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Richard II
Suggested Reading

King Richard II
(Bryan Beavan)
A new and balanced portrait of Richard II, one of the most important and controversial of the medieval Plantagenet sovereigns. Although over-shadowed in his youth by the personality and illustrious name of his father, the Black Prince, this slim and weak-looking boy was to become a great and successful king. He succeeded to the throne at a period when England was undergoing profound economic and political change, and steered the monarchy to even greater power through these stormy waters, marked by the Peasants' Revolt. As well as being a powerful political strategist, Richard was also a patron of the arts, and Bryan Bevan argues that maybe the Renaissance might have arrived earlier in England had he not been unexpectedly deposed.

Languages of Power in the Age of Richard II
(Lynn Staley)
"Lynn Staley’s new book is informed by an impressive command of Middle English culture and is chockablock with new insights. Few scholars could of-fer such a rich confrontation of literature and history for this important and distinctive period." —Ralph Hanna, Keble College, Oxford In this book the distinguished medievalist Lynn Staley turns her attention to one of the most dramatic periods in English history, the reign of Richard II, as seen through a range of texts including literary, political, chronicle, and pictorial. Richard II, who ruled from 1377 to 1399, succeeded to the throne as a child after the fifty-year reign of Edward III, and found himself beset throughout his reign by military, political, religious, economic, and social problems that would have tried even the most skilled of statesmen. At the same time, these years saw some of England’s most gifted courtly writers, among them Chaucer and Gower, who were keenly attuned to the political machinations erupting around them. In Languages of Power in the Age of Richard II Staley does not so much "read" literature through history as offer a way of "reading" history through its refractions in literature. In essence, the text both isolates and traces what is an actual search for a language of power during the reign of Richard II and scrutinizes the ways in which Chaucer and other courtly writers participated in these attempts to articulate the concept of princely power. As one who took it upon himself to comment on the various means by which history is made, Chaucer emerges from Staley’s narrative as a poet without peer.

Richard II
(Nigel Saul)
This book-the first full-length biography of Richard II in more than fifty years-offers a radical reinterpretation of a complex king whose reign was characterized by a mixture of high principle and despotic legislation. Nigel Saul demonstrates that Richards` aim was to exalt and dignify the crown, but in a period of faction and feud his tactical errors and contradictory policies resulted in deposition and assassination.

The Age of Richard II
(James L. Gillespie)
An international group of distinguished medieval historians here offers a fresh appraisal of the diverse reputation which Richard left behind him: from the tyrannical opponent of the Peasants' Revolt, and the great literary patron of Chaucer and Gower, to the inventor of the handkerchief. While the focus is on political and legal topics, including Haxey's petition of 1397 and the Oxford trial of 1400, the essays look at such diverse themes as public health, foreign trade, courtly art, and religious foundations. Also probed are some less commonly examined aspects of the age, such as relations with other realms and the roles of chivalry and warfare in Ricardian kingship.


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