Was Richard II a precocious tyrant? (II)

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 31-05-18 14:24
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  • Was Richard II a precocious tyrant? (II)
    • After Richard II retreated to Tower of London in December 137
      • Mayor of London refused to try to arm city against Appellant Lords
        • Told King citizens were not soldiers (merchants and craftsmen)
      • King's position could not have been worse
        • Had broken word
        • Allowed De Vere to escape
        • his retinue had been routed
        • Nothing to fall back on except his majesty
      • King saved by disunity of opposition
        • Bolingbroke saw no reason why Gloucester should claim Crown of England
        • Richard's household, both lords and ladies, were dispersed
        • King retained only semblance and not reality of power
      • Results of events
        • February 1388
          • De Vere and de la Pole fled abroad avoiding execution
          • all five royal servants accused by Appellants were convicted and two executed
          • Four key household knights, including Simon Burley, were impeached and although Burley was distinguished, old and sick, prayers of neither Richard nor Queen could save him
        • Richard was powerless
          • Hated Gloucester and other Appellants
          • Shamed and rendered powerless in front of political nation assembled in parliament
    • Tried to rebuild independent autonomy of crown following events of 1386-88
      • now brought not only wilful obstinacy but determination tempered in furnace of political adversity
      • Richard quickly became secretive, purposeful and sometimes unscrupulous in pursuit of royal independence
      • Following 1388, Richard developed from wayward adolescent into mature politician
    • France, 1396
      • Used secret diplomacy to effectively contain French ambitions in Flanders and Italy so maintained English interests in Europe by stealth rather than open war
        • By abandoning expensive foreign campaigns (and Scottish ones) Richard could rule without summoning Parliament
          • It is clear from course of last parliament of reign (1397-8) that he did mean to do without parliament
      • C19th constitutional historians like Bishop Stubbs
        • Viewed both Richard's policy of not involving parliament and Parliament's policy to comply with it (by appointing committee of 18 to transact remaining business of Parliament with full parliamentary authority) as tyrannical  on one part and suicidal on the other
    • In order to rule without Parliament, Richard needed his own adequate resources for ordinary business of government
      • Persuaded Parliament of 1398, by devious means, to grant him wool subsidy for life
    • Controlling Parliament
      • Richard realised perhaps after experiences of Merciless Parliament of 1388, that when summoning of a Parliament was necessary or unavoidable then it was important it should be controlled by Crown
      • One method of control was to try to influence elections
        • Richard had tried this by writs to sheriffs in 1387
          • Provoke angry reaction
        • Perhaps his methods in 1397 were more subtle
          • Certainly of 33 members new to parliament in that year several were of royal household
      • Richard's most effective means of control
        • Through Commons' Speaker, Sir John Bushy
          • Not new to Parliament and had been retained by King since 1391
          • Bushy achieved convictions of Richard's opponents (the old Appellants of 1387-8), the grant of wool subsidy for life and election of a committee to carry on work of Parliament after it was dissolved
          • Adam of Usk's account makes clear crucial role played by Bushy
          • Speakership originally intended in 1376 to oppose royal policy more effectively
            • 20 years later had been captured by Crown


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