Richard II

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 1

page Act 1 Scene 1 Page 4

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I take it up; and by that sword I swear
Which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder,
80I’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’ll take that challenge. And I promise, by my knighthood, that I’ll fight you fairly in whatever contest you wish. And when I mount my horse, let me not dismount alive if I’m a traitor or if I cheat in any way!


What doth our cousin lay to Mowbray’s charge?
85It must be great that can inherit us
So much as of a thought of ill in him.


What do you accuse Mowbray of, my cousin? It will have to be something terrible if it’s going to make me think badly of him in any way.


Look, what I speak, my life shall prove it true;
That Mowbray hath received eight thousand nobles
In name of lendings for your highness’ soldiers,
90The 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,
95That 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,
100That he did plot the Duke of Gloucester’s death,
Suggest his soon-believing adversaries,
And consequently, like a traitor coward,
Sluiced out his innocent soul through streams of blood:
Which blood, like sacrificing Abel’s, cries,
105Even 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.


I’ll prove with my life that what I say is true. Mowbray has received eight thousand gold coins that he was supposed to pay to your soldiers as advances on their wages. But he’s used the money improperly, just like a traitor and harmful villain would. Even more, I declare and will prove in battle that all treasonous plots over the past eighteen years originated with Mowbray. And further, I know that he caused the death of the Duke of Gloucester by encouraging the duke’s easily influenced enemies, like any coward would, to slay the innocent duke. The duke was murdered like


Refers to the biblical story of Cain and Abel, in which Cain kills his brother Abel out of jealousy.

, and his blood demands that I seek revenge and justice. By my own good name, I’ll inflict that justice on Mowbray or die trying.

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