Probably written around 1595, Richard II is one of Shakespeare’s history plays. It is the first of four plays about the historical rise of the English royal House of Lancaster. King Richard’s deeply poetic and metaphysical musings on the nature of kingship and identity mark a new direction for Shakespeare, and much of Richard II reads like a run-up to the more fully developed intellectualizing found in Hamlet. The play is often highly stylized and, in contrast to the two Henry IV plays that follow it, is written almost entirely in verse.


Read one-minute Sparklet summaries, the detailed scene-by-scene Summary & Analysis, or the Full Play Summary of Richard II.


See a complete list of the characters in Richard II.

Further Study

Go further in your study of Richard II with background information about William Shakespeare and the play, essays on important literary and historical context for the play, and suggestions for further reading.