In July 1399, the exiled Henry of Lancaster returned to England with the exiled archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, and a few followers and successfully wrested the English throne from Richard II. Historians have long debated the events of the revolution of 1399 and Henry's subsequent reign. In the last century Stubbs argued that Henry “had risen by advocating constitutional principles” and had “made the validity of a parliamentary title indispensable to royalty.” Lapsley, on the other hand, claims that it was Henry's followers, not Henry, who promoted parliamentary power; they tried to force a parliamentary title on him, but to no avail. McFarlane agrees with Lapsley that Henry was not inspired by constitutional principles; rather Henry “duped” and “outwitted” his followers in his successful usurpation of the crown.
McFarlane goes on to describe a baronial opposition to Henry which was led by Thomas Arundel. In his Cambridge Medieval History article on the Lancastrian kings, he writes: “At the beginning of the new reign he [Thomas Arundel] seemed to stand with the Percies and other noble supporters of the revolution for the preponderance of the baronage in the affairs of the realm.… In Lancastrian Kings and Lollard Knights this interpretation is somewhat qualified:
If we may judge from the speech with which he [Arundel] opened the first Parliament of the new reign he stood for what may be called the traditional baronial theory of government. The government he said, would not be “by the voluntary purpose or singular opinion” of the king alone but by “the advice, counsel and consent” of “the honourable wise and discreet persons of his realm.” This was as much a warning to Henry as a manifesto on his behalf.
McFarlane adds that Arundel was “evidently not altogether happy at the way the new king was already behaving.” He and Henry “only gradually … came together.”