Richard III

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter King Richard in arms, with Norfolk, Ratcliffe,

and the Earl of Surrey, and soldiers


Here pitch our tent, even here in Bosworth field.
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat See Topics: Frequency count

My Lord of Surrey, why look you so sad?
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy


My heart is ten times lighter than my looks.


My Lord of Norfolk –


                         Here, most gracious liege.


Norfolk, we must have knocks. Ha! Must we not?
knock (n.) hard blow, harsh stroke, buffet


We must both give and take, my loving lord.


Up with my tent! Here will I lie tonight.

Soldiers begin to set up the King's tent

But where tomorrow? Well, all's one for that.

Who hath descried the number of the traitors?
descry (v.) 1 catch sight of, make out, espy, discover


Six or seven thousand is their utmost power.
power (n.) 4 force, strength, might


Why, our battalia trebles that account;
account, accompt (n.) 3 reckoning, count, estimate
battalia (n.) large body of troops arrayed for battle, marshalled force

Besides, the King's name is a tower of strength,

Which they upon the adverse faction want.
faction (n.) 1 party, group, set [of people]
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

Up with the tent! Come, noble gentlemen,

Let us survey the vantage of the ground.
vantage (n.) 2 advantageous position, place of vantage, superiority

Call for some men of sound direction.
direction (n.) 2 authoritative guidance, tactical knowledge, capacity for direction

Let's lack no discipline, make no delay,
discipline (n.) 1 military strategy, tactics, training in the art of war

For, lords, tomorrow is a busy day.


Enter Richmond, Sir William Brandon, Oxford,

Dorset, Herbert, and Blunt. Some of the soldiers pitch

Richmond's tent


The weary sun hath made a golden set
set (n.) 2 setting, sunset

And by the bright track of his fiery car
car (n.) carriage, cart, chariot [often of the sun god]
tract (n.) 2 course, process, track

Gives token of a goodly day tomorrow.

Sir William Brandon, you shall bear my standard.

Give me some ink and paper in my tent:

I'll draw the form and model of our battle,
form (n.) 4 orderly manner, good arrangement
model (n.) 3 ground-plan, layout, outline

Limit each leader to his several charge,
charge (n.) 2 company, command
limit (v.) appoint, specify, fix the limit of
several (adj.) 2 various, sundry, respective, individual

And part in just proportion our small power.
part (v.) 2 divide, share, split up
power (n.) 1 armed force, troops, host, army See Topics: Frequency count

My Lord of Oxford – you, Sir William Brandon –

And you, Sir Walter Herbert – stay with me.

The Earl of Pembroke keeps his regiment;

Good Captain Blunt, bear my good-night to him,

And by the second hour in the morning

Desire the Earl to see me in my tent.

Yet one thing more, good captain, do for me –

Where is Lord Stanley quartered, do you know?


Unless I have mista'en his colours much,
colours (n.) 1 battle-flags, ensigns, standards, banners See Topics: Frequency count

Which well I am assured I have not done,

His regiment lies half a mile at least

South from the mighty power of the King.
power (n.) 1 armed force, troops, host, army See Topics: Frequency count


If without peril it be possible,

Sweet Blunt, make some good means to speak with him

And give him from me this most needful note.


Upon my life, my lord, I'll undertake it;

And so God give you quiet rest tonight!


Good night, good Captain Blunt.

Exit Blunt

                         Come, gentlemen,

Let us consult upon tomorrow's business.

Into my tent; the dew is raw and cold.

They withdraw into the tent

Enter, to his tent, King Richard, Ratcliffe, Norfolk,

and Catesby


What is't a clock?


                         It's supper time, my lord;

It's nine a clock.
sup (v.) 1 have supper See Topics: Frequency count


                         I will not sup tonight.

Give me some ink and paper.

What, is my beaver easier than it was?
beaver (n.) visor of a helmet, face-guard See Topics: Body-armour

And all my armour laid into my tent?


