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HISTORY OF ENGLAND;
EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE
BY MISS CORNER,
AUTHOR OF THE FIRST HISTORY OF ENGLAND
THAT SHOULD BE PLACED IN THE HANDS OF A CHILD,-
PLAY GRAMMAR,-HISTORY OF GREECE,-ROME,-FRANCE,-SPAIN AWD
PORTUGAI,-TURKEY AND THE HOLY LAND,-ENGLAND,--IRELANII-
AND SCOTLAND,-NORWAY, DENMARK, AND SWEDEN,-
HOLLAND AND BELGIUM,-ITALY,-&c. &c.
DEAN & SON, 11, LUDGATE HILL.
Is. sewed, or, Is. 6d. bound, with Map.
I HAVE endeavoured to write a pleasing and
instructive History of England for little Chil-
dren, adapted to their capacities, and not
burthened with details that are unimportant
for them to know.
This little work, therefore, treats briefly, but
accurately, of the reigns of the sovereigns of
the country; and its purpose is to present to
the young reader a clear and correct picture of
the conquests and revolutions that have taken
place in this Island at different periods, and the
progress of freedom, knowledge, and industry,
among its people.
History for Children ought to be told in
their own simple language, or it fails to interest
them; while all that is unfitted for childish
ears, or unsuited to a childish understanding,
should be carefully omitted; at the same time,
it is essential to avoid making false or imperfect
impressions, by an injudicious brevity.
I have allotted a distinct period for the
subject of every chapter, and have arranged
a series of Questions at the end of each, to
render my History useful, as a School-book,
for the junior Classes.
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
THE ANCIENT BRITONS.
WOULD you not like to read about your own
country, and to know what sort of people lived
in it a long while ago, and whether they were
any thing like us? Indeed, they were not; nei-
ther was England, in ancient times, such as it
is now. There were no great cities, no fine
buildings, no pleasant gardens, parks, or nice
roads to go from one place to another; but the
people lived in caves, or in the woods, in clus-
ters of huts, which they called towns.
The country was not then called England,
but Britain; and its inhabitants were called
Britons. They were divided into many tribes;
and each tribe had a king or chief, like the
North American Indians; and these chiefs often
went to war with one another. Some of the
tribes lived like savages, for they had no
clothes but skins, and did not know how to cul-
tivate the land: so they had no bread, but got
food to eat by hunting animals in the forests,
6 EVERY CHILD'S
fishing in the rivers, and some of them my
keeping herds of small hardy cattle, and gather-
ing wild roots and acorns, which they roasted
But all the Britons were not equally uncivi-
lised, for those who dwelt on the south coasts of
the island, had learned many useful things from
the Gauls, a people then living in the country
now called France, who used to come over to
trade with them, and with many families of
Gauls who had at various times settled amongst
them. They grew corn, brewed ale, made
butter and cheese, and a coarse woollen cloth
for their clothing. And they knew how to dye
the wool of several colours, for they wore plaid
trousers and tunics, and dark coloured woollen
mantles, in shape like a large open shawl.
Perhaps you would like to know what they
had to sell to the Gauls; so I will tell
you. Britain was famous for large dogs; and
there was plenty of tin; and the South Britons
sold also corn and cattle, and the prisoners
which had been taken in war, who were bought
for slaves; and you will be sorry to hear that
many of the ancient Britons sold their children
They carried these goods in carts, drawn by
oxen, to the coast of Hampshire, then crossed
over to the Isle of Wight, in light boats, made of
wicker, and covered with hides or skins, in shape
something like half a walnut shell. The mer-
chants from Gaul met them in the Isle of
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 7
Wight; and as they brought different kinds of
merchandise to dispose of, they managed their
business almost entirely without money, by ex-
changing one thing for another.
The Britons were very clever in making things
of wicker work, in the form of baskets, shields,
coated with hides, boats, and chariots, with flat
wooden wheels. These chariots were used in
war, and sharp scythes were fixed to the axles of
the wheels, which made terrible havoc when
driven through a body of enemies. But I shall
not say much about the wars of the ancient
Britons, or their mode of fighting; as there
are many things far more pleasant to read of,
and more useful to know.
At that time, which is about one thousand nine
hundred years ago, the country was almost co-
vered with forests; and when the people wanted
to build a town, they cleared a space for it by
cutting down the trees, and then built a number
of round huts of branches and clay, with high
pointed roofs, like an extinguisher, covered with
rushes or reeds. This was called a town; and
around it they made a bank of earth, and a
fence of the trees they had felled; outside the
fence, they also dug a ditch, to protect them-
selves and their cattle from the sudden attacks
of hostile tribes.
As to furniture, a few stools or blocks of wood
to sit upon, some wooden bowls and wicker
baskets to hold their food, with a few jars
and pans of coarse earthenware, were all
8 EVERY CHILD'S
the things they used; for they slept on the
ground on skins, spread upon dried leaves, and
fern, or heath. Their bows and arrows, shields,
,spears, and other weapons, were hung round
the insides of their huts.
The Britons were not quite ignorant of the art
of working in metals; for there was a class of
men living among them who understood many
useful arts, and were learned too, for those times,
although they did not communicate their learning
to the rest of the people. These men were the
Druids or priests, who had much more authori-
ty than the chiefs, because they were so much
cleverer, therefore the people minded what they
said. They made all the laws, and held courts
of justice in the open air, when they must have
made a very venerable appearance, seated in a
circle on stones, dressed in long white woollen
robes, with wands in their hands, and long
seards descending below their girdles. The ig-
norant people believed they were magicians, for
they knew something of astronomy, and of the
medicinal qualities of plants and herbs, with
which they made medicines to give to the sick,
who always thought they were cured by magic.
Some of the Druids were bards, that is poets,
and musicians; others taught young men to
become Druids; and some of them made a great
many useful things out of the metals that were
found in the mines. You will perhaps wonder
where the Druids gained all their knowledge. I
cannot tell you; but many learned men think
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 9
that the first Druids came from India or Persia,
as the religion they taught was very similar to
that of the Persians and Hindoos. They did
not believe in the true God, but told the people
there were many gods, and that they were in
trees, and rivers, and fire, which they worshipped
for that reason.
They had no churches, but made temples, by
forming circles of large stones, of such immense
size, that nobody can guess how they were
carried to the places where they stood, for there
are some of them still remaining. They used
to hold several religious festivals in the course
of the year, when all the people made holiday,
and the Bards played on their harps and sang,
and there was plenty of feasting, and merry
making; and they used to light bonfires, and
make an illumination by running about with
torches in their hands, for they believed that a
display of fire was pleasing to their gods; and
so you see that our custom of having fireworks,
and illuminations, and bonfires, on days of public
rejoicing, is as old as the time of the ancient
The Druids had a great deal to do on those
days; for they used to go to their temples and
say prayers, and sacrifice animals for offerings to
their false gods; and on New Year's Day, they
walked in procession to some old oak tree to cut
the mistletoe that grew upon it, for this was one
of their religious ceremonies; and the oldest
Druid went up into the tree to cut the plant.,
10 EVERY CHILD'S
while the rest stood below singing sacred songs,
and holding their robes to catch the boughs as
they fell; and crowds of men and women stood
round to see them.
But I must make an end of this chapter
about the ancient Britons, and tell you how the
Romans came and conquered the country, and
made quite a different place of it.
What was England called in ancient times ?
How did the Britons resemble the American Indians ?
Describe the tribes that were most civilized ?
What were the habits of the more Southern tribes?
With whom did they trade, and in what commodities ?
How and where was their trade carried on?
For what manufacture were the Britons famous ?
How did they build a town?
Describe the furniture of their habitations.
Who were the Druids?
Tell me what you know about them.
Mention the different employment of the Druids.
Where is it supposed the first Druids came from ?
Describe their temples.
THE ROMANS IN BRITAIN.
THE Romans, about the time of the Birth of
Christ, were the richest, the most powerful, and
the cleverest people in the world. Rome was a
grand city, and there were many other fine cities
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 11
in Italy belonging to the Romans, who knew
how to build handsome houses, and make beau-
tiful gardens, besides being excellent farmers.
They had elegant furniture, and pictures, and
marble statues; and they were well educated,
and wrote a great number of books in Latin,
for that was their language, and many of those
books are used in our schools to this day.
They had large armies, and had conquered a
great many countries, when Julius Caesar, a
great Roman General, brought an army to
Britain, about fifty years before the birth of our
Saviour, to try to conquer the Britons also; but
thousands of British warriors went down to the
sea shore, by Dover cliffs, to fight the Romans
as soon as they landed; and they took a great
many war chariots with them, and fought so
bravely, that after two or three battles, Caesar
offered to make peace with them, and go away,
if their princes would pay tribute to the Roman
government; which they consented to do. How-
ever, the Romans thought no more about Britain
for nearly a hundred years, when they came
again, and went to war in earnest with the na-
tives, who at length were obliged to submit to
them; and Britain became a part of the Roman
Empire, just as India is at this time a part of
the British Empire.
Now this was a good thing for the Britons,
although they did not then think so; for as soon
as they left off fighting, the Romans began to
teach them all they knew, and to make a much
13 EVERY CHILD'S
better place of Britain than it had ever been
As soon as a part of the country was con-
quered, some great man was sent from Rome to
govern it, and to make the people obey the Ro-
man laws. Then other great men came to live
here, and brought their families and furniture
and plate from Rome; and built fine houses, and
planted gardens, with flowers and fruit trees,
and vegetables, that were never seen here before,
for they brought the roots and seeds and young
trees with them.
At first, the Roman Governors made the
Britons pay very heavy taxes; not in money, for
they had none; but they were obliged to give a
part of their cattle, and corn, and metals, or
any thing else that they had; and to work with
the Roman soldiers at building, making roads,
draining the watery lands, and cutting down
trees, to make room for houses and gardens.
They did not like this, and one of the tribes,
named the Iceni, who lived in that part of Britain
which is now called Norfolk and Suffolk, deter-
mined to make another effort to drive the Ro-
mans out of the country.
You will be surprised to hear that they were
headed by a woman; but there were queens
among the Britons as well as kings; and the
king of the Iceni being dead, his widow Boadi-
cea governed in his stead. She encouraged her
people to rebel against their new rulers, and led
them to battle herself, mounted in a chariot, and
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
armed like a warrior; but the Romans won the
battle, and the brave but unfortunate queen put
an end to her own life. After this, there was
another long war, which lasted till all the South
British tribes were subdued, and the Roman
government established all over the country,
except the north part of Scotland.
It was lucky for the Britons that a very good
Roman, named Agricola, was made governor
about this time, for he behaved so kindly that
they began to like the Romans, and to wish to
live as they did, and to know how to do all
the clever things they could do.
I should tell you that all the Roman soldiers,
were educated as engineers and-builders, survey-
ors, and cultivators of land, and when not
actually engaged in fighting, they were employed
daily for four hours in some such out-of-door
labour or occupation; so, when the war was
over, they were set to work to improve the
country, and the Britons had to help them.
They made good hard broad roads, paved with
stones firmly cemented together, and set up
mile stones upon them.
The Romans had built London during the
war, and given it the name of Augusta, but the
houses were almost all barracks for the soldiers
and their families, so that it was not nearly so
handsome as York and Bath, and many other
cities that they built in place of the old British
towns. The Britons, who had never seen any
thing better than their own clay huts, must
14 EVERY CHILD'S
have been quite astonished at the fine houses
constructed by the Romans; who also built, in
every city, temples, theatres, and public baths,
with large rooms for people to meet in, like a
coffee house. Then, in each town, was a market
place for people to buy and sell goods, and the
Romans taught the Britons generally to use
money, which was more convenient than taking
things in exchange.
The Romans were excellent farmers, as I said
before; so they shewed the natives how to ma-
nage their land better than they had done, and
how to make many useful implements of hus-
bandry. By cutting down the forest trees, which
they used in building, they obtained more land
for cultivation, and grew so much corn that there
was more than enough for the people in Britain,
so that a great deal was sent every year to the
Roman colonies in Germany. By degrees, the
Britons left off their old habits, and those above
the lowest rank wore the Roman dress, spoke the
Roman language, and adopted the manners and
customs of their conquerors, who treated them
as friends and equals.
There were schools opened in all the towns,
where British and Roman boys were instructed
together, and the former were all brought up to
serve in the Roman armies; for there were no
more wars among the British princes; who held
the same rank as before, but paid tribute
to the Roman Governor, and were under his au-
thority, as many of the princes of India are
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
now under the authority of the English Governor
General, in India.
The Britons had to pay a great many taxes,
but they likewise enjoyed many rights, for the
Roman laws were much better laws than those
of the Druids, which were made for barbarians,
and not for civilized people, such as the Britons
had now become.
