Richard II

Rebellion and its Consequences in Richard II, 1 Henry IV and 2 Henry IV College

In William Shakespeare’s Richard II, 1 Henry IV and 2 Henry IV, the idea of kingship undergoes radical transformation produced by Bolingbroke’s rebellion. Before this rebellion, the king is regarded as sacred, inviolable and divinely ordained. Despite the grievous misdeeds committed by King Richard, many leading noblemen continued to defer themselves to this divine image of kingship and condemn the idea of rebellion. However, Richard’s blatant abuses of his kingly authority caused several noblemen to abandon this divine image of kingship and embrace open rebellion. This act of rebellion produces several dramatic and radical consequences. It legitimizes the act of rebellion as a reaction against the abuses of the king, and turns rebellion into the natural and inevitable consequence of monarchial tyranny. It destroys the divine image of kingship, introducing the idea that kings are made by men rather than by God and thereby removing the most powerful source of protection for the king’s authority. It establishes the dangerous precedent that any man could become king, so long as he obtains enough physical support. As a result, King Henry IV’s reign is filled with fresh rebellion and civil unrest. In these plays, rebellion is...

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