The Wikipedia article for Richard II explains that there are contradictory accounts of what happened when Henry of Bolingbroke usurped Richard II's throne in 1399.

According to the official record (read by Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, during an assembly of lords and commons at Westminster Hall on Tuesday 30 September), Richard gave up his crown willingly and ratified his deposition citing as a reason his own unworthiness as a monarch. On the other hand, the Traison et Mort Chronicle suggests otherwise. It describes a meeting between Richard and Henry that took place one day before the parliament's session. The king succumbed to blind rage, ordered his release from the Tower, called his cousin a traitor, demanded to see his wife and swore revenge throwing down his bonnet, while the duke refused to do anything without parliamentary approval.

Which account is more accurate?

1 Answer 1


We have no way of knowing.

Neither Arundel's sermon in Westminster Hall, nor the anonymous Traison et Mort Chronicle, were written by an impartial observer. Both sides had an agenda, and both sources can be assumed to be biased. In the absence of some independent source, we have no way of determining which version is more accurate with any certainty.

The official record was presented during a sermon preached by Thomas Arundel in Westminster Hall on 30 September 1399. Arundel had also been an exile under Richard II, and had returned to England alongside Henry Bolingbroke. Unsurprisingly, the sermon presented events in such a way as to justify Henry Bolingbroke's ascension to the throne as the legitimate king, Henry IV.

The record of that presentation and sermon can be read (transcribed in Latin with an English translation) in this extract published on the Harvard Law School website.

The Traison et Mort Chronicle, or to give it its full title, Chronicque de la Traïson et Mort de Richart Deux Roy d'Engleterre, was written by an anonymous author in the court of Richard's queen Isabelle. This chronicle was written in French shortly after the Queen's return to France from England, perhaps c. 1401/1402. The objective of this chronicle is clear: it is an attempt to rouse the French nobles into action in support of her husband against the new king of England, Henry IV.

  • While either account may be true, we can safely say that the abdication as a while was forced based on actions prior.
    – user31561
    Feb 8, 2019 at 11:42
  • @Orangesandlemons It is, of course, entirely possible that neither account is wholly accurate! Feb 8, 2019 at 16:19

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