Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Half Title
 Britain in the old days
 How the Romans came to Britain
 The story of the captive king
 The story of the brave warrior...
 The coming of the English
 How the English became Christi...
 How the old English people...
 How King Alfred ruled England
 How a Dane came to be King...
 King Canute, the Dane
 The story of the Norman conque...
 The death of the Red King
 The loss of the "White Ship"
 The Normans and how they lived
 Richard the lion-hearted
 The sad story of Little Prince...
 The black prince at the Battle...
 The good queen and the brave...
 How Wat Tyler led a revolt of the...
 Prince Hal and the great victory...
 Brave knights and how they fought...
 Queen Margaret and the robber
 The princes in the tower
 The first English printer
 The story of the "invincible...
 Two famous men who lived in the...
 Death of Charles the First
 How King Charles the Second escaped...
 The story of the great plague in...
 The great fire of London
 The flight of King James the...
 The famous siege of Londonderr...
 Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape
 The black hole of Calcutta
 The brave Lord Nelson
 The Iron Duke and the Battle of...
 Two great inventors
 How Victoria became queen of Great...
 How they fought in the Crimea
 The story of the mutiny in...
 Britain, then and now
 Supplementary notes
 Back Cover

Group Title: Stories from English history : from the earliest times to the present day
Title: Stories from English history
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086419/00001
 Material Information
Title: Stories from English history from the earliest times to the present day
Alternate Title: Short stories from English history
Physical Description: vi, 191, 5 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Blaisdell, Albert F ( Albert Franklin ), 1847-1927 ( Editor )
Ginn and Company ( Publisher )
Athenaeum Press (Boston, Mass.) ( Publisher )
Publisher: Ginn & Company
Athenaeum Press
Place of Publication: Boston ;
Publication Date: c1897
Subject: Kings and rulers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children's stories   ( lcsh )
History -- Juvenile fiction -- Great Britain   ( lcsh )
Children's stories -- 1897   ( lcsh )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1897   ( rbgenr )
Blaisell -- Authors' presentation inscription (Provenance) -- 1897   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1897
Genre: Children's stories
Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
Authors' presentation inscription (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Massachusetts -- Boston
England -- London
Statement of Responsibility: edited for school and home use by Albert F. Blaisdell.
General Note: Publisher's advertisements follow text.
General Note: Baldwin Library copy contains card pasted in: "Compliments of the author."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00086419
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002222284
notis - ALG2521
oclc - 01895778
lccn - 02007811

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    Half Title
        Page vii
    Britain in the old days
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
    How the Romans came to Britain
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    The story of the captive king
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    The story of the brave warrior queen
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    The coming of the English
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
    How the English became Christians
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
    How the old English people lived
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    How King Alfred ruled England
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
    How a Dane came to be King of England
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
    King Canute, the Dane
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
    The story of the Norman conquest
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
    The death of the Red King
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
    The loss of the "White Ship"
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
    The Normans and how they lived
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
    Richard the lion-hearted
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
    The sad story of Little Prince Arthur
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
    The black prince at the Battle of Crecy
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
    The good queen and the brave citizens
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
    How Wat Tyler led a revolt of the common people
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
    Prince Hal and the great victory of Agincourt
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
    Brave knights and how they fought in olden times
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
    Queen Margaret and the robber
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
    The princes in the tower
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
    The first English printer
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
    The story of the "invincible armada"
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
    Two famous men who lived in the days of Queen Elizabeth
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
    Death of Charles the First
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
    How King Charles the Second escaped from his enemies
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
    The story of the great plague in London
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
    The great fire of London
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
    The flight of King James the Second
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
    The famous siege of Londonderry
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
    Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
    The black hole of Calcutta
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
    The brave Lord Nelson
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
    The Iron Duke and the Battle of Waterloo
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
    Two great inventors
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
    How Victoria became queen of Great Britain
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
    How they fought in the Crimea
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
    The story of the mutiny in India
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
    Britain, then and now
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
    Supplementary notes
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

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From a photograph of a painting by Yeames.

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Ebe eatbenmum press





THIS is a book of stories from English history,
edited for school and home use. It is intended to
serve as a supplementary reading book for boys and
girls from ten to fifteen years of age. It consists of
a series of dramatic and notable events in English
history from the earliest time to the present day, care-
fully compiled and rewritten from standard books and
well-known authors.
The material has been arranged in the form of
stories with the intent to arouse a lively interest in
historical reading and a keen desire to know more
about the history of our mother country.
It has been the aim of the editor to furnish in a
readable and connected form a useful and convenient
introduction to more advanced works for young folks
on similar subjects, such as those written by Charles
Dickens, Charlotte M. Yonge, George M. Towle, A. J.
Church, S. R. Gardiner, and others.


It is needless to say that some of the stories, so
far as historical accuracy is concerned, rest upon very
slender foundations. Any discussion of this point
in a book of this kind would be obviously out of
place. It is a curious fact that one of the best
authenticated stories--the well-known story of King
Canute and the rising tide is one of the least
probable. Again, the story of Queen Philippa and
her intercession for the citizens of Calais is given in
detail by Froissart, who was a boy at the time; and
yet there is good reason to doubt its truth. What-
ever semi-mythical character may be attached to these
and other familiar stories in this book does not detract
of course from the pleasure and instruction which they
may afford youthful readers.
These stories, supplemented with various picturesque
anecdotes, are written purposely in an easy and famil-
iar style and in very simple language, with the aim to
attract and hold the attention of young pupils.
A. F. B.
APRIL, 1897.






. 187




Before the Birth of Christ.

A LONG, long time ago, before the English came to
live in England, the country was called Britain,
and the people who then lived in it were called Britons.
Now you must know, and keep in mind, that Britain
in the old days did not look as England does now; and
that the old Britons did not live like the English people
of our day, or dress like them, or speak as they speak.
I am going to tell you about people who lived two
thousand years ago. Think what a long time that is, -
a hundred years before Christ was born!
Now, if you had been living in England two thousand
years ago, what would you have seen? I am sure you
cannot tell me, so I will tell you. You would have seen
the same hills that are to be seen to-day, and the same
valleys, and rivers, and lakes. But little else would
have been as it is now.
You would have seen no busy towns, no quiet, cozy
villages, with their church spires peeping out above the
trees, no farms, no orchards or gardens, no paved streets,


no steam or electric cars, no big cotton mills, and no
network of telegraph wires.
But instead you would have seen great dark forests
spreading far and wide, where the wolf and the bear had
their dens; and broad, still pools where the land was
low; and patches of open country that the plough had
never broken.
Here and there you might have seen a number of
huts made of wickerwork and mud, with no windows
- with only a hole at the top to let out the smoke.
They were built on the edge of some forest, with a ditch
dug round them, or trunks of trees piled up in front of
them to keep out the wild beasts. All the towns they
had were only clusters of such huts.
And how did the people look, you will ask, in those
dim, long-past ages? Well, they were tall and fair; they
had blue eyes and long yellow hair. But they looked
like savages, and lived like savages. They did not
know how to read .or write. Most of them went half-
naked, with only the skins of wild beasts about them;
and they stained their faces, arms, and breasts with a
blue dye to make themselves look fierce.
They made no coins, but used metal rings for money.
They were clever in basket work, as savage people often
are; and they could make a coarse kind of cloth, but
their earthenware was very poor.
For boats they had coracles," or basket-boats, made
of twisted twigs and covered with the skins of animals.


In these they paddled along the rivers to catch fish.
They killed the fish with spears made of wood, or else
caught them with hooks made of bone. Many of their
boats were so light that a man, or even a boy, could
carry one home on his back.
Many of the old Britons were hunters, who lived on
the animals
they slew, I~ .
and on the
wild fruits
that grew in
the woods.
Some of a t
them were
who lived
mostly on
milk and
the flesh of ---
their cattle.

dwelt in the south and were less savage, tilled little
patches of grain, and traded with merchants who now
and then came over from lands beyond the seas.
They made swords of copper mixed with tin; but
these swords were of an awkward shape, and so soft
that a heavy blow would bend them. The Britons
made light shields, short pointed daggers, and spears.


After they had thrown daggers and spears at an enemy,
they jerked them back with a long strip of leather
fastened to the shaft. At the butt end of the spear
or dagger was a rattle which the warrior used to
frighten an enemy's horse.
The ancient Britons, being divided into as many as
thirty or forty tribes, each with its own little king, were
constantly fighting with one another, as savage people
usually do.
They were very fond of horses. They could break
them in and manage them wonderfully well. They
were also very clever in making war-chariots. These
chariots had a large, sharp-curved scythe fastened to
the axle of each wheel, and made much havoc when
driven into the thick of the fight.
While at full speed, the horses would stop at the
driver's word. The men within would leap out, deal
blows about them with their swords, leap on the horses
or upon the pole, spring back into the chariots, and, as
soon as they were safe, the horses would tear away again.
I am sorry to tell you that these old Britons did
not know the true God. They used to worship the
sun and the moon, and held sacred the mistletoe that
grows on the oak tree. Their priests, who were called
Druids, used to teach them that their souls, when they
died, would go into the bodies of beasts ; and that it was
right, and pleasing to their gods, to burn their enemies
whom they took in battle.


These Druids had very great power among the
people. They settled all disputes, and if any man
refused to obey their orders, he was treated as an out-
cast from the tribe. The Druids carried on their wor-
ship in the gloomy shade of oak groves. Sometimes
they put to death great numbers of men and women,
as a religious offering to their gods.
These Druids had great regard for the mistletoe.
Whenr this plant was found growing upon an oak tree,
the chief Druid called all the tribe together on the first
day of the new year, and with much show cut down the
plant with a golden sickle. The mistletoe was then
given away in pieces, to be taken home as a lucky
charm for the new year.
At Christmas time we still like to place this plant
in our houses, and in this way we are put in mind,
when the glad holiday comes, of this old custom of the
Druids. But the mistletoe has a better meaning for
us. Living and bearing fruit in winter, when other
plants seem dead, it reminds us of the life that neither
winter nor time can kill.

55 Years before the Birth of Christ.

ONE bright morning in summer, in the old days
we have been speaking of, a great crowd of
Britons stood on the white chalk cliffs of Kent. Every
now and then they looked across the narrow seas
towards France, or Gaul, as it was called at that time.
It was plain that they were making ready for a battle.
Every man was half-naked, his breast and arms and
face painted with new war-paint, and a weapon of some
sort in his hand. Some had clubs, some had spears,
some had flint-headed darts to throw at their foes, and a
few of them had long blunt swords and round shields
of basket work with which to guard their bodies.
Most of them were on foot, but a few rode on horse-
back; and there were some who stood up in low
wooden chariots drawn by two horses. These war-
chariots, you will remember, had a sharp scythe fast-
ened to the axle of each wheel, which cut down men
as a mower cuts down grass.
But why were the Britons standing on the cliffs this
bright summer morning? Why did they keep looking
over the sea toward Gaul ? Let me tell you. A vessel
had come in with the startling news that a Roman
army, which had been fighting against the Gauls, was
coming across the sea to conquer Britain.


