Talk: Richard II and the Smithfield Tournament of 1390

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It was during the summer of 1399 that Richard II was deposed by his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke, and the latter crowned Henry IV. Richard was then transported from the Tower of London to Pontefract Castle. Pontefract became Richard’s prison and it was there that he died in 1400, possibly starving to death.

Reading the modern scholarship on Richard can often come across as if the disasters of his reign, as well as his deposition in 1399, were a foregone conclusion, destined to happen. However, this is not the case, there were times in Richard’s reign where he attempted conciliation with his nobility and projected a positive image of kingship. In 1390, Richard held the grandest chivalric event of his reign, this being the Smithfield tournament, which attracted knights from England and Europe to attend.

This talk will show how Richard deliberately attempted to use the tournament as a tool, and how he wielded it to unite the kingdom behind him, project an image of good lordship and kingship, and thereby extend and re-establish his royal authority. It was the early years of the 1390s that Richard’s authority was considered at its height, and the Smithfield tournament was one of the tools used by him to make that happen.

Adults Only. Booking Essential.

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