coronation portrait of Richard II;
he don't look too fussed, does he?
Richard's older brother Edward of Angouleme had demised at the age of 4, pushing him closer to the throne after the death of their father, the Black Prince. He was unequivoably accepted as his grandfather's heir & as the son of the hero of Poitiers & Crecy, great things were expected of this little king.
B/c he was just a kidlet, there was a regency & peeps kept looking sideways at Uncle John of Gaunt expecting him to seize the throne, but he was actually a good uncle not an evil one & saved Richard's bacon many a time. Still, I betcha he thunk from time to time, if THAT brat had demised, too, the king would now be ME ME ME LOL Wouldn't you?
After DW#2 finally demised & that Castilian throne question settled w/ the wedding of their daughter Catherine of Lancaster to the other contender for it (LOL he named his kid w/ his wife after his GF LOL), Gaunt married his GF, so Catherine Swynford got to be the Duchess of Lancaster. His surviving legit kids by DW#1, Philippa, Elizabeth, & Henry, liked her & called her Mum, & their 4 bastard brats, John, Henry, Thomas, & Joan, who went by the surname of Beaufort, Richard kindly legtimicized after the wedding. Gaunt seriously had 4 legit sons all named John (3 by DW#1, 1 by DW#2) who demised in infancy, but the bastard one lived. The only reason legit Henry was Henry was b/c the John who was born b4 him hadn't yet demised. Catherine had 2 kids by her 1st DH, Hugh Swynford, Thomas & Blanchette (named for Gaunt's 1st DW, b/c Catherine was the legit kids' governess). WHY they gave their kids all the same names I am sure I dunno. It had to be mighty confusing at the dinner table.
Anyway, by the time Richard was 14 there was already trouble. Uncle Edmund didn't mix in w/ the whole regency thing, but Uncle John & Uncle Thomas tried. Instead of one regent there was a council of em & in the 1st 4 yrs of the reign, b/c all that warring tends to deplete a treasury, they passed a passel of new taxes that peeps didn't like. Some things never change, do they? The opposition to this was called the Peasants' Revolt.
A bunch of peasants marched on London in protest. B/c Gaunt was nominally the head of the council, his fab palace of the Savoy (built yonks ago by one of Eleanor of Provence's rellies) was burnt to the ground & alas, lots of his important papers were in there. The irony was that Sir Simon Burley, Richard's tutor & a council peep, had thunk up the revenue scheme & Gaunt's objections to it were voted down. Richard's Lord Chancellor & Lord Treasurer were murdered by the mob. The peasants were all disgruntled & milling round Blackheath just outside of London whilst Richard & his peeps peeped over the Tower walls & said O SHITE NOW WHAT? b/c there were lots of em. Richard was not at all militarily inclined (much to peeps' disgust, as the BP was) & he said um mayhap we should negotiate w/ em?
He did have some cojones for a kid b/c he rode out to meet w/ a delegation of em, nodded & smiled, & said, sure, we'll get rid of them pesky taxes for ya, no prob! The rebels were all WHOO-HOO WE WON! & went on a nice looting spree. O dear, said Richard, that didn't work out too well, did it? They ain't leaving! So the next day he rode out again to parley w/ their leader, Wat Tyler (this is sometimes also referred to as Wat Tyler's Rebellion). Tyler didn't trust the little king & peeps started getting heated & b4 ya knew it, the Lord Mayor of London jumped off his horse & ran Tyler thru w/ his sword. The rebels began muttering & closing in & Richard hollered, "I shall be your captain now! Follow me!" & peeps were gobsmacked that they did & dispersed & went away.
Of course Tyler was darn tootin' the king couldn't be trusted, b/c the taxes didn't get repealed & Richard joined his forces in chasing down the rest of the ringleaders & arranging nice hangings for free entertainment to take peeps' minds off all them groats jingling in his pockets. But hey, at least the kid had some guts, huh? Wouldn't catch Scarlet doin' nuffin but cowering in the Tower LOL
Them groats were needed b/c the next yr Richard had a splendid wedding to Anne of Bohemia, a counter-Frenchie move (she was the granddaughter of the nutjob blind king).
Anne of Bohemia
Since the Lord Chancellor office was vacant due to the revolting, Richard apptd the peep who brokered the happy match, Michael de la Pole, & created him Duke of Suffolk. He became quite friendly w/ another peep, Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford. Despite Richard's devotion to his wife, peeps started looking sideways at the idea of a male favorite again & began whispering mayhap he was batting for the other team. Certainly there were no little Plantagenets popping out yet.
