King Richard the Second In Plain and Simple English (Digital Download)
Rediscover a Royal Drama: "Richard II" for the Modern Era

Shakespeare, with his unparalleled talent, had the rare gift of weaving intricate tales around the lives of kings that held audiences spellbound. His belief? History wasn't a dry record of events; it was brimming with drama, politics, and whispered palace secrets.

Yet, despite the inherent excitement of plays like "Richard II", contemporary readers might find themselves daunted by Shakespearean diction and references that belong to a bygone era.

Enter BookCaps with a refreshing rendition for today's audience. This modern translation of "Richard II" promises to unveil the intriguing world of Richard's reign, without letting the language act as a barrier. It's Shakespeare made accessible, without compromising the essence of the original drama.

This edition also brings a special treat for purists: the original Shakespearean text sits side-by-side with the modern translation, allowing a unique opportunity to appreciate both versions.

Whether you're diving into the intricacies of Shakespeare for the first time or revisiting the classic with fresh eyes, BookCaps offers the perfect companion to navigate the rich tapestry of "Richard II". Embark on a journey to a past filled with ambition, power, and destiny, now tailored for the modern reader.






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SCENE I. London. The palace

Enter RICHARD, JOHN OF GAUNT, with other NOBLES and attendants


Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaster,

Hast thou, according to thy oath and band,

Brought hither Henry Hereford, thy bold son,

Here to make good the boist'rous late appeal,

Which then our leisure would not let us hear,

Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?

Old John of Gaunt, venerable Lancaster,

have you, according to your promise and oath,

brought Henry Hereford, your bold son, here

to confirm his recent strong accusations,

which at the time we hadn’t time to listen to,

against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?



I have, my liege.

I have, my lord.



Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded him

If he appeal the Duke on ancient malice,

Or worthily, as a good subject should,

On some known ground of treachery in him?

Tell me, furthermore, have you asked him

if he's accusing the Duke due to an old grudge,

or truly, like a good subject,

on genuine grounds of treachery?



As near as I could sift him on that argument,

On some apparent danger seen in him

Aim'd at your Highness-no inveterate malice.

As far as I could find out on that question,

because he felt that there was some hatred

in him towards your Highness–there is no grudge.


Then call them to our presence: face to face

And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear

The accuser and the accused freely speak.

High-stomach'd are they both and full of ire,

In rage, deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.

Then call them here: I shall hear

the accuser and the accused speak freely,

face-to-face and frowning brow to brow.

They are both high-spirited and full of anger,

when they're raging they are as deaf as the sea, quick as fire.



Many years of happy days befall

My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege!

May my gracious king, my most loving lord,

have many years of happy days ahead of him!


Each day still better other's happiness

Until the heavens, envying earth's good hap,

Add an immortal title to your crown!

May you increase the happiness of others every day,

until the heavens, jealous of Earth's good luck,

call you to them.


We thank you both; yet one but flatters us,

As well appeareth by the cause you come;

Namely, to appeal each other of high treason.

Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object

Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?

I thank you both; but one of you is lying,

you can see that from the reason you are here;

that is, to accuse each other of high treason.

My cousin Hereford, what is your accusation

against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?


First-heaven be the record to my speech!

In the devotion of a subject's love,

Tend'ring the precious safety of my prince,

And free from other misbegotten hate,

Come I appellant to this princely presence.

Now, Thomas Mowbray, do I turn to thee,

And mark my greeting well; for 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,

Too good to be so, and too bad to live,

Since the more fair and crystal is the sky,

The uglier seem the clouds that in it fly.

Once more, the more to aggravate the note,

With a foul traitor's name stuff I thy throat;

And wish-so please my sovereign-ere I move,

What my tongue speaks, my right drawn sword may prove.

Firstly, may Heaven witness what I say!

I come into your royal presence as a witness,

caring about the precious safety of my prince,

free of any other illegitimate grudge.

Now, Thomas Mowbray, I turn to you,

and take good note of my greeting; for what I say

I will answer for with my body upon this earth,

or my immortal soul will answer for it in heaven–

you are a traitor and a villain,

too nobly born to be so, and too bad to live,

as the more lovely and clear the sky is

the uglier the clouds in it seem.

Once more, to confirm your disgrace,

I stuff the name of traitor into your throat,

and ask–if my King permits–that before I leave,

that I may back up my words with my sword.


Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal.

'Tis not the trial of a woman's war,

The bitter clamour of two eager tongues,

Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain;

The blood is hot that must be cool'd for this.

Yet can I not of such tame patience boast

As to be hush'd and nought at an to say.

First, the fair reverence of your Highness curbs me

From giving reins and spurs to my free speech;

Which else would post until it had return'd

These terms of treason doubled down his throat.

Setting aside his high blood's royalty,

And let him be no kinsman to my liege,

I do defy him, and I spit at him,

Call him a slanderous coward and a villain;

Which to maintain, I would allow him odds

And meet him, were I tied to run afoot

Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,

Or any other ground inhabitable

Where ever Englishman durst set his foot.

Meantime let this defend my loyalty-

By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie

Don't assume the coldness of my words indicates a lack of passion.

The argument between the two of us

can't be decided the way women do,

shouting bitter words at each other;

blood must be spilled to settle this.

But I'm not going to pretend I'm so calm

that I will stand here and say nothing.

Firstly, my respect for your Highness stops me

from giving my speech free rein,

because otherwise I would go on

until I had shoved that accusation of treason back down his throat;

if he wasn't so nobly born,

and wasn't related to my lord,

I would defy him, and spit on him,

call him a slanderous coward, and a villain,

and to prove it I would give him odds,

and fight him even if I was forced to run on foot

to the frozen ridges of the Alps,

or any other inhospitable place

where an Englishman dares to tread.

In the meantime, let this prove my loyalty–

I swear on my soul that he is lying.


Pale trembling coward, there I throw my gage,

Disclaiming here the kindred of the King;

And lay aside my high blood's royalty,

Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except.

If guilty dread have left thee so much strength

As to take up mine honour's pawn, then stoop.

By that and all the rites of knighthood else

Will I make good against thee, arm to arm,

What I have spoke or thou canst worst devise.

Pale trembling coward, I throw my glove down,

and renounce my kinship to the King;

I renounce any claim to my royal blood,

which you use as an excuse not to attack me out of fear, not respect.

If your guilty fear has left you enough strength

to take up my challenge, then pick it up.

Through that and all other ceremonies of knighthood

I will prove to you, man-to-man, that what

I have said is true and that you are lying.


I take it up; and by that sword I swear

Which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder

I'll answer thee in any fair degree

Or chivalrous design of knightly trial;

And when I mount, alive may I not light

If I be traitor or unjustly fight!

I accept it; and I swear by the sword

which was used to confer my knighthood

that I will answer it in any fair

and chivalrous trial;

and once I've started, may I not come out

alive, if I am a traitor or am making unjust accusations!


What doth our cousin lay to Mowbray's charge?

It must be great that can inherit us

So much as of a thought of ill in him.

What is my cousin charging Mowbray with?

It would have to be very bad to convince me

to have the slightest suspicion of him.


Look what I speak, my life shall prove it true-

That Mowbray hath receiv'd eight thousand nobles

In name of lendings for your Highness' soldiers,

The which he hath detain'd for lewd employments

Like a false traitor and injurious villain.

Besides, I say and will in battle prove-

Or here, or elsewhere to the furthest verge

That ever was survey'd by English eye-

That all the treasons for these eighteen years

Complotted and contrived in this land

Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and spring.

Further I say, and further will maintain

Upon his bad life to make all this good,

That he did plot the Duke of Gloucester's death,

Suggest his soon-believing adversaries,

And consequently, like a traitor coward,

Sluic'd out his innocent soul through streams of blood;

Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries,

Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth,

To me for justice and rough chastisement;

And, by the glorious worth of my descent,

This arm shall do it, or this life be spent.

Listen to what I say, I'll prove it with my life:

Mowbray received eight thousand gold coins

to pay your Highness' soldiers,

and he used this for improper purposes,

like a false traitor, and bloody villain;

besides which I say, and will prove in battle,

either here, or anywhere else that has ever

been seen by an Englishman,

that all the treason for the past eighteen years

that has been designed and plotted in this country

has had lying Mowbray as its inspiration;

furthermore I will say, and will prove

by taking his bad life as punishment,

that he plotted the death of the Duke of Gloucester,

inciting his credulous adversaries, and subsequently, like a cowardly traitor,

slaughtered that innocent soul with horrible bloodshed,

and that blood now cries out from the speechless

depths of the Earth, like that of Abel,

asking me to hand out justice and punishment;

and I swear by my noble ancestors

that I shall do it, or forfeit my life.


