British Royalty. He succeeded to the English throne after the death of his grandfather Edward III in 1377. The year before his father Edward, the Black Prince, died leaving a ten-year-old boy to be heir apparent. His mother was Joan of Kent, who was a distant cousin of his father. While the boy king was being prepared for his position, his uncle, John of Gaunt and other nobles governed England. Richard married twice. The first was for love to Anne of Bohemia, who died after a twelve-year marriage. Then he married seven-year-old Isabella of Valois, daughter of Charles VI of France, to end a further struggle with France. Neither of his brides gave him an heir to the throne. The Black Death, which ended in 1350, removed half the population of England, undermined the military, and stressed the nation's economy to the breaking point. Richard's remedy to these inherited problems was poor. Since he had proved to be a poor ruler, his father had never been king, and he had no heir apparent, other descendants of Edward III struggled to gain control of throne. After 1396, Richard began a tyrannical reign, executing many of the leading statesmen or brandishing them into exile. The opposition against him came to a head in 1399. Returning from exile, John of Gaunt's son Henry Bolingbroke of Lancaster defeated the king with the support of Parliament. He then became King Henry IV. Richard was made a prisoner and, within a year, died at Pontefract Castle, possibly from starvation. Richard II was the last Angevin King and could be considered the first casualty of the Wars of the Roses. William Shakespeare's play "Richard II" gives his version of this king's reign.
Bio by: Linda Davis