Edward Dering?

(an adaptation of Shakespeare's 1 & 2 Henry IV)

Dering's Henry IV is a direct adaptation of Shakespeare's text. Dering introduces very few original lines. His primary contribution is to conflate the two parts of Shakespeare's work into a single five-act text. He retains the vast majority of part one and cuts the vast majority of part two. Dering's Henry IV was never staged during his lifetime.

1613–circa 1624

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Lord Bardolf is on stage at the ending of the play.


Bardolff is one of Hal's drinking companions from the tavern. He is best known for his scarlet complexion and large red nose. Falstaff refers to Bardolff as a walking memento mori. Bardolff takes part in the Gads Hill robbery and is robbed by a disguised Hal and Poins. He is pressed into service for the battle of Shrewsbury, but does not appear on stage for the battle.


Sir John Blunt appears on stage at the end of the play and does not have any lines. He is a young man loyal to Henry IV/Henry V.


Sir Walter Blunt is Henry IV's most trusted adviser. He is respected both by the king and by the rebel Percy faction. Blunt is almost always by the King's side, except for the battle of Shrewsbury, where Blunt dons Henry's colors and plays a royal body double. Before the battle, Blunt visits s to the rebel leadership and delivers Henry's terms for peace. In the subsequent battle, Blunt is killed by Douglas, who mistakes Blunt for Henry IV.


Thomas, the Duke of Clarence is Henry IV's son. He is one of the younger sons. Henry tells Clarence not to neglect his eldest brother Hal. Near the end of the play, Clarence attends his dying father. Clarence also informs Hal about Henry's health.


The Earl of Douglas is a Scottish lord. He is perpetual rebellion against English rule. At the beginning of the play, it is reported that Douglas has revolted and has been defeated and captured by Harry Percy. When Percy decides to revolt himself against Henry IV, he frees Douglas without ransom. Douglas agrees to lead his Scottish forces into battle alongside Hotspur. Douglas does arrive at Shrewsbury, unlike Northumberland and Glendower. Douglas and Hotspur want to attack immediately. They are unwisely convinced by Worcester and Vernon to wait until the next day for the attack. In the battle at Shrewsbury, Douglas prowls around the field killing Henry's body doubles. One of the royal imitators Douglas slays is Blunt. When Douglas finally finds the real Henry, he is chased off by Hal. Douglas is eventually captured, but he is released without ransom again because Hal admires his bravery.


Sir John Falstaff is an old fat cowardly witty knight. He is Hal's drinking companion and the target of Hal's pranks. Sir John is Shakespeare's greatest comic character and Dering preserves most of his lines verbatim. In the play, Falstaff has no discernable income other than Hal's purse. He has no discernable skills other than drinking, eating and talking. From his conversations with Hal, it is apparent that Falstaff hopes to secure a lifelong patron when Henry V ascends the throne. In a hysterical scene, Falstaff is gulled by Poins and Hal into taking part in a highway robbery at Gads Hill. Falstaff, Peto and Bardolf first rob the carriers and are then immediately robbed in turn by a disguised Poins and Hal. Unlike in Shakespeare's play, Dering has both actions executed off stage. Falstaff returns to the tavern and claims to have fought off a hundred men and killed a dozen before losing the booty. When Poins and Hal reveal the fact that they rob Falstaff, Sir John brilliantly counters that he knew instinctively not to kill the heir apparent. When the sheriff arrives at the inn to arrest Falstaff, Hal allows John to hide while he, the prince, gets rid of the officers. When Hal goes to tell Falstaff the coast is clear, he finds Falstaff fast asleep. Poins and Hal go through John's pockets and find nothing except a number of unpaid grocery bills. Falstaff awakens, finds his pockets bare, and accuses the Hostess of allowing him to be pickpockets of cash and jewelry. Again, Hal confronts Falstaff with his lie. In the funniest and most politically profound scene in the comic subplot, Falstaff and Hall take turn impersonating Henry IV in a mock interrogation of the delinquent prince. When Falstaff is the king, he dismisses all of Hal's comrades save for a virtuous knight named Sir John. Even more remarkable is Falstaff's turn as Hal, when he mounts an active defense of his lifestyle. If the king banishes Falstaff, Sir John as Hal concludes, he will, in effect, banish the world. When Hal learns that the Percies are in revolt, he commissions Falstaff to raise a company and report to the battlefield. Falstaff abuses the authority by conscripting a number of wealthy young men eager to buy their way out of service. He then drafts a number of inferior troops that he does not need to pay well. Falstaff then pockets the difference in pay along with the bribes he received. Falstaff does lead his troops to battle, but he does not fight. Instead, he hides for the majority of the conflict. When Hal approaches Falstaff and asks to borrow John's sword, he finds that a skin of wine rests where the blade should. When Hal duels Hotspur, Falstaff plays dead. After Hal kills Percy and wanders off, Falstaff gets up, stabs Percy and claims that he, not Hal, killed Hotspur. When Hal becomes Henry V, Falstaff visits Henry, no doubt expecting a windfall payment from his drinking companion. Instead, Hal, now Henry, tells Falstaff that he does not know the old man. Falstaff is banished from the court until Henry degenerates or Falstaff repents.


