Stuff That Happens in the Play
BEFORE THE PLAY: Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester and uncle of King Richard II, is imprisoned and murdered.
- Richard’s cousin Henry Bullingbrook, the Duke of Hereford, accuses Thomas Mowbray of plotting Gloucester’s death.
- Mowbray denies the accusation and in turn charges Bullingbrook with treason. Richard decrees that Bullingbrook and Mowbray must settle their bitter dispute by mortal combat.
- Before the combat begins, Richard changes his mind and banishes the feuding Dukes instead: Bullingbrook for ten years (later reduced to six), Mowbray for life. Both swear they will never plot against the King.
- While discussing the need to raise money for wars in Ireland, Richard learns that Bullingbrook’s father, John of Gaunt, is “grievous sick.”
- Before he dies, Gaunt speaks of his love of England and accuses Richard of gross misrule.
- Richard seizes Gaunt’s wealth and lands, thus robbing Bullingbrook of his inheritance.
- Richard departs for Ireland, leaving the Duke of York (Richard and Bullingbrook’s uncle) in charge of England.
- Rejecting his sentence of banishment, Bullingbrook returns from exile to reclaim his rightful inheritance. The Earl of Northumberland and other lords rush to his side.
- York confronts Bullingbrook, but claims to “remain neuter” in the conflict between his nephews Richard and Bullingbrook.
- Accusing them of misleading the King, Bullingbrook executes two of Richard’s favorites, Bushy and Green, “the caterpillars of the commonwealth.”
- Richard returns from Ireland, hears his troops have deserted him, and takes refuge at Flint Castle to “pine away.”
- Bullingbrook and his supporters stumble upon Richard at Flint Castle where Bullingbrook insists that he is not trying to dispose Richard; “I come,” he claims, “but for mine own.” Richard replies, “your own is yours and I am yours and all.”
- Bullingbrook and Richard return to London.
- Abdication, imprisonment, and assassination ensue.