John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, the second son of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, Elizabeth Howard, a first cousin of John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk - 2nd creation, was one of the principal Lancastrian commanders during the English Wars of the Roses. He was the principal commander of King Henry VII's army at the Battle of Bosworth Field, again led Henry's troops to victory at the Battle of Stoke Field two years later, he became one of the great men of the King's regime. John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, was born on 8 September 1442, the second son of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, his wife Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of Sir John Howard and Joan Walton. In February 1462 the 12th Earl, his eldest son, Aubrey de Vere, Sir Thomas Tuddenham, the 12th Earl's former political opponent in Norfolk and now a fellow Lancastrian loyalist, were convicted of high treason before John Tiptoft, 1st Earl of Worcester, Constable of England, for plotting against King Edward IV; the 12th Earl was beheaded on Tower Hill on 26 February 1462, buried in the church of Austin Friars in London.
His son Aubrey had been beheaded on the same scaffold six days earlier. Pursuing a conciliatory policy with Lancastrian families, King Edward allowed John de Vere to succeed his father, on 18 January 1464 granted him licence to enter on his father's lands. On 26 May 1465 he was created a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Edward IV's wife, Elizabeth Woodville, officiated at the ceremony as both Lord Great Chamberlain, in the absence of the office-holder, the Earl of Warwick, as Chamberlain to the queen. In November 1468, however, he was committed to the Tower, confessed to plotting with the Lancastrians against the King, he was released before 7 January 1469, received a general pardon on 5 April of that year. However, by early July 1469 Oxford had joined the discontented Yorkists led by his brother-in-law, the Earl of Warwick, King Edward's brother, the Duke of Clarence, for the Edgecote campaign. Following the loss at Edgecote on 12 March 1470, he fled overseas to the court of King Henry VI's wife, Margaret of Anjou.
In September 1470 he joined Warwick and Clarence in the invasion of England which restored Henry VI to the throne, on 13 October bore the Sword of State before Henry in a procession to St Paul's. He was appointed Lord High Constable of England, as such on 15 October tried and condemned for high treason the same Earl of Worcester who had in 1462 condemned Oxford's own father and brother. In March 1471, he prevented Edward IV's army from landing in Norfolk, was in command of the right wing at the Battle of Barnet on 14 April of that year, defeating the forces of Lord Hastings; however this early success in the battle turned to disaster. Oxford led his men back to the fight, but: they lost their way in the fog and emerged on their own army, who mistook the Vere star for Edward's sun in splendour, met them with a flight of arrows. Whereupon Oxford and his men cried "Treasoune! treasoune" and fled. After this defeat Oxford escaped to Scotland with 40 men, accompanied by his two brothers and Thomas Vere, the Viscount Beaumont.
From there he went to France, where he engaged in privateering. Although he was not attainted after leaving England in 1471, his lands were confiscated, his wife, Margaret, is said to have been subjected to great financial hardship. On 28 May 1473, Oxford attempted an unsuccessful landing at St Osyth in Essex. On 30 September 1473, he seized St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, where he was besieged for some months by John Fortescue. After most of his men had deserted and he had been wounded in the face with an arrow, Oxford was compelled to surrender on 15 February 1474, along with his two brothers and Beaumont. Oxford was imprisoned at Hammes Castle near Calais, was attainted early in 1475. At this time his mother, the 12th Earl's widow, was forced to surrender her property to the Duke of Gloucester. In 1478 Oxford scaled the walls of Hammes and leapt into the moat, though whether this was an attempt at escape or suicide is unclear; the new king, Richard III, ordered his transfer to England on 28 October 1484, but before the transfer could be effected Oxford had escaped, having persuaded the captain of Hammes, Sir James Blount, to go with him to join the Earl of Richmond.
