King Henry IV—King of England who usurped power from Richard II.
Lord John of Lancaster—younger son to King Henry; brother to Henry, Prince of Wales.
Earl of Westmoreland—nobleman; loyal member of King Henry’s court.
Sir Walter Blunt—nobleman and loyalist to King Henry.
Henry, Prince of Wales—elder son to King Henry IV; called Hal by his comrades; future King of England.
Sir John Falstaff—friend to Hal; chief member of a gang of ruffians with whom Hal associates.
Thomas Percy—Earl of Worcester; brother to Henry Percy; uncle to Hotspur.
Henry Percy—Earl of Northumberland; father to Henry Percy (Hotspur).
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King Henry IV
King Henry IV, England’s troubled ruler. Haunted by his action in the deposition of his predecessor and kinsman, Richard II, and indirectly in that man’s death, as well as deeply disturbed by the apparent unworthiness of his irresponsible eldest son, he also faces the external problem of rebellion. He wishes to join a crusade to clear his conscience and to carry out a prophecy that he is to die in Jerusalem.
Prince Hal, later King Henry V. A boisterous youth surrounded by bad companions, he matures rapidly with responsibility, saves his father’s life in battle, and kills the dangerous rebel Hotspur.
Sir John Falstaff
Sir John Falstaff, a comical, down-at-the-heels follower of Prince Hal, considered by many to be one of William Shakespeare’s finest creations. He is the typical braggart soldier with many individualizing traits. As he says, he is not only witty himself but also the cause of wit in other men. He is a cynical realist, a fantastic liar, and a persuasive rascal as well as apparently being a successful combat soldier. His colossal body appropriately houses his colossal personality.
Thomas Percy, the earl of Worcester, a leading rebel against King Henry IV. He conceals the king’s offer of generous terms from his nephew Hotspur, thereby causing the young warrior’s death. He is executed for treason.
Henry Percy, Sr.
Henry Percy, Sr., the earl of Northumberland, the earl of Worcester’s brother. Having played an important part in the deposition of Richard II and the enthronement of Henry IV, he feels that he and his family are entitled to more power and wealth than they receive. He is also influenced to rebellion by his crafty brother and his fiery son. He fails his cause by falling ill or feigning illness before the Battle of Shrewsbury, and he does not appear there.
Henry Percy, Jr.
Henry Percy, Jr., called Hotspur, the son of Northumberland. A courageous, hot-tempered youth, he seeks to pluck glory from the moon. He is a loving, teasing husband, but his heart is more on the battlefield than in the boudoir. He rages helplessly at the absence of his father and Glendower from the Battle of Shrewsbury. In the battle, he falls by Prince Hal’s hand.
Edmund Mortimer, the earl of March, Hotspur’s brother-in-law, designated heir to the English throne by Richard II. Captured while fighting against Glendower, he marries his captor’s daughter. King Henry’s refusal to ransom him leads to the rebellion of the Percys. He too fails to join Hotspur at Shrewsbury.
Owen Glendower, the Welsh leader. Hotspur finds his mystical self-importance irritating and almost precipitates internal strife among King Henry’s opponents. Glendower also fails Hotspur at Shrewsbury.
Archibald, the earl of Douglas, a noble Scottish rebel. After killing Sir Walter Blunt and two others whom he mistakes for King Henry at Shrewsbury, he is prevented from killing the king by Prince Hal. After the battle, Prince Hal generously releases him without ransom.
Richard Scroop, the archbishop of York, a principal rebel. He thinks to make peace with King Henry and take later advantage of his weakness but is tricked by Prince John, Hal’s younger brother, and executed.
Sir Walter Blunt
Sir Walter Blunt, a heroic follower of the king. At the Battle of Shrewsbury, he pretends to Douglas that he is the king, thus bringing death on himself.