Richard II and the Succession to the Crown



The discovery and publication by Michael Bennett of Edward III's entailment of the crown upon his male descendants has raised many questions about the succession in Richard II's reign, very few of which have been examined by scholars. In addition, the supposed declaration by Richard that Roger Mortimer was the heir to the throne has continued to divide opinion. Two hypotheses have recently been put forward by scholars working independently to suggest that in the 1390s Richard pursued a deliberate policy of creating confusion as to the identity of his successor. A close examination of contemporary records and the continuation of the Eulogium Historiarum reveals that Richard II's declaration of the inheritance was made in parliament in 1386 and not 1385. This allows it to be re-contextualized within the crisis of that year and to form the basis of a more accurate appraisal of the succession question in the later 1380s and 1390s. The conclusion has considerable importance for historical understandings of Henry of Bolingbroke's part in the Appellants’ crisis of 1387–8, relations between Richard and the Lancastrians in the 1390s, and the inheritance of the throne in 1399.