Revolt, Reconciliation and Ruin; Part Two

Welcome back to the troubled and troubling reign of Richard II! A quick recap before we dive into part two. Richard was made king aged 10 and by age 14 had defeated a major threat to his reign; the Peasants Revolt. Will there be peace for Richard and his realm after this? Read below to find out!

Portrait of Richard II in Westminster Abbey.
Image taken from Wikipedia

Following the Peasants Revolt, Richard started to grow into the role of king and for a short while, there was peace once more. However, as Richard grew older he began to make rather bad decisions; particularly regarding friendships. Richard chose Michael de La Pole and Robert de Vere to be his favourites. His choices in friends rankled with other members of court who particularly disliked de la Pole’s lack of noble ancestry and de Vere’s elevation to the Duke of Ireland. With tensions over friendships, the war in France and a failed campaign in Scotland the mood at court was at an all-time low; especially between Richard and his uncle John of Gaunt. The final straw came when Richard was advised by de la Pole to raise taxes to new and unprecedented heights. Parliament refused and said they wouldn’t take orders from Richard until de la Pole was dismissed. Richard retaliated by angrily stating that Parliament couldn’t make him dismiss a chambermaid, let alone his closest friend. Eventually however parliament won and de la Pole was ousted.

Richard was furious and it was a slight he would not forget.

Richard retaliated by travelling the country, attempting to gain military support and also had the Chief Justice rule that Parliament’s actions were treasonous. However, soon Richard was faced with treason of his own. When he returned to London, he was confronted by the lords Gloucester, Arundel and Thomas Beauchamp, who declared that de la Pole and Vere were treasonous and plotting against the king. Joining with Henry Bolingbroke, the son of John of Gaunt, they forced Richard to comply with their demands and Richard sentenced de Vere and de la Pole to death in absentia (cleverly they had fled the country by this point). The lords also sentenced a number of Richard’s chamber knights to death, effectively breaking up the kings inner circle.

Robert de Vere fleeing Radcot Bridge. From the Chroniques of Jean Froissart
Image taken from Wikipedia.

Richard now aged 21 made peace with his uncle John of Gaunt and he assumed full control of government in 1389. He sought peace with France and promised to reduce the taxation. Richard also managed to complete a successful invasion of Ireland resulting in numerous Irish chieftains submitting to English rule. For eight years, there was reconciliation and the reign of Richard II was a peaceful one.

However, as always with the Plantagenet’s, this was short lived!

To be continued…


Castor, Helen (2000). The King, the Crown, and the Duchy of Lancaster: Public Authority and Private Power, 1399–1461. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 8–21.

Dodd, Gwilym, ed. (2000). The Reign of Richard II. Stroud

Dunn, Alastair (2002). The Great Rising of 1381: the Peasants’ Revolt and England’s Failed Revolution. Stroud, UK: Tempus.

Gillespie, James; Goodman, Anthony, eds. (1997). The Age of Richard II. Stroud: Sutton Publishing.

Tuck, Anthony (2004). “Richard II (1367–1400)”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press

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