Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Edward III

Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University



King Edward reassures Queen Philippe that Copland will be reproved for not turning over his prisoner, King David of Scotland, to her. The six citizens of Callice enter barefoot with nooses around their necks. Edward suspects they might just be faux rich merchants sent forth, but they are the real thing. His impulse is to kill them: “Your bodies shall be dragg’d about these walls, / And after feel the stroke of quartering steel” (V.i.36-37). But the Queen appeals to his mildness: “kings approach the nearest unto God / By giving life and safety unto men” (V.i.41-42). Edward complies:

Although experience teach us this is true,
That peacefull quietness brings most delight
When most of all abuses are controll’d,
Yet, insomuch it shall be known that we
As well can master our affections
As conquer other by the dint of sword….

He sends them back to town. Copland brings forth King David and speaks so well and honorably regarding his loyalty to Edward that he is knighted on the spot. Salisbury brings good news about the general wars, but last he knew it looked extremely grim for the Prince. Philippe and the King mentally prepare themselves for news of his death, with Edward vowing vengeance upon the French: “Comfort thyself, as I do, gentle Queen, / With hope of sharp, unheard-of, dire revenge” (V.i.164-165). But a Herald brings news of the Prince’s triumph, and Ned enters gloriously with his royal prisoners. King Edwards blames John’s obstinance for the destruction on French towns and lives:

But had you done at first as now you do,
How many civil towns had stood untouch’d
That now are turn’d to ragged heaps of stones?
How many people’s lives mightst thou have sav’d
That are untimely sunk into their graves?

Edward will decide on a ransom, “But first to England thou [John] must cross the seas / To see what entertainment it affords: / Howe’er it falls, it cannot be so bad / As ours hath been since we arriv’d in France” (V.i.210-213). Prince Edward, whom we know will die before ascending the throne, speechifies:

So Thou wilt grant, that many princes more,
Bred and brought up within that little isle,
May still be famous for like victories!

He wishes all his scars and war-miseries

were now redoubled twenty-fold,
So that hereafter ages, when they read
The painful traffic of my tender youth,
Might thereby be inflam’d with such resolve,
As not the territories of France alone,
But likewise Spain, Turkey, and what countries else
That justly would provoke fair England’s ire,
Might at their presence tremble and retire.

The King has the final happy words: the wars are over and they will all return to England.