Richard II

Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
While Richard II is the story of Richard’s downfall, it is also the story of Henry Bolingbroke’s rise to the throne as Henry IV. Henry is Richard’s cousin, and the son of John of Gaunt. From the very start of the play, Henry makes it clear that he is willing to die for his honor. As opposed to Richard, who is an eloquent speaker, Henry is a man of action, and throughout the play he suggests that subjects have the power to make demands on their rulers if the rulers are not properly serving the people and the nation. Henry is extremely popular with the common people, and his transition into power goes very smoothly (though the effects of usurping the king will bedevil his own reign later on, as captured in Henry IV Part 1 and Henry IV Part 2). Once crowned, Henry shows mercy, pardoning a few men who stood against him because of their honor, but he also hints to a servant that Richard should be executed. We also learn briefly in this play that Henry is disappointed with his eldest son, Hal; this father/son relationship will be further explored in Henry IV Part 1 and Henry IV Part 2.

Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV Quotes in Richard II

The Richard II quotes below are all either spoken by Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV or refer to Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Throne Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Richard II published in 2005.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

What I speak
My body shall make good upon this earth
Or my divine soul answer it in heaven.
Thou art a traitor and a miscreant.

Related Characters: Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV (speaker), King Richard II, Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk
Page Number: 1.1.37-40
Explanation and Analysis:

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Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be ruled by me.
Let's purge this choler without letting blood.
This we prescribe, though no physician.
Deep malice makes too deep incision.
Forget, forgive; conclude and be agreed,
Our doctors say this is no month to bleed.—
Good uncle, let this end where it begun;
We'll calm the Duke of Norfolk, you your son.

Related Characters: King Richard II (speaker), Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV, Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk
Related Symbols: Blood, The Crown
Page Number: 1.1.156-163
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

How long a time lies in one little word!
Four lagging winters and four wanton springs
End in a word; such is the breath of kings.

Related Characters: Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV (speaker), King Richard II
Page Number: 1.3.218-220
Explanation and Analysis:

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Shorten my days thou canst with sullen sorrow,
And pluck nights from me, but not lend a morrow.
Thou canst help time to furrow me with age,
But stop no wrinkle in his pilgrimage,
Thy word is current with him for my death,
But dead, thy kingdom cannot buy my breath.

Related Characters: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (speaker), King Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Page Number: 1.3.233-238
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

That power that made you king
Hath power to keep you king in spite of all.

Related Characters: Bishop of Carlisle (speaker), King Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Page Number: 3.2.27-28
Explanation and Analysis:

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Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Can wash the balm off from an anointed king.
The breath of worldly men cannot depose
The deputy elected by the Lord.
For every man that Bolingbroke hath pressed
To lift shrewd steel against our golden crown,
God for His Richard hath in heavenly pay
A glorious angel.

Related Characters: King Richard II (speaker), Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV, Duke of Aumerle, Bishop of Carlisle
Related Symbols: The Crown
Page Number: 3.2.55-62
Explanation and Analysis:

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I had forgot myself. Am I not king?
Awake, thou coward majesty, thou sleepest!
Is not the King's name twenty thousand names?
Arm, arm, my name! A puny subject strikes
At thy great glory. Look not to the ground,
You favorites of a king. Are we not high?
High be our thoughts.

Related Characters: King Richard II (speaker), Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Page Number: 3.2.84-90
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 3 Quotes

He is come to open
The purple testament of bleeding war;
But ere the crown he looks for live in peace,
Ten thousand bloody crowns of mothers' sons
Shall ill become the flower of England's face,
Change the complexion of her maid-pale peace
To scarlet indignation, and bedew
Her pastures' grass with faithful English blood.

Related Characters: King Richard II (speaker), Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Related Symbols: Blood, The Crown
Page Number: 3.3.95-102
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

What subject can give sentence on his king?
And who sits here that is not Richard's subject?

Related Characters: Bishop of Carlisle (speaker), King Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Page Number: 4.1.127-128
Explanation and Analysis:

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If you crown him, let me prophesy
The blood of English shall manure the ground
And future ages groan for this foul act,
Peace shall go sleep with Turks and infidels,
And in this seat of peace tumultuous wars
Shall kin with kin and kind with kind confound.
Disorder, horror, fear, and mutiny
Shall here inhabit, and this land be called
The field of Golgotha and dead men's skulls.
O, if you raise this house against this house,
It will the woefullest division prove
That ever fell upon this curséd earth!

Related Characters: Bishop of Carlisle (speaker), King Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Related Symbols: Blood, The Crown
Page Number: 4.1.142-153
Explanation and Analysis:

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Yet I well remember
The favors of these men. Were they not mine?
Did they not sometime cry "All hail" to me?
So Judas did to Christ, but He in twelve
Found truth in all but one; I, in twelve thousand, none.

