Richard was born in 1367, son of the Black Prince and Joan of Kent. The Black Prince was King Edward III's son and was heir to the throne before he died one year ahead of his father. Before he passed, the Black Prince secured Richard's succession to the throne and, when King Edward III died in 1377, Richard took to the throne at the young age of ten.
Like many monarchs that are crowned at such a young age, Richard's reign wasn't a hugely successful one. A stark contrast to the kings before him, he was averse to war, more focused on literature and fashion than being a warrior.
For a nation that had grown used to the brave, bold moves of King Edward III, having Richard as the country's leader was a bitter pill to swallow. Just like his predecessors, however, Richard possessed the classic Plantagenet temper.
The Peasants Revolt
There is one act of bravery that King Richard II is remembered for: that at the Peasants Revolt. The revolt came early on in his reign when he was just 14. In 1380, a poll tax was levied – a shilling for every male in the country. A year later, hugely put out by the tax, the rebels marched to London.
When the king first met the rebels, he agreed to their demands. Later, however, they met again at Smithfield, where the Lord Mayer of London killed the rebel's leader, Wat Tyler. Richard led the rest of the rebel army away and obliterated them. The rebel army leaders' heads were later hung on poles at London Bridge.
The Lord Appellant
Given his young age when he came to power, the country was ruled in Richard's name by his uncle, John of Gaunt, and a council whilst he was still young. When he started taking control of the government, Richard had a group of favourites to whom he was overly generous.
Similarly to those of King Edward II, Richard's favourites became incredibly unpopular. Parliament attempted to get rid of them, but Richard refused to dismiss them. Worried not only by these favourites but also by Richard's turbulent, authoritarian way of ruling, Parliament created a commission named the Lords Appellant, led by the Duke of Gloucester, to watch over the king.
In the 1388 Parliamentary session known as ‘Merciless Parliament', most of the king's favourites were sentenced to death by the Lords Appellant. Having gotten rid of his closest allies, Richard had little choice but to accept the counsel of the Lords Appellant.
With the renowned Plantagenet anger, the Lords Appellant lit the desire for revenge in Richard. Over the next eight years, the king worked alongside his uncle, John of Gaunt, and the Lords Appellant, but he was also forming his own party. With the backing of his party, he arrested three members of the Lords Appellant. Two were killed and one was banished. The following year, two other members fought each other, John of Gaunt's son Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray, so Richard took the chance to have them banished.
The Deposition of King Richard II
John of Gaunt died a year later in 1399 and King Richard took away the Lancastrian estates that would have gone to his son, Henry Bolingbroke. When Richard left for Ireland, Bolingbroke took the opportunity to fight back – he invaded England and took the throne.
King Richard III gave up the crown without a fight and Henry Bolingbroke went on to become King Henry IV.
Richard was taken prisoner at Pontefract Castle where, in early 1400, he died of a cause unconfirmed.
In his wake, Richard left behind no children. His second wife, the young Isabella of France, was incredibly saddened by her king's death and eventually returned to her homeland of France. His first beloved wife, Anne of Bohemia, had died earlier at the age of 28.