Richard II
A Study Guide

Home: Shakespeare Index

See Shakespeare Study Guides in Kindle Format
With Complete Annotated Texts

Table of Contents

Type of Play      Composition and Publication      Sources      Settings      Tone      Characters      Historical Background
Plot Summary      Themes      Conflict      Climax      Extended Anaphora      Extended Pun      Figures of Speech
Epigrams      Study Questions and Essay Topics      The War of the Roses      Complete Text


Type of Play

Richard II is a stage play that is both a history and a tragedy. It depicts the downfall of the title character, or protagonist, partly because of flaws in his character. He is a weak, unwise, and unduly harsh ruler.

Composition and Publication
Date Written: Probably 1595.
Publication: Richard II was published in a quarto edition in 1597, two quarto editions in 1598, a quarto edition in 1608, and a quarto edition in 1615. It was printed again in 1623 as part of the First Folio, a collection of thirty-six Shakespeare plays.


Shakespeare based Richard II on accounts in The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (Holinshed’s Chronicles), by Raphael Holinshed (?-1580?). The first edition of the chronicles was published in 1577 in two volumes. Shakespeare may also have based part of his plot on The Civil Wars (1595), by Samuel Daniel; on an anonymous play called Woodstock (early 1590s); and on an anonymous play called The Life and Death of Jack Straw (early 1590s).

The action in the play takes place in England and Wales, beginning in 1398. (Richard II reigned between 1377 and 1399.) Locales include London, Coventry, the wilds of Gloucestershire, Bristol, a camp in Wales, and the coast of Wales.


The tone is bitter, contentious, and deadly serious as Richard vies for power with his political enemies, who also vie with each other. 

Protagonist: King Richard II
Antagonist: Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford
King Richard II: Intelligent but weak and duplicitous monarch who musters enough courage and dignity to die bravely when set upon by adversaries. 
John of Gaunt: Duke of Lancaster. He is the king's uncle and father of the king's rival, Henry Bolingbroke. His name, Gaunt, is a corruption of Ghent, the name of the Belgian city where he was born. 
Henry Bolingbroke: Duke of Hereford, son of John of Gaunt, and the king's rival. He seizes power and becomes King Henry IV.
Thomas Mowbray: Duke of Norfolk and opponent of Bolingbroke.
Lord Ross, Lord Willoughby: Supporters of Bolingbroke.
Edmund of Langley: Duke of York and king's uncle.
Duke of Aumerle: Son of the Duke of York. He plots against Bolingbroke when the latter ascends the throne.
Bishop of Carlisle, Abbot of Westminster: Co-conspirators in Aumerle's plot.
Duke of Surrey: Supporter of Aumerle.
Lord Fitzwater: Opponent of Aumerle.
Duchess of York: Mother of Aumerle.
Earl of Salisbury, Sir Stephen Scroop: Members of the king's party.
Lord Berkeley: Messenger for the Duke of York.
Bushy, Bagot, Green: Servants of King Richard.
Earl of Northumberland: Proud and arrogant follower of Bolingbroke.
Henry Percy, nicknamed Hotspur: Promising son of Northumberland who aids Bolingbroke. 
Sir Pierce of Exton: Bolingbroke's hatchet man. When Bolingbroke, as the new king, asks whether anyone will rid him of Richard, Exton assumes Bolingbroke wants Richard dead. With two assistants, he kills the king, who goes down swinging.
Queen: Loyal wife of King Richard.
Duchess of Gloucester: Aunt of Richard and Bolingbroke.
Lord Marshal
Captain of a Band of Welshmen
Lady attending on the Queen
Minor Characters: Lords, heralds, officers, soldiers, two gardeners, keeper, messenger, groom, attendants.
Historical Background
When staging Richard II, William Shakespeare assumed that his Elizabethan audience was familiar with historical events that led up to the events depicted in the play. Here is a summary of the events with which modern readers need to familiarize themselves to understand the play:

The historical Richard II was born in 1367, reigned as king from 1377 to 1399, and died in 1400. When he was only ten, he acceded to the throne as the grandson of King Edward III and ruled under the protection and guidance of John of Gaunt (1340-1399), Duke of Lancaster. In the first two decades of Richard’s reign, Gaunt spent much of his time fending off or pacifying other nobles seeking to control the young monarchand England.