You will, perhaps, wonder what the Druids
were about all this time. The Romans did not
approve of their religion, so they put an end to
it very soon after they came here; but what be-
came of the Druids, is not exactly known. It
is supposed that many of them were killed by
the Romans in the isle of Anglesea, where the
chief Druid always resided; and that the rest
fled to Scotland, or the Isle of Man. The
Romans, however, were themselves heathens,
when they first settled in Britain, and worship-
ped a number of false gods; but their gods were
different from those of the Druids, and the
rites and ceremonies of their religion, were
different too. But, in course of time, many of
the Romans became Christians, and Christianity
was taught in Britain, where the heathen tem-
ples were converted into Christian churches,
and the Britons, as well as the Romans, at length
learned to worship the one true God.
The Romans had kept possession of Britain
for more than three hundred years, when it
happened that great armies of barbarians went
to fight against Rowne, and all the soldiers were
16 EVERY CHILD S
sent for, to try to drive them away again; so
that this country was left unprotected, for it
was the Roman soldiers who had kept enemies
from coming here. The Britons hoped they
would come back again, as they did more than
once; but affairs got worse and worse at Rome,
so the rulers there sent word to the British
princes, that they did not wish to keep the island
any longer, therefore the Britons might con-
sider themselves a free people. But was free-
dom a blessing to them? I think we shall find
it was not.
By whom was Britain first invaded ?
How did this invasion terminate ?
When did the Romans again appear ?
What was their success ?
Was this conquest a good or bad thing for the Britons,
and why ?
What occasioned the revolt of the Iceni ?
Who headed the insurrection, and what were its
Who was Agricola ?
How were the Roman soldiers employed in time of peace ?
Tell me of the improvements made in Britain by the
What became of the Druids ?
When and why did the Romans leave Britain'
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
THE SAXON HEPTARCHY.
IT is now time to tell you something about the
Picts and Scots. They were the people of Scot-
land, and were called by the Romans Caledoni-
ans, which meant men of the woods, because
they were very rude and fierce, and lived among
woods and wilds. They had always been sad
enemies to the Britons; but the Romans had
kept them away, and the good governor Agricola
built a row of strong forts, all across their coun-
try, and placed soldiers in them, to make the
Caledonians keep on the other side. However,
they sometimes managed to break through; so
the Emperor Severus, who was here from the
year 207 to 211, had a stone wall built across
that narrow part, where Northumberland joins
Cumberland, and it was so strong, that parts of
the banks and forts are still remaining.
But when all the Roman soldiers were gone,
the Picts and Scots began to come again, and
robbed the people of their corn and cattle, and
stole heir children for slaves, and did a great
deal of mischief. Now, if the British princes
had agreed among themselves, and joined toge-
ther, to drive out these terrible foes, things might
have gone on very well; but they were foolish
enough to quarrel, and go to war with one ano-
ther; while some of the captains, who wanted to
be princes, got a number of soldiers to help
them, and took possession of different places,
18 EVERY CHILD'S
where they called themselves kings, and made the
people obey them. They did not continue the
good Roman laws; nor elect magistrates to keep
order in the cities, as used to be done while
the Romans were here; and tillage was neglect-
ed, because the farmers were afraid their crops
would be destroyed, so that numbers of people
died of famine.
There were still many Romans in Britain, who
were not soldiers, but were settled here, most of
them having married into British families; and
there were a great number of people who were
Britons by birth, but whose ancestors had been
Romans; and all these were desirous that the
country should still be governed by the Roman
laws, and formed what was called, the Roman
party. But there was a British party also, that
wanted to do away with the Roman laws alto-
gether, and not to let the Romans have any
thing to do with ruling the country; so each of
these parties elected a king. The Britons chose
a prince named Vortigern; and the Romans
chose one called Aurelius Ambrosius; and
there was war between them.
Then Vortigern, the British king, thought it
-would be a good thing to get some other brave
people to join his party, that he might be able to
overcome his rival, as well as to drive away the
Picts and Scots; so he proposed to some of the
British chiefs that they should ask the Saxons to
come and help them, and they thought it would
be a good plan.
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 1L
The Saxons inhabited the north of Germany,
and parts of Holland and Denmark, which were
then poor and barren countries. Many of their
chiefs were pirates, that is, they lived by going
out on the seas to fight and plunder; nor did they
think it wicked so to do; but, on the contrary,
imagined it was brave and noble.
Two of them, Hengist and Horsa, happened
to be cruising near the British coast, when they
received a message from Vortigern; who made a
bargain with them, and offered to give them the
little island of Thanet, if they would come with
all their men, to assist him in driving out the
Picts and Scots. Thanet is that part of Kent
where Margate is now situated, but was then se,
parated by an arm of the sea, so that it was a
small island, standing alone, nearly a mile from
the coast. The Saxons were very ready to come,
for they knew that Britain was a pleasant, fertile
country, and hoped to get some of it for them-
selves; but they did not let the Britons know
they thought of doing so.
Hengist and Horsa were very brave, and their
men were well armed, so they soon forced the
Picts and Scots to retreat to their own country;
and shortly afterwards they went to the Isle of
Thanet, which they fortified, and many more
Saxons came there to them. I cannot tell you
how the affairs of the Britons went on, or what
became of Vortigern; but this I can tell -you,
that the Saxons soon began to quarrel with the
people of Kent, and fought with them, and
having driven most of them away, took the
land for themselves, and began to live there.
The chief who made this conquest, was Esca,
the son of Hengist, who called himself king
of Kent, which, from that time, was a small
Saxon kingdom, for the Britons never won it
Then other chiefs, hearing how Esca had suc-
ceeded, got together bands of soldiers, and landed
in different parts of the country, to try to gain
kingdoms also; but they did not all come at
once, and their conquests were made by such
slow degrees, that the wars lasted more than 150
years; so you may guess how hard the Britons
fought in defence of their liberty.
We can learn but very little about those un-
happy times, for the few histories that were then
written were mostly destroyed in these long wars;
and though songs were composed by the bards or
poets, which the people used to learn and teach to
their children, these songs were not all true.
They were mostly about the wars, and the brave
British chiefs who defended the country against
the Saxons; and if you should ever hear any
body speak of king Arthur, and the knights of
the Round Table, you may remember that he is
said to have been one of those chiefs; and, if we
may believe the tale, killed four hundred Saxons
with his own hand in one battle. Those who
made the story about him, say that the nobles
of his court were all so equal in bravery and
goodness, that he had a large round table made
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
for them to feast at, that no one might sit above
another; so they were called knights of the Round
Table. But let us return to our history.
The Saxons went on making one conquest
after another, till, at last, they were in posses-
sion of the whole country; where very few of
the natives were left, for most of those who had
not been killed in the wars, had fled into Gaul,
or taken refuge among the Welsh mountains; so
from this time we shall hear no more of the
Britons, but must look upon the Saxons as the
people of England.
I told you how Esca had established the little
kingdom of Kent. Well, in the course of the
wars, six more kingdoms had been formed in the
same manner, by different Saxon chiefs, so that,
by the time the conquest was completed, there
were seven kingdoms in Britain, namely, Kent,
Sussex, Essex, and East Anglia, Northumbria,
Wessex, and Mercia; and this division of the
country among seven kings, was called the Saxon
The Saxons were not clever people, like the
Romans, but were rough and ignorant, and
cared for nothing but fighting; so while the
wars were going on, they ruined and destroyed
all the beautiful and useful works that had been
done in the Roman times; for they did not un-
derstand their value, and only thought it was a
fine thing to destroy all that belonged to their
enemies. But the works of the Romans were
very strong; for even now, when workmen are
digging in London, and different parts of the
country, they sometimes find Roman walls, and
pavements, and foundations of houses, that show
what good architects the Romans were.
When the Saxons had got possession of the
whole country, you may perhaps suppose they
would be quiet and contented, but this was not
the case; for as long as there were separate king-
doms, they were continually at war with each
other, and the principal cause of disagreement
was, that, among the kings, there was always
one called the Bretwalda, or ruler of Britain,
who had some degree of authority over the rest;
but as any one of them might be raised to this
dignity, it was a constant source of quarrels
and warfare, until, at length, the weaker king-
doms were overcome by the more powerful ones,
and there was but one king over the whole coun-
try, which then took the name of Angleland or
England, from a particular tribe of people call-
ed the Angles, who came here in great numbers
with the Saxons.
I dare say you did not know before how
Britain came to be called England; and you
would be very much amused to hear how many
of the places in it, came by their present names.
We will take for example Norfolk and Suffolk,
which, with Cambridge, formed the kingdom of
East Anglia, and was conquered by the Angles.
Now these Angles consisted of two tribes, who
divided their conquest between them, one tribe
settling in the north part, the other in the south;
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
so that they were called North folk, and South
folk, and thus came the names of the two coun-
Who were the Caledonians ?
How did they molest the Britons ?
What was the state of the country at this time ?
What was the Roman party ?
What was the British party ?
Who was Vortigern, and what did he do?
Who was Ambrosius ?
Tell me something about the Saxons.
Who were Hengist and Horsa, and how did they assist
What did the Saxons do after this ?
How long did it take the Saxons to conquer Britain ?
What was the Heptarchy ?
How was the country changed by the wars?
How was the Heptarchy destroyed ?
MANNERS OF THE SAXONS.
I am now going to tell you what sort of peo-
ple the Saxons were, and how they lived after
they were quite settled in England; for you
ought to know all about them, as they were our
own ancestors, and made a great many of our
laws; and their language was English too, al-
though it has been so much altered that you
would hardly know it for the same.
24 EVERY CHILD'S
The Saxons were not Christians when they first
came here; but their religion was different
from that of both the Druids and heathen Ro-
mans; for they worshipped great images of
stone or wood, that they made themselves, and
called gods; and from the names of their gods
and goddesses, our names of the days of the
week are derived. At length, the bishop of
Rome, who was called the Pope, sent some
good men to persuade the Saxons to leave off
praying to wooden idols, and to worship the
These missionaries first went to Ethelbert,
king of Kent, who was then Bretwalda, and rea-
soned with him, so that he saw how wrong he
had been, and not only became a Christian him-
self, but let the missionaries go and preach
among the people, who were baptized in great
numbers, and taught to believe in God and
The missionaries were all priests or monks;
and some of them lived together in great houses
called monasteries, which they built upon lands
given them by the kings and nobles, on which
they also raised corn, and fed sheep and cattle.
They had brought from Rome the knowledge of
many useful arts, which they taught to the
people, who thus learned to be smiths and car-
penters, and to make a variety of things out of
metal, wood, and leather, which the Saxons did
not know how to make before. Then the priests
could read and write, which was more than the
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 2b
nobles, or even the kings could do; and they used
to write books, and ornament the pages with
beautiful borders, and miniature paintings; and
the books, thus adorned, are called illuminated
Still the Saxons, or English, as I shall hence-
forth call them, were very rough and ignorant as
compared with the Romans. Their churches
and houses, and even the palaces of the kings,
were rude wooden buildings, and the cottages
of the poor people were no better than the huts
of the ancient Britons. The common people
were almost all employed in cultivating the
land, and lived in villages on the different
estates to which they belonged; for the Saxon
landlords were not only the owners of the
land, but of the people also; who were not
at liberty, as they are now, to go where they
pleased; neither could they buy land for them-
selves, nor have any property but what their
lords chose. I will tell you how it was.
The Saxon lords had divided all the land
amongst themselves, and had brought from
their own countries thousands of ceorls, or
poor people, dependent on them, to be their
labourers. Each family of ceorls was allowed
to have a cottage, with a few acres of land,
and to let their cattle or sheep graze on the
commons, for which, instead of paying rent,
they worked a certain number of days in each
year for their lord, and, besides, gave him a
stated portion of those things their little farms
produced; so that whenever they killed a pig,
they carried some of it to the great house; and
the same with their fowls, eggs, honey, milk
and butter; and thus the chief's family was well
supplied with provisions by his tenants, some
of whom took care of his sheep and herds,
cultivated his fields, and got in his harvests.
Then there were always some among them
who had learned useful trades, and thus they
did all the kinds of work their masters wanted.
Yet, with all this, the poor ceorls generally had
enough for themselves, and some to spare,
which they sold at the markets, and thus were
able to save a little money.
Their cottages were round huts, made of the
rough branches of trees, coated with clay, and
thatched with straw. They had neither windows
nor chimneys; but a hole was made in the roof
to let out the smoke from the wood fire, kindled
on a hearth in the middle of the room; and
they used to bake their barley-cakes, which
served them for bread, on these hearths, without
any oven. They made a coarse kind of cloth
for clothing from the wool of their sheep, a part
of which was also given to their lord, and was
used to clothe the servants of his household,
for the rich people got a finer cloth for them-
selves, which was brought from other countries.
Great men usually wore white cloth tunics
that reached to the knee, with broad coloured
borders, and belts round the waist. They had
short cloaks, linen drawers and black leather
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
shoes, with coloured bands crossed on their legs,
instead of stockings. The common people wore
tunics of coarse dark cloth, and shoes, but no
covering on the legs.
But I must tell you something more about
these country folks, who, at that time, formed
the great mass of the English population.
