Stories from English history

Material Information

Stories from English history
Creighton, Louise, 1850-1936
Rivingtons (Firm) ( Publisher )
R. & R. Clark (Firm) ( Printer )
James Burn & Company ( Binder )
Place of Publication:
R. & R. Clark
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
xii, 312 p., [21] leaves of plates : ill. (some col.), ports. ; 16 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Kings and rulers -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
History -- Juvenile literature -- Great Britain ( lcsh )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1883 ( rbgenr )
Burn & Co -- Binders' tickets (Binding) -- 1883 ( rbbin )
Hand-colored illustrations -- 1883 ( local )
Bldn -- 1883
Publishers' advertisements ( rbgenr )
Binders' tickets (Binding) ( rbbin )
Hand-colored illustrations ( local )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )


General Note:
Plates are hand-colored.
General Note:
Publisher's advertisements precede text.
General Note:
Bound by Burn & Co.
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Louise Creighton ; with numerous illustrations.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
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This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections ( with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026659219 ( ALEPH )
ALG5237 ( NOTIS )
63173037 ( OCLC )

Full Text



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The Baldwin Library
of Mawson, Swan, Morgan,

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A First History of England. With Numerous Illus-

trations. 2s. 6d.

Edward, the Black Prince. 2s. 6d.

Sir Walter Ralegh. With Portrait. 3s.

The Duke of Marlborough. With Portrait. 3s. 6d.

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IN these stories from English History no attempt has been
made to increase the interest by incorporating imaginary
conversations or adding fanciful illustrations. The stories
are either extracted from Chronicles or woven together
from well-authenticated historical facts. They are intended
to serve as an amplification of the ordinary Child's History,
where considerations of space and a due attention to the
relative importance of events must often make it impos-
sible to tell with full details those very facts most likely to
interest children. It is hoped that, if used as a reading-
book, these stories may serve to awaken an intelligent
interest in English History, and also to impress events
upon the mind of the reader.



viii C ONTE NTS.










To face page
MOUNT ST. MICHAEL, NORMANDY (from an old print in the British
Museum) 32
SIPR WALTER RALEGH (original picture at Longleat) 181


To face page
(from an old print executed in 1605) 187
in Westminster Palace) 207
(from the fresco by D. Maclise at Westminster) 289

** These Illustrations, from authentic sources, are by M. C. Vyvyan.




A.D. 579.

WHEN our English forefathers first came to Britain they were
heathens and did not know the true God. The Britons had
learned about God from the Romans; and there were many
churches in the land, and many true and holy Christians;
but the fierce English conquered the Britons and destroyed
their churches, and the land became heathen again. The
different English kings often fought against one another, and
when they took prisoners in battle they used to sell them as
slaves. Poor English boys and girls were sometimes taken
far far away from their own homes, to be sold as slaves in
strange lands. So it came about that some English boys with
long fair hair and fair skins were offered for sale one day in
the slave-market at Rome. As they stood there waiting for
some one to buy them, a good priest came by, who was called
Gregory. Charmed by their lovely faces and their fair hair,
r B


which made them look very different from the little brown-
skinned, black-haired Italian boys, he stopped to look at them,
and he asked whether they were Christians or heathens. He
was told that they were heathens, and he felt sad to think
that those fair boys had not been taught to love God. He
asked again what was their nation, and when he was told that
they were Angles, he said, "Angles! they have the faces of
angels; they should be made like the angels in heaven."
Then he asked who was their king, and he was told that
their king was called Ella. "zElla," he said; "then Alleluia
should be sung in their land." The sight of these boys filled
Gregory with pity for the heathen Angles, and he went to
the Pope, who was the head of the Christian Church, and
asked to be allowed to go to England to preach the Gospel
there. The Pope was willing, but the people of Rome loved
Gregory so dearly that they would not let him go away from
among them.
Several years passed by; the Pope died, and the good
Gregory was chosen Pope in his place. He had not for-
gotten the fair-haired English boys, and one of the first things
that he did was to send a good and holy friend of his,
called Augustine, to preach the Gospel in England. Augustine
started with a band of monks to help him in his labours. But
after they had journeyed a little way the monks were seized
with a sudden fear at the thought of all the difficulties and
dangers that lay before them, in going so long a journey to
teach such fierce men. So they sent back Augustine humbly
to beg Pope Gregory to allow them to come home again; but


Gregory bade Augustine go back to them, and sent them a
letter, in which he told them to trust in God's help and fear
no dangers, but finish the good work they had begun, and
obey Augustine in all things. So they were cheered by
Gregory's words, and went on with their journey.
There was at that time a great king in Kent called Ethel-
bert, and it was to his kingdom that Augustine came. He
landed in the Isle of Thanet, the most eastern part of Kent,
with his band of followers. They were forty in number now,
and amongst them were some Franks whom Augustine had
brought over from France, because they could understand his
speech and could themselves speak the same tongue as the
English. These Franks were to translate Augustine's word
to the English till he himself had learnt the English tongue.
Augustine, as soon as he drew near to land, sent messengers
to Ethelbert to tell him that he had come from Rome, and
brought a joyful message, which would open to those who
listened to it the endless joys of heaven. Ethelbert had
heard before of the Christian faith, for he had married a
Christian wife, Bertha, daughter of the king of the Franks,
so that very likely he was quite willing to be friendly to the
Christians. He sent word to Augustine, bidding him stay in
the Island of Thanet where he had landed, and promised that
he and those who were with him should have all that they
needed, till he had made up his mind what to do with them.
Some days after Ethelbert came to the island, and, sitting
in the open air on the chalk-down within sight of the sea,
he bade Augustine and his monks come before him. They


came bearing a silver cross and the image of our Saviour
painted on a board; and as they came they sang a litany, and
prayed God that He would save them and those to whom they
had come. Ethelbert listened patiently to all they had to say,
and then he answered, "Your words and your promises are
very fair; yet, as they are new to us and their meaning is
difficult, I cannot believe them all at once and leave all that I
and the whole English people have followed so long. But, as
you have come from so far to my kingdom, and wish to teach
us those things which you think the most true and the most
good, we will not harm you, but will take care to give you all
that you need; and we do not forbid you to preach and gain
as many as you can to your religion." He then told them
that they might go and live in Canterbury, the chief city in his
kingdom. They marched to the city, carrying their silver
cross and their image, and as they drew near to it they sang,
"We pray Thee, O Lord, let Thy anger and Thy wrath be
turned away from this city, and from Thy holy house, because
we have sinned. Alleluia !"
They went to the house set apart for them, and here they
lived a simple and godly life. There was still standing in
the city a Christian church which had been built by the
Romans, and here Queen Bertha had gone to pray ever since
she came to England. In this church Augustine and his
monks began to sing and pray and preach, and baptize those
who wished to become Christians. Their way of living was
pure and holy, like the words which they spoke, and after a
while the sight of their goodness and the joyful news that they


taught made the king himself willing to be baptized. After
his baptism he allowed them to build up again the churches
all over his lands, and many of his subjects were baptized also;
but King Ethelbert wished that none should be baptized save
those who came willingly. In time the whole kingdom of Kent
became Christian. Pope Gregory made Augustine Bishop of
Canterbury, and ever since those days the Bishop or Arch-
bishop of Canterbury has been the head over all the English



A.D. 680.

OUR forefathers loved to meet together and make merry with
feasting and drinking, and often when the feasting was over
the guests were called upon in turn to sing a song for the
amusement of the company. There was once a man named
Caedmon, who, as he had to work hard for his livelihood, had
never been able to learn to read or to make verses. For in
those days only very few who could afford to give their lives
to study knew how to read. Others were content to learn by
heart songs and stories that were repeated to them; then when
they were called upon after the feasts, they could sing or say
something which they had learned. But Ccedmon had never


been able to learn any songs, and when he was at a feast, and
saw that his turn to sing was coming round, he would get up
and go out, that he might not suffer shame by having to say
that he could not sing.
One day he had left a feast for this reason, and he went to a
stable where he had to stay all night to take care of the horses.
When the night time came, he settled himself amongst the hay
and went to sleep. Then it seemed to him that in his sleep a
man came to him and stood before him and said, "Cadmon, sing
some song to me." He answered, "I cannot sing; that was
the reason why I left the feast and came to this place, because
I could not sing." But the man replied, "All the same you
shall sing." Then COedmon asked, "What shall I sing ?" And
the man answered, "Sing the beginning of created things." It
seemed to Caedmon that he at once did as he was bidden, and
began to sing verses which he had never heard before, to the
praise of God. When he awoke from his sleep he remembered
the verses which he had sung, and was even able to sing others
in the same strain. ,
In the morning he went to the steward under whom he
worked, and told him how in his sleep God had taught him to
make verses. The steward went to the abbess Hilda, a wise
and holy lady, who ruled over a great monastery at Whitby,
where dwelt many learned and God-fearing men, and told her
how God in a dream had put verses into the heart of the
ignorant peasant Caedmon. So Hilda called Cadmon to come
before her, and there were many learned men with her; she
bade Caedmon tell them his dream, and repeat the verses which


he had made. When they heard the verses, they all declared
that it must have been God Himself who had taught him.
They then explained to him a part of the Bible, and bade
him put it into verse, and afterwards tell them the verses.
Csedmon went away and came back the next morning, and
told them some very beautiful verses which he had made, as they
had bidden. Then Hilda said that as God had given him this
gift, he must become one of the brothers in her monastery, that
he might spend his days in making verses. Caedmon was quite
willing, and he became a monk at Whitby. There those brothers
who could read taught Cedmon what was in the Bible, and he
pondered over what he had heard and turned it into verse. He
sang it to the monks so sweetly that they who had been his
masters were willing in their turn to sit at his feet and feel that
he was their master. There was in those days no English Bible
which all men could read. The monks only had the Bible in
Latin, and those who were learned enough to read the Latin
Bible used to teach others what they had read. But now
Caedmon sang in English verses how God had made all created
things, and he sang the lives of the holy men of old, and the
life and death and resurrection of Jesus, and the teaching of
the Apostles. These verses all men could understand, and it
was easy to remember them; so Caedmon helped to give every
one the teaching of the Bible. In his verses he bade men turn
from sin and love good works; for he was a good man himself,
and wished to make others good. He lived humbly and quietly
in the monastery all his life. When he felt himself dying he
gathered the monks around his bed and spoke loving words to


them; then he laid his head upon his pillow and fell asleep like
a little child; and as he slept his sweet spirit passed quietly



A.D, 754.
THE first great English scholar was the holy Bede, who lived
about twelve hundred years ago. He spent his life as a monk
at Jarrow in Northumberland; and he himself has told us
how his days were passed. His chief attention was given to
the study of the Bible; but he had to sing the services in the
church, and to help the other monks in doing the work of the
convent. He liked to take exercise in winnowing and thresh-
ing the corn, and he would carry milk to the lambs and the
calves, and help to bake the bread, and work in the garden;
for all these things were part of the work of the monks. All
the spare time he could get he spent in learning, or teaching,
or writing. In the course of his busy life he wrote a surpris-
ing number of books, most of which have come down to us;
and his writings have taught us much about the things which
happened in England in his day. All who knew Bede loved
and honoured him, and many young men gathered round him
to learn of him and help him with his writing. He loved
learning so deeply that even on his deathbed he could not be


idle. He lay ill for some weeks; and he used to gather his
pupils round his bed and read lessons with them, and sing
psalms day and night, always giving thanks to God for His
great mercies. Ill and weak though he was he did not think
that it was enough work for him to teach others, but he went
on with some of his own writings, dictating them to his pupils.
He wished very much to finish a translation of the Gospel of
St. John before he died; and when he felt himself growing
weaker he would call out to his pupils as he dictated: "Go
on quickly; I know not how long I shall hold out, and whether
my Maker will not soon take me away."
On the morning of the last day of his life he bade his
pupils write with all speed what they had begun; after a
while they were called away by the services of the Church.
When they came back to his bedside one of them said, "Most
dear Master, there is still one chapter wanting; do you think
it troublesome to be asked any more questions." And Bede
answered, "It is no trouble; take your pen and dip it and
write fast." So they wrote on for some hours, and then Bede
stopped them and said, "I have some little articles of value in
my chest, such as pepper, napkins, and incense; run quickly
and bring the priests of our monastery to me, that I may
distribute among them the gifts which God has bestowed
upon me. The rich in this world are bent on giving gold and
silver and other precious things, but I with much charity and
joy will give my brothers that which God has given to me."
When the monks came he spoke kindly to them all, and
begged them to pray for him, which they gladly promised; but


they all mourned and wept when he said that he must die. He
spoke much to those around him, and passed the day joyfully
till the evening. Then the boy who had been writing for him
said, "Dear Master, there is yet one sentence not written."
And Bede answered, "Write quickly."
Soon after the boy said, "The sentence is now written."
And Bede replied, "It is well; you have said the truth. It is
ended." He begged them to hold up his head, that now when
he could not kneel he might at least sit and call upon God.
On the pavement of his little cell he sat, as they supported
him in their arms, and sang "Glory be to the Father, and to
the Son, and to the Holy Ghost ;" and with these words on
his lips, he breathed his last.



