This Richard II summary will take around 5 minutes to read, or you can listen to it here:

Here is a brief Richard II summary:

Shakespeare’s Richard II opens in the court of King Richard II in Coventry, where a dispute between Henry Bolingbroke, the son of John of Gaunt, and Thomas Mowbray, the Duke of Norfolk, is to be resolved by a tournament. Bolingbroke has accused Mowbray of being implicated in the death of the king’s uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. At the last minute, Richard stops the contest: he banishes Mowbray for life, and giving in to pleas on behalf of Bolingbroke, commutes his banishment to six years.

Richard is an ineffectual king, subject to flattery and misled into misgovernment by sycophants – his cousin, Aumerle, and companions, Bushy, Bagot, and Green. John of Gaunt, deeply affected by his son’s banishment, dies after expressing disillusionment with Richard’s rule. Instead of learning a lesson from Gaunt, Richard appropriates his estate, using the money to fund an expedition against the Irish. Bolingbroke, resenting the confiscation of his inheritance, returns to England where his army is enthusiastically welcomed by the English, led by Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland.

When Richard returns he finds that his Uncle, the Duke of York, whom he left as regent, has joined Bolingbroke; his Welsh allies have abandoned him, and his friends have been executed on the orders of Bolingbroke. He agrees to go to London where Parliament will mediate in the dispute. He is forced to abdicate in favour of Bolingbroke, who is crowned Henry IV.

Richard is imprisoned in Pontefract castle. Pierce of Exton murders him, wrongly believing that that was Henry’s wish. King Henry vows to make reparation for his cousin’s death by going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

And that’s a quick Richard II summary. What are your thoughts – anything unclear, or missing? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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Richard II summary played by Ben Whishaw in BBC's The Hollow Crown

Richard II summary – BBC’s Richard II adaptation The Hollow Crown

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