In 1386, these nobles persuaded Parliament to establish a commission to supervise and manipulate the teenage king. One of the ringleaders of these nobles was Gaunt’s brother, Thomas Woodstock, the Earl of Gloucester. Another was Gaunt’s son, Henry Bolingbroke, the Duke of Hereford (later to become King Henry IV). A third was Thomas Mowbray, the Duke of Norfolk. Two years later, the parliamentary faction ousted and even executed some of Richard’s advisers and friends. However, in 1389, Richard, when he was twenty-two and fully of age to rule England, asserted his royal authority, regained control of the government, and forged a settlement with the rebellious nobles. One of its provisions was to grant Woodstock a measure of control in Ireland. The king also turned Mowbray into an ally by using him to execute military and diplomatic missions. He also made peace with Bolinbrokeor so it seemed.

But the king never really forgave any of the nobles who earlier opposed him. In 1397, he had Woodstock (referred to in the play as Gloucester) arrested and imprisoned at Calais, France, under the watchful eye of Mowbray. Woodstock was later murdered in mysterious circumstances, probably at the behest of the vengeful king. Another noblethe Duke of Surreywas beheaded. A third was exiled for life.
Bolingbroke and Mowbray then seemed ripe subjects for the king’s crackdown. Worried, Mowbray foolishly disclosed his fears to Bolingbroke, an ambitious man who took advantage of the situation by accusing Mowbray of killing Woodstock. Mowbray in turn accused Bolingbroke of slander. Shakespeare’s play begins with a hearing on these accusations before King Richard.

Plot Summary
By Michael J. Cummings...© 2003, 2011
A vicious quarrel erupts in 1398 in the realm of England’s King Richard II between two nobles. One is the king’s cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford; the other is Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. They had been allies as part of a powerful faction of five nobles that gained control of Parliament in 1386 and attempted to manipulate the young king, then twenty-one. Richard, now thirty-one, orders John of Gaunt—the Duke of Lancaster and father of Bolingbroke—to summon Mowbray and Bolingbroke to court for a hearing.
When they appear, Bolingbroke accuses Mowbray of being a “traitor and a miscreant” (1.1.42) for supposedly misusing government money and for plotting the death of the Duke of Gloucester, Thomas Woodstock. Mowbray, in turn, calls Bolingbroke a “slanderous coward and a villain” (1.1.64) and declares “most falsely doth he lie” (1.1.71). Bolingbroke wants to demonstrate that he is a loyal subject of the king even though he formally participated in schemes to limit the king’s power. Mowbray, too, is eager to impress the king; hence, he vigorously denies charges that he betrayed the king. Bolingbroke throws down his gauntlet, challenging Mowbray to a jousting duel, and Mowbray quickly takes it up. Unable to persuade the adversaries to put aside their differences, Richard sanctions the duel:

At Coventry, upon Saint Lambert’s day: 
There shall your swords and lances arbitrate 
The swelling difference of your settled hate. (1.1.204-206)
On the appointed day at Coventry, a crowd surrounds the fenced-in field to observe the joust. However, just before the combat is to begin, Richard realizes that the victor will receive popular acclaim that could rival his own standing with the people. So, before the two men can raise shields and strike metal, he cancels the contest. Then he banishes both men, Mowbray for life and Bolingbroke for “twice five summers” (1.3.145), or ten years. Richard makes both swear they will never plot against the Crown.
Moments later, when Richard sees how the sentence aggrieves John of Gaunt, he shortens Henry’s banishment to six years. However, Richard’s show of mercy masks inner rancor toward his cousin. Henry, it seems, has grown so popular with the people that he poses a threat to the Crown. Thus, the king is only too glad to have Henry out of the way. Good riddance!
Richard then turns his attention to organizing and leading a military campaign to quell a rebellion in Ireland. But because he spends lavishly and has run low on money, he plans to bleed the already overtaxed people to pay for the campaign. His spending has already aroused the common people against him. So has his policy of forcing former enemies among the nobility to buy pardons at a high price. In addition, the enmity building against him has been exacerbated by his manner—egotistical and autocratic. The innocent boy king who first sat on the throne has become a tyrant. Even old John of Gaunt, the king’s longtime protector, is displeased.
Gaunt, broken down by advancing age and the banishment of his son (Bolingbroke), is now dying. Richard, displaying the cruelest of his sides, cheers for Gaunt’s death, for Gaunt has money and property—enough to finance Richard’s incursion into Ireland. Bolingbroke, of course, is in line to inherit Gaunt’s property. But Richard, regarding Bolingbroke as his enemy, believes Gaunt’s wealth should go to the Crown. He says:
Now put it, God, in the physician’s mind 
To help him [Gaunt] to his grave immediately! 
The lining of his coffers shall make coats 
To deck our soldiers for these Irish wars. (1.4.62)
When King Richard visits the dying man, Gaunt—realizing that Richard has become a less-than-honorable monarch—tells him that he too is sick, in a manner of speaking: “Thy death-bed is no lesser than thy land / Wherein thou liest in reputation sick” (2.1.98-99). Richard, infuriated, calls Gaunt “a lunatic lean-witted fool / Presuming on an ague’s privilege” (2.1.119). After Gaunt dies, the king confiscates his property. Another  uncle of Richard, the elderly Duke of York, protests the king’s action on behalf of Gaunt’s son, Henry Bolingbroke, saying the law dictates that all of Gaunt’s money and lands should go to Henry. Many other nobles, too, oppose the king’s action. Richard, however, refuses to back down and, with Gaunt’s wealth now in his keep, marches off to Ireland to wage war. After Henry Bolingbroke learns of his father’s death and the king’s appropriation of the inheritance, he raises an army of his own and returns to England to claim his property. Nobles join his cause, and Henry orders the execution of two of Richard’s favorites, Bushy and Green. The king then returns from Ireland, landing in Wales, to deal with Henry. He believes God is on his side:

The breath of worldly men cannot depose 
The deputy elected by the Lord: 
For every man that Bolingbroke hath press’d 
To lift shrewd steel against our golden crown, 
God for his Richard hath in heavenly pay 
A glorious angel: then, if angels fight, 
Weak men must fall, for heaven still guards the right. (3.2.58-64)
But woe unto Richard, for twenty thousand Welsh soldiers have deserted him and gone over to Henry. Sir Stephen Scroop tells Richard that all of England seems to oppose him: 
White-beards have arm’d their thin and hairless scalps
Against thy majesty; and boys, with women’s voices, 
Strive to speak big and clap their female joints. (3.2.116-118)
After Richard takes refuge in Flint Castle, Henry arrives to claim his rightful inheritance. Richard yields and Henry escorts him to London.
Meanwhile, the queen, who loves Richard dearly, is visiting two ladies in the garden of the Duke of York when she overhears a gardener criticize Richard for not tending his kingdom in the same way that one tends a garden. Plants and trees must be trimmed and dressed, the gardener says, and superfluous branches must be cut away. When the queen reproaches him for his criticism, the gardener informs her that King Richard no longer holds sway in the realm; it is uncrowned Henry who rules. The queen says, “What, was I born to this, that my sad look / Should grace the triumph of great Bolingbroke?” (3.4.105-106). Deeply grieved, she leaves immediately for London. The gardener plants a bank of rue in the spot where one of her tears has fallen “in the remembrance of a weeping queen” (3.4.114).
Before Parliament in Westminster Hall, the Bishop of Carlisle, one of Richard’s few remaining defenders, speaks out against Henry and his claims to the crown, but to no avail. After Richard’s adversaries accuse him of high crimes, he 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 it fails. Henry has Richard transferred to Pomfret Castle.
Sir Pierce Exton overhears Henry ask a deadly question: “Have I no friend will rid me of this living fear?” (5.4.4). The “living fear” is, of course, Richard. Without direct orders from Henry, Exton decides to fulfill Henry’s wish. With two henchmen armed with axes, he goes to Pomfret Castle to murder Richard. To his credit, Richard goes down swinging. After snatching away an axe, he kills one henchmen, then the other. But a blow from Exton brings him down. Before dying, he warns Exton that the hand that struck him “shall burn in never-quenching fire” (5.5.113). Exton bears the body to Henry and proclaims, “Great king, within this coffin I present / Thy buried fear” (5.6. 36-37). Henry is horrified and tells Exton that he 
          hast wrought
A deed of slander with thy fatal hand
Upon my head and all this famous land. (5.6.40-42) 
When Exton reminds Henry that he wished Richard dead, Henry, full of guilt, banishes Exton, then announces:
I’ll make a voyage to the Holy Land, 
To wash this blood off from my guilty hand: 
March sadly after; grace my mournings here; 
In weeping after this untimely bier. (5.6.55-58).