The news roused the country like a trumpet blast.
Julius Caesar, a brave and skillful general, who had con-
quered wherever he fought-Caesar was coming to
invade Britain!
Men sprang to their horses. Through the forests
and over the hills, from one hamlet to another, they
rode shouting their war-cry and calling the people to
arms. Before long not a man was to be seen in the
grainfields. The women and children stayed at home
and took care of the cattle.
The news which the vessel had brought was indeed
true. The Britons soon spied, far out at sea, a number
of black specks that looked, at first, like a flock of sea-
gulls. But as they came nearer and nearer, the Britons
saw that they were Roman ships, full of Roman sol-
diers, whose bright brass helmets and brass breast-
plates flashed in the summer sun.
Before the prows of the Roman ships could touch
the beach, the Britons dashed into the sea, and with
savage war-shouts flung their darts at the Romans.
For a while the Romans, though brave and fearless,
dared not leave their ships. But at last a soldier
who carried the Roman standard -a small golden
eagle on a staff -leaped into the waves, and called out
to his comrades, Follow me "
Then the Romans leaped into the sea; for no
Roman soldier dared to leave the eagle in the hands
of the foe, or he would be put to death in his own


land. Grasping their short, sharp swords, and raising
their great shields to keep off the darts, they rushed in a
long, solid line up the beach.
The poor, naked savages fought like lions, but they
were no match for the brave and well-drilled soldiers
of Rome. Before the close of that summer day, the
sand on the sea beach was strewn with the dead and
the dying; the Britons had been driven back to their
woods. But they were not yet beaten.
From their forest homes they watched the enemy;
and, fighting in war-chariots, on horseback or on foot,
they constantly cut off small parties and lonely camps.
If armies fought, the dreaded chariots of the Britons
swept like the rush of a torrent through the Roman
ranks, leaving behind them a path of dead bodies.
Once, when some Roman soldiers went out to reap
grain, the Britons fell upon them so suddenly that few
Caesar had to bring over more soldiers and fight
many more battles, before the Britons gave in, and were
forced to call the Romans their masters. It was agreed
that the Britons should pay a yearly sum of money to
Soon after Caesar went back to Gaul, very glad,
no doubt, to leave a country where little was to be
had, except by hard fighting. He never came back to
Britain, but after this time the island became much
better known to the rest of the world.

50 Years after the Birth of Christ.

W E have seen that Caesar soon went away from.
Britain. Almost a hundred years after, the
Romans came again with ships and with a great
number of soldiers. Again the Britons fought bravely
for their country.
Among the. British chiefs in those days; one stands
out in fame above all the rest. His name was Caracta-
cus. He was a brave warrior, and he dearly loved his
country. His bravery, skill, and courage were talked
about all over the island, and his fame reached even
as far as the city of Rome itself.
The Romans hoped to kill him in battle, or to take
him prisoner, for they knew that while he was alive
and free, the conquest of the land would not be easy.
For nine long years he struggled against the Romans,
and gave them blow-for blow; but he was driven back
at last into the hill country of the west.
There is a high hill in the west of England with a
swift river flowing at its foot, which the'people to this
day call "The Camp of Caractacus." Here the brave
chief fought his last battle. One day his little band of
Britons -all that was now left to him--was standing
on this hill, when they saw a great Roman army march-
ing up the valley. The Romans were ten to one; but


the British king drew up his men behind walls of earth
and loose stones, and called on them to defend their
homes and their native land with the last drop of
their blood. "Conquer the Romans," he cried, "or
they will make you slaves."
The Romans came up, dashed across the river, and
made a rush up the hillside. The Britons flung their
darts at them as they came on. But the Roman sol-
diers lifted their shields above their heads, and put
them side by side, making a sort of a roof of them;
so that the darts struck the shields and bounded off,
as you have sometimes seen the hailstones, bound off a
roof in a pelting storm.
There was a fierce hand-to-hand fight on the hilltop,
but it was soon over. The blunt swords of the Britons
were useless against the brass armor and the shields
of the Romans, who thrust their sharp steel blades
into the half-naked bodies of their enemies, stabbing
them through and through.
The Britons were beaten, and the heroic chief and
his wife and daughter fell into the hands of the Romans.
Then they were put in chains and sent to Rome as
captives. It was a custom of the Romans, when they
took noble captives in battle, to lead them through their
city, and make a great show of them in long procession
before putting them to death.
So the British king with a train of captives, was
led in triumph through the streets of Rome. People


crowded the streets and windows and housetops to
catch a sight of him, for all of them had heard of the
tall blue-eyed savage who had beaten the best soldiers
of Rome in many a hard-fought battle.


When the proud captive king saw marble temples
and rich palaces on every side of him, he could not help
saying, "Why should these Romans, who have such


grand houses at home, wish to rob me of my lowly
hut in Briton?"
The captives were led before the ruler of the Romans,
the Emperor Claudius, who sat on his throne in the
open air; and, as they came near him, they lifted up
their chained hands and wept and cried aloud for
mercy,-all but Caractacus. He stood erect; and no
proud Roman in the crowd around the throne looked
more fearless than he.
Briton," said the emperor in surprise, "knowest
thou not that thou must die? All who bear arms
against Rome, as thou hast done, are doomed to death."
"Torn from my home and robbed of freedom,"
replied Caractacus, "I have nothing now to live for;
nor do I fear death more here than on the field of
Struck with his noble bearing, the emperor made
up his mind to grant, him his life.
"Thou shalt not die," he said. "Thou art free.
Rome is able to forgive a brave enemy."
The Roman soldiers at once struck off his chains,
and from that day Caractacus was free.
"Some of the old books tell us that Caractacus went
back to Britain, and was made a prince under the
Romans; but nothing more is really known about
him than what I have told you. No one knows
whether his great heart broke and he died in Rome,
or if he ever returned to his own dear country.

61 Years after the Birth of Christ.

N the eastern part of Britain there lived, in the old
days of which I am telling you, a British queen
named Boadicea. She was the widow of a king who had
ruled over a large and warlike tribe. The Roman
general who commanded in Britain at this time had
gone to the other side of the island to attack the
Druids. In his place he left an officer-a cruel man
who hated the Britons.
This cruel officer tried to force Boadicea to give up
her land to him; and, because she would not, he ordered
her to be publicly beaten with rods. So the proud
queen was scourged in the presence of the. Romans,
and her two daughters were also most cruelly treated.
When Boadicea was set free, she called upon the
Britons to rise and fight against the Romans. So they
gathered at her bidding by tens of thousands.
Standing in her chariot, with her long yellow hair
streaming in the wind, a large golden collar on ler
neck, a loose mantle fastened by a clasp on her breast,
she poured forth fierce and fiery words to the warriors
around her.
Know you," she cried, "what these bloodthirsty
Romans have done to your queen? If you are men, you


will rise and sweep these invaders from our shores!
Me, a Briton queen, they scourged in the presence of
their hired legions -me they marked with their cruel
whips Rise, Britons, fight for your queen and your
homes or be forever slaves!"
The savage Britons answered their queen with furious
shouts and with the
clash of the swords
and shields. She led
Them against the en-
', II emy and routed the
;7:' Roman army with
n. ^'" great slaughter. Then
s.- she turned against
I.' three Roman cities,
Sand put every man,
Woman, and child to
,' ',' } the sword. Seventy
S thousand of them were
slain. The land ran
with Roman blood;
and it seemed as if the Britons were once more to hold
the island as their own.
But when the news came to the chief Roman general,
he hurried back with his men, and fell upon the British
tribes. The brave but unskilled Britons went down
before the short heavy swords of the Romans like grain
before the scythe of the reaper. Boadicea herself, when


she saw all her hopes gone, and nothing but a life of
slavery before her, took poison and died, we are told,
rather than fall into the hands of the victor.
In spite of all that the brave Britons could do, the
Romans made themselves masters of the country. They
kept many thousands of soldiers in it, and ruled it for
nearly four hundred years. At the end of that time
they took away their officers and soldiers, because these
were needed in their own land. So Britain once more
was left to itself.
Under the rule of the Romans, the Britons lost their
freedom; but they learned.. a great deal from their
masters. They learned to build good houses and fine
roads, to have better clothes, and to live very much
more comfortably than they did before the Romans
Often, even now, when men are digging in England,
they find things that were used by the Romans in
these old times,-rusty coins, pieces of plate from
which they ate, of goblets from which they drank, of
pavements on which they trod. The wells which the
Romans dug give water yet;- and the roads which they
made are highways still.
In some old battlefields, British spearheads and
Roman armor have been found, mingled together in
decay, as they fell in the thick of the fight. Traces of
Roman camps overgrown with grass, and of mounds
that are the burial-places of heaps of Britons, are to be


seen in many parts of the country. Across the black
moors, those dreary plains in the north of England,
the old flattened ridge of the Roman wall, overrun with
moss and weeds, still stretches, a strong ruin; and the
shepherds and their dogs lie sleeping on it as they tend
their flocks in the long summer afternoons.
English oaks have grown up from acorns, and with-
ered away, when they were hundreds of years old,- and
other oaks have sprung up in their places, and died too,
centuries old,-since the fearless captive king and the
heroic warrior queen fought so bravely for their native


About 450 Years after the Birth of Christ.

AS I have told you, the Romans were forced at last
to leave Britain, after having been there nearly
four long centuries. Word was brought to them that
hordes of savage tribes, were marching through their
own fair, sunny country of Italy, and that the proud city
of Rome itself was in danger. So their armies had to
leave Britain.
In a short time there were no Roman soldiers left
in any part of Britain. The Romans had scarcely gone
away from the country when their enemies wished they
had never left it. The truth is these Britons were not
so brave as their fathers had been, and they had never
been taught to fight.
So when they were left to themselves, the fierce, wild
tribes in the north, called Picts and Scots, came swarm-
ing into the country, burning the houses, trampling
down the grainfields, and driving the Britons back into
the woods.
The Romans had built two strong walls across the
northern part of the country. But as there were no
soldiers to man these walls, they were no barrier to the
wild Picts and the hardy Scots, who poured over them
in greater and greater numbers.


In the south, fierce bands of coast pirates roved the
seas, now landing here, now landing there, and taking
away with. them grain and cattle, as much as their ships
could hold.
In their distress the Britons sent a letter to their old
masters, the Romans, asking for help.
This letter is called the groans of the Britons." It
says: The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea
drives us back to the barbarians, -between them we
are exposed to two kinds of death; we are either killed
or drowned." But no help came from the Romans;
they had their own troubles, and were too busy fighting
against their own enemies. This led the Britons to
look to others for help.
Now these bold rovers of the sea that I have just told
you about were our own English forefathers. The
Romans knew -them very well, and feared them too.
They called them sea-wolves, sea-dogs, and sea-robbers.
They came from the forests of Jutland Denmark we
call it now and from the German coast near the
mouth of the river Elbe.
The Britons called them Saxons, but they, for the
most part, called themselves Angles, or English.
Like the Britons, they were a brave and fearless
race, fond of fighting and very fond of the sea. They
were tall sturdy fellows, with long yellow hair, blue eyes,
and ruddy faces ; true as steel to their friends, but fierce
and cruel to their enemies.