ALFRED, when he became king, was so much loved by his
people that they called him England's darling. He was the
youngest of three brothers, and was the loveliest of the three,
and so sweet and gentle a child that every one loved him.
His mother Osburga wished to bring up her sons to be true
heroes, that they might be ready to fight nobly against the
enemies of their country. She used to sing to them the old
English songs which told of the brave deeds of their fore-
fathers, and Alfred never wearied of listening to her. An


old writer tells us that one day Osburga showed her three sons a
beautiful book in which some of these old songs were written;
the writing was ornamented with richly-painted letters, and
the binding was gaily decorated in various colours. When the
boys looked at the book and were delighted with its beauty, she
said, "The one of you children who can first say this book by
heart shall have it for his own." Little Alfred, who can only
have been four years old at that time, spoke out eagerly before
his elder brothers, for he was charmed by the beauty of the
letters in the book, and said, "Will you really give this book
to one of us, that is to say to him who can first understand and
repeat it to you ?" His mother smiled with pleasure at his
eagerness, and said that she really would. Alfred took the
book out of her hand and carried it to his master, and his
master read it to him, and he soon learned the songs. Then
he came back and said them to his mother, and she gave him
the book. All his life afterwards Alfred was thankful to his
mother who had first taught him to know and love the poetry
of his country. He not only fought like a brave hero for his
people, but he tried to grow wise in every way, that he might
rule them rightly. He even found time in his busy life to
write books for his people, and he tried to have boys taught
to read and write, as well as to hunt and fight and ride on




A.D. 1016-1035.

CANUTE, the Dane, was a wise and powerful king. He ruled
over England and Denmark and Norway, and he made wise
laws and kept order in England, so that all men feared him.
At the beginning of his life he did not care much about
serving God, but as he grew older he thought more about
religion, and tried very earnestly to do all that was right. In
those days holy men liked to go as pilgrims to Rome to pray
in the great churches there, and ask forgiveness for their sins,
and also see the Pope, and make presents to him. It was a
long journey from England to Rome, and a difficult one in those
days. But Canute never feared dangers or difficulties, and
though he had so much to do in ruling his great kingdoms, he
managed to find time for a journey to Rome. When he was
at Rome he wrote a very interesting letter to the people of
England, in which he spoke to them like a father speaking to
his children. He told them about all the wonderful things he
had seen in Rome, and about the other kings and princes he
had met there, and how kindly every one had treated him, and
what rich presents they had given him. And he told them
how he had persuaded the Pope and the other princes to do all
they could to help English and Danish travellers to make their


journeys easily and safely. And then he said that he had
made up his mind to amend his life in every way, and to rule
his kingdoms justly, and that he hoped to put right all the
things he had done wrong in his youth. He bade all his
officers deal justly with all men, both rich and poor, and he
told his people that he had not spared any trouble, and never
would, to do anything that could be for their good. We can
see from this letter how Canute wished to serve God in all
things, and he wished also to make others honour and love God.
One day he was on the sea-shore near Southampton, and
some of his men began to praise him and say what a great
king he was. But after he had heard their words, he bade
them bring a chair and place it near the water's edge. When
they had done so, he seated himself in the chair and said;
0 sea, I am thy lord; my ships sail over thee whither I
will, and this land against which thou dashest is mine; stay,
then, thy waves, and dare not to wet the feet of thy lord and
master." But the tide was coming in and the waves came
on, and they came round the chair on which Canute was sitting,
and they wetted his feet and his clothes. Then he turned to
the men who stood round him and said: "Ye see now how
weak is the power of kings and of all men, for ye see that
the waves will not hearken to my voice. Honour, then,
God and serve Him, for Him do all things obey." After that
daj King Canute would never wear his crown again, but he
put it on the head of the image of our Lord in the minster
at Winchester.



A.D. 1066.
EDWARD the Confessor, King of England, had no children, and
when he died, Harold, the bravest and wisest of the English
earls, became king. Harold had a brother called Tostig, who
was a very brave and a very fierce man. Edward the Confessor
had loved Tostig dearly, and made him Earl of Northumberland.
But Tostigwas harsh to the Northumbrians, and they rose against
him and said that they would not have him to rule over them.
The chief men in England listened to the complaints of the
Northumbrians, and they said that Tostig must no longer be
earl. They bade him leave England and never come back
again. Tostig was forced to go, but he went away full of fierce
anger; and he hated his brother Harold, for he thought that
it was Harold's fault that he had lost his earldom.
When Harold became King of England, Tostig tried to find
some one who would come with him to fight against Harold,
so that he might get back his earldom. At last he persuaded
Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, to get together a great fleet
and sail over the seas to conquer England, and a strange old
story is told about his coming.
Harold Hardrada was a mighty warrior; he was stronger and
bigger than almost any man living, and as wise as he was strong.
Harold Hardrada and Tostig landed in the north of England,


and they beat the first English who came to fight against
them. When Harold King of England heard this, he marched
against them as quickly as he could. He and his army rested
not day or night, so eager was he to destroy the enemy who
were plundering and burning his lands. But the day before
he reached York, the chief city of the north, it was won by
Harold Hardrada and Tostig. The conquerors went for the
night to their ships, but in the morning they rode gaily back
to York, with no thought that danger was near. The day was
very hot; those soldiers who were with Harold Hardrada and
Tostig had not got on their coats of mail, and many of the
Northmen had stayed behind at the ships. As Harold Hardrada
was riding along he suddenly saw a cloud of dust in the dis-
tance, and presently under the dust he saw shields and arms
shining like ice. It was the army of Harold King of England.
When Tostig saw what a very great host was coming against
them he said, "Let us go back to our ships and get our coats
of mail on and the rest of our men and then let us fight, or
rather let us go on board our ships and fight from thence; for
then the horsemen of the English cannot harm us." But King
Harold Hardrada thought shame of turning back as if he were
afraid of his enemies, and he said: "Nay, let us rather stay
here, and send three men on swift horses to the ships to bid
the rest of our men come to us. The English shall see some
hard hand play before I yield to them." When Tostig heard
his words he answered: "Be it as seems good to you, O king
certainly I do not wish to flee before my brother and his host."
Then King Harold Hardrada put his men in order for the


battle. In the midst of them he bade his banner-bearer set
up his banner, and he placed the men round the banner with
their shields set firmly together, so as to make a shield-wall;
and he told them to hold their spears well against the English
horsemen. Then he mounted his black horse and rode round
his host to see that all was right. As he rode, his horse
stumbled and the king fell on the ground. But not wishing
his men to think this was a bad sign, he jumped up quickly
and cried out merrily, "Truly a fall is lucky for a traveller."
Now Harold the King of the English had seen him fall, and
he asked of those who stood by him, "Do you know who is
that goodly man with the blue kirtle and the splendid helm,
who has just fallen ?" And they told him that it was Harold
Hardrada the King of the Northmen. And Harold the King
of the English answered: "He is indeed a tall man, and he
has a fair face, but his luck has left him." Then Harold
the King of the English took twenty of his best men and
rode with them up to the Northmen's army; and they and
their horses were covered all over with armour; and Harold
Hardrada did not know who it was.
Harold the King of the English cried out when he drew
near, "Is Tostig, Godwin's son, here ?" And when Tostig heard
that he was called he came forth and said, "It cannot be said
that he is not here."
And Harold answered, "King Harold of England greets
Earl Tostig, his brother, and says that he shall have all
Northumberland, nay, even a third of his kingdom, rather
than that brother should fight against brother."


And Tostig said, Truly last winter my brother had nothing
but words of hatred and scorn for me, and now he speaks fair
words. But if I hearken to his words and make peace with him,
what will he give to Harold of Norway for his journey hither ?"
And Harold said, Seven feet of English ground, or a foot
over, for he is taller than most men."
Then Tostig answered, "Go thy ways, and tell Harold of
England to get ready for the battle, for never shall men say in
Norway that Earl Tostig left the King of the Northmen to go
over to his foes. We will either die here like men or we
will win England for our own."
When Harold of England had ridden away, King Harold
Hardrada asked who it was that spoke so well, and Tostig told
him, "It was my brother Harold." And Harold Hardrada
answered, "Truly, if I had known this, he should not have
gone back; you did wrong to hide it from me." But Tostig
said, "It was, indeed, not wise of him so to risk his life; but
I could not have betrayed him, for then should I have been the
murderer of my brother, and I would rather I should die than
he, if one of us must die." And Harold Hardrada said to the
men who stood round him, "Lo, that was a little man, but he
sat well in his stirrups."
Then Harold the King of the Northmen got ready for the
battle, and he put on his coat of mail, which was so strong that
no man could pierce it; and he took his sword in both hands
and stood in front of his banner. And he made a song and
sang it, but it did not please him; so he made another which
pleased him better, and he sang that.


At last the battle began; and the English horsemen rode
against the Northmen, but the Northmen drove them back
with their spears. This happened several times, till at last the
Northmen, thinking that the English were growing faint-hearted
and no longer rode up so fiercely, broke the shield-wall in their
eagerness and attacked the English. Then the English turned
and rode fiercely upon the Northmen and shot at them with
arrows, and hurled darts at them. And the English drove the
Northmen back to the river Derwent; and they got back across
the river as well as they could. One Northman kept the bridge
against the English till most of his fellows were across, and he
slew many Englishmen. But at last one got under the bridge
and thrust up a spear through the plank, and it struck the
Northman under the belt, and he fell. So the English were
able to get over the bridge. But the Northmen now stood firm
again; and Harold Hardrada stood in front of his host by his
banner, and he fought so fiercely, smiting with the great sword
which he held with both hands, that he slew many men. At
last an arrow hit him in the throat, just above his coat of
mail, so that he died. Then Tostig took his place by the
banner, and Harold the King of the English offered Tostig
peace. But Tostig and the Northmen cried out, "We will
take no peace from the English, but rather fall one man over
the other where we stand."
By this time the rest of the Northmen from the ships had
come up to help their fellows, and the fight grew very fierce.
The Northmen became so excited and eager at last-for they
thought they were gaining the day--that they threw away their


shields and fought like madmen. But the English kept cool
and fought on carefully, and at last Tostig and the chief men
amongst the Northmen were slain, and the rest fled away to
their ships. The next morning Harold made peace with the
Northmen, and they put to sea and went back home. And
Harold had to hasten southwards to fight against new foes.



A.D. 1069.

