Knight's Tale, A - KING RICHARD II

After he is no-longer King, Richard II is taken to the Tower of London. This image depicts a detailed scene from a miniature illustrating this episode in Jean Froissart’s Chronicle (Volume IV, part 2). Maintained by the British Library, the illumination is known as BL Harley MS. 4380 f.181v. Click on it for a better view.


As king, of course, Richard II was free to renege on his promises.

Not only did he drop his concessions, he ordered many of the revolting peasants to stand trial. Reports differ on the numbers, but hundreds (perhaps thousands) were tried, and many were put to death.

There was a notable glitch in the judicial proceedings. Robert Tresilian, the presiding judge—who was Chief Justice of the King's Bench—instructed all jurors to convict the revolting peasants. The penalty if they voted their conscience? The JURORS would hang.

Tresilian did get his comeuppance, though. Seven years later, he was ALSO hanged.

And what of the king? In 1399, Richard II was arrested and forced to abdicate. He died the following year, most likely murdered.

Applying the philosophy of the Middle Ages, one never knew where the Wheel of Fortune would spin next.


NOTE:  Most of the illuminations in this story are from The Chronicles of Jean Froissart. We gratefully acknowledge the BNF in Paris for their use.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Apr 15, 2019

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