Every warrior had his keen-pointed dagger, a tall
spear, a huge battle-axe, and a sharp sword, all of good
iron. They had also bows and arrows, and some of
them carried a large, heavy hammer spiked with iron.
No helmet was proof against this fearful weapon. But
how came these Angles, or English, to live in England,
and. how came the land to be called Angleland, or Eng-
land? Let me tell you.
One day when the savage Scots were ravaging the
land, three ships full of English warriors, in strong
leather helmets and coats made of iron rings, were
seen cruising off the coast. When the British king
heard of it, he sent word to the sea-robbers that if they
would land upon the coast and help him drive back
the Scots, he would give them a part of the country
called Kent to live in.
So the English warriors came under their two chiefs,
Hengist and Horsa, and drove back the Scots, and set-
tled in England. But when they had beaten the Scots,
the English liked the country so well that they made up
their, minds to stay, and so used their swords against
the Britons themselves, and took the whole of Kent
from them, and made Hengist their king.
Let me now tell you a story of Hengist's beautiful,
fair-haired daughter whose name was said to be Row-
ena. It was at a feast that the British king Vortigern
saw her. The lovely girl filled a bright, golden goblet
with wine, and, smiling sweetly on the Briton, handed

rf f



it to him, with the words, "Dear king, I wish you
S She was so charming that Vortigern fell in love
with her on the spot, and wanted to marry her at once;
and he did marry her. Afterwards, when the Angles
began to attack the Britons again and to take their
land from them, Vortigern used to be very angry.
But when he was going to punish them, Rowena
begged him to be kind to her people, and spare them
for her sake, softly saying, Dear king, they are my
people Be kind to them, as you loved that Saxon girl
who gave you the golden goblet of wine at the feast!"
He always listened to her, and the Angles soon
became stronger and stronger in Britain, and gained
more and more of Vortigern's land. At last the poor
British chief lost his whole kingdom and was put in
prison, where he .died.
By and by more English sea-kings came over, landed
in other parts of the country, drove the poor Britons
away, and settled upon their lands. In this way, inch by
inch, the Britons were driven back and back from east
to west, till, in the end, they had only the mountains
left to live in; and there they have lived ever since.
The country they live in is now called Wales.
In a hundred years after the landing of Hengist and
Horsa, the Angles, or English, were masters of Britain,
and it has been called Angleland, or England, from
that day to this.


About 6oo Years after the Birth of Christ.

WHEN the English first settled in England they
were still heathen, and did not believe in the true
God. They used to worship the sun and the moon,
and other pagan gods, and even springs and trees,
the sea and the lightning.
One of the gods was Thor, the thunder god, whose
hammer they thought they heard in the thunder-clap.
Another was Woden, the great god of war, who, they
said, was the father of their kings. The English named
the days of the week after their gods. Thus Sunday
meant the Sun's day, Monday the Moon's day, Wednes-
day was Woden's day, and Thursday was the day of the
thunder god, Thor.
It was a strange, wild, warlike sort of faith. They
thought that only those who died in battle would be
happy forever with the gods, and that in heaven they
would hunt or fight all day, and have as much boar's
flesh and ale as they could eat and drink. When
a chief died they buried him in full armor, and laid
his sword and his spear beside him. They also slew
his favorite horse and his dog, and placed their bodies
near his, believing that they would be of use to him
in the other world.


One thing the Saxons loved above all others, and
that was freedom. They did not give their chiefs
very great power. No chief nor king could make a new
law. They loved justice, and they set each man to
watch every other, so that he should do no wrong.
If any one did wrong and ran away, all the people in
each town had to pay a fine. They were thus sure to
watch that no wrong-doer escaped.
In the place of this worship of pagan gods was
slowly to come the gospel that told these fierce war-
riors of peace and good will to all mankind. The
mountains, the rivers, and ancient oaks were soon to
echo back the worship of the true God, and not to
remain the objects of idolatry. I will now tell you of an
incident that paved the way for it.
Though the Saxons loved freedom for themselves,
*we are sorry to say that, like most other people of their
time, they had many slaves. When a Saxon noble had
more people on his land than he needed, or more slaves
than he could find food for, he would take some of the
boys and girls and sell them as slaves to the people of
other countries.
In this way English boys and girls were sent even
as far as Rome to be sold as slaves. When they
reached the Imperial City, they were taken to the slave
market and offered for sale. Trembling and frightened
the captive children stood, feeling as we would feel if
we found ourselves in a strange place with no one to


care for us, and not knowing one word of the language
the people around us were speaking.
One day some English boys who had. been carried
off as slaves, were standing in the market-place at
Rome, waiting for some one to buy them, when a kind-
hearted monk named Gregory came walking by. When
he saw their sweet, fair faces, their blue eyes, and their
golden hair, his heart was moved with pity for the
children. He asked a keen-eyed merchant of what
nation they were.
He was answered, They are Angles." They should
be angels," said Gregory, "for they have the faces of
angels." Then he asked what country they came from;
and when they told him, he said, The praises of God
shall some day be sung in that land."
Years went on, and the good monk became the Pope
of Rome; but he did not forget the poor slave children.
When he heard that an English king of Kent had
married a Christian princess, named Bertha, he sent a
monk named Augustine, with forty other monks, to go
and preach the gospel to the English. The monks
landed in Kent; then they sent word to the king,
telling him why they had come.
King Ethelbert said he would hear what they had
to say, but he dared not let them into his house for fear
they might bewitch him. So he sat on his throne
under an oak tree; and the monks, marching two by
two over the green fields, bearing a silver cross and


a banner of the Saviour, came before him, singing as
they came.
When Ethelbert had heard all they had to say about
the true God, he said to them, Your words and prom-
ises seem fair, but they are new and strange to me, and
I cannot at once
give up the gods ,"
of my fathers.
But youmaystay
in this land, and
I will give you
food and shelter;
and if any man
will believe as
you believe, I
will let him."
And he gave them his
own house to live in; and
also gave them a church near
it, which had been built in the
time of the Romans. GREGORY AND THE ENGLISH
time of the Romans. SLAVE-BOYS.
So the monks stayed in Kent,
and preached the gospel; and after a time, King Ethel-
bert and many of his people became Christians. From
Kent the faith spread and spread; and one hundred
years after the landing of Augustine, all England had
become Christian. So the worship of Thor and Woden
passed away; and the "little angels" in the market-


place of Rome thus became the messengers of a higher
and a nobler faith.
We must, however, remember that many years before
the time of Augustine, soldiers and merchants who
came from the Continent began to introduce Chris-
tianity into Britain. Scarcely anything is known of its
progress in the island. There is no doubt that in
different parts of the country rude churches were built
and other sacred structures were erected, in which the
people kept up a regular worship.


About the Time of King Alfred.

H OW did England look during old English times?
How did the people live? Let me tell you.
The greater part of the country was still covered with
forests, and a very small part of the land was under
cultivation. Yet enough of barley and wheat seems
to have been grown to meet the wants of the people.
The forests still swarmed -with wild animals, such as
the wolf, boar, deer, fox, hare, and rabbit.
At the head of the old English people stood the
king. In early times he did not have much power, but
as the various tribes became united and formed one
nation, the power of the king began to increase.
To keep the king in proper state, great tracts of land
were given to him, and he had certain rights in the
forests, woods, and mines. When he traveled with his
household he had food and shelter free of expense, for
himself and his servants, at all places where he stopped.
When a king was crowned, all the people above
twelve years of age took an oath to be obedient to him.
The king in turn took an oath that he would treat all
his subjects with kindness and justice, whatever their


The people were divided into two great classes,-
freemen and slaves. The freemen were divided into
two kinds. The first were men of the highest rank.
They were either descended from princes, or had great
property, or had done great service to the king. These
nobles, when not at war with each other, spent their
time in hunting and hawking.
The second class of freemen were the men who culti-
vated the land, or worked at trades in the towns. They
generally lived on the lands of some lord, that is, a
man of the first class. From these lands they could not
remove, nor could they be turned away so long as they
paid rent.
The lowest division of the English people were
slaves. They belonged entirely to their masters, just
as a horse or a cow does at the present day. The
master of a slave could kill him if he liked, and there
was no one to call him to account. If a slave ran
away he could be chased like a wild beast, and if
caught, flogged to death; or if a woman slave ran away
she might be burned to death.
Sometimes a kindly master would give his slaves their
freedom or, if a slave could earn money enough he
might buy his freedom. Thus King Alfred, when he
died, ordered in his will that all his slaves should be
set free.
The English slaves had to watch the sheep and
cattle and look after the large herds of swine that


were taken to the forests to feed upon beechnuts and
Large numbers of sheep were raised, and the country
exported much wool. The chief crops were wheat,
barley, rye, and oats. Orchards were abundant, and
great numbers of beehives were kept. A drink known
as mead was made from honey.
The principal food of the poor was bacon and barley
bread. The rich ate wheaten bread. Fish was also
largely eaten. From the fens, or marshy pools, were
taken an immense number of eels. Salmon were plenti-
ful in the rivers, while on the sea coast herring were
taken in large quantities.
In the houses of the great men was a large room or
hall, with a long table in the center. At the end of the
hall was a raised platform on which there was another
table. At this sat the lord and his family, while the
servants sat at the lower table according to their rank.
The old English people had knives, but no forks.
Joints of meat were handed round on spits, or iron
rods on which the meat was supported over the fire
to roast; and each person carved for himself. The
bones were tossed on the floor to the dogs.
The men were not only great eaters, but great drink-
ers, and large quantities of mead and ale were used at
their feasts, and drunkenness was very common. In
very early English times the tables in the halls were
removed at night, and the men slept on the floor; but


in later times beds were used. These were sacks filled
with straw or other soft materials.
The houses of the poor were built of mud and
thatched with straw; stonework was used only in the
building of castles and churches.
The men wore a shirt and a kind of frock which
came down to the knee. This was probably the origin
of the smock frock, still worn in some of the country
districts of England. They had long stockings fitting
rather tight to the legs, leather shoes, and a belt around
the waist. Their hair was long, and they had long
beards and mustaches. The women wore long, loose
garments which reached to the ground. Men and
women wore necklaces, bracelets, and rings. The
women of rank were very clever at needlework, and
were also skilled in spinning and weaving wool.


