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Richard II

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Summary of the plot or story
Richard II was a king by virtue of the divine right of kings and thus God's elected deputy. He is intelligent but weak. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster is the king's uncle and father of the king's rival, Henry Bolingbroke.

The King banishes courtiers Mowbray for life and Bolingbroke for or ten years which, showing outward mercy, he reduces to six after a vicious quarrel. The King is happy to banish Bolingbroke as he fears that the young man's popularity is a threat to his crown.

Richard wages is a war in Ireland but needs more funds. John of Gaunt is rich and when he dies the king confiscates his property. Bolingbroke and many nobles rebel against the King and Richard yields and Henry escorts him to London. His loyal queen continues to support him and although the Bishop of Carlisle speaks out against Henry and his claims to the crown he fails. The King signs a confession and yields the throne. Henry orders him confined to the Tower of London, then announces his own coronation as Henry IV. The Duke of Aumerle, the Bishop of Carlisle and the Abbot of Westminster organize a last-minute plot against Henry, but again it fails. Henry has Richard transferred to Pomfret Castle. 

Sir Pierce of Exton is Bolingbroke's hatchet man. When Bolingbroke, as the new king, asks whether anyone will rid him of Richard, Exton assumes Bolingbroke wants him dead. With two assistants, he kills the king, who dies bravely. Exton reminds Henry that he wished him dead, Henry, full of guilt, banishes Exton. 

Information provided about the play
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 (a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of Williamís plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date first performed
irst Recorded production of Richard II was 1601 February 7. In the Elizabethan era 
there was a huge demand for new entertainment and Richard II would have been produced immediately followed the completion of the play and performed prior to the first recorded production.

Date first printed
It is believed that Richard II was first printed in 1597. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The settings for Richard II
The settings are England and Wales. He reigned between 1377 and 1399.

Theme of Richard II
The play is categorised as a History

Number of words in Richard II
The number of spoken words in the script, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 24,032. 

Most important characters in Richard II
The most important characters in the play are:
The King,, John of Gaunt and Henry Bolingbroke.

Famous Quotes / Quotations
The quotes from the drama are amongst Shakespeare's finest including 'Eating the bitter bread of banishment.' and 'The ripest fruit first falls'. Details of these famous quotes follow, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that these quotations can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"The ripest fruit first falls." Act ii. Sc. 1. 

"Evermore thanks, the exchequer of the poor."
Act ii. Sc. 3. 

"Eating the bitter bread of banishment."
Act iii. Sc. 1. 

"Fires the proud tops of the eastern pines."
Act iii. Sc. 2. 

History of
Richard II the Plantagenet King
Richard II was based on real people and events taken from English history. The characters are from the royal Houses of Lancaster and York.
House of Lancaster
Henry IV ("Bolingbroke," son of the Duke of Lancaster), 1399-1413. 
Henry V (son of Henry IV), 1413-1422.
Henry VI (son of Henry V, deposed), 1422-1471. 
House of York:
Edward IV (son of duke of York), 1461-1483.
Edward V (son of Edward IV), 1483.
Richard III ("Crookback," brother of Edward IV) 1483-1485

We recommend the following link to access facts, information, a biography and timeline of
King Richard II

William Shakespeare's Main Source of information
Shakespeare probably would have referred to Holinshed's Chronicles, an account of English history and Richard II. It was also possible that The Civil Wars (1595) by Samuel Daniel was a source of information

The Cast and Characters
Click the link to access a list of all the cast and characters.

Text - script of Richard II play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in Richard II play by William Shakespeare
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