Richard Duke of Gloucester, youngest brother of King Edward IV, will stop at nothing to get the crown. He first convinces the ailing King that the Duke of Clarence, his elder brother, is a threat to the lives of Edward's two young sons. Edward has him imprisoned in the Tower of London; killers in Richard's pay then drown Clarence in a barrel of wine. When news of Clarence's death reaches the King, the subsequent grief and remorse bring about his death. Richard is made Lord Protector, with power to rule England while his nephew (now King Edward V) is still a minor. Before the young king's coronation he has his two nephews conveyed to the Tower, ostensibly for their safekeeping. Richard's accomplice, the Duke of Buckingham, then declares the two boys illegitimate and offers Richard the crown, which after a show of reticence he accepts. After Richard's coronation, he and Buckingham have a falling-out over whether or not to assassinate the two children. Written by Peter Brynmor Roberts
Two days after the funeral, Richard made Bolingbroke's banishment perpetual, but he had little time left himself. Bolingbroke returned in force in July 1400, seized the throne as Henry IV and had Richard murdered. Henry VII's claim to the English crown in 1485 ran back through John of Gaunt, and in Elizabeth I's time the Jesuit Robert Parsons argued that Philip II of Spain was the rightful monarch of England through his descent from Joaõ I of Portugal, who had married Gaunt's daughter Philippa. In Shakespeare's Richard II, however, it is Gaunt who speaks for England and the thrilling speech on 'this royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle...this precious stone set in a silver sea' is placed in his mouth.