Is kingly authority inviolable? The central theme of the play is whether the subjects of a king have a right to overthrow and replace him if he is weak, unwise, or unduly harsh. Richard himself enunciates the view that his authority comes from God himself; thus, he has a divine right to rule. John of Gaunt and the Duke of York support this view even though Richard exhibits qualities unbecoming a king. Henry Bolingbroke, on the other hand, believes the people have the right to depose the king if he does not act in the best interests of the realm. Many nobles support this view and help Bolinbroke unseat Richard. However, after Sir Pierce Exton and his henchmen kill Richard, Bolingbroke feels deep remorse. Which view Shakespeare supported is unknown; in the play, he does not openly take sides.
Prodigality arouses the wrath of the people. Richard II spends lavishly and bleeds his subjects to fill his coffers. Richard fails to realize an old political truth: When pockets lack jingle, the people retaliate.
True patriots remain steadfast and loyal. Old John of Gaunt (Duke of Lancaster) remains steadfastly loyal to his country through the turmoil unfolding around him. For years, he protected young King Richard against the machinations of nobles who attempted to manipulate the callow monarch. But after Richard comes of age, Richard himself resorts to petty politics to get his way. Gaunt, deeply disappointed in the king, bemoans the fact that his beloved country has been brought so low. In one of the most patriotic passages in all of Shakespeare, Gaunt refers to England as “this scepter’d isle, / This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, / This other Eden, demi-paradise” (2.1.42-44). Then, with his dying breath, he rebukes Richard and pronounces a curse: “Live in thy shame, but die not shame with thee! These words hereafter thy tormentors be!” (2.1.139-140). Gaunt dies with dignity. Today, the words Shakespeare gave him continue to live in England on the tongues of every schoolchild who values his heritage.
Blood is thinner than water, or familiarity breeds contempt. The main enemies in Richard II are relatives. John of Gaunt is Richard II’s uncle. When Gaunt dies, Richard seizes his property. Henry Bolingbroke is the son of Gaunt and Richard’s cousin. He deposes Richard and seizes his throne.
. .

The central conflict in the play is between King Richard and Henry Bolingbroke. Richard, an unwise and unpopular ruler, believes his authority comes from God. Therefore, he says, he has a divine right to rule; no one may usurp his authority. Bolingbroke believes that the people have a right to replace a king if he does not act in their best interests.

The climax of a play or another literary work, such as a short story or a novel, can be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins to resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most exciting event in a series of events. The climax of Richard II occurs, according to the first definition, in Westminster Hall when Richard surrenders the crown to Bolinbroke, reciting these lines: “I give this heavy weight from off my head / And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand” (4.1.211-212). According to the second definition, the climax seems to occur in the final act, when Richard bravely confronts his enemies and dies honorably.

Great Buys on the Following Items at

Cameras     Cell Phones and Accessories      Computers      Digital Music      Game Downloads       Jewelry
Kindle E-Readers      Musical Instruments       Men's Clothes       Women's Clothes       Handbags and Shoes

Extended Anaphora
Among the most memorable passages in Richard II is the following one, in which John of Gaunt glorifies England while lamenting the shameful behavior of Richard. The success of the imagery depends in large part on a figure of speech called anaphora, the repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of word groups occurring one after the other. Notice the extended repetition of this.

