FROM THE INVASION OF THE ROMANS
TO THE PRESENT TIME.
AUTHOR OF "TRUB STORIES FROM ANCIENT AND MODERN
HISTORY,"" ALWAYS HAPPY~" ETC.
WITH THIRTY-SIX STEEL ENGRAVINGS.
GRANT AND GRIFFITH,
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TRUE STORIES FROM ANCIENT HISTORY, Chronologi-
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TRUE STORIES FROM MODERN HISTORY, Chronologi-
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DESCRIPTION OF THE PLATES.
1. Druidical Rites 3
2. Alfred instructed by his Mother 26
3. Dead Body of Harold found on the Field of Battle. 41
4. Death of William the Conqueror 47
5. Death of William Rufus 53
6. Prince William and his Sister shipwrecked 59
7. King Stephen taken Prisoner 64
8. Death of Thomas a Becket 72
9. Death of Richard I.. 89
10. King John imploring Pardon from the Pope's Legate 96
11. Henry III. ratifying Magna Charta 101
12. Hunting Sports, in the reign of Edward I. 116
13. Hawking, in the Reign of Edward II. 123
14. Mummery before Prince Richard 132
15. Combat between the Earls of Hereford and Norfolk 147
16. Prince Henry and his dissolute Companions 158
17. Battle of Azincourt 166
18. Ancient Ceremonony of the Flitch of Bacon, at the Priory
of Dunmow 179
19. Penance of Jane Shore 182
20. Murder of the Princes, in the Tower 189
21. The Body of Richard III. discovered among the Slain at
Bosworth Field 191
22. Princess Katherine embroidering Tapestry 202
23. Cardinal Wolsey received by the Abbot at Leicester 211
viii DESCRIPTION OF THE PLATES.
24. Edward VI. presenting the Charter to the Bluecoat School 222
25. Lady Jane Grey refusing the Crown 228
26. Pageants before Queen Elizabeth, at Kenilworth Castle 241
27. Guy Fawkes discovered near the Cellars of the Parliament
28. Charles I. taking leave of his Children 256
29. Charles II. escaping at Shoreham 260
30. Great Fire of London, taken from the Surrey Side of Old
London Bridge, 1666 274
31. Duke of Monmouth taken Prisoner 279
32. King William crossing the Boyne 286
33. Queen Anne going in State to St. Paul's after the Battle of
34. Lord Nithsdale escaping from the Tower in Woman's Attire 298
35. Interview between the Laird of Lochiel and the young
36. The Royal Family of France intercepted in their attempt to
HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
ANCIENT BRITONS. JULIUS CESAR. SEVERUS.
A GREAT while ago-almost two thousand years
ago,-this dear England of ours was quite a rude,
barbarous country, and the inhabitants, called
Britons, were little better than savages.
They had no churches, no palaces, no cities; a
few small huts, made of clay and branches of trees
roughly put together, were their only dwellings.
Instead of silks, and cloths, and linen, the people
wore the skins of beasts, made into clumsy gar-
ments. Neither corn-fields, nor orchards, nor gar-
dens, supplied them with bread and varied food.
The Britons lived upon wild herbs and roots, or
upon the flesh of beasts killed with spears, clubs,
and bows and arrows.
2 ANCIENT BRITONS.
They had no ships; but small canoes, made of
basket-work covered with leather, conveyed them
across rivers and narrow arms of the sea.
They were divided into various independent
states, each governed by a chief, whose authority
mostly consisted in having the command in war.
This was exercised in person, as well by women as
men; for the women succeeded to regal power as
well as men, and led forth the armies to battle.
Of their religion I can give you but an imper-
fect account, because the priests made a secret of it;
and none but the initiated, that is, such as were
taught by them, after having taken dreadful oaths
never to divulge it, were admitted to its mysteries.
The priests, to whom I have alluded, were call-
ed Druids, and, besides being ministers of religion,
possessed the right of making laws, as well as of
explaining and executing them; so that the autho-
rity of the chiefs, or kings, as they are sometimes
called, was much controlled and limited by them.
These Druids, who were more enlightened than
the rest of the Britons, performed their religious
rites in groves of oaks; and paid particular re-
gard to the mistletoe, which grows upon those
trees. They had also a kind of open temples;
consisting of huge stones set upright in circles,
with others laid across, of which we have still
some remains, particularly at Stonehenge, in Wilt-
shire. Their rites were barbarous: not only beasts,
but also men, were the victims of their sacrifices;
and their gods were supposed to be well pleased
when the life of one man was taken as an atone-
ment for the crimes of another. Their prisoners
of war were sacrificed, sometimes on a stone altar,
called in their language cromlech; and sometimes
they were enclosed in large wicker images, made
to represent a human figure, and therein burned
In common with other heathen, they kept a fire,
which they deemed sacred, continually burning, as
the emblem of the Deity; for the sun, the source
of light and heat, was the ultimate object of their
There was also an inferior order of Druids, call-
ed Bards, who taught the devotees those hymns
which they were required to learn. They were
remarkable for their memory, and sang, in verses
of their own making, the actions of their gods and
heroes. Their favourite instrument was the harp.
In our happy times, we know that a God of
mercy cannot love offerings of blood. And at the
very time the Britons were so barbarous, there
was One born in a far country, who was to teach
a new and pure religion to all the world.
Almost two thousand years ago, JESUS CHRIST
was born at Bethlehem, in Palestine, or the Holy
Land. From Him we are called Christians; and
as soon as His religion was known in Britain, the
rude people began to soften and improve.
Just before the birth of Christ, Julius Caesar, a
great Roman general, of whom you will often hear,
conquered almost all Europe. When he came to
the coast of France (then called Gaul), he saw the
white rocks of some unknown land rising at a dis-
tance in the sea. Julius Caesar resolved to visit
this land; he, therefore, ordered his soldiers to
construct boats, and he passed over with his army
to the distant white rocks.
He found the cliffs covered with rude but brave
savages; they were clothed in the skins of beasts,
their faces and naked bosoms painted with blue
streaks; and their arms were clubs and javelins.
Caesar was pleased with their bravery, though
astonished at their barbarism; for Casar was a
Roman, and the Romans were at that time almost
as polished and refined as we are now. They had
fine cities, splendid clothes, numerous luxuries.
The Roman soldiers used sharp swords, made of
polished steel, and held before them strong shields,
made of wool and leather; their bodies were de-
fended by shining armour, and their heads were
protected by helmets of iron, copper, or brass.
What could naked barbarians do against such
an enemy ? The Britons did all in their power;
they fought long and bravely; and not till vast
numbers of them lay dead on their white cliffs, did
the remainder submit to the invaders. f
From this time, Britain may be said to have re-
mained under the dominion of the Romans, for al-
most five hundred years. The Britons, indeed,
though they gained much knowledge from their
new rulers, did not like the loss of their liberty;
and they made many unsuccessful efforts to throw
off the yoke. Caractacus, king of the Silures, a
British tribe inhabiting what is now called Mon-
mouthshire, and the adjacent counties, made a
courageous resistance against the Romans, during
nine years; but, finally, the fortune of war turning
against him, he was defeated, taken prisoner, and
sent in chains, with his wife, daughter, and princi-
pal officers, to Rome, A.D. 51. On being taken
into the presence of the emperor Claudius, Carac-
tacus addressed the monarch with such an air of
independence, and in words of so much magna-
nimity, that Claudius ordered him and his friends
to be freed from their chains, and ever afterwards
held him in the highest esteem.
About ten years after this, the Britons rose
again, under the conduct of a heroine, called Voa-
dicea, or Boadicea, queen of the Iceni, who dwelt
in the modern counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.
By attacking the Romans unexpectedly, she cut
off eighty thousand of them, and burned the town
of London, which belonged to a tribe friendly to
the enemy; but her success was of short duration;
for the Roman general, Suetonius, hastened with
his disciplined troops to meet her; her army was
routed, and, to avoid being taken prisoner, she
ended her life by taking poison, A.D. 61.
Nearly twenty years after the death of Boadi-
cea, the Britons experienced another signal defeat,
under Galgacus. The Roman general, Agricola,
who overcame Galgacus on the Grampian Hills, in
Scotland, also raised a line of forts across that
part of the country, to repress the inroads of the
tribes who dwelt beyond it; and all to the south-
ward was made a Roman province. This took
place about A.D. 82; and, three years afterwards,
Agricola, by sailing round Britain, first ascertained
it to be an island.
Agricola was a great benefactor to the Britons,
whom he relieved from many burdensome taxes,
giving them equitable laws, and teaching them the
arts of civilization. No wonder, therefore, that
they should adopt many of the Roman manners
and customs, and imitate their fashions in dress.
By degrees, they acquired a taste for such refine-
ments as stimulate to vice; hence, as they in-
creased in numbers, and improved in domestic
comforts, they sank into effeminate affectation,
and became the victims of idleness and its attend-
It was during this age of puerility, that the
Britons on the coast of Kent, Devon, and Corn-
wall, whose ancestors, with the skins of wild
beasts which they had slain, thrown over their
shoulders, brandished their spears to the conster-
nation of their enemies, were seen, some in long
black garments, reaching down to their ankles,
carrying large staves, or walking-sticks, in their
DEGENERACY OF THE BRITONS.
hands; whilst others were clad in robes, one of
which consisted of a thick hairy garment, called
by the Britons gaunacum, from which, it is said,
the modern term gown (such as is worn by magis-
trates and officers of state) is derived.
The consequence of all this silly ostentation, and
voluptuous ease, was, that when the Romans, in
order to defend themselves at home from the at-
tacks of numerous assailants, who had invaded
their empire, were compelled to withdraw their
troops from Britain, about A.D. 426, the Britons
found themselves too feeble to repel the inroads
of their northern neighbours, the Scots and Picts,
who, with their independence, had preserved their
original valour. The poor Britons earnestly im-
plored the Romans to come to their assistance;
but their prayer could not be complied with; and
so they resolved to invite the fierce Saxons, a
people residing in the north of Germany, to come
over and be their defenders, as we shall see in the
Under the Romans, a very great change was
effected in the condition and appearance of Britain.
For their own accommodation, the Romans built
elegant villas; and the mud-walled enclosures,
which the Britons had called towns, were made
deserving of the name, by the erection of houses,
the clearing away of redundant trees and woods;
and London became the centre of their commerce
with the Gauls and the continent. For the ac-
8 INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY.
commodation of their armies, they raised and
paved wide roads, reaching from London to all
the principal places of the country. It has been
already stated, that they gave the natives good
laws and institutions; and to their agency must
also be attributed the introduction of the Christian
religion; the best, as it is the greatest, of all their
boons. It is said that St. Paul paid a visit to
Britain from Rome; but the conversion of the
Britons is more generally attributed to two noble
ladies, Pomponia Graecina, wife of the proconsul
Aulus Plautius, governor of Britain ; and Claudia,
a lady of British origin, and wife of the senator
Pudens. Whether either or both of these ac-
counts be correct, it appears that Christianity was
first preached in Britain about A.D. 63; that it
gained acceptance; and in time spread in all di-
rections; the Druids, with their idolatrous rites,
retiring before it, into the western parts of Britain
and the isles of Anglesea and Man.
With these benefits, the Romans also introduced
some evils; among which is that cruel sport of
cock-fighting, which still continues to be a favour-
ite pastime with profligate gamesters, as well in
high life as in low. It is said, that when Julius
Casar landed in Britain, he found plenty of poul-
try; and his soldiers, who at home had been ac-
customed to combats of wild beasts, and even of
naked men, called gladiators, trained for the pur-
pose, finding but few wild beasts in the island, and
no gladiators, introduced combats between quails,
and sometimes between cocks.
This barbarous sport was much relished by our
rude forefathers. In their uncivilized state, this
was not wonderful; but it is most wonderful that
polished and humane Englishmen should disgrace
themselves by attending, or even permitting, such
a cruel amusement in our days !
The following account of Severus, one of the
Roman Emperors who visited Britain, shews how
wise men regulate their time; indeed, without
some regulation, little good can be effected by any
In the latter years of his life," says an ancient
writer, Severus rose early, and sat in the judg-
ment-hall till noon; after which he rode out, as
long as he was able. At his return from this ex-
ercise, he bathed, then dined, either alone, or with
his sons Caracalla and Geta; but he dined so
luxuriously and plentifully, that he fell constant-
ly into a sound sleep after dinner. When he
awoke, he walked about for some time, and amused
himself with a Greek or Latin author. In the
evening, he bathed again; and afterwards supped
with his domestics and family, for no other guests
were admitted, except at some set times, when he
would entertain his whole court at supper very
Severus arrived in Britain A.D. 207; and died
at York in 211.
THE SAXONS. THE HEPTARCHY. EGBERT.
WHILST the Romans governed South Britain,
some barbarous nations, called Scots and Picts,
residing in the north, occasionally entered and
ravaged the country ; but were as often repelled.