Francis is a drawer. He delivers messages to Hal at the tavern from time to time. Francis is best known for being the object of Hal's most overtly cruel pranks. Hal keeps Francis occupied with dizzying questions while the innkeeper and Pins berate the drawer for ignoring the other clients. Hal tells Francis that he is a fool to remain in faithful service for the remainder of his five-year indentured term.


Owen Glendower is a Welsh lord and an alleged magician. He is in constant revolt against English rule. He has recently taken Mortimer hostage. When the play travels to Wales and Glendower's castle, it is apparent that Mortimer is an ally of Glendower, not a prisoner. Mortimer marries Glendower's daughter. Glendower, Hotspur and Mortimer plot together to overthrow Henry; they use a map to divide the island into three separate kingdoms. Glendower and Hotspur have an argument involving the events surrounding Glendower's birth. Glendower believes the universe was shaken by his birth and that it was an omen of his greatness. Hotspur finds the idea preposterous. For some reason, Glendower allows Percy to speak with him disrespectfully. Glendower tells Hotspur and Mortimer that he will meet them with his forces on the battlefield against Henry. He never arrives. It is reported later that Glendower has been hunted down and killed by royal forces.


Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester is Henry IV's son. He attends to his dying father throughout the latter part of the play. When Henry assumes the throne, Gloucester is assured that the new king will be generous with all of his brothers, including Gloucester.


Hal is the common name for Henry Monmouth, the Prince of Wales, Henry IV's heir to the English throne.


Harcor is a messenger that brings Henry IV the news that the Earle of Northumberland has been overthrown.


Lord Hastings joins Bishop Scroop in a rebellion against Henry IV after the defeat of the Percies. The rebellion is put down by Prince John. Hastings never appears on stage.


Henry IV is the King of England. He is father to Hal, John, Thomas and Humphrey. At the beginning of the play, Henry is hopeful that England is emerging from a period of civil unrest, an unrest primarily caused by his own usurping of Richard II's crown. Henry IV is eager for a peaceful home front so that he can prosecute a crusade for Jerusalem. Unfortunately for Henry, he soon learns that the Percy clan, primarily young Harry Percy directed by his uncle Worcester, is planning a revolt. Henry's second concern is that his eldest son, the Prince of Wales, is a delinquent tavern-dwelling petty thief who keeps disreputable company. Henry does not believe that Mortimer is really Glendower's prisoner, so he refuses to allow Hotspur to ransom him. This action spurs Hotspur to rebel against the crown. Eventually, Henry calls his son Hal to the court and accuses him of gross neglect of duty. The talk has the desired effect and Hal serves Henry well at Shrewsbury. Before the battle, Henry offers the rebels amnesty. The rebels, especially Worcester, distrust Henry and refuse the offer. At the battle of Shrewsbury, Henry has a number of men dressed in his colors as body doubles. Henry is almost killed by Douglas, but Hal rescues him. After the battle, Henry condemns Worcester to death and allows Hal to free Douglass. Henry soon falls deathly ill. He is haunted at night by anxiety and cannot sleep. Hal visits Henry at his sickbed and mistakenly believes the king is dead. When Henry wakes up to see his crown gone, he accuses Hal of wanting him dead. He then condemns his son again as a derelict. After Hal again apologizes for angering his father, Henry forgives the Prince of Wales and offers him some practical political advice. Henry IV dies in a chapel named Jerusalem, thus fulfilling a prophecy.