Born 849, died gox. Reigned 30 Years.
I MUST tell you now of the good King Alfred, the
wisest, the bravest, and the best of all the English
kings. I am sure you will like to read about, him,
for his goodness, wisdom, and bravery earned for him
the name of Great. In English history he is always
known as King Alfred the Great. His father was
King Ethelwulf, and his mother's name was Osburgh.
There is a story about Alfred's mother which you
will like to know. The little prince was taught to hunt
and ride and shoot with bow and arrows before he was
taught to read. But his mother used to read to him
the old English songs which told of the brave deeds of
his forefathers, and Alfred loved to sit at her feet and
listen to them.
An old writer tells us that the queen had a book of
songs with beautiful pictures in it, and letters richly
painted in gold. One day, calling her three boys to
her, she said, "I will give this pretty book to the one
who can read it first." Will you indeed, mother?"
said Alfred, who was the youngest. "Yes, dear boy,
I will," said the queen.
Then Alfred went at once and:found a master, and
sat down to study the book day after day, until he could


read it through. So he won it as his prize, and was
proud of it all his life.
Alfred was a young man twenty-three years old when
he came to the throne. But hard days were in store
for the young king. Fierce bands of sea-robbers called
Danes, or Northmen, had for many years been making
ivar upon the English. They came from Denmark,
Norway, and the countries near by. They belonged
to the same race as the Angles and Saxons of three or
four centuries before, and spoke' almost the same
They were strong, brave, and venturesome, and loved
to sail over the seas in their long, black ships. They
laughed at the wind and the storm, and boastfully called
themselves sea-kings, because they thought they were
masters of the mighty deep.
At first when they came, these fierce sea-rovers used
to land on some lonely coast or sail up some quiet
river and steal grain and cattle and go away. But after
a time they came in swarms, drove the people from their
homes, and took their lands and settled upon them.
When Alfred became king, the Danes had settled
in the north and east of England, and were trying to
conquer the whole kingdom. So the young king had
to fight them. For some years he kept them in check
gnd beat them in many a battle.
One night when the English were feasting, the
Danes burst in upon them and slew a great many.


King Alfred with a little band fled for safety to a lonely
spot, and there, among marshes and woods, he hid him-
self till he could muster an army .to lead against the
Danes. He was almost in despair. He wandered
about in the woods, and agreed to work for a peasant
if he would give him food and a bed of straw.
One day, so the story runs, the cotter's wife, leaving
the hut, told the king
to watch and turn the
cakes which were bak-
ing on the hearth.
Alfred sat down beside h
the fire, mending his
bow and sharpening
his arrows, all the
time thinking and plan-
ning how he could free c s
his country from the
Danes. He would beat
them yet he felt certain.
While he was thus musing, the good woman came
back and stood beside him. "What have you done
with my cakes ?" she cried, angrily. Every one of
them is burnt. You'd have been glad enough to eat
them." Alfred smiled and begged her pardon. The
woman little thought that her careless servant was her
One day, as King Alfred was in a shepherd's cot


thinking how he could overcome the Danes, one of his
trusty spies came running to him with good news.
Some of the Danes had been beaten back in trying to
land on the west coast, and their black, raven flag had
been taken by the English. This was good news
The raven flag, I must tell you, was a famous banner
that had been woven by the daughter of a great Danish
sea-king. It was thought to have magic power. The
Danes said they could tell by the way the raven held
its wings whether they were to win or lose a battle.
So you may be sure that the Danes were downhearted
when their raven banner was lost; and the English
were in high spirits, and felt sure that better days were
King Alfred now came out from his hiding-place.
He was very cheerful and full of hope. He felt that
this was the time to strike a blow at the Danes. So
he dressed himself as a minstrel, took his harp with him
and stole by night into the Danish camp. He could
play well upon the harp, and the Danish king, Gothrun,
and his soldiers were much pleased with him, and urged
him to play for them while they drank and sang and
made merry.
But all the time Alfred kept his eyes and ears open.
He strolled about the camp for two or three days,
counting the Danish soldiers, and seeing what were
their strong points and what were their weak ones.




When he had learned all that he wished, he stole back
to his hiding-place, and sent word to all the men
of the west to meet him on a certain day in the forest.
Then he led them against the Danes, and there was a
great battle fought. The Danes were badly beaten,
and had to beg for peace.
King Alfred granted them peace on these terms:
they were to march out of the west country, and settle
down quietly in the east, and become Christians and
live as English subjects. And this they did. The
Danish king, Gothrun, was baptized, and King Alfred
was his godfather. Then the Danish king went, with
all his men, to live in the eastern part of the country.
He always looked up to King Alfred as his master, and
was a good friend to him ever after.
The good king now took steps to make his kingdom
strong and happy. He built stone forts and castles.
He also took care to see that all his fighting men were
well drilled, and ready at any time to turn out at the
call of danger. He made war-ships of such size and
speed that the roving Danes would not dare to meet
them in battle. Thus England was made safe and
strong on land and on sea. Alfred was the first English
king who defeated the dreaded Danes at sea.
King Alfred having made his kingdom peaceful, then
tried to make his people happy by framing good and
just laws. He took every care that his judges should
rightly carry them out, and do all in their power to


protect the poor. All who stole or did wrong were
punished severely.
King Alfred built schools and hired learned men
from other countries to come over and teach in them.
He himself even taught in the schools; and he turned
many of the old Latin books into English, so that his
people could read them easily.
Alfred let no man be idle, and was never idle him-
self. He set himself a task for every hour of the day;
and as there were no clocks then, he used to mark his
time by the burning of candles. He had them made all
of the same size so that they would burn for four hours.
He put these into lanterns made of thin horn, for the
art of making glass had been forgotten. He burnt six
of them every day, so that he could always tell pretty
nearly what time it was.
This great and good king did not live to be a very old
man. He died in the year 901, after a glorious and most
useful reign of twenty-nine years. He suffered during
nearly all of his life from an ailment which caused him
severe pain, but still he went bravely on, working for
his people. Though it is nearly a thousand years since
he died, yet the name of Alfred the Great is as dear to
the English people as if he had died but yesterday. He
fully deserves the titles given him by the old writers,
who speak of him as "the wisest man of his time, and
the darling of the English people."

Ethelred reigned from 979 to zxo6.

A HUNDRED years had come and gone since the
days of the good King Alfred; and there sat on
the throne of England a king named Ethelred. Now
Ethelred was a poor, weak, good-for-nothing king. He
was always doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.
When the right time came he was never ready, and so
men gave him the nickname of Ethelred the Unready.
In his day, as in the days of King Alfred, Danish
pirates came sailing over the sea and made war upon
the English. They set fire to villages along the coast;
they robbed the churches and abbeys; they stole from
the farmers their wheat and cattle, and those who
resisted them were cruelly slain or carried away and
sold as slaves.
I have told you that Ethelred was a weak king. I
am sorry to add that he was a bit of a coward as well ;
for instead of fighting the Danes as King Alfred had
done, he gave. them money to go away. But you may
be sure, they soon came back again; and every time
they came, the king had to give them more money to
get rid of them, for he was never ready to offer them


At last Ethelred made up his mind to do a cruel and
terrible deed, the like of which was never done on
English soil before or since. You know already that, at
one time and another, a great many Danes had settled
in England. Some were hardy fishermen, some were
quiet farmers, others were busy tradesmen; and most
of them were honest, hard-working, harmless people.
Now King Ethelred sent word in secret that the
English, on a certain day, were to rise up and murder
these Danes. And when the day came, every Dane
that could be found, young and old, soldiers and babies,
men and women, was put to the sword.
Among those who fell was a fair and noble lady
named Gunhild. Though she was own sister to Sweyn,
king of Denmark, her noble birth did not save her.
She saw her dear husband and her darling boy dragged
out and slain before her eyes. She told her murderers
with her dying lips that her brother of Denmark would
avenge her death. And so he did. When the news
flew to Denmark that Gunhild had been slain, King
Sweyn, of the forked beard," swore to pluck the crown
from the brow of Ethelred.
He raised an army and a mightier fleet of ships than
ever yet had sailed to England. In all his army there
was not a slave or an old man, but every soldier was a
free man and the son of a free man and in the prime of
life. All had sworn to be avenged upon the English
people for this cruel deed.

- "


\ -I-


So the sea-kings came to England in many great
ships, each bearing the flag of its own captain. Golden
eagles, ravens, dragons, dolphins, beasts of prey threat-
ened England from the prows of those ships, as they
came onward through the water and threw their grim
shadows upon the waves.
The ship of Sweyn, the king, was long and shaped
somewhat like a serpent, and was called the Great
Dragon." For three years the Danes carried fire and
sword from one end of the land to the other; their
path could be traced by ruined churches, burnt villages,
and all the horrors of a bloody war.
There was but one man of note in these wretched
times who was true to his country and to the feeble king.
He was a priest, and a brave one. For twenty years
the Archbishop of Canterbury defended his city.against
the Danes.
At last, when a traitor in the town threw the gates
open and admitted the enemy, he said: I will not buy
my life with money that must be wrested from the
suffering people. Do with me what you please !"
Again and again, he steadily refused to buy his release
with gold wrung from the poor. After, a time the
Danes lost all patience, and having met at a drunken
merrymaking, had him brought into the feasting hall.
Now, Bishop," they said, we want gold !" He looked
around on the crowd of angry faces, from the shaggy
beards close to him to the shaggy beards against the


walls, where men stood on tables to see him over the
heads of the others; and he knew that his time was
I have no gold," said he.
"Get it, Bishop!" they all thundered.
That, I have often told you, I will not," said he.
They crowded around him, threatening violence; but
the brave priest stood unmoved. Then one man struck
him; then another; at last a cruel soldier killed the
noble old man with his battle-axe. Oh, but it was a
pitiful deed!
Now Sweyn had a son, a famous warrior, named
Canute; and Ethelred, too, had a son, so hardy and
brave that they called him Edmund Ironside. So
Canute and Ironside -for Ethelred had fled across the
seas-fought for the kingdom. It was a hard fight;
the men of the east sided with Irbnside, and the men
of the west with Canute.
Oh, unhappy England, what cruel days were these!
At last Ironside, who was a big man, proposed to
Canute, who was a little man, that they should fight in
single combat. If Canute had been the big man, he
would probably have said Yes," but being a little man,
he said decidedly "No." However, he said he was
willing to share the kingdom with Ironside. This was
done, and both were glad, for both were tired of so
much bloodshed.


Canute reigned from o106 to 1035.