FoR some time after William the Conqueror had become King
of England, many of the English went on trying to drive him
out of the land, for they wished to have an English rather
than a Norman king. At one time the men of the north rose
against him, and the Danes came with a great fleet to help
them. The Danes and the English rebels marched to York,
the chief town of the north, where William had built two
castles and filled them with Norman soldiers. The Normans
knew that the English would attack them; so they set fire
to the houses round them, so that the enemy might not come
near to the walls of the castles. Then, as the English and the
Danes marched up, the Norman soldiers rushed out upon them.
The fight began within the walls of the burning city. Wal-


theof, the great Earl of Northampton and Huntingdon, was
with the Danes. He was as tall and strong as a giant, and he
stood by the gate of the city holding his battle-axe in his
mighty arms. As the Norman soldiers came out, he struck at
them with his battle-axe, and with each stroke a head rolled
from its body. The story tells us that on that day Waltheof
himself killed among the flames a hundred of the chief of
the Norman soldiers, and he gave the corpses of the hated
foreigners to be food for the wolves of Northumbria. Alto-
gether three thousand Normans died that day, and the Danes
and the English won York and destroyed the castles which
William had built there.
When William heard how his men had been killed and
his castles destroyed at York, he was filled with grief and
wrath. He at once set forth to punish the rebels and drive
out the Danes. Before he reached the north the Danes had
gone away to their ships, and the English rebels had scattered
far and wide to their own homes.
There was no one to keep William from entering York in
peace. The city was nothing but a mass of ruins, and he
left some soldiers there to build up the castles again, and went
on himself to punish the rebels. He had made up his mind
to punish them so terribly that they should never rise up
against him again. He went to and fro over the land, and
everywhere he gave orders that everything should be de-
stroyed. The houses were burnt with all that was in them;
stores of corn and all kinds of goods were put together in
heaps and then set on fire; even the living animals were


burnt. The wretched people were left to starve. Some
tried to live on the flesh of cats and dogs; others sold them-
selves as slaves to any who would feed them. Many laid
themselves down to die on the roads and in the fields, and
there was no man to bury them. An old story tells us that
in the midst of the general destruction one spot was spared. .
At Beverley there was a church dedicated to John, an English
Bishop, who, on account of his good deeds, had been made a
saint, and men thought that from his home in heaven he watched
with special care over the church and town of Beverley. King
William had made his camp seven miles from Beverley, when
news was brought that all the people from the neighbourhood
had taken refuge with all the precious things that belonged
to them at the church of St. John. At once a band of
plunderers set out for Beverley. No one stopped them from
entering the town, and they made their way to the church-
yard, where a vast crowd of people was gathered together.
Standing in the crowd was a well-dressed old man with a
golden bracelet on his arm. The leader of the band of plun-
deerers turned to seize him, but the old man fled within the
walls of the church. The plunderer felt no respect for the
church, and with his drawn sword in his hand he spurred on
his horse, meaning to ride in after the old man. But the
story tells us that St. John of Beverley took care of his church.
At the very door the horse fell with its neck broken, and the
plunderer himself was smitten to the earth, his arms and legs
all twisted behind his back, so that he no longer seemed a
man but a monster. His terrified comrades thought no more


of plunder, but humbly asked pardon of the saint. Then they
went back to William and told him what had happened.
William, when he heard the wonderful story, called the clergy
of the church before him, and gave them new lands and
precious gifts for the adornment of their church. Then he
broke up his camp and went away, and left Beverley in peace.
In other places he carried on his terrible work, and when he
went back to York he left nothing but a ruined country
behind him. For nine years no fields were tilled, no corn
was grown, in Northumbria; only the blackened ruins of cities
and villages could be seen where once all was full of life
and joy. But after this terrible punishment there were no
more risings in the north to trouble William.



A.D. 1071.

ONE by one William the Conqueror put down the risings of
the English against him in different parts of the land. Every-
where he triumphed, in spite of his many enemies, for he was
wise and brave, strong both in mind and body, and he could
make men obey him. At last he brought peace and order
into the land; his rule was very strict, and every one had to
obey the laws. But there were still some Englishmen who


would not submit to him, partly because they hated him as a
foreigner, and partly because they hated his strict rule. These
discontented men gathered together in the fens near Ely. In
those days when the land was not properly drained the low-
lying country round Ely was nothing but water and marsh.
In the middle of the marsh was some raised land called the
Isle of Ely, which could only be reached by one or two roads
raised up high above the marsh. Here in the Isle of Ely
an Englishman named Hereward had taken refuge. He was
a wild restless man, who loved to spend his days in fight-
ing and plundering, and never could settle down to lead a
quiet life. He built a wooden fort in the Isle of Ely and
hoped to spend the winter there in safety, for it was easy
to defend the roads which led to the Isle against an enemy,
and the Norman horsemen would be useless in that marshy
country. Men of all kinds joined Hereward in his isle; there
were monks and clergy as well as fierce warriors. They sat
side by side at their meals; whilst on the walls and from the
roof hung the weapons of war, so that if any sudden need
arose all alike might be ready in a moment-for the monks
and clergy were quite willing to fight too.
William could not let such a state of things last, and deter-
mined to destroy this nest of rebels. He came himself to
Cambridge that he might see how best to get at them. He
had both ships and soldiers ready to fight against them if only
he could reach them, and at last he ordered that a greatfraised
road should be made over the marsh to the Isle.. Stones and
trees and hides were brought from all the country round to


help in the making of the road. Hereward did not let the
work go on in peace, and made many a brave attack upon
William's soldiers, so that the Normans themselves were
forced to admire his boldness.
Taillebois, William's general, thought that the powers of
evil must be helping the English, and he fetched a witch, that
she might cast her spells over them. The witch was put in a
wooden tower, which some soldiers pushed as near as possible
to the English fort. But Hereward and his men had no
fear of a witch. They set fire to the dry reeds around, and
the flames quickly spread and burnt the wooden tower with
the witch and the soldiers who had brought her. Another
time Taillebois, with a large army, entered a forest where he
knew that Hereward was, boasting that he would destroy the
robbers. But even as he went into the forest Hereward came
out on the other side, and came round upon some of the Nor-
mans who had stayed outside and captured them all. He did
not let them go till he had been paid a large ransom for them.
But though Hereward fought bravely at all times and did
many daring deeds, William pressed steadily on, and at last
the rebels saw that their cause was hopeless. Many of them
submitted to William and were punished in different ways.
Some were put in prison; others were allowed to go free after
their eyes had been put out, or one of their hands or feet had
been cut off. Hereward himself, with a small band of comrades,
refused to submit, and fled away in boats over the fens to
the open sea. The country people loved him, and were willing
to help him to hide, that he might go on fighting against


the Normans, and plundering the Norman castles. Some
fishermen are said to have helped him once in a strange way.
They hid him and his comrades in their boats under heaps of
straw, and then rowed them to a Norman fort. The soldiers
in the fort knew the fishermen well and were glad to see them
coming, because of the fish they were sure to bring with them.
They were not disappointed, and at once cooked the fish and sat
down to eat it. But hardly had they begun their meal when
Hereward and his men started up from the straw, and easily
slew the Norman soldiers. Many stories are told of the feats
of Hereward, and it is not easy to know which of these stories
are really true. We cannot tell for certain how he ended his
life. Some say that he married a rich Englishwoman and
made peace with King William, and ended his days quietly.
Another story tells us that though William himself was quite
willing to treat him kindly, the rest of the Normans hated
him for the way in which h h had fought against them. Even in
his own house he was not safe, and had to keep watch day
and night lest he was surprised by his foes. But once his
chaplain, when it was his turn to watch, slumbered at his
post, and a band of Normans were able to attack Hereward.
He armed himself in haste and rushed upon them. But in
the fight his spear and his sword were broken, and he had to
use his shield to strike with. Still he slew fifteen Normans
with his own arm; but then four of their band got behind
him and smote him in the back so that he fell on his knees.
Another enemy now rushed upon him; with one last effort
Hereward smote him, and both fell dead together. Then one


of the Normans cut off his head, saying, as he did so, that he
had never seen so brave a man, and that if there had been
three more in the land like him the Normans would have been
slain or driven out of England.


A.D. 1075.

IN the last story we have seen how fiercely Waltheof, the
great English earl, fought at York against the Normans.
After this he made peace with William the Conqueror, and
William gave him back his earldoms, and gave him his own
niece Judith as wife, to make his friendship more sure. For
some years things went well with Waltheof. The chief lands
in England had been given to Normans, but Waltheof the
Englishman kept his two earldoms, and was highly honoured
by his fellow-countrymen. Now it chanced that once, whilst
William the Conqueror was away in Normandy, Waltheof was
invited to go to the wedding of Ralph, the Earl of Norfolk,
with Emma, the sister of Roger, Earl of Hereford. William
did not wish this marriage to take place, and forbade it before
he went to Normandy. But the Earls of Norfolk and Here-
ford, though they were both Normans, were tired of William's


strict rule, and were eager to do something to overthrow him.
They had a good chance whilst he was away in Normandy,
and, paying no heed to his orders, they agreed that this mar-
riage should take place.
The wedding feast was celebrated with great splendour,
and many nobles and bishops were present. At the feast the
guests ate and drank largely, for an old writer tells us that the
Normans had learnt from the English how to feast splendidly.
When the guests were all heated with wine, the Earl of
Norfolk began to speak to them evil words against the King.
He told them what bad things William had done, and how all
men hated him and would rejoice at his death. Then the
Earls of Hereford and Norfolk turned to Waltheof and bade
him join with them to drive William out of England, saying
that afterwards they three would divide the land. Waltheof
seems at first to have hesitated, and then, hardly knowing what
he did,-for he had drunk so much wine,--to have agreed to
join them. Not long afterwards, when he was himself again, he
repented of what he had done. He went and told Lanfranc,
the Archbishop of Canterbury, of the plots that had been
made against William at the wedding feast, and begged him
to get him forgiveness for his share in them. Lanfranc said
that he should be forgiven, but that he must cross the seas
and himself tell William what had been done. Waltheof did
as he was bidden, and he took with him rich presents for the
King, and told him all his story, and humbly asked his pardon.
Meanwhile the other two earls had carried out their plan
and rebelled against William, and asked the Danes to come


and help them. The Danes were quite willing, but before
the Danish fleet could reach England, Lanfrane put down the
rebels, and there was peace again in the land. William him-
self now came back to England, and Waltheof, who hoped
that he had been pardoned, came with him. But William no
longer trusted Waltheof. The Danish fleet was on the coast
of England, and William was afraid lest Waltheof should join his
old friends. So very soon after he got to England, Waltheof
was seized and put in prison.
When the chief men of the land met in council with
William in midwinter, Waltheof was brought before them for
trial. It was not easy to show that he had done anything
worthy of much punishment, for he had hastened to confess
his fault to the king. But he had many enemies amongst the
Normans, and chief of all his enemies was his own Norman
wife, Judith. She is said to have wished his death, that
she might be free to marry a Norman nobleman whom she
loved; and she herself accused her husband to William. At
first William could not decide what was to be done with
Waltheof, and he was sent back to prison in Winchester; and
orders were given that he was to be kept more strictly than
For months Waltheof stayed in prison, and he spent his
time in sorrow for his sins, and in prayer. Every day he
repeated the whole psalter which he had learnt when he was
a child. He had one true friend, Lanfranc, Archbishop of
Canterbury, and he did all he could to save him; but the
Normans were eager for his death. He was the last English-


man who held great lands, and they longed to have these
lands for their own. He was brought out to trial again, and
this time he was condemned to death, for William feared to
let the great Englishman go free.
The order was given that he was to be beheaded at once,
at an early hour in the morning, for it was feared that if men
knew what was going to be done, the English would rise to
save him from the hands of his enemies. Men were still in
their beds when, on the last day of the month of May, the
great earl was led out to die on one of the hills which overlook
the city of Winchester. He came forth dressed with all the
badges of an earl. These, when he reached the place where
he was to suffer, he gave to the few poor people who gathered
round at that early hour to see him die. Then he knelt down
and prayed with sobs and tears of penitence, till those who stood
round grew impatient, thirsting for his blood. The headsman
feared lest the news that the earl was to die should get abroad
and his countrymen should come to rescue him. The earl
was still praying, having fallen with his face on the ground in
the earnestness of his prayers, when the headsmen interrupted
him, saying, Rise; we must do the bidding of our master."
"Wait yet," answered Waltheof, "a little moment; let me
at least say the Lord's Prayer for me and for you."
With these words he rose and knelt down, and lifting his
eyes to heaven he stretched forth his hands and spoke the
prayer aloud till he came to the words, "Lead us not into
temptation." His tears then choked his voice, and the heads-
man would wait no longer. The sword fell, and Waltheof's


head rolled to the ground. Men said that the head was heard
to finish the prayer. So died the last English earl. The men
of Winchester heard the sad news when they rose from their
beds that morning, and the city was filled with sorrow and
lamentation. Men wept for Waltheof as an English martyr,
and after his death they honoured him as a saint, and told
of miracles that were done on his tomb.