Hal is the common name for Henry Monmouth, the Prince of Wales, Henry IV's heir to the English throne. At the beginning of the play, Hal spends the majority of his time with a group of debauched companions at a tavern in East Cheap. Hal frequently spars verbally with Sir John Falstaff. He also plots pranks with Ned Poins. Hal uses his money and influence to bankroll his wild life away from court. Hal's delinquency torments his father and amuses disloyal nobles such as Harry Percy, who threatens to poison the wayward prince with a pot of ale. Hal and Poins scheme to catch Falstaff in an elaborate lie surrounding a robbery at Gads Hill. Falstaff first holds up a group of travelers. Falstaff is, in turn, robbed by a disguised Hal and Poins. Back at the tavern, Falstaff claims to have fought a hundred men and killed a dozen. Poins and Hal revel in confronting John with his lies. Hal protects Falstaff by hiding him from the sheriff. Hal also pays the money from the robbery back to its rightful owner, the treasury. In a soliloquy, Hal shares with the audience that he is just pretending to be a derelict in order to lower expectations for him. Hal is honest with Poins about his contempt for the common men he drinks with so often. When the Percies threaten Henry IV, Hal is called to the court. Before reporting to his father, Hal and Falstaff take turns impersonating Henry IV in a mock interrogation of Hal. When Hal plays the king, he lets it be known that he plans on banishing Falstaff. When Hal appears before his father and is accused of gross neglect of duty, Hal apologizes and promises to mend his ways and prove his enemies wrong. The Prince returns to the tavern to recruit his drinking companions. Hal takes Poins with him to battle and gives Falstaff money to raise a company. At Shrewsbury, Hal fights valiantly, even after he is injured. He chases Douglas away from his father and kills Hotspur in single-combat. Hal allows Falstaff to try to reap the credit for the slaying of Percy. After Henry falls ill, Hal mistakenly believes the king has died. When Henry IV wakes up and accuses Hal of prematurely snatching the crown, Hal again apologizes to his father. Henry IV dies soon after, and Henry V comforts his brothers. Henry then rejects Falstaff's company and banishes him with meager provisions.




The hostess is the keeper of the tavern frequented by Hal, Falstaff and Poins. She is in awe of John Falstaff and enraged by him as well. The hostess voices admiration for Falstaff in the scene where he impersonates Henry IV and Hal. Yet she is furious when he accuses her of allowing him to be burgled in her house. Near the end of the play, the hostess reminds Falstaff that he had once proposed marriage to her. Falstaff agrees to marry her, so long as she forgives his debts and calls off the sheriff's guard, who are looking to arrest him.


Hotspur is the nickname of Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland's famous warrior son. At the beginning of the play, Hotspur is Henry IV's most dependable military figure. Percy repels a number of dangerous challenges to the crown, most notably a rebellion by Douglas' Scottish forces. Percy angers Henry when he demands to use the ransoms of his Scottish prisoners to free his brother-in-law Mortimer from Owen Glendower. Henry believes Mortimer plans to claim the throne as Richard II's named heir, so Henry rejects Percy's demands. Hotspur feels betrayed, since it was the northern nobility that supported Henry's rise to power. Hotspur is convinced by his uncle Worcester and his father Northumberland to rebel against Henry IV. Percy is a quick-tempered immature Mars who shows his lack of shrewdness when he repeatedly underestimates Hal and when he insists upon insulting Owen Glendower. Percy, Mortimer and Glendower go so far as to pre-determine how the kingdom will be divided into three after Henry's defeat. Unfortunately for Percy, his friends begin to back out of the plot. Just before Percy is accosted by his wife, Percy reads a letter from an anonymous lord who refuses to assist the plan. Hotspur soon after learns that his father Northumberland is ill and will not send his forces to the field. As the day of battle nears, Percy also learns that Glendower will not appear in his protection. Hotspur interprets the mass desertions as an opportunity to gather more glory for himself. At the battle of Shrewsbury, Hotspur meets Hal on the battlefield. They fight and the Prince of Wales kills Percy.


Hotspur's Lady is his wife Kate Percy. She has two important scenes. The first time Lady Percy comes on stage she asks her husband Hotspur why he has been neglecting her of late. She informs him that she hears him mutter about battle in the middle of the night. After Percy is killed, the widow Percy convinces her father-in-law Northumberland to avoid battle with Henry. She berates him for failing to appear at Shrewsbury when he could have saved his son and her husband's life.


