Richard II Synopsis

King Richard, surrounded by his advisors, Bagot, Bushy, and Green hear accusations by his cousin Bolingbroke aimed toward the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray. Bolingbroke accuses Mowbry of embezzling royal funds and having involvement in the death of his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. The two will not be reconciled and Richard orders that they meet in conflict in the future to settle the dispute by battle. Bolingbroke’s father, John of Gaunt meets with Gloucester’s widow the Duchess who urges him to avenge her husband’s death. When Bolingbroke and Mowbray meet to battle, Richard stops the combat before it can begin. Instead, Bolingbroke is exiled for ten years (later reduced to six); Mowbray is exiled for life. John of Gaunt, uncle to the king and the Duke of Lancaster, dies after a confrontation with Richard in which Gaunt accuses Richard of ruining the country. Richard orders the seizure of all of Gaunt’s property to fund his impending war in Ireland. This denies Bolingbroke of his inheritance. Richard then departs for Ireland, appointing is other uncle, the Duke of York, to govern in his absence. The queen is conferring with Richard’s advisors when she learns that Bolingbroke has returned with an army. The Duke of York confronts Bolingbroke about breaking the oath of his exile. Bolingbroke persuades his uncle that he has only returned to claim his rightful inheritance. Richard returns from Ireland to discover that the troops he expected to support him have deserted him, the citizenry are united against him and even his uncle York has allied with Bolingbroke. Bolingbroke meets Richard and pledges his loyalty if his banishment is repealed and his inheritance restored. Richard seemingly agrees to the demands and accompanies Bolingbroke and his army. Richard’s cousin and son of the Duke of York, the Duke of Aumerle, is accused of murdering the Duke of Gloucester. Bolingbroke arrests everyone involved in the allegations. In a painful confrontation in front of the assembled body, Richard agrees to abdicate. Bolingbroke announces his coronation. On his way to being taken to the Tower, Richard meets and bids farewell to the queen. York discovers that his son Aumerle is involved in a plot to kill Bolingbroke. He confronts Aumerle. The Duchess of York defends her son. Aumerle arrives at Bolingbroke’s court before his father to plead for pardon. Bolingbroke pardons Aumerle with a warning. Richard wastes in prison. Aumerle, in an attempt to gain favor with Bolingbroke, kills Richard and presents his body to Bolingbroke. Bolingbroke is shaken and pledges to voyage to the Holy Land to “wash the blood off from my guilty hand.”

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