They were, strictly speaking, in bondage, for
they could not leave the place where they were
born, nor the master they belonged to, unless he
gave them their freedom; they were obliged to
serve as soldiers in war time, and when the
land was transferred to a new lord, the people
were transferred with it. All they had might
at any time be taken from them, and their sons
and daughters could not marry, without the
consent of their lord.
Yet these people considered themselves free,
because they could not be sold like the slaves;
for I ought to tell you there was a lower class
of bondmen, called thralls, and there were
regular slave markets where they were bought
and sold. A landowner could sell a thrall just
as he could sell an ox; but he could not sell a
vassal tenant, or, as they were called in the
Saxon times, a ceorl, or churl, without the
estate to which he belonged. The thralls were
employed to do the hardest and meanest work,
had nothing of their own, and were as badly
off as the poor negro slaves used to be in the
West Indies, before they were made free.
28 EVERY CHILD'S
The houses of the great men were very like
large barns, and each house stood on an open
space of ground, enclosed by a wall of earth and
a ditch, within which there were stacks of hay
and corn, sheds for the horses and cattle, and
huts for the thralls to sleep in. The principal
room was a great hall, strewed with rushes, and
furnished with long oak tables and benches.
The windows were square holes crossed with
thin laths, called lattices, and the fire-place was
a stone hearth in the middle of the earthen
floor, on which they used to burn great logs
of wood, and let the smoke go out at a hole
in the roof.
But the great people often had merry doings
in these halls, for they were fond of feasting,
and used to sit at the long wooden tables, with-
out table cloths, and eat out of wooden platters
or trenchers with their fingers. Boiled meats
and fish, usually salted, were put on the table
in great wooden dishes, but roast meats were
brought in on the spits on which they were
cooked, and handed round by the thralls, to the
company, who helped themselves with knives
which they carried at their girdles. There was
plenty of ale, and among the richest, wine also,
which they drank out of horn cups; and when
the meats were taken away, they used to drink
and sing, and play on the harp, and often had
tumblers, jugglers, and minstrels to amuse them.
Then the visitors used to lie down on the floor
to sleep, covered with their cloaks; for very few
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 29
people had bedsteads, and the only beds were a
kind of large bags, or bed-ticks, filled with
straw, and blocks of wood for pillows.
Such were the rough manners of our Saxon
forefathers, who were, however, in some respects
a good sort of people, and you will be sorry for
them by and by, when you read how the Nor-
mans came, and took away their lands, and
made slaves of them. But I must first tell you
what happened in the Saxon times, after the
Heptarchy was broken up, and there was only
one king of England.
How were the Saxons converted to Christianity ?
By what means did they learn many useful arts ?
What was the condition of the common people ?
Describe the cottages of the poor.
How did the Saxons dress ?
What were ceorls ? and what were thralls ?
Describe the house of a Saxon chief?
THE DANES AND ALFRED THE GREAT.
IT was nearly 380 years after the first Saxons
came here with their two pirate chiefs, Hengist
and Horsa, that England began to have only
'one king. There were still some other princes,
who bore that title, but they had so little power,
that they could hardly be called kings; so that
a brave prince, named Egbert, who conquered
the last kingdom of the Heptarchy, is usually
called the first king of England. The civil wars
were thus, for a time, ended; but it seemed as
if the English were never to be long at peace, for
they now had some terrible enemies to contend
with, who kept the country in constant alarm.
These were the Danes, who came from Den-
mark, Norway, and Sweden, and were almost
the same people as the Saxons; for they spoke
the same language, followed the same customs,
and lived by piracy, as the Saxons did in former
I have not room to tell you of half the mis-
chief they did in England. Sometimes they
would land suddenly from their boats in the
night, when the affrighted people were awakened
by a cry of, "The Danes! the Danes !" and,
starting up, perhaps, beheld their villages in
flames; and, as they ran in terror from their
cottages, were either killed or dragged away to
the pirate vessels, with the cattle and any thing
else that could be found, and made slaves.
Egbert had fought a battle with them in
Cornwall, and forced them to depart; b't,
(during the reign of Ethelwulf, the next king,
and three of his sons, they not only attacked
the towns and villages on the sea-coast, but
used to seize the horses and ride about the
country in search of plunder. They broke into
the monasteries, where the people often put
their money and jewels for safety; and if the
inmates made aiy resa -ance they would set the
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
building on fire. Then they set up fortified
camps, in many places; that is, a number of
tents, arranged together, like a town surrounded
with a wall and ditch; and thus a great many
of the Danes established themselves in the coun-
try, and conquered all the northern part of it.
This was the sad state of affairs when Alfred the
Great came to the throne.
I dare say you have heard of this good prince,
who was the youngest and favourite son of king
Ethelwulf, for he was the cleverest and best.
His mother, being an accomplished lady, tried
to teach all her sons to read; but none of them
would learn except Alfred, who afterwards went
to Rome to study Latin, and learn to write,
so that he was a good scholar for those times.
His three brothers had all reigned in turn, and
were all dead by the time he was twenty-two
years old, therefore he was then heir to the
crown; but, instead of being able to think
about the best way of governing the country,
he was obliged to get together as many soldiers
as he could, and go out with them to fight the
Danes. There was no regular army then, as
there is now; but, when the king wanted sol-
diers, he sent to all the noblemen and land-
holders in the kingdom, who were obliged to
come themselves and bring so many men with
them, according to the size of their estates,
some on horseback, some on foot, and all well
You must remember that people could not buy
land then for money, nor have it for paying rent;
but large estates were given to the thanes and
nobles by the king, on condition that they should
perform certain services for him; and you have
already seen how the vassals of the nobles held
their little farms on similar terms. This was
called the feudal system, which means, holding
land for services instead of rent; and the per-
son holding the land was called the vassal of
him to whom it belonged, whether rich or poor,
so the nobles were the vassals of the king, and
the ceorls were the vassals of the nobles.
I think you now understand what the feudal
system was, therefore I shall proceed with the
history of Alfred the Great.
The war had gone on for several years, and
the king was so unfortunate that, at last, he was
obliged to hide himself in a woody marsh in So-
mersetshire, called the Isle of Athelney, because
it was surrounded by bogs and rivers. The Danes
were then in pursuit of him; and, one time, fear-
ing to be taken prisoner, he got some man to let
him keep his cows, or pigs, I do not know which;
so that, if the Danes happened to see him, they
might not guess who he was. I dare say, you
have heard the story of this peasant's wife scold-
ing Alfred one day, for letting some cakes burn,
which she had left to bake on the hearth, whilst
she was out; but she did not know that he was
the king, or, of course, she would not have taken
At last, Alfred heard there were many chiefs
EVERY CHILD S
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 33
and noblemen, with their vassals, ready to join
him again; so he determined to try another
battle, but thought it would be prudent first to
learn what was the real strength of the enemy.
Now the Danes, like the Saxons, were fond of
good cheer, and liked to have songs and music
to make them merry while they were feasting;
and this put it into Alfred's head to go into
their camp disguised as a harper, for he could
play the harp and sing very well. So away he
went, with his harp at his back, and, when he
came there, the Danish chiefs had him called
into their tents, and made him sit down and
play to them, and gave him plenty to eat and
drink. Then he heard them talking about king
Alfred, and saying, they supposed he was dead,
as he did not come to fight them, so they need
think of nothing but enjoying themselves; and
thus he discovered they were not prepared for a
battle, and were almost sure to be defeated, if
taken by surprise.
He, therefore, left the camp as soon as he
could, and sent a message to his friends to meet
him in Selwood Forest, also in Somersetshire,
with all the men they could muster; and, when
they were all come, he put himself at their head,
and, marching suddenly down upon the Danes,
fought and won a great battle at Ethandune, a
place in Gloucestershire, now called Woeful
Danes' Bottom, from the terrible slaughter of
the Danes there.
But there were a great many Danes in Eng-
34 EVERY CHILD'S
land, who had not been engaged in this battle,
and who had possession of almost all the north-
ern part of the country; so the king wisely
considered that it would be much better to in-
duce them to settle peaceably in the country as
friends, rather than prolong those dreadful wars,
which had already caused so much misery.
He, therefore, proposed to the Danish chief
that, if he would promise to keep at peace, he
should have a wide tract of country, which had
been desolated by these wars, all along the east
coast, from the river Tweed to the river Thames,
for himself and his people, to be called the Dane
land; so Guthrun, the Danish chief, accepted
the offer, and parcelled the land out amongst his
followers, who settled there with their vassals,
and lived in the same manner as the Saxons.
You may think how glad the people were that
the wars were over, and the king was very glad
too, for he now had time to do what was more
pleasant to him than fighting, which was, to do
all the good he could for the country. He thought
the best way to defend it against its enemies
was to have good ships to keep them from land-
ing; but, as the English did not know much
about ship-building, he sent for men from Italy
to teach them, and also had models of ships
brought that they might see how they were con-
structed, and men were taught to manage them,
so that England, for the first time, had a navy.
These ships were called galleys, and were
worked both with oars and sails, they were twice
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 00
as long as those of the Danes, and stood higher
out of the water. While some workmen were
making ships, others were employed in rebuilding
of the towns and villages that had been burned
down by the Danes; and the king ordained that
there should be schools in different parts of the
kingdom, where noblemen's sons might be edu-
cated, for he had found the benefit of learning
himself, and thought it a sad thing that all the
great men should be so ignorant as they were.
You may, perhaps, wonder why so good a
man as Alfred should only think of having the
great people taught to read; but, reading would
have been of no use to the common people, as
the art of printing was unknown, and there were
no books but those written by the monks or nuns,
which were so expensive that none but very rich
people could afford to have even two or three
of them. The principal school founded by king
Alfred was at Oxford, which was then a small,
poor place, with a monastery, and a few mean
wooden houses for the scholars to live in, very
different from the present grand university, and
the masters, who were all churchmen, and called
learned clerks, resided in the monastery.
Alfred, with the help of some good and clever
men, whom he consulted in every thing, made
some very wise laws, and obliged the people to
obey them, by having courts of justice held in
the principal cities, regularly once a month; for
nobody had thought much about law or justice
either, while the wars were going on, so that
36 EVERY CHILD'S
there was need of some very strict regulations
to restore good order, without which there can
be neither happiness nor comfort any where.
Under the good government of Alfred the Great,
England enjoyed more peace and prosperity
than it had known since the days of the Romans;
and as his son and grandson both endeavoured
to follow his example, the influence of his wis-
dom was felt long after his death, which hap-
pened when he was about fifty years old, in the
Who was called first king of England ?
Who were the Danes, and what was their mode of
How did they establish themselves in the country?
Who went to war with them ?
How was an army raised in those times ?
What was the feudal system ?
What happened to Alfred?
What was the battle of Ethandune ?
How did Alfred make friends of the Danes?
How was a navy first formed?
Which of our universities was founded by Alfred the Great?
FROM THE DEATH OF ALFRED TO
THE NORMAN CONQUEST.
ALFRED was succeeded by his son Edward, who
was a very good king, though not so clever as his
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
father. He built walls round a great many of the
towns, to defend them, in case the Danes should
come again; for, although so many of them were
living quietly in the country, those who did
not live here were still enemies, and the resi-
dent Danes were always ready to join their coun-
trymen. But they could not do much mischief
while Edward was king, or in the reign of his
brave son Athelstan, who was almost as great a
prince as Alfred himself. He knew that com-
merce was one of the best things in the world
for any country, so he had more ships built, and
sent them to trade with foreign countries; and
he said that, when any man had made three
voyages in a vessel of his own, he should be
made a Thane; which was the same as knight-
ing a gentleman in these days.
There were no shops in England at this time,
but the people bought every thing they wanted
at markets and fairs; and they used to salt a
great deal of their meat and fish, that it might
keep a long time. In buying and selling, they
sometimes used slaves and cattle, instead of
money, a man slave being worth a pound of sil-
ver, and an ox worth a quarter of a pound, which
was called five shillings, as a shilling was the
twentieth part of a pound in weight. If a noble-
man, therefore, wanted to buy any thing of two
pounds value, he could pay for it with two of
his thralls, or eight oxen, and the seller was
obliged to take them; but he could sell them
again directly; for I am sorry to say there were
38 EVERY CHILD'S
slave markets in England till some time after
the Norman Conquest.
Athelstan had a good deal of fighting to do,
for the people of the Daneland revolted, and he
was obliged to lead his soldiers into their terri-
tory, to bring them to order; and then he had
to march against Howel, the Prince of Wales,
who was defeated in battle, when Athelstan no-
bly gave him back his dominions, saying, There
was more glory in making a king than in de-
I shall not mention all the kings that reigned
after Athelstan, because there were many of
them who did nothing that is worth telling
about; but I must speak of a great churchman,
named Dunstan, who was Archbishop of Can-
terbury, and, for several reigns, ruled the whole
country, for the kings and nobles were obliged
to do just as he pleased. He was a very clever
man, and so good a worker in metals that he
made jewellery and bells, and gave them to some
of the churches, which was considered an act of
piety; for it was about this time that bells began
to be used in England, and they were highly
valued. Dunstan persuaded the kings and rich
aoblemen, to rebuild the monasteries that had
oeen plundered and destroyed by the Danes, and
endow them with lands; so that, at last, nearly
one-third of all the landed property in the king-
dom belonged to the clergy.
