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Richard II Act 1, Scene 4 Summary

  • Aumerle reports to King Richard that he just escorted Bolingbroke to the edge of town, where things got a little awkward.
  • Richard wants every juicy detail and is all, "Did anyone cry when Bolingbroke left?"
  • Aumerle says he didn't cry, but a northeast wind might have made his eyes water. (Yep, Aumerle's being sarcastic all right.)
  • Aumerle then tells the king that all Bolingbroke said in the end was "Farewell." Aumerle claims he didn't say anything back because he didn't want to be a phony by wishing him good luck. Instead, he pretended to be too sad to talk. (It's hard to tell whether this is true, or whether he's hiding his real feelings.)
  • Richard is a teensy bit worried. The commoners really like Bolingbroke, who's sort of a man of the people. Banishing Bolingbroke could turn out to be a seriously bad PR move for Richard.
  • Green chimes in that Richard's got much bigger fish to fry: the rebels in Ireland are acting up again.
  • Richard snaps out of it and is all, "Ugh. Those Irish rebels are such a pain. Looks like I'll have to go to war myself."
  • There's just one tiny problem: Richard is broke because he's spent so much money decorating his palace, buying fancy clothes, and tricking out his coaches with fancy rims and the best horses. It turns out there's not a lot of cash leftover for a war.
  • We find out that Richard also did a dangerous thing: he basically mortgaged his right to tax the people in order to get a little extra money fast. This means he's letting his deputies collect money from the richest men. How the heck is he going to raise any money now?
  • A man named Bushy comes in to announce that John of Gaunt is sick.
  • Richard says the timing is perfect. Hopefully Gaunt will hurry up and die so Richard can snatch up his land and money and use it to fund the war in Ireland.
  • Brain Snack: Legally Richard doesn't actually have a right to take Gaunt's land when the old man dies. According to a system called "primogeniture," the eldest son gets to inherit all of his father's land, wealth, and titles. So technically all of Gaunt's property should go to his oldest son, Henry Bolingbroke. This is important.

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