Richard The Second
King of England. He was ten when he ascended the throne in 1377, after the deaths of his father Edward the Black Prince and his grandfather Edward III. Through most of his reign his uncle John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, worked behind the scenes to keep him in line. Richard was an autocrat, seeking to centralize the monarchy, which didn't suit well with the nobility, who saw him as a threat to their traditional privileges. He first came to prominence when he crushed the Peasants' Revolt when he was only 14; he showed great bravery in facing the rebels, but after the revolt was put down, the promises he had made went unfulfilled. As Richard grew older, tensions developed between the young king and his aristocratic advisers, who disapproved of Richard's inner circle of royal favorites. A group of five noblemen, including his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, and his cousin Henry Bolingbroke, retaliated by charging Richard's cronies with abusing his youth and innocence and had some of them executed. Richard himself stood at risk of being overthrown, but since nobody could agree on who should succeed him and all suspected that John of Gaunt would disapprove when he returned from his wars in Spain, he managed to hang on to his crown. The King held his peace for ten years, but in the meantime, his first wife, Anne of Bohemia, died; Richard had been greatly in love with Anne, and she had clearly been a good influence on him. He remarried for political reasons a few years later — to the French princess Isabel, as part of a treaty that would end the war with France, an on-and-off enterprise which began in 1337 and which had made many of the barons rich. Their criticism of this move prompted him to take revenge on the leaders of the "Merciless Parliament" who were either executed or exiled. He even had his own uncle smothered in his bed. The clincher came when John of Gaunt died and, in order to finance an expedition to Ireland, Richard seized his estates which were to go to his son, Henry Bolingbroke. This triggered a revolt which would eventually end with Richard resigning the crown and dying in prison. His death is what ultimately led to the Wars of the Roses. William Shakespeare did a play about him.
- A Child Shall Lead Them
- A God Am I
- Blond Guys Are Evil
- Depraved Bisexual: According to his political enemies. One chronicle refers to his "obscene familiarity" with notorious royal favorite Robert de Vere. (He does seem to have loved Robert a great deal; the depravity is perhaps more debatable than the bisexuality.)
- Driven to Suicide: The official story of his death was that he starved himself in prison. His supporters had a more sinister take on the situation.
- Drunk with Power: His Fatal Flaw.
- Heir Club for Men: His childlessness was a source of great anxiety throughout the reign.
- King Incognito: Richard disguised himself as a priest when he fled after being dethroned.
- Large and in Charge: Just like great great grandpa Edward I. When his body was exhumed in 1870, his skeleton was found to be six feet long, a fairly impressive height for the fourteenth century.
- Last of His Kind: The last of the senior Plantagenet line, and thus the last Plantagenet whose legitimacy as king was not (at least initially) questioned.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: He liked to see himself as a man of culture, using things like spoons and handkerchiefs. He was also a great patron of the arts; one of his court poets was none other than Geoffrey Chaucer.
- Morality Chain: His queen Anne.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Richard and Anne.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: He was a sophisticate who was into culture and the arts. Bolingbroke was the best jouster in England, and participated in no less than three minor crusades.
- Start of Darkness: His Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Merciless Parliament.
- Villainous Valour: He confronted the Peasants' Revolt personally, though he never actually fought them.
- We Used to Be Friends: As cousins, Richard and Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) were childhood playmates and had been admitted together into the Order of the Garter. Then Bolingbroke joined the Lords' Appellant rebellion. Richard never forgave him.
- Wife Husbandry: When he married Isabel of France, he was 29 and she was six.