In another part of the battlefield, King Henry, Prince Hal, Prince John, Westmoreland and attendants enter with Worcester and Vernon as prisoners. King Henry asks Worcester why he so misrepresented the king’s peace offering and points out that, had he told the truth, he could have spared the lives of many. Worcester admits he lied for self-serving motives and says he accepts his now inevitable execution. The king sends Worcester and Vernon off to be executed.
King Henry’s accusation articulates a truth only implicated before: that the Battle of Shrewsbury might have been prevented had Worcester conveyed the king’s words to the rebels faithfully.
Prince Hal tells King Henry that Douglas tried to escape when he saw his side was losing the battle, but that he fell, got captured, and is now imprisoned in the prince’s tent. King Henry gives Hal permission to do whatever he wants with Douglas. Hearing this, Hal tells Prince John to go free Douglas since Douglas has proven himself a brave man, even if he was fighting for the rebels.
Prince Hal’s decision to set Douglas free is admirable and merciful, and further distinguishes him from the violent-minded Hotspur. It also implies that Prince Hal will one day be a fair-minded and generous monarch.
King Henry strategizes the path to peace: Prince John and Westmoreland will go defeat Northumberland and Richard Scroop at York while he and Prince Hal will head to Wales to fight down Glendower and Mortimer. “Rebellion in this land shall lose his sway,” the king declares, “Let us not leave till all our own be won.”
King Henry began the play praising peace in England, and he ends the play strategizing a means of restoring that peace. As king, he aims to use his power to prevent conflict among his peoples.