Page:Richard II (1921) Yale.djvu/119

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I. i. For an understanding of the action of this play, it is necessary to go back to the events of the years 1387 and 1388. Richard, then aged twenty, had surrounded himself with favorites, mostly newly created peers. Five members of the older nobility: Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, the king's uncle; Richard, Earl of Arundel; Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick; Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham; Henry of Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby, son of John of Gaunt, who was another uncle of the king's;—these five so-called 'lords appellant' in full Parliament accused of treason five of Richard's favorites. The Parliament, known as the 'Merciless,' found the latter guilty, and three were put to death, the other two saving their lives by flight. The king himself was forced to permit a council composed of Gloucester and his adherents to govern in his stead. By 1389, however, Richard was strong enough to dismiss the council and rule in his own name with the approval of Parliament. Biding his time and never forgiving the affront he had received from the 'lords appellant,' in 1397 Richard, hearing that the three older of them were plotting against him, suddenly arrested Gloucester, Arundel, and Warwick, on charges based on their acts in 1388. Warwick begged off and was banished; Arundel was beheaded, and his brother Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, was banished (see II. i. 282); Gloucester was sent a prisoner to Calais in charge of Thomas Mowbray, and there died, secretly murdered (as all believed) by order of the king. Mowbray and Boling-