There was a king named Edgar, the fourth
after Athelstan, who did many useful things for
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
the country; and, among others, he thought of
a plan to destroy the wolves,which were so nu-
merous in all the forests, that the people were
in constant alarm for the safety of their sheep,
and even of their little children. Edgar, there-
fore, ordered that each of the princes of Wales,
who had to pay tribute to the kings of England,
should send, instead of money, three hundred
wolves' heads every year; so they were obliged
to employ huntsmen to go into the woods to kill
those dangerous animals, which were so gene-
rally destroyed in a few years that they have
seldom been found in England ever since. Then
Edgar kept the Danes away by having as many
as three hundred and sixty vessels always ready
for service; but, when he and Dunstan were
dead, the navy was neglected, and the country
was again overrun with those terrible enemies,
who fought with the English every where, robbed
them of their property, took their houses for
themselves, and acted just as if they were the
conquerors and lords of the land.
At last, the Danish king, Sweyn, landed with
a great army, and began a dreadful war with
Ethelred, who was then king of England, that
lasted about four years, in the course of which
he and Ethelred both died; but the war was con-
tinued by Canute, the son of Sweyn, and with
such success, that, in the end, he was crowned
king of England.
It was lucky for the English that Canute hap-
pened to !b a w1ise and good prince; for he siid
40 EVERY CHILD'S
to himself, "As I am now king of these people,
I will behave kindly to them, that they may love
me, and then we shall all go on comfortably to-
gether." So he began to repair the mischief
that had been done in the late wars, by setting
people to work to rebuild the towns that had
been destroyed; which was soon done in those
days, when the houses were so roughly built,
and only of wood. He also made a law that the
Danes should not rob and insult the English, as
they had been in the habit of doing; and ordered
that they should obey the other laws of the coun-
try, which he did not alter in the least; neither
did he interfere with the estates of the nobles,
nor with their rights over their vassals; and he
consulted with the Witanagemote, or Parliament,
in all affairs of importance.
This Parliament was composed of the great
nobles and the bishops, so that it was like our
House of Lords; and, when the king made a
new law, the people were not obliged to obey it,
until it had been approved by the Witanage-
mote. As long as Canute reigned, which was
nineteen years, there was peace and plenty, and
the poor people were much happier than they
had been for a long time, for they could stay at
home and mind their farms, or work at their
trades, without being called away continually to
fight the Danes. The king, it is true, kept a
large army of Danish soldiers, and the people
had to pay heavy taxes to support them; but
this was better than seeing them come as ene-
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
mies into the towns and villages to destroy or
take every thing.
After the death of Canute, his two sons
reigned in succession, but they were neither
very good nor very clever, and both died within
six years. All this while, there was a Saxon
prince, named Edward, son of king Ethelred,
living at the court of the Duke of Normandy,
who was his uncle, and had afforded him shel-
ter and protection whilst his enemies were rul-
ing in England. He was now restored to the
throne, and the English people thought them-
selves happy in having again a king of their
own nation; but they little foresaw the terrible
consequences of placing over them one who had
formed so close a connection with the Normans.
Edward was attached to the Normans, for they
had been kind to him in his misfortunes; but it
was neither wise nor just to bring a great num-
ber of them to his court, and set them up above
his own countrymen, by giving them the highest
appointments in the government, which, of
course, gave offence to the English noblemen.
Edward was called the Confessor, because he
spent much of his time in devotion, from a mis-
taken sense of religious duty. I call it mistaken,
because God does not require that we should
neglect all other duties for this one, but has
given us plenty of time to pray and go to church
and read good books, besides doing every thing
else that we ought to do. Edward the Confessor
rebuilt Westminster Abbey, which was founded
42 EVERY CHILD'S
during the Heptarchy; but this building was
pulled down about 160 years afterwards, by
Henry the Third, who erected the present edifice
in its place.
But I was going to tell you what happened
in consequence of the king's attachment to the
Normans. His uncle was dead, and his cousin
William, a bold spirited prince, who was now
Duke of Normandy, came over to England to.
visit the king, and see what sort of a place it
was. He brought a great many noblemen with
him, and it seems they all liked the country so
much that the Duke thought he should like to
be its king, and his friends thought they should
like to get good estates here; so king Edward
was persuaded to make a will, or give his pro-.
mise, that, when he died, his cousin William,
who was more than twenty years younger than
himself. should be his successor. The English
lords knew nothing about this at the time, but
they had reason enough to know it afterwards,
as you will presently find.
Edward the Confessor died at the beginning
of the year 1066, when Harold, his wife's bro-
ther, a brave and popular nobleman, took pos-
session of the throne, with the consent of the
chief nobles and clergy.
Who succeeded Alfred ?
How did he provide for the safety of the people
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
Who was the next king ?
How was trade encouraged by him ?
Tell me the way of making purchases at this period.
Were there any wars in the reign of Athelstan ?
Who was Dunstan ?
Who was Canute, and how did he obtain the throne ?
What were the chief acts of Canute ?
What was the Witenagemote ?
How long did Canute reign ?
What was the general state of the country under his
Who succeeded Canute?
How was the Saxon government restored ?
How did the king displease his subjects?
Why was Edward called the Confessor?
What was the consequence of his attachment to the
When did Edward die, and who succeeded him?
THE NORMAN CONQUEST.
As soon as the Duke of Normandy knew that
Edward the Confessor was dead, and Harold
made king, he called his friends together, and
promised to bestow lands and honours in Eng-
land on all who would assist him to win the
crown; which, he said, was his by right, and that
Harold was an usurper. Now this is a doubt-
ful question; for, although the king could ap-
point a successor, if he thought proper; yet it
was necessary that his choice should have the
approval of the Witenagemote, which had not
been given in this case; so the English said
that, notwithstanding king Edward's will, the
Duke of Normandy had no right to the throne.
I cannot pretend to say which was right; but,
as it is of more consequence to know how the
dispute ended, we will proceed to the history of
The Normans were great warriors; so that
even many of the clergy would sometimes put
on armour under their robes, and lead their own
vassals to battle; and they had as much interest
in the dispute as the nobles, for they expected
to come into possession of some of the Bishops'
sees and rich abbeys, and abbey lands, provided
Duke William should succeed in his enter-
While all this was going on in Normandy,
Harold's brother, Tosti, had raised a rebellion
in the north of England, and was joined by the
king of Norway, who landed with an army in
Yorkshire: so Harold had to go and fight with
them, and there was a great battle at Stamford
Bridge, where the king gained a complete vic-
tory. Two or three days after this he was enjoy-
ing himself at a great feast, at York, when news
was brought to him that the Normans had landed
in Sussex, where they were doing all manner of
mischief, driving the people away from the towns
and villages, and taking every thing they could
lay their hands on. The king made all the
haste he could to get his soldiers together, and
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
began his march to oppose the invaders, but it
took nearly a fortnight to get to where they
were; and all that time the invaders were mak-
ing dreadful havoc for miles round their camp,
so that the terrified people fled to the woods, or
shut themselves up in the churches, for fear of
At last, Harold came, and a battle was fought
near Hastings, on the 14th of October, 1066,
where the king and two of his brothers, with a
great many of the English nobles, were slain,
and the conqueror from that day looked upon
himself as master of the country.
But the English had seen enough of the Nor-
mans to know they should be very badly treated
if they once suffered a Norman government to
be established, so they resolved to do their ut-
most to prevent it, and thus the Normans had
to fight for every town, and castle, before it was
given up to them.
William had marched to London, and laid
siege to it, soon after the Battle of Hastings,
and the people having submitted to him, he was
crowned in Westminster Abbey, on Christmas
Day. A few of the English nobles went to offer
their submission, that is, they agreed to obey
him as their king, since he had promised that all
who did so should be permitted to enjoy their
rank and property undisturbed. But it was only
a few who trusted to these promises, and they
were deceived in the end, for it is almost certain
that the Conqueror intended, from the first, to
40 EVERY CHILD'S
take every thing from the English to give to
the Normans. I mean the English lords; for he
meant to make the common people remain on
the estates to which they belonged, that the new
masters, might have vassals and slaves to culti-
vate their lands. Now the poor people did not
like this any more than the nobles themselves,
so they fought bravely for their masters in many
places; but it was all to no purpose; for, at the
end of seven years, the Normans were in pos-
sesion of all the land in the country, and most
of its former lords had either been killed, or
were reduced to such a state of poverty and
wretchedness that it is melancholy to think of.
I will not attempt to describe the sufferings
of the people during that long period, but you
may imagine how very miserable they must have
been, for the Normans got the better of them
all over the country, and took delight in rob-
bing and insulting their unhappy victims. I
told you that the design of the Conqueror was
to take all the land, and divide it among his
followers, except what he chose to keep for him-
self, as crown lands. Now there were many
Saxon ladies who possessed estates, in conse-
quence of their fathers or brothers having been
killed at the battle of Hastings; and most of
these heiresses were compelled, against their will,
to marry Norman lords, who thus gained lands
as well as brides. Then the estates of all those
who had not submitted to the king were de-
clared to be forfeited, and William gave them to
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
the Normans, or, more properly speaking, he
gave the Barons leave to take them by force; so
the English lords had to fight for their houses
and lands, and many were killed, and many fled
to other countries. The rustics, on these for-
feited estates, would fight for their lord to the
last; but, when he was forced to yield, they had
no choice but to submit to the new lord, or to
see their cottages set on fire, and their wives
and children perhaps murdered before their eyes.
Some of the English nobles hid in the forests
with their families, and as many of their vassals
as would go with them, where they made habit-
ations, and supported themselves by robbery and
hunting; and this was the origin of the numer-
ous bands of robbers that, in after times, were
the terror of the country. The famous Robin
Hood, who lived in the reign of Richard the
First, is supposed to have been a descendant of
one of these unfortunate English nobles.
The Bishops' sees and abbey lands were seized
in the same violent manner as the estates of the
nobles, and given to the Norman clergy; and
many of the monasteries, after being broken
open and plundered, were taken for the abode
of monks who came over from Normandy in
great numbers. The Normans built a great
many castles in different parts of the country;
and, if they wanted to build one on a spot where
there happened to be houses, they thought no-
thing of turning out the inhabitants, and pul-
ling down the houses, to make room: and they
pressed the poor people, both men and women,
to do all the labour, without pay, and treated
them very cruelly besides; for, if they did not
work hard enough, these unfeeling taskmasters
would urge them on with blows. Then wher-
ever the Norman soldiers stayed, they went and
lived in the houses of the people, took what they
pleased, and made the family wait upon them.
The king, himself, cruelly laid waste different
parts of the country in revenge for the opposi-
tion made to his progress by some of the English
earls, especially in the north, where, about three
years after the battle of Hastings, such a scene
of desolation was made by fire and sword, that,
from York to Durham, the houses, the people, and
all signs of cultivation, were utterly destroyed.
The last stand made against the Normans was
in a little island, formed by bogs and lakes, in
Cambridgeshire, and still called the Isle of Ely.
There, a brave chief, named Hereward, set up a
fortified camp, and was joined by other noble-
men, and many of their dependents, who, with
the ceorls, or tenants, belonging to the Abbey
of Ely, made quite an army. It was a secure
place of refuge, because the only safe paths into
the island were unknown to the Normans, who
would most likely have been lost in the bogs, if
they had ventured to approach. But they had
built a castle close by, at Cam Bridge, and they
brought boats and tried to make causeways by
which they might get into the camp of refuge;
but the English would go out in bands at night
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 49
and destroy all that their enemies had done,
and kept constantly on the watch for straggling
parties, who were often attacked unawares, and
many of them killed, while the English could
always retreat to their camp, where they were
safe from pursuit.
At last, the Normans established a blockade
of boats round the island, and provisions began
to get scarce within it; so two or three bad self-
ish men, who lived in the abbey, went to the
Normans, at Cam Bridge, and said, they would
show them the way into the island, if they would
promise not to meddle with the abbey. These
men led the Normans secretly into the island,
and a terrible battle was fought, in which al-
most all the English were killed.
When Hereward saw it was useless to fight
any longer, he made his escape, and went to his
own castle of Bourn, in Lincolnshire; where I
believe, he afterwards made peace with the king,
and was allowed to keep his estate. I have given
you a long history of the Conquest, because it
was the most important event that ever occurred
in the history of England, and was the last sudden
and violent change made in this country by
Explain the cause of the Norman invasion ?
What was the battle of Hastings, and where was it fought ?
Did the English make any further resistance ?
How long was it before the conquest was completed ?
