King Henry IV: Father of Prince Henry and Prince John and grandson of King Edward III, Henry (as dramatized in Shakespeare’s Richard II) had returned from banishment to claim the rights of inheritance denied him by his cousin, King Richard II. He led a revolt against the king, forced Richard to abdicate, and became the first of the Lancastrian rulers of England. He is referred to occasionally as Bolingbroke, from the place of his birth, and is continually insecure in his position because of the manner in which he attained the kingship.
Henry, prince of Wales: Son of King Henry, Prince Hal, as he is usually called in this play, is a carefree, boisterous youth who is many times at odds with his father. However, by the end of the play, he has shown his true mettle as a soldier and leader and is hinting at his abilities as a future king.
John, prince of Lancaster: Young son of King Henry and brother to Prince Hal, Prince John appears only in the very first scene and on the battlefield at Shrewsbury toward the end of play. To some extent he functions as a foil to his older brother.
Earl of Westmoreland: One of the loyal noblemen who lead the king’s army.
Sir Walter Blunt: Another nobleman loyal to King Henry.
Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester: Brother of the earl of Northumberland and uncle of Hotspur, Thomas Percy is one of the leading rebels against King Henry. It is he that seems to influence the impressionable young Hotspur the most.
Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland: Father of Hotspur and brother of Thomas Percy, Henry Percy is also a leading rebel against the king, as well as the titular head of the House of Percy, the most powerful baronial family in the north lands.
Henry Percy, nicknamed “Hotspur”: Son of Henry Percy and nephew of Thomas Percy, Hotspur emerges as the impetuous leader of the northern rebels. He is courageous and hot blooded, as well as a complete foil to Prince Hal.
Edmund Mortimer, earl of March: One of the rebels against the king, Edmund Mortimer is the son of Glendower and, according to Shakespeare, the brother-in-law of Hotspur and claimant to the throne of England; however, for the record, it was Edmund Mortimer’s nephew, a younger Edmund, who could claim these titles.
Richard Scroop: The archbishop of York, Richard Scroop is an ally of the Percys in the rebellion against the king.
Archibald, earl of Douglas: The leader of the forces defeated by Hotspur at Holmedon before the play begins, Archibald eventually becomes an ally of the Percys.
Owen Glendower: A Welsh nobleman, Owen Glendower defeated and took captive Edmund Mortimer before the play begins and later sides with the rebels in their revolt.His followers attribute certain supernatural powers to him.
Sir Richard Vernon: One of the rebels.
Sir John Falstaff: Knight of the realm, enormously fat and white-bearded, and one of Shakespeare’s most popular comic characters, Falstaff is the carefree companion of Prince Hal. His irrepressible humor and superior wit, by means of which he retrieves himself from embarrassing or difficult situations, make it practically impossible for one to pass moral judgement on him.
Sir Michael: A friend to Richard Scroop, archbishop of York.
Poins: One of Prince Hal’s companions at the Boar’s Head Tavern, Poins has a special relationship with the prince, suggesting that he, in contrast to Gadshill, Peto, and Bardolph, comes from a genteel family.
Gadshill: A riotous friend of Prince Hal and Falstaff.
Peto: A riotous friend of Prince Hal and Falstaff.
Bardolph: A riotous friend of Prince Hal and Falstaff.
Lady Percy: The wife of the rebel Hotspur and sister of Edmund Mortimer, Lady Percy is sprightly, affectionate, and likeable.
Lady Mortimer: Wife of Edmund Mortimer and daughter of Glendower, Lady Mortimer speaks no English and her husband speaks no Welsh.
Mistress Quickly: Hostess of the Boar’s Head Tavern, Mistress Quickly is kindly, if rather stupid and disreputable.