Richard I
Richard I Anglia (The Kalmar Union).png
Richard I
King of Anglia
Reign 8th July, 1437 - 7th January, 1451
Predecessor Henry III
Successor William I
Born 30th November, 1380
Hartham, Hertfordshire, Anglia
Died 7th January, 1451
Antwerp, Flanders
Spouse Elizabeth of Betun
Issue Viola

John of Ghent

House Estridsson
Father Charles IV
Mother Philippa of Wessex

Richard I was the second son of Charles IV to reign over Anglia. A more competent ruler than his brother and predecessor Henry III he would not have the chance to cement his rule thanks the problems Henry had left behind.

Born in 1380, the third son of Charles IV and Philippa of Wessex, Richard had been given the Earldom of Kesteven, a central shire in Anglia, to govern. This he did well, building a reputation for himself for sure-footed financial sense. Coupled with a considerable friendliness and even-handed temper, his court, a little to the west of Lincoln was soon a well-frequented hub for the nobles to gather, secure marriages and plot. It was on this last point which Richard had been admonished on two occasions by his father. Indeed it was in his own house where in 1436 the plot to capture Henry III and force his reconciliation to the Witenage was hatched. Though Richard may not have known of the original plan he soon came to the forefront of the effort to mediate its effects.

Whilst Henry refused to back down from his stand and hoped that a royalist army would be raised to rescue him from captivity, Richard marshaled his diplomatic forces to keep the peace. He gave every indication of support to his brother but at the same time saw the clear advantage in a reconciled Witenage. Anglia was plagued by lawlessness, a symptom of the badly handled war in France, financial difficulties which meant returning soldiers did not get paid and finally, Henry withdrawing his justices, meaning many shire judges had no authority. Kesteven had been as badly affected as other parts of the realm so Richard saw the sense in negotiating his way to a solution rather than imposing martial violence on an already tired country.

In July 1437 the negotiations, plus letters of support from the Emperor Sigismund had worked and Henry agreed to climb down. However as he was being released from his captivity in Rockingham Castle he stumbled and fell to his death on the castle stairs. Richard would be crowned king later that year, reissuing and reaffirming the great charters which had come to signify the pact between king and Witenage.

As a less haughty and 'odd' man Richard had an easy relationship with his lords and therefore should have had a easier reign, however he found the burden of kingship heavy. As well as a dysfunctional system of law and order, Richard found himself out of money. There would be a three year grant of taxes from the Witenage, momentarily pacified by the renewal of charters, while the Flemish cities conceded a tithe on wool and cloth exports for four years. Law did improve as the shire judges regained their legitimacy but this was much offset by the imposition of taxes. And even then the Witenage would be much dismayed to see this money disappear overseas instead of being used at home. His brother-in-law Matthew of Luxembourg had also just inherited 'half of Europe', and messy war against the Hussites, in the same month and soon came calling for assistance against his enemies. Richard's lords would have rather he dedicated any foreign activity to a war against the French (or even Wessex) rather than unspecified enemies in Germany but still a Flemish army was raised and sent into Swabia where 'they did naught but spend Anglian coin on Swiss mistresses'.

The treasury fell even further into debt and Anglia suffered a peasant revolt, whilst Flanders and Zeeland had two. Eventually in the Spring of 1446 Richard was challenged; repudiate the Imperial alliance and recall the armies or face revolt. Richard raised his own army instead to see off the challenge and civil war began. Led by the charismatic Duke of Namur, William Yvoir, once a firm friend of Richard's the rebels approached Lincoln, 'to remove poor advice from the king's ear' only to be driven back. The next two years would see a tense back and forth between the two forces, mostly in southern Anglia bludgeoned each other with increasing ferocity with occasional side-battles on the continent. At one of these, the Battle of Alveringem in October 1448, Richard's eldest surviving son John of Ghent was killed, the only Anglian heir to die on the battlefield. The war is notable for its reliance on pitched battles rather than sieges, though this was probably a result of lacking the money to start a siege. As it was the battles were extremely bloody and many lords would lose their lives in the fight.

The death of John appeared to drive Richard into fits of madness and the violence petered out into a uneasy ceasefire. With his half-brother William of Hainault and Elizabeth Betun forming a regency over government the Luxembourg alliance was withdrawn, what was left of the treasury handed to the Witenage to mend what they could and an amnesty was given to all those lords who had taken up arms. Richard would recover from his madness but was noticeably enfeebled by the experience and the regency remained in place.

Unlike Henry with his almost pathological avoidance of matters sexual, Richard and his wife Elizabeth of Betun had seven children. However he would outlive them all with four dying before the age of five, two daughters dying in childbirth and the heir to the throne, John of Ghent dying on the battlefield of Alveringem. When Richard himself died in 1451 from a gangrene infection in his foot he would be succeeded by his half-brother William.

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