As soon as the Romans had quitted the island,
these people came again with fresh troops. The
Britons, incapable of self-defence, called in the
Saxons to fight their battles, A.D. 449. The
Saxons did, indeed, chase away the enemy; but
having done so, they seized upon Britain for them-
The person who at that time possessed the chief
authority among the Britons, was Vortigern, prince
of Dumnonium, or Devon, who is represented as
stained with every vice; and he it was who in-
vited the Saxoris into Britain.
The Saxons had been for some time regarded
as one of the most warlike tribes of the fierce Ger-
mans; and they were under the guidance, in mili-
tary affairs, of Hengist and Horsa, two brothers,
possessed of great credit among them, and much
celebrated for their valour. At Ebbesfleet, be-
tween Sandwich and Ramsgate, they disembarked,
with about sixteen hundred men, from three ves-
sels, and had the isle of Thanet assigned as their
residence. For six years, they were faithful to
their engagement with Vortigern, and drove the
Picts and Scots back to their native hills in the
north; and Vortigern, though advanced in years,
divorced his wife, and married the beautiful, but
treacherous, Rowena, daughter, or sister, of
When the Saxons had cleared the country of
the Picts and Scots, the Britons wished them to
retire; but, instead of so doing, they sent for
reinforcements of their countrymen, and an open
quarrel took place. The Britons, driven to despair,
had recourse to arms, deposed Vortigern, who had
become odious from his vices, and put themselves
under the command of his son Vortimer. Many
battles were fought, generally to the advantage of
the Saxons; though in the battle of Eglesford, or
Ailsford, Horsa was slain, and the sole command
of his countrymen devolved upon Hengist. Vor-
timer, also, either fell in the same battle, or died
about the same time, and Vortigern was soon
afterwards taken prisoner by Hengist.
This active general, continually reinforced by
fresh numbers from Germany, carried devastation
into the most remote corners of Britain; reducing
the public and private edifices of the Britons to
heaps of ruins; and sparing none of the inha-
bitants who fell into his hands, whatever their
age, sex, or condition. The Christian religion was
suppressed, its ministers were slaughtered, and the
horrid rites of paganism set up in its place.
The resistance of the Britons was indeed main-
tained for a time, but it daily became more feeble:
many of these unhappy people deserted their na-
tive country, and took shelter in the province of
Armorica, which from them obtained the name of
Britany, or Bretagne; whilst others fled into Corn-
wall and Wales, where they found protection from
their remote situation, or the inaccessible moun-
tains of those countries.
The conquest of Britain was not, however, the
work of a day. The Britons by degrees recovered
their native courage; and, having learned the art
of war of their invaders, maintained a course of
hostilities for upwards of a century; particularly
under their renowned princes, or leaders, Nazan-
Leod and Arthur. But the powerful reinforce-
ments which the Saxons received from the con-
tinent rendered their resistance useless; and
after the death of prince Arthur, A.D. 542, they
gradually gave way; so that the whole southern
part of the island, except Wales and Cornwall,
had, by the year 580, changed its inhabitants,
language, and customs. The conquerors who had
flocked over from northern Germany, at different
times, and under different leaders, were chiefly
composed of three tribes, Saxons, Angles, and
Jutes, who all passed under the common appella-
tion, sometimes of Saxons, sometimes of Angles;
speaking the same language, and being governed
by the same institutions. The Angles being the
predominant, all the tribes, in the sequel, passed
under the denomination of Anglo-Saxons, and the
country obtained the title of Angle-land, whence
its modern name of England.
Hengist early established himself in the south-
east, where, about A.D. 455, he assumed the title
of king of Kent, his dominions comprehending the
county of that name (including the isle of Thanet),
Middlesex, Essex, and part of Surrey. He fixed
his royal seat at Canterbury, and his subjects were
principally Jutes. In the year 477, XElla, with a
tribe of Saxons, came over, and, after fourteen
years' hard fighting, established himself as king of
the South Saxons, or Sussex, in the county of that
name, and part of Surrey. A third kingdom, cal-
led Wessex, or kingdom of the West Saxons, was
erected in the year 519, by Cerdic, who had land-
ed before Ella in the west, but met with so stub-
born a resistance from Nazan-Leod and Arthur,
that it was nearly twenty-five years before he
could establish himself. His dominion extended
over the modern counties of Devon, Dorset, So-
merset, Wilts, Berks, Hants, and the Isle of
Wight. His subjects were Saxons, except those
in the Isle of Wight, who were Jutes. In the
year 527, a fourth kingdom, called Essex, or king-
dom of the East Saxons, was dismembered from
that of Kent, with some additions, by Erchenwin.
It comprehended modern Essex, Middlesex, and
part of Hertfordshire; the inhabitants of which
were mostly Saxons. The Angles who had ac-
companied Hengist, had, soon after their arrival,
been settled by him in Northumberland, where
they met with so obstinate a resistance, that for
many years none of their leaders assumed the
title of king. At length, A.D. 547, Ida subdued
the counties now called Northumberland, Cumber-
land, and Durham, with some of the south-eastern
districts of Scotland, and assumed the title of king
of Bernicia: and nearly at the same time, 11lla,
who had subjugated modern Lancashire, West-
moreland, and the greater part of Yorkshire, took
the title of king of Deira; which two kingdoms
were united by the grandson of Ida, under the
title of Northumberland, or country north of the
Humber, which constituted the fifth kingdom of
what has since been called the Saxon Heptarchy.
The sixth kingdom was that of the East Angles,
or East Anglia, which included the modern coun-
ties of Huntingdon, Cambridge, Norfolk, and Suf-
folk. It was founded by Uffa, about A.D. 575;
and its inhabitants were, as its name implies,
Angles. About seven years afterwards, that is,
A.D. 582, Crida, a chief of the Angles, who had
made himself master of all the midland counties,
from the banks of the Dee and the Wye, to the
frontiers of the kingdoms already enumerated, as-
sumed the title of king of Myrcna, or Mercia, a
name derived from the Saxon word mero, a bound,
or limit, because it was bounded on three sides by
the other Saxon kingdoms. This was the largest
of all the kingdoms of the Saxons in Britain; it
comprehended sixteen modern counties, besides the
western portion of Hertfordshire; and by degrees
it became the most powerful, so that. its latter
sovereigns assumed the title of kings of the Anglo-
Thus was established, after a sanguinary contest
of nearly one hundred and thirty years, what is
called the Heptarchy, or Seven Saxon kingdoms,
in Britain; of which Mercia, though last esta-
blished, was the most extensive, and for a time
the most powerful; but it ultimately gave way to
Wessex, from the kings of which the present royal
family of Great Britain derives its descent.
The Saxons were a tall, stout, and hardy race,
free and bountiful, but delighting in war. Their
chief deity was Woden, the reputed god of war ;
and they believed that whoever was slain in battle
would have a place in Woden's hall, where he
would sit at ease and drink ale from his enemies'
skulls. All other modes of death they despised.
They carried a spear, or lance, in their hands;
had a long sword and short dagger hanging at
their sides; and protected themselves with a
shield. If a soldier lost his shield in battle, he
was forbidden to assist at their sacred rites; a
THE SAXONS. ORDEALS.
prohibition so severely felt by them, that many
destroyed themselves when they had incurred it.
The general was elected by the votes of the
soldiers, and then he was set upon a shield and
borne on men's shoulders amidst the applause
of the people.
The Saxons paid great respect to their women,
and never went out to battle without first con-
sulting their wives. They were very superstitious,
and paid great attention to the neighing of horses.
They went into battle singing, and sacrificed every
tenth prisoner of war to Woden.
They were great enemies to sloth; and admit-
ted nothing among their household furniture that
was not absolutely necessary to their natural wants.
The Saxons depended much upon a kind of trial
called the ordeal; for they suffered their super-
stition to overcome their judgment; and, instead
of examining into the merits of a case, put the
accused upon what they believed to be an appeal
to Heaven. He was to expose himself to evident
danger, or hazard, either by walking barefoot
among red-hot ploughshares, or taking a red-hot
iron in his naked hand, or thrusting his bare arm
into a vessel of boiling water, or being thrown
into deep water, in which he was to use no exer-
tion to keep himself from sinking: if, in any of
these cases, he came off unhurt, he was considered
innocent; otherwise he was deemed guilty, and
led to immediate execution. .
The idolatry of the Saxons, with its attendant
cruelties, yielded, after a series of years, to the
benign doctrines of Christianity. In the year 597,
a monk, named Augustine, or Austin, was sent
from Rome, by Pope Gregory, to attempt the con-
version of the Saxons in Britain; and he landed
in Kent, of which Ethelbert was then king. Ethel-
bert had married Bertha, daughter of the French
king, or king of the Franks, who was a Christian,
and she, by her gentleness and good conduct, had
raised in her husband's mind a bias in favour of
her religion. He therefore received Augustine
with courtesy, listened attentively to his preaching,
and assigned him and his companions a residence
in the isle of Thanet. But he told him that he
must take time to consider the doctrines he had
advanced, as he could not hastily forsake the gods
of his fathers; yet he gave Augustine leave to
preach freely to his people.
This first conference was held in the open air,
Ethelbert being seated under an oak, which he
believed would protect him from any magical
spells which the foreign missionaries might use.
But afterwards, Augustine was invited to the
king's city of Canterbury, where he and his col-
leagues so won upon the king and his court, by
their fervency in prayer and austerity of life, that
they were looked upon as more than human. At
the feast of Pentecost, or Whitsunday, Ethelbert
made a confession of his faith in Christ, and was
18 CONVERSION OF THE SAXONS.
baptized, as were many of his courtiers; and at the
Christmas following about ten thousand of his sub-
jects also renounced their idolatry, and were bap-
tized. From this time Christianity spread rapidly
over the kingdom of Wessex, whence it gradually
extended through the other parts of the heptarchy,
so that in about half a century from the time of
Augustine's arrival, Saxon Britain had become,
professedly at least, Christian.
Only a few years had elapsed after the erection
of the last of the Saxon kingdoms, when jealousies
and quarrels arose among the several sovereigns.
Mercia, the largest, and for a time the most potent
of the seven states, had nearly attained to abso-
lute power in the heptarchy. East Anglia, Kent,
Essex, and Northumberland, had been brought
under its yoke; and Sussex was annexed to Wes-
sex, at the time when Egbert, the seventeenth in
succession, ascended the throne of the latter king-
dom, A.D. 800.
Egbert's first military enterprise was against
the Britons of Cornwall, who held a precarious
existence on his western border; and though he
defeated them in several battles, he could not
reduce them to own his sovereignty. Whilst he
was thus engaged, his dominions were invaded
by the king of Mercia, whom he encountered at
Ellandum, now Wilton, in Wiltshire, and obtained
a complete victory. The great slaughter which Eg-
bert made of his enemies in their flight, destroyed
the power of the Mercians, and they submitted
to him; as did also in succession, the people of
Kent, Essex, East Anglia, and Northumberland.
Having thus gained the complete sovereignty, Eg-
bert convened a general council of the leading men
of the states, at his capital city of Winchester,
A.D. 827, where he ordained that all distinctions
of the several kingdoms of the heptarchy should
be for ever abolished ; and he was solemnly crown-
ed King of all Angle-land.
Thus were united all the kingdoms of the hept-
archy in one great state, about three hundred
and eighty years after the first arrival of the
Saxons in Britain; and a favourable prospect seem-
ed to open to the Anglo-Saxons of establishing a
civilized monarchy. But about five years after
Egbert had settled himself in an undivided empire,
the Danes came over to plunder the Saxons, as
the Saxons themselves had formerly come over to
plunder the Britains; and the country soon became
a scene of warfare and desolation.
They had, indeed, made two descents upon Bri-
tain, during the reign of Brithric, the predecessor
of Egbert, in Wessex; but in the first, they did
little more than make observations on the state of
the country, and departed on being summoned to
appear before the king to give an account of their
intentions. This was in the year 787. Their
second incursion was in 794, when they pillaged
a monastery in Northumberland; but the people
rose upon them, slew their leader in a skirmish,
and put the remainder to the sword. After this,
they appeared no more in Britain during almost
forty years; but in 832, five years after Egbert
had become sole monarch of England, a party of
Danes landed in the isle of Sheppy, and having
robbed the inhabitants, burned their dwellings,
and laid their country waste, they escaped with
their booty. In the following year, they made
another invasion; but Egbert met them at Char-
mouth in Dorsetshire, and drove them back to
their ships. They then made a league with the
Britons of Cornwall; and in the year 835, they
made an inroad into Devonshire; but they were
again repulsed by Egbert, who pursued and gave
them a complete overthrow at Hengesdown, in
Three years after this victory, Egbert died, and
left the government to his son Ethelwolf, whose
whole reign was disturbed by repeated invasions
of the Danes; as were also the short reigns
of his sons, Ethelbald, Ethelbert, and Ethelred,
each of whom succeeded in order to the throne;
so that when, by the death of Ethelred, in 871,
the government devolved upon his younger brother
Alfred, these enemies had spread themselves over
a large portion of the kingdom, deprived the in-
habitants of their property, slain many, and burn-
ed several towns to the ground, particularly Lon-
don and Canterbury.
ALFRED THE GREAT.
Born 848. Began to reign 871. Reigned 291 years.