A.D. 1091.
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR'S three sons, Robert, William, and
Henry, were always quarrelling. Robert, the eldest, had been
left the Duchy of Normandy by his father, whilst William, who
was called William the Red, became King of England after the
Conqueror's death. William the Red was a fierce and violent
man, who wished to make all men obey him. He was not con-
tent with England, and wished to have Normandy also for his
own. Robert was a brave kindly man, but he did not know
how to rule; so things were always in disorder in Normandy;
for the barons needed a strong hand to keep them quiet.
William hoped that in the midst of this disorder it would
be easy for him to gain lands in Normandy, and by presents
of money he won over many of the chief of the Normans to
be his friends.


In Rouen, the chief city of Normandy, there was a very
wealthy citizen named Conan. Persuaded by the promises
of William, he agreed to give up Rouen to him, and William
sent a band of soldiers to take the town. Robert was in sore
difficulty; but in his danger he made friends with his brother
Henry, who was willing to help him to fight against his enemies.
William's soldiers were let into the city by the traitor Conan.
But then Robert and Henry came down from the castle with
their men and rushed upon their enemies. A terrible fight
took place in the streets of Rouen. Men feared lest Robert
should be slain; and he listened to the wishes of his friends
and went to a place of safety to await the end of the fight.
But Henry fought boldly on, and at last drove the enemy out
of the city and took the traitor Conan prisoner. Robert, when
he heard that they had taken Conan alive, ordered that he
should be punished by being cast into prison for the rest of
his life. But Henry was not satisfied with this punishment.
He knew that as time went on his kindly brother might easily
be persuaded to forgive the traitor, and he thought that he
was too dangerous a man to be allowed to live. So he asked
Robert to let him have the care of Conan. When Robert
agreed, Henry took Conan to the top of a tower in Rouen,
and bade him look around on the wide view of the fertile land
of Normandy which lay at their feet, telling him that it
should all be his. Whilst Conan was gazing around Henry
suddenly seized him by the waist and hurled him over the
battlements. The unhappy man fell into the Seine below, and
was instantly killed. Henry quietly turned to those who stood


by, and said that a man who had been unfaithful to his lord
deserved no forgiveness, but should be punished as speedily as
possible. Robert felt no gratitude for his brother's zeal in his
cause. He soon forgot how bravely he had fought for him, and
quarrelled with him again, and drove him away from Rouen.


A.D. 1091.

AFTER their first quarrels, Duke Robert and William the Red
made peace for a short while, and they both turned against their
brother Henry, and took away from him the lands which he had
bought from William with the money his father had left him.
Henry having lost lands, and friends, and money, fled to the
castle of St. Michael, on the top of a rock near the coast of
Normandy. When the tide is high St. Michael's Mount is
an island, but when the sea goes out over the long flat sands
the castle can be easily reached by travellers on horse or foot.
William and Robert determined to take the castle, and camped
with their forces on the coast. Many times Henry and his
men dashed out from their castle with great bravery to attack
their enemies, and did them much harm.
One day William the Red on coming out of his tent saw
Henry's followers proudly advancing, with gaily-prancing



--=--c---1---_ ----


From an old print in the British Museum.


horses. The fierce king was roused to fury by the sight;
without waiting for any one else to go with him he spurred
on his horse and rushed upon the foe. He trusted so much in
his own strength and courage that he thought no one would
be able to stand against him. But presently his horse, which
he had only that day bought, was killed under him, and he
was thrown down and for some time dragged along by his
foot. He was not hurt, however, by the fall, for his armour
was so strong that it saved him; but the soldier who had
unhorsed him drew his sword to strike him. Then William,
seeing his danger, cried out, in his great, fierce voice, Hold,
rascal! I am the King of England." At the sound of his
well-known voice all the troop trembled. With great respect
they at once helped him to rise, and got another horse for
him. He did not wait for help but jumped into the saddle,
and looking round with his keen eyes, he asked, "Who un-
horsed me?" All stood silent with fear but the man who
had done the deed, and he answered readily: "It was I who
took you not for a king, but for a soldier."
William was delighted with his boldness and his answer,
and cried out with an oath: "Henceforth thou shalt be my
man, and I will reward thee for thy good service." So the
soldier became William's man, and earned the King's favour
instead of his anger.
As the siege went on Henry and his followers began to be
in sore want of water. So Henry sent messengers to Robert
to tell him that it was impious to let him be without water,
to which all men had a right; and that he might try his


courage any other way that he chose, so long as he did not
use the forces of nature to fight against him, but only the
bravery of a soldier. Robert's kindly heart was easily moved,
and he ordered his men who kept watch to be more careless,
so that Henry's men might get water. But when William
heard what Robert had done, he was filled with anger and
said to him, You indeed well know how to carry on war
when you allow your enemies plenty of water; pray, how shall
we subdue them, if we indulge them in food and drink ?"
Robert with great good humour answered, smiling: "Oh,
shame! should I suffer my brother to die with thirst ? Where
shall we find another if we lose him?" On this William
laughed at him with scorn at his mild temper, and no doubt
took care that strict watch was kept to prevent Henry's men
from getting any more water. Soon after Henry found it
impossible to hold out any longer in his castle. With great
difficulty he persuaded his brothers to allow him to go away
free. For two years he wandered about poor and landless,
with only five attendants; but after that time things began to
go better with him, and he again made friends with William
the Red.




A.D. 1093.
WHEN William the Red became King of England the wise
Lanfranc was Archbishop of Canterbury; but he died two
years afterwards, and then William, who cared neither for God
nor man, did not choose a new archbishop, but kept all the
money that ought to have gone to the archbishop for himself.
At that time a wise and holy monk, called Anselm, was
abbot of the monastery of Bec, in Normandy. Anselm had
been a friend of Archbishop Lanfranc, and was well known to
many men in England, who revered him for his great holiness.
One of his chief friends in England was Hugh, Earl of Chester.
Hugh was a jovial, good-natured man, so fat that he could
hardly stand, who seemed to care for nothing but eating, and
drinking, and hunting; yet he respected religion, and had a
real love for Anselm. He wished to make a new monastery
on his lands, and asked Anselm to come over to England and
help him with his advice. England had then been four years
without an archbishop, and many people began to say that if
only Anselm came to England he might be made archbishop.
Anselm had heard of this talk, and it made him afraid of
coming to England, for he liked best to lead a quiet and
studious life, and was quite decided never to be an archbishop.


So when Hugh of Chester asked him, he refused to come.
Then Hugh fell ill and sent to Anselm again, begging him
to come for the sake of his old friendship. Still Anselm
could not make up his mind to go; but Hugh went on send-
ing him pressing messages, and at last said that if he did not
come he would regret it through all eternity. At this Anselm
gave way, and came to England to see his old friend.
He found Hugh better when he arrived; but there were
many things for which Anselm was wanted in England, and he
was kept there for five months. Nothing was said, however,
about his being made archbishop, and he hoped that all danger
of that was over. But when he wanted to go, William the
Red refused to allow him to leave England, and Anselm was
kept there against his will.
Meanwhile the lords who came to keep Christmas at the
King's Court complained bitterly about the want of an arch-
bishop. They even urged the King to suffer prayers to be put
up in all the churches throughout England that God would
put it into his heart to allow a new archbishop to be chosen.
William was very angry at their request, but said they might do
as they liked, for whatever the Church might ask, he meant to
have his own way in the end. So the bishops persuaded Anselm
to make a prayer for them which might be offered in the churches.
One day one of the lords began to praise Anselm to the
King, for he said that he knew of no other man so holy, seeing
that Anselm loved nothing but God, and cared for nothing but
Him. For nothing !" answered the King, scornfully; "what ?
not even for the Archbishopric of Canterbury ? "


The gentleman answered that he was sure that Anselm
cared for that less than for anything else. William still only
laughed and scoffed, and swore that Anselm would run to
embrace him if he only thought he could be made archbishop.
"But," he added, "neither he nor any one else shall be arch-
bishop this time."
Immediately after he had said these words he was seized
with a serious illness. He seemed at the point of death.
Those who gathered round his bed of sickness bade him seek
forgiveness for his sins by acts of mercy. Above all they
begged him to give pastors to the churches that needed them,
and chiefly to name an Archbishop of Canterbury. Anselm
was sent for to come to the King and give him comfort in the
hour of death. He came as quickly as he could, and was
brought to the King's presence. The King listened to his words;
now that he thought himself dying, he was frightened by the
remembrance of his wickedness, and confessed his sins, and
promised henceforth to lead a better life. He ordered all
prisoners to be released, he forgave all his debtors, and pro-
mised to give the people good and holy laws. Then some
good men begged him no longer to leave his kingdom without
an archbishop. The King agreed willingly, and those who
stood round began to ask who was most worthy to be made
archbishop; but before they had named any one William
himself said without any hesitation that the Abbot Anselm
was most worthy, and all heard him with delight and satis-
faction; only Anselm was terror-struck, and said vehemently
that it could not be done. The bishops then took him apart


and said. to him, "What are you doing? What do you
mean? Why do you strive against God ?" They reminded
him of the desolate state of England, and asked how he,
from whom alone they could look for help, could scorn them
in their hour of need. But Anselm answered: "Bear with
me, I pray you; I know that you speak the truth. But
remember, I pray you, that I am old and impatient of every
earthly labour. How can I, who cannot labour for myself,
undertake to labour for the whole Church throughout Eng-
land." For some time they argued with him, but he continued
obstinate. Then they took him to the King, who added his
entreaties to theirs in words that made a deep impression
upon all who stood by. But Anselm still refused, and they,
filled almost with indignation, exclaimed : "What madness
has seized you? You annoy the King; you positively kill
him." They told him that if he did not fear to anger the
King by his obstinacy, he must at least remember that if he
persisted in his refusal, men would say that all the troubles
and miseries of England were his fault.
Anselm in his distress turned to two monks who were with
him, saying, "Ah, brothers, why do you not help me ?" One
of them answered, "If it be the will of God that it should be so,
how can we go against God ?" Then Anselm, seeing that even
they would not help him, burst into tears, but still refused.
The King bade them all fall on their knees before him, but
when they did so, Anselm too fell on his knees before the
King, and turned a deaf ear to their prayers. Then at last
they grew impatient at the delay and cried out, "Bring the


pastoral staff, the pastoral staff!" They seized his right arm,
and some pushed, and some dragged him to the King's bedside.
The King held out the staff to him; but he clenched his hand,
and refused to take it. The bishops tried in vain to force
open his fingers, and they had to content themselves with
placing the staff in his closed hand and holding it there them-
selves. Those who stood round exclaimed, "Long live the
bishop! Long live the bishops and clergy !" Then they began
to chant the Te Deum, and carried Anselm by force into the
neighboring church; and he all the time .repeated, "It is
naught that you do, it is naught;" whilst he looked more like
one dead than alive.
After the ceremonies in the church they brought him back
to the King's bedside, and Anselm said to him, I tell thee, my
Lord King, that thou shalt not die of this sickness; and so I
wish you to know how easily you may change what has been done,
for I have never consented to it." Then he passed out from
the King's chamber, and when he was outside he turned round
upon the bishops and nobles who surrounded him, and broke
out, "Do you know what it is you are doing ? You propose to
yoke an untamed bull and an old and feeble sheep together in
one yoke to the plough. And what will come of it ? You
have acted unwisely;" and so with many words he tried to
prove to them that they had done a foolish thing. He ended
with a burst of tears, and went away to his own lodging. He
was faint with distress and weariness, and they brought him
holy water to drink. When he had time to think over what
had happened he saw that it was the will of God, and he gave


way. So he became in truth Archbishop of Canterbury. But
William the Red got well again and forgot all his promises
to lead a better life. He soon quarrelled with Anselm, who
had to leave the country, and did not come back to England
till after William's death.