It is, my liege; and all things are in readiness.


Good Norfolk, hie thee to thy charge;
hie (v.) hasten, hurry, speed See Topics: Frequency count

Use careful watch, choose trusty sentinels.


I go, my lord.


Stir with the lark tomorrow, gentle Norfolk.
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count


I warrant you, my lord.
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count





My lord?
pursuivant-at-arms (n.) junior officer attending a herald


                         Send out a pursuivant-at-arms

To Stanley's regiment; bid him bring his power
power (n.) 1 armed force, troops, host, army See Topics: Frequency count

Before sunrising, lest his son George fall

Into the blind cave of eternal night.
blind (adj.) 2 dark, black

Exit Catesby

Fill me a bowl of wine. Give me a watch.
watch (n.) 1 watchmen, officers, street patrol

Saddle white Surrey for the field tomorrow.
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat See Topics: Frequency count

Look that my staves be sound and not too heavy.
staff (n.) 1 (plural ‘staves’) spear, lance



My lord?


Saw'st thou the melancholy Lord Northumberland?


Thomas the Earl of Surrey and himself,

Much about cockshut time, from troop to troop
cockshut (n.) evening twilight [time when poultry were shut away]

Went through the army, cheering up the soldiers.


So, I am satisfied. Give me a bowl of wine.

I have not that alacrity of spirit

Nor cheer of mind that I was wont to have.
wont (v.) be accustomed, used [to], be in the habit of See Topics: Frequency count

A bowl of wine is brought

Set it down. Is ink and paper ready?


It is, my lord.


Bid my guard watch. Leave me. Ratcliffe,

About the mid of night come to my tent

And help to arm me. Leave me, I say.

Exit Ratcliffe with others

King Richard withdraws into his tent, and sleeps

Enter Earl of Derby to Richmond in his tent, lords

and others attending


Fortune and victory sit on thy helm!
attend (v.) 2 serve, follow, wait [on/upon]


All comfort that the dark night can afford

Be to thy person, noble father-in-law!

Tell me, how fares our loving mother?
fare (v.) 1 get on, manage, do, cope See Topics: Frequency count


I, by attorney, bless thee from thy mother,
attorney, by by proxy [as opposed to ‘in person’]

Who prays continually for Richmond's good.

So much for that. The silent hours steal on
steal on (v.) creep by, move stealthily

And flaky darkness breaks within the east.
flaky (adj.) streaked with light

In brief, for so the season bids us be,

Prepare thy battle early in the morning
battle (n.) 2 battle array, war formation, ranks of soldiers

And put thy fortune to th' arbitrement
arbitrament, arbitrement (n.) 1 deciding of a dispute, determination, settlement

Of bloody strokes and mortal-staring war.
mortal-staring (adj.) with death-like glare, lethally penetrating

I, as I may – that which I would I cannot –

With best advantage will deceive the time
time (n.) 7 circumstance, particular occasion

And aid thee in this doubtful shock of arms.

But on thy side I may not be too forward,

Lest, being seen, thy brother, tender George,

Be executed in his father's sight.

Farewell. The leisure and the fearful time
fearful (adj.) 2 causing fear, awe-inspiring, terrifying, alarming
leisure (n.) opportunity, moment, available time

Cuts off the ceremonious vows of love
ceremonious (adj.) scrupulous over formalities, punctilious about ritual

And ample interchange of sweet discourse
discourse (n.) 1 conversation, talk, chat

Which so long sundered friends should dwell upon.
sundered (adj.) separated, kept apart

God give us leisure for these rites of love!

Once more adieu. Be valiant, and speed well!


Good lords, conduct him to his regiment.

I'll strive with troubled thoughts to take a nap,

Lest leaden slumber peise me down tomorrow,
peise down (v.) weigh down, burden, load down

When I should mount with wings of victory.

Once more, good night, kind lords and gentlemen.


