Richard Plantagenet, head of the Yorkist party, is the son of the Earl of Cambridge, who attempted to assassinate the King’s father (see Henry V).
His father’s action left Richard deprived of all his wealth and titles until these are officially returned to him by the King, making him Duke of York. Richard feels the shame of this deeply, and is very touchy on the subject; his quarrel with Somerset on the matter leads to a breach that will turn into the War of the Roses. He is convinced that he has a better right to the throne than Henry VI does, and in law he does, as he is descended from an elder branch of the royal family. Named to a combined command of the army in France with Somerset, he lets his quarrel with the latter overbear the good of the country, and refuses to send aid to the beleaguered Talbot, thus causing the hero’s death; he refuses to accept any responsibility for this. He has the luck to capture Joan de Pucelle, and has her burnt alive, mocking her brutally beforehand. Richard can be pitiless, and is enraged when he hears of peace behind declared between England and France. He is ambitios and does not always manage to disguise this fact. His further adventures are chronicled in Henry VI, Part Two.