The Duke of York is Richard’s uncle, John of Gaunt’s younger brother; when the latter dies, he is left the last living son of Edward III.
An old, easily confused, and rather doddering old man, he is named regent of England by Richard despite his manifest lack of ability for the role. Kindly and well-intentioned, he is desperate to do the right thing. He is fully aware of Richard’s defects, particularly his extravagance and liking for fashion, but like his brother he is loyal to the crown, though he finds it difficult. He scolds his nephew when the latter appropriates Gaunt’s wealth after his death, pointing out that denying Bullingbrook his inheritance makes a mockery of Richard’s own right to the throne. This protest is ineffective, as are most of York’s protests. He talks a great deal about what he would do if he could, but he generally resigns himself to following the flow of events. His attempt to remain neutral in the contest between Richard and Bullingbrook is a lamentable failure, though he does attempt to restrain Bullingbrook from going too far. He regrets what is done to Richard, but once he has sworn fealty to Bullingbrook as King, he is firm in his loyalty, even to denouncing his son Aumerle at the risk of his life. He is not the most patient of husbands.