February Talk: Uneasy Lies the Head that wears the Crown: Richard II and the political revolution of 1399

This month’s lecture was given by Mr Richard Lewis, retired History teacher and Committee  Member of the Historical Association Swansea Branch.

The talk covered the years 1397-1399 in the Life of Richard II, King of England and Wales and Lord of Ireland. Richard II had been humiliated earlier in his reign by the five Lords Appellant who seized power and executed some of his favourites.

The Lords Appellant being his uncle the Duke of Gloucester, the Earl of Arundel, the Earl of Warwick, Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray (later Duke of Norfolk). By 1397 Richard felt secure enough to exact revenge.

The talk concentrated on the characters involved, their seats of power and their eventual fates. The Welsh dimension was explored as the  Lords Appellant controlled numerous Marcher Lordships in Wales, from Denbigh in the North to Gower and Narberth in the South.

Following the death of Richard’s Uncle, John of Gaunt in 1399, his exiled son Henry Bolingbroke returned to England, ostensibly to claim his lands but seized the throne whilst Richard was in Ireland. He was crowned Henry 1V and Richard was deposed and died in captivity in 1400.

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