The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-Made King

Maurice Keen writes:

Returning unbidden from exile in July 1399 to claim his confiscated inheritance as Duke of Lancaster while Richard II was in Ireland, Henry Bolingbroke was greeted tumultuously as the prospective saviour of the realm. Richard, hurrying home, found himself deserted in mid-Wales and faced with no alternative to putting himself in his cousin’s power. With Richard his virtual prisoner, and satisfied that those who had welcomed him would go along with the next step, Henry set about preparing to supplant the king. On 30 September, before the assembled lords and commons in Westminster Hall, he claimed the throne, which Richard had abdicated the day before, as the true heir ‘descended by right line of the blood coming from the good lord King Henry the Third’. On 13 October he was crowned king.

(LRB 5 June 2008)

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