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RICHARD II

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Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 297 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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RICHARD II. (1367-1400), king of England, younger son of Edward the Black Prince by Joan " the Fair Maid of Kent, was born at Bordeaux on the 6th of January 1367. He was brought to. England in 1371, and after his father's death was, on the petition of the Commons in parliament, created prince of Wales on the 20th of November 1376. When Edward III. died, on the 2ISt of June 1377, Richard became king. Popular opinion had credited John of Gaunt with designs on the throne. This was not justified; nevertheless, the rivalry of the boy-king's uncles added another to the troubles due to the war, the Black Death and the prospect of a long minority. At first the government was conducted by a council appointed by parliament. The council was honest, but the difficulties of the situation were too great. The ill-considered poll-tax of 1381 was the occasion, though not the real cause, of the Peasants' Revolt in that year. The ministers were quite unequal to the crisis, and when Wat Tyler and his followers got possession of London, it was Richard who showed a precocious tact and confidence in handling it. It was the boy-king who met and temporized with the rebels on the 13th of June at Mile End, and again next day at Smithfield; and he who, with courageous presence of mind, saved the situation when Tyler was killed, by calling on them to take him for their leader. From this time Richard began to assert himself. His chief ministers, appointed by parliament in 1382, were the earl of Arundel and Michael de la Pole. Arundel Richard disliked, and dismissed next year, when he began his personal government. Pole, whom he retained as chancellor and made earl of Suffolk, was a well-chosen adviser. But others, and especially his youthful favourite Robert de Vere, promoted by unheard-of honour to be marquess of Dublin and duke of Ireland, were less worthy. Further, Richard made his own position difficult by lavish extravagance and unseemly out-bursts of temper. He chafed under the restraint of his relatives, and therefore encouraged John of Gaunt in his Spanish enter-prise. This gave the less scrupulous Thomas of Gloucester his opportunity. Gloucester, supported by Arundel, attacked his nephew's ministers in the parliament of 1386, and by open hints at deposition forced Richard to submit to a council of control. When Richard, with the aid of his friends and by the advice of subservient judges, planned a reversal of the parliament, Gloucester, at the head of the so-called lords appellant, anticipated him. Richard had been premature and ill-advised. Gloucester had the advantage of posing as the head of the constitutional party. The king's friends were driven into exile or executed, and he himself forced to submit to the loss of all real power (May 1388). Richard changed his methods, and when the lords appellant had lost credit, asserted the apparent indifference which he showed in his fall was the himself constitutionally by dismissing Gloucester's supporters mere acting of a part. His violent outbursts of passion perhaps from office, and appointing in their place well-approved men give the best clue to a mercurial and impulsive nature, easily like William of Wykeham. In the next parliament of 1390 elated and depressed. He had real ability, and in his Irish the king showed himself ready to meet and conciliate his policy, and in the preference which he gave to it over continental subjects. The simultaneous return of John of Gaunt from adventure, showed a statesmanship in advance of his time. Spain put a check on Gloucester's ambition. For seven years But this, in spite of his lofty theory of kingship, makes it all Richard ruled constitutionally and on the whole well. The the more difficult to explain his extravagant bearing in his opposition was quiescent except for two outbreaks by Arundel: prosperity. His fall was due to the triumph of national right the first was a violent attack on John of Gaunt, which rather over absolute government, but it was his personal conduct strengthened Richard's position; the second was a wanton which made it inevitable. In appearance Richard was tall insult to the king at the funeral of his queen. and handsome, if effeminate. He had some literary tastes, In January 1383 Richard had married Anne of Bohemia which were shown in fitful patronage of Chaucer, Gower and (1366–1394), daughter of the emperor Charles IV. The marriage, Froissart. His fancy for splendid dress may have been due though childless, was happy; had Anne lived or borne a son to an artistic sense, which found better expression in his great the course of events might have been different. Her death buildings of Westminster Hall and Abbey. Richard's second on the 7th of June 1394 was a great shock to Richard, and queen, Isabella (1389–1409), was born in Paris on the 9th of incidentally had important consequences. Richard sought November 1389, and was married to the English king at Calais distraction by an expedition to Ireland, the first visit of an in October, or November, 1396, but on account of the bride's English king for more than two