A bloody power struggle opens up between the King's party, led by the fearsome Queen Margaret, and the Yorkists, led first by Richard, then his sons Edward and 'that lump of foul deformity', Richard of Gloucester.
The plays which make up Shakespeare's Henry VI create a world without ideology; a savage time, when the heroes are not kings, but formidable women, such as Joan of Arc, or rebels, such as Jack Cade.
Bold characterisation, black comedy, rhetorical power and, in the personality of Henry VI, touching pathos combine in Shakespeare's powerful rendering of a country racked by civil war.
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