John, Earl of Lancaster is Henry IV's second son; however, he is a senior member of Counsel at the beginning of the play due to his older brother Hal's delinquency. John first comes onto the stage to inform his father of Hotspur's battle in the North versus Douglas' Scottish forces. Lancaster fights bravely at Shrewsbury. Hal is markedly impressed by his younger brother's mettle. After Shrewsbury, John puts down a revolt by Bishop Scroop and Hastings.


There are a number of messengers who appear on stage throughout the play. One intriguing instance is immediately before the battle of Shrewsbury. As Hotspur goes off to fight, a messenger arrives with a batch of letters. Percy shuns the messenger and does not read the letters. It is never revealed who sent the letters or what was enclosed within them.


Lord Mortimer is Kate Percy's brother and allegedly Richard II's named heir to the English throne. At the beginning of the play, it is reported that he has been captured by the Welsh lord Glendower. In reality, Mortimer and Glendower have struck an alliance and are joined in rebellion by Harry Percy. The three men plan to depose the king and split the kingdom into three equal parts. The alliance is joined by marriages. Hotspur is married to Mortimer's sister and Mortimer is married to Glendower's daughter. Mortimer travels with Percy to Shrewsbury. His fate is not reported in the play; however, in Shakespeare's Henry VI, Mortimer appears.


Morton is the rebel officer charged with reporting the news from Shrewsbury to Northumberland. Morton is sympathetic toward the Earl's loss, but tells him all the same that Percy is dead and that the cause is lost.


The Earl of Northumberland is a northern nobleman. He is Hotspur's father and Worcester's brother. Northumberland was one of Henry's key supporters during the deposition of Richard II. When Northumberland's son Percy defies the king's will and when that same son is goaded by Worcester into a full-scale rebellion against the throne, Northumberland is dragged into the alliance. However, Northumberland later falls ill, or at least reports that he is fallen ill, and cancels his support for the rebellion. After the rebels fall and Percy is killed, Northumberland flees to Scotland, where he is hunted down and killed by royal troops.


Peto is one of Hal's drinking companions who take part in the robbery at Gads Hill. He does not appear on stage.


Ned Poins is one of Hal's drinking companions. He is Hal's confidant. They play and carry out the robbery together at Gads Hill at the expense of Falstaff. Poins and Falstaff do not appear to get along; both men fancy themselves Hal's best friend. Hal reveals to Poins the extent to which the Prince of Wales cynically fosters the companionship of commoners at the tavern. Poins and Hal torment a young drawer named Francis at the tavern. When Hal is called up to military service, Poins is the only companion from the tavern that personally accompanies the prince to battle.


A "ghost character." Bishop Scroop leads a rebellion against Henry IV with Hastings after the Percies' defeat at Shrewsbury. Prince John puts down the rebellion. Scroop never appears on stage.


The sheriff appears at the tavern to arrest Falstaff in connection with the Gads Hill burglary. Hal hides Falstaff and sends the sheriff and his officers away.


The Earl of Surry appears on stage; however, he has no lines.


Sir Richard Vernon is connected with Percy's plot against Henry IV. He joins the plot rather late and frequently speaks of Prince Hal in glowing terms. Vernon is obviously not as devious as Worcester or as cowardly as Northumberland. When Henry IV offers amnesty to the rebels if they surrender, Vernon advises reporting the option to Hotspur. Worcester overrules Vernon and Percy never learns of the offer.


The Earl of Warwick is one of Hal's brothers. He is the most sensitive of the brothers, very sympathetic toward both his father's pain and his eldest brother's plight. Warwick discovers Henry IV walking the halls tormented late at night. Warwick soothes the king's mind and sends him back to slumber.


Westmerland reports to Henry IV that Prince John has put down a rebellion led by Bishop Scroop and Hastings.


Worcester is the mastermind behind Hotspur's rebellion. Worcester repeatedly states his belief that because the Percies helped topple Richard II and install Henry IV that Henry would never be able to truly trust the clan and would always look for an excuse to dispatch them. So, when Percy becomes incensed at Henry IV's refusal to ransom Mortimer, Worcester seizes upon the opportunity to goad his nephew to rebellion. Later in the play, when Henry offers amnesty to the rebels if they stand down, Worcester not only refuses the terms, he purposefully keeps the offer from Percy. After the battle of Shrewsbury, Henry singles Worcester out for blame and has him sent out immediately for execution.