centuries. In his policy there youth the marriage was never consummated. When Richard he showed a wise statesmanship. At the same time he was lost his crown in 1399 Isabella was captured by Henry IV.'s negotiating for a permanent peace with France, which was partisans and sent to Sonning, near Reading, while her father, finally arranged in October 1396 to include his own marriage Charles VI., asked in vain for the restoration of his daughter with Isabella, daughter of Charles VI., a child of seven. and of her dowry. In 1401 she was allowed to return to Gloucester criticized the peace openly, and there was some France; in 1406 she became the wife of the poet, Charles, show of opposition in the parliament of February 1397. But duke of Orleans, and she died on the 13th of September 1409. there was nothing to foreshadow the sudden stroke by which BIBLIOGRAPHY.—The best contemporary authorities are the in July Richard arrested Gloucester and his chief supporters, Chronscon Anglsae down to 1388, Walsingham's Hisforia Anglicana, the earls of Arundel and Warwick. The others of the five the Annales Ricardi II., Knighton's Chronicle (all these in the Rolls lords appellant, Henry of Bolingbroke afterwards Kin Series), the Vita Ricardi II. by a Monk of Evesham (ed. T. Hearne), g and the Chronique de la traison et mort (English Hist. Soc.). Henry IV., and the earl of Nottingham, now supported the Froissart wrote from some personal knowledge. A metrical account king. Richard's action was apparently in deliberate revenge of Richard's fall, probably written by a French knight called Creton, for the events of 1387–88. Gloucester, after a forced con- is printed in Arch¢eologia, xx. The chief collections of documents fession, died in prison at Calais smothered b his nephew's are the Rolls of Parliament and the Calendar of Patent Rolls. H. A. P , Y Wallon's Richard II. (Paris, 1864) is the fullest life, though now orders. Arundel in a packed parliament was condemned and somewhat out of date. For other modern accounts see W. Stubbs, executed; his brother Thomas archbishop of Canterbury was Constitutional History, and C. W. C. Oman, The Political History of exiled. The king's friends, including Nottingham and Boling- England, vol. iv., and The Great Revolt of 1381. (C. L. K.) broke, made dukes of Norfolk and Hereford, were all promoted RICHARD III. (1452–1485), king of England, youngest son of in title and estate. Richard himself was rewarded for ten Richard, duke of York, by Cicely Neville, was born at Fotheringyears' patience by the possession of absolute power. He hay on the and of October 1452. After the second battle of might perhaps have established it if he could have exercised St Albans in February 1461, his mother sent him with his it with moderation. But he declared that the laws of England brother George for safety to Utrecht. They returned in April, were in his mouth, and supported his court in wanton luxury and at the coronation of Edward IV. Richard was created duke by arbitrary methods of taxation. By the exile of Norfolk of Gloucester. As a mere child he had no importance till 1469-and Hereford in September 1398 he seemed to have removed 1470, when he supported his brother against Warwick, shared his the last persons he need fear. He was so confident that in exile and took part in his triumphant return. He distinguished May 1399 he paid a second visit to Ireland, taking with him himself at Barnet and Tewkesbury; according to the Lancastrian all his most trusted adherents. Thus when Henry landed story, after the latter battle he murdered the young Edward at Ravenspur in July he found only half-hearted opposition, of Wales in cold blood; this is discredited by the authority of and when Richard himself returned it was too late. Ultimately Warkworth (Chronicle, p. 18); but Richard may have had a Richard surrendered to Henry at Flint on the 19th of August, share in Edward's death during the fighting. He cannot be so promising to abdicate if his life was spared. He was taken fully cleared of complicity in the murder of Henry VI., which to London riding behind his rival with indignity. On the probably took place at the Tower on the night of the 21-22 3oth of September he signed in the Tower a deed of abdication, of May, when Richard was certainly present there. Richard wherein he owned himself insufficient and useless, reading it shared to the full' in his brother's prosperity. He had large first aloud with a cheerful mien and ending with a request grants of lands and office, and by marrying Anne (1456–1485), that his cousin would be good lord to him. The parliament the younger daughter of Warwick, secured a share in the Neville ordered that Richard should be kept close prisoner, and he inheritance. This was distasteful to George, duke of Clarence, was sent secretly to Pontefract. There in February 1400 he who was already married to the elder sister, Isabel. The rivalry died: no doubt of the rigour of his winter imprisonment, of the two brothers caused a quarrel which was never appeased. rather than by actual murder as alleged in the story adopted Richard does not, however, seem to have been directly re-by Shakespeare. The mystery of Richard's death led to sponsible for the death of Clarence in 1478; Sir Thomas More, rumours that he had escaped, and an impostor pretending to who is a hostile