118 Introducing Richard II

Richard arrived with the expectation of a nation on his shoulders – the son of the illustrious hero Edward the Black Prince. So what was Richard like, and how has history treated him? 

118 Introducing Richard II


The images of Kingship

Richard's attitude to kingship would define his role. And we have two very famous images from his reign. 

The first is the Wilton Diptych. This portable pair of panels were used to focus the worshipper's prayers. The Diptych shows Richard kneeling, receiving the blessing of Christ for his kingdom. 


  The Wilton Diptych

The second is probably from later in the reign, but shows the young Richard at his coronation. It is full frontal – very unusual. Previously, only images of Christ had been full frontal.


  Richard II

18 thoughts on “118 Introducing Richard II

  1. I discovered your podcasts about a year ago. I listen to them while travelling each day along a windy country road in Australia, while driving my disabled son to his special school. They are my saviour. I was so surprised to see I’d caught up, and now can only listen to one a week, or less at times.
    I love these podcasts. Not only are they so informative ( I keep my daughter up to date each day by telling her which King I am up to), but you tell the story in such an engaging manner, not reading a text in a boring monotone as many pod casters do. Please keep it up. I am looking forward to having the confused War of the Roses explained.

  2. Re. the “king’s evil/touching for scrofula” thing, what was that all about? I must’ve missed the earlier reference(s) to it. But as a numismatist, I’ve heard it discussed in connection with holed coins, which are often called “touch pieces”. (I suppose Wikipedia will assist me with more about scrofula, though I’m almost scared to look- just the word itself sounds rather unpleasant.)

  3. Went to Wikipedia to look up scrofula.
    Yep. Eew. Ickie-poo.
    So glad to have been born in the 20th century and be living in the 21st.
    (Antibiotics and all that stuff, yay. Just finished a second round of ’em, in fact, for my stubborn bronchitis.)

  4. … but Wikipedia answered my question about the numismatic tie-in with the “King’s Evil”.
    Yay, Wikipedia.

  5. Hi David,
    I am quickly approaching that dreaded time when I will catch up with the current episodes (for the 2nd time) since I will no longer be able to binge on your podcast. I say for the 2nd time because when you got to Poitiers last December, I found myself thoroughly confused and didn’t want to go forward without really understanding. I lay the blame for my confusion not at your door, but with my then concurrent immersion in at least 5 different time periods of English history: your most magnificent podcast, Revolutions podcast, the Britsh History podcast, the History of English podcast, and reading Bernard Cornwall’s The Last Kingdom. The final blow was a nasty cold that started in late November and I just couldn’t get a grasp on Edward III!
    So, I finished the book, Revolutions moved on to the Americas, I let the other podcasts accumulate for a while so I could start your podcast all over again. I am so, so glad that I did. I love the Anglo-Saxons the best, so it was fun to rub shoulders with them again. Binge listening has its pros and cons. For episodes I had remembered, it was great since I could listen to several in a row and my understanding was strengthened. Now that I am at the start of the 100 years war again, I find myself rewinding quite a bit. My mind does tend to wander sometimes (e.g., what does David look like; I never could pick him out in that travel video his daughter made; will he ever start doing tours a la Mike Duncan, etc.), so I miss the odd detail or fact. Luckily, my golden retriever needs a lot of walking so I get to listen to podcasts, esp. yours, quite a bit.
    So, in the end, I just wanted to let you now that I am one of the legion of delighted fans of your podcast. Your delivery and humor make history quite engaging. Keep up the good work.
    BTW, I recently left a review on the US iTunes site under the name Crazy Dog Walker.

  6. Hi Eileen, and lovely to hear from you! sorry it gets confusing – it’s a problem. I am most impressive that you have gone over it all again. Thanks so much for the iTunes comments – I do so love getting comments here and on iTunes, it makes a real difference.

  7. I particularly like your interest in constitutional history, and your sense that, from an early date, the people of England felt they were entitled to (even if they didn’t get it) redress for unfair treatment. When we get to the C17 I can tell you an interesting example from the Manor of Merdon. (The people won!)
    Do you think that when QE1 said “Know ye not I am Richard II” she was referring to the fact that poor,silly Essex “was” Bolingbroke and staged R2 to make a point? Though I don’t think he got quite the reaction he’d been hoping for! See http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/8636

  8. For someone who claims to hate Shakespeare, you’ve now made the unusual choice of making references to Richard the Second, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Cymbeline.
    I look forward to your take on the messiness to come.

  9. Alys, yes, I think you could be very right. Very good t see the reference to the National Biography, which I use through the Library system a lot.
    And David, yes, it’s a ‘mare, is it you? You just can’t get away from the bloke!

  10. Having an issue with this one playing too. In iTunes, its the two guys speaking in a foreign language again. I tried playing it from here and it keeps re-starting itself after only a few minutes of playing.

  11. Still working on catching up… I’ve made it pretty far for about three months, if I do say so myself! Anyway, another question that you might have already read about, contemplated, and forgotten the answer to– why wasn’t John of Gaunt considered for the throne instead of Richard? It seems pretty common to move to the next son when the first one dies. I couldn’t find other examples as I don’t know as much about lines that didn’t end up as kings– but didn’t Henry the Young King have any children? Maybe by this point succession had formalized more than before, but it still seems like there could have at least been a dispute, yet I couldn’t find any evidence of one. Any thoughts???

    1. Hi Drew – and congratulations on getting to RII in just 3 months. If only, *sigh*, others had your dedication…

      By the time we are up to the Normans and therefore beyond the Anglo Saxons with their rather more flexible rule, primogeniture was pretty well established. further away from the ‘first son’ rule, it then began to get murky and arguable, but actually I am struggling to think of another example where the son of the oldest son was passed over. Henry the Young king did not have any children as it happens; Richard III had to pretend that Edward V wasn’t legitimate (well, that Edward IV wasn’t legitimate) to take the throne. There were, I think, vague fears that the over mighty John of Gaunt would wield took much power, but it would have been seen as a usurpation. Or those are my thoughts!

      1. That makes sense. I couldn’t think of any particular examples (other than Arthur of Brittany– sort of) but I felt like I had it in my mind from somewhere. I guess the eras meld together when you listen to 50 years in one week!


      2. I’m just now at this episode and that confused me too. I would have expected John of Gaunt to get the throne. But it doesn’t seem to have been an issue, does it? And then Gaunt has got in all that trouble with the Good Parliament.

Leave a Reply