Richard II (b.1367 r.1377-1399)
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Richard II (b.1367 r.1377-1399)

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A weak, vain, frivolous and inconstant prince; without weight to balance the scales of government; without discernment to choose a good ministry; without virtue to oppose the measures and advice of evil counsellors, even when they happened to clash with his own principles and opinions. He was a dupe to flattery, a slave to ostentation.
-
Tobias Smollett, History of England, 1757.


Additional Information on
Richard II (b.1367 r.1377-1399)

The 10 year old King Richard ascended the throne of his grandfather Edward III because his father the Black Prince had died a year previously. It seems that he was always in the shadow of his father because he was too frail and slight to be a gallant knight. It seems Richard was a rather weak king with a major failing in his belief that God had made him king and so he could do as he liked.

For the first ten years of his reign the country was ruled by his advisers and troubled by internal revolt - the Peasants revolt of 1381 (peasants marched on London, murdered Archbishop of Canterbury, broke into the Tower of London), and the Nobles revolt of 1387.

In 1389 Richard took over governing himself and at first ruled well and presided over a period of prosperity - making a truce with France and bringing peace to Ireland. However, in 1394 his beloved wife Anne died and his behaviour changed. In 1397 he made himself an 'absolute monarch' taking away the regulating power of parliament, much to the anger of the nobles, and as a result lost much support. In 1399, after much provocation, his cousin Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster fought and imprisoned Richard forcing him to abdicate (he was later murdered) - the Plantagenet line ended.


QUOTATIONS

He was idle, profuse and profligate, and although brave by starts, naturally pusillanimous and irresolute. His pride and resentment prompted him to cruelty and breech of faith; while his necessities obliged him to fleece his people, and degrade the dignity of his character and station.
- V.H. Galbraith, A New Life of Richard II.

... his reign is the first attempt of an English King to rule as an autocrat on principle, and as such it is a tragedy complete in itself. It has an artistic unity independent alike of earlier and later events, just because Richard II suddenly and violently tried to break with the modus vivendi of centuries. The modern notion of Divine Right can be traced right back to Richard II and no further.
- V.H. Galbraith, A New Life of Richard II.

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