It is said. Oxford returned to Hammes to bring the garrison there to join Richmond. Oxford commanded the archers and Henry's vanguard using the formation called the Oxford Wedge, which penetrated Richard's army in the shape of an arrow at the Battle of Bosworth, held Richmond's vanguard in fierce fighting in which John Howard, the Duke of Norfolk and the first cousin of Oxford’s mother, leading the vanguard of Richard III, was killed. To celebrate the Tudor victory at Bosworth, Oxford commissioned the building of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Lavenham. According to Gunn, Oxford was'immediately recognized as one of the great men of Henry VII's regime', his attainder was repealed, he was restored to his estates and titles, received many appointments and grants, including appointment as Lord Admiral on 21 September, chief steward of the Duchy of Lancaster south of Trent and Constable of the Tower of London on 22 September 1485. He was appointed the first Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard.
He was sworn of the Privy Council, recognized as Hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain of England. As Lord Great Chamberlain he officiated at the coronations of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, bearing the king's train at the coronation and setting the crown upon the king'
Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford
Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford KG PC was a Royalist during the English Civil War. He was 19th Earl of Oxford and his wife Beatrix van Hemmend, he was educated at Friesland in the Netherlands after his father was mortally wounded at the siege of Maastricht in 1632, when de Vere was only six years old. He remained in Holland during the period of the English Civil War, but returned to England in 1651 an ardent royalist, he was involved in a succession of plots, for which he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for plotting against Oliver Cromwell and interned without trial. On release he joined, he went with five other peers to petition The Hague for the return of King Charles II in early May 1660. Hoping but failing to become Lord Chamberlain, he was offered the Colonelcy of The Blues; as a great favourite of royal mistress Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland he courted the Earl of Bristol's daughter, whose family were in high favour at court. However the daughter married the Earl of Sunderland, a Secretary of State, but he lobbied the King on Oxford's behalf.
Oxford was made a Knight of the Garter. Oxford's dashing image was as one of the last Cavaliers. Tall and good-looking, he looked disdainful. Censorious Whigs like Samuel Pepys deplored seeing Oxford wearing his Garter regalia in public and there was a rumour that he married an actress in secret; the actress was Hester Davenport and the wedding took place on a Sunday morning in 1662 or 1663 in a chandler's shop on Harts Horn Lane, London. She had a son Audrey from this union; the earl bought a lawsuit in 1686 to refute a lawsuit he won. Despite being a Cavalier, he adhered to Protestant principles, permitting Quakers and Puritans to join the regiment, he was a friend of the Duke of Monmouth, a great soldier. Oxford raised a Regiment of Horse from 1684 onwards, just as the Life Guards were being withdrawn from Dunkirk, they were properly the Royal Regiment of Horse, but known by the colour of the uniforms as Oxford's Blues because he was the regiment's Colonel. Royalist volunteers added strength to this Protestant regiment.
It was Charles II's policy to expand the army beyond the kernel. Oxford gained the disapproval at court of the favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, who had declared undying enmity. Oxford replied that he "neither cared for his friendship nor feared for his hatred." "...a troop of horse, excellently mounted, of the Royal Regiment of my Lord Aubrey de Vere, Earl of Oxford...inspecting every file of the company, the officers of which wore a red sash with gold tassels.", wrote Prince Cosmo of Tuscany on a visit to London in 1668. Oxford was present at the first Army Board on 5 August 1670, chaired by the Duke of York, the king's brother who succeeded him as King James II. On 5 July 1685 Sir Francis Compton was promoted to command the regiment. Oxford was prevented from taking it by the King. Oxford was responsible for kitting out his regiment, ordering a standard blue uniform from a woollen draper, Mr Munnocks of The Strand, whose son was killed in the service. In February 1688 he told King James "I will stand by Your Majesty against all enemies to the last drop of my blood.
But this is a matter of conscience and I cannot comply." Oxford as Lord Lieutenant of Essex was responsible for raising troops in the county, but refused James II's order to appoint Roman Catholics to public offices. He was deprived of his offices. Months he took the side of William of Orange against James II in the Glorious Revolution, he was restored to his titles and the colonelcy of The Blues, exempted the Commission of Inspection by the Convention Parliament of April 1689. The Secretary at War, William Blathwayt, wrote asking for details of all officers removed by absolutism. On 1 February 1689 Oxford and Compton lobbied Parliament to pass a vote of thanks to the army for the Whig constitution "...testified their sturdy adherence to the Protestant religion and being instrumental in delivering this country from popery and slavery."He died in 1703 without surviving male issue, making the title extinct. His daughter Lady Diana de Vere married Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St Albans, another bastard son of Charles II.