WILLIAM the Red was shot by an arrow whilst hunting in the
New Forest and was killed on the spot. Henry, his younger
brother, was with him when he died, but Robert, his elder
brother, was away in the East on the crusade. So it came
about that Henry was chosen King of the English. The
common people were very pleased to have him for their king,
for he had been born in England; and this made him seem
less like a foreigner than his brothers. But the barons had
always liked Robert best, because he was kindly and good
natured, and let them do as they liked. They promised to
obey Henry as king, but they did so unwillingly; and only
waited for a chance to show that Robert was their favourite.
Henry I. tried to do everything he could to please the
English people The man who had helped William the Red
most in the government of England was called Ralph Flambard,
whom William made Bishop of Durham. He had not tried
to govern for the good of the people; all that he wished was
to please William the Red by getting as much money for him


as he could. William was very extravagant, and wasted
money in many foolish and wicked ways. Flambard used
hard and cruel means to wring money out of the people, so
that they hated him bitterly. Once his enemies made a plot
to kill him. He was walking by the side of the river Thames
when a man named Gerold, who had been his servant, came up
to him, and said that the Bishop of London, who was lying
dangerously ill in a house on the other side of the river,
wished very much to see him. Flambard at once agreed to
go, and got into a boat to cross the river. As soon as the
boat had got out a little way from the land, instead of rowing
to the opposite shore the men took Flambard to a ship in the
middle of the river. They forced him to get on board, and
the ship sailed away. Their plan was to murder him as soon
as they got well out to sea; but a storm arose which prevented
the ship getting on. The men who had agreed to murder
Flambard began to quarrel with one another, and whilst they
quarrelled Flambard by promises and prayers persuaded Gerold
to put him on shore again. Two days afterwards Flambard
appeared at court as usual, to the terror and disappointment
of his enemies. As long as William the Red lived Flambard
went on oppressing the people. But Henry I. wished to please
the people by punishing their hated enemy, and he threw
Flambard into prison.
He was imprisoned in the Tower in London; but his prison
was made very pleasant to him. He had plenty of money,
his friends sent him rich presents, and he spent his days in
feasting. He was very witty and merry, and he made friends


with his keepers, for he amused them and gave them presents.
One day one of his friends sent him a rope hidden in a pitcher
of wine. That evening he invited his keepers as usual to come
and dine with him, and he made them go on drinking his good
wine till late in the evening. The wine made them sleep
heavily, and when they were all asleep, Flambard, who no
doubt had taken care not to drink much himself, let himself
down from the window by the rope which had been sent him.
His friends were waiting for him, and he went with them to
the sea-shore, and escaped to Normandy.
"When Flambard got to Normandy he found Duke Robert
returned from the East with an Italian wife, and holding many
grand feasts in her honour. Flambard did not wish Duke
Robert to waste time in amusement; he wanted him to make
haste and invade England whilst the barons were still discon-
tented with Henry I. Many knights and barons were willing
to fight for Robert, and as Flambard knew England well, he
was able to gain over to Robert's side all who were discontented
with Henry. He bribed the sailors whom Henry had sent to
guard the Channel, so that they let Robert's army pass
over without trying to hinder them, and Robert landed
safely in England. Henry had got an army together, and
marched to meet his brother; but he could not feel sure that
the knights in his army would be true to him, for they were
all discontented and grumbling. Henry had, however, one true
friend. As soon as he became king he had invited the good
Archbishop Anselm to come back to England, and Anselm was
ready to do all he could to help him. Anselm went and spoke


to the Norman knights and urged them to be true to Henry I.,
and afterwards brought them face to face with the King, that
he might win them over by fair promises. Then, last of all, in
the presence of the whole army, Anselm spoke earnest words
to the chiefs, bidding them not to draw down shame upon
themselves by being faithless to their King.
Not only in this way did Anselm help Henry; he also
managed to frighten Robert by threatening him with the
punishments of the Church, because he had unjustly invaded
England. At last it was decided that the two brothers should
meet and talk matters over. They met in the open space
between the two armies, and after speaking together for a few
minutes they embraced as friends. Robert agreed to go back
again to Normandy and leave Henry in peace as King of
England. So Flambard was disappointed in his hopes of
making Robert King of England; but he was clever enough
to know how to make friends with Henry afterwards, and
ended his life in peace.



A.D. 1162-1170.

HENRY II. was a young man when he became King of England.
He had much work before him, for the land was in a terrible
state of disorder after the long years of war between Stephen


and Henry's mother Matilda. It was therefore a great
pleasure and a great help to him to find a man who seemed
just the right person to aid him in his work. This was
Thomas Becket, a clergyman, a handsome, clever man, who
knew how to please the king by sharing his amusements,
whilst he delighted him with his witty sayings. The two
friends not only enjoyed themselves, but they worked hard
together to bring order into the land. Henry made Becket
his chancellor,-that is one of his chief ministers,-and gave
him great riches. Becket lived as splendidly as a prince. His
doors always, stood open, and all who liked might go in and
feast at his table. He loved to show his magnificence to all
the world; and once when Henry sent him to France to settle
a dispute with the King of France, he travelled with such a
large train of followers, that all who saw him were filled with
wonder. When he entered any town, two hundred and fifty
boys went before him singing; after them came his hounds in
couples, and next eight waggons guarded by fierce mastiffs.
One of the waggons was laden with beer to be given away to
the people; the others carried Becket's furniture, and plate,
and clothing. After the waggons came twelve horses, on each
of which sat a monkey and a groom; and then followed a vast
company of squires, and knights, and priests riding two and
two. Last of all came Becket himself, riding with a few
friends with whom he talked by the way. The French people,
as they saw his grandeur, exclaimed, "What manner of man
must the King of England be, when his Chancellor travels in
such state." In truth, Becket was the man who stood next to


the King; and Henry loved and trusted him, and asked his
advice in all that he did.
So it came about that when the Archbishop of Canterbury
died, Henry II., after a while, told Becket that he should be
the new archbishop. Becket looked at the splendid dress which
he had on with a smile, and said that he did not look much
like an archbishop; he told Henry that he knew that if he
did his duties as archbishop, he must lose his King's favour.
But Henry would not listen to him; he believed that it would
make no difference, and that Becket, when he was archbishop,
would try to please him just as he had always done.
He soon found out that he was mistaken. Becket, when
he became archbishop, changed his whole way of living.
Instead of his splendid clothes he wore a monk's dress, and
a haircloth shirt next his skin. Daily the poor were fed in
his private rooms, whilst he himself waited on them and
washed their feet. Instead of gay knights, only wise and pious
monks and priests sat at his table. Music was no longer
played to him whilst he ate; but a Latin book was read aloud,
that no time might be wasted in idleness. He refused to be
chancellor any longer, for he said that he must give all his time to
his new duties. This vexed the King very much, and his love
for Becket began to grow cold. He soon began to find out
that Becket was not going to give way to him as he had hoped
he would, and the King and the Archbishop, instead of being
firm friends as of old, began to quarrel. It was the custom
in those days that if a priest or a monk did anything against
the laws, he should be tried before the Church Courts and not


before the King's Courts like other men. Henry II. wished to
change this custom, and to have every one tried in the King's
Courts; but Becket would not agree. Both the Archbishop and
the King loved their own way, and besides, each of them was
quite sure that what he wanted was right; so it was not easy
to settle the quarrel. The King persuaded the other bishops
to say that they were willing to obey his wishes, and when
Becket saw that every one else had given way, he also promised
to obey the King. But very soon he repented, and took back
his promise. He had many enemies who were jealous of his
power and riches, and they did all they could to increase the
King's anger against him. They accused him of having taken
large sums of money to which he had no right, and he was
bidden to come before the King's Court. This made Becket
understand that his enemies meant to ruin him, but he was
determined to show that he did not fear them. He came into
the court bearing in his own hand his archiepiscopal cross, and
when the bishops tried to persuade him to give way to the
King, he refused to listen to them. After a good deal of dis-
turbance the Earl of Leicester stood up at the King's bidding,
and bade Becket hear his sentence. At these words Becket
rose full of wrath, and said that none present had any right
to judge him, and that he put his cause into the hands of the
Pope. Then he turned and walked out of the hall, and as
he passed, some of the courtiers picked up pieces of straw from
the floor and threw them at him. Some even called him
traitor, and at the sound of that word he turned fiercely round
and cried, "Were I a knight, that coward should repent of


his insolence." And so he passed proudly out. As he went
through the town the people knelt to ask his blessing, for
they loved him on account of his charities.
After this Becket feared that even his life was not safe.
That night he dressed himself as a simple monk, and with
three companions he fled away through the dark. After
wandering for three weeks in byways and meeting many perils
he escaped in a ship to France. Once there, the danger
was over for a time; and the King of France received
him with great honour and treated him very kindly. For
six years Becket stayed in France. Then at last the Pope
made peace between him and Henry II. The King and the
Archbishop had a meeting in France. Becket threw himself
at the King's feet, but Henry himself raised him, and they
spoke together in the most friendly way. A little while
afterwards Becket went back to England, and was joyfully
welcomed at Canterbury. But he soon showed that he did
not mean to change his conduct, and when news was brought
to Henry, who was then in France, of the things which Becket
was doing, he fell into a furious passion, and said, "Of the
cowards who eat my bread, is there no one who will free me
from this unruly priest." Four knights who heard these
angry words, thinking to gain favour with the King, set off
in haste for England.
A few days after Becket was doing business in his private
room at Canterbury, when he was told that four knights wished
to speak with him from the King. They came in and spoke to
him with such violent and insulting threats that it was easy to


see they meant to do him harm. Becket showed no fear,
and when they went out to seek their arms, he took his seat
as if nothing had happened. Those who were with him were
filled with despair. It was the hour of evening prayer, and
they heard the service beginning in the choir. Then some
one exclaimed, "To the church! there will be safety there."
But Becket said he would stay where he was. In a few
moments they heard that the knights were in the garden, and
were forcing their way into the house through a window.
They could be heard breaking down a wooden screen that
was in their way. Becket's followers, full of terror, would
wait no longer, and bore their master by force into the cathe-
dral. They closed and barred the door after they were in,
for they could already see the murderers pursuing them.
Becket walked quietly along the cathedral to go to his favourite
chapel. As he went, he heard the cries of the knights,
who demanded to be let in. He at once ordered that the
doors should be opened, for he said that no one should be
kept out of the house of God. His followers in terror hid
behind the pillars or under the altars. Becket himself
turned to meet his enemies, leaning with his back against a
pillar. The knights, followed by a wild mob, rushed into the
church with drawn swords. It was growing dark, and they
could hardly see. Where is the traitor ?" they Shouted.
Becket's voice, answered through the gloom, "Behold me, no
traitor, but a priest of God." They turned upon him in fury.
Some tried to drag him from the cathedral, but Becket clung
to a pillar, and one of his clerks helped him by holding him


--------- --------




fast round the waist. Then blow after blow was aimed at
his head. As he felt the blood trickling down his face, he
crossed his hands, and bent his head in prayer, saying, Lord,
receive my spirit." With many blows they killed him, and
left him lying there on the pavement, whilst they went to
plunder his palace.
When Henry II. heard of this dreadful deed he was filled
with grief and shame. Every one blamed him, and he had
to try and show the world how sorry he was. He came to
Canterbury and walked fasting and barefoot through the city
till he reached Becket's tomb. There he knelt, and, resting
his forehead against the tomb, bade the monks lash his bare
shoulders. When they saw him humble himself like this, the
clergy were satisfied that he was truly sorry and they were
willing to forget his share in the guilt of Becket's murder.



A.D. 1191.

