Friday, 30 January 2015

Art on Friday; War of the Roses, Richard II


Edward III's son, the Black Prince, died in 1376. The king's grandson, Richard II, succeeded to the throne aged 10, on Edward's death. During Richard's first years as king, government was in the hands of a series of councils. Most of the aristocracy preferred this to a regency led by the king's uncle, John of Gaunt, yet Gaunt remained highly influential.

 John of Gaunt

Here some paintings of the reign of Richard II:

Richard II, king of England, kneeling on the floor (a sign of humility) before Mary who is presenting the child Jesus to him. The King is surrounded by saints he was devoted to: St. Edmond (left) king of Anglia who spent a year in his castle tower and learned the 150 psalms by heart so that he could pray regularly. His kingdom was overwhelmed by the Danes and in order to avoid a massacre he disbanded his army. He was brought before Hinguar who made impious demands of him. He refused and so Hinguar had him whipped, shot full of arrows and beheaded in 870 AD.
In the middle we see St. Edward the Confessor. He became king of England by popular acclamation in 1042. He was a gentle man without ambition except to look after the welfare of his people. He abolished burdensome taxation and used his personal patrimony to avoid imposing taxes. He was generous to the poor. Pressured by his nobles, he married Editha, Earl Godwin's daughter but due to his vow of chastity they lived as brother and sister. Edward had bound himself to go on a pilgrimage to St. Peter's tomb but could not leave his kingdom. The pope allowed him instead to rebuild Westminster of St. Peter's abbey. He died a week after it dedication and he is now buried there.
Last but not least we see St. John the Baptist holding a lamb in his arm since he pointed out Christ as the Lamb of God. St. john confronted Herod because he unlawfully married his brother's wife Herodias. One day Herod was so pleased with Herodias daughter's dancing that he promised her even half of his kingdom. Her mother influenced her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. Herod not willing to lose face ordered this, and she was presented with John's head on a platter.
This painting then, expresses the king's deep faith and piety and was probably painted in consultation with his court painter. It is a painting of extraordinary beauty which also reflects the deep faith of the painter. "Surely it is an outstanding example of a private image, a portable diptych that would follow the king on his travels. Every time he knelt before it he would be transported among the timeless company of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the angels.

James Taylor Eglington - The Entry into London of Richard II and Bolingbroke, 1399 

Richard II meets the rebels on 13 June 1381 in a miniature from a 1470s copy of Jean Froissart's Chronicle

Richard II 

 Anne of Bohemia, wife of Richard II
 

Richard II and Anna

They were married for 12 years, but had no children. Anne's death from plague in 1394 at Sheen Manor was a devastating blow to Richard, whose subsequent unwise conduct lost him his throne.
Richard married his second wife, Isabella of Valois, on 31 October 1396.

 Isabella of Vallois


 © KH

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