Richard II: The Boy King

Did you know that Richard II wasn’t always going to be king? As a second child during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III, the succession went to his father Edward, the Black Prince (which is admittedly the best moniker ever for a prince), then to his older brother Edward of Angoulême. Unfortunately, his brother died when Richard was four, and his father died when he was 9. The following year, his grandfather died, Richard succeeded him as king at only 10 years old.

Richard II

During his first years as king, a series of councils ran the government. However, John of Gaunt, uncle of RichardII, soon took control, much to the displeasure of everyone else. In fact, he was so unpopular with the people that he is one of the reasons the peasants revolted. As it turned out, Richard ended up leading negotiations with the peasants while John was nowhere to be found. He tried once to rendezvous by boat with the rebels on June 13th 1381, but the immensity of the crowd on the banks made it impossible for him to land. The next day, he set out by horse and met the rebels at Mile End (the east end of London). He agreed to the rebels’ demands, but this only made the peasants more unruly. He met with them again the next day, but Wat Tyler was unconvinced of Richard’s sincerity, and his ornery behavior led to him getting killed. The peasants were almost out of hand, but Richard managed to calm them down and even let them return to their homes.

However, lest you think he is a completely generous king, he soon revoked the charters of freedom and pardon, and as violence continued, her personally traveled to rebellious areas and finally suppressed all of the rebels. Those peasants certainly put up a good fight though. Come see it this year at the Sarasota Medieval Fair!

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 6:27 am  Leave a Comment  

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