About the Series
Henry VI Part 1 (December 11, 9 p.m.)
The King is dead and England is in crisis. War rages with the French and divisions within the English court threaten the crown. Young Henry VI causes outrage by marrying Margaret of Anjou, forcing an unwanted truce; the scene is set for Civil War.
Henry VI Part 2 (December 18, 9 p.m.)
Bitter rivalries erupt into the Wars of the Roses. The feeble King Henry is overshadowed by Queen Margaret and her faction of Lancastrian Lords, his reign further undermined by disaffected nobles supporting the House of York. Battle and bloodshed ensues and the Yorkists triumph. Edward IV takes the throne, but his youngest brother Richard has his eyes firmly on the crown.
Richard III (December 25, 9 p.m.)
Richard, the most notorious of Shakespeare’s kings, manipulates and betrays his way through the court on a bloodthirsty and ruthless path to the throne. But after Richard’s defeat at the battle of Bosworth Field, the Houses of Lancaster and York—the red rose and the white—are united, bringing to an end the Wars of the Roses and long tumultuous period of civil strife.Detailed Synopses:
Henry VI, Part 1
Henry V is dead, and against the backdrop of Wars in France the English nobles are beginning to quarrel. News of defeat at Orleans reaches the Duke of Gloucester, the Lord Protector, and other nobles in England. Henry VI, still an infant, is proclaimed King.
Seventeen years later the rivalries at Court have intensified; Gloucester and the Bishop of Winchester argue openly in front of the King. Rouen falls to the French but Plantagenet, recently restored as the Duke of York, Exeter and Talbot pledge to recapture the city from the Dauphin. Battle commences and the French, led by Joan of Arc, defeat the English. Valiant Talbot and his son John are killed.
Warwick and Somerset arrive after the battle to join forces with the survivors and retake Rouen. Somerset woos Margaret of Anjou as a potential bride for Henry VI. Plantagenet takes Joan of Arc prisoner and she is burnt at the stake.
Gloucester protests but still Margaret is introduced as Henry’s queen. She begins to complain that the Duchess of Gloucester, Eleanor, behaves like an empress at court and their rivalry escalates. Eleanor is observed performing black magic and is banished, warning her husband Gloucester that he is in great danger.
Accused of high treason by Somerset, Suffolk and Winchester, Gloucester protests his innocence, but is murdered at the Tower whilst Somerset and Margaret make love in the Palace.
Henry banishes Somerset and Suffolk after Gloucester is found dead. Plantagenet is incensed when Margaret is able to bully Henry into reversing the sentence and makes his claim for the throne. The Houses of York and Lancaster are now in open opposition.
Duke of Gloucester is played by Hugh Bonneville, Henry VI by Tom Sturridge, Plantagenet by Adrian Dunbar, Exeter by Anton Lesser, Talbot by Philip Glenister, Joan of Arc by Laura Frances-Morgan, Warwick by Stanley Townsend, Somerset by Ben Miles, Margaret by Sophie Okonedo and Eleanor by Sally Hawkins.
Henry IV premieres Sunday, December 11, 2016, 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).