Richard had 2 spectacularly ineffectual military campaigns (guess who? Scots & Frenchies), disregarding Uncle Gaunt's advice. Gaunt got all disgusted & this is round the time he ran off to Castile. This left Uncle Gloucester to keep on eye on the kid. The Frenchies, realizing the new king wasn't no BP, were threatening to invade, so Suffolk decided twas time to raise taxes thru the roof for the defense of the realm. Parliament said um NO you suck at running the govt & we're not approving jack until you get replaced. Richard said pffft I think not but finally he not only had to give in, but have peeps come by & review the royal books b/c they thunk he was spending far too much & giving out too many goodies. He was not amused, muttered & hmmm'd a lot, & then sent de Vere to go rally some troops.
This is when the Lords Appellant got together. They consisted of Uncle Gloucester; Gaunt's son Henry of Bolingbroke, then Earl of Derby; Thomas Mowbray, then Earl of Nottingham; Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel; & Thomas de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. They trounced de Vere at the battle of Radcot Bridge, & the favorite & Suffolk was all RUN AWAY RUN AWAY! They had what was known as the Merciless Parliament bring treason charges against all of Richard's main peeps. He was irked b/c Anne went down on her knees b4 Uncle Gloucester & begged for Burley's life & was refused.
The place just went to hell w/o Gaunt around to make peeps fly right, so he came back. By then the Lords Appellant had also gotten trounced by the Scots some & that whole Frenchie thing came to naught, so peeps were thinking mayhap they'd been a little hasty to judge the kid. Gaunt reminded Richard twas well past his 11dy6th BD & Richard was all O SHITE I'M OLD ENOUGH TO BE KING ALL BY MYSELF, AIN'T I? & glared at the Lords Appellant & told em to hit the road & blamed all his woes on them. All was OK for a while.
5 yrs later his wife demised of the plague, & even tho she hadn't done her heir duty, he was supposedly madly in love w/ her & even razed their fav palace of Sheen so he didn't have to look at it. Richard's foreign policy was NOT to have a Frenchie war, so he did a truce & remarried to a little French princess, Isabella of Valois, 20 yrs younger than him, so he wouldn't have to beget heirs posthaste. 6 yo Isabella liked him & glared at the peeps he didn't like. Then he brooded & hmmm'd a lot & decided to get revenge on those irksome Lords Appellants.
Richard executed Arundel, & Uncle Gloucester demised in prison under the usual fishy circumstances. Warwick was condemned but then commuted to banishment. Bolingbroke, now Duke of Hereford, & Mowbray, now Duke of Norfolk, held their breath for a cpl yrs, decided blue wasn't their color, & let it out in the form of an argument w/ each other in the king's presence.
By now Gaunt, who was pushing 60, was dying at Leicester, & unable to smack Richard upside the head. Twas decided a nice trial by combat would settle the quarrel. They were all suited up & ready to go at it when Richard dramatically announced um NO & told em to stay on their horses. Norfolk was banished from the kingdom for 10 yrs, whilst cuz Henry was to get lost for life. Rumor has it Richard was afeared of the sole legit Lancaster lad someday seizing the throne from his apptd heir-presumptive (until the little queen grew up & was old enough to mayhap breed), little Edmund Mortimer of the dual claim Yorkist line. Alas, Richard was peering a tad too far into the future on that one.
Henry was ticked b/c his father was fading fast & Gaunt indeed demised shortly after. Then Richard delivered the sucker punch. Not only would he not permit Henry to pop back over for the funeral, he confiscated the huge estates & coin of the ginormous Duchy of Lancaster for the crown & said NYAAH-NYAAH, YOU'RE DISINHERITED! PUSH ME AROUND WHEN I WAS A KID, WILL YA?
So Bolingbroke was not amused & gathered an invasion force to get back his dad's stuff. Richard was over in Ireland dealing w/ some pesky rebellion there when Bolingbroke landed at Ravenspur in Wales, & he hurried back to deal w/ this threat. To his mortification none of his peeps would stick up for him & everyone was on his cousin's side, so in addition to grabbing back Lancastrian lands, Bolingbroke proposed desposing Richard & succeeding him as Henry IV. HUZZAH OK was universally cried, & Richard was swept into the bowels of Pontefract Castle while Cuz took the throne & this was the opening sally of the Wars of the Roses, really.
Twas said Richard was starved to death at Pontefract to get rid of him after the usual rebellions began to crop up, but tis also said he managed to escape to Italy like Edward II, & died there many yrs later. No one really knows. Tis a mystery.....