This Day in History: 1419-12-13

On 13th December 1419 (St Lucy’s Day), according to Walter Bower’s ‘Scotichronicon’, Richard II died at Stirling Castle. Although supposedly dying at Pontefract Castle nearly twenty years earlier, a self-called Richard II appeared in Scotland in 1402 having been liberated from there, he claimed, and a body-double buried in his place. Some sources claim that he was found in the Western Isles, serving in the kitchen of the Lord of the Isles and recognised by Donald of the Isles’ fool who had served at the English court and/or Margery Bisset who had seen Richard on his Irish campaigns. ‘Richard’ (The ‘Mammet’/puppet) was sent with Montgomery of Ardrossan to King Robert III who placed him in the care of Sir David Fleming of Cumbernauld and then the Duke of Albany, King Robert’s younger brother and effective ruler of Scotland. He was given a small allowance, housed in Stirling Castle and word spread that he would soon invade England to regain his throne. The mastermind behind the so-called Richard II, William Serle, a chamber varlet from Richard II’s court, who had led the murder of the Duke of Gloucester on the king’s orders in 1397, was executed at Tyburn in 1404. He confessed to forging letters with Richard’s personal seal from Scotland to make the ‘Mammet’ seem a more plausible pretender. Acutely conscious of ‘Richard’ being a focus for rebellion and/or invasion, particularly by the Scots, against him, Henry IV named the pretender as Thomas Warde of Trumpington.