On this day in 1399 Henry IV was proclaimed King of England.
Henry’s first major problem as monarch was what to do with the deposed Richard. After an early assassination plot (the Epiphany Rising) was foiled in January 1400, Richard died in prison, probably of starvation. He was thirty-three years old.
Though Henry is often suspected of having his predecessor murdered, there is no substantial evidence to prove that claim. Some chroniclers claimed that the despondent Richard had starved himself, which would not have been out of place with what is known of Richard’s character.
Henry spent much of his reign defending himself against plots, rebellions and assassination attempts.
The king’s success in putting down these rebellions was due partly to the military ability of his eldest son, Henry of Monmouth, who later became king (though the son managed to seize much effective power from his father in 1410).
“The old fable of a living Richard was revived”, notes one account, “and emissaries from Scotland traversed the villages of England, in the last year of Henry’s reign, declaring that Richard was residing at the Scottish Court, awaiting only a signal from his friends to repair to London and recover his throne.”
A suitable-looking impostor was found and King Richard’s old groom circulated word in the city that his master was alive in Scotland. “Southwark was incited to insurrection” by Sir Elias Lyvet (Levett) and his associate Thomas Clark, who promised Scottish aid in carrying out the insurrection. Ultimately, the rebellion came to naught. The knight Lyvet was released and his follower thrown into the Tower.