Shakespeare's history play explained in plain and simple prose! One of Shakespeare's best history plays is "The First Part of King Henry the Fourth" (or "1 Henry IV"). Shakespeare actually wrote two plays about the reign of King Henry IV (1399-1413). In "1 Henry IV" Shakespeare covers the rebellion of the Percy family, English aristocrats who had originally helped King Henry IV gain possession of the throne. The play primarily focuses on the young son of the king. Prince Henry (the future Henry V) is an embarrassment to the king, for the prince spends an idle and lazy life drinking and gambling in the taverns of England. However, with the coming of the rebellion, the prince is forced to grow up quickly.