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THE DEPOSITION OF RICHARD II. RICHARD II., having become master in his own kingdom, governed at first wisely and well. But after a while " he began to reign more fiercely than before.” * He was unforgiving, and set about avenging himself on the five lords who had led the opposition to him in the “Wonderful Parliament” nine years earlier. He caused his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, to be basely murdered; the Earl of Arundel was executed, and the Earl of Warwick banished.
There were but two left, and these, like the rest, seemed to be high in the king's favour. One of them --his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt-he made Duke of Hereford, and the other Duke of Norfolk. The two dukes quarrelled, each accusing the other of treason. Richard decided that the dispute should be settled by wager of battle. 1 Lists were prepared at Coventry, and there on a September morning the rivals met. . They 2 donned their armour, mounted their steeds, and were about to charge, when the king threw down his 3 warder as a signal that the fight should not proceed. He then banished the Duke of Hereford for ten years, and the Duke of Norfolk for life.
Next year the Duke of Lancaster died, and Richard seized the duchy, although he had sworn not to do so. This gave 4 Henry an excuse for returning to England. With a small band of followers he landed at 5 Ravenspur in Yorkshire. He said he merely came to claim his father's title and estates. People flocked to him, for the tyranny and misrule of the king had 6 estranged men's hearts; even the royal forces would not fight for their master.
Richard's enemies got him into their power by a trick. He was confined in the Tower, whither on
(From an old MS.) 7 Michaelmas Day, 1399, some of the leading members of Parliament came to hear his 8 abdication. He said, “I confess, recognise, and from certain knowledge con
scientiously declare that I consider myself to bave been and to be insufficient for the government of this kingdom, and for my well-known 10 demerits not undeserving to be dethroned.”
Not satisfied with this, Parliament met on the morrow, passed a number of charges against the king, and formally 11 deposed him. Henry then stepped forward and claimed the crown, on the ground of his descent “ by right line of blood from the good lord King Henry III.” The claim was not a good one; but Henry, besides being popular, was nearly related to Richard, and so it was allowed. He thus became the founder of the royal house of Lancaster.
Early next year Richard was found dead in his prison. Some said he refused to eat; the story that he had been starved to death is far more likely to be true.
“Fill high the sparkling 12 bowl,
The rich 13 repast prepare,
Close by the 15 regal chair
A 17 baleful smile upon their 18 baffled guest."' * 1 Lists, the ground enclosed for a combat. 2 don, to do on, to put on. 3 warder, a kind of truncheon or staff of command carried by the king. 4 Henry, Duke of Hereford, son and heir of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. 5 Ravenspur, at the mouth of the Humber in Yorkshire. It has been washed away by the sea. 6 estrange, to turn away, to change from kindness to unkindness. ? Michaelmas Day, September 29th. 8 abdication, a giving up of the office of king. 9 conscientiously, according to one's conscience, according to one's sense of right. 10 demerit, fault. 11 depose, to put off the throne. 12 bowl, of wine. 13 repast, feast. 14 reft, deprived, robbed. 15 .regal, kingly. 16 fell, cruel. 17 baleful, deadly. 18 baffled of the feast, which he is not allowed to touch.
PERSECUTION OF THE LOLLARDS. HENRY IV. based his claim to the throne on his descent “ by right line of blood from the good lord King 1 Henry III.," pretending to believe a silly story that the second son of Henry III. was the first. In truth his claim by blood was worthless; he was descended
from John, the fourth son of Edward III., whereas there was living a ? descendant from Lionel, the third son. Henry's real title was his election by Parliament.
It is often a good thing for a nation to have a sovereign whose right to the crown is disputed. Such a
king is likely to govern according to the will of the people; he is afraid to displease them, lest they depose him and place some one else upon the throne. But at the same time there is danger that such a king may be guilty of wrong-doing in order to gain the support of a powerful party in the State.
Henry IV. was an example alike of the good and the
evil arising from a weak title. On the one hand he was always most attentive to the wishes of Parliament; on the other he persecuted the 3 Lollards to please the clergy.
Wiclif 4 exposed the greed and worldliness of the priests, the impudence and wickedness of the friars,