Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51

Richard II. (1377—1399)

Richard II. (1377—1399).

Edward III. was succeeded by his grandson, Richard II., a boy of eleven. Richard, as he grew up, disappointed everyone. He was another Edward II. In the beginning of his reign took place the famous peasant revolt led by Wat Tyler—a movement which well deserves, and may re- page 36 ceive in another connection, some measure of attention. The young king in the presence of danger promised much; out of danger he was, of course, prompt to revoke his plighted royal word. But to do him justice he was better than his landlord parliament, whom he asked if they would consent to enfranchise the serfs. "Consent," they replied, "we have never given, and never will give, were we all to die in one day." There spoke the Salisburys, Chaplins, and Lowthers of the fourteenth century!

Richard's besetting sins were favouritism and extravagance. Of one young minister, De Vere, whom he made Duke of Ireland, it was said, "he has seen nothing, he has learned nothing, and never been in a battle." This efficient administrator was popularly known as "the doll." In the royal kitchen it was complained there were no fewer than 300 servants, while 10,000 retainers had been known to sit down to dinner What would the baronial grumblers have said of Queen Victoria, who, with a well-paid household of 1,000 servants, great and small, never feasts anybody but a few pauper German relatives? Doubtless she would have shared the fate of Richard.

Richard had a cousin, Henry of Lancaster, whom he had, with more or less reason, banished from England. Henry was a dark, scheming man, who could bide his time. He waited till Richard went on a visit to Ireland, from which he returned only to find Henry master of the kingdom. He was seized, mounted on a wretched nag, and led from town to town amid the jeers of the unfeeling multitude. He was then formally dethroned, and committed to a dungeon, Henry being elected king in his stead. The rest followed as a matter of course. To prevent the possibility of a restoration, he was secretly put to death, but by what means is unknown. Henry was not the man to bungle a murder after the Isabella Mortimer fashion.