witness, says that he resisted it openly " how be Richard lived during many years under the protection of beit somewhat (as men deemed) more faintly than he that were the Scottish government. But no doubt it was the real Richard heartily minded to his wealth." Richard's share of the Neville who was buried without state in 1400 at King's Langley, and inheritance was chiefly in the north, and he resided usually at honourably reinterred by Henry V. at Westminster in 1413. Middleham in Yorkshire.. In May 1480 he was made the king's Richard II. is a character of strange contradictions. It is lieutenant-general in the north, and in 1482 commanded a difficult to reconcile the precocious boy of 1381 with the way- successful invasion of Scotland. His administration was good, ward and passionate youth of the next few years. Even if it and brought him well-deserved popularity. On Edward's be supposed that he dissembled his real opinions during the death he was kept informed of events in London by William, period of his constitutional rule, it is impossible to believe that Lord Hastings, who shared his dislike of the Woodville influence. On the 29th of April 1483, supported by the duke of Bucking-ham, he intercepted his nephew at Stony Stratford and arrested Lord Rivers and Richard Grey, the little king's half-brother. It was in Richard's charge that Edward was brought to London on the 4th of May. Richard was recognized as protector, the Woodville faction was overthrown, and the queen with her younger children took sanctuary at Westminster. For the time the government was carried on in Edward's name, and the 22nd of June was appointed for his coronation. Richard was nevertheless gathering forces and concerting with his friends. In the council there was a party, of whom Hastings and Bishop Morton were the chief, which was loyal to the boy-king. On the 13th of June came the famous scene when Richard appeared suddenly in the council baring his withered arm and accusing Jane Shore and the queen of sorcery; Hastings, Morton and Stanley were arrested and the first-named at once beheaded. A few days later, probably on the 25th of June, Rivers and Grey were executed at Pontefract. On the 22nd of June Dr Shaw was put up to preach at Paul's Cross against the legitimacy of the children of Edward IV. On the 25th a sort of parliament was convened at which Edward's marriage was declared invalid on the ground of his precontract with Eleanor Talbot, and Richard rightful king. Richard, who was not present, accepted the crown with feigned reluctance, and from the following day began his formal reign. On the 6th of July Richard was crowned at Westminster, and immediately afterwards made a royal progress through the Midlands, on which he was well received. But in spite of its apparent success the usurpation was not popular. Richard's position could not be secure whilst his nephews lived. There seems to be no reasonable doubt that early in August Edward V. and his brother Richard (whom Elizabeth Woodville had been forced to surrender) were murdered by their uncle's orders in the Tower. Attempts have been made to clear Richard's memory. But the report of the princes' death was believed in England at the time, " for which cause king Richard lost the hearts of the people " (Chronicles of London, 191), and it was referred to as a definite fact before the French states-general in January 1484. The general, if vague, dissatisfaction found its expression in Buckingham's rebellion. Richard, however, was fortunate, and the movement collapsed. He met his only parliament in January 1484 with some show of triumph, and deserves credit for the wise intent of its legislation. He could not, however, stay the undercurrent of disaffection, and his ministers, Lovell and Catesby, were unpopular. His position was weakened by the death of his only legitimate son in April 1484. His queen died also a year later (March 16, 1485), and public opinion was scandalized by the rumour that Richard intended to marry his own niece, Elizabeth of York. Thus the feeling in favour of his rival Henry Tudor strengthened. Henry landed at Milford Haven on the 7th of August 1485, and it was with dark forebodings that Richard met him at Bosworth on the 22nd. The defection of the Stanleys decided the day. Richard was killed fighting, courageous at all events. After the battle his body was carried to Leicester, trussed across a horse's back, and buried without honour in the church of the Greyfriars. Richard was not the villain that his enemies depicted. He had good qualities, both as a man and a ruler, and showed a sound judgment of political needs. Still it is impossible to acquit him of the crime, the popular belief in which was the chief cause of his ruin. He was not a monster; but a typical man in an age of strange contradictions of character, of culture combined with cruelty, and of an emotional temper that was capable of high ends, though unscrupulous of means. Tradition represents Richard as deformed. It seems clear that he had some physical defect, though not so great as has been alleged. John Stow told Buck that old men who remembered Richard described him as in bodily form comely enough. Extant portraits show an intellectual face characteristic of the early Renaissance, but do not indicate any deformity.
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