NOT long after the fierce contest we have just read
about, King Edmund died. Canute alone ruled
the land. He was a cruel king, and used to say to his
fighting men: He who brings me the head of an enemy
shall be dearer to me than a brother." And he was
so severe in hunting down his enemies that he must
have had a pretty large family of these dear brothers.
After the land was at peace he treated his people
more kindly and made wise and just laws. In fact, the
people were better off under their Danish king than if
he had been an Englishman like themselves. They
learned to like him so much that they very willingly
followed him in his foreign wars, and with their help he
made himself master of Norway and Sweden. He thus
became a very powerful monarch, ruling over four coun-
tries, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and England.
But as Canute grew older, he felt very sorry for
having shed so much blood and wasted so much land,
so he made up his mind to go to Rome and ask for
pardon. To show his sorrow he went on foot all the
way, with a staff in his hand and a pack on his back.
When he returned his friends were very fond of
flattering him and of telling him how great a king he


was. Once one of them said: "You are the king of
kings and the .lord of the sea as well as of the land."
Canute said nothing at the time.
One day, as he was walking by the seashore and his
Friends were talking in this
S, .j \\av', he ordered a chair to be
i brought and placed at the
edge of the waves at the time
S when the tide was rising.
The king took his seat
S' in the chair
while his
S_ courtiers,
S_. stood round,
--- and he said
Sc o m- to the waves:
Se The land on
: which I sit
belongs to
7- me; and as
for you, O
your lord and master also. I command you, therefore,
to come no nearer, nor dare to wet my feet!"
But the tide, heeding not, came dashing on, and in a
little while had washed over the feet of Canute and his
nobles. Then Canute turned to these foolish flatterers
and said: You now see that I am not master of the


waves. Learn, then, that the power of kings is as
nothing to the power of God! He alone rules in
heaven, in earth, and on the sea."
The courtiers hung their heads, looked foolish, and
said nothing. From that day, it is said, Canute wore
his crown no more. We can almost see them all on
the seashore together,-the king in good humor with
his own wisdom, and the courtiers quite overcome by it.
King Canute built up the churches and abbeys which
his fathers had burned. He was fond of making
visits to the holy places. But of all the abbeys which
the king raised up, he loved none so well as Ely; and
he often went there on the great feast days of the year.
The abbey of Ely stood on an island amid the marshes,
and the king could get there only by water.
One evening as he was rowed to the abbey, the chant
of the monks, singing their evening hymn, floated
sweetly over the quiet waters; and as it fell upon the
king's ears, his heart was so glad that he began to sing.
He made the song himself; and this is how it ran:
Merry the monks of Ely sing
As by them rows Canute, the king;
Row, men, to the land more near,
That we these good monks' songs may hear."
Other verses followed, and were often sung in after
years by the monks of Ely, who told with pride of the
many gifts which the king had given them in memory
of that day.


Another time it was winter when the king and his
men set out for Ely. The water was frozen, but no one
-was sure that the ice would bear. While the king and
those with him stood in doubt, up came a country-fellow
who was so fat that the people near Ely called him
Are you afraid to cross ?" said Pudding. Let me
go before the king."
Do !" said the king, and I will follow you. You
are a big and heavy man, I am small and light; and
what will bear you will surely bear me."
So Pudding crossed over, and the king gave him a
good slice of land for his pains.
Canute liked to be flattered. A poor poet had made
a song in his praise, but it was very short. Because it
was so short the king could hardly be kept from putting
the poet to death.
The Danish king was very fond of hunting, and
wanted to have for himself all the hunting in the land.
So he had laws made which kept other men from kill-
ing the wild animals. Such laws are called Game
Laws, or Forest Laws. In Canute's time, if any free
Englishman killed a stag, he was put in -prison. If a
serf or slave did so, he was put to death.
After the death of Canute, two of his sons sat in
turn on the English throne; but they ruled so badly,
that the English people wished to have one of the
sons of Ethelred for their king.



In the Year io66.

WE have told you how Canute, the Dane, became
king of England. His sons, too, were kings of
England; but when they died the crown came back to
Ethelred's son, King Edward the Good.
But King Edward had no children, so at his death
the wise men of the nation had to choose a king. They
chose the wisest and bravest man in all the land-
Earl Harold -and made him their king.
But there was another man who wanted to be king.
This was William, duke of Normandy; or, as we now
call him, William the Conqueror. He was a great and
brave man who had come of a noble race of -sea-kings.
These were the Normans, or Northmen. They were
kinsmen of the Danes and Angles. They, too, had
been fierce pirates; but they had at last settled down
in the north of France, and had come to be the
ablest and bravest men in all the world.
Duke William, as we have told you, had set his heart
on the crown of England. He said that King Edward,
who was a cousin of his, had told him that he would
leave it to him, and that Harold himself had sworn to
help him to the throne. So, when he heard that Harold


was made king, he was very angry, and raised a great
army to come and conquer England.
When King Harold heard what William was going to
do, he kept his ships sailing up and down the channel,
and set his soldiers to guard the south coast, where he
thought the Normans would land.
But while Harold was at Hastings waiting for Duke
William to come, bad news came from the north. His
wicked brother Tostig, who had been driven from the
country, had come back to make war upon him. As
soon as Harold heard it, he set out for Yorkshire with
all the troops he could muster, and marched day and
night till he came up with his brother. In a great
battle that was fought he beat him.
King Harold gave a feast at York in honor of the
victory; but while they sat at the table, a man rushed
in, splashed with mud and tired with long riding, and
told the king that the Normans had landed in England.
" It is bad news," said King Harold; had I been there,
they would not have set foot on land; but I could not
be there and here too."
He broke up the feast at once, and telling his soldiers
to hurry after him, set off for London as fast as he could
go. Within a week his army was ready.
The news was true. The Normans had been tossed
about by contrary winds, and some of their ships had
been wrecked. A part of their own shore, to which
they had been driven back, was strewn with Norman


bodies. But they had once more set sail, led by the
duke's own galley, dpon the prow
of which the figure of a golden
boy stood pointing toward Eng-
land. By day the banner of -
the three lions of Norman-
dy, the diverse-
colored sails,

the gilded
vanes, the
many decora-
tions of this
gorgeous ship
glistened in the
sun; by night
like a star at
her masthead.
And now
the whole Nor-
man force,
hopeful and
strong on Eng-
lish ground,
was encamped
near Hastings.
There is an
old story that


~1~Y ?


when the Norman duke took his first step on English
soil, he stumbled and fell forward. Then a great cry
arose from his men, for they said, This is an evil sign;
as our leader hath fallen, so will our cause fail." But
William, with his ready wit, turned his mishap to good
account. "See!" he called out, as he arose with his
hands full of English soil, -" see, I have taken a grip
of this land with both of my hands !" And his fol-
lowers laughed and were in good spirits once more.
On a bright October morning in the year o166, the
English and the Norman armies stood face to face. on
the fields near Hastings. Harold's troops stood on the
slope of a hill, every man on foot. In front of them
they had driven into the ground stakes and branches of
trees, and set up their shields against them like a
The men of Kent and the king's own guards were in
the front line. Over them floated the royal flag, upon
which was woven in gold the image of an English
soldier fighting bravely.
Under this flag Harold took his place on foot, and
there also stood the warriors who fought so well against
Tostig. These men wore coats upon which were
sewed rings of iron, and their heads were covered with
helmets shaped like a cone, having a piece in front to
protect the nose. They were armed with heavy battle-
axes, swords, and darts, and carried on their left arms
shields having the shape of a kite.


The rest of the English were armed with whatever
weapons they could find. Some had nothing better
than clubs, iron-pointed stakes, stone hammers, pitch-
forks, and such rude weapons; but one and all had
stout hearts. "Stand fast, my men," said King Harold,
' and ply your battle-axes well; if you break your ranks
we are lost! "
It was about nine o'clock on a Saturday morning
that the Norman archers began the battle. Their
arrows flew like rain before the wind. But the English,
behind their wall of shields, cared no more for their
arrows than they would have cared for a shower of rain.
The Norman foot soldiers with their long pikes came
next; but they went back down the hill faster than
they came up. Then the Norman horsemen in steel
armor rode up, and dashed furiously upon the English.
But Harold and his brave troops stood as firm as a
rock, and horses and men fell thick and fast under the
stroke of their deadly battle-axes.
The Normans turned and fled. The word went
round that the duke was slain, and the Normans began
to give way all along their line. But the next moment
William was seen driving back the troops, and calling
out to them, as he drew up his helmet, Look! I am
alive, and by God's help, I will still conquer!"
From nine in the morning till sunset the fight went
on. Again and again did the Normans rush up the
slope of the hill, and again and again were they driven


back. Thus throughout the day the battle went against
the Normans. Duke William fought in the thick of
the fight as brave as a lion. Two horses were killed
under him. He felt that unless he could draw the
English away from their place on the hill, the battle
was lost. So he ordered his horsemen to feign retreat.
When the English saw this they rushed down the
slope in pursuit, forgetting Harold's command to keep
behind their defences. Then the Norman horse turned
suddenly round and fell upon them with great slaughter.
Up the hill and through the fences they rode, and
dashed among the English host. Harold and his
chosen band fought fiercely around their standard.
Twilight was fast drawing nigh when Duke William
turned and said to his archers: "Shoot your arrows
high up into the air, that they may fall upon the
faces of the English." They did so; an arrow struck
the English king in the eye, and he fell dead. This
was the turning-point of the battle. The English fled,
and left the Normans masters of the field.
Thus ended one of the greatest battles ever fought
on English ground. Thus the rule of the old English
kings came to an end, and a Norman wore the crown
of England.


In the Year iioo.

WILLIAM RUFUS, or William the Second, was
the son of William the Conqueror. Rufus is a
Latin word which means red; and people gave the king
this nickname because he had red hair and a ruddy
face. He was neither a good king nor a good man.
He was hard -and cruel to all his subjects, and very
harsh to the poor.
When this wicked king and his friends were traveling
and they came to a farmhouse, they would make the
farmer kill his cow or his sheep or his pig, and would
have it roasted at the fire and would eat it all. They
would then drink the poor man's ale, and if there was any
left, they.would wash their horses' feet with it. After
sleeping in the farmer's house all night, they would, out
of sheer cruelty, set fire to it in the morning.
Both Rufus and his father were very fond of hunting.
His father had driven out the farmers and laborers
from their homes throughout a wide tract of land in
the south of England, wasted the gardens and the fields
of wheat, and left the land free for deer and wild boars
to roam about in it. This tract of land was, and still is,
called the New Forest.