ALFRED, the grandson of Egbert, and son of
Ethelwolf, was only twenty-two years of age when
the people made him king. He was tall and
handsome, and had a very agreeable countenance.
As for his courage, sense, and virtue, you will
judge for yourself, when I tell you that he found
England a scene of misery and ignorance, and left
it a thriving nation.
During the first four years of his reign, Alfred
fought many battles with the Danes, whose in-
creasing power rendered them daily more formi-
dable, and though the victory was sometimes on
his side, the reinforcements of his enemies were so
constantly poured in, that Alfred had no sooner
defeated them in one place, than he was obliged
to march into another and distant part of his king-
dom, to meet a new army of his foes: and such
was the celerity of his movements, that in one year
he fought eight battles, and reduced the Danes to
such extremities that they sued to him for peace.
ALFRED THE GREAT.
Alfred listened to their proposals, and was about
to settle them somewhere in England, when a fresh
body of Danes arrived, and having collected the
scattered troops of their countrymen, made a sud-
den attack upon Chippenham, where the king then
resided. Alfred escaped with difficulty, and the
Danes renewed their ravages in nearly every part
of his dominions.
This incident so broke the spirit of the English,
that many fled into Wales, or beyond sea; others
submitted to the conquerors; and Alfred found
himself deserted. Dismissing, therefore, his atten-
dants, and laying aside his royal robes, he sought
security in the meanest disguises, from the pursuit
and fury of his enemies.
At one time, concealed under a peasant's habit,
he lived in the house of a man who had been
intrusted with the care of some of his own cows.
Neither the cowherd nor his wife knew the quality
of their guest: and the good woman one day de-
sired him to mind some cakes which were baking
over the fire, while she was engaged in other work.
Alfred, however, was intent upon trimming his
bow and arrows, and reflecting upon the best
means to recover his kingdom: he neglected the
cakes; they were burned; and his hostess on her
return, severely scolded him for his inattention;
some say, she even boxed his ears. He was after-
wards concealed for twelve months, with a few
brave followers, in the island of Athelney, in
ALFRED THE GREAT.
Somersetshire, whence he made frequent assaults
upon the Danes, and subsisted himself and his
followers by the plunder that he took from them.
At length, hearing that Oddune, Earl of De-
von, had gained a considerable advantage over the
Danes, he resolved to make himself known, and
to call upon his people, who supposed him to be
dead, to take up arms in their own defence. Prior
to doing this, he wished to inspect the situation
of the enemy; and, putting on the garb of a min-
strel, with a harp in his hand, he went into the
Danish camp. Minstrels, in those times, were
much respected; he was allowed to pass through
every quarter; and he so entertained the Danes
with his music and recitations, that he was even
introduced to the tent of Guthrum, their prince.
He remained some days in the camp, and did not
fail to observe the negligence with which it was
guarded, and the contempt which the Danes enter-
tained for the English, whom they considered as
incapable of making any serious resistance.
Encouraged by these appearances, Alfred sent
messages to the most considerable of his subjects,
and appointed them to meet him, with their war-
like followers, on a certain day, on the borders of
Selwood forest. The English, wearied out with
oppression, gladly obeyed the summons; so that,
at the time appointed, he found himself at the
head of a large army, which welcomed his re-
appearance with shouts of applause. Alfred in-
ALFRED THE GREAT.
stantly attacked the Danes in their camp, at
AEthundun, gave them a complete overthrow,
settled such as submitted to him in Northumber-
land, and drove the rest out of his dominions.
When peace was established, he busied himself
in improving and polishing his rude subjects. He
instituted schools, and founded the University of
Oxford. He even translated books himself, into the
Anglo-Saxon dialect, for the use and amusement
of all classes. XEsop's Fables was one of the
books that Alfred translated; as were also the
Psalms of David, and some parts of the Bible.
He made laws, to punish the guilty and protect
the weak; he encouraged trade, and caused his
people to be taught various useful arts and manufac-
tures. He gave rewards to such as were ingenious
and industrious; and took care that all his officers,
especially the judges, fulfilled their duty.
He attended to his fleet, and stationed it in
places where it could best defend the island. He
watched over his army, and kept it in constant
readiness to fight any enemy. And, when a foe
appeared, Alfred was instantly at the head of his
troops, commanding like a skilful general, and
fighting like a brave soldier.
By good management, Alfred contrived to make
eight hours suffice for rest and refreshment. The
other sixteen hours of his busy day, he divided
into two parts, and dedicated half to reading and
improving himself, and half to the government and
ALFRED THE GREAT.
improvement of his subjects. Those who would
instruct others, must first instruct themselves.
But it was not of time alone that Alfred was
sparing; he as carefully managed his money. His
private fortune he shared with his people-giving
one half of it in charity, and spending the other
half for his household, and for payment of skilful
workmen and artists.
These salutary and benevolent pursuits of Alfred
were interrupted, in the year 893, by a formidable
invasion of Danes, under the conduct of Hastings,
a celebrated pirate, who had previously ravaged
the sea-coasts of France. But this new foe Alfred
defeated at Bamflete, in Essex. The wife and
two sons, or, as some accounts state, the wife and
daughter of Hastings, fell into the hands of the
victors; and Alfred generously sent them back to
him; which so wrought upon Hastings, that he
abandoned the shores of England for ever.
For nearly thirty years did Alfred reign over
England, protecting her from foreign foes, and
spreading around him the best blessings of peace.
He died A.D. 901, in the fifty-second year of his
The character of Alfred is a fine subject for re-
flection. His virtue and his wisdom rescued a
great nation from misery, and raised it to honour
The use of clocks and watches was not known,
in Alfred's time, in our island; and even hour-
ALFRED THE GREAT.
glasses had not been then introduced. Alfred was
very particular in regulating his time; he mea-
sured his hours by means of wax candles, marked
with circular lines of various colours, to serve as
hour lines; and, to prevent them from being
blown out by the wind, it is said, he invented a
kind of lantern, made of horn; glass being then
very scarce. He used to have a certain quantity
of wax made into six candles, each twelve inches
long, with the division of the inches marked out
distinctly. These being lighted one after another,
burned four hours apiece; and thus the whole six
lasted twenty-four hours, or one day. He could
thus readily divide his time, according to his
wishes, into three portions, of eight hours each,
two candles burning precisely eight hours. Proper
persons were appointed to attend to the candles,
and inform him how the hours passed. "
Learning was not common among the nobility in
the days of Alfred. That good king himself could
not read when he was twelve years old. He had
the misfortune to lose his mother very early;
but the princess, whom his father afterwards mar-
ried, was very fond of reciting, or chanting, the
Saxon poems, in praise of the martial exploits of
the heroes of his nation. These roused Alfred's
genius; and he used to listen to her with deep
attention, till he could recite them himself. One
day, going into the queen's chamber, he saw, by
chance, a book adorned with paintings in her
hand. It attracted his attention, and he begged
her to give it to him. She promised to comply with
his request, provided he would learn to read it.
This trifling incident caused his love of learning;
for he immediately began to apply himself to books,
and not only read the compositions which had de-
lighted him so much in the recital, but proceeded
to acquire a knowledge of Latin, in which he met
with authors who better prompted his heroic spirit,
and directed his generous views.
Obtained the supremacy in England, 1014.-Expelled, 1042.
THE successors of Alfred were mostly weak
princes, and the Danes took advantage of their
unwarlike character, to renew their invasions of
England. Edward, the son of Alfred, gave his
daughter in marriage to the King of Denmark,
hoping by such an alliance to conciliate the fa-
vour of the Danes; but it only increased their
insolence, and made them demand the crown of
England for the prince who was born of that
In the reign of Ethelred II. the eighth English
28 MASSACRE OF THE DANES.
monarch from Alfred, the Danes had obtained
such a predominancy, that the whole kingdom was
in a state of alarm and confusion. Treaties had
been repeatedly made with them; but they paid
no regard to treaties, though confirmed by the
most solemn oaths. Ethelred, whose indolence
acquired for him the surname of The Unready, in-
stead of fighting, as his ancestor Alfred had done,
gave them large sums of money, that they might
depart; but when they had taken his money, they
laughed at his folly, and recommended their depre-
dations. This had been done three times; when
Ethelred adopted the cruel resolution of making a
general massacre of those Danes who had settled
in his dominions, and who were always ready to
join the foreign Danes whenever they made an in-
road upon the country. This act of barbarity was
carried into execution on Sunday, the festival of
St. Brice, 13th of November, 1002; and the en-
raged populace spared neither rank, sex, nor age.
Among the victims was the Princess Gunilda, sis-
ter to Sweyn, King of Denmark, who had married
Earl Paling, and embraced Christianity: she was
seized, and condemned to death by Ethelred, after
seeing her husband and children butchered before
her face. In the agonies of despair, she predicted
that her murder would soon be avenged by the
total ruin of the English nation. And so it was:
for it was not long before Sweyn, with a large
armament, appeared off the western coast, and
threatened to take full revenge for the slaughter
of his countrymen. A long and sanguinary war
ensued, which was only ended by the transfer of
the regal authority from the Saxons to the Danes.
Sweyn added the title of King of England to his
other dignities, and Ethelred fled into Normandy
toward the close of the year 1013.
The triumph of Sweyn was but short: he had
not been sole monarch of England more than six
weeks, when he was assassinated at Gainsborough,
in Lincolnshire, whilst revelling with his chief offi-
cers and princes. The English immediately in-
vited Ethelred to return to take possession of his
kingdom; but on resuming the government, he dis-
covered the same incapacity and indolence which
he had previously displayed: and had it not been
for the valour of his son Edmond, surnamed Iron-
side, on account of his prowess in arms, he would
have been again expelled by Canute, the son and
successor of Sweyn, who established himself in
the north, ravaged the eastern coast with merci-
less fury, and broke into the western counties
of Dorset, Wilts, and Somerset.
On the death of Ethelred, in 1016, Prince Ed-
mond ascended the tottering throne of England,
and took the field against his enemy and compe-
titor Canute. Two battles had been fought, in
both which Edmond was worsted, through the
perfidy of Edric, Earl of Mercia. But the inde-
fatigable Edmond raised a new army, and met the
Danes at Gloucester, where he challenged Canute
to decide their respective pretensions to the throne
by a single combat. The challenge was accepted,
and the two kings fought with great valour and
equal fierceness, till the English and Danish nobles
interfered, and insisted upon their agreeing to
divide the kingdom between them. Canute, there-
fore, reserved to himself the northern division,
which he had entirely subdued; and the southern
parts were left to Edmond. The latter survived
this treaty only about a month, when he was
murdered by two of his chamberlains, accomplices
of the traitor Edric.
Canute immediately took possession of the
whole kingdom, to the prejudice of Edmond's sons,
whom he sent out of the kingdom. During the
twenty years that he reigned, he proved himself
worthy of the exalted situation which he held.
His early life, indeed, was stained by the same
violence and treachery which characterized the
Danes in general; and he stands accused of having
sent the sons of the murdered Edmond to Olaus,
King of Sweden, with a private request that they
should be put to death; but the Swedish monarch,
who is known in the Romish calendar by the title
of St. Olave, sent the orphan princes to Stephen,
also canonised as a saint, King of Hungary, who
received them with kindness. Edmond, the elder
of the two, married the king's daughter, but died,
leaving no issue. Edward, the younger, who mar-
ried Agatha, daughter of the Emperor of Germany,
had several children, and his eldest son is known
in history by the name of Edgar Atheling; for,
being the surviving son of Edmond Ironside, the
title of Atheling, or Noble, which was given by the
Saxons to the next heir to the throne, belonged
to him. He never obtained his right; but his
name is of frequent occurrence at this period of
In order to gain the high point of his ambition,
Canute was under a necessity of courting the chief
of the nobility, by bestowing on them the most
extensive governments; while he loaded the com-
mon people with heavy taxes, to enable him to
reward his Danish followers. But, when he found
himself confirmed on the throne, he banished some
of the nobility, on whom he could not rely, and
put others of them to death; among the latter,
was the traitor Edric, who had been principally
instrumental in transferring the crown to the
Danes, and had presumed to reproach the king
with his services. On the other hand, the justice
of Canute was impartially administered to all his
subjects, without distinction between the English
and the Danes; he restored the Saxon customs,
and gradually incorporated the victors with the
vanquished. He also married Emma, the young
widow of Ethelred, who was sister to Richard,
Duke of Normandy, and promised that the children
of their marriage should succeed to the English
Canute, the greatest and most powerful monarch
of his time, Sovereign of Denmark, Norway, and
England, could not fail of meeting with adulation
from his courtiers; and an anecdote is still on
record, which shews his wisdom in rebuking their
absurd flattery: one day, when Canute was at
Southampton walking on the sea-shore, some of
his courtiers suggested, that, as he was lord of both
the land and the sea, everything was at his com-
mand. You shall soon see that exemplified,"
replied the king; and he immediately ordered his
royal seat to be placed on the beach, when the tide
was coming in. Having seated himself he re-
peated the words of his courtiers, and concluded
by commanding the sea to own him for its lord
and master, and not presume to wet his feet. The
tide, however, deaf to his commands, continued
to roll onward, foaming and dashing not only
against his feet, but all over him. This was what
he expected; and he, turning to his flatterers, re-
marked to them that every creature in the uni-
verse was feeble and impotent, compared with that
Almighty Being, in whose hands alone were all
the elements of nature, and who could say to the
ocean, Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther."
