Saturday, 23 August 2008

Richard II as prisoner

Once he reached Chester it appears Richard II was treated less courteously. According to Creton he was confined to a room and attended by the sons of Arundel and Gloucester. There's nothing implausible about Thomas Fitzalan being chosen for this job, but most sources agree that Humphrey of Gloucester had been left behind (with Bolingbroke's son, the future Henry V) at Trim Castle in Ireland, where he died at about this time. It's just possible that Creton got mixed up with Thomas Despenser, Earl of Gloucester, which would put a slightly different slant on things, but it seems unlikely.

On at least one occasion on the journey to London the men of Chester (or the Welsh - take your pick) tried to rescue King Richard. It's the sort of thing that Robin Hood would have accomplished at the drop of a feathered hat, but these guys messed up and it just led to Richard being more carefully guarded.

It was about this time that Henry sent off for monastic chronicles, with a view to finding precedents for deposing the King. From subsequent evidence, it appears he was also hoping to find some backing for the absurd 'legend' that Edward I was not Henry III's eldest son! Henry affected to believe Edmund Earl of Lancaster (his ancestor on his mother's side) was the real eldest son, but had been passed over because of some imaginary defect. I need hardly add that this 'legend' was total poppycock, and if Bolingbroke truly believed it, he must have been deranged. I doubt he did, but perhaps thought the mugs might swallow it.

And to think some people say Richard III's claim to the throne was dodgy!


Alianore said...

That's interesting that an attempt was made to free Richard in 1399, which I didn't know before. Kind of like the plots to free Edward II in 1327 - four of them that I know of, and one of them successful, at least temporarily.

Lady D. said...

What Henry could have done with, obviously, was another Adam Orleton, Bishop of Hereford when it came to kingly deposition! He was the biz!

Brian said...

Of course there was an even bigger plot to free Richard in early 1400, and people kept trying to make him king again long after he was dead. For such an unpopular and wicked man he seems to have had an awful lot of supporters! Or maybe it was that Henry IV was exceedingly good at arousing implacable hatred among certain elements.

I'm going to write a bit more about Henry's claim to the throne, because I think it was actually quite bizzare. Not the claim per se, but the line he put forward to justify it.