The poor people whose homes had been laid waste
believed that this forest was enchanted. They said
that in thunderstorms and on dark nights demons
appeared, moving beneath the branches of the gloomy
trees. They said that -a terrible spectre had foretold to
Norman hunters that the Red King should be punished
there. It was a lonely forest, accursed in the people's
hearts for the wicked deeds that had been done to
make it, and no man liked to stray there.
But in reality it was like any other forest. There
were hillsides covered with rich fern, on which the
morning dew sparkled beautifully; there were brooks
where the deer went down to drink, or over which the
whole herd bounded, flyig from the arrows of the
hunters; there were sunny glades and gloomy places
where but little light came through the leaves.
The songs of the birds in the New Forest were
pleasanter to hear than the shouts of fighting men out-
side; and even when the Red King and his court came
hunting through its thick woods, cursing loud and rid-
ing hard, with a jingle of stirrups and bridles and
knives and daggers, they did much less harm there
than among the poor people.
One bright day in July, the Red King rose early in the
morning to hunt in the New Forest. He was told it
was a Saint's Day. What care I ?" he said; "the bet-
ter the day, the better the deed One of the hunting
party had had a fearful dream, and warned the king not


to go. "What!" he cried, "do you take me for an
Englishman with your dreams? Get the horses ready,
and let us be off !"
As they were about to start, an arrow-maker brought
him a bundle of new arrows well made and fully a yard
long. The king was delighted, and bought the whole
of them, and gave them to one of his friends named Sir
Walter Tyrrel. There," he said, you are a capital
marksman; you will shoot well with these, I am sure!"
He and his friends now galloped off into the- woods to
hunt the red deer.
By and by the party scattered, and the king was left
with only one companion, Sir Walter Tyrrel. Soon
the king caught sight, through the underwood, of the
branching horns of a tall stag. An oak stood between
him and the stag; he could not shoot the stag himself,
and he shouted to Tyrrel to draw.
The knight drew his bow; the arrow struck the
trunk of the oak, glanced off, and pierced the breast
of the king who fell dead from his horse. The knight
had shot too well, and the arrows the king had given
him were too good.
Tyrrel galloped off at once to the coast and escaped
in a vessel to France.
That evening a charcoal-burner of the New Forest
came upon the body of a man lying in a pool of blood.
It was the Red King! He put the dead body on his
rough and grimy cart, and carried it to Winchester,


where it was buried in the cathedral without funeral
rites or weeping eyes. After a few years, the tower
above the wicked king's tomb fell in, and the people
said it was because so foul a body
lay beneath it. Whether
Tyrrel killed the king on
purpose, or whether the
arrow struck him by accident,
/ nobody knows. At any rate,
f l Sir Walter fled from the
~, r ; -country.
But some said that one
S t of the poor people, who
had been turned
out of house
and home for
the sake of the
king's sport, had
lain in wait for
-- the Red King
-- and had taken
DEATH OF THE RED KING. this fearful re-

venge. But no one will ever know for certain how
the death of this bold, bad king came about.
William Rufus was the third member of the Con-
queror's family who was killed in the New Forest. No
wonder, then, that the people of those days thought the
great hunting-ground a doomed spot for the royal family.


In the Year 1120.

HENRY, the youngest son of the Conqueror, was in
his turn made king of England; and as he was
the first king of that name, he was called Henry the
First. He was also known as the "Fine Scholar,"
because, unlike most princes of those times, he could
read and write.
But though clever, he was a bold and cunning man.
He cared very little for his word, and took any means
to gain his ends. Henry had an only son, Prince
William, whom he loved very much; and when the
prince was eighteen years old he took him to Nor-
mandy and made him duke over the Normans.
When the king and his son came to the coast to take
ship again to England, up came a sea captain named
Fitz-Stephen, and said to the king, My father, O king,
was the captain of the good ship that bore your father
over the sea to the conquest of England. I also have a
fine vessel, named the "White Ship," rowed by fifty
sturdy sailors. There she is, rocking in the bay, and
ready to put to sea. Let me, I pray you, steer you
to England, as my father steered your father in the
days gone by."


"I am sorry," said the king, that I cannot take your
offer, for I have already chosen my vessel; but my son,
the young prince, shall sail with you in the 'White
Ship,' and you shall follow me to England."
The king's ship set sail; and Prince William and
his half-sister, with a company of knights and ladies,
went on board the "White Ship." The young prince
called Fitz-Stephen to him, and said, Bring out three
casks of wine, and give them to the fifty bold rowers
who are to row us across the sea. Bid them drink and
be merry, for we shall not start till midnight." And the
rowers drank the three casks of wine, and the prince,
with the knights and ladies, danced on deck by the
light of the full moon.
At last the anchor was lifted, the square sail was
hoisted, the fifty bold rowers sat down to their oars,
and merrily sped the "White Ship" over the moonlit
sea. But there was not a sober sailor on board. Fitz-
Stephen had the helm. The gay young nobles and the
beautiful ladies, wrapped in mantles of various bright
colors to protect them from the cold, talked, laughed,
and sang. The prince encouraged the fifty sailors to
row harder yet for the honor of the "White Ship." On
she went like an arrow.
But hark! a shock a fearful crash A terrific cry
breaks from three hundred hearts. It is the cry which
the people in the distant vessel of the king hear faintly
on the water. The "White Ship" has struck upon a


rock, is filling -going down! What is to be done? A
cry of despair rises from the gay lords and lovely ladies
on board the ill-fated vessel.
Fitz-Stephen hurried the prince into a boat, with
some few nobles. Push off," he whispered, and row
to the land. It is not far, and the sea is smooth. The
rest of us must die."
" But as they rowed away from the sinking ship the
prince heard the voice of his half-sister Marie, calling to
him from the ship. Stop, men!" he cried. "Row
back to the ship, I cannot leave my sister to perish."
So back they rowed and drew near to the ship; but
so many then leapt into the boat that it sank under
the heavy load. And at the same instant the White
Ship itself went down.
There were two men who held on to a broken mast.
One of them, who had on a warm sheepskin coat, was
a butcher called Berthold; the other was a young noble
named Godfrey. As they drifted with the tide on that
cold December night, they saw another man come swim-
ming towards them. When they caught sight of his
long hair and heard him speak, they knew him to be
What has become of the prince? said the captain.
He is drowned," said the men, and his sister also,
and all who were with them in the boat."
Oh, woe is me !" said the captain; and, throwing up
his arms, he sank under the waves. The two men


clung to the mast for some hours; but at last the
young noble said, I feel weak and faint. My hands
have grown as cold as ice, and I cannot hold on any


longer." As he let go his grip, he called out to the
butcher, "Good-bye, friend, and God keep you safe!"
In the gray of the morning, the people on shore saw
the poor butcher, with his arm round the broken spar,
and they put out a boat and brought him safe to land.


He was the only one left to tell the sad tale of the
"White Ship."
For three days no one dared to tell the king of his
great loss. But at last a little boy was sent in to him.
On his knees and with tears in his eyes, the boy told
the king that the White Ship" had gone down, and
that his son, Prince William, had been drowned.
The king fell upon the floor at the news, and lay
there as if dead. His only son, the joy of his heart,
was no more. Time brought new joys and new cares,
but it is said King Henry never smiled again.
The only child left to the king was a daughter named
Matilda. Before his death, he did his utmost to get
the nobles to support her claim to the throne, though
a woman had never yet reigned alone in England.
As soon as King Henry was dead, all the plans and
schemes he had cunningly made came to nothing. His
daughter Matilda was not made queen, because several
of the great nobles did not care to have a woman
reign over them in days when there were so many wars.
So they chose Henry's nephew Stephen, whose mother
was the daughter of William the Conqueror. This took
place in the year I135.


About 800 Years ago.

AFTER the battle of Hastings four foreign kings
reigned in England, one after the other; that is
to say, the three kings whom we have read about, -
William the Conqueror, the Red King, and his brother
Henry, -together with a very wicked king named
Stephen. These four are often called the Norman
kings of England. Their rule covers a period of
eighty-eight years (1066-1154).
The coming of the Normans made a great change
in England. In the first place, all the chief men in
the land were strangers who could not speak English.
Hence there were two languages spoken in the country
at the same time. The king, the court, and the nobles
spoke French, while the rest of the people spoke English.
The Normans looked down upon the English as
people very much beneath them, while the English
looked upon their new masters with hatred. Very
severe laws had to be made to prevent the English
from murdering the Normans when they found them
alone and unprotected. Not only did the Normans
take the best of the land for themselves, but all the
chief offices in the nation were held by them or their


After awhile the sons and grandsons of the Norman
barons learned to speak English, and began to look
upon England as their real home. Then they became
more friendly with the English, and took pride in call-
ing themselves Englishmen.
Under these Norman kings many castles were built
for the dwellings of the nobles and other great men
who were strangers in the land and wanted such places
for safety. A hill or rock or some high ground near
a river was usually chosen as a site upon which to build
a baron's stronghold. This was further strengthened
by a deep ditch, or moat, as it was called, dug
around the walls. The chief building where the baron
and his family lived was called the Keep. Between
this and the massive outer walls was an open space of
ground, or court, where stood the stables for the horses
and houses for the servants.
The entrance to the castle grounds was barred by a
strong gateway, which, on account of the ditch, could
be reached only from the outside by a drawbridge.
The passage through the gateway could be closed by
a spiked iron grating let down from above; and the
archway was pierced with holes, through which melted
lead or boiling pitch could be poured upon. an enemy
trying to force an entrance. The gray ruins of many
of these buildings are still to be seen in various parts of
The Norman lords had but little furniture in their


dwellings. The chief room was the large hall where
the family and servants took their meals together. A
long, rough table and some rude benches were all the
articles it contained. Carpets for the floor were then
unknown; but straw in winter and grass or rushes in
summer were strewn in plenty upon the ground.
The lord's bedroom had a few stools and a straw bed
in it. The ladies of the family had nothing better.
The servants had to put up with a mat spread upon
the floor, or else a heap of straw.
If the houses of the rich were so bare of furniture,
wretched indeed must have been the homes of the
common people.
Their houses were small, rude cabins, built of wood,
thatched with straw, and plastered with mud. They
had only one or two rooms, in which might be found
an iron pot for cooking food, a pitcher, and a table, with
a log or two to serve as stools. Chimneys were not
in use either in the castle or in the lowly dwelling.
A fire of wood, when needed, burned on the hearth, and
the smoke was left to find its way out through an
opening in the roof.
The food of the common people was simpler than
that of the upper classes. The bread of the working-
man was brown in color, and made of rye, oats, or
barley; but the rich man ate white bread made of
wheat flour. The brown bread, however, if less sweet
than the other, was very good and wholesome.


In the baron's kitchen the art of cooking was studied
with much care. There were many dainty dishes of all
kinds of meats. Fish of many sorts from the rivers,
game from the fields and woods, and fowls that strutted
in the farmyards were brought there in plenty. The
peacock and the crane-birds which are now rare-
were favorite dishes. On great feast days the wild
boar's head was thought a royal dainty. It was carried
into the castle hall with much show of joy, and usually
a song was'sung as it was laid on the high table; but
if such music was wanting, a joyful shout took its
Besides the food we have just named, the richer
people fed on the flesh of the ox, cow, calf, sheep, and
pig. But when these meats were brought on the table
they were called by Norman names. Thus the flesh of
the ox and the cow was named beef; the flesh of the
calf was called veal; that of the sheep was known as
mutton; and that of the pig was called pork.
There was not much garden produce in those days,
and fruits were also few. Apples and pears grew in the
orchards and gooseberries in the garden; but oranges,
which are now so common, were never seen in the land.
Potatoes, cabbages, carrots, turnips, celery, lettuce, which
are now grown in every poor man's plot of ground, were
then unknown in England.


