Was Richard II an out of touch autocrat?

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 31-05-18 12:42
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  • Was Richard II an out of touch autocrat?
    • The Art of Kingship Richard II, 1377-1399 (according to Caroline Barron)
    • In order to rule without Parliament in 1390s, 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
      • He raised loans and gifts from his subjects
        • a practice common to medieval English kings in C14th and C15th
          • Later raised to policy by Edward IV who extracted 'benevolences' from his wealthier subjects
        • Opposing view: Such policies were rough and ready wealth tax, unwelcome to those who paid but acknowledged by political community to have certain justice
          • Such wealth carried great obligations
    • Did Richard II fail where Yorkists and Tudors succeeded?
      • Perhaps most striking difference between later kings and monarch who policies so closely resembled theirs, is that Richard lacked sense of 'popular address'
        • which came so naturally to Yorkists and Tudors
        • Richard saw no reason to love or woo the common man
          • he never made any attempt to 'sell' his policies
          • None of propagandist literature of reign emanates from pen deliberately inspired by King
    • Contradictions of ideas of out of touch autocrat
      • Richard was not unpopular
        • Idea Richard ruled restless hostile country is one of most persuasive of all Lancastrian myths about King whom they deposed
        • No evidence any substantial group of Richard's subjects flocked to support Bolingbroke
    • Richard's autocratic government could not function without him
      • For example, when Richard delayed returning from Ireland
      • In muddle and confusion following Bolingbroke's arrival at Ravenspur in September 1399, those who would have supported Richard had no one around whom to rally: the centre did not hold
    • Richard's failure and Bolingbroke's success in overthrowing him
      • Being a usurper, Bolinbroke had to buy friends where Richard could command
    • McFarlane
      • The famous constitutionalism of Lancastrians was based on weakness of Crown which had to defer to Parliament because it was politically vulnerable and financially desperate
    • Henry V's brace attempt to secure legitimacy for Lancastrians by judgement of God of Battles
      • Long-term costs of foreign war further weakened monarchy and ensured inevitable collapse under Henry VI
        • In short, Lancastrian monarchy was an aberration which interrupted inevitable development of royal power in England and out monarchy back sixty years
          • It cut off first English Renaissance Prince and blighted welcome flowering of English court culture
            • Had Lancastrians brought in true parliamentary democracy or limited monarchy it might be possible to share Whig enthusiasm for Richard's deposition
              • In fact usurpation brought in weak and ineffective monarchy and, as such, Richard's failure was, in fact tragedy not simply of man but of the nation


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