RICHARD the Lion-hearted was the son of Henry II., and
became king after his father's death. He was a famous
warrior, and loved fighting and adventures better than making
laws and caring for the good government of his people. In
those days many brave warriors from all lands went to the


East to fight against the Turks. Palestine, the land in which
Jesus had lived, belonged to the heathen Turks, and when
Christian pilgrims wished to visit the holy places where their
Lord had been born, and crucified, and laid in the ground,
they met with great dangers, and were often cruelly treated
by the Turks. This seemed to the Pope, and to all pious
Christians in Europe, a shameful state of things. At the
bidding of the Pope men gathered from all lands to go and
fight against the Turks, and try to win back the Holy Land.
These wars were called the Crusades, for all who went to fight
wore the cross upon their armour, and were called the soldiers
of the cross. Richard the Lion-hearted, as he was called on
account of his bravery, wished to go on the crusade too, and
started off as soon as possible after he had been made king,
taking many knights and soldiers with him. Whilst he was
in the Holy Land he won great fame by his brave deeds, and
many strange adventures happened to him, for he did not
know what it was to be afraid, and often he fell into great
danger, but always escaped.
An old story tells us that one day, taking only a few
men with him, he went out to amuse himself by hawking.
After a while, weary with riding, he got off from his horse to
rest, and fell asleep. A body of Turks spied him and his
men, and rushed upon them. King Richard woke up suddenly
on hearing the noise of their coming, and had hardly time
to mount upon his horse before the Turks were upon him.
He drew his sword and rushed upon them. They pretended
to flee so as to persuade him to follow them to a place where


some more Turks were lying in wait hidden. These jumped
up quickly and surrounded the King to make him prisoner;
but he defended himself bravely. Fortunately none of these
Turks knew the King by sight, and one of the knights who
were with him, William de Pratelles by name, wishing to save
his master, called out in the language of the Turks that he
was the King. The Turks believed what he said and took
him captive, and the King escaped. Meanwhile the rest of
the army had heard of the fight, and, afraid lest any harm
should happen to the King, came at full gallop to the spot.
They met Richard returning safe; but he quickly turned back
with them to follow the Turks, so as to rescue William de
Pratelles. The Turks, however, had ridden swiftly away, and
it was too late to overtake them. Richard, whilst he thanked
God for having saved him from such danger, grieved sorely
to think that this noble knight was in prison for his sake.
The next year, when he was getting ready to go back to Eng-
land, he persuaded the Turks to send back to him William de
Pratelles in return for ten most noble Turks who had been
captured by the Christians, and so William was rewarded for
the devotion which he had showed to his master.




A.D. 1192.

KING RICHARD was preparing to go back to England from
the crusade, and had gone to Acre with his army, where the
ships in which he was to sail were nearly ready. The King
was in his tent talking with his officers, when suddenly some
men entered with terrified faces. They tore their clothes and
told the King how the Turks had suddenly attacked Joppa, a
neighboring seaport, and taken it all but the citadel, in which
all the Christians who had escaped death were gathered together.
But their safety would not last long, for they had been forced
to promise that if they were not helped by three o'clock on the
next day, each of the Christians should pay a large sum of
money to Saladin, the Sultan of the Turks. When Richard
heard of their sad condition he was filled with pity. He did
not wait to hear the end of the story, but exclaimed, "As God
lives, I will be with them, and give them all the help in my
power." He tried to persuade the French soldiers who were
in Acre to go with him to help the Christians in Joppa; but
the French, who had quarrelled with the English all the time
they were in the Holy Land, refused. Many others of the
crusaders, however, agreed to go with him. Some started to
go by land; but the King, thinking to get there quicker, went


by sea. Before he could arrive, the hour came at which the
Christians must give themselves up to the Turks. They
waited till the last moment, and then in despair began to pay
the money they had promised. But the cruel Turks, when they
had received the money from the first men, cut off their heads.
Seven died in this way; and when those who were still alive
found out what had happened to their friends they began to
cry aloud in their misery, and fled into the castle to fall on
their knees and with many tears call upon God for mercy.
Whilst their hearts were full of despair, help was close at
hand. The Turks saw King Richard's ships enter the harbour,
and rushed down to meet him. The beach was covered with
a dense crowd of Turks who shot their arrows at the men in
the ships, whilst the horsemen spurred their horses even into
the sea to prevent the Christians from landing.
Many of Richard's officers told him that it was certain
death to try and land in the face of so great a multitude. The
King was gazing thoughtfully at the shore, wondering what to
do, when he saw a priest plunge into the water, and swim
towards the royal ship. The priest came to tell him that there
were still some Christians alive and in great danger in one of
the towers of the citadel. When Richard heard this, he no
longer hesitated. The boats were pushed to land, and the
King himself plunged into the water up to his middle, followed
by his bravest knights. With his sword in his hand he cleft
for himself a way by terrible blows, and none of the Turks
dared to face him, so great was the terror they felt at the sight
of him. Richard himself was the first to enter the town, and


he caused his banner to be fixed on a height, so that the Chris-
tians in the town might see it. Cheered by the sight, they
rushed out to join the fight, and the Turks, attacked on both
sides fled from the city. Richard had no horses with him
except three which he had found in Joppa, but all the same
he and his men followed the Turks as they fled, and chased
them for a long way. That evening he made his camp at the
spot where the camp of the Turks had been.
When the fight was over, and the Turks understood with how
very few soldiers Richard had put them to flight, and besides,
that he had only three horses, they were very much ashamed.
They said that they were nothing but lazy cowards to have
allowed themselves to be defeated in this way. They were
eager to wipe out their disgrace, and some of them made up
their minds to surprise Richard in his tent and bring him a
prisoner to Saladin. In the middle of the night they started
fully armed for the English camp, finding their way by the
light of the moon. But when they got to the camp, they
wasted so much time in quarrelling which of them were to go
in and seize the King, that a Christian soldier, who had risen
early to go out into the fields, saw them. He rushed quickly
back to the camp, shouting out, "To arms, to arms!" The
noise awoke the King, who leapt at once from his bed, put on
his coat of mail, and called up his men. The Turks were
already upon them, and the Christians rushed from their beds
to the fight, many of them not having even time to dress.
The Turks came on with horrid yells, hurling their javelins
and shooting their arrows. The Christians awaited them


kneeling on one knee on the ground, so as the better to resist
the furious attack. They greeted the Turks with a shower of
arrows, whilst King Richard and his knights charged them.
That day the King was a very giant in battle. He was every-
where in the field, now here, now there, wherever the fight
raged the hottest. Once he saw that one of his knights had
fallen from his horse, and was fighting on foot. Immediately
he rushed to his rescue, snatched him out of the hands of the
enemy, and put him on his horse again. Another of his knights
he rescued as he was being carried off prisoner.
In the middle of the battle he saw a Turk riding towards
him mounted on a foaming horse. This man came from the
brother of Saladin and brought from his master two noble horses
as a present to King Richard for his use during the battle;
for even enemies in those days liked to do to one another acts
of politeness and generosity,
Richard had no care for his own safety. Brandishing his
great sword in his hand he pressed on into the thickest ranks
of the enemy, mowing them down as reapers mow the corn.
The Turks became so terrified at him that they shrank
away from him without daring to attack him. So, after a
while, he returned safe and unhurt to his friends, from whom
he had been quite separated. The fight lasted from the rising
sun till the setting sun, and the Turks had to go back, leaving
seven hundred of their number dead upon the field, without
bringing Richard prisoner, as they had boasted they would.
Saladin greeted them with ridicule, asking them where
Richard was. "Which of you," he said, "first seized him,


and where is he ?" "In truth," answered one of them, "he is
not here. We have never heard that since the beginning of
the world there ever was such a knight. We did our best to
seize him, but in vain, for no one can escape from his sword."
After the battle Richard fell ill, partly from fatigue and
partly from the unhealthiness of the place. Anxious to leave
Palestine for a while, he agreed upon a truce with Saladin,
which was to last three years, and then at once began to make
ready for his journey homewards.



A.D. 1192-1194.

WHEN Richard the Lion-hearted sailed away from the Holy
Land to go back to England he met with stormy weather, and
for a month his ship was driven hither and thither by the
winds. At last he landed on the shores of the Adriatic Sea.
He was afraid to let people know who he was, for he had
many enemies amongst the princes of Europe. Chief of all
his enemies was his own brother John, who was trying, now
that Richard was away, to get himself made King of England.
So Richard was afraid that if it was known who he was, he
would not be able to get safely to England. He dressed him-
self as a pilgrim and let his beard grow, hoping in this way


to travel undiscovered. Several times he was nearly found
out, and some of his companions were taken prisoners; but
Richard,'with a knight and a boy, got safely as far as a little
village near Vienna. Here the boy was sent to the market
to buy food. He was so free with his money that he made
people curious to know who he was. Richard, when he learned
how his boy had been questioned, was too weary and weak to
flee. Armed men surrounded the house where he lay, and
then Richard drew his sword, and said that he would surrender
to no one but their chieftain. The chieftain soon arrived; he
was Leopold, Duke of Austria, and was not at all disposed to
treat Richard kindly, for he had quarrelled with him in the
Holy Land. He made Richard give up his sword, and shut
him up a close prisoner in a strong castle.
Meanwhile the people of England, who knew that their
King had left the Holy Land, were eagerly expecting his
arrival in England. They were proud of his brave deeds,
and longed to welcome him home. But week after week
passed away, and nothing was heard of him. There is an old
story told of the way in which it was at last found out where
he was. It tells us that there was a minstrel called Blondel,
who had been a great deal with Richard, and loved him
very dearly. He was very sad when he heard that his dear
master had disappeared, and made up his mind to seek him
through the whole world till he found him. For a year and
a half he wandered about by land and water, and could hear
nothing of the King. At last it chanced that he came into
Austria, to the very castle where Richard was. He was told


that there was a prisoner in the castle who was kept very
carefully, so that no one knew who he was. Then Blondel was
full of joy, for his heart told him that this prisoner must be
his master. The next morning he went to the castellan, the
governor of the castle, and telling him that he was a minstrel
and could play on the lute, asked to be allowed to stay with
him. The castellan was very pleased to have him, and Blondel
stayed with him some time, but could not at first make out
anything about the prisoner in the castle. At last one day
he was walking in the garden which surrounded the tower of
the castle, when Richard, who was in the tower, saw him.
Richard was eager to make himself known to Blondel, and
began to sing in a loud, clear voice a song which they had
made together, and which no one else knew. Blondel, overjoyed
at finding out for certain that the prisoner was his master,
answered the song by playing on his lute. Soon afterwards
Blondel asked leave of the castellan to go back to England.
He travelled as quickly as he could, and told the King's friends
in England where he had found him.
We cannot be sure whether this story about Blondel is true;
but we know that as soon as the King's friends in England
knew where Richard was, they did not rest till he was free
again. They met with many difficulties. The Duke of Austria
had given up the King for a large sum of money to the Emperor,
Henry VI. At first Henry VI. did not treat him kindly;
he kept him in chains, and armed men with naked swords in
their hands watched him day and night. At last he even had
him brought to trial before the Princes of the Empire, to


answer for the unjust deeds which his enemies said that he had
done in the Holy Land. Richard, who had never known fear,
could speak as well as he could fight. He spoke out boldly
before his enemies, and showed how false were the things
which men said against him. Those who heard him were
filled with admiration of his brave words, and with pity for
his sufferings. The Emperor himself went to him and embraced
him, and after this he treated him with great honour, as a
king should be treated. Still he would not let him go free
until a large sum of money was paid as his ransom, for he
was a greedy man and loved money. It was very difficult
to get so large a ransom together in England. And Richard's
heart grew sad when he found how long he had to wait in
prison. It is said that he passed his time making songs,
in which he mourned over the little love which his friends
showed him, and complained that they forgot him in his
prison. His brother John would have been glad to have
left him always in prison. But most of the English people
were true to Richard. They rose against John, and would
not let him make himself King of England; and at last the
ransom was got together. Richard travelled quickly home
to England, and was welcomed with great joy by his people.




A.D. 1264.