King Richard reigned from I89 to 99gg.

THERE was once a king of England who was so
brave and daring that men called him Richard
the Lion-hearted. He was a big, strong, handsome
man, with great blue eyes and bright yellow hair. No
other man in England could use his battle-axe; no
man could keep on his feet or hold on to his saddle
against the thrust of his lance.
He was so fond of war that as soon as he was made
king he set off to the Holy Land to fight against the
Saracens, who had taken the Holy City from the Chris-
tians. Many other Christian princes took part in this
Crusade, as it was called, but none of them were so
brave as King Richard. Mounted on his good steed,
with his huge battle-axe in hand, he would rush alone
into the midst of the Saracens and cut them down as a
reaper cuts down grain.
SThey were so afraid of him at last that at the very
sight of him they would put spurs to their horses and
fly for their lives. Marching or camping, the Chris-
tian army had always to strive with the hot air of
the glaring desert, or with the Saracen soldiers led by
the brave Saladin, or with both together. Sickness
and death, battle and wounds beset them on every


hand; but through every hardship King Richard fought
like a giant and worked like a common laborer.
No one admired this king's renown for bravery more
than Saladin himself, who was a generous and gallant
enemy. When Richard lay ill of a fever, Saladin sent
him fresh fruits from Damascus and snow from the
mountain tops. Courtly messages and compliments were
often exchanged between them, and then King Richard
would mount his horse and kill as many Saracens as he
could; and Saladin would mount his horse and kill as
many Christians as he could. In this way the lion-
hearted king fought to his heart's content.
But Richard was very proud and had a hasty temper,
and some of the other princes began to dislike him. One
by one they went away and left him, and at last he did not
have troops enough to carry on the war. Then he fell very
sick of fever and had to go home to England. The Sar-
acens, you may be sure, were glad to get rid of him.
For years after he had gone, the very name of
Richard was a word of fear to the Saracens. Long and
long after he was quiet in his grave, the story of
Lion-Heart's terrible battle-axe, with twenty pounds of
English iron in its mighty head, was told to the Saracen
children by their fathers. If a horse shied at a shadow,
his master would say: How now! dost thou see King
Richard?" And when Saracen mothers used to rock
their babes to sleep, they would say to them: Hush!
Be good, or I will give you to King Richard!"


On his way home, Richard was wrecked in the Gulf
of Venice, and found himself in the duke of Austria's
country. Now this duke was one of the Christian prin-
ces who did not like- the English king and had had
a quarrel with him in the Holy Land. King Richard
knew that the duke would do him harm if he could;
so he dressed himself as a poor man, and, taking a boy
with him, tried to make his way through Germany.
The brave king fell ill on the way, and had to send the
boy to the market to buy food. The boy had a rich glove
in his belt, such as only princes and nobles wore; and
when the people saw him they guessed who he was, and
made him tell where his master was staying. A band
of soldiers came to the house, and knocked at the door.
Richard leaped from his bed and drew his sword. He
was too weak to fight, but he said he would give in to
no one but their leader. Then their leader stepped out,
and who should it be but the duke of Austria! So the
dike got Richard in his power and had him sent to a
lonely castle among the hills; and soldiers were set over
him with drawn swords to watch him night and day.
There is a pretty story told of how Richard's prison
was found out, but I am not sure that it is true.
King Richard was fond of music, and had a minstrel
called Blondel who was often with him and whom he
liked very much. The king and Blondel used to play
and sing together, and there was one song they sang
that the king- himself had composed. When Blondel


heard that King Richard was in prison, he set off for
Germany to find him. He wert about from castle to
castle, but could see nothing or hear nothing of his
royal master.
One evening he came to a lonely castle among the
hills, and as he felt tired and weary, he sat down under
the walls to rest. Soon he heard a sweet voice singing
a song that he knew right well. It was the song that
the king had composed. Could it be the king that was
singing in his dungeon? He strained his ears to
listen. When the first verse was ended, Blondel .took
up the song, and sang the second verse. Then the
king-for it was Richard himself-knew that Blondel
had found out where he was and that he would soon
be free again.
And so he was. His own people loved him so much
that they paid a great price for his freedom; and when
he landed in England, there was such joy as the people
had never known before.
Troubles in England and war abroad again roused
the lion.-hearted king to action. His old enemy, the
king of France, had invaded Normandy. To defend
his capital, Rouen, Richard built a fortress on the
river Seine.
"I will take it, though its walls be of iron," said
I will hold it, were the walls of butter," Richard


He wanted money to carry on the war; but before
asking his people in England, as he usually did, to sup-
ply his needs, he heard of a treasure in the neighborhood.
A great amount of gold, it was said, had been found
buried on the land of a certain nobleman. .Richard
said the treasure was his.
"You may have half, but not the whole," said the

lord of the castle. Burning with rage, Richard attacked
the place. During the contest a young archer named
Bertrand took aim at the king and lodged an arrow in


his shoulder. Richard's army stormed the place and
hanged every one in it except Bertrand, whom they
brought heavily chained to the wounded king.
"What have I done to thee," the king asked, "that
thou shouldst take my life?"
"What hast thou done?" replied the young man.
"Thou hast killed my father and my two brothers with
thine own hand. I have killed thee, and the world is
rid of a tyrant."
I forgive thee, boy," said the dying Richard. "Take
off his chains, give him a hundred shillings," he added
to his attendants, and let him go."
The king sank down on his couch and died. His
age was forty-two; he had reigned ten years. His last
command was not obeyed; for the bold archer was
cruelly put to death.

King John reigned from ixgg to z126.

OHN, called Lackland, came to the throne after the
death of his brother, Richard the Lion-hearted.
Now this king was not lion-hearted, but a mean, wicked,
selfish, and cruel man. He was very cruel to his own
people. He used to seize rich men, throw them into
prison, and torture them to make them give him money.
Now many said that Arthur of Brittany, the king's
pretty little nephew, ought to have been the king; but
Arthur was only twelve years of age, and the English
liked to have a grown-up man as king rather than a
little boy. The cruel uncle at last made up his mind
to get rid of his little nephew. He seized Arthur and
shut.him up in a gloomy castle called Falaise.
One day while Arthur was in prison at this castle,
thinking it strange that one so young should be in so
much trouble, and looking at the summer sky and the
birds, out of the small window. in the deep, dark wall, the
door opened softly and he saw his uncle, the king, stand-
ing in the shadow of the archway, looking very grim.
"Arthur," said the king, with his wicked eyes more
on the stone floor than on his nephew, "will you not
trust to the gentleness, the friendship, and the truthful-
ness of your loving uncle? "


"I will tell my loving uncle that," replied the boy,
" when he treats me right. Let him restore to me my
kingdom of England, and then come to me and ask the
The king looked at him and went out. Keep that
boy close prisoner," said he to the warden of the castle.
Then the king
took secret coun-
sel with the worst ,
of his nobles how,i '
the prince was
to be got rid of. I
Some said, Put
out his eyes and -
keep him in h ''e .i '"
prison." Others
said, Have him "
stabbed "; others, Have him
hanged"; others, Have him
King John, feeling that in
any case, whatever was done "
afterward, it would be a satis-
faction to his mind to have
those handsome eyes burned SPARE HIS EYES.
out that had looked at him so proudly while his own royal
eyes were blinking on the stone floor, sent certain ruf-
fians to Falaise to blind the boy with red-hot irons.


But Arthur shed such piteous tears and so appealed
to Hubert de Bourg, the warden of the castle, who had
a love for him, and was an honorable, tender man, that
Hubert could not bear it. He saved the little prince
from torture, and, at his own risk, sent the cruel men
The disappointed king next bethought himself of the
stabbing suggestion, and proposed it to one William
de Bray. I am a gentleman and not an executioner,"
said William de Bray, and left the presence of the
tyrant with disdain. But it was not difficult for the
king to hire a murderer in those days. King John
found one for his money and sent him down to the
castle of Falaise.
On what errand dost thou come ?" said Hubert to
this fellow.
"To dispatch young Arthur," he returned.
Go back to him who sent thee," answered Hubert,
" and say that I will do it!"
King John, knowing very well that Hubert would
never do it, but that he sent this reply to save the
prince or to gain time, sent messengers to carry the
young prisoner to the castle of Rouen.
Arthur was soon forced from the good Hubert, car-
ried away by night, and put in his new prison, where,
through his grated window, he could hear the deep
waters of the river Seine rippling against the stone wall


How Prince Arthur died has never been known, but
this story of his death has been told for these many
One dark night as he lay sleeping, dreaming perhaps
of rescue by those unfortunate friends who were suffer-
ing and dying in his cause, he was roused and bade
by his jailer to come down the staircase to the foot of
the tower. He dressed himself hurriedly and obeyed.
When they came to the bottom of the winding stairs
and the night air from the river blew upon their faces,
the jailer trod upon his torch and put it out.
Then Arthur was pushed hurriedly into a boat; and
in that boat he found his uncle and one other man.
He knelt to them and prayed them not to murder him.
Deaf to his entreaties, they stabbed him and sank his
body in the river with heavy stones.
When the spring morning broke, the tower door was
closed, the boat was gone, the river sparkled on its way,
and never more was there any trace of the poor little
At last things came to such a pass that the strong
barons of England took the business into their own hands,
met together, and swore that they would bind the king
to govern justly and according to the law. They drew
up a set of laws, some old and some new, such as they
thought would'best make sure the liberties of the Eng-
lish people and keep the king from oppressing them as
he had always done.


This set of laws is called the "Great Charter."
Very few people have done so much lasting good to
their country as those barons who drew it up and forced
King John to sign it in the year 1215. He was furious


at being obliged to agree to it, and at first quite refused
to do so; but the barons were too strong for him.
They not only made him sign the charter, but named



twenty-four barons out of their own number to see
that he lived up to its conditions.
Every one thought there was going to be a
dreadful civil war. But happily for England and
humanity, the death of the wicked king was near.
While he was crossing a dangerous quicksand, the
tide came up and nearly drowned his army. He and
his soldiers escaped; but looking back from the shore
when he was safe, he saw the roaring waters sweep
down in a torrent, overturn the wagons, horses, and
men that carried his treasure, and engulf them in a
raging whirlpool.
Cursing and swearing, King John went to an abbey,
where the monks set before him quantities of pears
and peaches and new cider, of which he ate and drank
like a glutton. All night he lay ill of a burning fever,
haunted'with horrible fears.
Next day his servants put their royal master into
a litter and carried him to a castle, where he passed
another night of pain and horror. Next day they car-
ried him, with greater difficulty than on the day before,
to another castle; and there this cruel and wicked king
breathed his last.

In the Year 1346.