How did many of the Norman lords obtain their estates ?
What became of the English nobles ?
How were the monasteries disposed of?
How were the English treated by the Norman soldiers ?
What was the Camp of Refuge, and by whom established?
How was the Camp destroyed?
What became of Hereward ?
THE NORMAN PERIOD.
THE Normans were a cleverer people than the
English, and lived in a superior manner. They
were better acquainted with the arts of agricul-
ture and architecture, and they knew a great
deal more about useful gardening; for all
the convents in Normandy had good gardens,
planted with vegetables and herbs; and the
monks brought over plenty of seeds and roots
to sow or plant in gardens here. The Normans
built stone castles, and strong houses of timber,
with upper stories, so that their dwellings, in
general, were higher and more substaial than
those of the Saxons; and one great' improve-
ment was that they had chimneys; but their
furniture was as rough and clumsy as the fur-
niture used in the Saxon times, and their way
of living was almost the same, except that they
did not care so much about feasting, but pre-
ferred spending their time in hunting, hawking,
and fighting in sport, for pastime.
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
I should here tell you that William the Con-
queror made the first game laws, and very severe
they were, and very hard upon the poor people,
who used to be at liberty to kill game in the
forests; but, after these new laws, they dared
not so much as take even a hare or a partridge
in their own fields. It was not only the English,
who were forbidden to hunt on the royal do-
mains, but the Normans also, unless they had
especial leave to do so; and, if any one was bold
enough to kill a deer in the king's forests, he
was punished in the most cruel manner, by hav-
ing his eyes put out, or his hands cut off.
The king's palace was at Winchester, and he
wanted to have a forest close by for hunting, so
he ordered that all the towns and villages should
be pulled down for about thirty miles, and the
land planted with trees; and, what was worse,
he gave nothing to the poor people for turning
them out of their homes; and this is still called
the New Forest. In imitation of this bad ex-
ample, many of the nobles began to make large
parks, enclosed with walls, to keep deer, and
they cared no more than William had done
about taking away the fields and pasture lands
of the poor cottagers, who dared not complain.
and were even obliged to run to their doors
with refreshments to offer to the Norman lords
and their followers when they were out hunting,
although they often saw them riding over their
corn, and breaking through their hedges.
It was not till after several reigns that the
52 EVERY CHILD'S
descendants of the Norman Conquerors began
to consider themselves Englishmen, and to treat
their vassals more like fellow countrymen. The
first hundred years after the conquest is there-
fore usually called the Norman period, and in-
cludes the reigns of William the Conqueror,
William Rufus, Henry the First, and Stephen.
I have already told you that the Feudal sys-
tem was brought into England by the Saxons,
and I explained what it was; but I must now
mention that this system was carried much far-
ther by the Normans, that is, their feudal laws
were stricter, and the nobles themselves were
bound by them as well as the common people.
I should wish you to understand this as clearly
as possible, because the manners and customs
of the age were governed entirely by those laws.
First, then, the king was lord of the land, and
kept a great portion of it for himself, which made
what were called crown lands; and all the people,
who lived on the crown lands, whether in burgh,
town, or country, were his tenants, and paid him
rent, or taxes, both in money and produce, be-
sides being obliged to furnish him with soldiers
at their own expense. For example, if a town
had to find two or more horse-soldiers, the inha-
bitants were, besides, obliged to pay the expenses
of their arms, horses, and maintenance, for the
time they were on service. The Manors and
Abbey lands were held of the king on the same
conditions; and every man, who had a certain
quantity of land, was bound either to serve as
a soldier himself, or send a substitute.
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
The rest of the country was divided by the
king amongst the great barons, who agreed, in
return, that whenever he went to war they
would go with him, and take with them so
many men, properly armed and trained for war-
fare, perhaps fifty or a hundred, or even more,
according to the extent of lands 4-e they held.
These great Baronies were called Feods, and
the king was the feodal or feudal lord of the
barons, who were called crown vassals; and,
when any one of them died, the king took the
lands again until the heir paid him a large sum
of money to redeem them. Some of the kings
behaved very ill in this, in making the heirs
pay a great deal more than was just; and, if a
baron died, and left a daughter only, she was
obliged to marry any one the king chose, or he
would not let her have her inheritance at all.
The feudal laws were therefore very bad, because
they gave men the power of being tyrants to
each other; for the nobles had the same power
of oppressing their vassals that the king had of
You must understand that the great Barons,
who held very extensive domains, gave small
estates out of them to men who were not so
high in rank as themselves, on the same con-
ditions as the king had given the large baronies
to them, so that the lesser nobles were the vas-
sals of the great ones, and were bound to aid
them with men and money when required. Then
all the nobles, from the highest to the lowest de-
54 EVERY CHILD'S
gree, were the absolute lords of all the common
people that dwelt on their lands, and could
make them do just whatever they pleased, as I
told you they could in the Saxon times; but
then the Norman lords treated them, at first, a
great deal more harshly than the Saxon lords
did, and took a great deal more from them.
After the Norman conquest they were called
villeins, which meant villagers, and they lived in
the same manner, and had the same kind of
duties to perform for their lords, as in the Saxon
times; but there were many new feudal customs
brought here by the Normans; as for example,
a mill was set up on every estate, to which all
the poor people were obliged to take their corn
to be ground, instead of grinding it at home
with hand-mills, as they used to do; and, out of
each measure, a part was taken for the baron,
which was a very hard tax upon them, especially
if they had large families. Another feudal cus-
tom was this: a duty was laid on every thing
sold at the fairs and markets; that is, if a man
went to the market to buy a sheep, he must pay
so much for the sheep, and so much for duty,
the duty being for the baron, or lord of the
manor. There were a great many other customs
which I have not room to mention, but I think
I have said enough to show you what the feudal
system was in the first ages after the Norman
conquest; so now I will tell you something
about the first Norman sovereigns.
William the Conqueror died in 1087, and was
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 55
succeeded by his eldest son, Robert, in Nor-
mandy, and by his second son, William Rufus, in
England; but after a time Duke Robert wanted
money to go to the Holy Wars, which I will tell
you about presently, so he mortgaged his duchy
of Normandy to his brother William, who thus
became sovereign of both countries, as his father
had been. He was a sad tyrant, and so rude in
his manners that nobody liked him. I told you
what strict game laws were made by the Con-
queror, but William Rufus made them more
severe still, and so displeased the noblemen, by
forbidding them to hunt without his leave, that
some of them formed a conspiracy to dethrone
him; but the plot was discovered, and the Earl
of Northumberland, who was at the head of it,
was taken prisoner, and confined in Windsor
Castle all the rest of his life.
There was another great lord, the Count d'Eu,
who was accused of being engaged in this plot,
by a knight called Geoffrey Bainard, so the king
had him arrested. The Count, however, denied
having any thing to do with it, and said he
defied his accuser, and was ready to fight with
him, and that God would give the victory to
whichever of them was in the right. So they
fought with swords, in the presence of the king
and court, when Bainard was victorious, and
the Count being thus convicted, was condemned
to have his eyes torn out. This was a strange
way for a man to prove his innocence of any
crime, but it became a common custom in Eng-
56 EVERY CHILD'S
land, and was called Wager of battle." Even
law-suits, respecting right of property, were often
thus decided; and, if a lady had a quarrel or a
lawsuit, she might get a man to do battle for
her, and he was called her champion.
It was the fashion for many ages, not only in
England, but all over Europe, for young men of
noble birth to roam about the world in search
of adventures; and, as they were generally poor
and depended chiefly on their swords for sub-
sistence, they would engage in any body's quar-
rels; fight in the cause of women or children who
were either injured or oppressed, and enlist in
the service of princes and barons who were at
war. This was called chivalry, and these knights
errant, or wandering knights, were made wel-
come wherever they went, and treated with hos-
pitality at the castles of the great.
Numbers of them went to the Holy Wars,
but, as I suppose you do not know what the Holy
Wars were, I will tell you about them. Many
pious Christians in those days thought it a duty to
make a journey, or pilgrimage as it was called, to
Jerusalem, once in their lives, to say their prayers
at our Saviour's tomb; but Jerusalem had been
conquered by the Mahomedans, who hated the
Christians, and behaved very cruelly to the pil-
grims; so the Pope, who you know is the great
Bishop of Rome, and at that time had more
authority over all the countries of Europe than
the kings had, said that it was the duty of all
Christian warriors to go to Palestine, or the
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
Holy Land, to fight against the Saracens, and try
to drive them from Jerusalem. Then a religi.
ous man, called Peter the Hermit, went about
preaching a crusade, that is, exhorting the
princes and nobles in France, Germany, and
Italy, to undertake this war, which was called a
crusade, or croisade, because the ensign on their
banners was to be the Cross.
Robert, Duke of Normandy, was among the
first crusaders, and, as he wanted money to keep
himself and all the fighting men he took with
him, he pledged his duchy to his brother, Wil-
liam Rufus, for a very large sum. The English
did not join in these wars, at first, but after a
time there was scarcely a knight or noble in the
land that did not go to the Crusades, for they
were continued, in all, more than two hundred
years; and, during that time, great numbers of
the lower order of people in England were
freed from bondage, in consequence of being
allowed to purchase their liberty to supply their
lords with money for these wars.
William Rufus, who was killed by accident as
he was hunting in the New Forest, was suc-
ceeded by his brother, Henry the First, sur-
named Beauclerk, because he was a learned
man, who behaved much better to the Saxon
English than the two former kings had done,
and restored to some of the old families a part
of their ancient possessions. He likewise al-
tered the forest laws, which had given so much
discontent, and gave the citizens of London
58 EVERY CHILD'S
leave to hunt in Epping Forest, which then
reached very nearly to the walls of the city.
Winchester was then the capital of England,
but London was one of the best cities and the
richest, as many of its inhabitants were mer-
chants who traded with foreign countries; yet
the houses were only mean wooden buildings,
with no glass in the windows, and thatched
with straw. Westminster was quite a separate
city, and divided from London by country-
houses, fields, and a village. The king had a
palace at Westminster, and William Rufus built
Westminster hall adjoining it, for his Christmas
A curious privilege was granted by Henry the
First to the citizens of London, which will serve
to show you what grievances the people were
subject to in those times. There were a great
number of persons who were employed in vari-
ous ways about the court, and who followed the
king wherever he went; for great men, when
they travelled, were obliged to take every thing
they wanted with them, there being no public
accommodation to be had any where; so they
carried with them waggon loads of furniture,
plate, wine, cooking utensils, and I do not know
what besides; with their domestics and retainers
of all descriptions, who formed a numerous re-
tinue. Now, the inhabitants of any city, where
the king happened to be holding his court, were
obliged to give board and lodging, at free cost,
to all these people, who generally behaved very
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
ill; for they would insist upon having the best
rooms, order whatever they chose, and treat the
family just as if they were their servants. It
was, therefore, a very good thing for the Lon-
doners when king Henry released them from
this heavy burthen, but all other towns had to
bear it for a very long period.
In this reign the first manufactory for wool-
len cloth was established in this country, by
some weavers from Flanders, where the best
cloth was made from English wool, which was
the staple commodity of England at that period;
I mean, the thing of which they had most to
sell; for quantities of sheep were reared on
every estate, more for the sake of wool, than
mutton, as the large landowners made a great
deal of money by trading in wool. England
had no manufactures then, so there were no
employment for the lower classes but agricul-
ture, and the few useful arts, that were but very
Henry the First died in the year 1135. He
left the crown to his daughter Matilda, who had
been twice married; first, to the Emperor of
Germany, and again to Geoffrey Plantagenet,
Earl of Anjou, who was dead also, therefore she
was again a widow. But there was a nephew of
the late king, named Stephen, who was rather a
favourite among the Barons, and was quite wil-
ling to take advantage of their good will; so,
before Matilda could reach England, her cousin
Stephen had mounted the throne. Then there
60 EVERY CHILD'S
was a civil war in this country, which was car-
ried on, at times, for fifteen years, for a great
many French noblemen came here with Matilda
to fight for her; and some of the English Ba-
rons, who had become dissatisfied with Stephen,
because he had not done all they expected he
would do, joined the other party, and there was
fighting all over the country.
Wherever there is civil war, there is sure to
be famine and misery of all kinds, and there
never was more misery in England than during
the reign of king Stephen; for, in order to keep
as many of the Barons on his side as he could,
he let them do just as they pleased; and he
gave titles and estates to a great many bold and
bad men, who built castles and kept bands of
ruffians, who went at night to rob and plunder
the towns and villages; so that the people,
when they shut up their houses at night, used
to kneel down and pray that God would protect
them from robbers and murderers.
At last, it was settled that Stephen should
keep the crown as long as he lived; but that
Matilda's son, Henry Plantagenet, should suc-
ceed him; and, soon after this arrangement,
he died, having reigned nineteen years.
How did the Normans improve the country ?
What is the origin of the game laws ?
How was the New Forest made?
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
Which reigns are called the Norman period?
What were crown vassals?
