Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Richard II - a word from Nigel Saul

I am currently making great use of Richard II by Nigel Saul as a reference source. It's undoubtedly the best book available on King Richard (by several lengths) and one that I was able to refer to in the later stages of writing Within the Fetterlock. I doubt I'd have had the courage to have the King visit Hanley Castle but for the handy itinerary in Professor Saul's work that revealed his visit to that very place!

Although I am getting slightly ahead of myself, there's one passage I must quote before I forget:

Richard could be forgiven for thinking...that his ascendancy over the realm was complete. Gloucester and Arundel were dead; Warwick was in prison; and Hereford and Norfolk had been condemned to exile. Financially he was secure. His wife's dowry and the confiscated wealth of the former Appellants had replenished his coffers. Parliament had shown itself agreeably compliant in enacting his will; and the nobility, and political society more generally, had been reshaped in his image. Never before had the power of the crown been raised to such dizzy and exalted heights.

Richard II, Nigel Saul, pp 402-3. (My emphasis on the final sentence.)

I put it to you, ladies and gentleman of the jury, that we are talking here about a king who is generally regarded as incompetent, inept, out of touch, or just a plain fruitloop. So taking that into account, this was not a bad achievement, was it? Just think what he might have achieved if only he'd been clever, effective, and sane!

1 comment:

Melisende said...


There are not many good, nor indeed unbiased, books on Richard II.

True, he did have his faults - but I ask you, what monarch did not.

I shall be keeping my eye out for this book.