How high a pitch his resolution soars!

Thomas of Norfolk, what say'st thou to this?

How determined he is on this!

Thomas of Norfolk, what do you say to this?


O, let my sovereign turn away his face

And bid his ears a little while be deaf,

Till I have told this slander of his blood

How God and good men hate so foul a liar.

O, let my King turn his face away,

and block his ears for a little while,

until I have finished my criticism of this one of royal blood,

which will show what a foul liar this man is, hated by God and his fellow man.


Mowbray, impartial are our eyes and cars.

Were he my brother, nay, my kingdom's heir,

As he is but my father's brother's son,

Now by my sceptre's awe I make a vow,

Such neighbour nearness to our sacred blood

Should nothing privilege him nor partialize

The unstooping firmness of my upright soul.

He is our subject, Mowbray; so art thou:

Free speech and fearless I to thee allow.

Mowbray, my eyes and ears are impartial.

If he were my brother, even if he were the heir to my kingdom,

as he certainly is the son of my father's brother,

I swear by the power of my sceptre

that his close relationship to me

will not give him any privileges nor bias

the unwavering firmness of my soul.

He's my subject, Mowbray; so are you:

I give you the right to speak freely and without fear.


Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart,

Through the false passage of thy throat, thou liest.

Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais

Disburs'd I duly to his Highness' soldiers;

The other part reserv'd I by consent,

For that my sovereign liege was in my debt

Upon remainder of a dear account

Since last I went to France to fetch his queen:

Now swallow down that lie. For Gloucester's death-

I slew him not, but to my own disgrace

Neglected my sworn duty in that case.

For you, my noble Lord of Lancaster,

The honourable father to my foe,

Once did I lay an ambush for your life,

A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul;

But ere I last receiv'd the sacrament

I did confess it, and exactly begg'd

Your Grace's pardon; and I hope I had it.

This is my fault. As for the rest appeal'd,

It issues from the rancour of a villain,

A recreant and most degenerate traitor;

Which in myself I boldly will defend,

And interchangeably hurl down my gage

Upon this overweening traitor's foot

To prove myself a loyal gentleman

Even in the best blood chamber'd in his bosom.

In haste whereof, most heartily I pray

Your Highness to assign our trial day.

Then, Bolingbroke, your lies come through your throat

from deep down in your heart.

I paid out three quarters of the money I was given

for the war at Calais to his Highness' soldiers;

the other part I kept with permission,

because my royal lord owed it to me

as the remainder of the money I spent

when I went to France for his marriage negotiations:

now take that lie back. As for the death of Gloucester,

I did not kill him, but to my shame

I did neglect my sworn duty in that case.

My noble Lord of Lancaster,

the honourable father of my enemy,

I did once set an ambush to kill you,

a sin that tormented my sorrowful soul;

but before I last took the sacrament

I confessed it, and expressly asked

for your Grace to pardon me, and I hope you did.

That is my crime–as for the other accusations,

they come from the bitterness of a villain,

a blasphemous and degenerate traitor,

which I will strongly refute,

and I reciprocally throw down my glove

on this terrible traitor's foot,

to prove that I am a loyal gentleman

with honest blood running through my veins.

So that I can prove this I beg that

your Highness will set a day for us to fight.


Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be rul'd 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.

Angry gentleman, take my advice;

Let’s get rid of this fever without letting blood–

this is my prescription, though I'm not a doctor;

great hatred cuts too deeply.

Forgive and forget; stop and be reconciled:

the doctors say this is not a month for bloodletting.

Good uncle, let's nip this in the bud;

I'll calm down the Duke of Norfolk, you calm down your son.


To be a make-peace shall become my age.

Throw down, my son, the Duke of Norfolk's gage.

It suits my age to be a peacemaker.

Throw down the Duke of Norfolk's glove, my son.


And, Norfolk, throw down his.

And, Norfolk, throw down his.


When, Harry, when?

Obedience bids I should not bid again.

Come on, Harry, why are you waiting?

You should obey, I shouldn't have to ask again.
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