William Shakespeare's King Richard the Second in the complete original text.
William Shakespeare's plays, sonnets and poems at AbsoluteShakespeare.com
Home Plays Sonnets Poems Quotes Summaries Essays Glossary Links Help

HOME > Plays > The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

Study Guides
Hamlet
Julius Caesar
King Henry IV
King Lear
Macbeth
Merchant of Venice
Othello
Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest
Twelfth Night

Trivia
Authorship
Bard Facts
Bibliography
Biography
FAQ
Films
Globe Theatre
Pictures
Quiz
Timeline

King Richard II Play

King Richard II begins with Henry Bolingbroke accusing the Duke of Norfolk, Mowbray for the Duke of Gloucester's death, the brother of King Richard II. Mowbray did not murder him. However he does not reveal that King Richard II ordered this nor that he could have prevented Gloucester's death. To settle the dispute, King Richard II decides to let the men joust, only to later decide that they shall both be banished (Mowbray for life, Bolingbroke for five years) instead. Mowbray correctly predicts Bolingbroke's return and his hand in Richard II's downfall. Henry Bolingbroke's father Gaunt soon dies, largely from sorrow at his son's banishment, Richard II wasting little time in seizing the late Duke's estate since he needs money to fight the Irish.

Henry Bolingbroke, meanwhile has secretly returned, finding that the nobles of England are far from happy with the Duke of York, Richard's II deputy whilst he is fighting in Ireland, and are moving against him. Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland is the most vocal in criticising Richard for stealing from Gaunt, taxing commoners, unfairly fining nobles for ancestor's crimes and wasting England's wealth. Richard returns from Ireland to find not only the banished Bolingbroke but also that the lands he took from Bolingbroke's father have been reclaimed in Henry's name! Even worse, he discovers Bolingbroke has seen fit kill his favorites Sir John Bushy, Sir John Green and the Earl of Wiltshire. The Duke of Aumerle, the Duke of York's son, tries to help Richard II, confident that the heavens will aide his cause.

Unfortunately for Richard, his army disbands upon hearing the false rumor that he is dead. The commoners seeing no army, revolt, even the Duke of York joining Bolingbroke's rebellion. Realising he barely controls England, Richard II goes into hiding at Flint Castle. Bolingbroke meets Richard II at the castle, asking him to overturn his banishment order in return for peace, Bolingbroke instead imprisoning the King in London. Before Parliament, cornered, and with little option, the monarch is forced to confess his many crimes against England, resulting in his handing over the crown to Bolingbroke who later becomes King Henry IV.

With Richard losing the throne, and his the Queen sent back to her native France, Aumerle, the son of the Duke of York, plots against Henry IV, planning on poisoning him at Oxford. The plot discovered, Aumerlie is shown mercy whilst Richard II is imprisoned at Ponfret Castle, Sir Pierce of Exton killing him in the mistaken belief it is Henry IV's wish. The deposed monarch did not go quietly, killing two of Exton's accomplices. Henry IV banishes Exton, Henry IV upon seeing Richard II's dead body, denounces the killing, though he did desire it in part, deciding to mount a Holy crusade (which he never has the opportunity to launch) as atonement for his death.

Contents

Dramatis Personæ

Act I
Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV

Act II
Scene I,
Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV

Act III
Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV

Act IV
Scene I

Act V
Scene I, Scene II, Scene III, Scene IV, Scene V, Scene VI

< PREVIOUS
Copyright 2000-2005 AbsoluteShakespeare.com. All rights reserved.  Contact Us  Privacy  Awards