And it is said, that from a principle of humility,
he would never afterwards wear his crown.
After a reign of nearly twenty-one years, Canute
died at Shaftesbury, leaving three sons, Sweyn,
Harold, surnamed Harefoot, from his swiftness
in running, and Canute, surnamed the Hardy, or
Hardicanute: the latter, being the son of Canute
and Queen Emma, ought to have succeeded him
on the English throne; but as he was absent in
Denmark, his brother Harold seized the crown, and
also his late father's treasures. The elder brother,
Sweyn, was crowned in Norway; and Hardicanute,
who assumed the title of King of Denmark, made
preparations for an invasion of England, to assert
his rights, in opposition to Harold.
The Danes in England supported Harold, and
the English asserted the right of Hardicanute. A
civil war was on the point of breaking out, when
both parties united, and obliged Harold to cede
to his brother all the country south of the Thames;
and till Hardicanute should appear and take pos-
session, Queen Emma, as her son's representative,
fixed her residence at Winchester, and established
her authority over his share of the kingdom.
The reign of Harold, which lasted but four
years, was marked by cruelty and oppression.
He died in 1040, to the great relief of his sub-
jects, and Hardicanute was acknowledged as king
without opposition. He did not long retain the
affections of his people, on whom he levied very
exorbitant taxes. In several parts of England,
the taxes were opposed, especially at Worcester,
where the people killed two of the tax-gatherers.
The king, enraged at this opposition, sent an army
against them, and burned their city to the ground;
and he would have taken farther vengeance upon
them, had not his sudden death put a stop to his
cruelties, two years after his accession, in the year
1012. Hardicanute was a slave to his appetite:
he is said to have had four dinners every day; at
each of which he sat down to a table covered with
all the delicacies that could be procured; and it
was whilst he was carousing at a wedding feast,
that he dropped down and expired. With him
the tyranny of the Danes over England was
brought to a conclusion, after it had lasted, with
little interruption, about two hundred years. By
the contrivance of Earl Godwin, the most power-
ful nobleman in the kingdom, Prince Edward, son
of Ethelred II. and Queen Emma, was placed
upon the throne, and thus the Saxon line of kings
The Danes were a warlike people, but very bar-
barous in their manners, and faithless to their
oaths. During their wars in England, they em-
braced Christianity, but retained so many of their
heathen customs that they were very little amend-
ed by the change of their religion.
When they became masters of the country, they
exercised their power with unrelenting severity. No
wonder, therefore, if they were detested by the Eng-
lish, who, as they began to shake off the yoke, de-
stroyed great numbers of them. They then called
them in derision Lord Danes; whence the old term
of reproach, Lourdan, to signify a worthless fellow.
On their final expulsion, the English introduced a
festival, on the second Tuesday after Easter, called
Hock-tide, that is, Hightide, to commemorate the
event. The festival is still kept up in many coun-
try villages, though the occasion of it is for-
Their kings and heroes were very fond of having
their deeds of valour made known; and for this
purpose they frequently took their scalds, or poets,
(similar to the Saxon-minstrels,) to the field of
battle, that they might witness their actions, and
afterwards record them in songs.
Both the Saxon minstrels and the Danish scalds
were constant attendants at the courts of princes,
where they met with a most cordial reception.
The custom of persons pledging each other,
when about to drink, whence the modern prac-
tice of drinking health is said to have had its
rise during the domination of the Danes in Eng-
land; for if a native drank, they would some-
times stab him with a dagger, or knife; here-
upon people would not drink in company, unless
some one present would be their pledge, or surety,
that they should receive no hurt whilst they were
in their draught.
The manner of pledging was thus: the person
who was going to drink, asked any one of the com-
pany who sat near him, whether he would pledge
him; on which he, answering that he would, held
up his knife, or sword, to guard him whilst he
drank. For whilst a man is drinking, he is ne-
BATTLE OF HASTINGS.
cessarily in an ungarded posture, exposed to the
treacherous stroke of some hidden or secret enemy.
But this custom, it is also said, first took its rise
from the death of the young king, called Edward
the Martyr, who was stabbed in the back, whilst
drinking, by order of his mother-in-law, Queen
BATTLE OF HASTINGS.
EDWARD was the last of the Saxon line that
ruled in England. His reign was peaceable and
fortunate; but he owed his prosperity more to
the peculiar circumstances of the times than to
his own abilities. The supineness of his dispo-
sition, induced him to submit to the government
of Earl Godwin and his son Harold; and those
noblemen, whilst entrusted with authority, pre-
served domestic peace and tranquillity. Edward
hated Godwin, because he had been instrumental
in procuring the death of his brother Alfred; and
though he had married the earls daughter, as a
condition of his being raised to the throne, the
king could never be reconciled towards her. The
EDWARD THE CONFESSOR.
English, though they had no high idea of Ed-
ward's capacity, bore him great affection on ac-
count of his humanity, piety, and justice, as well
as the long race of their native kings from whom
he was descended; but the favour which he show-
ed to the Normans, among whom he had been
educated, and who repaired in numbers to his
court, disgusted his English subjects, and almost
produced a rebellion, with Earl Godwin at its
head. Happily, the mischief was averted by the
king banishing his Norman favourites, and the earl
making a submission. Godwin soon afterwards
died as he was sitting at table with the king, and
his son Harold, by a modest and gentle demeanour,
gained so many friends among the most powerful
of the nobility, that he resolved, in the event of
Edward's death, to claim the crown, by virtue of
his descent, on his mother's side, from Sweyn, the
father of Canute the Great; but the king had
destined it for William, Duke of Normandy, who
was his kinsman, and to whose family he was
under great obligations.
Such was the state of affairs in England, when
Edward died, in January 1066, in the twenty-
fourth year of his reign, and sixty-fifth of his age.
His benefactions to the clergy, his rebuilding of
Westminster Abbey, and his laying on his people
a tax, called Peter Pence, or Rome Scot, for the
Pope, obtained him the title of Confessor from the
monks; and after his death he was canonised, or
made a saint. In the Romish calendar, his anni-
versary is fixed on the 13th October; and his
crown, staff, spurs, and other regalia, are still used
at the coronation of our British sovereigns. The
most commendable circumstance of his government
was his attention to the administration of justice,
and his compiling, for that purpose, a code of laws,
which he collected from those of Ina, Ethelbert,
and Alfred. This code, which was afterwards
called the laws of Saint Edward, was long the ob-
ject of affection to the English nation; and though
now lost, is the foundation of our present common
On the death of Edward, Harold, who, as we
have seen, was descended from the Danish kings who
had ruled in England, and was also, by marriages,
allied to the Saxon race of princes, took possession
of the crown. He was brave and virtuous; and
much beloved by his subjects; but he had worn
the crown only a few months, when his right to
it was disputed by a stranger. William, Duke of
Normandy, pretended that the crown of England
had been promised to him by the old King Ed-
ward, the predecessor of Harold. So William
determined to fight for the throne; and Harold
resolved to keep it, or die in defending it.
One great battle was to decide who should be
king: it was fought on the 14th October, 1066,
near Hastings, in Sussex. Imagine two large
armies, stationed opposite to each other, every
BATTLE OF HASTINGS.
heart beating with desire of conquest-brave men
desiring the death of men, brave as themselves;
generals contriving how best to kill the greatest
number of their fellow-creatures! The armies
kept in sight of each other, and spent the night
in wishing for the fatal day.
The English passed the hours in feasting and
singing, noise and merriment: the Normans, in
prayer, silence, and meditation. At daybreak, all
was bustle and preparation on both sides-the
horsemen feeding, and cleaning, and caparisoning
their neighing steeds; the foot-soldiers polishing
their swords and spears; the archers collecting
their bows and arrows; some singing, some halloo-
ing; all busy, all agitated: the different com-
manders pacing along the rows of tents, giving
orders and seeing that all was in readiness.
The two chiefs, for whom all this blood was
about to be shed, must have endured much severe
anxiety. Each in his tent, surrounded by his cap-
tains and generals, whilst issuing his last com-
mand, could not help reflecting that a few hours
would give him a kingdom or a grave!
But the troops have formed, the colours are
flying, the various sounds of songs and shouts and
laughter have ceased. Nothing is heard but the
spirit-stirring trumpet, the neighing of the warlike
steed, and the deep low tones of military com-
mand. William, mounted on a prancing horse,
appears at the head of his army, encouraging it
BATTLE OF HASTINGS.
by words and gestures; his soldiers rush forward,
singing their war-song of Roland."
Harold is on foot, shewing his men the advanc-
ing enemy, and bidding them stand firm.
The shrill trumpets sound,--the battle is begun.
The long bows of the Normans make dreadful
harock. The sharp bills of the English cut down
the assaulting foes:;-all is noise, and bloodshed,
and horror. The shrieks of the wounded and
dying miingle with the clang of arms and the
sound of trumpets ;--the ground is slippery with
blood-men are falling on all sides-horses are
trampling on the dead and dying !
The Normans give way: William hears the sad
news, and hastens to rally and encourage them.
Harold and his brave English stand their ground
all day, and deal destruction on all around. Wil-
liam bids his men pretend to flee: Harold believes
their flight to be real, and commands his soldiers
to pursue. The Normans suddenly turn about,
and Harold finds that he has been deceived and
drawn from an advantageous situation: but he
fights on manfully, and William is once more dis-
mayed. One fatal arrow decides the day-Harold
is wounded-he falls-he dies!
The Normans shout Victory !" But the Eng-
lish continue to fight, till night and darkness stop
In the morning, there is but one king, William
of Normandy, the Conqueror. He puts on the
~ rr~ A/n/5
IIIIIr ril jl
crown of England; and the cold body of the brave
but unfortunate Harold is found amidst heaps of
slain, covered with wounds. It was brought to
William, who generously restored it to his mother
At this time, among many other curious cus-
toms, it was usual to keep holy the afternoons of
Saturday. The peasants and workmen ceased
from labour at the noon of that day, and did not
recommence their toil till the light dawned on
Monday. Thus Sunday was ushered in, and fol-
lowed, by repose and leisure for religious medita-
tion. The tolling of a bell warned people of the
hour of mid-day each Saturday; all then left off
working, and devoted their minds to holy duties.
They attended vespers, or the evening service;
and whoever neglected these regulations was liable
This custom has been long obsolete; that is,
out of use: though some remains of it still exist
in the northern counties, where it is usual to leave
off work early in the afternoon of Saturday. Per-
haps, evidence of its former existence may also be
traced in the universal custom of schools giving a
half holyday, or even a whole holyday, on that
A fondness for French fashions had begun among
the English nobility, during the reign of Edward
the Confessor; and when the Normans obtained the
mastery in England, it was carried to great excess,
42 THE CARNIVAL.
particularly in having the hair of a preposterous
length. Even the priests shared in these follies,
and went about with bushed and braided heads,
long-tailed gowns, blazing clothes, shining and
golden girdles, and gilt spurs." Henry I. discou-
raged this silly pride, so that by degrees it dwin-
The custom of keeping the carnival was known
to the Saxons. Carnival is a word derived from
two Latin words: carnis, flesh,--ale, farewell;
meaning, Farewell to Flesh. This festivity takes
place, in Roman Catholic countries, in the fort-
night before Lent; for during Lent no meat is
eaten; and it is a season of all kinds of gaiety,
dissipation, and riot.
SURNAMED THE CONQUEROR.
Born, 1023. Began to reign, 1066. Reigned 20 years, 10
months, 25 days. Died, 1087, aged 63.
WILLIAM THE FIRST, as the Conqueror known,
By the battle of Hastings, ascended the throne.
His laws were all made in the Norman tongue;
And at eight every evening the curfew was rung.
When each English subject, by royal desire,
Extinguish'd his candle, and put out his fire.
He bridled the kingdom with forts round the border;
And the Tower of London was built by his order.
As William had gained his crown by force, he
was obliged to keep it by severe laws. Aware that
these severe laws would cause discontent among
his subjects, he began to fear that they would meet
together at night in secret, and concert measures
against him. To prevent this, he made a law, that
all persons should put out their fires and candles
at eight o'clock every evening; and, that no one
might excuse himself for having a light after the
hour prescribed, a bellman was sent through the
44 WILLIAM I. (THE CONQUEROR.)
streets, ringing his bell, and calling out Couvre
feu Couvre feu !" that is, Cover," or extinguish,
"the fire." This order was announced in the
Norman-French, because William desired that his
new subjects should speak that language; so all
public laws and notices were expressed in it. The
term couvre feu was, by degrees, pronounced cur-
few ; and you will find this word in your Dic-
tionary explained as the evening, or eight o'clock
This enactment was only troublesome and vexa-
tious; William ordained another, which was cruel
and unjust. He was very fond of hunting the stag
and the wild boar. To enjoy this amusement in
perfection, he commanded a large tract of land,
near Winchester, in Hampshire, to be enclosed
and planted with forest trees. This wood, which
is still called the New Forest, was so large that it
was thirty miles in circumference; and, before it
was planted, it contained many cottages, farm-
houses, and hamlets. William ordered all the poor
inhabitants of the different dwellings to be turned
out of their abodes; and, without paying them
a single penny for house or land, he sent them
forth, ruined and miserable.
