Heritage > Rulers

Richard I, 1377-1399

Richard was born in 1367. He married twice, to Anne of Bohemia, firstly and then to Isabelle of Valois. He had no children.

Richard's father was the Prince Regent (the Black Prince). He was crowned King at the age of ten. Although he let his council rule for a few years at the age of fourteen he personally stepped in and conciliated the leaders of the Peasant's Revolt after the killing of Wat Tyler. His authority was then belittled by his own Council.

Richard was never interested in wars or fighting, and was very unpopular with the English nobility, purely because they would have all liked to be King. He also filled his court with foreigners, mainly friends of his wife, which offended the English nobility. The marriage had actually been arranged by those people it so offended. Richard and Anne had a very close relationship.

Richard appointed favourites from his household to help him rule, 10,000 of them, which placed a heavy burden and a menance of the constitution. Parliament stepped in to decree that a King could be deposed for arbitrary non- cooperation, and captured many of Richard's officials, later executing many of them.

Richard waited some time and then prepared a coup d'etat, winning back some respect from the estranged nobility. The death of his wife, Queen Anne, led to extreme personal extravangance and ill-feeling amongst his court. He bought 'John of Gaunt', by legitimising his affair with Katherine Swynford, thus legitimsing his bastards, which governed the future succession to the throne and placed the off-spring in places of ultimate position and power. This act pleased the future heir to the throne and John's legitimate son, Henry, who did not feel these acts threatening to his future position. Richard had appeased several of his noblemen and the remaining were imprisoned or executed under the pretext that they were conspirators.

When John of Gaunt died, Richard stole the inheritiance from Henry. Henry seized his opportunity for revenge, whilst the King was in Ireland, and claimed his fathers 'duchy'. He captured Richard and imprisoned him in the Tower of London. Richard abdicated the throne.

Henry seized this moment to declare his claim to the throne amidst a great deal of popularity, any enemies he had were dealt with promptly.

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