HENRY III., the son of King John, did not rule his kingdom
wisely. He was not a bad man, but he was weak and foolish.
He loved to spend money, and he did not mind making any
promises that people asked for, if only he could get the money
he wanted. Then afterwards he broke his promises, so that
men soon found out that they could not trust him. He loved
foreigners better than the English, and filled his court with
them, loading them-with honours and riches. For many years
the English bore with him, but at last men wearied of his bad
rule. One of the chief nobles, a wise and brave man, Simon
de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, put himself at the head of
those of the barons and clergy who wished to make things
better. The quarrel could not be settled peaceably; and at
last Simon and the barons were forced to take up arms against
the King and his friends.
The Queen, Eleanor of Provence, who, being a foreigner her-
self, liked the king's foreign friends and hated the barons, did
all she could to persuade Henry III. not to do as the barons
wished. This made the people of London, who were eager for
the cause of the barons, very angry with her, and they did
not scruple to show their displeasure. Once when the queen


left the Tower to go in a barge to Windsor, a mob of citizens
got upon a bridge underneath which she would have to pass
and pelted her with mud and stones, whilst they shouted out
insults and curses. So great was the disturbance that she was
forced to go back to the Tower. It was natural that her son
Edward should be very angry with the Londoners for their con-
duct, and he soon had an opportunity of punishing them.
Henry III. had to give up London to the baron's party
He encamped with his army at Lewes, in Sussex, where he was
able to have comfortable lodgings in the priory. Earl Simon
and the barons marched to attack him there. But they did
not wish to fight if it could be helped, and they sent messages
of peace to Henry III. in hopes that their disputes might be
settled, and bloodshed hindered. Henry III. only answered
their messages scornfully; and his brother Richard and his son
Edward replied still more angrily and haughtily. Then the
barons felt that their only hope lay in fighting. They believed
that their cause was a holy cause, their hearts were filled with
love to God, and to their neighbours, and they did not fear to
die for their country.
Earl Simon set them an example of the spirit in which they
should fight, and spent the night before the battle in prayer.
The Bishop of Worcester, who was on the barons' side, for he
loved his country, rode through the army, urging all to confess
their sins and receive absolution. He said that those who
fought bravely on the morrow would have their sins forgiven,
and he bade them remember that it was glorious to suffer for
the truth. The soldiers fastened a white cross upon their


breasts and their backs, as a sign that they, like the crusaders,
were fighting for a holy cause. These crosses were very use-
ful, for in the battle, as both sides were fellow-countrymen,
it would not have been easy to distinguish friend from foe
without some mark.
Whilst the barons' army spent the night in making ready
for battle by prayer to God, the King's men, who did not know
that the enemy was so near, passed their time merrily, singing
and drinking and feasting together. Simon hoped to surprise
them. He rose early in the gray dawn of a May morning,
and led his men to the crest of a hill, from which they could
see Lewes with its castle and priory, and the beautiful river
Ouse winding through it. There he bade his men fall on
their knees and pray to the King of all that if what they were
going to do was pleasing to Him, He would give them strength
and help to overpower their enemies. Then all fell upon the
ground and stretched out their arms in the form of a cross
whilst they prayed. After this they were ready for battle.
The tents of the nobles were pitched on the top of the hill,
and amongst them was a litter which had been used to carry
Earl Simon a little while before, when he was suffering from
an accident. Over this streamed his banner, and in it were
placed, bound in chains, four traitors, citizens of London,
who had been found out plotting to give up London to the
Simon was disappointed in his hope of surprising the
King's army. Some men had come out from Lewes early in
the morning to get food for their horses, and as they were


riding through the wood they came upon part of the barons'
army. Some of them were killed and some were taken
prisoners, but a few escaped and rode back quickly to Lewes
to give the alarm. The King's followers were still in bed, and
they heard with surprise that the enemy was so near; they
got up quickly and hurried out to the battle.
Edward, Henry III.'s eldest son, was one of the first to
come out. He saw in front of him that part of the barons'
army which was made up of the men of London. The sight
of them filled him with anger, for he remembered the way
in which they had insulted his mother, and he thirsted for
their blood. The rest of the army was soon ready, and the
royal standard of the dragon was hoisted in the middle. It
was made of red silk embroidered with gold; the tongue of
the dragon seemed to be always moving, and its eyes were of
As soon as the army advanced to the charge, Edward darted
furiously forward to attack the Londoners. They were poor
soldiers and could not stand against Edward's horsemen. They
soon turned and fled, and Edward followed hotly after them.
Many were chased into the river and drowned, and many
others were slain.
For four miles Edward followed them in his anger, think-
ing that the day was his, and forgetting the rest of the army
whilst he avenged the insult offered to his mother. When at
last he turned and came back he saw Earl Simon's litter on
the hill, and, thinking that Simon was in it, he hastened to
attack it. He and his followers drove off the men who


guarded it, but the litter was so strongly bound with iron
bands that they could not get it open. They surrounded it
with shouts of triumph, crying, "Come forth, come forth,
Simon, thou worst of traitors." In vain the men inside tried
to tell them who they were; they were not heard in the midst
of the din. At last the litter was set on fire, and when it was
too late, Edward discovered that he had destroyed four of his
own party instead of Simon.
Whilst Edward was wasting time in this way, his father
had lost the battle. Simon saw how foolishly Edward had
left the battle with the best troops, and rushed after the
Londoners. He seized his chance and attacked the rest of
the King's army. The King and his men fought well; Henry
had a horse killed under him; but at last he was driven back
and had to seek safety within the walls of the Priory. Very
few of his followers escaped with him. Some were killed on
the field; others as they fled got into the marshes and were
smothered. The King's brother Richard could not get into
the Priory, but got into a windmill in the middle of the battle-
field. There his enemies surrounded him with shouts and jests.
"Come out, you bad miller," they cried; "you have turned a
poor mill-owner-you who defied us so proudly." He had no
chance of escape, and after a while had to give himself up as
a prisoner.
The night had now come on, and those of the King's party
who could tried to escape through the twilight, and reaching
the sea-coast, managed to embark for France. Fighting only
went on round the priory, until a truce was made for the


night. The next morning the two parties came to an agree-
ment. The King had to promise to do as the barons wanted,
and went with Simon to London. The people were full of
joy when they saw them enter the town together. They
thought that now there was good hope that the land would
be well governed, and one of the songs of the day said,
"Now does fair England breathe again, hoping for liberty."



A.D. 1297-1304.

EDWARD I. was one of the wisest and greatest of our English
kings, and he was the first of our kings to understand that
England could never be really strong and peaceful until Eng-
land, Scotland, and Wales were all ruled by the same king.
To bring this about was one of the great objects of his life. It
happened that in his days there was a dispute who should
be King of Scotland, and Edward was called upon to decide
the dispute. The end of it was that he made himself master
of Scotland; he chose one of his nobles, John de Warrenne,
Earl of Surrey, to be Governor of Scotland; and he put English
soldiers to keep order in the castles and strong towns.
As was natural, the Scots did not like being ruled and


kept in order by English soldiers. Their discontent was in-
creased by the cruel treatment which they sometimes met
with from the soldiers, and by the harsh ways which were
used to get money from them. They were ready to rise
against the English at any moment if only they could find a
leader. It was not long before the leader whom they wanted
showed himself. He was a Scottish gentleman named William
Wallace. His bravery has made him a favourite hero in
Scottish history, and so many stories have been told and sung
about him that it is difficult to be sure which are true; but
the Scottish story is worth knowing.
William Wallace was a fine, handsome, young man, who
had married a lady of Lanark. It chanced one day that he
was walking with his wife in the market-place of Lanark,
dressed in a green tunic, with a rich dagger in his belt. An
English soldier passing by, called out very rudely to him
that a Scot had no business to wear so gay a dress, or so rich
a weapon. Wallace had a fiery temper; he turned upon
the soldier, and in the fight which followed killed him. He
then fled to his own home, and very soon all the English
soldiers in the place came after him and attacked his house.
Wallace managed to escape by a back door and got safely to a
wild rocky glen, where he knew he would be able to hide
from his pursuers. Hazelrigg, the Governor of Lanark, mean-
while burned down Wallace's house, put his wife and servants
to death, and declared Wallace himself to be an outlaw.
Soon many other desperate men gathered round Wallace.
Some were already outlaws, others were willing to risk every-


thing for the sake of doing some harm to the English. As
soon as Wallace was strong enough he went to punish Hazel-
rigg, whom he naturally looked upon as his worst foe, and he
succeeded in killing him. It was in vain that English soldiers
were sent against Wallace. He and his men could always
escape from them amongst the wild mountains which they knew
so well, and they often succeeded in gaining little victories over
the English. As people began to hear of Wallace's success,
more and more of the Scots flocked to join him, till at last
he was at the head of a large army. He was joined by Sir
William Douglas, who had also got together a band of out-
laws. But the Scottish nobles showed no wish to help the
people in their fight for liberty. Many of them, doubtless,
did not care to run the risk; and others, perhaps, were dis-
gusted with the wild way in which Wallace carried on war,
and the cruelties with which he revenged himself on the
English and treated nuns and priests.
At first the English Government had paid little heed to
him, thinking that he was only the chief of a small band of
outlaws; but when his followers increased, John de Warrenne
marched against him at the head of a large army.
Wallace was not afraid of the approach of the English
army. He awaited it, encamped on the northern side of the
river Forth, near the town of Stirling. The English came to
the southern side of the river; and then Warrenne sent two
priests over the long wooden bridge which crossed the river
to offer Wallace and his followers pardon if they would lay
down their arms. Wallace answered with proud scorn: Go


back to Warrenne," he said, "and tell him we value not the
pardon of the King of England. We are here not to treat of
peace, but to abide battle, and restore freedom to our country.
Let the English come on; we defy them to their very beards."
This answer enraged the English, who longed to rush upon
the proud outlaw at once. Warrenne was against a battle, for he
could not lead his troops against the Scots except by crossing
the long narrow bridge across the river, and that would be most
dangerous in the face of the enemy. But he was persuaded
by the other leaders of the army to fight, and put an end to
the war at once. So the English began to cross the bridge.
Wallace allowed about half of them to get over undisturbed,
and then, when the bridge was still crowded with those who
were following, he rushed upon them with his whole army.
Many of the English were slain; others were driven into the
river and drowned. Those who were left on the other side
first set fire to the wooden bridge, and then fled as fast as
they could. They did not think themselves safe till they
were out of Scotland.
Wallace was now master of Scotland, and won back most
of the castles which the English had taken. He then led his
army across the border and laid waste Cumberland and
Northumberland, punishing the poor English peasants with
terrible cruelty for the deeds of their King. His soldiers,
who got no pay for their services, enriched themselves with
plunder; they were wild fierce men, who shrank from no
cruel deed, and when they went back to Scotland they left
nothing but blood and ashes in their track.


Edward I. was away in Flanders at this time; but as soon
as he came back, his first care was to lead an army against the
Scottish rebels. Wallace did not wish to fight him till his
great army should be weakened by want of food. But Edward,
hearing where Wallace was, marched forward quickly, and met
him at Falkirk. Wallace arranged his men very cleverly for
the battle; he placed them in a mass, the archers in the
centre, the spearmen outside close together with spear against
spear. The spearmen knelt down, so that the archers could
shoot over their heads.
The English army was strong both in well-mounted horse-
men and in skilful archers. Edward ordered his horsemen to
charge the Scots. It was a terrible sight to see the fine horses
riding as hard as they could against the long lances, and a
dreadful cry arose as they met. The Scots stood firm. Many
of the English horses were thrown down; their riders were so
weighted with their heavy armour that they could not get up,
and were killed as they lay rolling on the ground. In vain
the English horsemen tried to force their way through that
wood of spears. Then Edward I. ordered his archers to
advance. They poured out such a deadly shower of arrows
that the Scots at last were thrown into confusion; and then
the horsemen charged again, and this time they drove the
Scots before them.
Wallace himself escaped alive from the battle of Falkirk;
but his power in Scotland was at an end. Edward offered
free pardon to all the rebels who would submit to him, and
most of the leading rebels yielded to him. Wallace would not


yield; he went back to his outlaw's life, and for seven years
lived free amongst the Scottish hills. At last his own servant
betrayed him, and he was taken prisoner and sent to London.
He was brought to trial in Westminster Hall, and was crowned
in mockery with a green garland, because he was said to have
been a king of outlaws. The English were enraged against
him, not only for his rebellion, but for his cruelties. There
was no chance that Edward I. would again offer him the pardon
which he had before refused. Wallace answered their charges
by saying that it was true that he had killed very many English-
men, but it was because they had come to oppress his native
country of Scotland; and far from repenting what he had done,
he was only sorry that he had not put to death more of them.
He was hanged as a traitor, and his body was divided after death,
that his head might be stuck on London Bridge, and his limbs
sent to Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Perth. Wallace was
a brave man; but he fought more as an outlaw than as a true
and wise lover of his country. Still he helped to make the
work of Edward I. impossible by giving new courage to the
Scots to resist their foes. After his death another Scottish
patriot, Robert Bruce, after going through still greater dangers
and hardships than Wallace had suffered, set up again the
independence of Scotland; and Edward I.'s dream of a united
kingdom was not fulfilled for many years.