    This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war,
    This happy breed of men, this little world,
    This precious stone set in the silver sea,
    Which serves it in the office of a wall,
    Or as a moat defensive to a house,
    Against the envy of less happier lands,
    This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
    This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
    Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth,
    Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
    For Christian service and true chivalry,
    As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,
    Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's Son,
    This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
    Dear for her reputation through the world,
    Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
    Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
    England, bound in with the triumphant sea
    Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
    Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
    With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
    That England, that was wont to conquer others,
    Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
    Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,
    How happy then were my ensuing death! (2.1.40-68)
Extended Pun

Shakespeare relied heavily on the pun in his comedies for humorous effect. In Richard II, however, he uses an extended pun at a deadly serious time: John of Gaunt is dying. The pun begins when King Richard asks Gaunt how he fares as he nears death. Gaunt uses his name (spelled the same as the adjective gaunt, meaning thin, bony and haggard) several times in his reply.

KING RICHARD:   What comfort, man? How is’t with aged Gaunt
GAUNT:   O! how that name befits my composition;   
Old Gaunt indeed, and gaunt in being old: 
Within me grief hath kept a tedious fast; 
And who abstains from meat that is not gaunt
For sleeping England long time have I watch’d;   
Watching breeds leanness, leanness is all gaunt
The pleasure that some fathers feed upon 
Is my strict fast, I mean my children’s looks; 
And therein fasting hast thou made me gaunt.  
Gaunt am I for the grave, gaunt as a grave, 
Whose hollow womb inherits nought but bones. (2.1.75-86)
Figures of Speech

Following are examples of figures of speech in Richard II. For definitions of figures of speech, see Literary Terms.


That all the treasons for these eighteen years 
Complotted and contrived in this land, 
Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and spring. (1.1.100) 

Such neighbour nearness to our sacred blood (1.1.122)

Be Mowbray’s sins so heavy in his bosom 
That they may break his foaming courser’s back. (1.2.52-53) 

As gentle and as jocund as to jest. (1.3.99)

This tongue that runs so roundly in thy head 
Should run thy head from thy unreverent shoulders. (2.1.126-127) 

Eating the bitter bread of banishment. (3.1.23)

Some of those seven are dried by nature’s course, 
Some of those branches by the Destinies cut. (1.2.16-17) 

What must the king do now? Must he submit? 
The king shall do it: must he be depos’d? 
The king shall be contented: must he lose
The name of king? (3.3.149-151)

With mine own tears I wash away my balm, 
With mine own hands I give away my crown, 
With mine own tongue deny my sacred state, 
With mine own breath release all duteous rites:  (4.1.214-217)

Mount, mount, my soul! thy seat is up on high,
Whilst my gross flesh sinks downward, here to die. (5.5.116-117)
Richard addresses the soul.

Dear earth, I do salute thee with my hand, 
Though rebels wound thee with their horses’ hoofs. (3.2.8-9)
Richard addresses the earth.

For gnarling sorrow hath less power to bite 
The man that mocks at it and sets it light. (1.3.296-297)
Comparison of sorrow to a biting creature.

I am disgrac’d, impeach’d, and baffled here, 
Pierc’d to the soul with slander’s venom’d spear. (1.1.174-175)
Comparison of slander to a wielder of a spear

Lions make leopards tame. (1.1.179) 
King Richard compares himself to a lion and Mowbray and Bolingbroke to leopards.

Men are but gilded loam or painted clay. (1.1.184)
Comparison of men to loam (mixture of clay, sand, and other matter) and to "painted clay"

Edward’s seven sons, whereof thyself art one, 
Were as seven vials of his sacred blood (1.2.13-14)
Comparison of the seven sons, including Gaunt, to vials of Edward's blood 

Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs; 
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes 
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth. (3.2.149-151)
Comparison of dust to paper and "rainy eyes" to writing instruments 

Methinks King Richard and myself should meet 
With no less terror than the elements
Of fire and water, when their thundering shock 
At meeting tears the cloudy cheeks of heaven. (3.3.59-62) 
Comparison of fire and water to beings that experience shocking terror
Comparison of clouds to cheeks

The lion dying thrusteth forth his paw 
And wounds the earth, if nothing else, with rage 
To be o’erpower’d; and wilt thou, pupil-like, 
Take thy correction mildly, kiss the rod, 
And fawn on rage with base humility, 
Which art a lion and a king of beasts?  (5.1.32-37)
The queen compares the lion's paw mark to a wound. She also compares 
her husband, Richard, to a meek student and to a lion as king of beasts.

