Here is a short plot summary of Henry IV Part 2:

King Henry IV has been victorious at the battle of Shrewsbury but the Earl of Northumberland hears rumours that his son, Harry Hotspur, has been the victor. Northumberland and the Archbishop of York decide to oppose the king’s forces, led by Prince John. The news of Hotspur’s death finally comes, however, and Hotspur’s widow and Lady Northumberland urge them not to continue with their rebellion.

The Lord Chief Justice criticises Sir John Falstaff for his behaviour during the wars but gives his blessing to him in his intention to join Prince John’s forces. Before Falstaff can leave he is arrested for his debt to Mistress Quickly, the landlady of the Boar’s Head tavern. They both land up in court where Falsaff persuades her to patch up their differences. Prince Hal and his friend Poins, arrive at the tavern, disguised as servants. Acquaintances between Hal and Falstaff and his companionsare renewed. Pistol arrives and tells Falstaff that he should have departed for the wars by now. Hal and his friends remain, still dressed as servants, although the king is sick, and worried about the succession. Falstaff recruits men, conforming to his usual corrupt methods.

York, Mowbray and Hastings prepare for battle. The Earl of Westmorland arrives from Prince John to hear their grievances and they come to a peace arrangement. However, as soon as the rebel armies disperse, Westmorland arrests the three leaders for treason.

The king is very ill. Hall arrives from London. He thinks the sleeping king is dead and he lifts the crown and tries it on. The king wakes up and is angered by that. They make up and are reconciled before the king prepares himself for death.

When Falstaff hears of the king’s death and Hal’s succession he sets out to attend the coronation, expecting to be given high office, but the king denies knowing him and banishes him, commanding him to come no nearer than ten miles of his court. The play ends with Falstaff left hurt and hoping that the king will change his mind, while the King Henry plans a war against France.

 

See summaries of Shakespeare’s other plays >>

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