Richard II

Type: 
History
First Performed: 
1595-96
First Printed: 
1597
"

Now is the golden crown like a deep well
That owes two buckets, filling one another,
The emptier ever dancing in the air...

"

King Richard II witnesses Henry Bolingbroke accuse Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, of murdering Richard's uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. The King initially decrees that to settle the matter the accuser and accused will meet in individual combat, but then changes his mind and banishes both men. When Bolingbroke's father dies, the King seizes his land for the country's benefit.

Bolingbroke returns from exile to find his father's estate gone, England unsettled, and the king's subjects dissatisfied. He allies himself with the other dissatisfied lords, including York, and disperses the King's army while killing two of his closest allies, Bushy and Green. The King must flee to Ireland for his safety.

Bolingbroke seeks out Richard in Ireland and brings him back to England. Before Parliament, the King gives a forced confession to crimes against the state and is forced to abdicate his throne to Bolingbroke. The new King Henry IV is immediately the target of another conspiracy from the Duke of York's son, Aumerle. Aumerle's intentions are revealed and after he confesses, Aumerle is pardoned. Richard, however, is imprisoned and murdered by Sir Pierce of Exton, who believed he is acting on the new King's wishes. Exton is banished for his mistake, and King Henry IV plans a pilgrimage to atone for the former king's death.