One cannot without a sigh think of the fate of
these ill-used sufferers. Here, one can fancy a
sturdy young labourer, torn from the humble
cottage in which he was born; he checks his in-
dignation whilst he consoles his weeping mother
WILLIAM I. (THE CONQUEROR.)
and his aged father, and comforts them with the
assurance of his love and duty. There, one pictures
an honest farmer, wiping off the few tears which
anger and shame have forced from his manly heart,
and trying to console his sorrowing wife, who, with
her lamenting little ones, are pressing around him.
Such must have been the melancholy scenes which
the servants of William hourly witnessed, whilst
fulfilling the commands of their royal master. Such
scenes cannot occur now, for our Sovereign has
neither the will nor the power to injure the meanest
William took an excursion, and visited his do-
minions in Normandy: during his absence, his no-
bles grievously oppressed the English, who formed
a conspiracy against their oppressors. The people,
headed by some Barons, plotted the death of the
Norman soldiery. The vassals of Count Coxo, an
English Baron, implored their lord to lead them
on this service; and on his refusal, they instantly
murdered him. When William heard of this con-
spiracy, he returned in all haste, and acted with
increased severity. He seized the lands of the
rebellious Barons, and gave them to his Norman
followers. He renewed an odious tax, called
Daneqelt, by which the English were forced to
pay an annual sum of money. He ordered that
if a man killed a boar or a deer, he should lose
both his eyes; and made many other severe laws.
After driving the English nobles and chiefs
46 WILLIAM I. (THE CONQUEROR.)
from their ancient castles and demesnes, he gave
their property to his own countrymen. Thus the
greatest and richest English lords saw themselves
penniless, whilst some mean Normans rioted in
their halls and parks. But William followed his
own plans, without regarding the complaints and
murmurs of his oppressed subjects. He divided
the whole kingdom into baronies, and gave each
division, or barony, to some favourite follower.
For this gift, he required each baron to assist him,
during war, with men and money. The barons, in
their turn, let small estates to their vassals, or
knights, on condition that they would fight them-
selves, and make their servants fight, whenever
the barons needed help -this was called the feu-
Sometimes, two barons would quarrel, and fight
against each other: for security against such dis-
sensions, they made their dwellings strong castles,
surrounded by moats and walls; and every baron
kept a little army in his castle and on his estate,
ready to attack his neighbour or to defend himself.
England must have been in a terrible state,
when every man was judge in his own cause The
numerous disputes must have continually spread
warfare and bloodshed.
It was this William, who ordered a general
survey to be made of all the lands in the kingdom;
and their value was set down in a register, called
Domesday Book. In the general distribution among
WILLIAM I. (THE CONQUEROR.)
his followers, he reserved a very ample revenue for
the crown; for he kept possession of no fewer than
1400 manors, in different parts of the country.
Hence no king of England was ever so opulent;
none was able to support the splendour of a court
to such a degree; none had so many places of
profit and trust to bestow; and none ever had
such implicit obedience paid to his orders.
Yet William himself enjoyed little peace; his
sons rebelled against him, and his nobles were mu-
tinous. The King of France having spoken con-
temptuously of him, William crossed the sea with
an army to chastise him; and had advanced to
within about 40 miles of Paris, when, passing over
the hot embers of Mantes, which he had destroyed,
his horse plunged, and hurt him so much, that a
mortification ensued, and he died at a little village
near Rouen, in Normandy, 9th of September 1087,
aged 63, in the 21st year of his reign over England,
and 54th of that over Normandy.
You know what fairs are? They are a kind
of great public markets, which happen once or
twice a year, or oftener, in all towns, and in many
The origin of fairs is rather curious, as it arose
out of a religious observance. In the early ages
of Christianty, the clergy thought fit to dedicate
their churches to different saints, as the heathens
had dedicated their temples to their false deities.
Once a year, a solemn festival was held in each
48 WILLIAM I. (THE CONQUEROR.)
church, in honour of the saint to whom it was
dedicated; great numbers of people assembled on
these occasions; and as the church could not con-
tain them, they made themselves booths, or tents,
in the churchyard, in which they performed their
devotions. By degrees, devotion gave place to
merriment; so that even dances and songs were
introduced, with excessive eating and drinking.
In some country places, this practice still con-
tinues, under the various names of Feast, Revel,
Wake, and Tide. The concourse of people, on
these occasions, encouraged pedlars and travelling
merchants to attend with their wares for sale;
and they were allowed to set up stalls in the
churchyard for vending their merchandise, on pay-
ment of a certain fee to the clergy. These were
the first fairs; in numerous instances, they are
still held in churchyards; but more generally they
have been removed to the market-place, or some
convenient spot near it.
Formerly, a very great fair was held near Win-
chester. It was instituted by William the Con-
queror, who ordered it to be continued for three
days. In his time, fairs were particularly useful;
for there were then no flourishing towns, where the
necessaries and ornaments of life could be readily
purchased, as now, at shops. Goods of every kind
were chiefly sold at fairs. To these meetings,
therefore, all persons resorted, to supply them-
selves with whatever they should want during the
WILLIAM II. RUFUSS.)
ensuing year; and thus the country, from one end
to the other, was provided with every article of
utility and comfort.
The Tower of London is said to have been built
by William the Conqueror, in the first year of his
reign. The great square edifice, called the White
Tower, was erected in 1078, under the direction
of Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester. Originally, it
stood by itself; but subsequent structures have
completely surrounded it.
Born, 1056. Began to reign, 1087. Reigned 12 years, 10
months, 24 days. Killed, 1100, aged about 43.
WILLIAM styled Rufus, from having red hair,
Of virtues possessed but a moderate share ;
But, though he was one whom we covetous call,
He built the famed structure called Westminster Hall.
Walter Tyrrel, his favorite, whilst hunting one day,
Attempted a deer with an arrow to slay;
But, missing his aim, struck the King to the heart,
And the body was carried away in a cart.
WILLIAM II. succeeded his father; yet he had
no right to the throne, because he had an elder
WILLIAM II. RUFUSS.)
brother, named Robert. But Robert had greatly
offended his father, so that he only left him his
Norman possessions. These Norman possessions
Robert pawned to his brother, the King of Eng-
land, for he wanted a large sum of money for a
particular purpose. I will tell you what it was:-
I dare say, you remember what I told you, in
the beginning of this book, that the Founder of
our religion, Jesus Christ, was born in a far coun-
try. Look at a map of Asia. There you will see
the coint:ry of Palestine, or the Holy Land. It
was named Holy Land, because Jesus Christ was
born, and lived, and died in it. Now the Christians
valued Palestine very much; and they especially
loved a city in it, called Jerusalem, because this
city contained the sepulchre, in which Christ had
been buried, and from which He had risen.
A people called Saracens, who lived in Ara-
bia, had seized Jerusalem; and from them it had
been wrested by the Turks, a rude nation, who
cruelly oppressed and ill-treated the unhappy
Christians. Many Europeans visited Palestine, and
were shocked to see the dreadful treatment their
fellow Christians suffered. Among these pilgrims
(for so were travellers to the Holy Land called)
was a Frenchman, named Peter the Hermit. This
man was very religious, and having been at Jeru-
salem, had witnessed the misery of the oppressed,
and the brutality of the oppressors. He felt so
much sorrow and indignation, that, on his return
WILLIAM II. RUFUSS.)
to Europe, he made every effort to succour and
relieve the sufferers.
Barefooted and bareheaded, clothed in the mean-
est garments, and eating the simplest food, Peter
the Hermit, of Amiens, went from court to court,
rousing all the sovereigns of Europe to resentment.
He then proceeded to Rome, to entreat the Pope
to listen to his representations.
The Pope was considered as head of the church,
and at that time had very great power. He im-
mediately summoned a council of princes and pre-
lates, and so ably pleaded the cause of the oppress-
ed Christians, that the whole assembly exclaimed,
with enthusiasm, It is the will of God! It is
the will of God!" It was immediately determined
that the kings of Europe should unite their armies
to drive away the Turks from Palestine.
The Pope directed that all those who fought in
this holy cause should wear, as a badge of their
intentions, the figure of a cross on their shoulders.
The French word for cross, is croix; hence these
expeditions were called Croisades, or Crusades.
Peter the Hermit had roused all classes of men;
the rich and powerful gave their money, and took
the command of the armies; the poor gave their
time and their exertions, and became soldiers.
Robert of Normandy, desirous of being one of
the great generals, pawned his duchy to William
of England, for a large sum of money.
William found it difficult to raise so large a
WILLIAM II. RUFUSS.)
sum of money as Robert demanded for Normandy.
There was then very little of the precious metals;
gold and silver were very scarce, so that a small
coin would purchase what was very valuable. An
ox could be bought for six shillings, a cow for four,
and a sheep for ten or twelve pence.
But William was resolved to obtain Normandy;
so he caused the gold and silver belonging to the
churches and convents to be melted, to make up the
As soon as Robert had quitted his dominions,
William collected an army, with which he proposed
to cross over the sea, and establish himself as sove-
reign of the Normans. No doubt, he found it dif-
ficult to raise troops; for, once before, on the same
pretext, he had assembled an army of twenty thou-
sand men, and marched them to the sea-side, as if
he were really going to embark them. All of a
sudden, however, he pretended to change, or did
really change his mind; and he told his soldiers
that they should pay him ten shillings apiece, in-
stead of going to fight for him. A curious mode
of raising money, by deluding his obedient sub-
jects However, when he again wanted an army,
the confiding English rallied around his standard,
and he was about to lead them into France, to
make fresh conquests, when death put an end to
all his projects.
William was as fond of the chase as his father
had been; and, one day, he and his younger bro-
$ 1toe I
J'ton ---- 6 ---------------
WILLIAM II. RUFUSS.)
their, Henry, went to hunt in the New Forest.
This spot had been the scene of his father's injus-~
tice; it was now to be the scene of the son')
death:-a striking instance of retribution!
Sir Walter Tyrrel, a French gentleman, very
skilful in the use of the bow, and many other per-
sons of rank, accompanied the royal brothers to the
chase. A fine wild stag started suddenly before
King William who instantly pursued it, attended
by Sir Walter Tyrrel. Presently, there was a
murmur that the king was killed. He was found
weltering in his blood, and pierced by an arrow.
The Frenchman had fled. It was supposed, that,
in trying to shoot the deer, Sir Walter had acci-
dentally hit the king. As William was not much
valued by his subjects, very little inquiry was made
into the affair. The body is even said to have been
left in the wood, until some peasants, by chance,
saw it, and, throwing it into their cart, carried it
to Winchester, where it was buried, A.D. 1100.
He had reigned somewhat less than thirteen years;
and was about forty-three years of age.
The building of London Bridge is by some wri-
ters set down in this king's reign: but this is a
mistake; for the Londoners had a wooden bridge
over the Thames many years before the Norman
invasion; and the stone bridge was not begun till
the reign of Henry II., as I shall hereafter have
occasion to notice.
Westminster Hall is with more propriety attri-
HENRY THE FIRST.
buted to William Rufus; who also enlarged the
Tower of London, and encompassed it with new
In the last year of this reign, the sea, break-
ing over its banks on the Kentish coast, destroyed
great numbers of the inhabitants, and overwhelm-
ed the land which had formerly belonged to Earl
Godwin, from whom the spot is still called the
Born, 1068. Began to reign, 1100. Reigned 35 years,
4 months. Died, 1135, aged 67.
King HENRY THE FIRST, for his learning much famed,
Beauclerc, or fine scholar, was justly surnamed.
His subjects revered him, and not without cause;
He lighten'd their burdens, restored their old laws,
Abolish'd the curfew, bad money put down,
And kindly remitted the debts of the crown.
But Henry was frail, and licentious beside,
And at last by a surfeit of lampreys he died.
PRINCE HENRY was hunting with his brother,
William Rufus, in the New Forest, when the
HENRY THE FIRST.
latter was killed. It seems that, instead of in-
quiring about the manner in which William had
come by his death, or staying to see the corpse
taken care of and properly interred, Henry has-
tened to London, and busied himself solely about
his own interests. In a very few days, he was
crowned; and thus his elder brother, Robert, was
once more deprived of the English throne. This
prince was in Palestine; and by the time he could
return to Normandy, and lay claim to the king-
dom of England, Henry was fully established on
Robert therefore assembled a large army, and,
determined to assert his claim by force of arms,
he landed at Portsmouth. Anselm, the Primate,
or Archbishop, interfered to reconcile the brothers;
an office worthy of the holy profession of which he
was the chief. He persuaded Henry to pay his
brother three thousand merks* a year, for which
allowance Robert was to give up his claim to Eng-
land during the life of Henry.
Robert is described as a mild and amiable man,
but not sufficiently strict in governing his nobles.
