By 1387, it was becoming clear that the Wonderful Parliament of 1385 had not solved the problem. Pressure had been building, and Gloucester, Warwick and Arundel were far from satisfied – and felt far from safe. The showdown came at the Merciless Parliament of 1388.
The military confrontation – the battle of Radcot Bridge
Richard tried to strike first – ordering Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, to arrest Arundel. He failed. At Waltham Cross, Gloucester, Warwick and Arundel, gathered their men and accused (or Appealed – hence Appelants) 5 close councillors of the king as traitors and usurpers of Royal power. These were:
- Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland and Earl of Oxford
- Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk
- Judge Robert Tresilian
- Alexander Neville, Archbishop of York
- Nicholas Brembre, Merchant
Most (except Brembre) ran. But de Vere ran for Chester – not for safety, but to raise an army of Cheshire bowmen to rescue the king. He came south with 3-4,000 men – but facing desertions all the way, when he met the forces of Henry Bolingbroke at Radcot Bridge his forces melted away. Oxford escaped to Bruges. Richard was forced to call parliamenty to listen to the accusations against his friends.
The political confrontation – the Merciless Parliament
The Apellants were now 5:
- Duke of Gloucester: Thomas of Woodstock, son of Edward III
- Earl of Warwick: Thomas Beauchamp
- Earl of Arundel: Richard Fitzalan
- Henry Bolingbroke: Earl of Derby son of John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster
- Thomas Mowbray: Earl of Nottingham
They entered the parliament arms linked, and over the next few months brutally followed through on their threats. Brembre, though clearly innocent, was beheaded; Treslian was found spying on proceedings and despite his terrified pleas was also beheaded. And despite Richard's desperate pleas and those of his wife, Anne, his mentor Simon Burley also went to his death.
By the end of the parliament, it looked as comprehensive and vindictive a victory as any in the history of England so far. But Richard would not forget.