James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

May 3

Battle of St. Albans

By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

  • From Henry VI. Part II, Act V. Scene 3.
  • The first battle of St. Albans, fought on May 3, 1455, was the first in the War of the Roses, and resulted in a victory for the Yorkists.

  • Scene, Fields near St. Alban’s.

    Alarum. Retreat. Enter YORK, RICHARD, WARWICK, and Soldiers, with drum and colours.

    York.Of Salisbury, who can report of him,

    That winter lion, who in rage forgets

    Aged contusions and all brush of time,

    And, like a gallant in the brow of youth,

    Repairs him with occasion? This happy day

    Is not itself, nor have we won one foot,

    If Salisbury be lost.

    Rich.My noble father,

    Three times to-day I holp him to his horse,

    Three times bestrid him; thrice I led him off,

    Persuaded him from any further act:

    But still, where danger was, still there I met him;

    And like rich hangings in a homely house,

    So was his will in his old feeble body.

    But, noble as he is, look where he comes.

    Enter SALISBURY.

    Sal.Now, by my sword, well hast thou fought to-day;

    By the mass, so did we all. I thank you, Richard:

    God knows how long it is I have to live;

    And it hath pleased him that three times to-day

    You have defended me from imminent death.

    Well, lords, we have not got that which we have:

    ’Tis not enough our foes are this time fled,

    Being opposites of such repairing nature.

    York.I know our safety is to follow them;

    For, as I hear, the king is fled to London,

    To call a present court of parliament.

    Let us pursue him ere the writs go forth.

    What says Lord Warwick? shall we after them?

    War.After them! nay, before them, if we can.

    Now, by my faith, lords, ’twas a glorious day:

    Saint Alban’s battle won by famous York

    Shall be eternized in all age to come.

    Sound drums and trumpets, and to London all:

    And more such days as these to us befall![Exeunt.