Related Characters: King Richard II (speaker), Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Page Number: 4.1.175-179
Explanation and Analysis:

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Here, cousin, seize the crown.
Here, cousin.
On this side my hand, on that side thine.
Now is this golden crown like a deep well
That owes two buckets, filling one another,
The emptier ever dancing in the air,
The other down, unseen, and full of water.
That bucket down and full of tears am I,
Drinking my grief, whilst you mount up on high.

Related Characters: King Richard II (speaker), Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Related Symbols: The Crown
Page Number: 4.1.190-198
Explanation and Analysis:

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With mine own tears I wash away my balm,
With mine own hands I give away my crown,
With mine own tongue deny my sacred state,
With mine own breath release all duteous oaths.
All pomp and majesty I do forswear.
My manors, rents, revenues I forgo;
My acts, decrees, and statutes I deny.
God pardon all oaths that are broke to me.
God keep all vows unbroke are made to thee.

Related Characters: King Richard II (speaker), Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Related Symbols: The Crown
Page Number: 4.1.216-224
Explanation and Analysis:

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Alack the heavy day,
That I have worn so many winters out
And know not now what name to call myself.
O, that I were a mockery king of snow
Standing before the sun of Bolingbroke,
To melt myself away in water drops.—

Related Characters: King Richard II (speaker), Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV
Page Number: 4.1.268-273
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

Can no man tell me of my unthrifty son?
'Tis full three months since I did see him last.
If any plague hang over us, 'tis he.
I would to God, my lords, he might be found.
Inquire at London, 'mongst the taverns there,
For there, they say, he daily doth frequent
With unrestrainéd loose companions,

Yet through both
I see some sparks of better hope, which elder years
May happily bring forth.

Related Characters: Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV (speaker)
Page Number: 5.1.1-22
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 6 Quotes

They love not poison that do poison need,
Nor do I thee. Though I did wish him dead,
I hate the murderer, love him murdered.
The guilt of conscience take thou for thy labor,
But neither my good word nor princely favor.

I’ll make a voyage to the Holy Land
To wash this blood off from my guilty hand.

Related Characters: Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV (speaker), King Richard II, Sir Pierce of Exton
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 5.6.38-42
Explanation and Analysis:

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Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV Character Timeline in Richard II