Metaphor, Simile, Paradox
[Mowbray] sluic’d out his innocent soul through streams of blood: 
Which blood, like sacrificing Abel’s, cries, 
Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth, 
To me for justice and rough chastisement;
Metaphor: comparison of Mowbray's "innocent soul" to a liquid drained by a channel (sluice)
Simile: comparison of the "streams of blood" to the blood of Abel, who was killed by his brother Cain (Genesis 4: 1-16)
Paradox: "Tongueless caverns" cry out.
For every man that Bolingbroke hath press’d 
To lift shrewd steel against our golden crown, 
God for his Richard hath in heavenly pay 
A glorious angel. (3.2.60-63) 
Crown represents King Richard.
Despite of death that lives upon my grave. (1.1.172)
Death lives

My care is loss of care (4.1.203)
Some unborn sorrow, ripe in fortune’s womb, 
Is coming towards me. (2.2.12-13)
Comparison of fortune to a pregant woman and sorrow to an unborn child
Be swift like lightning in the execution. (1.3.83)
Gaunt tells Bolinbroke to be like lightning.

In the dialogue of Richard II and other Shakespeare plays, characters sometimes speak wise or witty sayings, or epigrams, couched in memorable language. Among the more memorable sayings in Richard II are the following.

The purest treasure mortal times afford
Is spotless reputation. (1.1.182-183)
In a metaphor, Thomas Mowbray compares reputation to treasure.

Mine honour is my life; both grow in one:
Take honour from me, and my life is done. (1.1.187-188)
In this couplet, Thomas Mowbray uses a metaphor comparing honor to life.

The ripest fruit first falls. (2.1.159)
Richard uses an implied metaphor to compare old John of Gaunt, dying, to a ripe fruit. Alliteration occurs in fruit, first, and falls.

Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Can wash the balm from an anointed king. (3.2.56-57)
Richard expresses his view with a hyperbole and alliteration (rough, rude).

I see thy glory like a shooting star
Fall to the base earth from the firmament. (2.4.21-22)
The Earl of Salisbury uses a simile to compare glory to a shooting star.

You may my glories and my state depose,
But not my griefs; still am I king of those. (4.1.199-200)
In this couplet, Richard uses a metaphor comparing griefs to king’s subjects.

Study Questions and Essay Topics
  1. What psychological affliction does Henry Bolinbroke at the end of the play have in common with Lady Macbeth after the murder of King Duncan in Macbeth?
  2. Bolinbroke banishes Exton at the end of the play. What was banishment? Where did a banished person go? 
  3. Write an essay focusing on this question: Does Richard II become a better or worse man at the end of the play, when he is about to die? 
  4. What is the meaning of gage in this line spoken by Henry Bolingbroke the first scene of Act I: “Pale trembling coward, there I throw my gage”? (1.1.72). What role did gages play in the feudal age?
  5. In Richard II, Shakespeare frequently uses the word “up”—and many words with an opposite meaning—in figures of speech focusing on the rising or falling fortunes of the characters, notably Richard and Bolingbroke. Write a research paper cataloging and explaining Shakespeare’s use of “up” and “down” imagery in the play. To ease your task, download a public-domain copy of the play, then use your search command to find occurrences of “up,” “down,” and related words.
  6. Write an essay explaining the concept of “the divine right of kings,” stating that a monarch’s authority was God given and, therefore, not to be tampered with by the subjects of the monarch.

War of the Roses

Henry Bolingbroke's ascendancy to the English throne as Henry IV was the germinal event that triggered the War of the Roses (1455-1485) between the House of Lancasterfounded by Bolingbroke's father, John of Gauntand the House of York. For additional information on the War of the Roses, click here.