They revolted against him; Henry pretended to
mediate between his brother and his subjects; but,
having widened the breach between them, he ap-
peared in arms, and conquered both Prince and
Lords. Thus Normandy came iato the possession
Merk, or Mark, a piece of money, worth 13s. 4d.
HENRY THE FIRST.
of Henry; and Robert, deprived of his country,
his fortune, and his friends, remained a captive, at
the mercy of the conqueror. Henry imprisoned
him in the castle of Cardiff, in Wales, where he
lived for twenty-eight years: some say that he
was inhumanly blinded, by order of the king ; but
we will hope that this unnecessary act of cruelty
was not committed.
The Castle of Cardiff was at that time a very
large, and a very strong place; its walls are said to
have covered a space of nearly eight acres; its fine
ruins are even now to be seen, and denote the
ancient grandeur of this noble edifice.
Edgar Atheling, a descendant of the Saxon
Kings of England, had long been the friend and
companion of Robert; he was with him in Pales-
tine, and with him was taken prisoner; but Henry
gave him his liberty, and allowed him a small
pension, on which he lived in retirement to a good
The reason of this kindness to Edgar Atheling
was, perhaps, because Henry had married his
niece, Matilda. Edgar's sister, Margaret, was
the wife of Malcolm III. King of Scotland, and
Matilda was their daughter. By this marriage,
Henry united the Norman and Saxon families,
and not only acquired a double claim to the Eng-
lish crown, but also ingratiated himself with the
English people, who were much pleased at having
a descendant of the great Alfred for their queen.
HENRY THE FIRST.
Henry also restored in part the laws of Edward
the Confessor, which farther increased his popu-
larity with the nation.
Anselm, the great primate, who had once made
peace between Robert and Henry, now fell under
the displeasure of Henry, because he would not
submit to all his commands. Henry sent off a
messenger to Rome, to desire the Pope's inter-
ference. William de Warenell, the English
Ambassador, said to the Pope, Pascal II., My
master would rather part with his crown, than
his rights." The Pope answered, And I would
rather lose my head, than give up mine." After
much disputing and threatening on both sides, each
party, by giving way a little, settled the dispute;
probably the best way of settling all disputes.
The Pope commanded Anselm and the other
bishops to do homage to the king for their digni-
ties and property; and Henry consented that the
Pope should have the privilege of bestowing the
high offices of the church. Thus, when a priest
was to be made a bishop, the Pope presented him
with the signs of his office, a crosier and a ring.
In those times the Pope of Rome interfered in
all the church affairs of all the nations of Europe;
for the religion of which he was, and still is, the
head, the Roman Catholic, was then the religion
of all Christians.
Robert had a son, a very valiant young man,
who, with the help of Louis, King of France, tried
HENRY THE FIRST.
to rescue his imprisoned father, and restore to him
his lost country of Normandy. In this just cause,
he fought many battles with his uncle: in one
of them, Crispin, a valiant Norman, struck King
Henry so violent a blow on the head, that the
blood was seen oozing from between all the joints
of his armour. Henry valiantly returned the blow,
and continued fighting manfully, till he laid Crispin
dead at his feet.
All these furious contests produced no good to
the unfortunate Norman prince. The French were
tired of battling for him, and made peace with
England. Robert died in prison, after twenty-eight
years' captivity; his son was soon after killed in
battle; and Normandy remained in the possession
of the English monarch. Robert died in 1134 ;
and his tomb is still to be seen in Gloucester ca-
thedral. A wooden effigy of Robert lies upon it,
with its legs crossed, and the right arm stretched
across the body to the sword on the left side, to
denote his having taken the cross, and been to the
holy wars, as they were then deemed.
The last days of Henry were clouded with afflic-
tion: he lost his only and beloved son, Prince
William, who was drowned when crossing from
France to England. The prince, who had reached
his 18th year, was detained at Barfleur, whence
Henry had embarked for England, for some hours
after his father's departure. The captain and crew
had consumed the interval in drinking; and when
HENRY THE FIRST.
they weighed anchor, they were so heedless of
their way, that, in their impatience to overtake
the king, they struck on a rock, and the ship
foundered. Prince William was immediately put
into the long-boat, and had got clear of the sink-
ing ship, when hearing the cries of his half-sister,
the Countess of Perche, he ordered the seamen to
row back, in the hope of saving her. But the
numbers who then threw themselves into the boat
sunk it; and the prince, with all his retinue,
perished. Above a hundred and forty young no-
blemen, of the principal English and Norman fami-
lies, were lost with him; and the only person who
escaped to tell the melancholy tale was a butcher
of Rouen, who clung to the mast, and was taken
up next morning, by some fishermen. After this
terrible affliction, King Henry was never seen to
smile. He lived on indeed a few years; for it has
been happily said, that, To live is the duty-to
die, is the privilege-of Christians."
Before Henry enjoyed this privilege, he did what
he could to ensure the peace and prosperity of his
subjects. He had a grandson, called after him
Henry, the child of his daughter Maud or Matilda,
who had been married to Geoffry Plantagenet,
Count of Anjou; and the barons of England and
Normandy swore to make this young prince their
sovereign, and to let his mother, Maud, be queen,
after the death of her father.
Having arranged these matters, Henry hoped to
HENRY THE FIRST.
spend his latter days in peace, in the society of his
beloved daughter; but this was not to be. The
Welsh, then a distinct nation, entered England in
arms; and the king, quitting his daughter, deter-
mined to return to England to prepare for war.
He was, however, attacked on the way by a sud-
den illness, brought on by eating too plentifully
of lampreys, which proved fatal to him. He died
in the 67th year of his age, and 36th of his reign,
A.D. 1135. His body was brought to England,
and buried in the Abbey of Reading.
Henry is represented as a very accomplished
prince; his person was manly, and his counte-
nance engaging: he was eloquent, penetrating,
and brave; affable in his address, and strongly
susceptible of friendship, as well as of resentment.
By his great progress in literature, he acquired
the name of Beauclerc, or the Scholar ; for to be
able to read and write was in those days account-
ed a great mark of scholarship ; yet his application
to study abated nothing of the activity and vigilance
of his government.
At his accession, in order to gain popularity, he
granted many privileges to his subjects, abolished
the curfew, and gave a charter to the citizens of
London, which seems to have been the first step
towards making them a corporation. He also re-
mitted the debts due to the crown; and restored
the laws of Edward the Confessor, which the peo-
ple considered a great favour, as they secured the
HENRY THE FIRST.
liberties of his subjects. He made several laws
against coiners of false money, and those who de-
based the current coin. But, when he was estab-
lished on the throne, he became less favourable to
the English, and filled the places of honour and
profit about the court with Normans.
Henry was so fond of all sorts of wild animals,
that he made a park (the first known in England,)
at Woodstock, and walled it with stone; for which
purpose he destroyed many villages, churches, and
chapels. Here he placed, besides great numbers
of deer, many beasts sent him from abroad, as
lions, leopards, lynxes, &c. He had also there a
porcupine, which was esteemed a great curiosity,
it being the only animal of the kind that had ever
been seen in England. His example was followed
by many of the nobility; and from that time parks
SURNAMED, OF BLOIS.
Born, 1085. Began to reign, 1135. Reigned 18 years, 10
months, 23 days. Died, 1154, aged about 68.
King Henry's demise was no sooner made known,
Than STEPHEN contrived to step up to the throne.
By arts and by bribes he the clergy secured,
And by popular actions the people allured:
And though, for a time, through his rival's success,
He felt, as a captive, the deepest distress,
Yet Fortune once more placed the crown on his brow,
And there it continued till Death laid him low.
MAUD and her son Henry were the rightful heirs
to the throne; but their cousin Stephen disputed
it with them. William the Conqueror had left
a daughter, Adela; and she had a son, Stephen,
whom Henry I. had brought up and cherished.
This ungrateful prince, on the death of his uncle,
hastened to England, and seized the crown.
Stephen knew that he had no right to the dig-
nity he had attained; he knew that he had com-
mitted an act of ingratitude and injustice; and he
found that, if he expected support, he must permit
injustice in others, and indulge his subjects in all
The clergy, the barons, the people, were all to
be made his friends by gifts and concessions; and
all, of course, became presuming and riotous. The
barons obtained leave to fortify their castles; they
made their vassals soldiers; and, neighboring
lords quarrelling with each other, the land became
one sad scene of havoc and warfare. The fields
being left unploughed and unsown, there was no
corn to be reaped, and a dreadful scarcity of bread
Stephen was sorry for all this, but he could
neither prevent nor remedy it; for, when he com-
manded the barons to cease hostilities, and to
allow their vassals to return to the labours of til-
lage, many of the saucy barons despised his order,
as being those of an usurper, who had no right to
Maud, who, as I have already noticed, is fre-
quently called Matilda, shocked and surprised at
the treacherous behaviour of her cousin Stephen,
found herself obliged to take up arms in support of
her just claim. She landed in England, accom-
panied by some knights, and was soon acknow-
ledged and succoured by numbers of the English.
Stephen appeared against her with some bands
of foreign soldiers, whom he had hired to fight for
him. There was a dreadful battle; the king's
troops gave way. Stephen found himself com-
bating almost alone in the midst of his foes. He
bravely wielded his strong battle-axe-it broke in
his hand He drew his sword, and continued to
defend himself; his sword was shivered to pieces !
Then, and hot till then, Stephen submitted, and
owned himself vanquished. He was carried to
Gloucester, strongly fettered, and thrust into a
gloomy prison. Him, whom the morning sun had
beheld a sovereign, the evening shadows saw a
Maud was now declared Queen; and it is thought
she would have long reigned in peace and prosperity,
had she acted with sense and moderation. But
she was proud and disobliging, and offended her
subjects by seeming careless of their good opinion,
and by often refusing their requests. This kind
of behaviour is disgusting in everybody, even in
a queen. Maud lost friends, and made enemies
Matilda, Stephen's queen, with her son Eustace,
raised an army, and attacked Maud, when she was
besieging Winchester. Matilda prevailed, forced
Maud to flee, and took her half-brother Robert,
Earl of Gloucester, prisoner.
Stephen obtained his liberty, by being exchanged
for the earl of Gloucester. Stephen found all the
queen's enemies willing to be his friends; and
again he fought for the crown. Again was Maud
obliged to seek her safety in flight; and the death
of her great general the Earl of Gloucester, deprived
her of all power of defending herself. How gladly
would she have called back those gallant friends,
whom, in the season of her prosperity, she had neg-
lected and offended But she found it was easier
to displease than to recal. Sensible of her error,
and regretting her lost crown, she fled to Nor-
mandy for safety, taking her son Henry with her.
This young prince is described as brave, prudent,
and accomplished. So much had he gained the
hearts of the English, that, when Stephen, now
raised from a prison to a throne, desired to have
his son Eustace declared his successor, the primate,
or archbishop, whose duty it was to anoint the
future sovereign, quitted England rather than
anoint young Eustace. Thus we see Maud losing
a crown by her arrogance, and her son obtaining
it by his moderation.
Henry entered England with an army, and pre-
pared to attack Stephen; but neither of these
princes was willing to shed the blood of his faithful
followers, if that evil could possibly be avoided.
Eustace, that son whom Stephen had wished to
succeed him, was dead, and of course he felt less
anxious for the succession. By a treaty, signed at
Winchester, it was agreed that Stephen should
continue to reign undisturbed during his life, and
that at his death Henry should succeed him. From
this time, Stephen and Henry lived in mutual love
and concord, as if they had been father and son.
About this time, a body of laws, called the
"Canon law," was introduced into England, and
the clergy were exempted from the power of the
civil magistrate. The Canon law was promulgated
under the authority of the Pope of Rome, and was
destined to regulate the conscience and fix the pro-
perty of all persons in Europe, who were of the
Roman Catholic religion. For a long time, these
laws were very carefully observed; but latterly
they have fallen into disuse; and among us they
are only consulted on matters relating to the
church, as tithes, &c.
Though sheep were very cheap, yet the fleece,
or wool of the sheep, was very valuable; and even
during the reign of Stephen, fine woollen cloth was
much in request among the nobles and gentry.
The Romans are supposed to have introduced the
woollen manufacture into our country; and that
polite people not only taught our forefathers to
exchange their rude skin garments for woven cloth,
but also taught them how to manufacture the
cloths they wore. A manufacture was established
at Winchester, which supplied the Roman soldiers
with garments; and from that period, the woollen
manufacture has continued to gain ground in Eng-
land; and cloth is at present one of our staple*
I have talked to you of the Earl of Gloucester;
and have now to tell you, that the title Earl is
Staple means settled, established.
taken from the Danish word Jarl, which was used
as a term of honour, instead of the former Saxon
one of Ealdorman, or Alderman. When England
was divided into counties, each county was ruled
by a chief, or count, whom the common people
called an Ealdorman; after the conquest of the
Danes, this term was exchanged for that of Jarl,
Stephen died soon after his treaty with Henry,
A.D. 1154, about the sixty-eighth year of his age,
and in the nineteenth of his reign.
William of Malmsbury, the great British his-
torian, flourished during this reign.
