Against the advice of his counselors, Richard II has been taking money from England’s coffers and spending it on fashion and close friends. In order to continue his wasteful spending, he raises taxes on the commoners and leases portions of English land to wealthy noblemen. He also sees an opportunity to seize more land and money after hearing news of John of Gaunt’s failing health.
King Richard arrives at Windsor Castle to settle a dispute between Henry Bolingbroke, the Duke of Hereford and son of John of Gaunt, and Thomas Mowbray, the Duke of Norfolk. Bolingbroke accuses Mowbray of numerous counts of treason: embezzling funds for Richard’s soldiers, conspiring against the king for the past eighteen years, and murdering the Duke of Gloucester. Mowbray denies these charges and claims to have repented for any wrongs he has caused in the past. John of Gaunt tries to convince the two to reconcile, but his attempts fall on deaf ears. Richard determines that a trial by combat will settle the matter.
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