Richard Ii’s Deposition Richard II is the first play of Shakespeare’s four-part History Tetraology. It tells the story of Richard II’s deposition and Bolingbroke’s rise to power. There are numerous reasons for Richard’s fall. He went off to war and left his kingdom vaulnerable. Richard disregarded the advice of his elders. He even went so far as to steal Bolingbroke’s inheritance.
As Richard lost the support of the nobles and lords, Bolingbroke gained their support. Bolingbroke used this support to depose king Richard II. After the banishment of Bolingbroke, Richard quickly gets back to business and makes plans to go to war in Ireland. There are rebels in Ireland and the king must act to suppress them. But the king has little money; the cost of maintaining elaborate court life has taken its toll on the treasury.
Richard plans on demanding and borrowing money from the wealthy and even renting out English land. This taxing the English and renting out English land shows a flaw in Richard as a king. He has a willingness to ignore his duty to the country in favor of his personal interests. Selfish kings are bound to be overthrown. Shortly after decided this Richard gets word that John of Gaunt is on his deathbed. He is elated because he figured an easier way to fund his war.
After the death of Gaunt, Richard will claim Gaunt’s lands as his own and use Gaunt’s wealth for the war. Richard’s coldness towards his uncle shows his lack of respect for anybody but himself. This lack of respect will help lead to his downfall. Gaunt curses Richard upon his deathbed. This curse is a bad omen and a prophesy of Richard’s downfall.
Richard’s foolishness is shown when he chooses to ignore his dying uncles advice to Live in thy shame, but die not shame in thee! (act ii, scene I, line135). The bad omen immediately seems to come true. Upon Richard’s seizure of Gaunt’s land, Northumberland, Ross, and Willoughby all decide to turn against him. This action also spurs his loyal uncle York to begin a process of self-questioning that will eventually lead him to Bolingbroke’s side. In scene 2 of act 2 Green enters with news that Bolingbroke has landed in England and has an army with him.
This is unfortunate news for Richard, since he is in Ireland with his royal army and no one is present in England to challenge Bolingbroke. The bad news doesn’t stop there. As Bolingbroke marched across England, many other English lords have joined his army. Northumberland, his son Henry Percy, Lord Ross, Lord Willoughby, and other lords have defected. In Act 3 Lord Salisbury enters and delivers even more bad news to Richard. The day before, Richard’s army of Wales heard that Richard was dead.
They dispersed and fled to Bolingbroke’s side. Richard now must deal with the fact that he has no army. Act 3 is a point of no turning back for Bolingbroke. Bushy and Green, two of Richard’s most loyal followers, are executed. This demonstrates the escalation of events that could lead to war. Richard’s followers have either left his side or have been killed.
Bolingbroke is left with no choice but to continue his path towards the throne. In scene 4 of act 3, Queen Isabel learns the truth of what is happening. She overhears gardeners talking politics and demands that they speak the truth. The gardener apologizes but insists he speaks truly. Richard is in Bolingbroke’s custody.
Bolingbroke has the loyalty of the vast majority of the English lords. Richard has nothing. He urges the Queen to travel to London to see for herself. Act 4 is one long scene describing the deposition of King Richard. Bolingbroke summons Richard so that he may give up his crown. It is important that he do so in front of all the nobles so there is no doubt about Bolingbroke’s rise to king.
Richard gives his crown to Bolingbroke ever so reluctantly with a long monologue full of grief. With mine own hands I give away my crown, / With mine own tongue deny my sacred state (208-9). Richard surrendered his land, crown, and kingship to Bolingbroke. All that is left for Richard to do is read and sign the charges put forth against him. His involvement in the death of Gloucester’s was brought into plain view for all.
Now that Richard has been deposed, he can be tried for his sin like anyone else. Gaunt’s prophesy has come true. Shakespeare Essays.