When a baron died, how were his lands disposed of?
How did the lesser barons become vassals of the great
Who were the villeins, and how did they live ?
What new feudal customs were brought here by the
Who succeeded William the Conqueror?
What was the character of William Rufus?
What was the custom called wager of battle ?
What was chivalry ?
Give some account of the Crusades?
Who succeeded William Rufus?
How did he gain popularity ?
What was the first manufacture in England ?
To whom did Henry leave the crown ?
Who usurped the throne ?
How was the civil war ended ?
HENRY THE SECOND, RICHARD THE
FIRST, AND JOHN.
As soon as Henry the Second came to the throne,
he began to set things to rights again. He had
all the new castles pulled down, and made the
bad men, who had lived in them, leave the coun-
try; then he set people to work to rebuild the
towns that had been burned down in the late
62 EVERY CHILD'S
wars; and ordered that the judges should go on
circuits; that is, travel to all the cities, and hold
assizes, two or three times a year, as they do
now, to see that justice was done to every body.
But it was not quite so easy to do justice then;
for, as long as the feudal laws lasted, the rich
could always oppress the poor, and every great
man had an army of his own vassals, who would
do any thing he bade them, whether it was lawful
or not. Now the king wisely thought that the
best thing in the world for the country would be
to give more freedom to the people, so that the
Barons might not have quite so much power.
He, therefore, granted charters to some of the
cities, which made them a little more independ-
ent; but it was by very slow degrees that the
people of England became free, although this
happy change was beginning to take place.
Another thing the king wanted to do, was to
make the clergy answerable to the judges for
any bad acts they might commit, instead of
having particular laws and judges for them-
selves; and, I am sorry to say, they some-
times did very wicked things, for which they
were not punished half so severely as other peo-
ple would have been for similar offences, which
certainly was unjust. But the bishops were un-
willing to let the king have any thing to do with
church affairs, and the Pope encouraged them
to oppose him, in this respect; for the Pope, in
those days, had more power over all Europe
than the kings themselves, who seldom dared to
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 6
The person who quarrelled most with Henry
about these things was Thomas a Becket, arch-
bishop of Canterbury, a very proud man, who
wanted to rule both king and state his own way.
The king was so much annoyed at the opposition
he constantly met with from the archbishop,
that, one day, in a fit of passion, he said he
wished that troublesome priest was dead; on
which some persons, who heard these incautious
words, thinking to get into favour, rode off
to Canterbury, and killed the archbishop in his
Cathedral. But they gained nothing by this
wicked deed; for the king was shocked when
he heard of it, and sorry for what he had said;
which shows how wrong it is for people to use
violent expressions when they feel angry.
One very remarkable event which occurred in
this reign, was the conquest of Ireland. That
country had been, for many years, divided into
several small kingdoms, and the disputes of the
chiefs had often given rise to warfare among
themselves; but it now happened that the king
of Leinster, having been deposed by another
prince, went direct to the king of England, to
beg his assistance, which Henry readily promised,
on condition that, if he were restored, he should
hold his kingdom as a vassal of the English
crown. Dermot, that was the name of the Irish
prince, agreed to these terms, and several Eng-
lish knights and noblemen undertook the enter-
prise. After a great many interesting adven-
tures, which are told in the history of Ireland,
64 EVERY CHILD'S
Dermot was replaced on his throne; but other
quarrels arising among the chiefs, the English
continued the war, and, after some time, the
Irish chiefs acknowledged the king of England
as lord and master of Ireland, which has been
under the authority of the English government
Henry the Second died in 1189, and was suc-
ceeded by his son Richard, who was called Coeur-
de-lion, because he was very brave, so that every
body said he had the heart of a lion. Now it
is a very good thing for men to be brave, for I
do not know what we should do without brave
men for soldiers and sailors, to fight for us; but
it is not the most useful quality a king can
possess; and I think you will agree with me,
when I tell you that Richard the First, instead
of staying at home to make good laws, and
take care of his subjects, went away to fight, or
gain glory, as fighting was then called, in the
Holy Land, while all things were going wrong
in England, for the want of somebody to keep
order. But there was some excuse for him, as
every body in those days thought that the most
praiseworthy act princes and nobles could do,
was to fight for their religion against all persons
who believed differently from themselves; so
Richard was very much admired by his people,
although he did nothing for their real benefit;
but, on the contrary, caused them very much
misery, and great distress.
'Another evil was that the Barons, who went
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
with him to the Crusades, took all their own
money as well as all they could get from their
tenants, to support themselves and their fight-
ing men abroad, so that the generality of the
people were left very poor. A great number,
indeed, obtained their freedom, by giving up
all they had to their lords; but then they were
left without money or employment, and many
turned robbers, to save themselves from starving;
therefore, you see, it was not always a good
thing, at first, for the bondmen to be set at
liberty; but it was good in the end, for their
children were born free, and, as times got better,
the free middle classes began to be of some con-
sequence, and have gone on gradually increasing
in wealth and importance, till they have now
become the best safeguard and support of the
While Richard was gone to the wars, his bro-
ther John, who was a very bad man, wanted to
make himself king in England, and there were
some of the nobles who encouraged him, while
others defended the rights of the absent mon-
arch; so that there was great confusion, and the
laws were sadly disregarded.
At last, Richard heard of all these bad doings,
and left the Holy Land, intending to come home
as fast as he could; but, unfortunately, he was
made prisoner, on his way, by the Duke of Aus-
tria, and confined in a castle in Germany for
some time before the English people knew what
had become of him. Richard knew this duke
66 EVERY CHILD'S
was his enemy, because he had affronted himn
when in the Holy Land, so he had taken the pre-
caution of disguising himself in passing through
his dominions, and took with him only a single
page; but, one day, being tired and hungry, he
stopped to rest at a village near Vienna, and
sent his page into that city to buy some pro-
visions. The youth, foolishly, hung a pair of
handsome gloves in his belt, and as gloves were,
in those days, only worn by persons of the high-
est rank, this circumstance excited suspicion,
and he was arrested, and obliged to confess the
truth. The duke immediately sent a band of
soldiers to seize the king, whom they found busy
turning some meat that was roasting at the fire.
He started up, drew his sword, and fought vali-
antly, but was captured, and sent to a strong
fortress, where he had remained a prisoner some
months, when he was discovered, it has been
stated, by a wandering minstrel, who heard him
singing in his prison, and knew his voice. But
this is a fabulous tale. A large sum was raised
in England, by taxes, for his ransom, and he
came back; but he did not stay long at home;
for he had quarrelled, while in the Holy Land,
with the king of France, and went over to Nor-
mandy for the purpose of going to war with him,
where he was killed by a poisoned arrow, aimed
at him from the walls of a castle he was besieg-
ing, in the year 1199, having reigned ten years.
Prince John was now made king of England,
but he had no lawful right to the throne, as
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
prince Arthur, the orphan son of an elder bro-
ther, was living, and was the true heir, accord-
ing to the rules of succession. But this unfor-
tunate youth was made prisoner, in Normandy,
by his wicked uncle, and most people believe
he met with a violent death. It was a very seri-
ous misfortune for the country when the king
happened to be a bad man, because the govern-
ment was, at that time, despotic; that is, the
king made the laws himself, and had the power
of doing whatever he pleased; whereas, now, the
laws are made by the parliament; so that, before
any new act can be passed, a great many good
and clever men must agree to it, which is a
great protection to the people.
However, king John was compelled, much
against his will, to make some very good laws,
and the reason of this was, that his tyranny was
felt by the nobles even more than the common
people, for their estates were often unjustly
seized, and they were obliged to give him large
sums of money to get them back again; then
he would not let them marry unless they paid
him for leave to do so; and, if any persons
wanted to go out of the country, they were
obliged to buy his permission. In short, no one
was free to do any thing till the consent of the
king was obtained by a handsome present.
At length, his tyranny was carried to such a
height that the chief nobles resolved to make
him act more justly, or dethrone him; so they
wrote down, on parchment, all the things they
wished to have done, or altered, and agreed with
each other that, if he refused to sign it, they
would go to war with him, and they took care
to have all their vassals armed, and in readiness.
John was very much frightened when he found
the barons were in earnest, and agreed to meet
them at a place called Runnymede, between
Staines and Windsor, where, after a great deal
of disputing, he was obliged to sign his name to
what they had written, which thus became the
law of the land. An ancient copy of this parch-
ment is now in the British Museum. It is called
Magna Charta, which is the Latin name for the
Great Charter;' and it was framed with a view
to take from the king the power of doing unjust
things, and to make him govern according to
the laws, and not to be able to make new laws,
or impose new taxes, at his pleasure. This
famous act is generally regarded as the begin-
ning of the liberty which all Englishmen are so
justly proud of; but the laws it contained were,
in many respects, often broken by the sovereigns
of England, for a very long period.
The Barons of England still lived in their
castles, on their own estates, in the midst of
their vassals and serfs. Their castle-halls were
crowded with knights, squires, pages, and mili-
tary dependents, for it was their pride to have
as many of such retainers as they could possibly
maintain. The pages were boys of high rank,
generally the younger sons of noblemen, whose
profession was to be knight errantry. Now, in
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
order to obtain the honour of knighthood, they
were obliged to serve some great baron, first as
pages, then as esquires, for several years, and to
be very obedient and respectful in their conduct,
and do all that was required of them readily
and cheerfully. While pages, they had to wait
upon their lords and his guests at dinner and
supper, to carry messages, and perform little
services for the ladies of the family; but they
were themselves waited upon by the domestic
slaves, and, when they had finished their day's
duties, were allowed to mix with the company.
They were taught to use the sword and lance,
and to manage a horse skilfully, and were in-
structed in religious duties by the priests of
their lord's household. When old enough, they
were made esquires, and then their duties were
to take care of the horses and armour, and to
attend their lords on all occasions; which ser-
vices he usually rewarded by making them
knights, when they were free to go wherever
they pleased; and you have already been told
what their mode of life was afterwards.
The great people were very fond of hunting
and hawking, and fighting at tournaments; but,
perhaps, you do not know what a tournament
was, so I will tell you. There was a place built
up, something like a large theatre, with galle-
ries for the ladies and gentlemen, to sit and see
the combats in the open space below, and this
was called the lists. Then the gentlemen, who
wished to exhibit their valour, used to come
70 EVERY CHILD'S
in armour, and fight with each other on horse-
back, till one was conquered, when the victor
received a prize from the greatest lady present.
When only two knights fought, it was called a
tilt; but if there were several on each side, it
was a tournament; and, although these combats
were held for sport, the combatants were often
dangerously wounded, and sometimes killed.
When John had signed Magna Charta, the
Barons went home to their castles, to enjoy
their usual pleasures; but the king had no in-
tention of behaving any better than before, and.
secretly sent agents to Flanders, to raise troops
of foreigners, promising that they should be al-
lowed to plunder the estates of the Barons, if
they would enlist in his service. Thus he soon
appeared at the head of an army, and went to
war with the nobles, who, in revenge, did a very
wrong and foolish thing, which was, to offer the
crown to Louis, the son of the king of France.
Louis soon came over with a French army, and,
after having in vain tried to take Dover Castle,
he entered London in triumph, whilst John was
obliged to retreat; but the Barons began to
think they had done wrong; and, as John died
suddenly, in the midst of this confusion, they
turned their arms against Louis, and forced him
to leave the country.
What were the first acts of Henry the Second ?
Who was Thomas h Becket?
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
Why was he at enmity with the king?
How was the death of Becket caused?
What conquest was made in this reign ?
Relate the circumstances ?
When did Henry die, and who succeeded him?
How did Richard employ the chief part of his reign?
What occurred in England during his absence ?
What happened to the king on his way home ?
How was he liberated ?
State the date and manner of his death ?
Who was the next king ?
Why was John a usurper?
How did the king act towards the nobles ?
What was Magna Charta ?
What did the king do after he had signed that Charter?
FROM THE DEATH OF KING JOHN
TO THE ACCESSION OF
RICHARD THE SECOND.
THE reign of Henry the Third, who was only nine
years of age when he succeeded his father, was
a very long and a very unhappy one. At first,
things went on very well, because the king had
a good guardian, the Earl of Pembroke, who
managed the government wisely; but he, in a
few years, died, and others came into power
who did not act so well, and the king was too
young to know what was right himself. It was
a pity the good earl died, for, if Henry had
been fortunate enough to have had a wise in-
structor, he might have been a better sovereign,
but, as it was, he was a very bad one. The great
mischief was this. He married a French prin-
cess, who had no more wisdom than himself;
and they were both so extravagant that they
spent a great deal more money than they could
afford; and, then, to get fresh supplies, the king
ordered the people to pay more taxes, and began
to do all the unjust things that had caused so
much misery in the time of his father.
