Richard II

(Richard II of England)


Richard II was the son of Edward the Black Prince, and ascended to the throne when he was only ten years old. The first crisis of his administration involved Wat Tyler's Rebellion., but that was quickly resolved. A much thornier problem had to do France, and whether or not to follow up the English victories in the Hundred Years War. The English had recently suffered setbacks and what was at one time, a highly popular war was no longer universally embraced. There were strong differences of opinion among the Barons on this and many other issues, and the richest and most powerful man in the country, John of Gaunt, was a divisive figure with many loyal followers and bitter enemies. He was not, however, popular with the common people, partly due to his wealth, partly due to his policies of taxation, and partly due to his lack of military leadership in the Hundred Years War. Richard, being somewhat young and ignorant of these matters, made early mistakes which cost him the support of many of his barons.

richard II
The second crisis of Richard's administration was a baron's revolt that occurred when he replaced several powerful ministers with his own favorites. The difficulties were not resolved until John of Gaunt, who had been absent for four years, returned to England and intervened on Richard's behalf. For almost ten more years he ruled in relative peace, largely by acquiescing to the demands of his barons. He sought peace both in Ireland and France, but this did not bring him popularity in an age when military accomplishments were highly valued. His first wife died childless, so in 1396 he negotiated an unpopular peace treaty with France, and married a French princess. This led to another revolt among the barons, but his kingship was not at first threatened. On the death of John of Gaunt, however, he sent his cousin Henry Bolingbroke, son of his deceased uncle, into exile, and confiscated his property. Bolingbroke raised an army in France with the object of restoring his property, but he was encouraged by several disgruntled barons to assume the throne. Richard II was thereby deposed and died in prison shortly afterward.

Key events during the life of Richard II of England:

Birth of Richard II
Ascends to the throne
Wat Tyler's rebellion.
Marriage to Anne of Bohemia
Barons's first revolt against Richard.
John of Gaunt returns to England
Peace with France, and marriage to Isabella of Valois
Death of John of Gaunt; Henry Bolingbroke is exiled.
Richard II is deposed by Bolingbroke, and later killed.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Richard II., the Last Plantagenet King  in  The Story of England  by  Samuel B. Harding
Kings and Queens  in  Back Matter  by  books/lord/westminster/_back.html
Richard II of Bordeaux—Wat Tyler's Rebellion  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
How King Richard Lost His Throne  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall

Book Links
Richard II  by  Jacob Abbott

Image Links

Richard receiving the visit of his Uncle John.
 in Richard II

King Richard the Second
 in Stories From English History, Part Second

Short Biography
John of Gaunt Third son of Edward III, and father of Henry Bolingbroke. Extremely influential 14th century noble.
Wat Tyler Leader of a peasant rebellion during reign of Richard II. He was killed during talks.
Henry IV Son of John of Gaunt. Assumed the throne after Richard II was deposed.
Anne of Bohemia First wife of Richard II. Died childless.