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Introduction: The Medieval Court of Richard II—How to Get Ahead (03:15)


The royal court was the center of power, money, and influence during the times of absolute monarchy. Richard II used art and rhetoric to build a sophisticated court and demanded royal addresses. Although married twice, rumors circulated of the king's personal relationships with male friends.

Rule 1: Champion the King (02:28)

Richard II was coronated in July 1377 at the age of ten. The king's champion offered mortal combat to whoever contested Richard II's right to rule.

Rule 2: Know Your Place (01:25)

The Coronation Portrait was the first painting where the king was not portrayed in profile.

Rule 3: Dress to Impress (03:41)

Fashion trends included fur, velvet, cloth of gold, and poulaines. Lavenham shoemakers made shoes by creating a pattern, sewing them inside out, and soaking them in water. The length of the shoe was dependent on one's status.

Rule 4: Wise Counsel (03:42)

The Black Prince waged war constantly. Richard II kept company with John of Gaunt, Simon Burley, Kesha Dongle, the Chamberlain of his Household, and Archbishop of Canterbury. During the Peasant's Revolt, Simon Sudbury was beheaded.

Rule 5: Be a Favorite (04:37)

Robert de Vere's relationship with the king provoked scandal and jealousy among courtiers. Richard II created the title of Marquis for his friend. De Vere was banished to France after nobles seized control of the throne.

Rule 6: Know the King's Mind (02:45)

William Shakespeare wrote of the king's darker side in his play "Richard II." Courtiers likely struggled to adjust to the monarch's whims. Richard II was capricious, difficult, and crazy toward the end of his life.

Rule 7: Hit the Road (02:17)

Richard II made gyrations around the country to appear before his subjects. Approximately 1,000 courtiers, officials, men at arms, servants, and Anne of Bohemia's household accompanied the king.

Rule 8: Be a Lady (04:02)

Joan of Kent was married to two men at the same time, neither of which was Richard's father. Richard II was peace-loving and appreciated scholarship and learning. Joan of Kent died after the king sentenced his half-brother to death.

Rule 9: Take a Bath (01:48)

Richard II insisted on cleanliness and established a grand bathroom on an island. He ordered latrines established in the palace.

Rule 10: Wear Your Badge with Pride (03:12)

Richard II was the first monarch to institute symbolic badges instead of coats of arms. Types included Sun, White Hart, and the Broom Card badges. Richard II behaved more like a warlord than a king as he recruited private armies.

Rule 11: Cook Up a Feast (05:09)

During the Middle Ages, master cooks created "The Forme of Cury," containing 196 recipes. Rabbit was the luxury food of medieval times. Feasts had up to 2,000 guests; forks were not used until Jacobean times.

Rule 12: Kneel Before the King (04:04)

Richard II was passionate about art. In the "Wilton Diptych," the painter depicted the heavenly host wearing the king's insignia.

Rule 13: Blow Your Nose (01:17)

Richard II popularized the handkerchief.

Rule 14: Tell a Good Tale (03:51)

The Tower of London was a palace as well as a prison. Sir Geoffrey Chaucer wrote while serving as a soldier, diplomat, marriage broker, clerk, and member of Parliament. "Troilus and Criseyde" contained artwork from the Middle Ages.

Rule 15: Be a Northerner (03:11)

Richard II employed bodyguards known as "The Cheshire Archers." The men were scary, moody thugs.

Rule 16: Write the Rule Book (02:17)

Richard II's grip on power became precarious. The "Liber Regalis" provided the rules of procedure for the coronation service. Steps included procession, prostration, and reception of the magisterial tools of the trade.

Rule 17: Immortalize the King (03:24)

Coppersmiths Nicholas Broker and Godfrey Prest were contracted to create two gilt bronze effigies for the king and Anne of Bohemia. Richard starved to death after Henry Bolingbroke led an uprising.

Rule 18: Epilogue (01:42)

Richard II was a conflicted king who led an artistic movement while being a tyrant. England might have introduced the Renaissance had the king not had favorites and been so mercurial.

Credits: The Medieval Court of Richard II—How to Get Ahead (00:39)

Credits: The Medieval Court of Richard II—How to Get Ahead

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The Medieval Court of Richard II—How To Get Ahead

Part of the Series : How To Get Ahead
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Richard II presided over the first truly sophisticated and artistic court in England. Painters, sculptors, poets, tailors, weavers and builders flocked to court to make their fortunes. Nevertheless, these were dangerous times and being close to Richard brought many a courtier to a sticky end.

Length: 60 minutes

Item#: BVL186723

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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