Richmond remains

O Thou, whose captain I account myself,

Look on my forces with a gracious eye;

Put in their hands Thy bruising irons of wrath,
bruising (adj.) crushing, damaging, crippling

That they may crush down with a heavy fall

Th' usurping helmets of our adversaries;

Make us Thy ministers of chastisement,

That we may praise Thee in the victory.

To Thee I do commend my watchful soul
commend (v.) 2 commit, entrust, hand over

Ere I let fall the windows of mine eyes.
window (n.) 2 (plural) eyelids

Sleeping and waking, O defend me still!
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count


Enter the Ghost of Prince Edward, son to Henry the



(To Richard)

Let me sit heavy on thy soul tomorrow!

Think how thou stab'st me in my prime of youth

At Tewkesbury; despair therefore, and die!

(To Richmond)

Be cheerful, Richmond; for the wronged souls

Of butchered princes fight in thy behalf

King Henry's issue, Richmond, comforts thee.
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count


Enter the Ghost of Henry the Sixth


(to Richard)

When I was mortal, my anointed body

By thee was punched full of deadly holes.

Think on the Tower, and me; despair, and die!

Harry the Sixth bids thee despair, and die!

(To Richmond) Virtuous and holy, be thou conqueror!

Harry, that prophesied thou shouldst be king,

Doth comfort thee in thy sleep; live, and flourish!


Enter the Ghost of Clarence


(to Richard)

Let me sit heavy in thy soul tomorrow –

I that was washed to death with fulsome wine,
fulsome (adj.) 1 distasteful, nauseating, repulsive

Poor Clarence, by thy guile betrayed to death!

Tomorrow in the battle think on me,

And fall thy edgeless sword; despair, and die!
fall (v.) 1 drop, descend, let fall

(To Richmond) Thou offspring of the house of Lancaster,

The wronged heirs of York do pray for thee;

Good angels guard thy battle! Live, and flourish!
battle (n.) 1 army, fighting force, battalion


Enter the Ghosts of Rivers, Grey, and Vaughan


(to Richard)

Let me sit heavy in thy soul tomorrow,

Rivers, that died at Pomfret; despair, and die!


Think upon Grey, and let thy soul despair!


Think upon Vaughan and with guilty fear

Let fall thy lance; despair, and die!


(to Richmond)

Awake, and think our wrongs in Richard's bosom

Will conquer him! Awake, and win the day!

Exeunt Ghosts

Enter the Ghost of Lord Hastings


(to Richard)

Bloody and guilty, guiltily awake

And in a bloody battle end thy days!

Think on Lord Hastings; despair, and die!

(To Richmond) Quiet untroubled soul, awake, awake!

Arm, fight, and conquer, for fair England's sake!


Enter the Ghosts of the two young Princes


(to Richard)

Dream on thy cousins smothered in the Tower.

Let us be lead within thy bosom, Richard,

And weigh thee down to ruin, shame, and death!

Thy nephews' souls bid thee despair, and die!

(To Richmond)

Sleep, Richmond, sleep in peace and wake in joy.

Good angels guard thee from the boar's annoy!
annoy (n.) 2 injury, harm, hurt

Live, and beget a happy race of kings!

Edward's unhappy sons do bid thee flourish.


Enter the Ghost of Anne, his wife


(to Richard)

Richard, thy wife, that wretched Anne thy wife,

That never slept a quiet hour with thee,

Now fills thy sleep with perturbations.

Tomorrow in the battle think on me,

And fall thy edgeless sword; despair, and die!
edgeless (adj.) blunted, useless, ineffective
fall (v.) 1 drop, descend, let fall

(To Richmond) Thou quiet soul, sleep thou a quiet sleep.

Dream of success and happy victory!

Thy adversary's wife doth pray for thee.


Enter the Ghost of Buckingham


(to Richard)

The first was I that helped thee to the crown;

The last was I that felt thy tyranny.