In this reign, also, tournaments, which had been
long in use on the Continent, were introduced into
England. On account of the great danger to
which they exposed the combatants, and the seri-
ous affrays and real hostilities to which these
mimic fights gave rise, Stephen's predecessors had
constantly refused to allow them within their do-
minions; and, after Stephen had introduced them,
they were so much opposed, that Henry III. by
advice of his parliament, subjected such as held
them without special leave to forfeiture of their
The first tournaments were merely courses on
horseback, in which a number of horsemen tilted
at one another with canes, in the manner of lances;
and they were distinguished from justs, which were
a kind of single combat of one man against an-
HENRY THE SECOND.
other, with blunted lances and swords. Though
justs frequently took place with tournaments, after
the general encounter, yet they were sometimes
distinct, and independent of any tournament.
HENRY II. PLANTAGENET.
SURNAMED CURTMANTLE, AND FITZEMPRESS.
Born, 1132. Began to reign, 1154. Reigned 34 years, 7
months, 12 days. Died, 1189, aged 58.
King HENRY THE SECOND, Plantagenet called,
In disputes and vexations was sadly enthrall'd:
His consort was jealous, his sons took up arms,
Proud Becket, too, filled him with serious alarms;
And when that Archbishop had met with his doom,
The Monarch was scourged by the side of his tomb;
Then London was paved, that the streets might look pretty,
And houses no longer were thatch'd in the city.
ALL people were tired of the wars and disputes
that had so long harassed the country; all, there-
fore, joyfully welcomed their lawful prince. Henry
found himself at the head of a great nation, as-
sured of the love of his subjects, and possessed of
every advantage to govern them in peace, autho-
HENRY THE SECOND.
rity, and prosperity. He did not fail to profit by
these advantages; and his reign is one of the
brightest epochas of English history.
The family name of this prince was Plantagenet,
derived from the latin words plant genista, or
broom-plant. How the Earls of Anjou came by
this name is uncertain: some historians say it was
first given to Fulco IV. the great grandfather of
Henry, on account of his wearing a sprig of broom
in his helmet, during the first croisade; others re-
late that he submitted to be scourged with broom-
twigs, as an atonement for a murder which he had
committed. In times when surnames were not, as
now, regularly settled, it was customary to give
every man a particular epithet of distinction, or
what would now be called a nickname, from some
event in his life, or from some peculiarity in his
circumstances, his manners, his garb, &c. Hence
we find Henry himself called Curtmantle, (a cor-
ruption of court manteau,) from the short cloak
which he wore, at a time when the nobility gene-
rally wore a cloak reaching to the heels; and he
was sometimes called Fitzempress, or Son of the
Empress, because his mother had been raised to
that dignity by her first marriage with Henry V.
Emperor of Germany.
The first act of Henry was to dismiss the foreign
soldiers whom Stephen had engaged; for he knew
that a good king needed no other guard than that
of his faithful subjects. He also dismantled most
HENRY THE SECOND.
of the strong castles of the barons; and, by thus
putting an end to their contests, gave their vassals
leisure to till the ground, instead of fighting against
their neighbours. By some laws, he lessened the
power of the nobles, and increased that of the peo-
ple : he punished crimes with due severity; hence
they became less common, and honest people were
encouraged and protected. He thought that the
clergy had too much power; so he chose for his
Primate, or chief of the Church, a man who, he
thought, was his friend, and would be his assistant:
this was Thomas 4 Becket, a native of London,
whom he had previously raised to the dignity of
Chancellor of England.
As soon, however, as this favourite became Pri-
mate, or Archbishop of Canterbury, he exerted his
power to thwart the wishes of his confiding mas-
ter, and to encourage rather than to abridge the
licence of the churchmen.
The pope wished to keep the clergy completely
in his own power; and whenever they committed
any crimes, he claimed a right to try them in his
own courts, called the ecclesiastical courts, that he
might pardon them as a matter of favour from
himself. The king, on the contrary, looked upon
their escape from punishment as a great evil, and
insisted that they should be tried by the civil
power, like all other criminals.
A priest in Worcestershire had ill-treated a
young lady, and afterwards murdered her father
HENRY THE SECOND.
for taking her part. These heinous crimes Henry
resolved to punish with the severity they deserved;
but Becket dared to oppose his just design; and
the murderer was tried by the Archbishop's court,
and only sentenced to degradation, that is, loss of
his situation as priest.
Henry was so provoked at this false show of
justice, that he declared every offender, whether
priest or layman, was, and in future should be,
answerable in a civil court for his crimes. So he
assembled all the bishops and, going to the meet-
ing, asked them, Will you, or will you not, sub-
mit to the ancient laws and customs of the king-
dom?" The bishops replied, Yes, we will obey
the ancient ordinations in all things, except those
appertaining to our own order." Henry, justly
offended at this evasive answer, threatened the
proud churchmen with his just anger, and quitted
the assembly. The bishops, seeing that he was
not to be trifled with, soon consented to his
wishes; and Becket, after holding out as long as
he could, at last submitted also.
Henry now called a council at Clarendon, in
Wiltshire, where he made written laws, (common-
ly called the Constitutions of Clarendon,) that
future clerical offenders should be tried and con-
demned like any other class of persons : but here
again the Pope and Becket refused to support him.
Henry, enraged beyond his patience, sought to
judge and punish the obstinate Primate; but he,
HENRY THE SECOND.
proud and inflexible, one day dressed himself in his
holy robes, and taking his crosier, the symbol of
his office, in his hand, entered the palace. Henry
and his nobles were there assembled; Becket bold-
ly appeared amidst the royal council, and declared
that the Pope, and not the king, should be his
judge. He then retired from the royal presence,
and went into Flanders. Such conduct as this,
of course, greatly irritated the king; yet the Pope
obliged him to pardon Becket, who only acted with
Henry, exasperated, and no longer master of
himself, was heard to exclaim, Will no one rid
me of this proud priest ?" Four gentlemen of the
king's household, taking these words as a hint for
Becket's death, immediately set off for Canterbury
where they attacked him before the altar in the
cathedral, at the time of vespers, or evening prayer.
They endeavoured to drag him out of the church,
but finding this could not be done without diffi-
culty, they cleft his head with many blows, and
left him dead on the spot.
Scarcely had they completed their dreadful deed,
when the king's messenger arrived with Henry's
express command that they should do no harm to
the prelate ; for some threatening words they had
used at their departure from court had made him
apprehensive of their design. Fearing, therefore,
the king's displeasure, instead of returning to him
in Normandy, they retired into Yorkshire, where
HENRY THE SECOND.
everybody avoided their company; and, at last,
by the Pope's orders, they went on a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem, where, after many penitential austeri-
ties, they died, universally abhorred. Such was
the just recompence of their crimes.
Henry himself was truly sorry for this event
and, according to the custom of those times, did
penance for the offence, and humbled himself to
the Pope. But he was willing to turn the minds
of his people from the contemplation of these dis-
tressing circumstances. He therefore besought per-
mission of the Pope, without which nothing could
be then attempted, and, having obtained this per-
mission, proposed to conquer Ireland.
Ireland is, you know, a fine island, situated
very near to England, and its inhabitants were
early civilized, being one of the first nations in
the west of Europe which embraced Christianity.
But the invasions of the Danes and other barbar-
ous nations had replunged the people into a state
of rudeness. As in England, during the hept-
archy, many petty princes shared and governed
Ireland: only, instead of seven provinces, there
were but five.
Dermot Macmorogh, King of Leinster, one of
these five rulers, had carried off the wife of the
Prince of Breffny, (now called Killmore,) who
chased him from his dominions; and the exiled
prince implored the aid of Henry, who very
gladly promised assistance. At first, he per-
HENRY THE SECOND.
mitted Richard Strongbow, Earl of Strigul, or
Chepstow, to go over, with other adventurers, and
they succeeded in restoring Macmorogh in his
kingdom, and in forming a settlement for them-
selves and followers in Wexford and two mari-
time districts. Afterwards, Henry himself pro-
ceeded to Ireland, and ended the enterprise by
conquering all the country. From his reign, that
fine island has been under the authority of the
kings of England. For many years, but little
intercourse took place between the two coun-
tries; but since the reign of Elizabeth, Ireland
has been considered as a part of the British em-
Roderick O'Connor was the last Irish prince
who resisted the arms of Henry. He had been
elected head of all the provinces; and for three
years struggled to preserve the freedom of his
country; but Richard Strongbow at length
brought him to submission; and he was allowed
to retain the title of king, on condition of pay-
ing tribute to the King of England. Richard
acted as Henry's generalissimo in that country,
and has been celebrated for his bold and warlike
character; an intimation of which may be per-
ceived in his surname of Strongbow.
Henry had married Eleanor, Duchess of Aqui-
taine, the divorced queen of Louis VII. King of
France; and in her right he added much to his
dominions on the continent. But Eleanor was a
HENRY THE SECOND.
woman of bad character; and she instigated her
eldest son Henry to take up arms against his
father; in which rebellion he was joined by his
brothers Geoffry and Richard; and Henry's do-
minions, as well in England as abroad, became
scenes of civil warfare.
It was during the convulsions occasioned by this
unnatural rebellion, that Henry, whose mind was
enfeebled by misfortunes, resolved to make atone-
ment to the ashes of Thomas a Becket, whom the
Pope had canonised, that is, raised to the dignity
of a saint. Landing at Southampton, from Nor-
mandy, he hastened towards Canterbury. As soon
as he came within sight of the cathedral, he dis-
mounted from his horse, and, divesting himself of
his shoes and hose, walked barefoot into the city,
and prostrated himself before the shrine of the
newly-made saint. A whole day he remained
there, fasting and praying; watched the reputed
holy relics all night; and in the morning, made
a grant of fifty pounds a year (a very considerable
sum at that time) to the convent, for candles to
illuminate the shrine. Not deeming all this suf-
ficient, he assembled the monks, disrobed himself
before them, put a scourge into the hand of each,
and presented his bare shoulders to their lashes.
For all this, he, the next day, received the monks'
pardon, in the Pope's name, or absolution as it is
called, for the share he was suspected to have had
in the prelate's murder.
HENRY THE SECOND.
Soon after this event, William, King of Scot-
land, who had assisted Henry's rebellious sons,
was taken prisoner by the English army; and
this success was accounted the fruit of Henry's re-
conciliation with the church. To regain his liber-
ty, William was obliged to do homage to Henry
for his crown, and thus lost the ancient independ-
ence of Scotland.
An interval of peace followed; and Henry em-
ployed it in making wise laws for the defence and
internal regulation of his kingdom. In particular,
he partitioned England into four divisions, and ap-
pointed itinerant judges to go the circuit in each.
He also obliged his subjects to put themselves in a
posture of defence, and to be prepared with arms
according to their property.
Henry's military reputation was now so well
established that, for some years, his neighbours
dared not molest him. At length, Philip, who
had succeeded to the throne of France, encourag-
ing the undutiful behaviour of the young princes
of England, their father was once more obliged
to take the field.
The intrigues of Prince Henry, however, were
shortly broken by the stroke of death. With his
last breath, he acknowledged his guilt, and im-
plored the pardon of his injured parent; but it
was too late: that parent was not at hand to re-
ceive his penitence, or to console him with assur-
ances of forgiveness.
HENRY THE SECOND.
Geoffry, Henry's third son, was so very wicked,
that he was generally called The child of Per-
dition."-Though Henry had kindly given him the
province of Britany, in France, the prince was not
satisfied, but demanded possession of the country
of Anjou. Because this was refused him, he vowed
vengeance, and prepared for war; but he was
killed in a tournament, at Paris, before he had
effected his wicked purpose.
Richard, the second son, agreed with the French
king to rise in arms against his unfortunate parent.
Henry struggled against all these cruel attacks with
spirit and courage; sometimes opposing, and some-
times pardoning, his guilty children; but when he
heard that his youngest and most beloved child,
Prince John, had joined his brother Richard, his
manly heart could bear no more. He regretted that
he had ever been born; and, in the agony of his
soul, he cursed his ungrateful offspring. A linger-
ing fever gradually weakened and consumed him,
and he died at the castle of Chinon, near Saumur,
in France, A.D. 1189, a mournful victim of filial
ingratitude, in the fifty-eighth year of his age, and
thirty-fifth of his reign. No prosperity could at-
tend his undutiful children. We have seen two
die, in the midst of their crimes; we shall soon see
the fate of the two who survived.
In the time of Henry II. we read of a strange
amusement at Easter: the people of London, during
the holidays, used to fight battles on the water: or
HENRY THE SECOND.
else, a shield was made fast upon a pole, fixed
in the middle of the stream; in the fore part of
a boat, which was both rowed with oars and
impelled by the current of the tide, stood a young
man, ready to charge the shield with his lance.
If he broke his lance against the shield, and did
not fall, he was thought to have performed a wor-
thy deed. But if, without breaking his lance, he
ran strongly against the shield, down he fell into
the water; for the boat, being violently forced
onward, left him behind; but on each side of the
shield were two other boats, "furnished with
young men, which recover him that falleth as
soon as they may. Upon the bridge, whoofs
(wharfs), and houses, by the river's side, stood
numbers to see and laugh threatt" This was
called the water quintain.
