Burying the deposed: Commemoration of Edward II, Richard II and Henry VI

Oliver, Daniel G.V. (2021) Burying the deposed: Commemoration of Edward II, Richard II and Henry VI. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


This study seeks to examine how the unusual and complex situation of a death of a deposed monarch was dealt with by the new ruler and how it was reacted to and in some instances used by wider elements of political society. Depositions of this manner were an English phenomenon in the later medieval period and this study will look at the cases of Edward II, Richard II and Henry VI, who ruled England across the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Dealing with a deposed monarch created a number of issues; overarching all of these was the question of what position the former king was believed to have held at their time of death. Did they still retain their royal status, and therefore it would be expected that they would be treated in death as a king, or had they lost this when their political rule had been ended? In this scenario their position was much more ambiguous and so what was to be done with them following their death was also ambiguous. With there being no definitive way in which the question could be answered, the issue was initially decided on an ad hoc basis depending on how the new king wished to represent their predecessor.
The funeral and burial were a way to prominently present the status that was being attributed to the deceased and the presence or absence of royal elements made very clear whether they were being considered as a royal or not. How customs and practices of royal commemoration could be flexible and adaptable to react to the unusual circumstances is a subject that will be examined. Furthermore, this study will examine how the afterlives of the deposed monarchs could be taken out of royal control and could become the subject of popular beliefs which had little to do with any royal promotion, and in some cases there were royal attempts to supress the belief. This created a situation where the new ruler, or possibly even their successor, had to once again engage with their deposed predecessor.
As well as considering how this status was represented and used, there is also the question of why new kings chose to represent their predecessor in the way they did. The familial relationship between the two as well as the political circumstances of the deposition will be examined to attempt to find answers to this question. A final area for examination is whether the status initially attributed to the deceased was permanent or if it could change over time or in reaction to specific events. Popular beliefs such as survival rumours or cults and events such as reburials suggest that the deposed monarch could be recreated in a different light and the circumstances and reasons behind why this occurred will be looked at.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Medieval, Edward II, Richard II, Henry VI, commemoration, ritual, burial, memory,
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Strickland, Professor Matthew
Date of Award: 2021
Embargo Date: 6 April 2024
Depositing User: Mr Daniel G V Oliver
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82104
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2021 14:21
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2021 14:21
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82104
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82104

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