A -_ IA----II I" i I

"< r tl ,LJ \





A.D. 1321-1330.

EDWARD II. was the son of one of the greatest of English
kings, but he was a very different man from his father. He
was idle and gay; he loved pleasure and his own way, and he
did not care either to win the love of his people or to work
for their good. With the help of a few favourites whom he
passionately loved, he wished to govern the land without
heeding either his people or his barons. His favourites in the
later part of his reign were a father and son, the Despensers,
who were both clever men; but they were so greedy and
proud that every one hated them and wished their ruin.
The King, however, showered favours upon them, and left the
government of the land in their hands. The chief barons
were so discontented that at last they took up arms against
the King. But a battle was fought in which the barons were
defeated. Their leader, the Earl of Lancaster, and many more
were put to death; some others escaped to France, and for
a time the Despensers triumphed. Soon new troubles arose
for Edward II. There seemed danger of a war breaking out
between him and Charles IV., King of France. Edward II.'s
Queen, Isabella, was sister of the King of France, and it was


decided that she should go to Paris with her son, and try to
settle the quarrel peacefully.
Charles IV. was very pleased to have a visit from his
sister. When he heard that she was near Paris, he sent out
some of the chief of his lords to meet her, and they brought
her to Paris to the palace of the King. When she came into
the room where he was, Charles rose to meet her, and taking
her in his arms kissed her, saying, "You are welcome, my fair
sister, with my fine nephew your son." When they had talked
together a little, he led her into an apartment which had been
richly furnished for her and her son, and every care was taken
that she should be made happy and comfortable.
The Queen soon settled the business which had brought
her to Paris, but she was in no haste to go back to England.
Whilst she was in Paris she saw a great deal of the English
barons who had fled there to escape from the Despensers.
She grew very fond of one of them, Roger Mortimer. They
were a great deal together, and began to make a plan for
driving the Despensers out of England. Edward wrote letters
to her and to his son, begging that they would come back, but
Isabella paid no heed to them, and Prince Edward was too
young to do anything but what his mother bade him.
All that Isabella and Mortimer now needed to make their
plan succeed was some soldiers to fight for them. So they
went to Hainault, a part of the Netherlands, which lies to the
north of France. The Count of Hainault had four daughters,
and Isabella promised that young Edward should marry
Philippa, one of them, if the Count would give her some men


to go to England with her, and fight for her. The Count was
very willing, and Isabella and Mortimer were able to go back
to England, taking with them a number of soldiers.
As soon as Isabella landed in England, she was joined by
all the discontented barons. The King and the Despensers
fled before her. They shut themselves up in the town of
Bristol, which had a strong castle surrounded by the sea. In
this castle the King lodged with the younger Despenser, whilst
the father remained in the town.
The citizens of Bristol, when they saw that the whole
land had turned against the King, did not wish their city to
be ruined by a siege, and opened their gates to the Queen.
So the old Despenser fell into the hands of his enemies. He
was ninety years old, but she felt no pity for his great age.
He was dragged on a hurdle to the spot where he was beheaded.
The King and the younger Despenser were still safe in the
castle. But as they saw no chance of escape, they embarked in
a small boat, hoping to reach Lundy Isle in the Bristol Channel,
and so be safe from their enemies. For eleven or twelve days
they were blown to and fro in this small boat, but the winds
were contrary, and they could not get forward. At last some of
their enemies spied the little vessel as it tossed about help-
lessly. They pursued it in a barge, and rowed with such
vigour that the King's boatmen could not escape. The King
and Despenser were taken to the Queen as prisoners. The
unhappy Edward II. was sent with a strong guard to be
imprisoned in Berkeley Castle.
Then the Queen set out to return to London in triumph.


She took Sir Hugh Despenser with her. He was mounted
on the poorest and smallest horse that his enemies could find,
and led through the towns they passed with scoffs and jeers,
whilst trumpets and cymbals played to tell the people that
he was coming.
At Hereford the Queen and her .party stopped to keep the
feast of All Saints, and there they decided that Sir Hugh should
be punished. He was put to death with horrible cruelties in
the sight of a vast crowd of people, and his head was cut off
and sent to London.
After this Isabella and Mortimer governed England as
they liked. As they were afraid lest any one should try and
put Edward II. on the throne again, they had him secretly
murdered in Berkeley Castle, and his son Edward became king
as Edward III. But he was still too young to govern himself.
The barons soon found out that they had not changed for the
better, seeing that now they were only ruled by the Queen
and her favourite instead of by the King and his favourite.
As young Edward III. grew older, he became daily more
impatient at being able to do nothing himself, and seeing all
the power in the hands of his mother and Mortimer. He was
quite willing to listen to those who told him that it was time
he became king in deed as well as in name. One of the nobles,
Lord Montacute, proposed to him that they should make
Mortimer prisoner during a Parliament which was to be held
at Nottingham, and Edward III. agreed.
Isabella and Mortimer came with Edward III. to the castle
at Nottingham. Mortimer knew that he had many enemies,


and he took care to have a strong guard within the castle walls.
New locks were put on the gates, and every night after all
the gates were locked, the keys were laid on the Queen's
pillow. But Montacute made friends with the governor of
the castle, who was willing to help him when he heard that
Edward III. wished it. There was a secret passage through
the castle rock of which Mortimer knew nothing, and the
governor promised to let Montacute into the castle by it
at midnight. He came in secretly with a number of his
followers, and was met by Edward III. who led them silently
through the passages to the rooms where his mother lodged.
There they heard the voice of Mortimer talking with some
others. Queen Isabella had gone to rest in the next room.
Edward III. with Montacute and his followers forced the
door in a moment, and two knights who tried to guard it were
killed. Isabella rushed into the room when she heard the
noise, and cried with tears, "Sweet son, fair son, spare my
gentle Mortimer." But they paid no heed to her tears, and
bore away Mortimer as a prisoner. A few weeks later he was
brought to trial before the Parliament at Westminster, and
condemned to death as a traitor. Queen Isabella was not
allowed to have anything more to do with the government.
She was made to live quietly away from the court, but was
treated with kindness and consideration by her son.




PERHAPS you have sometimes wondered how it is that we
know so much about what our forefathers did in England in
times long gone by. It is by carefully putting together a great
many things that we at last get at the truth. We learn much
about the government of the land from studying the laws
passed by Parliament at different times; and a great many
papers have been stored up for hundreds of years in the public
offices in London which tell us of the rules made for commerce,
of the money spent in the royal household, of the treaties made
with foreign rulers. All these help us to know what was done
in England in bygone days. But besides these we have
chronicles or histories which were written in olden times
chiefly by monks, and in which they tell us the things which
were done before they lived as well as during their lifetime.
You remember how Bede wrote a history of the Church in
England; and after him other men wrote histories of their
times. But as they were, for the most part, monks who stayed
quietly in the monasteries, they wrote more what they heard
from others than what they saw themselves. So it is particu-
larly interesting when in the time of Edward III. we come to a
writer, who not only tells us what he heard from others, but

I "^ r\



also a great deal about what he saw himself. This writer was
Jean Froissart, a bright merry man, who enjoyed travelling
about, and was always eager to learn as much as possible
wherever he went.
Froissart was a native of Hainault; he was a clergyman, but
he was not a very serious man. He loved amusements of all
kinds, and he wrote a great many love poems. His love of
travel took him to England, where he was warmly welcomed by
Philippa, Queen of Edward III., who was the daughter of the
Count of Hainault. She was always glad to see her country-
men; and besides she loved learning, and favoured learned
men, as we know by her having founded Queen's College at
Oxford. She was very glad to keep Froissart in England; she
made him her secretary, and he amused her by writing love
poems for her. He was busy writing his history, and she gave
him money to enable him to travel to different countries that
he might study their customs.
He went to Scotland and travelled there for six months,
riding on horseback with his portmanteau behind him, a grey-
hound following after him. The King of Scotland treated
him very kindly, and he saw a great deal of the country,
getting even into the Highlands. His next journey was to
Wales; and then after a while he left England and travelled
to Italy. Whilst he was there he heard to his great grief of
the death of Queen Philippa, and so, having lost his best friend
in England, he did not care to go back there. After this he
was secretary to several noblemen, one after another. He
still kept his love for travelling and seeing all that he could


of the world, that he might put his adventures into his chron-
icle. When he was already fifty-one he set out on a journey
to see Gaston, Count of Foix, who was famous as one of the
bravest knights in Europe. On his journey he had the good
fortune to meet with a knight who lived in Foix, and they
travelled together. To while away the time the knight told
Froissart all his adventures, and many stories about the battles
he had seen; and so they journeyed pleasantly enough.
Gaston, the Count of Foix, was the handsomest and best-
made knight then living; he was a splendid rider, and skilled
in all manly exercises. He was very fond of dogs, and always
had at least sixteen hundred with him. Froissart knew of
this fancy of his, and brought him four greyhounds as a
present. Gaston had heard tell of Froissart and his writings,
and welcomed him kindly, saying that he knew him very
well, though he had never seen him before, for he had heard
much talk about him. He kept Froissart the whole winter
at his court, and there Froissart saw many great hunts and
splendid tournaments with which the knights amused them-
selves. After supper he used often to read aloud to the Count
a romance which he had written, and they would talk over
the book and drink wine together. Then Gaston would tell
Froissart the adventures of his life, and the other knights who
were at the court told him theirs also; and in this way he
learned a great deal which he could put into his chronicle.
After he left the court of Gaston, he went on travelling
hither and thither as usual, always looking out for everything
new and strange. He went once more to England, where


things were much changed, for Edward III. and good Queen
Philippa were dead, and their grandson, Richard II., was king.
Froissart went to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket and the
tomb of the Black Prince at Canterbury, and there he met
Richard II., who received him very kindly. He had brought
a present with him for the king, and one Sunday, when Richard
was at leisure, Froissart was bidden to take his present into
the King's chamber, and he placed it on the King's bed. It
was a copy of his romance, and was beautifully written, with
many ornaments and illuminated pictures, as was the fashion
in those days, before printing was invented, when all books
were written by hand. It was bound in crimson velvet
adorned with ten silver-gilt nails, with a golden rose in the midst
of two clasps, gilt, richly worked with rose-trees. The King
was greatly pleased with it, and still more pleased when he
heard that the subject of it was love; he looked into it and
read some parts of it, and then bade one of his knights carry
it into his cabinet.
Froissart stayed three months in England, and when he
left Richard II. gave him a silver-gilt goblet full of money as
a parting present. Some years after Froissart died; to the
very last he seems to have gone on adding to his chronicles,
and they tell us a great deal about the manners and ways of
living of the men of his time, as well as about the history.




DURING the first part of the reign of Edward III. there was
seldom peace upon the Scottish border. The Scots hated the
English more than ever since the English kings had tried
to set up kings in Scotland who should be willing to look
upon them as their lords, and obey their wishes. King Robert
the Bruce was dead, after a life chiefly spent in fighting against
the English. His son David, a mere child, was forced to seek
safety at the French Court. When he grew to be a man, and
was able to come back to Scotland, his subjects came in crowds
to greet him, and the first wish that they expressed to him was
that he would lead them against the English, so that they might
be revenged for the wrongs done them by Edward III. David
was quite willing, and he sent messages to all his subjects far and
near to come and help him. A large number of men gathered
at Perth, and then they marched southwards and crossed the
border near Berwick, and went on into Northumberland.
The poor Northumbrians must have heard of their
coming with terror. Many a time had the Scots brought
ruin into their country, and their plundering ways were only
too well known. They were bold and hardy men, and could
travel great distances in a day; if they were in a hurry they

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