O, in the battle think on Buckingham,

And die in terror of thy guiltiness!

Dream on, dream on, of bloody deeds and death.

Fainting, despair; despairing, yield thy breath!
faint (v.) 1 lose courage, show fear, lose heart, take fright

(To Richmond) I died for hope ere I could lend thee aid,

But cheer thy heart and be thou not dismayed;

God and good angel fight on Richmond's side,

And Richard falls in height of all his pride!


Richard starts out of his dream


Give me another horse! Bind up my wounds!

Have mercy, Jesu! – Soft! I did but dream.

O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!

The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.

Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.

What do I fear? Myself? There's none else by.

Richard loves Richard: that is, I am I.

Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am.

Then fly. What, from myself? Great reason why –
fly (v.) 1 leave, run away [from], flee

Lest I revenge. Myself upon myself?

Alack, I love myself. Wherefore? For any good

That I myself have done unto myself?

O no! Alas, I rather hate myself

For hateful deeds committed by myself.

I am a villain. Yet I lie, I am not.

Fool, of thyself speak well. Fool, do not flatter.

My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count

And every tongue brings in a several tale,

And every tale condemns me for a villain.

Perjury, perjury, in the highest degree.

Murder, stern murder, in the direst degree,

All several sins, all used in each degree,
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count
use (v.) 3 make use of, engage [in], practise [with]

Throng to the bar, crying all, ‘ Guilty! Guilty!’
bar (n.) 4 tribunal, judgement place

I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;

And if I die, no soul will pity me.

Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myself

Find in myself no pity to myself?

Methought the souls of all that I had murdered
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

Came to my tent, and every one did threat
threat (v.) threaten

Tomorrow's vengeance on the head of Richard.

Enter Ratcliffe


My lord!


Zounds, who is there?


Ratcliffe, my lord, 'tis I. The early village cock

Hath twice done salutation to the morn;
morn (n.) morning, dawn See Topics: Frequency count

Your friends are up and buckle on their armour.


O Ratcliffe, I have dreamed a fearful dream!

What thinkest thou? Will our friends prove all true?


No doubt, my lord.


                         Ratcliffe, I fear, I fear!


Nay, good my lord, be not afraid of shadows.


By the apostle Paul, shadows tonight
shadow (n.) 5 spirit, phantom, spectre, ghost

Have struck more terror to the soul of Richard

Than can the substance of ten thousand soldiers

Armed in proof and led by shallow Richmond.
proof (n.) 1 tested strength, proven power of resistance, impenetrability
shallow (adj.) naive, gullible, lacking in depth of character

'Tis not yet near day. Come, go with me.

Under our tents I'll play the eavesdropper,

To see if any mean to shrink from me.

Exeunt Richard and Ratcliffe

Enter the Lords to Richmond sitting in his tent
morrow (n.) morning See Topics: Frequency count


Good morrow, Richmond!


Cry mercy, lords and watchful gentlemen,
cry (v.) 4 beg, entreat, implore See Topics: Politeness

That you have ta'en a tardy sluggard here.


How have you slept, my lord?


The sweetest sleep, and fairest-boding dreams
fairest-boding (adj.) most favourable, most encouraging

That ever entered in a drowsy head

Have I since your departure had, my lords.

Methought their souls whose bodies Richard murdered

Came to my tent and cried on victory.
cry on (v.) shout out, call out about

I promise you my heart is very jocund
jocund (adj.) merry, joyful, cheerful

In the remembrance of so fair a dream.
remembrance (n.) 1 memory, bringing to mind, recollection See Topics: Frequency count

How far into the morning is it, lords?


Upon the stroke of four.


Why, then 'tis time to arm and give direction.

His oration to his soldiers

More than I have said, loving countrymen,

The leisure and enforcement of the time
leisure (n.) opportunity, moment, available time

Forbids to dwell upon. Yet remember this:

God and our good cause fight upon our side;

The prayers of holy saints and wronged souls,

Like high-reared bulwarks, stand before our faces.