On 12 April 1647 he married a daughter of Paul Bayning, 2nd Viscount Bayning. Anne died in 1659. On 12 April 1673 Aubrey married his mistress Diana Kirke, daughter of George Kirke and granddaughter of Aurelian Townshend, they had five children: Charles. Charlotte, died young Diana, who married Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans. Mary, died unmarried Henrietta, died unmarriedSince he had no surviving sons and as no other suitable claimant came forward, he became the last de Vere Earl of Oxford, one of the longest-lived titles in the peerage of England, his descendants through Diana Beauclerk were named De Vere Beauclerk, their son Vere Beauclerk received the barony of Vere in 1750. Beal, Peter. "Townshend, Aurelian". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27608. Broadway, Jan. "Townshend, Sir Roger". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27633. (Subscription or UK public libr
Hedingham Castle, in the village of Castle Hedingham, Essex, is arguably the best preserved Norman keep in England. The castle fortifications and outbuildings were built around 1100, the keep around 1140. However, the keep; the keep. The manor of Hedingham was awarded to Aubrey de Vere I by William the Conqueror by 1086; the castle was constructed by the de Veres in the late 11th and early 12th centuries, the keep in the 1130s and 1140s. To accommodate the existing castle, a large ditch was cut through a natural spur westward into the Colne Valley in order to form a ringwork and inner bailey; the stone keep is the only mediaeval structure to survive, is in an excellent state of preservation. The keep is nearly square, a common shape for Norman keeps; the east and west sides are 53 ft long and the north-south sides about 58 ft. The main part of the keep stands more than 70 ft tall, the turrets rise an additional 15 to 25 ft above the parapets, commanding the countryside around it from its elevated position atop the ringwork.
The walls are about 11 ft thick at the base and average 10 ft thick at the top. They are constructed from flint rubble bound with lime mortar, but unusually for an Essex castle, are faced with ashlar stone transported from a quarry in Barnack, Northamptonshire; the keep has five floors including the Great or Banqueting Hall with a great fireplace and a central arch extending two stories. The top floor may have been added around the 15th century, replacing an impressive pyramid-shaped roof; this is a recent theory and many older sources have noted the similar plans of Hedingham Castle and Rochester Castle, begun about 1126 and has four floors and four turrets. Changes were made in subsequent years during the Tudor period. Two of the original four corner turrets are missing, it seems however, that their demise was an attempt to demolish the building for materials rather than a result of military action. The outer buildings, including the hall and others, were replaced during the Tudor period. However, those structures have now been lost.
The only exception is the red-brick bridge of four spans that connects the inner bailey to the outer bailey, lying to the north-east of the keep. The bridge has been restored several times. A chapel was located to the south of the stone keep within the inner bailey. Around 1700, a Queen Anne style red-brick mansion was built in the outer bailey by Sir William Ashhurst, an MP and a former Lord Mayor of London; this was built sometime between his purchase of the property in 1693 and his death in 1719. Hedingham Castle may occupy the site of an earlier castle believed to have been built in the late 11th or early 12th century by Aubrey de Vere I, a Norman baron. Hedingham was one of the largest manors among those acquired by Aubrey I; the Domesday Book records that he held the manor of Hedingham by 1086, he ordered that vineyards be planted. It became the head of the Vere barony. Aubrey II and Aubrey III are candidates for initiating the construction of a major stone tower at Hedingham to reflect the enhanced status of the family.
