William Shakespeare’s Richard II chronicles the end of one king’s reign and the rise of another. In 1399, Richard II believes that he is the undisputed king of England and can therefore do anything he pleases, whether it is banishing his cousin, plotting the murders of his enemies, or taking land and estates to fund a war. After his uncle John of Gaunt dies, Richard’s greed and belief in his Divine Right to rule consumes him. In order to save England from a tyrant, John of Gaunt’s son Henry Bolingbroke returns to demand his father’s inheritance. The nobles of England divide into factions--those loyal to Richard, and those ready to rebel against the king’s corruption. Based on historical records, Shakespeare’s tragic tale of Richard II’s demise and Henry IV’s coronation is a beautiful cautionary tale about leadership, faith, and loyalty.
Richard II guide sections