Act IV Scene 4
At Westminster, in London, the King speaks to his nobles. He looks forward to the end of the civil war, after which he can fulfill his long desire to travel to the Holy Land. He then gives his son Thomas, Duke of Clarence, some advice regarding Thomas's brother, Prince Henry. Henry is more fond of Thomas than of his other brothers, and the King encourages Thomas to nourish this bond, since Henry can be hard and capricious. But if Thomas learns how to handle him carefully, he can ensure that all the brothers remain united.
The King inquires as to Henry's whereabouts, and Thomas tells him he is in London, with his usual companions. The King gives vent to his fears about what will happen to his kingdom when he is dead and Henry rules it. He has no confidence in his son's wisdom or ability to lead. Warwick tries to convince the King that Henry will cast off his disreputable companions when the time comes, but the King is not convinced.
Westmoreland enters, bringing the news of Prince John's capture of the rebels. Then Harcourt enters with more news. Northumberland and Lord Bardolph, with large armies of English and Scots, have been defeated in Yorkshire. But King Henry is too ill to enjoy the good news and he suddenly takes a turn for the worse. The nobles fear that he may die soon; they take him up and lay him on a bed.
For the first time the play goes directly to the theme of the wild Prince Hal, and the relations between him and his father, that featured so prominently in Henry IV, Part 1. This theme will reach its climax in the next scene.