With an underage boy now king of England, Henry VI, Part 1, depicts the collapse of England’s role in France, as English nobles fight each other instead of the French and as Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc) brings military strength to the French army. The English hero Lord Talbot attacks Orleans, but is defeated by Joan.
In England, Gloucester, Henry VI’s Protector, and Gloucester’s rival Winchester encourage their followers to attack each other in the streets. Richard Plantagenet (later the Duke of York) and Somerset are equally antagonistic, with their followers signaling their allegiance by wearing white or red roses.
Henry VI is crowned in Paris, and orders York and Somerset to fight the French instead of each other. As they squabble, French forces kill Talbot and his son. The English army captures and executes Joan. Suffolk arranges a marriage between Henry and Margaret, daughter of the king of Naples, in order to keep her near him and give him, through her, control of England.