Richard II | Breaking Bard Episode 2

 

“I wasted time and now doth time waste me” – Richard II by William Shakespeare

Sometime around 1595 William Shakespeare penned a new play, The Life and Death of King Richard II. If you couldn’t already guess, it was a history play. History plays were all the rage at the time. However, it was a daring endeavor because it depicted the deposition of a legitimate monarch. One shouldn’t be too surprised that the current monarch at the time, Elizabeth I, who faced multiple coup and assasination attempts, may have not been the biggest fan of a deposition play. But, the play went on with the deposition scene usually removed.

I say usually because there was one critical performance that included this classic and controversial scene. The Earl of Essex, Elizabeth’s former favorite, paid to have the play performed with the deposition scene. This was because he was planning a revolt. It epically failed. However, Elizabeth, according to legend, was supposed to have said that she was Richard II. Is this true? Who was Richard II? Why was he so hated? Because the play only covers a very small portion of his life, and the audience would have been familiar with the whole story, we will spend our time today looking at the entire Life (and death) of Richard II.

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