Sometimes the Barons assembled and obliged
him to promise he would abide by the terms of
Magna Charta; but he soon forgot his promises,
and went on the same as before, so that the
people were worse and worse off every year, and
many men became robbers on the highways,
because they could not support their families by
honest industry. This was the state of affairs
for many years, till, at last, there was a civil
war again, and, after a great deal of fighting
and bloodshed, the king and his eldest son, Ed-
ward, were made prisoners in a battle, fought
at Lewes, in Sussex, in 1264, and the Earl of
Leicester, the king's brother-in-law, took the
government upon himself.
This was an important event, because the earl
summoned a parliament to consult as to what it
would be best to do under these circumstances;
and he desired that, besides the nobles and
*bishops, there should come to this parliament
knights, or gentlemen, from every county, and
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
citizens and burghers, from every city and burgh,
to state what the condition of the people really
was, and to help to advise what could be done
for them; so that the commoners were now,
probably, for the first time, admitted to some
share in the government of the country, which
was a great step gained by the people, who, be-
fore this, had no representatives in the national
council, or parliament, to take their part; and
this was the beginning of our House of Com-
mons, so it is worth remembering. Prince Ed-
ward, after this, escaped from Hereford, where
he had been kept a prisoner, and gained a great
victory over the Barons, and replaced his father
Henry on the throne; after which, he went on
a crusade to the Holy Land. He had married
a Spanish princess, named Eleanor, who was
the first person, in England, that had a carpet,
which she brought from Spain, for the floors of
the best apartments in the palace were strewed
with rushes; and, in houses, where they could
not get rushes, they used straw.
Henry the Third died about seven years after
his restoration, in the year 1272, having reigned
fifty-seven years; and, although the news was
sent to his son as soon as possible, it was nearly
two years before he returned to England; such
was the difference between travelling then and
now; for the journey to and from the Holy Land
may now be accomplished in a few weeks.
Edward the First was a much wiser and better
prince than his father, but he was too fond of
war, and too anxious to be renowned as a con-
queror, which was the cause of the long wars in
Scotland, for his great ambition was to conquer
that country. But, the first thing he thought
of, when he came home, was to make such regu-
lations as were most likely to protect the people
from robbery; so he had watchmen and patrols
appointed in all the cities, and ordered that no-
body should be abroad in the streets of London,
nor any taverns kept open, after the curfew bell
had tolled. The curfew was instituted by Wil-
liam the Conqueror, to prevent fires, which were
very frequent, when houses were, in general,
built of wood, and thatched; so, when this bell
tolled at eight o'clock, the people, for a long
time after the conquest, were obliged to put out
their fires and candles; but the custom of toll-
ing the bell was continued after that of putting
out fire and candle was done away with, and
even to this day, in many places.
Edward the First took care that the magis-
trates should do their duty, and punished those
who broke the laws, which the kings had been
afraid to do in the last two reigns, because their
lives would have been in danger if they had. I
must also tell you that this wise monarch did
not alter what the Earl of Leicester had done
about the parliament; but he made it a rule
that the people should continue to send their
members, and every freeholder of land in the
counties, and, in general, all men, in the cities
and burghs, who paid taxes, had a right to vote
at the election of members of parliament.
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
I should be glad to have nothing to say about
warfare in this reign; but the Scottish wars form
so large a portion of the history of the times,
that you ought to know something about them.
First, however, the king invaded the northern
part of Wales, which had never been conquered
by the English, and was then governed by a
prince, named Llewellyn. This chief made a
gallant resistance, but he was killed, and the
whole country was then united to England, and
afterwards, in the reign of Henry the Eighth,
divided into shires. The queen, Eleanor, of
Castile, Edward's first wife, went to visit Wales
soon afterwards, and her son Edward was born
there, so the king said he should be called prince
of Wales, and that is the reason why the eldest
son of the English sovereign has since had that
After this, there were a few years of peace,
before the wars with Scotland were begun; so
I will fill up the time by saying a little about
the manners and customs of the English at this
period. The nobles lived in, what we should
think, a very rough way indeed. Their large
comfortless rooms, and floors without carpets,
unglazed windows, and clumsy furniture, would
not suit our modern notions, either of comfort
or convenience. They had their dinner at ten
o'clock in the morning, in the great hall of the
castle; lords, ladies, knights, esquires, priests,
dependents, and strangers, all together; for,
when there were no inns, it was usual for tra-
76 EVERY CHILD'S
vellers to stop at any castle, or monastery, on
the road, where they were never refused lodging
and entertainment. There were no table cloths,
and the dishes and cups were mostly of wood,
but they were well filled with meat, game, fish,
or poultry, which, with bread and ale, consti-
tuted the rude, but substantial meal. The Ba-
ron, with his friends, sat at an upper table, which
was served with wine; and, sometimes, he would
have his hounds lying at his feet, and his fa-
vourite hawk, on a perch, beside him.
The supper, at five o'clock, was just like the
dinner, and these were the only regular meals
at that period.
I said there were no inns in those days, which
reminds me to speak of the difficulty and dan-
ger of travelling. The roads were very bad and
lonely, often running through forests and across
wide heaths, infested with robbers. Then there
were no public conveyances of any kind, nor
any way of making a journey, but on horse-
back, or on foot; and, as to stopping at the
country towns, there was very little accommo-
dation to be had there, for they were poor places,
the houses in them being very little better than
wooden sheds. There were no shops, so that
every thing was bought, as formerly, at the mar-
kets and fairs. A great many merchants, from
London, France, and Flanders, used to bring
goods to the fairs for sale, and they were obliged
to pay tolls and duties to the lord of the manor,
which came to a great deal of money, because
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
they brought a quantity of valuable merchan-
dise, as the nobles themselves purchased their
wearing apparel, jewellery, spices, and many
other commodities, at the fairs, which sometimes
lasted fifteen days.
The dress of the great nobility, in the four-
teenth century, was very handsome, for they
wore mantles of satin or velvet, with borders
worked in gold, over jackets highly embroidered;
and their velvet caps were often adorned with
jewels. The middle classes wore close coats of
cloth, with leather belts round the waist, such
as the Blue-Coat boys now wear, and they had
tight pantaloons, short boots, and cloth caps.
The clothing of the working people was made
of very coarse wool, sometimes undyed, and all
spun and woven at home by the women, who
had nothing else for their own wearing, as there
were no cottons, or stuffs, made in England,
then, nor any of the nice comfortable things
that poor people can get so cheap now.
The country towns were at this period inha-
bited chiefly by free artisans, such as black-
smiths, carpenters, and others, of different
trades; but there were still a great many vil-
leins and serfs, on all the cultivated lands, for
slavery was never abolished in England by any
act of parliament, but gradually died away with
the feudal laws. The armies were not raised
then as they were at an earlier period, by feudal
service, but soldiers were hired and paid by the
day; but there was no standing army, as there
78 EVERY CHILD'S
is at present; for, as soon as the wars were over,
the men were all discharged, which was a bad
thing, as it often happened they had no homes
or employment to return to, and so formed
themselves into bands of robbers.
However, fighting men had plenty of occupa-
tion during the reign of Edward the First, of
whose wars in Scotland I am now about to
The King of Scotland died about this time,
and as he left no son, and his grand-daughter
and heiress, Margaret, died soon after, unmar-
ried, there were two princes, who each thought
he had a right to succeed to the throne; so
they agreed to let the king of England decide
the dispute, which he readily took upon himself
to do. One prince was named Robert Bruce,
the other, John Baliol. Edward said Baliol
ought to be king, and he was crowned accord-
inglyi but the English monarch soon began to
find fault with him, and at last went to war, for
he had made up his. mind to try to unite Eng-
land and Scotland into one kingdom, and to be
the king of both countries himself; but he did
not succeed, although he dethroned Baliol, and
was at war with Scotland for nearly eleven years.
I dare say you have heard of a renowned
Scottish chief, called Sir William Wallace. He
fought bravely for his country in these wars,
but he was taken prisoner at the battle of
Falkirk; and, I am sorry to say, king Edward
was so cruel and unjust as to have his head cut
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
off. But this did not put an end to the war, for
another chief, Robert Bruce, grandson of him
before-mentioned, took the place of Wallace,
gained several victories, and was crowned king.
The two sovereigns then prepared for a long
war, and Edward was on his way to Scotland,
with his army, when he was taken ill, and died
in the year 1307, having reigned thirty-four
His son, Edward the Second, was so careless
of every thing but his own pleasure, that he
neglected the affairs of both England and Scot-
land, so that the Scots recovered all they had
lost; and when, at last, the king was persuaded
to renew the war, he met with such a terrible
defeat at the battle of Bannockburn, that the
Scots are proud of it to this very day.
There is nothing more worth telling about
the reign of Edward the Second, whose miscon-
duct caused many of the barons to rebel, and
he was, at last, made prisoner by them, and
cruelly murdered, in Berkeley castle, in 1327
having reigned about twenty years.
His son, Edward the Third, was scarcely
fifteen, at the time of his father's death; but he
was a very clever prince, and soon began to
manage the affairs of the country himself. He
married a Flemish princess, named Philippa, who
was much beloved by the English people, as,
indeed, she deserved to be, for she was both
good and beautiful, as well as one of the cle-
verest ladies of her time, and she employed her
talents in doing all the good she could for
England. She knew that the people of her own
country, which was Flanders, had grown rich
by their trade and manufactures, so she did all
in her power to increase the trade of England,
and paid a number of Flemish weavers to come
over here and settle at Norwich, that they
might improve the people there, in the art of
making woollen cloth and stuffs, for which a
manufactory had been established by Edward
the First. She also founded several schools,
and was a friend to those who distinguished
themselves by their learning.
I must not forget to tell you that Chaucer,
the first great poet that wrote in English, lived
at this time, and received much kindness from
the King and Queen. The English language
was now beginning to be spoken by the higher
classes, instead of French, and was not very
unlike the English spoken now, as you might
see, if you were to look at the poems written
Edward the Third was, unfortunately, as fond
of war as his grandfather. He renewed the
war with Scotland, but his great wars were in
France, for his ambition was to be king of that
country, and he pretended lie had a right to the
throne, because his mother was the sister of the
late king. But the French thought otherwise,
and chose another prince for their king, so
Edward invaded France, where he commenced
a long and destructive war, whi:! Lasted nearly
EVERY CHILD S
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
forty years, and was carried on, for a great part
of that time, by his eldest son, who was called
the Black Prince, because he wore black
He made great conquests in the south of
France, and, at the celebrated battle of Poictiers,
took the French king prisoner, and brought
him to England, where he remained a captive
for the rest of his life, but was treated with so
much kindness and respect, that he had little
to complain of but the loss of his liberty. The
Black Prince was not only a brave warrior, but
was a good and clever man; therefore, his death,
which happened a few months before that of his
father, was a great grief to the English people.
Edward the Third died in 1377, after a long
reign of fifty years. He had been a pretty good
king, had made the people obey the laws, and,
in general, observed them himself. When he
wanted money for the French wars, he had
allowed the villeins and serfs, on his manors,
or crown lands, to buy their freedom, so that
there were now, comparatively, but few of
the lower orders remaining in bondage; and
the agricultural labourers were paid for their
labour, as well as the artisans and mechanics.'
Their wages were, in general, from twopence to
threepence a day, but you must remember that
twopence, at that time, was equal, in purchasing
the necessaries of life, to about one shilling and
eightpence of our money, and would buy much
more than sufficient food for a whole family
82 EVERY CHILD'S
They lived chiefly on meat, brown bread, and
ale; for there were no vegetables for the table,
cultivated by the people in England, till the
time of Henry the Eighth; nor any potatoes,
till that of Queen Elizabeth; and then they
were considered a dainty dish, and only seen at
the tables of very rich people. However, there
were gardens, orchards, and vineyards, belong-
ing to the monasteries, and to persons of high
rank and fortune.
Who succeeded king John?
How was much distress occasioned?
What were the consequences of the ldng's misconduct?
What great change was made in parliament, and how?
Who first brought a carpet into England :
How long did Henry the Third reign? and by whom
was he succeeded ?
What was the character of Edwav i the First?
Mention some of his first acts ?
How did he regulate the parliament ?
How was Wales united to England ?
What gave rise to the Scottish wars ?
Who was the great Scottish chief and patriot; and what
was his fate ?
Who was made king of Scotland?
When did Edward die? and who succeeded him?
What was the battle of Bannockburn?
What became of Edward the Second?
Who was the next king ?
Whom did he marry ?
How did the queen promote the welfare of the country?
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
Who was the first great English poet?
Why did Edward the Third invade France?
Who conducted the wars ?
When did the deaths of Edward and his son happen?
How did Edward the Third raise money for the wars?
What was the value of two pence at this time?
ACCESSION oF RICHARD THE SECOND,
WARS OF THE ROSES.