In 1133 Aubrey II, son and heir of the first Aubrey, was created master chamberlain of England by Henry I. In 1141, his son and heir Aubrey was granted an earldom by Empress Matilda. By that time he had been Count of Guines for several years by right of his wife's inheritance of that continental territory. Matilda, wife of King Stephen, died at Castle Hedingham on 3 May 1152; the castle was besieged twice, in 1216 and 1217, during the dispute between King John, rebel barons, the French prince.. The castle was held by the de Vere family until 1625. Among the more famous earls are Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford. In 1713 the castle was purchased by Sir William Ashhurst; the Majendie family owned Hedingham Castle for 250 years until Miss Musette Majendie left it to her cousin, The Honourable Thomas Lindsay, descended from the de Veres through both maternal and paternal lines. His son Jason Lindsay and wife Demetra now live at Hedingham Castle with their children. While Hedingham Castle remains a family home, the Norman keep and grounds are open to the public from Easter to October.
Educational school visits take place throughout the year. Today the castle is a venue for a range of events, including jousting, falconry, re-enactment battles, fairs and vintage car shows, music concerts and theatre productions. Hedingham Castle is used for wedding ceremonies and corporate or private parties. Weddings are held by candlelight in the keep with space for 100 seated guests and standing room in the Minstrels’ gallery. Civil ceremonies, Civil Partnerships, Renewal of Vows and Naming ceremonies are all permitted; the Queen Anne mansion house and marquee are used for wedding parties. The castle has been described as "the best preserved Norman keep in England." Hedingham Castle was the location for episode 2 of The Landscape of Man aired on Channel 4 in 2010 in which the castle grounds and gardens, left to become a wilderness throughout the 20th c
An achievement, armorial achievement or heraldic achievement in heraldry is a full display or depiction of all the heraldic components to which the bearer of a coat of arms is entitled. An achievement comprises not only the arms themselves displayed on the Escutcheon, the central element, but the following elements surrounding it: Crest placed atop a: Torse Mantling Helm of appropriate variety. Supporters, which may stand on a Compartment) Motto, if possessed Order, if possessed Badge, if possessed Sometimes the term coat of arms is used to refer to the full achievement, but this usage is wrong in a strict sense of heraldic terminology, as a coat of arms refers to a garment with the escutcheon or armorial achievement embroidered on it; the ancient term used in place of "achievement" was "hatchment", being a corruption of the French achèvement, from the verb achever, a contraction of à chef venir from Latin ad caput venire, "to come to a head", thus to reach a conclusion, achieve. The word "hatchment" in its historical usage is thus identical in meaning and origin to the English heraldic term "achievement".
However, in recent years the word "hatchment" has come to be used exclusively to denote "funerary hatchment", whilst "achievement" is now used in place of "hatchment" in a non-funereal context. An example of the historic use of "hatchment" in a non-funerary context to denote what is now termed "achievement" is in the statute of the Order of the Garter laid down by King Henry VIII concerning the regulation of Garter stall plates: It is agreed that every knyght within the yere of his stallation shall cause to be made a scauchon of his armes and hachementis in a plate of metall suche as shall please him and that it shall be sett upon the back of his stall. "What is an Achievement?". An Tir College of Heralds. Archived from the original on 20 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-16. An'achievement' is a full formal display of a coat of arms
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was the King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizure of the crown on 22 August 1485 to his death on 21 April 1509. He was the first monarch of the House of Tudor. Henry attained the throne when his forces defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the culmination of the Wars of the Roses, he was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle. He cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and niece of Richard III. Henry was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the civil war, his supportive stance of the British Isles' wool industry and his standoff with the Low Countries had long-lasting benefits to all of the British economy. However, the capriciousness and lack of due process that indebted many would tarnish his legacy and were soon ended upon Henry VII's death, after a commission revealed widespread abuses. According to the contemporary historian Polydore Vergil, simple "greed" underscored the means by which royal control was over-asserted in Henry's final years.