Richard except, those whom we fight against

Had rather have us win than him they follow.

For what is he they follow? Truly, gentlemen,

A bloody tyrant and a homicide;

One raised in blood and one in blood established;

One that made means to come by what he hath,
means, make take pains, make efforts

And slaughtered those that were the means to help him;

A base foul stone, made precious by the foil
base (adj.) 4 non-precious, worthless, of low value
foil (n.) 3 setting, background which sets something off to advantage [as dull metal sets off a gem]

Of England's chair, where he is falsely set;
chair (n.) 1 throne

One that hath ever been God's enemy.

Then if you fight against God's enemy,

God will in justice ward you as his soldiers;
ward (v.) protect, defend, guard

If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,

You sleep in peace, the tyrant being slain;

If you do fight against your country's foes,

Your country's fat shall pay your pains the hire;
fat (n.) 1 plenty, wealth, abundance
pain (n.) effort, endeavour, exertion, labour

If you do fight in safeguard of your wives,
safeguard (n.) safeguarding, defence, protection

Your wives shall welcome home the conquerors;

If you do free your children from the sword,

Your children's children quits it in your age.
age (n.) 2 mature years, old age
quit (v.) 5 pay back, repay, reward

Then in the name of God and all these rights,

Advance your standards, draw your willing swords.
advance (v.) 1 raise, lift up, upraise
standard (n.) 1 flag, ensign

For me, the ransom of my bold attempt

Shall be this cold corpse on the earth's cold face;

But if I thrive, the gain of my attempt

The least of you shall share his part thereof.
share (v.) take, receive, have [as one's share]

Sound drums and trumpets boldly and cheerfully:

God and Saint George! Richmond and victory!


Enter King Richard, Ratcliffe, and soldiers


What said Northumberland as touching Richmond?


That he was never trained up in arms.


He said the truth. And what said Surrey then?


He smiled and said, ‘ The better for our purpose.’
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count


He was in the right, and so indeed it is.

Clock strikes
tell (v.) 3 tell the time on

Tell the clock there. Give me a calendar.

Who saw the sun today?


                         Not I, my lord.


Then he disdains to shine; for by the book

He should have braved the east an hour ago.
brave (v.) 2 make splendid, adorn, brighten up

A black day will it be to somebody.



My lord?


                         The sun will not be seen today;

The sky doth frown and lour upon our army.
lour, lower (v.) frown, scowl, look dark and threatening

I would these dewy tears were from the ground.

Not shine today? Why, what is that to me

More than to Richmond? For the selfsame heaven

That frowns on me looks sadly upon him.
sadly (adv.) 1 seriously, gravely, solemnly

Enter Norfolk
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat See Topics: Frequency count
vaunt (v.) 3 exult, rejoice, revel


Arm, arm, my lord; the foe vaunts in the field.


Come, bustle, bustle! Caparison my horse!
caparison (v.) put the trappings on, equip, harness

Call up Lord Stanley, bid him bring his power.
power (n.) 1 armed force, troops, host, army See Topics: Frequency count

I will lead forth my soldiers to the plain,

And thus my battle shall be ordered:
battle (n.) 2 battle array, war formation, ranks of soldiers

My foreward shall be drawn out all in length,
foreward (n.) vanguard, front line [of soldiers]

Consisting equally of horse and foot;
foot (n.) 1 foot-soldiers, infantry
horse (n.) cavalry, horse soldiers

Our archers shall be placed in the midst;

John Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Earl of Surrey,

Shall have the leading of this foot and horse.

They thus directed, we will follow

In the main battle, whose puissance on either side
battle (n.) 1 army, fighting force, battalion
puissance (n.) power, might, force

Shall be well winged with our chiefest horse.
wing (v.) 1 furnish with troops, have a wing protected [by]

This, and Saint George to boot! What think'st thou, Norfolk?
boot, to in addition, as well See Topics: Swearing


A good direction, warlike sovereign.