RICHARD the Second, the son of Edward, the
Black Prince, was but eleven years old when, by
the death of his grandfather, he became king of
England. His uncles governed the country till
he was old enough to act for himself; but they
did not teach him to be a wise, nor a just man,
and this injustice was the cause of all his mis-
One of the first things he did on his own
account, was to break a promise he made to the
people; and this was how it happened. A new
tax had caused great discontent among the
labouring classes, and their unwillingness to
pay it was increased by the insolence of the
collectors, who, one day, in the house of a man
called Walter, or rWat Tiler, behaved so ill to
his daughter, th 1 le h"e ave one of them a blow
on the head with his hammer, which unluckily
84 EVERY CHILD S
killed him. Now the neighbours knew that if
Walter should be taken, he would be put to
death for the offence, and as they all had cause
to complain of the tax-gatherers, they assem-
bled in front of his cottage, and declared they
would protect him.
This was at Deptford, and they all proceeded
to London, being joined by thousands of men
from different towns, and a dreadful riot there
'was; so that it was thought necessary for the
king to take some means of pacifying the
rebels. Accordingly he went, with the lord
mayor and some nobles and gentlemen, to meet
them in Smithfield, and whilst Tiler, their
leader, was talking with the king, the mayor
came behind him, and struck him on the head
with his mace, and stunned him, and he
was killed by Richard's party; and then the
king, fearing the rioters would kill him in
return, asked them what they wanted, saying,
he was ready to do any thing that was right and
just. They said they desired that the poll tax
should be taken off; slavery and villeinage
abolished by law; so that all who were still in
bondage should be made free; and that the old
feudal custom of paying duties on goods, at all
the markets and fairs, should be done away
with. All this Richard promised to do; but no
sooner had the men dispersed and gone back to
their homes, than he sent out a military force
to seize all who had been concerned in the
rebellion; and I grieve to say that,, although he
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
had given his word that they should all be par-
doned, he ordered the judges to have every one
of them executed.
After such conduct as this, you will not
expect to hear much good of Richard the Se-
cond, whose selfish extravagance led him to do
all kinds of unjust things, for the purpose of
raising money to spend on his own pleasures; so
that it might truly be said that he was con-
stantly robbing his subjects; as, for instance, he
once wanted to borrow a large sum of the citi-
zens of London, which they would not lend
him, because they knew very well he would
never return it; so he took away their charter,
that is, the grant which gives them a right to
elect a lord mayor, and to manage the affairs of
the city independently of the king; and they
were obliged to give him ten times as much to
get it back again, as they had refused to lend.
The citizens of London were very rich at this
period, many of them being great merchants,
and it was in this reign that the famous
Whittington was Lord Mayor. He had made
a large fortune in the coal trade, which was then
a new branch of commerce, for coals were very
little used for firing till the time of Edward the
King Richard had unjustly banished his
cousin Henry, Earl of Hereford, and on the
death of Henry's father, the Duke of Lancaster,
had taken possession of his estates. This noble-
man was a grandson of Edward the Third, an
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was much liked by the English, who would rather
have had him for their king than the unworthy
sovereign they had got, although he would have
had no right to the throne, even if Richard had
been dead. However, he came back to Eng-
land, and finding most of the nobles as well as
the people willing to make him king, Richard
was obliged to resign the crown, and was im-
prisoned in Pomfret castle, where it is supposed
he died by unfair means; but as this is not quite
certain, we will hope it was not so. He had
reigned twenty-two years, when he was deposed,
This usurpation of Henry the Fourth was the
cause of the long civil wars in England, called
the Wars of the Roses, which began in the time
of Henry the Sixth, whose right to the throne
was disputed, although his father and grand-
father had been suffered to reign without opposi-
tion. Henry the Fourth was, on the whole, a
popular monarch, and under his government
things went on pretty well with the generality
of the people.
There was an insurrection in Wales, headed
by a gentleman, named Owen Glendower, who
wished to restore the Welsh to their former in-
dependence, and to be their prince, as he was of
the ancient royal family; and he was joined by
the powerful Earl of Northumberland, and his
son Henry Percy, better known by the name of
Hotspur, who was one of the bravest knights of
the age. These noblemen had a quarrel with
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
the king, and wanted to depose him; but he
gained a victory over them in a battle fought
near Shrewsbury, where Hotspur was killed.
These events are not of much importance, but I
tell them because when you hear any celebrated
characters spoken of, you ought to know who
they were, and when they lived.
The prince of Wales, afterwards Henry the
Fifth, was also celebrated for his valour, but not
for his good behaviour in his youth; for his con-
duct was sometimes so disgraceful that his father
was quite ashamed of him, and nobody would
have supposed he was the son of a king. One
thing he used to do was to go out at night, with
some idle companions, and rob people on the
highway, for amusement; yet he had not a bad
disposition, for once one of the judges sent him
to prison for trying to rescue one of his wicked
companions; and he not only submitted to the
punishment, but when he came to be king, he
treated that judge with great respect and atten-
tion, because he knew he was a just man, and
would punish the rich as well as the poor, if
they did wrong. King Henry the Fourth died
in 1413, in the fourteenth year of his reign.
Henry the Fifth is famed as the conqueror of
France. He went to war with that country, on
the same pretext that Edward the Third did
before; and with better success, for the French
king was at last glad to make peace by agreeing
that Henry should be king of France after his
death. The greatest victory gained by the
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English, was at the battle of Agincourt. King
Henry married the French king's daughter, but
he died soon afterwards, in 1422, having reigned
nine years; and leaving an infant son; and in a
little while the king of France died too, and he
also left a son. Then there was a dispute which
of these princes should be king of France, and
a new war was begun which lasted many years,
during which the English lost all that the
armies of Henry the Fifth had won.
In the mean time the young king, Henry the
Sixth, grew up so weak in mind and sickly in
aody, that he was not able to govern the coun-
try; therefore, his ministers and the queen, a
French princess, named Margaret of Anjou,
had to manage every thing for him.. But many
people did not like the queen, and began to say
that her husband had no right to the throne as
his grandfather was a usurper; but that Richard,
Duke of York, ought to be king of England;
while others said that, as the Parliament had
consented to let the family of the Duke of Lan-
caster reign, it was lawful for them to keep the
crown; and that although king Henry was not
fit for a ruler, the rights of his son, prince Ed-
ward, ought to be protected. The Duke of
York was then governor of Ireland, but when
he heard of these disputes, he came back, and
was placed at the head of the government here,
instead of the queen.
I think you will now quite understand why
there was a civil war in England. Every noble-
HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 89
man in the country took one side or the other,
and the friends of the Duke of York wore a
white rose or ribbon rosette; while those who
supported the king, or House of Lancaster, wore
a crimson one; as people now wear different
coloured ribbons at an election, to show which
party they belong to; and this is why these
wars are called the Wars of the Roses.
Who succeeded Edward the Third?
Who was Wat Tiler, and how was his rebellion occasioned ?
How did the rebels proceed ?
What means were taken to quell the insurrection ?
What were the demands of the rebels?
What was the conduct of Richard on this occasion?
Why were the people in general discontented with the
Who was the earl of Hereford?
How was Richard dethroned, and what became of him ?
What battle was fought in this reign, and why ?
Who was killed in this battle ?
Who succeeded Henry the Fourth?
How did Henry the Fifth distinguish himself?
On what terms was peace made ?
How did this agreement occasion more wars ?
What was the result ?
What was the character of Henry the Sixth?
What gave rise to the Wars of the Roses?
THE WARS OF THE ROSES.
THE civil wars may be said to have lasted
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thirty years, from the first battle at St. Alban's,
in 1455, to the battle of Bosworth, in 1485; for
although there were intervals of peace, the quar-
rel between the houses of York and Lancaster
was not finally settled till the two families were
united by the marriage of Henry the Seventh,
,who was heir of the House of Lancaster, with
Elizabeth, the grand-daughter of Richard, Duke
of York, and heiress of that family.
During that thirty years, the country was, as
you may suppose, in a very unhappy condition.
Every Baron wanted to collect as many men
around him as he could, to defend his castle in
case of siege; so the countrymen left their
rural labours and went to enlist in the service
of this or that nobleman, because they were
sure of getting plenty to eat and drink. Thus
the castle halls were crowded, but the fields
were left without sufficient labourers to plough
and sow them, consequently the crops were
generally bad, and bread was, at times, so dear,
that many poor families could get none at all,
but were obliged to eat herbs and berries that
they found in the woods, which did not nourish
them, so that numbers died of want.
Many battles were fought in different parts of
England, and the queen was present at some of
them, for it was she who conducted the war, as
the king was incapable of so much exertion, and
Margaret could not bear to see her young son
Edward deprived of his birthright. Three vic-
tories had been gained by the Duke of York,.
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
when he was killed at the battle of Wakefield;
but this event did not put an end to the contest,
for his son Edward, who succeeded to his title,
continued the war and, in the end, became king
of England, while poor king Henry was kept a
prisoner in the Tower, where he died in 1471.
Edward owed his success chiefly to the Earl
of Warwick, the richest and most powerful no-
bleman in England, and considered as the last
of the great feudal Barons, for it is said that he
maintained no less than thirty thousand people
at his own expense, who were all ready to devote
their lives to his service. He had a great many
castles in different parts of England, and a
noble mansion in Warwick lane, London, which
still bears that name, although it presents a very
different appearance from what it did when this
mighty Earl lived there like a sovereign prince,
and the place was crowded with his armed re-
Edward had been very well received by the
citizens of London, and crowned, with their con-
sent, long before the death of king Henry. Two
battles were fought soon after his accession to
the throne, one at Towton, the other at Hexham;
and it was after the latter, that a story is told
iow queen Margaret wandered about in a forest
vith her little boy, till they were both half dead
with hunger and fatigue, when she met with a
robber, and, instead of trying to avoid him, told
iim who she was, and begged he would protect
iher child. The man took them to a cave, and
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gave them food and shelter, until he found an
opportunity of getting them on board a vessel
that was going to Scotland.
People were now in hopes there would be
peace; but the new sovereign was so unwise as
to quarrel with the Earl of Warwick, who be-
came his enemy, and resolved to deprive him of
the crown he had helped him to win. Then the
war was begun again, and went on for several
years longer, till Warwick was killed at the
battle of Barnet, on Easter Sunday, 1471, just
ten years after the battle of Towton.
On the day of this battle, queen Margaret,
and her son, prince Edward, then a youth of
eighteen, landed in England, for they had lived
in France some years, and were sadly grieved
at the news of Warwick's defeat and death;
but as they had a great many friends, the queen
determined upon trying another battle, which
was a great pity, for both herself and her son
were made prisoners, and the young prince was
killed in king Edward's tent, for making a
spirited answer to some insulting question put
to him by the haughty monarch. The miser-
able mother was sent to the Tower, where her
husband had just died; but she was afterwards
released, and ransomed by her father; and she
returned to live with him in France, her native
And now, that we have done with the wars,
we may begin to think of something more plea-
sant. Have you ever heard it was in the reign
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
of Edward the Fourth that books were first
printed in England ?
The art of printing, which enables us to have
so many nice books to instruct and amuse us,
had lately been invented in Germany, and was
brought here by an English merchant, named
William Caxton, who went to Cologne, on pur-
pose to learn how to print, and when he came
back, he set up a printing-press in Westminster
Abbey, which, at that time, was a monastery.
We ought to he very much obliged to the clever
person that invented printing; for only think
how very ignorant we should be, and how much
pleasure we should lose, if there were no books
to tell us any thing. There were books, certainly,
before that time; but they were all written, and
it took so long to copy them, that they were very
expensive, so that none but very rich people
could have even a few volumes. Printed books
were also, for a long time, much too dear to be
in general use, but people of rank soon began to
be much better educated than in former times,
and their habits and manners became much
improved in consequence.
Then a great many of the old Norman cas.
tles had been destroyed in the wars, which put
an end, after a time, to the customs of chivalry;
and the nobles, instead of sending their sons to
be brought up for warlike knights, sent them to
Oxford, or Cambridge, to become scholars; or to
Eton College, which had been founded by Henry
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King Edward died in 1483, when his eldest
son, who is called Edward the Fifth, although he
never was really king, was only thirteen years
old; and he, and his younger brother, the Duke
of York, were under the guardianship of their
uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who was a
very bad man. Instead of protecting the father-
less children entrusted to his care, he only
thought how he might take advantage of their
youth to obtain the crown himself; so he sent
them both to the Tower, but not as prisoners,
for it was then used occasionally as a royal resi-
dence, especially in times of public disturbances;
so Richard told the people the boys would be
safe there; but in a little while it was reported
that they were dead, and it was thought he had
caused them to be murdered, which was most
likely the truth, although some people think
they were not put to death, but were kept there
as prisoners for some years.
Richard the Third was not a very bad king,
for he made some laws that were very useful to
the merchants who traded with foreign countries,
and he was the first who thought of having post-
men, or couriers, to carry letters, so that, wicked
as he was, we cannot say he did no good as a
sovereign. The post was, at first, only for go-
vernment letters, and it was a long time before
any arrangements were made for private persons
to correspond by the same means; but this was
done by degrees, and in the time of Oliver
Cromwell, the General Post Office was esta-