Richard II of England

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From 1377 to 1399, Richard II ruled England as its monarch. Richard of Bordeaux was another name for this ambitious monarch who had lofty political goals. His reign was characterized by a number of political upheavals, and the Hundred Years’ War and a protracted conflict with France overshadowed the early years. Richard, one of Edward the Black Prince’s sons, was born under the rule of his paternal grandfather, Edward III. Richard became the first in line to the kingdom after the tragic death of Edward the Black Prince, who had been his father’s obvious heir to the throne held by his grandfather. When his grandfather passed away in 1377, Richard, who was only eleven years old, ascended to the throne. Because of his youth, a number of councils were formed to control the government, and the young king’s uncle, John of Gaunt, rose to prominence in the English court. The Peasants’ Revolt presented Richard with his first significant test as king when he was only an adolescent. He earned the esteem of his subjects by playing a crucial part in putting an end to this uprising. He eventually took over as head of state, but his increasing reliance on a select number of courtiers made him unpopular. His cousin Henry of Bolingbroke eventually overthrew him and ascended to the throne of England.

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Early Childhood & Life

On January 6, 1367, in Bordeaux, Duchy of Aquitaine, Richard of Bordeaux was born as the younger son of Edward, the Black Prince, and Joan of Kent. When Richard was born, his grandfather Edward III was the king of England and his father Edward was the heir apparent to the throne.

After the death of Richard’s older brother Edward of Angoulême in 1371, Richard was now second in line for the crown.

In 1376, his father Edward the Black Prince was ill and passed away. The assembly was concerned that Richard’s uncle, John of Gaunt, who was only nine years old, would steal the crown. As a result, Richard received his father’s other titles including the princedom of Wales quite rapidly.

Accession and Rule

King Edward III passed away in June 1377, and Richard, who was just five years old, was anointed king on July 16, 1377. Once more, it was thought that John of Gaunt would attempt to seize control, therefore regency under the young king’s uncle was avoided. Even if the regency was avoided, the uncle still had a lot of power in politics.

A number of councilors assisted the king in the ruling, and two of them in particular—Sir Simon de Burley and Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland—became more and more in charge of royal matters.

When Richard came to the throne, England and France were engaged in the Hundred Years’ War. Heavy poll taxes were imposed on the populace in order to pay for the war, which infuriated the average person.

Wat Tyler, John Ball, and Jack Straw led the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381, which was triggered by mounting discontent. Richard, who was just 14 years old at the time, opted to negotiate with the rebels as the uprising had already resulted in the deaths of several high officials and was becoming out of control.

The rebels resumed their killing and plundering after the king met with their leaders and gave in to their demands. As a result, the king made the decision to put an end to the uprising. He did so by defeating the rebels and putting on a brave and valiant performance. Richard gained the respect of the populace for his courage and confidence at such a young age.

As he grew older, Richard eventually took full authority of his realm. He also became overly reliant on a select group of councilors, who gained considerable power over him. Michael de la Pole was one of them, and Richard appointed him chancellor in 1383. Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was another of the king’s favorites.

The military conflict between England and France intensified in the 1380s, and in 1386, there was a growing threat of a French invasion. A serious crisis in Parliament resulted from this. The chancellor, Michael de la Pole, asked for yet another significant tariff to pay for the military missions. The parliament then demanded the monarch dismiss the chancellor and threatened to depose him if he refused. Richard was so compelled to get rid of de la Pole.

A group of aristocrats known as the Lords Appellant took control of the government in 1387. In an armed uprising against King Richard, the Lord’s Appellant routed an army led by Robert de Vere. After purging the court, they executed several people, including de Vere and de la Pole, two of the king’s favorites.

Richard eventually reclaimed his position of control, and in 1389 he did so by asserting it and ousting the key figures in the Lord’s Appellant. For the next eight years, he reigned in a cordial manner.

In 1396, England and France struck a truce, which made taxing easier for the ordinary populace.
Richard had grown as a leader by this point and was no longer putting all of his faith in a select few. However, in his attempt to be aggressive, he turned into a dictatorial and authoritarian ruler, and the populace lost faith in his monarchy.

When Richard’s uncle John of Gaunt passed away in 1399, Gaunt’s son Henry of Bolingbroke was not given any of the substantial Lancastrian holdings that would have been his.

Henry of Bolingbroke invaded England out of rage and swiftly removed Richard, who gave up without a struggle. Following this, Bolingbroke became Henry IV and Richard was put in prison.

Personal Legacy & Life

In 1382, Richard wed Anne of Bohemia, a child of Charles IV, King of Bohemia, and his wife Elisabeth of Pomerania. He cherished his wife dearly, therefore her passing in 1394 grieved him. There were no offspring from this union.

His second marriage was arranged as a political pact with France. He wed Isabella, the French king Charles VI’s daughter, in 1396. The princess was only six years old when she got married.

Following his deposition, Richard was locked up in Pontefract Castle, where he passed away on 14 February 1400. Despite the fact that the exact reason for his death is unknown, some reports claim he was starved to death.

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