This found I on my tent this morning.

He showeth him a paper
Jockey (n.) [pet name] little Jack, Jacky



Jockey of Norfolk, be not so bold,

For Dickon thy master is bought and sold.
buy and sell, past form bought and sold betray, exploit, treat treacherously

A thing devised by the enemy.

Go, gentleman, every man unto his charge.

(Aside) Let not our babbling dreams affright our souls;

Conscience is but a word that cowards use,

Devised at first to keep the strong in awe.

Our strong arms be our conscience, swords our law!

(To them) March on, join bravely, let us to't pell-mell,

If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell.

His oration to his army
infer (v.) 1 adduce, bring up, put forward

What shall I say more than I have inferred?

Remember whom you are to cope withal –
cope, cope with (v.) 1 encounter, face, have to do [with], come into contact [with]

A sort of vagabonds, rascals, and runaways,
runaway (n.) deserter, coward, renegade
sort (n.) 2 pack, crowd, gang

A scum of Britains and base lackey peasants,
base (adj.) 2 low-born, lowly, plebeian, of lower rank See Topics: Frequency count
Britain (n.) Breton, person from Brittany
lackey (adj.) servile, menial, abject

Whom their o'ercloyed country vomits forth
overcloyed (adj.) overfilled, satiated, stuffed to busting

To desperate adventures and assured destruction.

You sleeping safe, they bring to you unrest;

You having lands, and blessed with beauteous wives,

They would distrain the one, distain the other.
distain (v.) 1 dishonour, defile, corrupt
distrain (v.) seize, confiscate, commandeer

And who doth lead them but a paltry fellow,

Long kept in Britain at our mother's cost?

A milksop, one that never in his life

Felt so much cold as over shoes in snow?

Let's whip these stragglers o'er the seas again,
straggler (n.) vagabond, wanderer, roving vagrant

Lash hence these overweening rags of France,
overweening (adj.) arrogant, overambitious, high and mighty
rag (n.) 1 worthless wretch, good-for-nothing creature, beggar

These famished beggars, weary of their lives,

Who, but for dreaming on this fond exploit,
exploit (n.) 2 military action, martial undertaking
fond (adj.) 1 foolish, stupid, mad

For want of means, poor rats, had hanged themselves.

If we be conquered, let men conquer us,

And not these bastard Britains, whom our fathers
Britain (n.) Breton, person from Brittany

Have in their own land beaten, bobbed, and thumped,
bob (v.) 3 punch, strike, buffet

And, in record, left them the heirs of shame.

Shall these enjoy our lands? Lie with our wives?

Ravish our daughters? (Drum afar off) Hark! I hear their drum.

Fight, gentlemen of England! Fight, bold yeomen!

Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head!
draw (v.) 11 [archery] draw back a bow-string

Spur your proud horses hard, and ride in blood!
proud (adj.) 3 high-spirited, high-mettled

Amaze the welkin with your broken staves!
welkin (n.) sky, firmament, heavens

Enter a Messenger
power (n.) 1 armed force, troops, host, army See Topics: Frequency count

What says Lord Stanley? Will he bring his power?


My lord, he doth deny to come.
deny (v.) 2 refuse, decline, scorn


Off with his son George's head!


My lord, the enemy is past the marsh.

After the battle let George Stanley die.


A thousand hearts are great within my bosom!
great (adj.) 5 full of emotion

Advance our standards, set upon our foes.
advance (v.) 1 raise, lift up, upraise
standard (n.) 1 flag, ensign

Our ancient word of courage, fair Saint George,

Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons!
spleen (n.) 1 temper, spirit, passion [part of the body seen as the source of both gloomy and mirthful emotions]

Upon them! Victory sits on our helms.
helm (n.) 1 helmet


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