The timeline below shows where the character Henry Bolingbroke / King Henry IV appears in Richard II. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
The Throne Theme Icon
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...and other nobles entering the stage. Richard asks Gaunt if he has brought his son Henry, who is making an accusation against Thomas Mowbray. Gaunt responds that he has indeed brought... (full context)
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Both Henry and Mowbray praise Richard before beginning to accuse one another. Henry, who is prepared to... (full context)
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Again, Henry says that he is willing to prove his truth in battle. At Richard’s request, he... (full context)
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Mowbray then attempts to make his own case, noting that Richard and Henry are cousins. Richard, though, says that he is ever impartial, and vows that Henry will... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...earth, and going against him would therefore be blasphemy. The Duchess says she hopes that Henry is successful in the fight, thereby punishing Mowbray for her husband’s murder, and as she... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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...the lists, a small enclosed space for tournaments and fights like that between Mowbray and Henry. After a long ceremony in which the two men are introduced, armed, and given the... (full context)
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...in a cradle. Thus, in the name of keeping the peace, Richard decides to banish Henry for ten years and to banish Mowbray for life. (full context)
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...sees how sad Gaunt is to lose his son to banishment, so the king reduces Henry’s exile from ten to six years. Here Henry remarks that the speech of kings is... (full context)
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After the king’s exit, Gaunt tries to comfort Henry, who is distraught that he must leave his native land. Every step away from home... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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This scene takes place in Richard’s court. It begins with Richard asking Aumerle about Henry’s exit and if tears were shed. Richard then notes how popular Henry is with the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...saying that though he has remained patient through the death of Gloucester, the banishment of Henry, and all of the bad things happening in England, he feels Richard is “bloody with... (full context)
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...king is not acting like himself and that they disagree with the decision to disinherit Henry. Northumberland notes that Richard has spent more money during peace times than other kings have... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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...discussion on grief ends, Green enters looking for Richard. Green hopes to tell Richard that Henry has returned and grouped with Northumberland, Ross, and Willoughby. After Richard’s Queen says this must... (full context)
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...the Duchess of Gloucester has died. York says that though he is related to both Henry and Richard, and he acknowledges that Richard wronged Henry, he will still side with the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
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Henry and Northumberland enter to begin this scene, heading for Berkeley Castle even though they don’t... (full context)
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...moment Ross and Willoughby enter, and after them comes Berkeley, who carries a message for Henry, who in turn states that he is in England to stake a claim to his... (full context)
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York then enters and begins scolding Henry for violating Richard’s decree of banishment by stepping again on English soil. He says that... (full context)
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Henry’s clever response is that he was banished under a different title and has simply come... (full context)
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Northumberland and the other nobles agree that Henry has been mistreated, and even York agrees that Richard has been unfair and a subpar... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Act three begins with kinglike Henry calling forth Bushy and Green, and then proceeding to deliver a long speech in which... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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...now filled with rebels. He urges the earth of England itself to be hostile to Henry and those who would usurp Richard’s crown. After this speech, Carlisle reassures the king, saying... (full context)
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...traitors are shown for what they truly are. Thus, he says, he need not fear Henry. (full context)
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...sea can wash the royal “balm” from a king appointed by God. For every soldier Henry has, Richard says, God has an angel that will defend him. (full context)
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...for the worst possible news (his own death) when Scroop enters. Scroop says that as Henry marches through the country, people both old and young have been flocking to his cause... (full context)
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...begin preparing their wills, and that their lands and lives and everything are all now Henry’s. The only thing that they possess for themselves now is death and their skin. He... (full context)
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...die, he says, then to simply die afraid. Richard agrees and decides he will fight Henry, but almost immediately again he is broken with the bad news that York has joined... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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The scene begins with Henry recapping the information learned in the previous scene: Richard’s armies have dispersed, and he has... (full context)
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...then enters and says that Richard is in Flint Castle along with his remaining supporters. Henry instructs Percy to enter the castle and declare that Henry pledges his love and allegiance... (full context)
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Just when Henry completes the message that he wants Percy to send, Richard appears. Henry compares the king... (full context)
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...him, they have brought the wrath of God upon their children. He concludes by addressing Henry directly: Richard says that every step on English land taken by Henry is treason, and... (full context)
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Northumberland responds to this speech in an attempt to placate Richard, assuring him that Henry is bending his knee and only back in England to reclaim what is rightfully his.... (full context)
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When the two men finally stand in front of one another again, Henry kneels before Richard, but Richard accuses Henry of making an attempt to gain the crown.... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
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...England’s bad state, Richard, and all of his men, have been captured or killed by Henry Bolingbroke. The gardener is certain that Richard will soon be deposed. (full context)
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...he would say that Richard is deposed. The gardener responds that everyone has sided with Henry, making it all but certain that he will overpower and depose the king. The Queen... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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This scene begins with Henry continuing his investigation into the murder of Gloucester. He begins by calling forward Bagot, who... (full context)
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Though Henry stops Bagot from picking up the gage, Fitzwater steps up and throws his own gage,... (full context)
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...a snarky comment from Carlisle, York enters and says that Richard has agreed to make Henry his heir and descend from the throne. York then announces Henry as king Henry IV,... (full context)
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But since Henry has been crowned, Carlisle’s speech is figured as treason, and so he is arrested. Henry... (full context)
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Richard then takes the crown and tells Henry to seize it. They both hold on to either end of the crown, which Richard... (full context)
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...speech, Richard asks to be taken away, just so that he doesn’t have to see Henry anymore; the old king is then taken to the tower, and most everyone exits. (full context)
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...the Abbot tells Aumerle to follow him home, where they’ll discuss a plot to assassinate Henry. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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To this the Queen asks if Henry has deposed Richard’s intellect along with his crown, questioning why he is surrendering and submitting... (full context)
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At this point Northumberland enters and says that Henry has decided Richard will be taken to Pomfret instead of the Tower. To him, Richard... (full context)
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Richard also laments that he has been doubly divorced, since Henry has split him up from his crown and from his wife. Though they request to... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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...wife the Duchess of York. The Duke has been telling his wife the story of Henry’s rise to power, and says that the common people cheered for the new king. Richard,... (full context)
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...and reads, he cries out ‘treason!’—apparently having discovered Aumerle’s involvement in the plot to assassinate Henry. York immediately takes off to inform Henry of the plot, which he says he would... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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King Henry begins this scene by wondering where his son is. He reflects that he hasn’t seen... (full context)
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...what it is, he wants to lock the door to the room for privacy, and Henry consents, though York soon begins knocking and crying out that Henry should beware. Alerted to... (full context)
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York then gives Henry the writing that revealed the plot. While Henry cries out about the conspiracy and remarks... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
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...but in none of them is he happy, for he has always been “unkinged” by Henry. (full context)
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...man that was once his king. The groom explains that he dressed the horse that Henry rode on recently, and Richard asks if the horse bore Henry proudly, hoping that it... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 6
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King Henry reports to York that he still awaits news on the rebels. Northumberland then enters and... (full context)
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After the pardon is delivered, Exton enters with Richard’s coffin. Henry is careful not to thank Exton, and says that he never ordered this. Though he... (full context)