ONE of the bravest and best-loved kings that
England ever had was King Edward the Third.
He was a wise man, just and kind to his own people,
but he was very fond of war; and, like most warriors,
he was now and then very cruel.
He had a son who was so gentle and brave and hand-
some that all men loved him; and as he wore black
armor, they called him the Black Prince.
When King Edward's uncle, the king of France,
died and left no son, Edward thought he had a right to
the French throne; and when his cousin was made
king instead of him, he went over to France and made
war against him.
The Black Prince, who was then sixteen years old,
went with his father; and they won many battles
against the French, one of which, called the battle of
Crecy, I will now tell you about.
The English had come to a village called Crecy,
which is in the north of France, when they heard that
the French king, with an army three times as large as
theirs, was coming up to fight them. So the English
king told his soldiers to halt, and with great skill he
drew them up in line of battle on a hillside near Crecy.


As he rode from rank to rank, cheering his soldiers
and giving his orders, he looked so noble and brave that
every man felt sure he would win the battle. When he
had seen that his soldiers were in good trim and ready
for the fight, he told them to sit down and eat and rest
themselves, and gave orders for every man to have a
cup of good wine.
As the French came in sight, the English leaped to
their feet and set up a great shout, and would have
rushed to meet them, but the king kept them in check.
" Steady, men, steady !" he said; there must be no
noise, no breaking of your ranks." Then the soldiers
stood still and waited in silence for the coming of the
But while they were yet afar off, big black clouds
came sweeping across the sky, the lightning flashed,
the thunder rolled, and the rain came pelting down.
Then the sky grew clear again, and the sun shone out
bright and warm, for it was a summer afternoon. As
soon as the storm was over, the French archers, who
were in front of the army, came on with a shout and let
fly their arrows at the English. But the rain had wet
their bowstrings, and their arrows all fell short.
Then the English archers, who had kept their bows
dry in cases, drew their bowstrings to their ears and took
good aim. The arrows fell thick and fast, as you have
seen the snowflakes fall on a winter day, and pierced
the faces and hands and bodies of the Frenchmen


through and through. No men could have stood up
against a fire so true and fierce, and the French bow-
men soon turned on their heels and ran.
But the French horsemen came bravely on. They
spurred their horses into the midst of the English, and
kept up a fierce fight till dusk. The Black Prince, who
led the English knights, drove the French back again
and again; but as fast as they were beaten back, more
came on, and it was hard work for the prince to hold
his ground. A knight who saw what danger he was in
rode off to the king, who was watching the battle, and
asked him to send help to the prince.
Is my son killed or hurt?" said the king.
No, sire," said the knight.
"Then tell him," said the king, "he shall have no
help from me. Let the boy win the battle himself, and
the glory of the day shall be his."
The king's words gave the prince and his soldiers
more courage. They dashed at the French with all
their might. The French king was wounded, and fled
for his life; his best captains were cut down and killed;
and as darkness came on, the whole French army
turned and ran away, leaving thousands of their com-
rades dead upon the field.
It was quite dark, and camp fires had been lighted and
the torches were blazing when the king came forth to
meet his son. He took the boy in his arms, and, clasp-
ing him to his breast, said to him:


"My son, my dear son, may God give you grace to
go on as you have begun. You have done nobly this
day, and shown that you are worthy to be a king."


,., -. ___....




The boy looked down and blushed, and said all the
praise was due to his father; and when King Edward
saw how brave his son had been in battle, and how


modest he was after it, this gave him more joy than
the great victory of Crecy.
Among those killed in the battle was the old blind
king of Bohemia. When he found that the French were
losing, he asked the knights who were near him to
lead him into the thick of the fight, so that he might
strike at least one good blow. They did so, and
he fell.
Young Edward took for his crest, three ostrich
feathers, and for his motto, two German words, meaning
" I serve "; and these are the crest and motto of the
Prince of Wales to this day. You may be sure that the
English were very proud of their brave young prince.
This battle of Crecy was only one of the many vic-
tories that were won by the Black Prince. His good-
ness and gentleness made everybody love him, and his
valor in battle gave the English hopes that he would
prove as good a king as his father. This brave prince
did not live to be king of England, but died in 1376.
The very next year his father died, having reigned
fifty-one years.

In the Year 1347.

KING EDWARD the Third, after his victory at
Crecy, marched on till he came to the town of
Calais, a seaport on the northeast coast of France.
Now the king was vexed with the people of this
town; for many of them were pirates, and had often
taken English ships and burned them, and tried to
ruin the trade of England on the seas.
But Calais was a very strong city, with thick, high
walls and a deep ditch round it; and King Edward
thought it would be easier to starve the people out
than to break down the walls and take the town by
force. So he drew up his soldiers in a circle round
Calais, to keep the people from taking food into the
city, and gave orders for his fleet to cruise off the
coast and stop every ship that tried to get in or out
of the port.
Now and again a French ship would steal in by
night with bread for the starving people; but what
was one shipload or ten shiploads among so many!
Yet they held out for a whole year; and when their
meat was gone, they ate horses and dogs and cats
and rats, rather than give in to the English.
At last there was nothing left to eat. The people


had become lean and pale and sickly; and they sent
word to King Edward that they would give up the city
if he would spare their lives and let them go free. But
the king was angry and would not hear of it.
If the men of Calais," he said, "will send me six of
the chief citizens, having their heads and feet bare and
with ropes around their necks and the keys of their
city in their hands, I will work my will on these six,
but I will spare all the rest."
Then the great church bell was rung to call the
people of Calais together. When they heard what the
king had said, they wept and wrung their hands, but no
one spoke a word. At last one of the chief men, who
was the richest in town, stood up and said, Friends !
what a pity it is to let so many die when six of us can
save them. For myself, I have hope in God that if I
give up my life for the people, I shall have pardon for
my sins. So I will be the first one of the six to go
out with my head and feet bare and a rope around my
neck, and give myself up to the English king."
This noble speech fired the hearts of all who heard
it. Then another citizen stood up and said that he
would give his life; and so did a third and a fourth
and a fifth and a sixth. As the six pale, thin, hollow-
eyed citizens passed out of the city gates, with ropes
round their necks and the keys of their town in their
hands, there was not a dry eye in all the crowd that
came to see them and bless them as they went.


When they came where the king was, they fell on
their knees and said, Gentle king, we are six of the
chief citizens of Calais, who come to put ourselves at
your mercy to save the rest of our people; have pity
on us if it is your good will." It is said that even the
English knights and soldiers shed tears at this pitiful
King Edward alone remained stern, severe, and
unmoved by the sight of so much heroism. And
although those around him begged him to show mercy,
he gave orders for the six brave men of Calais to be
hanged at once. "Away with them," he said; the men
of Calais have killed so many of my people that I will
have the lives of these six."
This cruel deed was about to be done when for-
tunately the king's wife, the good Queen Philippa, was
moved by this sorrowful news. She had quite lately
come over from England to join her husband; and
while all this was going on she was in her tent close by.
When she was told how hard and cruel the king was
in his purpose, she threw herself in tears at his feet
and prayed him for her sake to be merciful, and let
the poor men go free.
"My gentle lord," she said, I have crossed the sea
at great peril to see you, and I have not yet asked
a favor from you. I pray you, now, for Heaven's sake
and for love of me, your wife, that you will have mercy
on these six men."



The king knit his brows and was silent awhile; then
he said, Lady, I wish you had been elsewhere! You
beg in such a way that I cannot deny you. Take these
six men; I give them to you. Do with them as you
will !"
The good queen took the six men and gave them
new clothes to put on, and feasted them and sent them
away with rich presents, to the great rejoicing of the
whole camp.
Calais was given up to the English king, and it
became an English town for more than two hundred
It has been said that cannon were used for the first
time in battle at Crecy, but this is uncertain. In the
siege of Calais, however, cannon were used, but they
were too poorly made and loaded with too little gun-
powder to do much damage.

In the Year 1381.

R ICHARD the Second was the son of the brave
and noble Black Prince; but he was a very weak
king. He came to the throne when he was quite a
little boy, on the death of his grandfather Edward the
Third. The whole English nation was ready to admire
the young king for the sake of his father.
As to the lords and ladies about the court, they
declared him to be the most beautiful, the wisest, and
the best, even of princes.
Now I must tell you that in those days the poor
were badly treated by the rich. Some of the poorest
people were slaves. They were made to work on the
same farm all their lives, and could be sold by their
masters like cows or horses. Even those poor people
who were free and lived in towns had to work hard for
low wages. They were kept down by the rich and
made to pay heavy taxes, when they could earn barely
money enough to keep themselves alive.
One day an officer was going from house to house
to gather the taxes in a little town in Kent, when he
stopped at the cottage of a tiler named Wat. The
poor man was at his work close by, laying tiles on the
roof of a house, and only his wife and daughter were


at home. Wat the tiler, or Wat Tyler, as we call him
now, saw the man go into his cottage, and soon after
heard a loud scream. In an instant he jumped down
from the roof, ran into his house, and, seeing the officer
rude to his daughter, struck him on the head with his
hammer and killed him.
So when Wat Tyler killed the brutal officer, all the
poor people in the villages round about took his part.
They agreed to go to London to lay their complaints
before the king and, if need be, to fight for what they
thought to be their rights. Before many days had
passed, thousands of poor, rough, wild-looking men,
some with bows, some with rusty old swords, and many
with scythes fastened to the end of poles, were on the
march to London. Wat Tyler rode at their head.
When the rebels arrived in London they marched
up and down the streets, burning the houses of the
rich, breaking open the doors of the prisons, and strik-
ing off the head of every man they met who would not
say he was for King Richard and the common people."
The gold and silver plate that they found in rich men's
houses they ruined with their hammers, but they took
none of it away. They were so angry with one man
who stole a silver cup and hid it in his clothes, that
they flung him into the river, cup and all.
The young king, who was only sixteen, rode up to
them and called out, What is it you want, my men? "
We want you to make us free," they said.


The king said he would give them freedom, and told
them to go back to their homes. But Wat Tyler, with
many thousands of rebels, stayed in London.
Next day King Richard met them again, and Tyler
rode up to have a talk with the king. While he was
speaking in his rough way, he laid his hand on the
king's bridle. Upon this, the lord Mayor of London,
thinking the king in danger, plunged his dagger into
Tyler's neck.
Wat fell bleeding from his horse, and one of the
king's servants thrust his sword into him and put an
end to his life. In an instant the rebels bent their
bows and shouted, "Kill! kill! But the young king
saved himself by his coolness. Riding up to the
mob, he said to them, What are you doing, my good
men? Tyler was a traitor. I will be your leader;
follow me!"
And they followed him to where his soldiers were
lying in wait; and when the rebels saw the trap they
had fallen into, they craved the king's pardon and
laid down their arms and went quietly back to their
It would be very much pleasanter if we could say
that the young king kept his promise; but he did not.
Perhaps he was not able, for he was only a boy and the
government was not in his own hands. There was
a good deal of blood shed, and many hundreds of rebels
were put to death before the rebellion was crushed.

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