Henry can be credited with a number of administrative and diplomatic initiatives. He paid close attention to detail, instead of spending lavishly he concentrated on raising new revenues and after a reign of nearly 24 years, he was peacefully succeeded by his son, Henry VIII; the new taxes were unpopular and two days after his coronation, Henry VIII arrested his father's two most unpopular ministers, Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. They were charged with high treason and were executed in 1510. Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle on 28 January 1457 to Countess of Richmond, his father, Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, died three months before his birth. Henry's paternal grandfather, Owen Tudor from the Tudors of Penmynydd, Isle of Anglesey in Wales, had been a page in the court of Henry V, he rose to become one of the "Squires to the Body to the King" after military service at the Battle of Agincourt. Owen is said to have secretly married the widow of Catherine of Valois. One of their sons was Edmund Tudor, father of Henry VII.
Edmund was created Earl of Richmond in 1452, "formally declared legitimate by Parliament". Henry's main claim to the English throne derived from his mother through the House of Beaufort. Henry's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of Edward III, his third wife Katherine Swynford. Katherine was Gaunt's mistress for about 25 years, thus Henry's claim was somewhat tenuous: it was from a woman, by illegitimate descent. In theory, the Portuguese and Castilian royal families had a better claim as descendants of Catherine of Lancaster, the daughter of John of Gaunt and his second wife Constance of Castile. Gaunt's nephew Richard II legitimised Gaunt's children by Katherine Swynford by Letters Patent in 1397. In 1407, Henry IV, Gaunt's son by his first wife, issued new Letters Patent confirming the legitimacy of his half-siblings, but declaring them ineligible for the throne. Henry IV's action was of doubtful legality, as the Beauforts were legitimised by an Act of Parliament, but it further weakened Henry's claim.
Nonetheless, by 1483 Henry was the senior male Lancastrian claimant remaining, after the deaths in battle or by murder or execution of Henry VI, his son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, the other Beaufort line of descent through Lady Margaret's uncle, the 2nd Duke of Somerset. Henry made some political capital out of his Welsh ancestry, for example in attracting military support and safeguarding his army's passage through Wales on its way to the Battle of Bosworth, he came from an old, established Anglesey family that claimed descent from Cadwaladr, on occasion Henry displayed the red dragon of Cadwaladr. He took it, as well as the standard of St George, on his procession through London after the victory at Bosworth. A contemporary writer and Henry's biographer, Bernard André made much of Henry's Welsh descent. In reality, his hereditary connections to Welsh aristocracy were not strong, he was descended by the paternal line, through several generations, from Ednyfed Fychan, the seneschal of Gwynedd and through this seneschal's wife from Rhys ap Tewdwr, the King of Deheubarth in South Wales.
His more immediate ancestor, Tudur ap Goronwy, had aristocratic land rights, but his sons, who were first cousins to Owain Glyndŵr, sided with Owain in his revolt. One son was executed and the family land was forfeited. Another son, Henry's great-grandfather, became a butler to the Bishop of Bangor. Owen Tudor, the son of the butler, like the children of other rebels, was provided for by Henry V, a circumstance that precipitated his access to Queen Catherine of Valois. Notwithstanding this lineage, to the bards of Wales, Henry was a candidate for Y Mab Darogan – "The Son of Prophecy" who would free the Welsh from oppression. In 1456, Henry's father Edmund Tudor was captured while fighting for Henry VI in South Wales against the Yorkists, he died in three months before Henry was born. Henry's uncle Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke and Edmund's younger brother, undertook to protect the young widow, 13 years old when she gave birth to Henry; when Edward IV became King in 1461, Jasper Tudor went into exile abroad.
Pembroke Castle, the Earldom of Pembroke, were granted to the Yorkist William Herbert, who assumed the guardianship of Margaret Beaufort and the young Henry. Henry lived in the Herbert household
Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford
Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford KB was an English aristocrat and soldier. He was born on 24 February 1593 at Newington, the only son of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, by his second wife, Elizabeth Trentham, he succeeded his father as earl on 24 June 1604. He is said to have been educated at Oxford University, he was admitted a member of the Inner Temple in November 1604, was created M. A. of Oxford on 30 August 1605. He was made a knight of the Bath on 3 June 1610, keeper of Havering Park on 15 November 1611. In his youth he had a reputation for debauchery. On his mother's death, early in 1613, he inherited a share of her fortune, set out on an extended foreign tour. From Brussels he made his way through France to Italy. At Venice in 1617 he offered to raise a body of volunteers for the service of the republic, he exerted himself to obtain the release of his kinsman Sidney Bertie, who had fallen into the hands of the Inquisition at Ancona. While Oxford was still abroad, he was involved vicariously in a tangled family drama.
