A Boy not a Man? 1397–99

Christopher Fletcher

in Richard II

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199546916
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720826 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

 A Boy not a Man? 1397–99

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter considers how Richard II's youth, which ought to have faded into irrelevance after his return to pre-eminence in the mid-1390s, was nonetheless revived in the crisis which culminated in his deposition in 1399. This was not a consequence of any unusual youth culture at his court, nor of an alternative conception of masculinity on Richard's part, but of the continuing affront which he found in the events of his teens to his status as a king and a man. It is suggested that the king's (ultimately fatal) pursuit of vengeance can best be explained not by any fresh plot against his authority, nor by his unusual ideas of kingship, nor even by mental instability, but by Richard's thoroughly conventional if unusually vehement attachment to the values encoded in the language of manhood, in which an assault on one's status must be undone by violent revenge.

Keywords: Richard II; manhood; youth; status; revenge; masculinity; deposition

Chapter.  11609 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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