One of the biggest questions I had when reading King Richard the II was about the belief of divine right. Through the first part of the play it seems to be portrayed as merely an archaic belief but in later acts it borders on sacrilege. When King Richard believes he has been abandoned by Bagot, Bushey, and Green he calls them dogs, vipers, and above all Judas. He is quick to jump from descriptions of animals to possibly the most famous betrayer in history; raising the importance of his own betrayal. Richard angrily proclaims, “Three Judases, each one thrice worse than Judas!” (3.2.134). Richard is actually comparing himself to Jesus. I understand that the fact that one is king means that he has been ordained to be so by god, but this seems a bit excessive. Not only is he is saying that he is England’s earthly link to god, but he alludes that he is an actual god. One could even assume that he thinks that he is better than god since they are three times worse than Judas. Yes, to King Richard Bagot, Bushey, and Green’s act of making peace with Bolingbroke is not equivalent but worse than killing the Christian God. Is this an extreme extension of divine right or is King Richard just power hungry with an overpowering ego?
I am inclined to place the blame more so on Richard then on the practice of divine right simply because the other characters of the play seem to be more rational towards the belief. Although they follow the belief they do not actually believe that their king is a god. In the fits of grief over the death of his brother the Duke of York declares to the king, “Take Hereford’s rights away, and take from Time. His charter and his customary rights; Let not to-morrow then ensue to –day; Be not thyself; for how art thou a king but by fair sequence and succession? Now, afore God- God forbid I say true!” (2.1.206). Here York shows the rational view of some traditions such as keeping titles and property in the line of lineage but is honest when pointing out that the king is only in power due to his place in birth order. York is really the rational voice throughout the play and always seems to provide clarity for the audience. With this in mind Richard seems to be insane or at least power hungry when he lifts himself up to the title of god and his betrayers to Judas.