Against the wishes of Sir Edward Coke, Lady Hatton, Coke's wife, offered Oxford the hand of her daughter Frances Coke, whom the king wished to marry to Sir John Villiers, the brother of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham. Lady Hatton was with Buckingham; this failed matchmaking laid the seeds of a future quarrel between Buckingham and Oxford, though the Villiers marriage for Frances went ahead in September 1617. Oxford returned to England in October 1618. On 22 May 1619 he was admitted to the hereditary office of Lord Great Chamberlain. Between June and November 1620 he served under his kinsman, Sir Horatio Vere in the Palatinate, on his return home was appointed, in January 1621, to the council of war, ordered to determine the aid that England would render Frederick V, Elector Palatine. In July 1621 an incautious expression of dissatisfaction with the Spanish match led to a few weeks' imprisonment in the Tower of London. In December 1621 he was nominated by Buckingham to command the Assurance, a vessel, commissioned to guard the Channel.
He captured a Dutch Indiaman. He served at sea until March 1622, but was removed from command for interfering when Buckingham's brother, Christopher Villiers, sought to marry Oxford's cousin, Elizabeth Norris, the daughter of Oxford's half sister, Bridget de Vere, Francis Norris, 1st Earl of Berkshire. Oxford was said to have stated that he ‘hoped the time would come when justice would be free, not pass only through Buckingham's hands’. For this statement Oxford was sent to the Tower, King James ordered his attorney-general to prosecute him in the Star Chamber. Oxford was kept a close prisoner for twenty months, despite repeated efforts by his friends to gain his release, he was freed on 30 December 1623 at the behest of Prince Charles and Buckingham himself,'hoping to smooth the waters before the upcoming parliamentary session'. Afterwards Oxford married Lady Diana Cecil, daughter of William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Exeter and Elizabeth Drury, a beauty who brought him a fortune of £30,000. Francis Bacon in his disgrace asked favours in an obsequious letter which he addressed to the Earl in the month of his marriage.
Oxford declined a reconciliation with Buckingham. In June 1624 he went to the Low Countries as colonel of a volunteer regiment of foot, raised for the service of the Elector Palatine, he was present in June at the unsuccessful assault on Ter-heiden, in connection with the operations to relieve Breda but soon afterwards died at The Hague of fever. He was buried in Westminster Abbey on 25 July 1625, he left no issue, was succeeded by a second cousin, Robert de Vere. An elegy to him was written by the poet Abraham Holland and published after Abraham Holland's death by his brother, the printer Henry Holland in a collection entitled Hollandi Posthuma. Cummings, Robert. "Holland, Abraham". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/13514. Longueville, Thomas; the Curious Case of Lady Purbeck. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 20 March 2013. Stater, Victor. "Vere, Henry de, eighteenth earl of Oxford". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
Doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28210. Attribution This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lee, Sidney. "Vere, Henry de". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 58. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 234–235. Hollandi Post-huma. An elegie of... Henry Earle of Oxford. A description of the late... plague: and divers other... poemes. British Library copy Retrieved 17 March 2013
Richard II of England
Richard II known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard's father, Edward the Black Prince, died in 1376, leaving Richard as heir apparent to King Edward III. Upon the death of his grandfather Edward III, the 10-year-old Richard succeeded to the throne. During Richard's first years as king, government was in the hands of a series of regency councils, influenced by Richard's uncles John of Gaunt and Thomas of Woodstock. England faced various problems, most notably the Hundred Years' War. A major challenge of the reign was the Peasants' Revolt in 1381, the young king played a central part in the successful suppression of this crisis. Less warlike than either his father or grandfather, he sought to bring an end to the Hundred Years' War. A firm believer in the royal prerogative, Richard restrained the power of the aristocracy and relied on a private retinue for military protection instead. In contrast to his grandfather, Richard cultivated a refined atmosphere at court, in which the king was an elevated figure, with art and culture at its centre.