The term quintain, or quintin (of uncertain deri-
vation), signifies a post set up for tilting at. It
was used on land as well as on the water. Origi-
nally it was only the trunk of a tree, at which
young beginners in chivalry exercised themselves
in thrusting with a lance. Afterwards, a staff, or
spear, was set upright in the earth, and a shield,
hung upon it, was the mark to strike at: the dex-
terity of the performer consisting in smiting the
shield so as to break the ties, and throw it to the
ground. In process of time, this diversion was im-
proved, and various devices were added to the ori-
ginal post; but the most usual, among the common
HENRY THE SECOND.
people, consisted of an upright pole, with a trans-
verse beam on the top, moveable upon a centre,
like a weather-cock. At one end of the beam a
broad flat board was nailed, to represent a shield,
at the other end hung a bag of sand. The play-
ers, mounted on horseback, and armed each with
a long staff, or blunt lance, ran singly at the board.
Such as missed it were laughed at for their want
of dexterity, and not unfrequently got a violent
blow on the head from the board as they were car-
ried under it. He who struck the board full with
his lance, gave the beam a sudden whirl, and un-
less he rode with great swiftness, received a sound
blow on his head and neck from the sand-bag,
which came round with considerable violence, so
as sometimes to unhorse him.
Sometimes a tub full of water was set upon a
post to be tilted at; and if the assailant did not
make his stroke upon the tub with dexterity, he
was sure to have a drenching from the contents.
Tilting, or running at the ring, was also a very
fashionable exercise at this period, and evidently
derived from the quintain. The object of this ex-
ercise was, while riding at full speed, to thrust the
point of a lance through a ring, which was so hung
that it might be readily drawn from its bearing,
and remain on the head of the lance.
When Henry II. was on the throne, every Sun-
day in Lent, immediately after dinner, it was cus-
tomary for great crowds of Londoners, mounted on
HENRY THE SECOND.
war horses well trained, to ride into the fields in
bands, armed with shields and headless lances,
where they exhibited the representation of battles;
at the same time, many of the young nobility, who
had not received the honour of knighthood, came
from the king's court, to make trial of their skill
The youth being divided into opposite compa-
nies, encountered each other; in one place they
fled, and others pursued, without being able to
overtake them ; in another place, one of the bands
overtook and overthrew the other.
Thus the young Londoners tilted against one
another. The frequent practice of this exercise
must have taught them, insensibly, to become ex-
"On Easter day," says an old chronicler,
"wives used to beat their husbands: on the day
following, husbands beat their wives."
It is not known when skating was first intro-
duced into England. In the thirteenth century,
during the reign of Henry II., it was customary
in winter, when the ice could bear them, for the
young citizens of London to fasten the leg bones
of animals under the soles of their feet, by tying
them round their ankles, and then, taking a pole
shod with iron in their hands, they pushed them-
selves forward, by striking it against the ice, and
moved with celerity, equal to a bird flying through
the air, or an arrow from a cross-bow: "At
HENRY THE SECOND.
times," says the historian, "two of them, thus
furnished, agree to start opposite one another at
a great distance; they meet, elevate their poles,
attack and strike one another, when one or both
of them fall, not without some bodily hurt. Even
after a fall they are carried forward, by the rapi-
dity of their former motion ; and whatever part of
the head comes upon the ice, is sure to be laid
open." Much mischief, you may be sure, ensued
from such rough exercise.
Horse-racing is first mentioned in the reign of
Henry II. Formerly, men of fashion considered
it a part of polite education to ride well, and to
understand the qualities of horses; a swift run-
ning-horse was thought a present fit for a prince;
and, in order to prove the valuable properties of
their steeds, noblemen would match one against
another, and thus, for mere amusement, horses were
trained to run races.
At a fine open space, called the Roodee, near
the city of Chester, a kind of horse-racing sub-
sisted of very ancient date. A writer says, Time
out of mind, it has been customary, upon Shrove
Tuesday, for the company of Saddlers, belonging
to Chester, to present to the Drapers a wooden
ball, embellished with flowers, and placed upon the
point of a lance. This ceremony was performed
before the Mayor in the Roodee. The ball was
afterwards changed for a silver bell, worth three
shillings and sixpence, to be given to him who
HENRY THE SECOND.
shall run the best and the farthest on horseback
before them upon the same day."
The historian Fitz-Stephen thus describes the
suburbs of London in the reign of Henry II. 1180.
"On the west is the king's palace, which is an
incomparable building, rising with a bulwark aloft
upon the river, two miles from the walls of the
city, but yet conjoined with a continued suburb.
On all sides, without the houses of the suburbs,
are the citizens' gardens and orchards, planted
with trees, both large, sightly, and adjoining to-
On the north side are pastures and plain mea-
dows, with brooks running through them, turning
watermills with a pleasant noise.
"Not far off, is a great forest, a well-wooded
chase, having good coverts for harts, bucks, does,
boars, and wild bulls. The corn-fields are not of a
hungry sandy mould, but, as the fruitful fields of
Asia, yielding plentiful increase, and filling the
barns with corn. There are, near London, on the
north side, especial wells, in the suburbs, sweet,
clear, and wholesome: amongst which Holy-well,
Clerken-well, and St. Clement's-well, are most fa-
mous, and most frequented by scholars and youths
of the city, in the summer evenings, when they
walk forth to take the air."
In this reign, the city of London is said to have
been first paved; not, however, as we now see it,
with footways and flat stones, but with large irre-
HENRY THE SECOND.
gular stones, or pebbles, over which foot passen-
gers and carriages passed without distinction. In
some country towns, and even in a few by-lanes of
London, some remains of the ancient paving, or
pitching, as it is called, are still to be met with.
The houses also, about this time, began to be co-
vered with thin flat stones, slates, or tiles, instead
London Bridge, of which I have already taken
some notice, was now first built of stone. It was
begun in 1176, the 22nd year of Henry's reign, but
not finished till 1209, the 10th of John's: it was
therefore about 33 years building. You will be sur-
prised at this, when you reflect, that the new bridge,
of which the first stone was laid in the summer
of 1825, was completed in six years from that time.
But the artists of those times, though very skilful,
had not the advantages which are now derived
from improved mechanical powers, particularly the
steam-engine. They could not then, as now,
descend to the bottom of the river and work in
a coffer-dam; but were obliged to turn its course.
This they did, by cutting a canal from Rotherhithe
to Battersea, through which the waters flowed,
while the workmen laboured in the bed of the
river. The making of so long a canal, capable
of affording a passage for so large a stream, must
have been attended with great trouble and loss of
time. The old bridge stood upwards of six hun-
dred years, and was venerable for its antiquity;
HENRY THE SECOND.
but as its excessive bulk rendered it an obstruc-
tion to the increased business on the Thames, it
was removed, in 1831, to make room for the pre-
sent elegant structure.
It was Henry II. who first kept lions in the
Tower of London.
King Henry was very abstemious in his food:
his clergy were of a very opposite character. One
day, the friar and monks of St, Swithin threw
themselves in the mire before him, complaining,
with many tears and much doleful lamentation
that the Bishop of Winchester, who was also their
Abbot, had cut off three dishes from their table.
"How many has he left you ?" said the king.
" Ten, only! replied the disconsolate monks. I
myself," exclaimed the king, "never have more
than three; and I enjoin the bishop to reduce you
to the same number."
- -- I --- -~ --- --~-- ---
SURNAMED C(EUR DE LION.
Born, 1157. Began to reign, 1189. Reigned 9 years, 9 months,
Died, 1199, aged 41.
RICHARD THE FIRST next ascended the throne,
Whose valour, no doubt, to the reader is known:
With the heart of a lion all danger he faced,
And the famous Crusades with his presence he graced:
But forced, by a storm, upon Italy's coast,
This lover of fighting his liberty lost:
Thrice five tedious months in confinement he staid,
And then a vast sum for his ransom was paid.
WHEN Richard heard of the death of his ill-used
father, he felt all the misery of conscious guilt: nor
did the crown of England silence the pangs of his
heart. His coronation was gloomed with a cata-
strophe, which, though not caused by himself, was
worthy to attend the elevation of a parricide.
Richard had commanded that no Jew should
presume to appear at his coronation. Some of this
persecuted race, having made splendid presents to
the king, presumed, however, to enter the royal
A whisper was circulated among the crowd, that
the king, offended at this daring conduct, had
ordered all the Jews in the kingdom to be put to
death. The Jews were massacred in great num-
bers; and confusion reigned not only in London,
but in many other cities and towns. Five hundred
Jews shut themselves up, with their families, in
the fine old castle of York; these being attacked
by the mob, they murdered their wives and chil-
dren, and threw the lifeless bodies over the walls
upon the besiegers, and then, setting fire to the
castle, perished in the flames.
The king desired to stop these sad proceedings
and to punish the first offenders; but he found this
very difficult. All the nation hated the Jews, be-
cause they had denied Christ, and persecuted the
Christians; and just then the proposal for a new
crusade aroused a warlike spirit in all the nations
Richard, being of a very warlike disposition,
(whence he obtained the surname of Coeur de Lion,
or Lion-hearted,) was eager to forward the wishes
of his people, and to lead them to the Holy Land.
His father had left him one hundred thousand
merks,* and he tried to obtain as much more
money as he possibly could; for, of course, he
wanted money to clothe, and feed, and pay his
soldiers. At last, having made all necessary pre-
About 66,6661. 13s. 4d. according to the value of money
at that time : in present value about 200,0001.
paration, and having left the government in the
hands of two bishops, he passed, through France,
to Palestine. The King of France accompanied
him; and these two monarchs joined their forces
against the Turks.
It was during the crusades that the custom of
using coats of arms was introduced in Europe.
The knights, cased up in armour, had no way to
make themselves known and distinguished in battle,
but by the devices on their shields; and these were
gradually adopted by their posterity and families,
who were proud of the pious and military enter-
prises of their ancestors.
At the famous battle of Ascalon, Richard de-
feated Saladin, the heroic leader of the Saracens
and Turks; and after concluding a peace with
him, in favour of the Christians, he set out on his
return to England. On his way home, he was
wrecked on the coast of Italy; and, being afraid
lest some foreign prince might detain him for the
sake of his ransom, he put on a simple pilgrim's
habit, and proposed, thus disguised, to pass through
In travelling through Austria, (a division, or
province, of Germany,) he was unfortunately dis-
covered, and seized at Vienna, by the Duke of
Austria, who gave him up to his bitter enemy, the
Emperor of Germany, for a large sum of money;
and poor Richard was closely imprisoned in a
The English were in great distress, when they
heard of the captivity of their gallant monarch,
and were willing to pay whatever ransom the Em-
peror would demand;-all but Prince John, the
king's brother: he, looking only to his own ad,
vancement, basely calculated that, if the king were
to die in prison without leaving children, he should
himself inherit the vacant throne.
But the generous people of England would not
listen to the mean suggestions of this selfish prince;
they gladly paid the immense ransom demanded,
and, after an absence of nine years, Richard once
more found himself in his native land, and amidst
his faithful subjects. By his bravery and suffering
he was endeared to his people. By their affection
and liberality, they were endeared to him. This
was a happy moment for both prince and people.
John, disappointed in his base designs, was
obliged to humble himself before his injured brother.
Queen Eleanor, his mother, interceded for his par-
don. After a slight hesitation, Richard accepted
his brother's apology, and forgave him his offences,
gaily exclaiming, I wish I could forget his faults
as soon, and as easily, as he will forget my cle-
Richard naturally desired to punish those sove-
reigns who had caused or protracted his captivity;
and his subjects were most anxious that he should
do so. As the French King, Philip, had sup-
ported Prince John in his wicked plans, Richard
passed into France, and attacked him.
I I ~sl r ~rsCrrcr~
After some skirmishestlit. Pope interfered to
restore peace between the monarchs; a duty wor-
thy of the head of the church. Soon after.this,
one of his Norman subjects having rebelled against
Richard, he besieged a castle belonging to :the
rebels. At this siege he received a severe wtind
from' an arrow: he nevertheless took the castle,
and hanged all the garrison, except the archer who
had inflicted the wound, whom he reserved for
a more cruel execution.
The wound was not in itself dangerous, but the
unskilfulness of the surgeon rendered it mortal.
Richard, sensible that his life was drawing to a
close, sent for the archer, and thus haughtily ad-
dressed him:-" Wretch! what have I ever done
to you, that you should have sought my life "-
" You killed, with your own hands, my father and
my two brothers," undauntedly replied the man;
" and you intended to hang me That is what you
have done! I am now in your power, and you
may take revenge, by inflicting the severest tor-
ments: but I shall endure them with pleasure,
whilst I can reflect that I have been so happy as
to rid the world of such a nuisalice !" Richard,
struck with the intrepidity of this reply, and
humbled by the near approach of death, ordered
the man to be set at liberty, and a sum of money
to be given to him. But one of his generals, pri-
vately seizing the unhappy man, flayed him alive,
and then hanged him. Richard expired, at the