Richard II of England
October 19, 2021
Richard II (January 6, 1367 – c. February 14, 1400), also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Son of Edward the Black Prince and Joan of Kent, was born during the reign of his grandfather Edward III. Ricardo became second in line at the age of four, after the death of his older brother Eduardo. Richard would become the heir apparent to the English throne when his father died in 1376. As Edward III died the following year, Richard ascended the throne at just ten years of age. His government was in the hands of a series of councils during the first years of his reign. The political community preferred this model to a regency led by his uncle João de Ghent, who nevertheless remained influential. The first major challenge of the reign was the Peasant Revolt of 1381. Young Ricardo played a big role in suppressing the crisis. However, in subsequent years the king's dependence on a small number of courtiers led to discontent in the political community, with government control being taken in 1387 by a group of nobles known as the Appellating Lords. Ricardo regained control around 1389 and ruled in relative harmony for the next eight years. He exacted revenge on the appellants in 1397, with many of them being executed or exiled. The next two years have been described by historians as Ricardo's "tyranny." In 1399, after the death of John of Ghent, the king disinherited his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke, who had previously been exiled. Henry invaded England in June with a small force that quickly grew. Stating that his aim was only to regain his patrimony, it soon became clear that he planned to claim the throne for himself. Encountering little resistance, Henry deposed Richard and crowned himself Henry IV. Ricardo died in captivity the following year, believed to be of starvation, although his ultimate fate is still debated. Ricardo was described as tall, handsome and intelligent. While probably not insane, as ancient historians used to believe, Ricardo may have suffered from a personality disorder towards the end of his reign. A less skilled warrior than his father and grandfather, he tried to end the Hundred Years War started by Edward III. He firmly believed in the royal prerogative, something that made him restrict the power of his nobility, and he depended on a private retinue for his protection. Ricardo also cultivated a polished atmosphere that placed him as a high figure, with the arts and culture at the center rather than the fraternal and martial court-martial of Edward III. His later reputation was much shaped by William Shakespeare, whose play Richard II shows his mismanagement and deposition as responsible for the War of the Roses. Current historians do not accept such an interpretation, although they do not exonerate Ricardo from the responsibility of his own deposition. Many agree that even though their policies were not unprecedented or entirely unrealistic, the way they were carried out was unacceptable to the political system, leading to its downfall.