The king's dependence on a small number of courtiers caused discontent among the influential, in 1387 control of government was taken over by a group of aristocrats known as the Lords Appellant. By 1389 Richard had regained control, for the next eight years governed in relative harmony with his former opponents. In 1397, Richard took his revenge on the Appellants, many of whom were exiled; the next two years have been described by historians as Richard's "tyranny". In 1399, after John of Gaunt died, the king disinherited Gaunt's son, Henry of Bolingbroke, exiled. Henry invaded England in June 1399 with a small force that grew in numbers. Meeting little resistance, Bolingbroke deposed Richard and had himself crowned king. Richard is thought to have been starved to death in captivity, although questions remain regarding his final fate. Richard's posthumous reputation has been shaped to a large extent by William Shakespeare, whose play Richard II portrayed Richard's misrule and his deposition by Bolingbroke as responsible for the 15th-century Wars of the Roses.
Modern historians do not accept this interpretation, while not exonerating Richard from responsibility for his own deposition. While not insane, as historians of the 19th and 20th centuries believed, he may have had a personality disorder manifesting itself towards the end of his reign. Most authorities agree that his policies were not unrealistic or entirely unprecedented, but that the way in which he carried them out was unacceptable to the political establishment, leading to his downfall. Richard of Bordeaux was the younger son of Joan of Kent. Edward, eldest son of Edward III and heir apparent to the throne of England, had distinguished himself as a military commander in the early phases of the Hundred Years' War in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. After further military adventures, however, he contracted dysentery in Spain in 1370, he never recovered and had to return to England the next year. Richard was born at the Archbishop's Palace, Bordeaux, in the English principality of Aquitaine, on 6 January 1367.
According to contemporary sources, three kings – "the King of Castille, the King of Navarre and the King of Portugal" – were present at his birth. This anecdote, the fact that his birth fell on the feast of Epiphany, was used in the religious imagery of the Wilton Diptych, where Richard is one of three kings paying homage to the Virgin and Child, his elder brother, Edward of Angoulême, died near his sixth birthday in 1371. The Black Prince succumbed to his long illness in June 1376; the Commons in parliament genuinely feared that Richard's uncle, John of Gaunt, would usurp the throne. For this reason, the prince was invested with the princedom of Wales and his father's other titles. On 21 June the next year, Richard's grandfather Edward III, for some years frail and decrepit died, after a 50-year-long reign; this resulted in the 10-year-old Richard succeeding to the throne. He was crowned king on 16 July 1377 at Westminster Abbey. Again, fears of John of Gaunt's ambitions influenced political decisions, a regency led by the King's uncles was avoided.
Instead, the king was nominally to exercise kingship with the help of a series of "continual councils", from which John of Gaunt was excluded. Gaunt, together with his younger brother Thomas of Woodstock, Earl of Buckingham, still held great informal influence over the business of government, but the king's councillors and friends Sir Simon de Burley and Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland gained control of royal affairs. In a matter of three years, these councillors earned the mistrust of the Commons to the point that the councils were discontinued in 1380. Contributing to discontent was an heavy burden of taxation levied through three poll taxes between 1377 and 1381 that were spent on unsuccessful military expeditions on the continent. By 1381, there was a deep-felt resentment against the governing classes in the lower levels of English society. Whereas the poll tax of 1381 was the spark of the Peasants' Revolt, the root of the conflict lay in tensions between peasants and landowners precipitated by the economic and demographic consequences of the Black Death and subsequent outbreaks of the plague.
The rebellion started in Kent and Essex in late May, on 12 June, bands of peasants gathered at Blackheath near London under the leaders Wat Tyler, John Ball, Jack Straw. John of Gaunt's Savoy Palace was burnt down; the Archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Sudbury, Lord Chancellor, the king's Lord High Treasurer, Rober