In his palace at Westminster, the ill King Henry IV is talking with his advisors and his younger sons, Thomas Duke of Clarence and Humphrey Duke of Gloucester. As soon as the present civil war is resolved, he says, he wants to lead an army to join the Crusades in Jerusalem; he has prepared everything he will need for this. The king is clearly sick enough that he may not last that long, but no one seems to want to be the one to say it.

Learning that Hal is in London this evening with his rascally friends, the king laments Hal's waywardness to his younger sons. Westmoreland enters, bringing news that the three rebel leaders--Mowbray, Hastings, and the Archbishop of York--have been executed. Then, Harcourt, another lord, enters with news that the rebellious Northumberland has also been overthrown. The king first rejoices but then suddenly starts to feel very sick. Conscious, but weak, the king is laid on a bed in another chamber and left alone.

Prince Hal enters, and his brothers tell him of their father's illness. Hal enters his father's room to sit by him and, contemplating the crown that lies beside him on the pillow, criticizes it for the heavy weight it has imposed upon his father. The king seems to stop breathing, and Hal, thinking he is dead, reverentially lifts the crown onto his own head and goes into another room to think alone.

King Henry wakes up suddenly and, calling his attendants, learns that Hal was with him but a moment before. Finding his crown gone, he becomes angry and bitter, thinking that Hal has revealed his own greediness and lack of love for his father. But Warwick spies Hal weeping in the next room, and King Henry sends the others away to speak with Hal alone.

The king angrily rebukes Hal for being so quick to seize the crown. He condemns him for his careless, violent, freewheeling life, and he paints a vivid picture of the horrors he thinks England can expect when Hal becomes king. Hal kneels before his father, weeping, and swears that he loves his father and was full of grief when he thought him dead; he says that he views the crown as an enemy to fight with, not as a treasure. King Henry, moved by the speech, lets Hal sit next to him. With his dying breath, he tells Hal that he hopes he will find more peace as king than Henry did.

The younger princes then return, and King Henry is pleased to see them. Upon asking the name of the chamber where he first collapsed, he is told that the room is called "Jerusalem." The king realizes, at last, that he will never see the real Jerusalem--where it had once been foretold that he would die--but he will die in the room named "Jerusalem." The others carry him away to this room.