shrewsbury.

  9. Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March

    Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, is feared by Henry IV because he has a legitimate claim to the English throne. Mortimer is captured by Glendower, and Henry IV refuses to pay a ransom for him. This angers Hotspur, who is married to Mortimer's sister, and is one of the causes of Hotspur's rebellion against the King. Mortimer takes no part in the battle at Shrewsbury.

  10. Richard Scroop, Archbishop of York

    Richard Scroop, the Archbishop of York, supports Hotspur's rebellion.

  11. Archibald, Earl of Douglas

    Archibald, Earl of Douglas, is a Scottish warrior. He is a former enemy of Hotspur who is now Hotspur's ally. He takes part in the battle at Shrewsbury and almost manages to kill King Henry, but is put to flight by Prince Hal.

  12. Owen Glendower

    Owen Glendower is a boastful Welsh warrior and chieftain who captures Mortimer in battle. He then enters into an alliance with Hotspur to overthrow the King. But he cannot raise an army in time to take part in the battle at Shrewsbury.

  13. Sir Richard Vernon

    Sir Richard Vernon is one of the rebels, in alliance with Hotspur. He is captured at Shrewsbury and condemned to death by the King.

  14. Sir John Falstaff

    Sir John Falstaff is the companion of Prince Hal. He is enormously fat, but he compensates for his bulk by a very nimble wit. He is a liar, a thief, a drunkard and a coward, but he has the gift of making light of everything. His easy-going good nature makes others willing to indulge his outrageous behavior, and he gets out of scrapes by using his wit and his ability to play on words. Falstaff cares nothing for authority and is cynical about martial ideals such as honor. He simply looks out for himself. Despite Falstaff's outlandish behavior, Prince Hal finds him a lovable and entertaining companion, and his other friends, such as Poins and Bardolph, are also fond of him. Falstaff goes to the battle at Shrewsbury with a company of conscripted ragamuffins who are soon killed. Falstaff's aim in the war is to stay alive and make a profit. He claims to have killed Hotspur, although in fact, when Prince Hal killed Hotspur, Falstaff was playing dead after being attacked by Douglas.

  15. Sir Michael

    Sir Michael is a friend of the Archbishop of York, who sends him with letters to the rebels.

  16. Poins

    Poins is a companion of Prince Hal and Falstaff. He persuades the Prince to play a joke on Falstaff and the others by robbing them after they have robbed the travelers at Gad's Hill.

  17. Gadshill

    Gadshill is one of Falstaff's companions at the tavern. He sets up the robbery at Gad's Hill and it is in turn robbed by Falstaff and Prince Hal. When Prince Hal questions him about the incident, he backs up Falstaff's version of events, even though he knows Falstaff is lying.

  18. Peto

    Peto is one of the tavern gang who takes part in the robbery at Gad's Hill.

  19. Bardolph

    Bardolph is one of Falstaff's disreputable pals. Falstaff calls him the "Knight of the Burning Lamp," because of his red nose, caused by too much drinking.

  20. Francis

    Francis is a bartender mocked by Poins and Prince Hal.

  21. Lady Percy

    Lady Percy is Hotspur's wife and Mortimer's sister.

  22. Mistress Quickly

    Mistress Quickly is hostess of the Boar's Head tavern on Eastcheap frequented by Falstaff and his friends.

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