Richard II

Manhood, Youth, and Politics 1377-99
Author(s): 
Fletcher, Christopher
ISBN: 
9780199546916
Date published: 
August 2008
Hardback
Price: 
£55.00

Richard II (1377-99) has long suffered from an unusually unmanly reputation. Over the centuries, he has been habitually associated with lavish courtly expenditure, absolutist ideas, Francophile tendencies, and a love of peace, all of which have been linked to the king's physical effeminacy. Even sympathetic accounts have essentially retained this picture, merely dismissing particular facets of it, or representing Richard's reputation as evidence of praiseworthy dissent from accepted norms of masculinity. Christopher Fletcher takes a radically different approach, setting the politics of Richard II's reign firmly in the context of late medieval assumptions about the nature of manhood and youth. This makes it possible not only to understand the agenda of the king's critics, but also to suggest a new account of his actions. Far from being the effeminate tyrant of historical imagination, Richard was a typical young nobleman, trying to establish his manhood-and hence his authority to rule-by thoroughly conventional means; first through a military campaign, and then, fatally, through violent revenge against those who attempted to restrain him.